Saturday, July 30, 2016

Girl Meets World Reviewed: Girl Meets Ski Lodge (Part II)

It's over.

I think the GMW reviews might end up being a solo-act for Mike for a few reasons, chief among them because honestly at this point it's getting hard for me to keep up (yes, even with them being shown only every other week) and quite frankly I've just lost interest. I honestly don't see much of a point in slogging through a bunch of C and even D episodes just for a smattering of B (or even A episodes in the case of Meets Report Card) and punching out reviews days or even weeks late when someone here is already covering them diligently (again, it's really nice to have someone else co-write your blog, thanks Mike!) and you have another entire blog covering just this one show. Again, Mike's been covering GMW more than very nicely and better than I can say it, and the only true disagreement we've had this season so far is Meets Jexica where I thought the B-plot was so crappy it drags down the entire episode a grade demerit but the core sentiment is still there (and maybe Meets Report Card which I thought might be the strongest episode of the entire show so far, and the way things are looking right now, strongest episode of the show period but Mike still gave it a very good grade).I also want to do reviews of other shows to help us differentiate ourselves from GMWReviewed, so that's where I'm concentrating. So I'll be working on reviews of the original Adventures in Babysitting starring Elizabeth Shue, the Nickelodeon one-time special Lost in the West and mini-reviews of School of Rock, Legendary Dudas and Bizaardvark (spoiler alert: of those last three shows exactly one of them is actually good so far). Probably (hopefully) mini-reviews of Bella and the Bulldogs and Stuck in the Middle as well. And of course Mike is invited (actually, highly encouraged) to participate in those reviews as well.   

With all the rumors circulating that this might be Girl Meets World's last season, it's only fitting that I review this episode because it almost makes me wish the rumors are true. You can talk about this show moving to Freeform or ABC all you want, that's not going to change anything. A network switch isn't going to make the show more compelling or give it more depth. Sure, they will be able to address heavier subjects on another network, but bad writing is bad writing no matter what. I have seen good and bad episodes of this show. Taking it somewhere else isn't going to do anything to Michael Jacobs' creative vision. He wanted Girl Meets World like this, and it's only going to stay like this. I just don't understand why people want this show to be more like Pretty Little Liars or The Fosters when it can just be the spiritual successor to Boy Meets World like it should have been. But enough of that, time to review.

I'm just going to come right out and say it, this might be the worst episode this show has ever done. Wait, that's not going far enough. This might be the worst episode of any kids live-action show of the last five years. Okay, that's going too far. Bottom line, this is an awful episode because it literally destroys nine months of buildup and hype for a predictable ending we all saw coming along with a dirty, underhanded, nonsensical way to get to that ending. It's a terrible ripoff of one of the best episodes of the original show, and it is hardly entertaining or intriguing or does anything but make me wonder why I don't just stop reviewing this show now. I still have the rest of season three to renew my GMW contract, but with episodes like this, the job is not being made any easier.

So Riley is talking to the mountain boy named Evan. Add him to the list of creepy one-off characters this season, which just grows larger and larger. He acts as some kind of guru to help the kids sort out their feelings for each other, but his role is absolutely unnecessary and the episode could have cut him out completely. Plus, there's an unbelievably shocking twist ending that no one ever saw coming involving Evan, but I'll leave that for the extra thoughts. Anyway, Riley was talking to Evan and they got caught. Hey, it's just like that BMW episode where Cory and Lauren were talking all night. What a coincidence!

The remainder of the episode is just a bunch of talking and not a whole lot of action. It's just a long-winded way of telling us that Lucas and Riley were made for each other. I don't have a problem with Lucas choosing Riley because it finally puts an end to the triangle, and it was the choice everybody expected anyway. As much as the fans see the chemistry between Lucas and Maya, the writers have made it perfectly clear that they will never be together. What really gets my blood boiling, what really puts this episode on my list, is that they try to justify why Lucas and Riley should be together with absolute bullshit. Maya realizes that when she became Riley, she was trying to protect her and see what kind of guy Lucas was. She never liked him, she only liked him because Riley did and she felt the need to feel what Riley felt.

Okay, all bets are off now.

1. Maya only started going through this identity crisis crap in "Triangle." Literally nothing she did before that episode even indicated that she was starting to become Riley. That's how I know the writers were just really scrambling for a way to end this triangle.

2. What kind of stupidity is this? The guys who were responsible for Boy Meets World, a show that often handled romance and relationships with maturity and insight, are really overseeing this garbage? The triangle started all the way in "Texas," which means Maya has been like Riley for that long. Everything we have seen since last October has been for absolutely nothing. They waited this long to give us a horrible ending, and they tied it into a story that should have never been told in the first place. This goes beyond inept storytelling, this is almost pure contempt for the audience. When you continue coming up with episodes like this, that completely shit on a story you created yourself, it's almost like you really do hate your fans. I don't care if you want Lucas and Riley together, don't justify it with this bullshit.

You guys know the Family Guy episode "Seahorse Seashell Party" where Meg finally strikes back at the family for years of abuse, and then near the end, she realizes that her abuse is a lightning rod for the family's dysfunction? That's probably one of the worst excuses to keep a story running that I have ever heard. They tried addressing the Meg abuse seriously, and then at the drop of a dime, came up with that reason to justify the abuse. And Meg was portrayed as noble for doing this. This episode is the G-rated version of that. Maya was praised by Josh for becoming Riley and protecting her until she knew Lucas was right for her. This is so unrealistic, I can't even get that angry. This story is so just terribly written, so tone deaf with what teenagers think, so messy that when I first watched this episode, I almost didn't want to watch GMW again. I just felt so insulted after everything was over. What kind of person does this in the real world? I can't buy Maya's motivations because there was no buildup or development at all. They just told this story because they wanted to, without any regards to whether or not it would even work or have some sense of logic. 

Oh yeah, apparently, Josh likes Maya now, because nothing bad can ever happen to these characters at all. Everything is a utopian society where everything is perfect and they never have to run into any real problems. Screw reality, am I right? While the thought of Riley's uncle dating his niece's best friend is awful to think about out of context, this really won't affect the show at all, especially considering the rumors. They won't even go out until many years down the line. I don't know, I'm numb to this overall. Wait, but didn't Maya say that Josh was just a fantasy in the last episode? Whatever. Out of sight, out of mind.

So at the end of the day, everybody's happy and everything this show tried to do with the triangle was torn apart in a matter of seconds. The sad part is that I gave these writers so much praise during "Texas," for trying to tell a realistic story that actually put the characters in an awkward, uncertain position. Then the New Year's episode came, and then the graduation episode came, and nine months later, after a bunch of pointless filler and cliffhangers, this is how they choose to end it all. This doesn't make for interesting television when everything is wrapped up in a little bow. It's not interesting television when I can't understand why these characters do certain things and act certain ways. And it's not interesting television when you tell these stories because they don't make sense and they completely destroy your own work. 

Watching this episode was an exercise in my patience. There's really nothing redeemable about this one. It's boring, frustrating, annoying, soulless, and ends a dragged out story with terrible, terrible justification. Watching more Boy Meets World episodes and reading Sean's blog has given me a deeper appreciation for what the original show did. It really is worth the hype, and is living proof that at one point, these writers were able to tell wonderful stories that made sense and didn't talk down to the audience. But that was a long time ago, and I feel like BMW has been put on a pedestal like it was classic Simpsons or Seinfeld, to the point where the writers felt like they had to live up to a serious legacy. It could have been so simple. I saw potential in that pilot, and season one was just testing the waters. Season two showed improvement, but it still wasn't there yet. And with season three in full swing, the same problems they had two years ago are still here. 

I don't know. Maybe it's for the best that they don't get a fourth season, and I'm not really looking forward to the rest of season three either. I think episodes like this just......break me.

Episode Grade: D-
Episode MVP: Ben Savage. Cory gave me the only enjoyment I could find in this episode. And again I wonder, why isn't this show a self-parody?

EXTRA THOUGHTS
-This episode was written by Aaron Jacobs. You know, if you see "Jacobs" in the writing credits at this point, that should probably be a sign to stay away. 

-There are some small jokes that really aren't enough to elevate this episode at all, but I like when Riley tells the sun to go back down after she realizes she's been up all night talking to Evan. I don't think their connection matters at all because Evan isn't even a character, just a plot device. Not a very good plot device at that.

-I'm still not crazy about them reusing the BMW opening sequence, but I noticed in the last episode that there's a joke in there I really like: Farkle has the football and it looks like he's telling Lucas to go long, then he just drops the football and walks away. That's really funny.

-Speaking of Farkle, I really like his dynamic with Smackle in this episode. It's like the writers were apologizing for what they did in part one because they have the level of closeness and teamwork I expect from them. You know, at some point, the writers should really expand their horizons and have episodes focused on other characters besides Riley, Maya, and Lucas. Imagine if most of Boy Meets World's episodes were all about Cory and/or Topanga. That would have really sucked. It pays to have a main cast that you can explore in various ways. They have done a couple Farkle episodes before, but very few of them have really stood out. 

-Am I the only one who thinks Josh always sounds like he's just about done chewing his cereal? I don't know, small things here. 

-To try and get them to explore their feelings, I guess, Evan plays the same relationship game that Cory and the gang played in the original episode. See, in "Heartbreak Cory," it made sense because Lauren was interested in Cory and for the most part was just doing this for herself. Her motivations made sense because she was attracted to Cory. Evan is just doing this to help the kids and it's never even hinted that he likes Riley. You can't just reference things without understanding why they worked the first time. It's also annoying because any time Evan asks them a question, he says a potential answer and they keep interrupting him, even though it's multiple choice and you're supposed to hear all the options first. And apparently, he lied about these questions being new because he wanted to help Riley and her friends. Sherpas, they get you where you need to be going.

-Seriously, these conversations just go on and on and on. I was waiting for Lucas and Riley to kiss, but that didn't even happen. 

-Twist ending: Evan is Lauren's son. Yeah, this show lives in bizarro world. I called it, but it still doesn't make any sense. Could you imagine the conversation Lauren must have had with her son over this? "Hey, Evan, do you want to hear about the time I almost broke up a relationship?" "I want to be a sherpa when I grow up, Mom!" "No. Don't do that."

 - Spoiler Alert #2: The one good show isn't the incredibly crappy, terminally boring dumbed-down remake of a now-ancient Jack Black movie in pre-tween television form mostly coasting on the fact that Pete Wentz and Kendall Schmidt occasionally make guest appearances on. Breanna Yde and Jade Pettyjohn desperately need better agents.

 - I think Jessie Prescott's actual, full name might be just Jessie Prescott. No middle name, and not "Jessica Prescott" just "Jessie." That's what I'm getting from this random rerun of There Goes the Bride.

Yeah I'll get out of here now.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Girl Meets World Reviewed: Girl Meets Ski Lodge (Part I)

I think the alternate title to this is "Heartbreak Riley," or maybe it's "End the %¡%©®@! Triangle Already!!!"

In season five of Boy Meets World, the writers decided to do a storyline where Cory and Topanga break up. They did it before in season three to pretty good results, and they would do it again in season seven........to pretty bad results. Here in season five, it was the first time that it felt like Corpanga was really on the line. You actually believed Cory could have feelings for another girl, and this girl was so charming and likeable, fans still argue to this day that Cory should have been with her. It all started with the ski lodge episode "Heartbreak Cory," where Cory injures his leg falling off the bus and ends up forming a connection with one of the employees there named Lauren. She ends up kissing him, Topanga finds out about the situation, and she later breaks up with him. I could spend the whole review gushing about this, but Boy Meets World handled the story realistically, tragically, and most importantly, entertainingly.

18 years later, Girl Meets World decides to reenact "Heartbreak Cory" and end the triangle at the same time. Do they get it right?

What do you think the answer is?

I could sit here and get angry but it's a waste of time. I've already spent so much time getting angry at this show for botching the triangle that I'm numb to things like this. Weird James Bond fantasies, Lauren 2.0, nothing of substance actually happening at all. This is par for the course stuff here. I'm more upset about things like Smackle's apparent attraction to Lucas and Josh than the rest of this episode. But instead of going scene by scene like I usually do, I'll just talk about it in general. There's really nothing to dissect here. It's not as empty as the Halloween episodes which I absolutely refuse to review under any circumstances, but we have to talk about something here.

First off, the callbacks are frustrating and annoy the shit out of me. I understand Girl Meets World likes to reference the show it spawned from. That makes sense, every reboot and spinoff does it. But when you're just blatantly copying what the original show did, that's not an homage or a reference, you're just ripping off ace material and doing it much worse. Could you imagine what it would be like if this show tried biting classics like "Turnaround," "City Slackers," "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," "Chick Like Me," "Security Guy," "Raging Cory," "Eric Hollywood," or anything else in between? They would screw it up every time because I have no faith in the writers to tell these stories. I'm starting to think "Texas" was a lucky break because as far as multi-part episodes go, GMW is incapable of doing them well. 

You really don't believe me when I say that this is a "Heartbreak Cory" ripoff? Let's see here. Directly referencing the episode you're about to rip off multiple times, the ski lodge setting, Riley falling off the bus, a love triangle, Riley presumably connecting with an employee at the ski lodge. I think that checks every box. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a Lauren appearance in part two or we find out that the mystery guy is her son or nephew or something. I honestly believe that will happen. You know, to reward BMW fans for remembering old episodes.

The one thing I don't understand is that if they're going to do another ski lodge episode, why not do it to the letter? The mystery guy was literally in the last scene of the episode. He should have been introduced much earlier. This is when we find out the connection between him and Riley, and this is when the guy starts endearing himself to the audience. There's no emotional investment or stakes here, this guy is just a plot device. Lauren was more than that. She was a legitimate character that people actually rooted for over Topanga. In one episode, we learned a bit about her story, we saw some of her charm, we sensed that Cory was beginning to fall for her. You could actually see these two in a relationship, that's what made Lauren so endearing. This guy is here today, gone tomorrow, and we all know that.

Another thing I don't like is that they can't do this ski lodge episode when their hands are already tied with this triangle that should have died a long time ago. Whatever happened to Lucas' decision? He made a decision, he said so, and we never heard anything beyond that! Again, why should I care about this messy, convoluted, undesirable storyline anymore? Not even real life high school kids are this unbearable. Okay, sometimes they are, but you don't have to be realistic to tell a decent story all the time. Cory and Topanga are an anomaly and BMW understood that. Lucas, Riley, and Maya have been playing games for almost a year and the show treats it like the cutest thing in the world. It's not anymore. At one point, it was, but after the New Year's episode, they kept wasting every opportunity to end it. How hard is it for Lucas to say that he can't choose either and he just wants to be friends with both? Or choose Riley? At this point, I know he's not choosing Maya. 

"I choose to stop." What happened to that line? 

"I'm tired all the time." Official triangle tagline.

"We were kings, Matthews." YEAH, NO SHIT, AND I STILL HATE THIS LINE.

I think at one point in the episode, one of these children said something along the lines of them being unable to figure it out for themselves. That's right, because you all have to deal with terrible writing. It's time for Cory or Topanga or Josh to step in and end this because I've been at my wit's end for weeks. Season three has been such a slog to get through. Outside of two episodes, all this season has done so far is irritate, bore, and infuriate me. This might be the last one I even try to review, if the show even gets a fourth season. I don't know if I can do this anymore. This show has continued to disappoint me and I don't see any end in sight. After this season is over, I'm really considering hanging it up and moving on to other shows. It's only fair to the people reading this blog and Unknown because his reviewing diet has more variety. 

I said a while ago that Girl Meets World gives me a lot to talk about. But what more can I say when the writers consistently make the same mistakes and aren't interested in taking the show to new heights? If this is what they think GMW's zenith is, then I'm not sticking around for much longer. I'm giving my notice right now.

Episode Grade: C-
Episode MVP: Nobody. I don't know, it's been pretty hot lately, a shower's going to feel good later.

EXTRA THOUGHTS
-The opening scene was really weird to me. Like, really, really weird. They were talking about the events of "Heartbreak Cory," the triangle, Riley addressing her parents by their names. Is Girl Meets World some kind of self-parody? Is that the ultimate joke that none of us are getting here? Or is the writing just this bad because there's nothing else to it? 

-The way they handled Riley falling off the bus was so clumsy and forced. In the original episode, Cory hobbling into the ski lodge held up by Shawn and Topanga was pretty funny, but hard to watch at the same time because Ben Savage really sold the pain. Here, it just feels like Riley got some snow stuck in her shoe and they can't get it out. And of course, they have to be meta about it because they didn't just already address the episode they're ripping off in the last scene. Seriously, is this show a self-parody?

-Why is the ski lodge exactly the same as the original episode? Guys, I don't know if you know this, and it startled me when I first realized it........but Girl Meets World.....is based in New York City. I just cracked the code. Does Michael Jacobs know about this? Should somebody tell someone?

-Apparently, while Riley was sitting by herself doing nothing with her nose pressed against the window, Farkle got into a predicament during the hike and Maya had to save him. Lucas was pretty upset about Maya putting herself in danger. You know, despite the fact that your other friend was also in danger? I'm really glad we didn't get to see that. -_-

-Of all the things this show has done in the past, what they did to Smackle's character here is really off-putting. She spends the whole runtime fawning over Lucas, and then Josh. They do this joke multiple times, even in the dream sequence where Smackle is disappointed to see Farkle there. I don't know why the writers thought this would be funny to include, but it's not. The reason this joke worked in the past is because Smackle, out of nowhere, would think Lucas was trying to make a move and she would shame him for it. That's true to her character and is genuinely funny. Just implying that she's interested in Lucas like this while Farkle doesn't know what to make of the situation is really sad. Please don't make these jokes again.

-I barely remember anything I actually liked about this episode, but one thing that got a chuckle out of me was Farkle and Zay's play argument. Also, the Yogi/Darby stuff was pretty funny. When I describe anything Yogi does as a highlight, that's how you know this episode was in bad shape.

-I don't know why they included the fantasy sequences here when they didn't move the plot along and just wasted time. All we found out was that Lucas.........may not be interested in dating either of them? What was I supposed to take from that?

-I'm going to save myself the pain and disappointment by just watching part two today, but I'll save the review for next Saturday. I swear, if they don't end this triangle in part two, I'm really going to spaz out.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Girl Meets World Reviewed: Girl Meets True Maya

Will the real Maya Hart please stand up?

I guess I'll just start the review like this: I haven't been impressed with season three so far. Seven episodes in, and it doesn't seem like the show has evolved that much. I mean, they are trying new things and I respect that, but the execution of these plots continues to fail them. Out of all the episodes aired so far, I can genuinely say I liked two of them. And by that, I mean the whole episode because this one is, um.......a doozy, to say the least. 

What this episode wants to do is show us that Riley's friendship has had a positive impact on Maya, and she can no longer be the big bad rebel she used to be. That's all well and good, and if this episode was supported by what we have already seen on this show, it would be a definite A-quality half-hour. But.....it's not. This is another case of GMW telling, not showing. This has been a problem for the past two years. Since the show began, actually. Maya has always been presented to us as this mischievous troublemaker that's always doing recklessly impulsive things and continues that way, despite having learned her lesson multiple times. But as much as the show kept telling us that, we were never shown that. There was the homework rebellion in the pilot, walking out of Cory's class after she failed a test, and that's just me thinking off the top of my head. Maya has had a consistent characterization for a while now, so anything this identity crisis story tries to do fails completely. In order for this to really work, you would have had to build it up from the season premiere. Have Maya slowly start picking up more of Riley's traits until she becomes a split image of her. It could be due to her wanting to do things the right way in high school. Anything but what we actually received. 

And that leads me to my next point. Maya has never been what this episode portrays her to be. She has old friends who she apparently used to commit vandalism with, she is initially suspected of setting off the fire alarm and stealing one hundred bucks from the cash register at Topanga's. Maya has never been a petty criminal. She even says so in this episode. So what are we really trying to accomplish here? Maya says that her friends don't know what she's capable of. What are you talking about? What can Maya Hart possibly do that's worse than pulling the fire alarm or stealing from her mother? Girl Meets World doesn't need to tell this story. This comes off as more of a Thundermans episode if I'm being honest. In fact, I think this actually was a Thundermans episode. Maya Hart is not Max Thunderman. Max commits petty crimes and enjoys pranks in an attempt to prove to himself and his family that he's a villain. We know Max is not evil and will never be a threat to anybody, he's just a troublemaker who likes doing the wrong thing sometimes. If anything, this is the kind of episode that would better suit his character. 

When this episode was first promoted, it looked like Maya was trying to over-compensate for being good for so long by being as bad as she possibly could. Pulling the fire alarm, stealing money, vandalizing a public park with her old friends. That would actually make sense and be interesting to watch Maya go off the deep end. Then when I first watched the episode, it seemed like it was teasing me. You would think Maya pulled the fire alarm or stole, but it's meant to throw you off because she has something bigger planned. But she doesn't even vandalize anything. She does nothing bad in this episode. Of course, she's about to commit vandalism near the end, but she doesn't, and even stops her old friends from doing more damage. It turns out she did some graffiti art, but it was positive graffiti art with an uplifting message. Then we end on what I thought was a little too sappy for this show. I don't know, it didn't work for me. It felt like an episode of Full House or something. I actually thought Maya was going to do something bad, but she didn't, and I'm left wondering what I'm supposed to learn from this. The lesson here applies more to The Thundermans than this show, and because the identity crisis story never made any sense in the first place, any attempt at emotion is undercut automatically. 

Even though the plot really blew its shot at being good, I have to give the episode points for comedy. As I learned from the reviews on Me Blog Write Good, humor can absolve many sins, and this episode was actually one of the funniest all season. I don't know if I've brought this up before, but there's no one I could ever see playing Riley better than Rowan Blanchard. She has gotten to the point where she absolutely owns this character. The facial expressions, the mannerisms, the dialogue, she sells all of it. It's very weird to watch this show and then hear about the things Rowan says on Twitter because you almost believe she acts like Riley in real life. Anyway, this episode had some pretty good jokes, at least in the early goings. That should count for something, so in spite of me not liking the story, a couple good jokes and Riley's characterization makes this a more enjoyable episode than the last two.

Episode Grade: B-
Episode MVP: Rowan Blanchard. This was one of Riley's best showings, and the episode wasn't even about her. The show is a lot more enjoyable when it's funny, and especially when Riley and Maya entertain me. I should never feel ill will towards them unless they deserve it, and in this episode, it really felt like Riley was written exactly the way I want her to be. 

EXTRA THOUGHTS
-The episode really did a good job of building things up in the beginning, making you think Maya had something big planned to prove she still had some badass inside of her. It was pretty funny when Maya threw out Riley's hairbrush, and when Riley simply pulled out another one, Maya got rid of the rest. Also, the opening scene was great for Maya. Dictating the rules, telling Riley that she doesn't control her. I was intrigued there.

-Lucas is way more entertaining when he's doing comedy than when he's doing drama. Yup, that's how badly they screwed up the imaginary triangle. He gets a great one in class when he just piggybacks off of Farkle's answer, being so proud of himself for doing it. Then later on, when Farkle is imitating a volcano, Lucas uses this odd British accent and just starts saying random nonsense. I don't know if this was improvised or not because it came out of nowhere, but it was absolutely hilarious. This show's sense of humor is a lot better than most kids shows, I will say that.

-Another misstep for this episode is the subplot, if you could call it that. Remember Doy? That one character who was really funny in his first appearance and now serves no purpose at all but to do the same joke from his first appearance, only more predictable and not nearly as funny? They gave him a story for the first time. Apparently, Doy is freaking out because he's been stealing candy from the candy store for a year without knowing he had to pay for it. But it seems like the police officer is going to let it slide so long as Doy stops going to the store. I would just like to point out how ridiculous that is. How could Doy steal candy for literally an entire year and nobody noticed him doing so? Nobody in the store told him he had to pay for it and just let him leave every day with stolen candy? I'm assuming his parents were there for a majority of the trips, so how did they not notice it? How did the store owner not see the same kid walk in every day for a year and steal candy? And if he did see him, wouldn't he have said something about it? Was this a case of Doy just being a brat? The candy he stole was in plain sight. I don't know, it's just a TV show, it shouldn't have to make sense, lol.

-The most shocking thing about this episode was that nobody popped for Reginald VelJohnson when he showed up. I don't get it. Did they miss the cue to applaud or something? That's Carl Winslow from Family Matters, show the man some respect! The show doesn't even add in some canned applause. It was a travesty.

-Seriously, I really would have liked it if Maya took things too far in an attempt to get her spark back. All she did was skip school which is really nothing when you're in high school. I mean, at some point, these characters are going to have to do bad things and get punished for it. They're not perfect human beings, just everyday teenagers. It's perfect timing because TeenNick has been airing season three episodes of Boy Meets World all week. Cory and Shawn were always faced with some challenge or made the wrong decision or had lapses of judgment and were always punished and forced to pay for their actions. By doing so, they really met the world. I mean, compare the episode "Hometown Hero" to something like this. I actually felt for Cory in that situation, being legitimately shook at telling his parents what he did. I would love to see scenes like that on this show.

-Lucas used one of Cory's lessons to talk about Maya's beauty, something Riley didn't take very well. AAAHHH, TRIANGLE FLASHBACKS!!!

-Farkle kissed Maya's nose, in what was an admittedly cute bit. Could I have more Maya/Farkle scenes, please? They never interact much, or at least not anymore.

-Seriously, the ending just fell flat for me. You want to know why this felt like some 80s sitcom episode? Maya meets some of her old friends at the park, who are interested in vandalizing the place. What this scene is trying to do is tell me that Riley has changed Maya and would never hang out with these people. But what doesn't make sense is that Maya's old friends talk like she only stopped talking to them when she started hanging out with Riley. Riley and Maya have been best friends for years, that has to be an oversight. Also, one of them is an idiot and wants Riley's life for some reason. Her name is Renee. The other girl is named Carla, and while the actress is cute, she creeps me out here. She stands so close to Maya whenever she talks. It really looks like she's going to stab her from behind or give her a hickey or something. Carla and Renee just reek of being made from a very special episode. The only thing I'm surprised about is that this scene didn't end with Maya being assaulted or sexually violated. It's usually how this type of scene goes.

-As soon as Officer Winslow tells everyone to come to the park and see what Maya did, I knew it was going to be revealed that she made some uplifting graffiti. I saw it coming a mile away. Admittedly, this is way more satisfying than Maya being written up for something she didn't do, but her whole rap about not being able to hurt anyone or anything because of Riley, the graffiti itself, the credits tag with the core four standing side by side........it was too much. It felt a little vapid and sugary for this show. Of course, if Maya really did go off the deep end and become interested in petty crimes, this ending would have been earned. But it wasn't. Literally the only thing this episode was missing was a PSA from Officer Winslow telling me not to do drugs.

-When Officer Winslow kept saying "The system works" as a joke, I thought it was meant as subtle commentary on police brutality. And then I thought about what would happen if Girl Meets World ever addressed police brutality. And then I thought about slapping myself in the face for coming up with such a terrible, terrible, terrible idea.

-Hey, next week's episode looks pretty good. It looks like Riley, Maya, and Lucas are going to address their feelings for each other. And they're going to be away from New York City while they do it, get into some legitimate drama. I don't know, guys, this could be a real game changer. Wait a minute, why does this feel so similar to the "Texas" episodes? Oh yeah, right, this show is ripping itself off and paying homage to BMW's ski lodge episode at the same time. For the next two weeks, we're all going to hell. 



Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Girl Meets World Reviewed: Girl Meets the Up North Trip

I know what the episode's called, but I like Mobb Deep. Let's just say, taking an up north trip isn't exactly like this episode. 

You may have noticed that I haven't posted a review for the past two episodes of Girl Meets World. It's not because I haven't seen the episodes yet, but simply because I became too lazy to devote my time to writing them and the drafts are still in the vault. I'm almost done with my review of "Triangle" but I think I'm going to watch "Permanent Record" again. To give you a taste of what those reviews will be like, here's a sneak preview: I thought "Permanent Record" was a solid, entertaining episode, but "Triangle" is the worst episode of the season so far. This episode looks like it's taking elements from both episodes to create, um......this episode. Let's dig into "Upstate," shall we?

So Riley and Maya have decided to take a trip someplace to help Maya get her identity back, because the last episode established for some inexplicable reason that she has developed an identity crisis. Apparently, Maya has become too much like Riley. That was one of my biggest complaints about "Triangle": It introduces a nonsensical plot point that is not supported by anything we have seen on the show so far. Maya was herself in the opening scene of that episode and every season three episode beforehand. The art teacher is bizarrely harsh on her work and she just becomes a zombie for the rest of the episode for no rhyme or reason. I can't be interested in Maya getting her voice back because I know she never lost it. That plot point was introduced for something much worse and much more insulting, but we'll get to that. So they have decided to visit Shawn's upstate cabin. Hey, it's a Shawn episode. Anything with Shawn is guaranteed to be at least a little above average, and this is no exception. Shawn talks about how Maya's situation is parallel to his, because for so long, he wanted to have what Cory had. Then he started wondering if Cory damaged him, in a humorous way. Shawn and Maya both try to reconnect with their older selves by wearing their vintage clothes, but it doesn't work and then some other stuff happens and Shawn and Katy are getting married.

Also, we get another installment of one of the worst things to ever happen to this show: Triangle Theatre. Will Lucas be able to get closer to possibly making a decision? Who knows? 

Alright, so I think I figured out what I liked about this episode and what I didn't. The Boy Meets World stuff, everything that dealt with Shawn and his friendship with Cory, that was fine. It was genuinely funny, laid the groundwork for a future episode, had character development, and it was also engaging. Shawn has always been someone looking for something. It never seemed like he was one hundred percent comfortable with his life because he always wanted more. He actually wanted to be like Cory, what with the middle-class family and the meals and both parents and whatnot. When he first started dating Angela, he felt like it was his chance to be like Cory and Topanga. Even when Riley was born, it reminded him of what he didn't have and it forced him to leave for a while. In this episode, it feels like we are actually seeing the evolution of Shawn Hunter, and he took the boldest step in his life by deciding to settle down and marry Katy. There's history to support all of this, and so much time has been spent investing in Shawn over the years that his proposal to Katy was genuinely emotional and delivered a serious punch. For this plot alone, the episode would get in the A-territory. 

Everything else? The Girl Meets World stuff? I either didn't care about it or was annoyed by it. There was no reason for Maya to ever question who she was and there was no reason for us to question it either. And apparently, this is going to be a multi-episode arc too. Haven't they learned from the triangle? These aren't the type of stories the show should be telling because they are incapable of doing it effectively, or even competently. What's the point of dragging this out? The reason why episodes like "Jexica" and "Permanent Record" worked was because of how laidback they felt. They were less dramatic, more reliant on humor, and were self-contained stories. Those episodes tend to be some of GMW's best. But this melodramatic stuff is a weakness that the show always seems to bring to the forefront for whatever reason. 

You know how I always like to bring up the fact that Girl Meets World usually has good ideas and a lot of potential to tell decent stories, but the execution is the problem? Well, the poorest execution on this show, the biggest botch out of every single episode and situation and story, is the God-forsaken triangle. Or it's not a triangle. It can't be, it never existed. Or maybe the writers are just saying that. The goodwill built up from "Texas" burst into flames after the ending to several episodes was nothing but uncertainty and indecision. Lucas couldn't make a decision for several months, Riley and Maya have put up with this, everyone else has put up with this for at least a year now. The minute the writers realized they didn't want to do the triangle thing anymore, they tried to save face and act as if Maya is just Riley 2.0. Lucas and Maya didn't fall for each other because they actually had an interesting connection or a unique dynamic that was different from the one Lucas had with Riley. Maya basically became Riley, and that's what Lucas liked about her. Maya admitted this. 

Here's my problem. This makes everything we've seen over the past few months a complete waste of time. Maya admitted that it doesn't matter who Lucas chooses anyway. This story had no purpose to exist. It should have been resolved as early as the New Year's episode, but it wasn't. There were many opportunities to pull the plug, but it was dragged out with no end in sight until it was time to make up a reason to end it. I don't get the mindset of this show's writing team sometimes. There's a bunch of intelligent and talented people working there. Why do we have to watch them try their hardest to screw up as much as possible? At the end of the day, I don't even care anymore what Lucas' choice is because at this rate, he will never make one. And even if he somehow does, it won't matter. The show admitted this. We're at the same place we were at when the New Year's episode ended. "I'm tired all the time" was meant as a joke, but it could be used to sum up the months spent on not furthering the triangle storyline and walking around in a circle. And it could be used to sum up all the times this show has taken an idea, and fumbled it as much as possible. How hard can it really be at this point

The sad part is that the Shawn stuff hit all the right notes. Even when he proposed to Katy, I wasn't really questioning why. Rider Strong probably isn't too interested in being on camera for a lot of episodes so anything the writers wanted to do with him and Katy wouldn't have really worked out. Plus, I'm invested in Shawn as a character and his evolution as a man so when Katy said yes, it was a genuine heartfelt moment. By contrast, when Riley and Maya were tossing paint at each other, I was just wondering what the hell was going on. Hopefully, this identity crisis crap ends as soon as possible and it can die with the bloody, mangled remains of the "triangle." An episode elevated by Boy Meets World and dragged down by Girl Meets World. Interesting.

Episode Grade: C+
Episode MVP: Ben Savage and Rider Strong. Everything Cory and Shawn did in this episode together was magic. 

EXTRA THOUGHTS
-Shawn had the right idea with those Swedish butter cookies, they're delicious. For some reason, I never pictured him living in an upstate cabin and putting on his best Mister Rogers costume. Seriously, all he was missing was walking into the house and switching into his sneakers while singing about the wonderful day in the neighborhood.

-I really enjoyed Shawn's line about Cory damaging him. Reminds me of the line about the idea of Cory and Topanga ruining so many people.

-"Triangle" ended with Lucas just sitting there at the table, with the parents waiting to see who he picked. Then we come back to that scene in this episode, AND IT'S THE EXACT SAME THING. I think this one scene captured everything wrong with the triangle. Nothing ever happened to further the story. It was the same thing over and over again masquerading as legitimate drama. In real life, this would make absolutely no logical sense. Why would Lucas say that he's made his decision, and then not follow through on it? Just to mess with them? I don't know, it's just a kids show, who cares about the children?

-This is just something I've been wondering, but why does Topanga keep calling Lucas "Chucky"? Is that a reference to something? Am I just not getting this inside joke? And what Chucky is she even talking about? Chuckie Finster, the doll Chucky, the producer Chucky Thompson? I don't get it.

-Seriously, this whole episode is saved from being completely mediocre because of Cory and Shawn's scene at the cabin. I'm saying it right now, this might even be a top ten scene of the series. Shawn attacking Cory, Ben Savage's mannerisms and movements, Cory referring to Shawn as "Captain Feeny," it all works. And of course, the return of the handshake. Apparently, Ben and Rider did it in one take with no practice. This was like a beautiful Christmas gift. And then suddenly, "Marge Be Not Proud" turned into "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace" when Riley and Maya ruined it by talking.

-The paint scene is so weird. I'm not invested in Maya's identity crisis because I know she doesn't have one. Everyone just told her she does. This episode should have been called "Girl Meets Munchausen's Syndrome" because Maya was made to believe she was sick when she wasn't. Then the art teacher comes in and isn't even mad that two children walked into his room late at night and without any supervision, wasted his paint like that. For some reason, he enjoys the rage in Maya's painting and commends her for it. Art's a very tricky subject. 

-Lucas, still having not made a decision, is just waiting in Riley's room and sitting there. Then Zay comes in and seems surprised to see Lucas there, but Lucas says that he's been there for five hours. Wait, what? Lucas said he had to go see somebody, Cory left for Shawn's cabin, and Topanga and Katy were just sitting around drinking wine while their daughter's friend waited in her room for someone to come back for five hours?! Why didn't he just call Zay and Farkle telling them to come over? Lucas waiting for five hours is pointless to include and makes him come off as a creep, on the level of the seniors. Oh yeah, Farkle calls Lucas an idiot with a face because he's so indecisive. That might actually be one of the most insightful things Farkle has ever said on this show.

-I could pick apart this scene and tell you how much I hated it, how it pretty much made the triangle look like a joke and made Lucas' eventual decision officially pointless. I don't have that kind of time. There was a brief fun moment where Maya proved she was back by calling Lucas "Ranger Rick," which makes me miss the days that her insults were just a cover for her attraction to him. Zay saying that they have waited for two years to hear Lucas' decision was a hilarious joke too. When they make jokes about the triangle and act self-aware about it, it's a lot more entertaining to watch than when they actually........address it.

-When I first watched the episode and Katy was just sitting there, I thought we would have to wait a week to hear her decision but fortunately, the writers are only going to drag out two storylines at once.

-The next episode actually looks really good thanks to the promo. I mean, "Permanent Record" had a terrible promo while "Triangle" had a great one but the results were the opposite. It looks like Maya is finally becoming the dangerous rebel we all expected her to be and Riley pushes her to it. Also, guest appearance by Reginald VelJohnson. I doubt he's actually going to be Carl Winslow, but it would be pretty clever if he was. 








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