For seven years, Cory (Ben Savage), Shawn (Rider Strong), and Topanga (Danielle Fishel) have gone through the ups and downs of adolescence with a guiding hand from Mr. Feeny (William Daniels), and throughout all of their struggles they stumbled to relearn them again in the form of new situations. The final season of Boy Meets World specifically deals with letting Cory and Topanga meet their world as a matured couple. A
s the audience, we see that by the time Cory’s ready to say goodbye, he’s finally learned a thing or two and can pass on some wisdom to his little brother (albeit who managed to age three years into the future, but that’s excusable in the world of TGIF sitcoms). In season seven, we finally experience the characters we learned to love, or roll our eyes at, grow up, and seeing as the show got quite stale in its later seasons, the growth is welcomed and the coming-of-age writing is an enormous achievement as far as TV PG programming goes.
For as careful as the writers allowed the characters to grow in the seventh season, the problem that arose time and time again was the characterization of Cory, the main character, who was first seen as a goofy, do-gooder kid in season one and took a turn for the neurotic, over the top mannerisms around season five. It seemed by season seven the writers had a good grasp on him towards the later half of the season, but the first half it was difficult to take Cory seriously, as there are moments that begged Cory to step up as a man for his fiancé Topanga, as she’s troubled by her parent’s divorce and is having second thoughts about marriage and the value of love. Cory succumbs to weak one-two punch line jokes, and delivers “mashugana” lines in a way that would come from the mouth of an 80 year-old bubby. As a result it’s hard to measure his growth or even the sincerity in his affection for Topanga until much later.
For the first few episodes, we see Cory handle his problems the way he usually does: with impulse and without thinking of the consequences that might come from his actions. For example, in episode 2 he drives to Pittsburgh to talk Topanga’s parents out of divorce without knowing what transpired between the two adults because he feels like he’s losing Topanga. Somehow he manages to rope his good friend Shawn into most of his schemes and even though Shawn knows better, throughout it all he stands by Cory and doles out advice even when it’s not taken. In fact, it’s through this strong friendship that we see the best possible version of Cory. He goes outside the comfort of his idealistic bubble of easy fix its to comfort Shawn when he comes to find out that the mother he thought abandoned him wasn’t his mother at all.
The more these two characters connect; the better off Cory is in the way he allows himself to take in responsibility for the first time in his life as a married man. The best example of this is when Cory reaches out to Shawn after his first fight with Topanga. Not only does he admit that there’s a problem, and that he feels inadequate as a person, he takes Shawn’s advice and solves the problem in a rational way, even though he admits that his problem with how Topanga makes him feel may be beyond fixing. Not only is he thoughtful, but also Savage’s emotional range is perfect even in moments of external conflict in the friendship, and Cory becomes a character the audience can connect with.
There are a lot of new obstacles that are introduced to Cory’s life in the seventh season. The one significant platform the writers build on is the marriage. More development is made for both Topanga and Cory. To watch Cory struggle through the hardships and deal with setting his identity a part from Topanga is refreshing to see. In prior seasons Cory never did anything to set himself a part. Towards the later half of this season we see him have a real drive to be a better husband, and a more skillful person. In episode 13 entitled “The Provider”, we see just that as Cory gets his first job as a telemarketer, and fails miserably at it. By the end of the 20 minute-mark episode he realizes that even though he is better as a team, he does possess qualities that give him self worth.
Responsibility is a huge obstacle that the pair deals with when it becomes painfully obvious by Episode 9 that the newlyweds didn’t think clearly about what being married would mean past their vows, when they realize they don’t have a place to live. This obstacle forces the pair to move into a dump of a dorm at Pennbrook, reserved for unwed mothers and co-ed partnerships. For episodes we see the pair argue about the dorm, try to get Cory’s parents to sign the lease of a small cottage that’s out of their price range, and finally, settle in their dorm, and make it a livable space. Yes, the dorm that resembles a crack house is a little far fetched but the writers get their point across, and it’s that responsibility is going to be dealt with in a way that the couple never had to take on before. The fights and hassles that Cory and Topanga go through show depth in Cory’s character as well.
A lot of the ways Cory keeps on track this season is through important speeches that usually come out of frustration from the people that care about him the most. His father, Allen (William Russ) in particular in Episode 9 gives a rousing speech about becoming a provider, “Cory this is your life. Deal with your life.” It’s in this explosive scene of Cory defying his dad that Savage really shows what he’s been building up to for the past six seasons. Although Rider Strong usually steals the dramatic scenes, Savage holds his own and to his credit he shows an enormous amount of range in this season against many of the other actors on the show.
This season didn’t give much room to delve into the side characters, but the elder Matthews brother, Eric (Will Friedle), was given a nice brief character send off. The writers did a fine job of giving Friedle something to do even though most of his time was spent in the background for this season. This season we see his mother, Amy (Betsy Randle), advocate on behalf of Eric’s potential to succeed out in the world after graduation when Allen shows signs of apprehension about his son’s adaptability. For a character that got by mostly on quick laughs, and utterly dumb lines, the audience gets one last look at the softness underneath Eric, and how yes, he may be a dolt, but he’s the most likable character, with most arguably the biggest heart.
When the season comes to a close, Topanga and Cory have decided to move to New York so Topanga could grow and pursue her dream, something she wasn’t able to do after she turned down Yale to be with her better half. Shawn goes to find himself in New York as well with Eric in toe, and Jack and Rachel, who were nothing but ornaments this season join the Peace Corp.
While not always realistic, if there was anything that Boy Meets World did successfully it was teaching its audience life lessons in love, friendship, brotherhood and loss, and with seven years of lessons with Cory and the gang, Mr. Feeny’s closing words “class dismissed” is the perfect end to a journey that went way beyond the teachings of a 6th grade classroom.
There were no bonus/special features on this DVD.