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Can Girl Meets World live up to its original?

May 2, 2014
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In our age of sequels, prequels and reboots, it’s the most fair-unfair question that exists: will it live up to the original? It’s a question that might not matter to those younger than the original, but to anyone of the right age for the original, it’s really the only question worth asking.

It’s a question we’ll ask a lot today between the opening of The Amazing Spider-man 2 and the just-released 60 second promo for the long awaited Girl Meets World.

The show sees the cast of Boy Meets World set 15 or so years along their journey in life, where Cory (Ben Savage) and Topanga (Danielle Fishel) have transitioned from high school sweethearts to an old married couple with two kids. The show centers on their oldest daughter, Riley (Rowan Blanchard), who looks to have inherited her dad’s quirky spunk more than her mom’s brainy practicality, but also on the family unit as a whole as the original did.

It will also feature Rider Strong, Betsy Randle, William Russ, Will Friedle and William Matthews in cameo roles throughout the series.

The show will not begin airing until the end of next month, but the anticipation has been building for months now as the cast have Tweeted out photos of the on-set reunions.

Classtime

I was a little too old for Boy Meets World to have been my show in the same way The Adventures of Pete and Pete or Salute Your Shorts were. Those are the shows I feel possessive about. I remember Boy Meets World mostly existing in the background while stuck hanging out with younger cousins or friends with younger siblings. Through the casual osmosis of teenage ennui, it ended up seeping in though, and I eventually found myself idly watching reruns and becoming invested in the characters.

Strangely, I became most invested in Cory, the show’s main character. I say strangely because I usually find the main character to be the most boring. Maybe because he was already set in my brain as Fred Savage’s little brother Cory didn’t seem like the typical, boring main character.

The original show was done in the classic mold of zany comedy set up that ended with heart, not entirely unlike it’s Disney extended family cousins Step by Step or Full House, which ran the TGIF table in the 90s. But it was also entirely different. Entirely.

Part of the charm — maybe all of the charm — was that it was so dorky. Cory and Topanga were goddamn dorks, but they never slipped into clownishness like Steve Urkel or Balki Bartokomous. Shawn had his Fonzie thing, and Eric had his classic twist on the bimbo thing, but Cory and Topanga were dorks on a level I can’t remember seeing before. And of course they were backed up by the Father of Dorks in William Daniels, who finally had a body again after playing K.I.T. on Knight Rider.

The first promo for the show that Disney released last month showed none of that. If it’s unfair to question whether a show can live up to its predecessor, it’s cruel to release something so underwhelming as the first impression:

I almost expected an “oh, Mylanta” or “of course not, don’t be ridikulus” by the end of this clip. This clip had all of the appeal of Drexell’s Class or Thunder Alley.

It’s also a good example of how first impressions are sometimes pretty awful. Here is the spot-on promo that Disney uploaded this afternoon:

That’s a huge difference in approach and in general quality. It actually has the elusive feel of the original, but it’s removed from the original too — as an update should be. Riley and her best friend, Maya (Sabrina Carpenter), don’t have the dorkiness that made Cory and Topanga so special, but they seem to have something, and it’s kind of refreshing that neither of them are played by anyone’s younger sister (sorry Ben).

And, maybe most importantly, the show is not above a good nose pick joke, which bodes well.

That’s about as far as I was to go based on 60 seconds though. Sometimes second impressions aren’t worth that much either.

Girl Meets World premiers on The Disney Channel on Friday, June 27. 

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