RELEASE NOTES: This DVD release of "Boy Meets World" from Lionsgate as well as seasons one and two are identical to the releases from Disney in the early 2000s. Disney chose to discontinue release of the series, despite having season four ready for release. Lionsgate has acquired the rights to the series and has re-released the long, out-of-print initial three seasons and intends to work on new releases starting in December of this year (2010).
It's very rare that I find a sitcom I can take it large doses over a short period of time. The last time I remember tackling such a task was going through four middle seasons of "M*A*S*H" in about two weeks. Having had the opportunity to review the first three seasons of "Boy Meets World" I was afraid I'd find myself casting a harsher attitude toward the third season merely out of exhaustion. However, a testament to it's enduring charm, I managed my way through it without any regrets or apprehension, cementing it's status as a series worth checking out, despite it's light nature.
The third season "Boy Meets World" was the first season that the series managed to ease into a consistent pace. After the massive overhaul between seasons one and two, old actors and new alike, had to adjust from the move from middle school to high school and the fresh, dramatic weight it sometimes carried with it. While season one planted the seeds of a possible budding young romance between Cory (Ben Savage) and Topanga (Danielle Fishel), it wasn't until Topanga abandoned her hippie, sitcom styles and evolved into a more grounded teen in season two, that such a plotline could reasonably unfold. Season three wastes no time kicking the romance into high gear, with a premiere where Cory's best friend, Shawn (Rider Strong), seems to have two-timed Cory and made a move for Topanga himself.
However, like many key moments in season three, not all is as it seems and Shawn steps up to the plate, helping Cory learn to express his own confidence and not let people walk over him and when the closing credits at the end of the episode are fast approaching, the relationship that will be a huge focal point of the series until the final episode is off and running. Yet, high school emotions are fickle and more than a few of season three's 22 episodes will tease breakups, follow through with breakups, and throw our young couple into various rebound dates, because that's how life is. It's one of the more beautiful aspects of a show that still manages to retain a goofy and lighthearted spirit; it reminds us of how silly we were when it came to relationships in our younger years and that these seemingly inconsequential problems (now) felt like earth shattering events then. Even as a viewer, knowing where it all ends up, the strong writing of these characters allows us to get sucked into these episodes and have a good time.
Despite being the most intriguing storyline, Cory and Topanga's young love is far from the only plot line. Shawn's relationship issues and broken home life pop up again and again, giving viewers the flipside to Cory's genuinely loving home life. It's in season three that Mr. Turner (Anthony Tyler Quinn) steps up as strong influence in Shawn's life. He's a more street savvy, grounded character and just the type of support a kid like Shawn needs. His commitment to his student as both a learner and as a human is touching and is a nice counter to Cory's more abstract relationship with principal and next-door neighbor, Mr. Feeny (William Daniels). Daniels is as solid as he was from the first episode of the series, toeing the line of class, wisdom, and heart. Daniels is easily the most talented actor on the series, and he often serves as a cowboy of sorts roping the characters back to reality, when they get in over their heads. Unfortunately, his lasso comes too late for Cory's older brother Eric (Will Friedle). Eric finally crosses over the to the dark side of sitcom buffoonery in season three, shedding his "tool cool" but often clumsy personality for generally cartoon like behavior. His shtick is tolerable in small doses and in this season, he's kept as a strong supporting force, whereas in the later seasons, he often takes the forefront of entire plotlines and evolves from buffoon to a more socially adjusted "Rain Main."
Overall, season three of "Boy Meets World" is just as solid as season two. It has it's highlights and I feel ends on a stronger not than season two, with Cory having to face a real crossroad, a sign of growing maturity and evolution into eventual adulthood. The teenage romances can grate on the nerves a tad, but they are easily forgiven when the more serious aspects arise. A season highlight stems from Mr. Feeny's home being vandalized by students who don't agree with his methods; it provides a nice opportunity for role reversal with Cory acting as the advisor to Feeny who now doubts his own life's work. It's an episode that forces Cory to shed the small problems and teenage hijinks, even if it means turning his back on a friend gone astray. Season three marks the point right before the series' high-water mark, a good balance of teen oriented stories that still manage to hit the right chords with adult viewers. It's minor flaws are easily excusable due to characters viewers can care about and stories that remind us of what fun high school could be at times.
The 1.33:1 original aspect ratio transfer is on par with season two, featuring an interlaced transfer, on par with a cable broadcast, lacking sharp detail in the image. Color levels are also a little more balanced, but often find themselves on the warm side.
The 2.0 English audio track is a serviceable, not as flat as season one, with a tad more life, but still far from spectacular. Fortunately, all dialogue is crisp, clear, and distortion free. English subtitles for the hearing impaired are included.
The lone extra is an interactive quiz relating to the show.
Once the series was given a chance to finally maintain a steady pace of quality, "Boy Meets World" season three stands proud as the middle in a trio of excellent seasons. While the show would eventually push our characters into adulthood, they never quite captured the serious issues as well as they were handled here. The more whacky adventures of Cory, Shawn, and even Eric are more easy to digest coming from kids leaving childhood behind as high school progresses and for every truly absurd situation, there was something with real feeling not too far off. Despite a merely adequate technical presentation given the origin of the show, I have no problem endorsing this release. The only thing missing were the fun commentaries from the first two seasons. Highly Recommended.