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.
Season 1 | Episode 2 | “On the Fence” | Aired Oct 1, 1993
“Say you could pick any superhero to be your dad. Who would you choose?”
That Cory Matthews question opens the second episode of Boy Meets World as Cory sits in the school cafeteria with his friends, Shawn and Ellis (DeJuan Guy). After a brief discussion, Cory makes his decision: “I’d like to have Superman for a dad.” His desire, he eventually realizes, might be closer to reality than he ever imagined.
After his superhero discussion, talk turns to the upcoming water war — a neighborhood squirt gun battle. Shawn and Ellis are both armed with water guns for the battle. (Ellis, it should be noted, only appears in one other episode. He joins Nicholas — who only appeared in the pilot episode — as another friend of Cory and Shawn who mysteriously disappears.) Along with the duo, the nerdy Stuart Minkus (Lee Norris) — who makes his first appearance here — is prepared for the battle with a massive water gun of his own.
When challenged to such a battle, Minkus paraphrases Clint Eastwood, noting, “Go ahead. Make me wet.”
Cory, of course, can’t afford a water gun, and asks his parents for the money. His mother Amy is shocked by the price tag — “$49.95 plus tax,” Cory says — and refuses to give him the money. Alan, who spends much of the episode fixing things around the house, agrees with his wife, stating that maybe Cory can get a squirt gun for Christmas. (“Hey, great. A water gun in December. I’ll be the little boy spreading pneumonia,” Cory retorts.)
The whole ordeal leads Cory to his older brother, Eric, who works at the grocery store their father manages. Eric makes his own money and can buy whatever he wants, Cory learns. Cory sees an opportunity. He asks Mr. Feeny for a job, and Feeny offers to pay him for painting his green window shutters. Cory completes the assignment, but inadvertently gets green paint all over the family’s white fence (which the shutters were leaning against) in the process.
His father quickly sees the mistake and tasks Cory with repainting the fence.
When the water war begins later, Cory tricks Shawn and Ellis into helping him paint the fence. He argues (like Tom Sawyer once did) that painting a fence is actually a lot of fun. Minkus picks up on the literary reference (the Mark Twain book was on the summer reading list, he says), but also helps out. When the trio tires of painting (and Cory’s sour attitude), Cory is left holding the paintbrush until his father swoops in to finish the job.
He wants to let Cory enjoy his childhood — i.e., the water war — while he can.
In the end, Cory goes to the water battle — “the water war to end all water wars,” he calls it — and finds Eric lying in bed afterward, tired after his shift at the store. Cory looks out the window at his father — who worked a longer shift than Eric — still working as he repaints the rest of the fence.
“Superman’s my dad,” Cory admits.
In the final scene, Cory surprises his father with a water gun of his own. Cory traded in his large water gun for two smaller ones. So for a moment, Alan becomes a kid again, as the family has a water war of its own in the kitchen and the backyard. While Feeny is left to defend his flowers from the water war, Morgan is left in the kitchen calling 911 and telling the operator that her parents are outside fighting, adding, “They just shot the neighbor,” as Feeny gets drenched.
Life lesson: If sunlight can go through open shutters, so can paint. Also, it’s OK to be a kid … while you can.
Memorable Quote: “What a major freakoid that Ed Poe must’ve been, huh?” — Cory talking to Mr. Feeny about a recently submitted homework assignment about Edgar Allen Poe
Note: This is the second episode in a row that features story elements tied in to a literary classic. The first episode featured Romeo & Juliet prominently, while this one includes plot elements taken directly out of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer.
What did you think of the second episode of Boy Meets World? Do you think Cory actually read the summer reading list, or was he just trying to get his friends to paint the fence for him?