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'Boy Meets World' recap: 'The Cat's in the Cradle'

Editors’ Note: As part of our excitement for the spin-off series Girl Meets World, John Hanlon recaps 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 11 | “The Father/Son Game” | Aired Dec 17, 1993

On last Friday’s new episode of Girl Meets World, Cory Matthews was flabbergasted that his daughter Riley (Rowan Blanchard) didn’t want to ride the Coney Island roller coaster with him. It was a tradition to ride it the last night it was open for the season, he argued to no avail. Riley wanted to attend the school dance that night and recruited her mother, Topanga, to argue that Riley should be allowed to make her own decision. Considering that episode, it’s ironic that the Boy Meets World episode I watched this week had a similar plot—only this time, Alan Matthews wanted to spend time with his sons, Cory and Eric, while they had little time for him.

That episode opens with Morgan waking up at 6 a.m. and going wild in the kitchen by making a mess with the cereal and removing all of the marshmallows and “fun stuff” from the box. Cory arrives downstairs to find out that the best part of the cereal is missing. If that’s not enough to ruin his morning, his father reminds him that the upcoming father-son baseball game is the following weekend, and Alan reminds both Cory and Eric that he wants them to be there. (“Game’s nothing without you guys,” he says.) Alan’s grocery store team will be facing off against the local New Age bookstore (which Topanga’s father works at).

Neither of the brothers wants to go, and both spend their time looking for excuses not to.

Cory whines to Shawn about it in the lunch room, while Shawn mischievously pours salt on Minkus’ hamburger when Minkus steps away from the table. Cory tells Shawn about how his Saturdays are usually packed with X-Men cartoons, a visit to the comic-book store, a few hours of bonding time with his best friend and then pizza for dinner (sounds pretty delightful, right?), so he’s too busy for the game. Shawn is barely listening, though, because of his prank on Minkus.

Neither of the young men knows who or what they are fooling with—a discovery Shawn makes when Minkus tricks him into consuming the salt-burger himself.

It takes Cory a lesson in Mr. Feeny’s classroom (of course!) to learn from his mistake. When the class says the Pledge of Allegiance, Topanga decides to sit in her chair silently instead. When Feeny brings the subject up to Topanga, Cory is ecstatic. Feeny seems perturbed, so Cory believes that Feeny is “finally gonna nail Topanga for being weird.” Bad mistake. When Cory speaks out, he realizes that Feeny had asked Topanga not to say the pledge so that they could debate the subject of traditions versus social protests.

Whichever way the debate goes, Cory loses because he’s thrust into an assignment he didn’t want.

When Cory and Eric build up the courage to talk to their father directly (instead of going through their mom), they offer up their excuses for not wanting to go. To their delight, Alan notes that the game was canceled.

It’s only a few days later, though, that Topanga talks about the game in school, and Cory realizes his father lied. The game was still held, but Alan knew that his sons didn’t want to go, so he provided them with an easy excuse.

His father had been looking forward to this father-son tradition, Cory realizes, and he and his brother let him down. A last-minute apologetic attempt at a father-son barbecue falters when the famous Leonard Spinelli (Willie Garson) overstays his welcome (not a surprise). In the end, though, Cory and Eric decide to do the right thing. They plan another game against the bookstore and insist that they won’t make any excuses. Cory realizes the value of tradition, argues why we should say the Pledge of Allegiance in Feeny’s classroom, and ultimately participates in the father-son softball game (which their team wins!).

As the episode closes, Cory and Eric talk about a rematch with the bookstore while Alan—bruised and tired from playing—looks on unenthusiastically.

Life lesson: Some traditions are worth preserving despite how inconvenient they may seem.

Memorable quote: “These are people with inner peace and spiritual tranquility. Let’s kill ’em.” —Alan appraising the competition they’ll be facing in their softball game

Note: When Cory is thinking about finding a way out of the game, he jokingly pretends to answer the phone by noting, “Ring, ring. It’s the Governor. We’re saved.” In a show geared toward young people, the bizarre death penalty reference seems oddly out of place.

What did you think of the eleventh episode of Boy Meets World? Did you really think that the game had been canceled, or were you tricked by Mr. Matthews like Cory and Shawn were?

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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