Boy Meets World – 110, “Santa’s Little Helper”

Well, I suppose it’s appropriate that my last post before I go home for the holidays is a Christmas episode.

The episode opens with Feeny reading “A Christmas Carol”. I think the implication is that he has read the entire book out loud in school that day. I know it’s not a particularly long book, but it IS sort of a long book to read out loud without stopping. In another Christmas episode in a later season, we find out it’s a Christmas tradition that Feeny goes over to the Matthews house every Christmas eve and reads the book out loud. I’ve never actually finished reading that book, myself. I got maybe 2/3 of the way through it and decided to read something else. If I ever go back to finish it, I can say it took me over 7 years to read. And I think the copy I have is only 64 pages long.

Now that pointless paragraph is over… Shawn asks where the real end of the story is, you know, where the Grinch comes in and steals everything? And Cory asks what kind of a stupid title is “A Christmas Carol”, because there definitely wasn’t anyone named Carol in it. Mr. Feeny asks Topanga to switch places with Cory. Topanga closes her eyes for few seconds and opens them to say “Alright. I am a hyperactive, underachieving 11-year old boy.”

Mr. Feeny of course meant to physically switch places. Cory and Shawn don’t understand why, and especially don’t see how that book is considered a classic. It’s just an old book with the lesson that, “if you’re a real butt-head, the neat ghosts will take you to cool places.” I must say, I have to agree with little Cory here.

In the cafeteria, Shawn has a bagged lunch for the first time on the show. He says it’s because although he loves fishsticks, he just feels so bad imagining the poor little fish getting their sticks ripped out. I am concerned Shawn is lying, because whenever someone brings their lunch from home on any tv show featuring children, it’s because they’re poor. It’s never because they just prefer real food to the stuff from school cafeterias, or they have allergies, or because they feel bad for fish who have their sticks ripped out, it’s always because they’re poor. The only exception is if everyone brings their lunch from home and there’s a pointless scene of them trading food.

So Minkus sits down to eat with them for some reason, and just randomly says “Ah, Christmas. Season of togetherness, season of brotherhood.” Seriously, there is no prompting for this. He asks if he can sit down, they say no, he sits down anyway, and says “Ah, Christmas.”

Cory responds by saying Christmas is the season of wool. 9 presents out of 10, wool. No matter the shape, wool. Minkus gives us that old standby response of “It’s not the gift, it’s the thought behind it.” Sure, the thought of “Hey, look, an itchy sweater! Cory will surely get hours of enjoyment from this!” Cory and I seem to agree on this matter.

Then Topanga materializes and says she agrees with Minkus, and doesn’t like the commercialism of Christmas, and that Christmas is the celebration of the winter solstice – which it sort of is, December 25 having previously been a pagan feast day dedication to a Roman god of agriculture or something. Cory and Shawn tell Topanga her dimension is calling her back home and wants her to bring Minkus, so she and Minkus leave to sit at another table. This was sort of an awkward scene. I mean, I know it’s just setting up events for later in the episode, but seriously, I wasn’t kidding about how random it was with Minkus sitting down and talking about Christmas.

Cory and Shawn then give each other Christmas tree updates – seeing the growing number of presents under the tree and guessing what might be in them. Cory is sure he got some regulation basketball – and to be honest, it’s really hard to wrap a basketball without giving away what it is – so he’s been saving up his money for a month to buy some really good net. It’s taken him a month to save up $5, even though I’m pretty sure his dad said Cory gets that much a week for an allowance in a previous episode. Shawn says that he totally has a lot of presents at his house.

Minkus comes over again and says that Shawn still hasn’t chipped in his $5 for the class gift to Mr. Feeny. Shawn says he’ll totally have the money tomorrow, but he spent his money on his lunch that day, and he gets up and leaves. Minkus of course notices that Shawn brought his lunch to school today and wonders if his mother charged him a packing fee. Ah-yep, I think my earlier statement about “bagged lunch = poor” is pretty relevant to this episode after all.

That afternoon at the Matthews home, Amy and Morgan come home from the mall. We learn that Morgan thinks she killed Santa Claus. See, when she was sitting on Santa’s lap, telling him what she wants for Christmas, Santa had a heart attack. Amy and Alan giggle at the trauma their daughter experienced, and Eric comes down to ask what’s wrong with Morgan, seeing as she’s locked herself in the bathroom and is singing “On the first day of Christmas, I murdered Santa Claus.”

Cory runs in and checks the tree for new presents. He finds one, shakes it, and throws it down in disgust. Wool. Alan is concerned that Cory’s been bragging about his gifts in front of Shawn, to which Cory replies he has to just to keep up with the truckloads of stuff Shawn’s been getting. Then Alan says he’s not so sure Shawn’s been telling the truth, since Shawn’s dad got laid off from his job. Shawn’s dad doesn’t work for Alan so I’m not entirely sure how Alan knows that – I guess just gossip. I mean, I’m not sure if Cory’s parents talk to Shawn’s parents that much…

Cory then deduces that, with Shawn’s dad being laid off, of COURSE he’s bringing his own lunch to school. See what I meant before? I brought my lunch from home from pre-school up until the dad I graduated high school, and it was never because my mom got laid-off. We weren’t exactly rich, I just really liked having the same meal every day. And by bringing my own lunch, it meant I got to eat pretty much what I wanted, and not have to eat rock-hard rolls and rubbery roast beef like the other kids. And plenty of my schoolmates brought their lunch from home not because they were poor, but… just because they liked their own food better. I don’t know if this program existed in 1993, but when I was in school, they also had a free lunch program, so if you qualified, you could get breakfast and lunch from the school for free. So, this is why I get really annoyed with all of these tv shows equating poorness with bagged lunches.

ANYWAY. Cory says he’ll give Shawn a present since his family is poor, and goes to get one of Eric’s presents to give him.

Amy and Eric try to get Morgan – who is singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” at the top of her lungs – to come out of the bathroom. Curiously, she’s locked herself into Cory and Eric’s bathroom. I would assume that Morgan would have her own bathroom – like, one in the hall or something, because I can’t imagine being a 5 year old girl having to share a bathroom that is in the bedroom of my 11- and 15-year old brothers.

Amy and Eric try to promise to give her something if she comes out. Eric says he’ll give her his flannel shirt she likes so much, so she opens the door a crack and just takes the shirt into the bathroom with her.

Shawn comes over and Cory gives him a basketball. Shawn’s all perplexed, because they’ve never given each other Christmas gifts before. Every some back-and-forth, Cory says he knows Shawn’s dad got laid-off and Shawn is all “I don’t need your charity!” and runs away.

Feeny, who was outside gardening or something, of course overhears the argument and goes to give Cory patented Feeny advice. Basically he tells Cory that it’s not really a gift if you expected something back for it. Cory expected Shawn to be all thankful or something, so his gift of a basketball wasn’t good enough. I think that’s what he meant.

Amy finally got Morgan to come out of the bathroom, with “psychology and bribery”. Morgan asks what happened to the mean elf who called her a “demon child” at the mall. Her parents say he’s totally gone now, and then someone comes to the door. Of course it’s the elf he called Morgan a demon child, so Morgan runs screaming upstairs. The elf came by to give Amy her money back, since she paid for a photo with Santa but Santa sort of became incapacitated before the photo was taken. Alan slams the door in his face after confirming that he did indeed call Morgan a demon child.

At school the next day, Shawn sits at a different table from Cory, and Minkus accosts him, saying it’s the last day to give him $5 for the class present for Feeny. Minkus tells him if he doesn’t pay, his name won’t go on the card and the entire 6th grade will know he’s a dead beat. Shawn says fine and then goes to another table. Cory comes over and tells Minkus to leave Shawn alone because he doesn’t have the money, and the reason why is because he lent Cory the $5 but Cory never paid him back, so Cory gives Minkus the $5 that is actually his from saving up for a month.

Later, Feeny asks if anyone was inspired by “A Christmas Carol” to read more of Dickens work, to which Cory says no, but he’ll watch the David Copperfield special. I don’t remember when I first learned that David Copperfield the magician was not the same as David Copperfield the Charles Dickens book.

Then Minkus goes to present Feeny with the class present: a dictionary.

Wow.

I mean, that’s a… well… I guess it’s a thoughtful gift, but I would have figured Feeny would already have a dictionary. And they didn’t say it was special in any way – like it was bound in the leather of a freshly killed cow, or blessed by Franciscan monks, or featured definitions that were hilariously skewed for teachers or anything. It’s just a dictionary. A dictionary that, depending on how many kids are actually in that class, cost at least $45 and may have actually cost $60. My goodness.

Feeny reads the card and says everyone’s names are on it, from Minkus to Hunter. Shawn looks up, confused, since he didn’t give money for the gift so his name shouldn’t be on the card. Then the bell rings and everyone runs out of the classroom before Feeny can finish telling them to read two books off the reading list. Okay, Feeny, hold up. It’s one thing to give people homework over winter break. But read two books off the reading list? Most public schools in America only give you two weeks for winter break. Most kids don’t even get around to reading the two or three books they make you read over the three months of summer break, so you really expect them to read two books in two weeks? Get with it, Feeny. Cory sticks his head back into the classroom just to tell Feeny that no one heard him give the assignment. Except Minkus, who wrote the assignment down.

In the hallway – which we have never seen before and may never see again – Shawn thanks Minkus for putting his name on the card, and Minkus tells him to thank his deadbeat friend Cory for paying back the money he owed by chipping in for the present. Shawn tells Minkus “merry Christmas”, to which Minkus replies “Really?”

Shawn comes over to Cory’s yard and gives him a net he found in his garage. It’s real old and belonged to his dad, and Cory’s real thankful for it and whatnot. Shawn says he figures it’s a good match – Cory has the net and Shawn has the ball. Cory reminds him that he doesn’t have a ball, since he threw it in Cory’s face when Cory tried to give it to him. Shawn jokes that every time Cory misses a pass, they’re gonna stop being friends? So then they play around and stuff.

Look at that, even the tree-house is decorated for Christmas!

Later that evening, Cory and Shawn run in, still playing basketball, and Amy tells them “not in the house”. Amy invites Shawn to stay for dinner, but Shawn says they’re stringing up the lights at his house and he wants to be with his dad. Amy gives him a tin of cookies to give to his mom. Eric tells him to watch out when he bites into the cookies because one of Barbie’s little plastic shoes is missing. Cory asks if Shawn’s gonna come over and play hoops the next day, Shawn says of course he will, then Cory asks if he’s gonna be okay, to which Shawn says something like of course he’ll be okay when he’s got friends. The studio audience goes “awww”.

Then there’s a knock at the backdoor. Alan, Amy, Eric, and Cory all wonder loudly who it could be, and say maybe Morgan should go see. Morgan’s not answering any more doors, considering what happened last time, but Amy says she’ll probably really want to answer the door this time.

IT’S SANTA! HE’S ALIVE!

And boy, does he look a lot like Mr. Feeny. He explains that he’s been resting up at the North Pole, and Mrs. Claus just undercooked his figgy pudding, and that’s all that was wrong with him the other day.

Amy runs to get the camera and they all pose for a picture. Right before the flash goes off, Morgan asks why Santa looks like Mr. Feeny. That’s just what I was wondering!

People sure lose their jobs around Christmas an awful lot in tv shows and movies, huh? I guess maybe it has to do with how the fiscal year is set up.

So the lesson in this episode was “it’s the thought that counts” and helping someone out without telling them is a good idea. I guess.

Please remember the very green Christmas tree for the episode that comes up in a few seasons where Topanga stays with the Matthews for the holidays.

On a semi-related note, the season 6 Christmas episode has the exact same title as this one but with an additional “s” – Santa’s Little Helpers. Whenever I get to that episode, I will figure out if the similar titles are intentional or not (like if their plots are similar or mirrored or something).

I looked up dictionaries on Amazon.com, and it seems like the standard Oxford dictionary goes for about $10. There were some dictionaries on there for $30 or $35, so I guess if that dictionary they gave Mr. Feeny was REALLY nice, $45-$60 isn’t as ridiculous as I thought it was. But then again, I’ve found CDs on Amazon that go for over $100, for just a single, normal audio CD. So… I don’t know.

Well this review is FINALLY over. It’s two weeks until Thanksgiving in the U.S., and one week after Halloween. So… Merry Very Early Christmas, everyone!

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