Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Girl Meets World Reviewed - Girl Meets the Bay Window (#2.30, Season 2 Finale)

What is it? Uuugh this is sooooo tedius I'm a gonna staaaaaahp
Why is this ahead of the episode quotation? Again to preserve the context of the original review. Yeah you get the point so I'm going to quit doing this for GMW from now on, since it's our most reviewed show anyway with a related, separate blog entirely dedicated to it (especially since Christian and Sean made it clear they're absolutely not touching anything else by Disney Channel ever again) you should know what's going on.

K, you know what's natural? The way the sun comes in through these windows. And the pillows are warm when you put your head on them. Or the moon glows off the curtain and we don't care that it's the middle of the night because we're here and we're safe and we're protected. Or how Farkle comes in through the window all our lives and says "Ladies!" I don't want that to ever change!

Yes, it is necessary to quote that whole damn thing.

There's a multitude of things that I want to address now, about the episode itself; about the entire series Girl Meets World; about this very blog and sending messages to Mike (since this is the best way I can even contact him, through these very blog posts). But the very first thing I want to address is this whole "you're literally a different person after 7 years" kind of thing. 

That's right, it's time for an episode of "Unknown Gets Set Off Into Another Off-Topic Random Rant Nobody Cares About!"

Very early in the episode (immediately after the quote that opens this review, in fact) Farkle mentions that you're literally a different person than you were 7 years ago by way that the cells in your body 7 years ago cease to exist (or rather, are no longer contained within your body). It's a very useful fact for motivational speakers, but it's also what's known as a canard - as in, the French word for duck, but also something (such as an oft-quoted fact) that ultimately serves as little more than distraction (another key feature of motivational speaking: distract you from your actual problems, hence why canards like this get found frequently there). 

The "7 years a new person" thing is closely related to a philosophical and engineering (that's a combination you rarely see everyday) concept called "The Ship of Thesus." It comes from Greek antiquity and a mythological hero named Thesus (duh), who went off on crazy adventures on his ship, and then the Greeks decided to put this ship in a museum. Considering that iron, steel, and other metals/alloys didn't become commonplace as ship building materials until the last half of the 19th century, Thesus' ship would've been constructed like any other ancient Greek ship - out of wood. Depending on the type of wood used, wood can actually last for a very long time and certain types of wood are actually especially highly resistant to rotting or other forms of being munched upon by animal or plant, especially if chemically treated. However, Greeks didn't have access to these modern miracles of chemistry - not to mention all forms of wood are eventually vulnerable to dry rot, where just as the name implies the wood loses its moisture and shrinks, usually leading to structural damage in the process. If you've ever seen an ancient fence or left balsa wood (which has incredibly poor moisture-retention properties) out to dry after being soaked, you're already familiar with what this is like. So the Greeks had to regularly replace the wood from Thesus' ship and rebuild it periodically even though it's just sitting dry in a museum. One day some wise-guy philosopher (probably Socrates, History's Greatest Wise-Guy) posed the question - if you replaced every piece of wood from Thesus' ship, would it still be Thesus' ship, even though it looks, functions, smells, tastes, what have you, exactly the same as the original ship Thesus actually sailed on? 

Obviously the answer to Mr. Wise-Guy Probably Socrates' direct question is strictly philosophical, but it does have real implications in everyday life - in engineering, in law (for example, the legality of taking a junk car's VIN and using it for a collection of brand-new parts that looks exactly like the old car and calling it the same car can be tricky due to fraud laws and the fact that cars can have greater value either as original or as an entirely new car, depending on the exact situation - yeah, it's complicated, which is my point) and of course in the larger field of philosophy regarding what's "real." And obviously Farkle's little factoid is very related to the Ship of Thesus - the idea that all living multi-cellular organisms including ourselves are living embodiment of Thesus' ship. 

Except there are huge problems with outright claiming that you're literally a new person every 7 years by using that factoid as rationalization.

The first is just freaking common sense as demonstrated by example. Now I know, many philosophers from Socrates again to Einstein (yes in addition to being a physicist Einstein was also a legitimate philosopher) have made much about how common sense is often just an impediment to true philosophical and scientific advancement. But at the end of the day, common sense is just that - freaking common sense. Yes, it can be wrong, but it's not the job of society to throw out the very concept of common sense, but rather modify whatever tidbit about common sense happens to be wrong so that it becomes factually correct. This is the very basics of education, knowledge and logic. Especially when said common sense is demonstrable by example - something which Einstein could attest is supreme in the world of logic and science. Observation and demonstrability trumps waxing poetic that also sounds good for motivational speeches. 

Anyway, you have to consider what a cell actually is, along with the mass of the multi-cellular organism that cell belongs to. 7 years for complete cellular change out is a phenomenally long time as far as time on the scale of cells is concerned. 7 years of cellular time is pretty much the distance in time from now going back to the dawn of humankind itself based on the scale we humans perceive and comprehend. What I'm trying to say is, "cellular" time is rapidly short. If any of you are fresh into high school or college biology, you'll know how relatively rapid the mitosis process is. Well, everything about cellular life is rapid, including life spans. Humans shed tens of thousands of skin cells daily, for example. That's a lot of cells mitosizing in a very short time. 

Now you also have to regard the mass of the living organism itself. You very literally don't notice yourself shedding tens of thousands of skin cells daily - you wouldn't even be able to gather them up into a pile and see that pile without scientific lab equipment. Prolonged exposure to multiple humans shedding skin cells only results in small layers of dust - and much of that dust would also be mixed in from material shed from inorganic or organic processed material (such as cotton fibers) that have been shed from the daily wear process, or other forms of dust such as rock dust from outside sources. 

Or consider a big slab of meat, which is also simultaneously a cross-section of a multi-cellular organism (or if you're a vegetarian, literally any fruit or vegetable will do, but I'd like to keep this analogy closely analogous to the human form specifically). If tens of thousands of skin cells is still invisible to the naked human eye, consider how many cells there must be in that big slab of meat. Now, consider the growth process. Visualize how that slab of meat would grow - new cells would form on the surface of the meat that's touching the plate, and dead cells would be shed on the other side of the meat that's facing away, into the air, at you. As the old layer is shed, a new one forms. As the new layer becomes older, newer layers form under it, with the reference layer essentially "traveling" through that meat slab. When the reference layer dies, it will be on the open-air side of the slab of meat and be shed. 

Now let's say you had a device that could slice that slab of meat in half, extract the one-cell thick reference layer specifically, and then put the slab of meat back together like nothing happened except for the missing reference layer, and the meat keeps on growing and shedding cellular layers. That reference layer you just extracted is now just a useless pile of dead or rapidly dying cells. In multi-cellular organisms, individual cells are nothing. Cells only matter when they're usefully grouped and organized together. The reference layer alone didn't amount to squat - but when it was pressed in with other layers it worked out into a piece of living meat, or to step away from the weird creepy analogy a piece of edible meat that can be cooked into a steak. It's the formation and organization of that slab of meat that matters, not the actual matter and cells that physically constitute that slab of meat. 

Or in other words, regardless of the cells themselves, or how old or original they are, it's the consistency of the slab of meat that's important. You can use chemical or scientific processes to give a jump-start to the cell formation and shedding process and simultaneously force all the cells to mitosize at once and then kill off all the "original" cells. The slab of meat would technically be completely new but the question of whether or not it's a new slab of meat or the same exact old slab of meat is completely immaterial and irrelevant - because it's still the exact same consistency

It's consistency, rather than raw physical matter, that often lends a more useful definition of "real" and "original" instead of providing fodder for outright trolling or wise-guy shenanigans. Unfortunately either most people are just too lazy to understand the concept of consistency, or the allure and entertainment value of being a philosophical troll is too great (I've been to 4chan so I know that allure is very powerful) and so philosophical trolling like this gets oft-repeated as some sort of philosophical theological or otherwise vague/motivational "feel-good" gospel.

Really, the very fact that disease like cancer even exists should suggest that the whole "you become a literal new person every 7 years" thing is kind of bunk-y (both in the nonsense sense and the show nonsense, because Bunk'd is indeed a load of bunk, you suck, Pamela Eells O'Connell) without further clarification and understanding of what you're actually talking about. According to the logic within that quip, cancerous cells should just naturally work themselves out over the course of mitosis, and you will automatically and magically become cancer-free if you just manage to live seven years. Because, again, it's consistency, not just raw matter and cells. Cancerous cells themselves continue to mitosize and form anew and die, and in the process they gain their own consistency in the form of a tumor. 

So yes, Farkle is technically accurate. But technically can also be a load of bunk on a practical level. That's why the phrase technicality exists. In the real, observable world that we live and work in, practicality trumps all. You have a bunch of other stuff that's only useful when you start to shrink further and further down (such as in microbial medicine and attempting to extract properties from the quantum world that would be useful in the macro-world, such a teleportation and time-travel for example) and you have a bunch of other stuff that's really only good for feel-good motivational speeches.

Anyway, with yet another long-winded rant knocked out let's return to the GMW Season 2 finale!

On the very basis of its narrative construction, presentation, and subject matter I think we all pretty much have to conclude that Bay Window is pretty glurdgy, by intention. That's a really cheap way of trying to wring out equally cheap sentimentality out of a show, but that's just the prevailing attitude when it comes to little kiddie shows like this. The question is does it work because of it, or does it work in spite of it, or does it work at all?

The little kids they got to play young Maya, Riley and Farkle are adorable, and the skit with Still-Peyton-Meyer Lucas was head and shoulder above adorable, but I'd be damned if I can actually follow along what the hell was supposed to be happening plot/narrative-wise in that skit. 

We didn't really learn anything new about the characters, which again I suppose is to be expected for what amounts to a glorified clip show, only using clips from episodes far before a period in the show where the show actually exists on video (and then very briefly into the far future, again to a point the show very likely won't exist anymore to cover). I guess it's similar in concept to the Phineas and Ferb episode Act Your Age, only in the reverse direction, deep in the past instead of in the far future. Only in Act Your Age, the episode had much ground to cover and catch up on in terms of character development. In fact that episode was all character development, fast-forwarding to cover all the dangling character threads that would've been left out otherwise had the show gone from the previous episode straight to the series finale (Act Your Age happened to be the penultimate episode of the series).

Bay Window mostly felt as if it was treading water, covering already well-worn ground and mostly just wanted to be cutesy and glurdge-y and remind the audience that, again, Maya's home life sucked because she didn't have a father growing up and that a show about two best friends is a show about two best friends. The parts covering how Riley reacted to Auggie's birth might as well have been a snap of Cory's fingers. The entire episode pretty much played out exactly as I would have expected it to.

Is that a bad thing? Kind of. Whatever strengths this episode had rests entirely on the cutesy-ness of the young players plus cheap tugging of the heartstrings. Those Humane Society commercials with the crying cats in the cages may be very much a cheap shot emotionally, but hey it works (that's why it's such a cheap shot in the first place). Especially considering the dual demo for this show - kids who like Maya and Riley are either still relatively young in middle school, and therefore feel as if they're still transitioning in life, or kids who are now thinking about high school and have to go through yet another transition, and their relatively young-ish parents who are both witnessing their own children going through aforementioned transitions or are still fresh off their own transitions from teens and young adults to "full" adults (or the nostalgia crowd like Christian and Sean and myself, who are still young adults) - the idea of life-long best friends who suddenly have to separate due to diverging life paths also presents another cheap yet effective shot to the heart. Other than death, childbirth and matters of romance it's one of the most emotional circumstances someone can go through (and such a departure can involve up to all three). And given the demos I just mentioned, that's something that usually crops up with heavy frequency - so covering both ends of the spectrum like they did in this episode certainly gets all their bases covered

So...hmmm. Yeah. Glurdge away, Josh Jacobs, I guess. Josh Jacobs is gonna Josh Jacobs, as we've seen regarding all his scripts put to network so far.

Episode Grade: A flat B. I'm not entirely not going to see right pass the glurdge-factor of the show (inb4 double-negative nitpickers). It's probably what we should expect from the season finale of GMW's middle season. The two season finales so far have been about change - we saw it in Meets First Date (no, Demolition was not the first season finale, I don't care what anybody says or what the intro credits suggest, use yer brains peeps) and this episode is entirely about change. This episode just handled it in rather static, sentimental fashion.
Episode MVP: I'm kind of torn between the little kids with Peyton-Meyer-Still-As-Lucas or the two adult actresses they got for the close. I have to admit the adults especially were well-cast as believably related to Sabs and Row, at least.
Season Grade: ...eh, howabout we leave that to a dedicated entry?

Stray observations:

 - I've noticed that with a few exceptions I seem to have a much higher opinion of the back half of Season 2 than other people. The few exceptions, mainly Commonism, Belief and New Year, I'm for the most part in agreement with everybody else (and even then I liked New Year at least slightly better than most people). I liked Meets Texas Parts 2 and 3 at least slightly better than most people too it seems. Again, I'll cover that more in greater detail in a dedicated entry.

 - This is the first GMW review in a loooong time that wasn't kicked off by Mike first! I hope he's not too busy with anything (well we are approaching prom season and college application season). Speaking of which I'd say for Season 3 we stick to his idea, just review a bunch of episodes at once - unless it turns out to be an exceptionally good episode or an exceptionally bad episode.

- I'm also curious what the rest of you guys think in terms of GMW as a whole or other shows. I'll organize some way to get some sort of mass response beyond just the five readers or so who actually look at this blog.

7 comments:

  1. Not to be that guy, but the season finale is Girl Meets Legacy, next month.

    That said, I would be lying if I said I truly thought Girl Meets World is good. The acting makes the garbage scripts for the past half dozen episodes easier to swallow. The thing is, before Michael Jacobs even knew what he wanted to do with GMW, he patented it, and he slapped it on a plastic lunchbox and now he's selling it.

    Jurassic Park references aside...the show's biggest flaws include trying to be some great world changing show. And it's not. It tries to be so smart, and it falls flat with mediocre writing. I like the kids, even Peyton Meyer, has grown on me. But I want more to keep me invested.

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    1. First of all: D'oh! I've just decided to be lazy about keeping track of episodes especially this season since they're so many (and besides that's Christian and Sean's job!) and Bay Window just seems like an obvious finale - the different Mayas and Rileys, the conversations and subjects between them and even down to the episode title - that I consider it an easy mistake. Heck people on IMDb even thought it was the season finale.

      I'll agree with everything in the first paragraph. But I'm not sure if I would prefer a show that tries so hard to be smart and fails, and pretends to try to change the world and doesn't, or a show that doesn't even pretend to try to change anything at all (since I've been complaining about people complaining about Austin & Ally and Jessie I'll use Game Shakers or Bunk'd as an example as those are truly terrible shows). Or a show that ends up doing exactly all that but by accident like Liv and Maddie or even Boy Meets World.

      The kids have grown on me - I was really tempted to name Peyton as episode's MVP but I balked because honestly I didn't think people would take that as credible. And of course you should be wanting more to keep you invested - as the viewer that's the bare minimum you can really ask of a TV show.

      But I can get into that more later.

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  2. Despite my various issues with GMW, I can't bitch too many because it's still trying way harder than any other show on Disney, and even it's worst episodes are miles above alot of stuff on here. I think people grossly overexgrte the flaws of the weaker episodes.

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    1. Except for the Halloween one. Nothing could save that one.

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    2. I honestly don't know why people keep saying that. I don't think GMW is any better or worse than any other show on the network. I think people just have heavy nostalgia filters on and/or they've fallen under the allure of branding.

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    3. nah, even that one is better than any episode of Bun'k'd or whatever. plus that one does some fun moments, it's just bogged down with poor pacing and filer.


      And i have no nostalgia attachments to bmw, and i've only seen a few episodes. i view GMW on it's own merits, and it's so clearly better than a majority of stuff on disney because it clearly tries harder and isn't as nasty or mean or dumb, mostly.

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