Boy Meets World – 108, “Teacher’s Bet”

I have to say, I was a bit torn between reviewing every Boy Meets World Halloween episode this week, or just continuing in chronological order. I decided to just keep with the chronology so I wouldn’t make myself crazy. I can’t think of any of the Boy Meets World Halloween episodes being particularly memorable anyway. “And Then There Was Shawn”, however, is an entirely different story – although it’s not a Halloween episode.

I’ve almost got 100 views here, and got my busiest day so far this past week, so I’m excited about that.

Anyway, on to the episode.

Shawn and Cory talk about Barry Bonds and how he’s getting paid a boatload of money to play baseball for 6 years. Minkus thinks the amount of money ($7.1 million a year) is sort of ridiculous. Shawn and Cory assure Minkus that Bonds is one of the best baseball players ever. Minkus laments that he thinks Mr. Feeny is one of the best teachers ever (darn right!) and he doesn’t make anything near that amount of money. Cory and Shawn, being Cory and Shawn, disagree, and Cory says that teaching 6th grade is so boring and predictable, and Mr. Feeny as well, that he doesn’t deserve to be paid more. Cory then rattles off a list of things he’s sure Mr. Feeny is about to do, and then Mr. Feeny comes in and does them – drinks from the drinking fountain, flicks his mustache, goes to the coffee machine, and says “Good morning, Mr. Matthews. I trust you’ve done the homework.”

Oh look Topanga’s back!

She wore that outfit in the first episode she was in, during the scene where they’re protesting in the hallway.

This week in their Social Studies class, they’ll be learning about prejudice. Cory makes a joke about being prejudiced against the cafeteria food, and everyone laughs – including Topanga! Probably Minkus didn’t laugh, though. Mr. Feeny didn’t. That’s because prejudice is serious and stuff. Mr. Feeny gives a summary of the week – they’ll be studying black slavery in the American South, Jews in Nazi Germany, and also other racism (yes, Feeny was that vague). Feeny gives them their homework, which is to read the first 30 pages of the book he handed out, which as Cory complains is “about some girl”. Hmm I wonder what the book could possibly be.

Feeny calls Cory up to his desk and says he’s noticed that Cory’s been making a lot more jokes in class lately, and this is making his job a lot harder. Cory says he doesn’t think Feeny’s job is that hard to begin with, and he thought Feeny might secretly like that he’s making things more difficult. Feeny tells him he always thought Cory had the easy job, since all he has to do is sit in class and listen. Cory says “Are you kidding?” and brings up the amount of time he has to sit and listen, and all the homework, and how it never ends, and all he has to show for it a $5 weekly allowance. I was always jealous of these kids on tv shows who actually got allowances. I got paid 50 cents for running and emptying the dishwasher when I was 10. And then I stopped getting paid for it. And now we don’t have a dishwasher.

Mr. Feeny then says that perhaps he’s been underestimating how hard Cory’s job as a student is, and offers a proposition: Cory gets to teach one of Feeny’s classes for a week, and at the end, everyone will take a test that Feeny has a prepared, and if more students fail than pass, Feeny wins, but if more pass, Cory wins. And while Cory is teaching, Feeny will take his place as student, and will also take the test. The test that… he wrote. Feeny then says he’d like to make it a bit more interesting, and then the scene changes, so we’ll be left in suspense for a few minutes.

At the Matthews residence, Eric and his new girlfriend, who Morgan immediately refers to as “New Girlfriend”, come in. Her name is Linda, and she is 15 and three-quarters. Morgan, who first introduced herself as five and a half before Linda spoke, immediately takes a liking to her. Linda asks Morgan if there were a lot of old girlfriends, to which Morgan replies, “Billions.” Linda says she’s not really Eric’s new girlfriend, and that he just wanted to study with her. You can pretty much feel everyone raising their eyebrows and thinking “Uh-huh, suuuuure.” Morgan enthusiastically leads Linda into the kitchen for some ice cream.

By the way, Linda is played by Lindsay Price, who starred in a bunch of shows I’ve never watched, like The Bold and the Beautiful, Beverly Hills 90210, and Lipstick Jungle. She was in Jack and Jill, too. Remember that show? The guy’s name was Jill and the girl was Jack. I don’t remember anything else about that show, I guess.

Cory and his dad come home, and Cory mentions the bet he made with Feeny. His mother isn’t so sure about it, because Cory can barely manage a C+ in Social Studies, but Cory assures her with the comforting knowledge that the book does all the teaching anyway. Then we find out what Mr. Feeny added to the bet to make it interesting – if Feeny wins, he gets Cory’s brand-new, super speedy bike. If Cory wins, he gets 1/5 of Feeny’s weekly paycheck.

The next day, at the school, Cory introduces himself as the new Social Studies teacher, and says his name is “Hey, dude”. Anyone remember that show? It’s too bad Nickelodeon doesn’t air stuff like that anymore.

Cory says everyone is allowed to wear baseball caps in class now, and Topanga asks if they can abolish the dress code altogether. Cory is understandably concerned that Topanga wants to come to class naked, but it turns out she just wants to dress in the clothes belonging to cultures more in-tuned with goddesses. She specifically mentions a sari, and that seems odd to me that wearing a sari would be against a school’s dress code. But whatever. Also Cory lets everyone do whatever they want, no surprise there.

At the house, Eric has a gift for Morgan from Linda. It’s a genuine Japanese lantern that she got from her trip to Tokyo. Morgan is very excited by such a cool gift and runs off to put it in her room, and Eric goes to call Linda, even though he literally just left her house a few minutes earlier.

Cory shows up at the house and he and his dad talk about the bet and stuff. Alan asks about the test that’s supposed to be given at the end of the week and Cory says, as established, that if more kids pass than he wins. Alan then asks if the pass/fail is according to how Feeny grades, and then brings up that if Feeny grades on a curve, and Feeny’s also taking the test, the test Feeny wrote, he’ll score higher, and since it’s on a grading curve, more kids will fail.

That made more sense a second ago.

The next day at school, Cory asks Shawn to help him get the class back under control, Shawn tells him no way. Then Topanga sits on a yoga pillow and meditates, while Minkus breaks out a bouncy ball to sit on.

Cory takes the roll and for some reason starts at “Lawrence, Topanga”, rather than at the beginning of the alphabet. Topanga says she is channeling and will only answer to the name… er, well, it sounds a bit like “nnnnnnnnnnNNNNNNNEEEEEEEOOOOOOAAAAAAOOOHHH”, but you really have to hear it to get it.

That screencap… Gee…

Feeny shows up late and plays poker with Shawn. Cory gives up and the scene changes.

At the house, Cory is reading the book Feeny assigned and says that teaching is actually pretty hard. Then Eric and Linda come in, and Linda is crying about something. Morgan runs in and is totally excited until she sees how upset Linda is. Apparently she and Eric were at the mall, and some guy called her a bad name. Morgan says that a boy at daycare once called her a “poopoo-head”, and Cory is really concerned that something that happened right there, in their mall, that day, and not like 50 years ago in Germany or something.

The next day at school, the classroom is in a mess, but Cory is dressed in a suit.

Cory asks Minkus to help him get the class back under control, theorizing that, since Minkus is the smartest kid in class, if he pays attention, everyone else will. Minkus refuses, remembering that Cory made fun of Feeny and said he gets paid too much, which is indeed a grievous insult to the greatest teacher ever, Mr. Feeny.

Speaking of Feeny:

You can’t tell, but his hat says Meat Loaf too.

Cory starts talking to the class, who ignore him and keep tossing paper all over the room. Cory says that his lesson is supposed to be on prejudice, which he thought was basically oldschool and didn’t exist anymore, until yesterday, when he heard a smart, nice girl was called a really bad name. This gets Feeny’s attention. Cory continues to say that is really sucks when awful people can say such mean things about really nice people, causing those nice people to feel really bad. Cory says he gives up and is about to leave, when turns and asks Shawn what his mother’s maiden name is. He replies “Cordini”, to which Cory says “So that would make you a Wop, right?” This gets everyone’s attention – even the girl who had headphones on – and Shawn gets all up in Cory’s face.

I actually had to look up what “Wop” referred to just now. I always knew it was an insult, and when I got older I figured it was a racial slur, but I’ve never heard it outside of this show. I guess that’s a good thing.

Shawn asks Feeny what he’s gonna do about Cory calling him that, to which Feeny says “He’s the teacher, what’re you gonna do about it?” Shawn decides he’s going to knock Cory’s head off, and Cory says “What if you couldn’t? What if you lived in a country where I could kill you just because of your mom’s last name?”

Cory continues, “A fifteen year old girl is dead.” Obviously this gets everyone’s attention. He says she was “real cool, and real smart”, and she wrote the book the class was supposed to be reading. Her name, of course, was Anne Frank. “They say she died of Typhus,” he says, “but they killed her.” Cory tells everyone they have to read that book, because “when someone calls someone else a bad name, it’s not good that just that one person jumps up.” Then Cory reads the end of of the book, that quote we all know “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”

The next day, Feeny finishes grading all the tests, and says the same number of people passed as who usually do, so the bet is a draw. Cory thinks he failed because people still did badly on the test, but Feeny tells him that, for instance, Shawn got a full letter grade higher than he normally does on tests, and Cory himself did really well, so it wasn’t a total loss.

During the credits, Eric says Linda got on the cheerleading squad, and Amy says she used to be a cheerleader, and does a little routine. Eric says that cheerleaders don’t do the same kind of dinky little cheers like the one Amy did. Then Linda shows up and does the exact same routine with only the name of the school changed.

I enjoyed this episode. I mean, it makes some good points – not only about prejudice versus tolerance, but also about teaching. Cory’s line about how it’s not good that only one person jumps up is great. A lot of shows have Very Special Episodes where one character is a victim of prejudice, but this episode wasn’t so cliche like the other ones.

By the way I’m pretty sure this is the only episode Linda is in.

Also her actress is a mix of Korean, Irish, and German.

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