Friday, January 22, 2016

Girl Meets Money Reviewed

No this isn't an episode quote (I'll put that in later), just a note of how we're going to review this particular episode. I'll let Mike open up on this one and I'll add comments later just like we did for STEM, but I'd like to write a larger post kind of wrangling in STEM, Money and some other GMW episodes (and episodes of some larger shows). I'd also like to do maybe a breif review or something put together about the best GMW episodes and the worst GMW episodes (so I don't tread on people's opinions I'll pick ones that both GMWReviewed and we think are pretty bad, but I'm not afraid of going all over the place picking episodes I think are good).

In life, I guess all of our roofs leak for a reason.

What is it? Umm...dude (or dudette, I hope we get decent female readership here), it's Girl Meets World. Also I never gave Mike credit for picking a super-excellent quote to open up the review with, so, here it is. If I were actually paying you it's more than worth every penny.

Anyway, take it away Mike!

BTW, I thought this episode was really good. But more on that later.

I really, really wish I had seen this earlier.....or made the effort to do a review earlier.

I was able to check out the GMWReviewed post about this episode the day after it aired, and it was a lot less positive than I thought it would be. I honestly forgot the last time that site actually called an episode good. But that's not a slam, just something I noticed. I love Christian and Sean's work and their dedication to the blog, by the way.

I think a look at the show as a whole at this point is a great idea, Unknown. We could pick our personal best and worst episodes, and point out GMW's strengths and weaknesses. Kinda like a Girl Meets World Performance Appraisal of some sort. I don't know when we would do it, but it's never too late to start. Plus, season two's hot streak eventually gave way to a string of mediocre and unremarkable episodes so that should be fun to explore.

Which brings me to my next point. I liked this episode, actually. It was better than "STEM," that's for sure. It wasn't anywhere close to the Texas Trilogy, but it was still pretty entertaining. It had a great point to make about how millionaires and entrepreneurs and such have all this money but never really do anything worthwhile with what they earned. There's definitely a time for indulgence, but I think this episode did a great job of illustrating why Farkle often shuns his white-collar background. He doesn't understand why his family deserves all of the money that Minkus earned because he has never seen it put to good use, or even used to help people. I'm not saying that Minkus is a live-action Mr. Krabs who hates being charitable, but this episode is from Farkle's point of view for once. He wants to be proud of who he is and where he came from. 

With that being said, there were some hiccups that slowed the episode down and will keep it from being in A territory. For one, I don't know what the main point of the episode is. I want to believe that I know it, but there were too many plots running around at once. It was about Farkle wanting to understand why he should be proud of his lifestyle. That's the narrative I'm going with. But wait, Cory is also trying to teach the class about the value of money and shoobedy bob and whatnot. To top it off, Farkle wants to spend more time with his dad who he barely sees due to being a workaholic (insert lazy racist joke about what would happen if Farkle was black here). And to put even more barbeque sauce on this bacon cheeseburger, the episode focuses on Maya and the struggles of being poor. Eh, I think the writers might have been stirring too many ingredients in the pot with this one. This is the kind of problem that could have easily been avoided if there was a carefully marked main plot and subplot. It felt like the episode was running in circles which made it hard to concentrate on the lesson and the main character. You could have made this into two 11-minute episodes focusing on the same topic, one episode from Farkle's point of view and one from Maya's point of view. This way, you could have the same story go in different directions based entirely on the actions of that character and still teach the same lesson. I understand what the writers were trying to do here, but it felt like they should have just stuck to Farkle's insecurities and ran with that.

You know how people want you to see how fortunate you are that you're not going through what others are when their lives are even worse than yours? Yeah, I understand that line of thinking, but it does not take away people's rights to feel bad about their lot in life. Maya may have water to drink and a roof to live under, but that roof still leaks at the end of the day. She has a right to be upset about that or harbor some resentment towards the world when her friends don't have that same problem. Her roof does NOT leak for a reason, Mark Cuban. That could have, and should have been fixed a long time ago. I'm just glad the episode did not try running with that whole narrative because it would have been a lot worse and cost it two potential letter grades. 

So the episode had a lot to say about money. Not perfect, and there were some notable kinks to work out, but the Farkle plot was enjoyable enough to hold my attention and I was left actually thinking a little bit more consciously about the life of a rich person. Not a bad outing this week, GMW.

Episode Grade: B

Episode MVP: None. No one really stood out to me in this episode as running away with it. Nobody stole the show, nobody in particular had me in shock over how amazing their performance was, everyone was just......there. Eh, it had to happen sometime. Okay, Rowan Blanchard was on her game this week in terms of comedy, but.......I think I'll just leave this slot empty. 


-I read about this complaint on GMWReviewed and on iMDb. Apparently, it seems to be a big deal so I might as well bring it up. People have noticed that Corey Fogelmanis lacks any actual range and speaks in the same monotone voice for every single scene he is in. It doesn't matter what reaction or emotion Farkle is supposed to have, he talks in the exact same way each time. Farkle is upset or confused? Monotone. Farkle is ashamed? Monotone. Farkle is happy? Monotone. Farkle has been told by President Obama to bring down ISIS once and for all? Monotone. There is nothing expressive or compelling about Fogelmanis' performance because he acts the same way every single time. Do I believe that? Well, it's not something I even noticed before. One thing I have noticed is that Farkle talks really fast. It made more sense in season one when he was a hyperactive goofball with a cheap haircut, but now that he has gone through his Donnie Barnes phase and traded in his turtlenecks for leather jackets and better haircuts, it makes less sense and doesn't contribute to the scene. I think Fogelmanis is doing just fine as Farkle. The character is naturally methodical and logical, so it doesn't surprise me that he does not show emotion that much. It will make it even more satisfying when Farkle finally has his big emotional moment. And let's not pretend like he talks like that for every single scene of every episode. It's just unnecessary for Fogelmanis to change his vocal tone all the time. I'm going to give this the benefit of the doubt because I don't think we should get all up in arms about it yet. It doesn't hinder my enjoyment of Farkle either. I want more of the Fark-Man, by the way.

-I got a kick out of the opening scene. Classic boneheaded Riley and her T-shirt logic. Actually, a lot of kids are like that. They just buy what's hot if it comes from the hottest stores, even if you can get the same thing at a less popular store for half the price. Where's Macklemore and Ryan Lewis when you need them?

-Another great Riley moment. Her chastising Farkle for his enjoyment of violent video games, then moments later, she's yelling at the screen, having gotten sucked into the virtual world.

-The subplot left no impression on me so I'm not going to talk about it. I literally forgot this was a thing until just now. I get Auggie's purpose, but he really doesn't need to be given so many stories. Does anyone really care about his exploits? I mean, if Auggie was talking in a horrible French accent one week and annoying the family, that would be a great subplot. Just him doing it with no explanation, the writers were just running short on material that week. Oh yeah, Topanga's a lawyer. Yay! Her character still exists!

-Mark Cuban's guest appearance was exactly what it needed to be. Unlike that stupid Perez Hilton cameo earlier this season, Cuban's guest spot is organic to the story and serves a purpose in wrapping it up. His interactions with Riley were top-notch, and there was no way the writers could have screwed that up. The confrontation was just too perfect, and for a sports fan like me, I felt like a kid in some kind of store. 

-It's really odd how Farkle's mother was never brought up in this episode or made an appearance. Is Jennifer Bassett really that hard to get?

-The ending was really creepy, and if this episode was a lot worse, then the ending would be what completely puts the nail in the coffin. Why would Farkle want to see random people stroll by where Maya lives, just to get a taste of the blue-collar life? Why isn't Maya questioning her entire friendship with this kid? Why aren't Maya's neighbors raising a big stink about being spied on by some middle schooler who has good intentions but looks like a big fat stalker in this situation? Who signed off on this, who agreed to this? Are they going to bring this up in future episodes? They're not? OH, SO WHY THE FUCK IS THIS EVEN HERE?! WHY AM I ASKING YOU ALL THESE QUESTIONS THAT YOU CAN'T ANSWER?! Ugh. I had to rant a bit there. 

So here I am adding in my review nearly a whole month after the episode aired. Oops.

Mike really took care of it anyway. I addressed it in later, more up-to-date posts but I agree with the whole idea of doing a compilation review, and not just for GMW but other shows as well. I pretty much have to agree with everything else which leads to the next observation:

It's pretty clear that between STEM and Money the episodes need to go through the rewrite process more rigorously. It could be a little, it could be a lot, it just depends on how the writing staff reacts to the rewriting process and just how plain old good they are. In fact I kind of have to wonder if this is true of most Disney Channel shows (I can think of a few Jessie episodes that probably would've benefitted) but GMW seems to be the show that's most in need of some better rewrites to really make an episode pop. But given that I'm updating a one-month old review I better save it for something more fresh.

There's actually a reason why I've been tardy on this one. Well, several, but I want to address Money on a larger issue with some other things. That's coming soon.

But anyway:

Episode Grade: A-. Unlike STEM I feel like I can better stand by this episode since 1.) It's more coherent and better put-together than STEM and 2.) it doesn't reinterpret certain middle school social experiments that accidentally created a whole classroom full of teeny-bopper Hitlers. That said, yeah, it could stand a little bit more of the rewrite process but not nearly as much.
Episode MVP: Ah to hell with it. Corey Fogelmanis. Yeah, you read that right. Mike already talked about it too, but I think he really needs to be given more credit. Besides, he did a good enough job of being the glue that held the episode together. If there isn't a performance that really stands out I always default to that.

Other observations

 - just like what Mike said, yeah, this is how you integrate a special guest star into an episode. You either go full-bore and make her the central focus of the episode, like Debby Ryan's Aubrey in Demolition or Olivia Stuck's Missy in Sneak Attack, or you actually have that guest star do what he's best known for doing if it's just going to be a cameo, like here with Mark Cuban. Yes technically Perez Hilton fulfills that requirement but...ugh. I mean, c'mon. It should be intrinsically obvious that his guest spot was lame. Or let me put it this way, if it's a role that someone else can accomplish then you done fucked up on your guest spot. I know I tend to be a bigger fan of her than Sean or Christian for likely and technically highly inappropriate reasons, but Debby Ryan is the only person who can play Aubrey McAvoy because of the special spin she's able to put on it (I still think she's a better actress than what our GMWR counterparts give credit). Mark Cuban is the only person who could do what Mark Cuban did in Money, and not just because his name is literally Mark Cuban (they could've had Minkus go solo if it got to that point). Mark Cuban has a certain flair he's earned from Shark Tank and his regular style of conducting business and sports people are very familiar with. Debby Ryan has a certain flair and likability that's made her very popular. Those episodes actually used those elements. Perez...stood there talking into a microphone. C'mon, guys. 

 - Oh, and I'm sorry but I absolutely love how Cuban owned Riley when she was ready to deliver another Knicks speech. Sorry, Riley, but there's more to the NBA than the part of New York that just happens to like the Knicks.

 - Also, I happen to be a Heat fan anyway, so neener neener. 

 - yes this also means I have the same attitude about Luke Ross and the NBA as I do Riley Matthews and the NBA.

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff guys. I liked this episode quite a bit. It's not without its flaws. I'm just really tired of lazy writing.


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