November 27, 2012

25 Little-Known Facts About Boy Meets World

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1. The show makes a number of in-references to William Daniels’ (who plays Mr. Feeny) previous roles. In one episode, Mr. Feeny brings up The Graduate, stating that it was a “great film.” He should know. William Daniels played Mr. Braddock in it, aka Dustin Hoffman’s father. The high school in Boy Meets World is also named John Adams High after John Adams, the president Daniels played in the movie 1776.

2. In the first season, Shawn references his sister, who assists in straightening Cory’s hair in episode four, “Cory’s Alternative Friends.” However, Shawn’s sister will then disappear from the show entirely and no mention is made of her again. But don’t worry: she’s probably hanging out with Judy from Family Matters and Chuck of Happy Days in Missing Sibling TV Limbo. BMW’s Minkus, who disappears when Cory gets to high school, is still there making punch, but Cory’s little sister, Morgan, got to come back after spending a season in limbo. She coyly dismisses her disappearance by saying that it’s the “longest timeout [she’s] ever had.”

3. Shawn also has a mysteriously disappearing half-brother, Eddie, who appears in the third season episode “The Pink Flamingo Kid.” After showing up to steal a bunch of stuff and remind Shawn he’ll never be better than the trailer park, he’s gone by the next episode. However, he reappears in the fifth season with a new name, Jack. Maury Sterling (who played Eddie) would be replaced with 90s girl panty-dropper Matthew Lawrence, which is a huge upgrade. I ain’t even mad at you Eddie/Jack.

4. One more: Because kids keep going missing all over that Boy Meets World universe, Topanga also has a mysterious phantom sibling named Nebula, which proves her parents are fabulous child namers. However, Nebula will only appear in one episode and is never brought up again. (Maybe she went off to be Zenon’s best friend? Who knows.) However, actress Krystee Clark, who played Nebula, will appear again in Season 2 as “Valerie.”

5. The last appearance of Shawn’s sister is also the first credited appearance of Danielle Fishel’s Topanga. Initially, the producers cast another actress in the role but felt she wasn’t “working out.” Fishel acted in the pilot as a guest star but was given the part on the spot after reading for the producers. Fishel’s Topanga would prove so popular with audiences that they bumped her up to a principal character from a “wacky” supporting role — what she was intended to be. Because of this, her hippie-ness had to be toned down to make Topanga appear more “normal.”

6. Topanga’s name didn’t come out of nowhere — because you can’t just make up a name that great. Topanga was named after California’s famed Topanga Canyon, a bohemian gathering point known for music festivals like Topanga Earth Day and Topganda Days Festival. Woody Guthrie lived there at one time — as does Aunt Sarah, the bohemian sister of Ruth Fisher on Six Feet Under. One of the writers from BMW was trapped in traffic near Topanga Canyon and decided its name and vibe would be perfect for the “unique” character.

7. In the last season, Cory’s name will eventually be revealed as Cornelius. Cory “jokes” that he and Topanga will be keeping the awesome name train alive if they have children. They will name them Chewbacca and Plankton Matthews, which have a nice ring to them, if you ask me.

8. If Cory and Topanga are reuniting for the new series, they might want to get straight how they met. Throughout the show, the two reference their initial pre-teen Meet Cute, which varies in event and age depending on the retelling. At one point in his sophomore year, he says they’ve been dating for sixteen years, which is impossible and gross to contemplate. Although many see this as a continuity error, I think it’s an obvious embellishment and a cute reminder that they’ve basically known each other forever at this point.

9. In more cases of Cory Matthews’ exaggeration/selective memory, Cory claims that he’s had Mr. Feeny as a teacher since the first grade. This is impossible: his first year with Feeny was the first year of the series, when he was in sixth grade.

10. Linda Cardellini played Lauren, the girl who came between Cory and Topanga in Season Five. This would not be the last time Cardellini was embroiled in a pop-culture love triangle. Her Boy Meets World appearance happened a year before she starred on Freaks and Geeks, the show that introduced her to Jason Segel. Cardellini dumped Segel for being too fat, after she saw him naked. This moment was immortalized in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, as Segel’s script was based on Cardellini. This makes her Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis the probable Drew Barrymore surrogate.

11. Five different actors play Topanga Lawrence’s parents throughout the show. Her mother, Rhiannon, is first played by Smallville’s Annette O’Toole (aka Mrs. Kent) but then replaced with Desperate Housewives’ Marcia Cross, which is hilarious for anyone who has seen Melrose Place. Her father, Jedediah, will be played by Peter Tork of The Monkees, Christopher Guest regular Michael McKean and Mark Harelik. The show also used five theme songs, so it might be an Illuminati thing.

12. Topanga and Cory’s parents mysteriously change jobs throughout the series. In Season One, Amy Matthews switches from being a career woman to a stay-at-home mom. During Season 5, Amy joins her son Eric’s writing class, claiming that all she’s ever been is a wife and mother. Untrue! Also, Topanga’s father owns a bookstore in Season 1, but later transforms into a luthier, someone who makes guitars and violins. In the episode “Career Day,” Jed claims to have made a guitar for Bruce Springsteen.

13. Peter Tork’s Monkees bandmate Mickey Dolenz directed two episodes of Boy Meets World, one in 1994 and one in 1999. Mr. Matthews (William Russ) directed an additional nine episodes and Ben Savage’s brother, Fred, directs two. Fred Savage starred in The Wonder Years, which went off the air the same time Boy Meets World debuted. This means that a Savage starred as the lead of a hit ABC show for twelve consecutive years.

14. Carrie Bradshaw’s BFF Stanford Blatch (Willie Garson) appears in Season 1 as Leonard Spinelli, Alan Matthews’ socially awkward Assistant Manager at Market Giant. Garson will show up again as Mervyn, a Merrill Lynch employee who puts in an application at Alan Matthews’ store, and the minister who marries Cory and Topanga. Despite this marrying experience, Garson will not be allowed to marry Carrie and Big. Which is fine, because Carrie was annoying in the SATC movie anyway.

15. The series co-creator and producer Michael Jacobs also wrote for My Two Dads, Charles in Charge and Dinosaurs, but his most famous pop-culture contribution was as one of the producers of the Oscar-nominated Quiz Show, directed by Robert Redford. This resume builder was referenced in the Season 4 episode, “Quiz Show,” where the producer of the program “High School Quiz Show” mimics the plot of that film. She makes the questions more accessible for Cory and Shawn, so they will get them correct and boost ratings for the show. Don’t worry, though: Mr. Feeny teaches them a lesson and everything goes back to normal.

16. In a cute in-joke, Topanga gets to be a producer for one episode. The second season episode “I Am Not a Crook” sees Cory and Shawn run for class president, but due to tensions between the two of them, both will drop out at the last minute. (Friendship!) Because of the void in the race, Topanga runs unopposed and wins. The show rewards her with a credit listing that states: “Executive Producer: Topanga.”

17. The show features some truly random before-they-were famous appearances. My Big Fat Greek bride Nia Vardalos shows up as an adoption agent in Season 6, future Mr. Leslie Knope Adam Scott appears as a bully in Seasons 2 and 3, and American Beauty Mena Suvari appears in Season 3 to hit on Cory. Future Buffy actresses Charisma Carpenter and Julie Benz also make guest appearances. Even better, Brittany Murphy played Topanga’s annoying best friend during her sophomore year of high school, who conspires with Shawn to end two seasons of teenage erotic tension and get Cory and Topanga together. We will always have B-Murph to thank for that.

18. However, I saved the best for last: Blake Soper played Joey “The Rat” Epstein, one of the flunkies for the neighborhood bully, Harley (who was replaced by Adam Scott’s Griff Hawkins). Soper, who also acted in Salute Your Shorts, would later go by Blake Sennett — when he was the lead guitarist for the indie rock band Rilo Kiley. Sennett formed the band with childhood friend Jenny Lewis, herself a child actress. Lewis had starred in Roseanne and Troop Beverly Hills. Lewis’ second solo record was produced by Johnathan Rice, a singer-songwriter who also starred in Boy Meets World. Lewis and Sennett broke up in 2001 (after dating for five years) and Lewis is currently dating Rice. That’s what I call a serious Boy Meets World fan.

19. Although Topanga starts out the show as a staunch vegetarian, she apparently gives it up by the end of the series. In the show’s penultimate episode, Topanga helps herself to a slice of pepperoni pizza.

20. Like the That 70s Show kids (who were in high school for five years), Cory, Topanga and Shawn attend school on an alternative timeline. The show skips the 8th and 11th grades, possibly to accommodate the aging of its characters. When the show started, Ben Savage (who plays Cory) was two years older than his character, which became more apparent as the show progresses. However, when its seventh season wrapped, Savage and Cory were both 18.

21. Most of the actors on Boy Meets World were around the same age as their characters, except for Trina McGee, who played Angela. Although Angela is supposed to be about the same age as Cory, Topanga and Shawn, Trina McGee was twelve years older than Danielle Fishel and ten years separated from Rider Strong. McGee just turned 42, a scant three years younger than Stacey Dash, who played Dionne in Clueless at 28. Remember that 30 Rock episode about white people not being able to tell black peoples’ ages? Point proven, Tina Fey. (Bonus: Check out the pictures on Trina McGee’s IMDB page. You’re welcome.)

22. Actress Dayna Price was a huge Boy Meets World fan and a frequent visitor to the set, so much so that the producers named a character after her. “Dana Pruitt” was played by Larissa Oleynik, famous for her role as Alex Mack on The Secret World of Alex Mack, which Price also acted in. Oleynik was an old friend of Rider Strong’s from acting in Les Mis in San Francisco, where she played the Cosette to Strong’s Gavroche. The two would appear together again in the short-lived Pepper Dennis, starring Rebecca Romjin.

23. Although Boy Meets World often dabbled in issue-of-the-week fare, the topics of three episodes are so risqué that the Disney Channel will not air them. “Promises, Promises,” “If You Can’t Be With the One You Love” and “The Truth About Honesty” all deal with underage drinking and premarital sex, which are not quite G-rated enough for the channel’s demographic.

24. Danielle Fishel claims that her tears in the series finale were real. Although Topanga wasn’t supposed to cry in the script, Fishel began to sob while reading her lines, as she realized she was acting out her last moments on the show. The crew kept rolling and the scene was kept with her tears intact. The producers felt this version was more genuine.

25. Mr. Feeny both opens and closes out the original series. In the pilot episode, Boy Meets World opens with a conversation between Cory and Mr. Feeny and in the finale, Feeny bids Cory and his friends adieu with a “class dismissed.” As William Daniels is still with us at the ripe old age of 85, he’s still around to bring class back in session. TC mark