"Boy Meets World" never took off sprinting, it's initial season was a likeable family sitcom, that got an overhaul by its second season, setting it up for a few years of truly remarkable, funny and meaningful television entertainment. Now, the seventh and final season arrives on DVD and will only find itself on the shelves of the most die-hard fans, a casualty of stretching goodwill thin. Looking back at the series as a whole, "Boy Meets World" should have ended at season five, a mostly by-the-numbers season that ended Cory (Ben Savage), Shawn (Rider Strong) and Topanga's (Danielle Fishel) long journey through high school and graduation and the engagement of the series' legendary couple. Seasons six and now seven, are in retrospect painfully embarrassing, cheaply cashing in on the charisma and consistent acting of the cast to serve up entertainment that often panders to the lowest common denominator.
In my review for season six I mentioned that at least the seventh season allowed fans to know this was the last year and that resolutions were coming. Nostalgia and foggy memories must have been at play when I wrote that, as the re-discovery of season seven here on DVD ends up being a colossal waste of time for the series' last gasp at greatness, when Mr. Feeny (William Daniels) says goodbye to our characters embarking on clichéd voyages. Those final moments while incredibly moving and from the heart, are hastily tacked on to a glorified double-length clip show that is meant to remind viewers of all the fun over the year, yet only emphasizes the painful slide into the abyss.
If I were forced to choose one single entity that sums up the implosion of "Boy Meets World," it would be Eric. No other character in TV history has ever devolved as far Eric Matthews, (Will Friedle) whose highlight real in the series finale consists of funny voices, sub-"Three's Company" level pratfalls, and a generally oblivious nature to his surroundings. He is an unintentional metaphor for the way the writers treated the fans, jettisoning a balance between believable comedy, romance and the occasional drama, for every tired sitcom gag repeated ad-nauseum. At this point it feels like a broken record, but surprise, surprise, every chance the writers had to make our characters grow, especially Shawn and Cory, they opt for the consistent ending: Shawn clings onto his friends and has a private pity party and Cory overreacts. A running "gag" of Cory stressing about an early death after taking a health quiz in a magazine nicely lingers over a string of episodes culminating in Shawn, yet again having to deal with abandonment issues. It's a pitiful synergy of sloppy, insulting writing.
I vowed never to compare "Boy Meets World" to "The Wonder Years," but I'm breaking that vow, if only to point out, "The Wonder Years" knew when to stop. It never approached its finale with episodes focused on men in drag; it ended on a perfect note, a bittersweet note some might say. "Boy Meets World" does none of this, it asks its viewers to forgive turning Cory's strong older brother figure into a moron who gets psychic powers from a head injury with a ten-minute farewell that should have been long ago. The tragic fallout from this abysmal final season, is the damage done to the character's and the audience's ability to enjoy previous seasons. The emphasis put on emotionally investing in the characters, makes it hard to forget how watered down they ended up and leaves "Boy Meets World's" legacy as a merely average family sitcom, forever withholding the legacy of greatness it aspired for in those early years.
The 1.33:1 original aspect ratio shows no improvements from the past few releases., once again we get the same old interlaced transfer, on par with a cable broadcast, and average, at best detail in the image. Color levels aren't as warm as this time around, but still have a ways to go before being viewed as 100% natural.
The 2.0 English audio track is a serviceable, front loaded with a little bit of life. Fortunately, all dialogue is crisp, clear, and distortion free. English subtitles for the hearing impaired are included.
"Boy Meets World" began as the story of a young boy growing up to be a young man, who along the way learned life's many lessons, from romance and heartbreak, to dealing with death. The young man's journey sadly ended with friend's whose dad's came back as a ghost and an infantile older brother. Don't let the nostalgia of a wonderful final ten-minutes fool you into thinking the remaining 542 are worth your time. Skip It.