Season 1 | Episode 1 | “Pilot” | Aired September 24, 1993
Editors’ Note: As our excitement for the upcoming spinoff series Girl Meets World builds, John Hanlon will recap the original series that ran from 1993–2000, reminding us why we fell in love with Cory Matthews, Topanga Lawrence and Shawn Hunter in the first place.
“Good morning, Mr. Feeny,” are the first words Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) speaks during the pilot episode of Boy Meets World. The show opens in the school cafeteria of John Adams High School in the Philadelphia area, where Cory is an 11-year-old sixth-grade student and the wry George Feeny (William Daniels) serves as his curmudgeonly teacher.
The pilot revolves around the concept of love, which is consuming young Cory’s mind. After a sarcastic encounter with Feeny, Cory shows his love for his best friends — whom he later refers to as his brothers — as they compare notes on who was was able to stay up later watching television the night before. Cory’s friends are the beloved Shawn Hunter (Rider Strong) — a fan favorite who stays on the show until the end— and Nicholas (Chauncey Leopardi), who never appears again. Oh, love is such a fickle thing.
In his English class, Mr. Feeny — who lives next door to the Matthews family — teaches about love via the classic novel Romeo and Juliet. Instead of paying attention in class, Cory listens to the Phillies baseball game over his headphones, which he argues serve as his hearing aid when Feeny confiscates them. Feeny wants his students to learn about what he calls “the all-consuming power of love and the inevitability of its influence on each of our lives,” but Cory doesn’t care about the concept.
Cory even begins to hate the idea of love when his older brother, Eric (Will Friedle), cancels their planned outing to a Phillies game because of it. The Phillies are approaching the playoffs, so Cory is disappointed when he learns that Eric would rather go to the game with Heather, one of Eric’s popular female schoolmates whom everyone in his class wants to date. Cory complains to his parents about the situation — they’re are unsympathetic to his plight — and argues that he earned one of Eric’s tickets.
“I slept with him for 11 years,” he says, referring to their shared bedroom.
With his family unmoved, Cory relocates to the family tree house — sleeping there for the first time ever. From his perch, he witnesses Feeny setting out a fine dinner for him and a date before the professor receives an abrupt phone call and removes the second plate from the table. His date has canceled on him, Cory believes.
At detention that Friday, Cory talks to Feeny about the negative impact of love. Cory argues that his older brother had abandoned him because of love, and Feeny’s own heart had broken when he put too much emphasis on the concept. Feeny rejects the argument, noting that Cory and his whole family only exist because his parents fell in love. Love has its downside, but Feeny believes it’s worth fighting for.
As the episode winds down, Cory — who is caught stealing underwear from his bedroom by his mother (Betsy Randle) — recognizes that priorities change. Eric may have abandoned Cory in this situation, but Cory learns that he had abandoned his father (William Russ) years earlier when he opted to throw the football around with his friends rather than his dad. Cory moves back into the house and, after hearing about Eric’s botched date, he even encourages his brother to ask her out again. Concluding the episode, Cory sits down to have tea with his younger sister, Morgan (Lily Nicksay), who serves her beverages with the imaginary ingredients of “sugar, milk and ketchup.” Cory also learns that Feeny’s botched dinner wasn’t a date at all. He was planning to have dinner with his sister, who canceled at the last minute. When the episode ends, though, Feeny looks for love himself and invites his fellow teacher Evelyn (Cynthia Mace) to dinner.
Like Nicholas, Evelyn is never seen again on the program.
Love is such a fickle thing.
Life lesson: Priorities change, but love will always remain (except if your name is Nicholas or Evelyn).
Memorable Quote: “I’m a kid. I don’t understand the emotional content of ‘Full House.’” — Cory on Feeny’s attempt to teach him about the emotional content of Romeo and Juliet.
Note: Topanga (and Stuart Minkus) are noticeably absent in this episode about love. Neither of those supporting characters has been introduced yet.
What did you think about the pilot episode of Boy Meets World? Do you think Girl Meets World can live up to the show? And where do you think Nicholas went?