Boy Meets World – 111, “The Father/Son Game”

It’s Friday. Cory is excited because weekends are awesome. Eric is excited because he’s probably gonna get a date with someone named Cindy. Alan is excited because the grocery store’s father/son softball game is coming up. Eric and Cory are not excited about that.

So, here’s the thing – I’ve only ever heard of company softball games on tv shows. I’ve never heard of an actual, real-life company that has softball games with other companies. Is it just that I happen to have never heard of real-life company sports games, or is it just a tv thing? A tv thing that is in approximately 70% of all sitcoms?

Sometime later, in the classroom, the class is reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Notably, Topanga is not standing and reciting the pledge. Feeny asks her why, and she tells him simply that she didn’t feel like it. This gets Cory all excited – finally, Topanga’s gonna get in trouble for something! Because even though it’s perfectly in your rights as an American to not stand and recite the Pledge, everyone considers you, like, a filthy red Commie for not doing so.

Anyway, Feeny then says that since Cory and Topanga have differing view points on the issue, they’d be perfect to start out that day’s debate, and then it’s revealed that Feeny actually told Topanga not to stand. That sly dog.

So Cory and Topanga bring up their view points. Cory’s argument is that it’s the Pledge of Allegiance, you pretty much HAVE to say it, and it’s so short anyway. Topanga’s view point is that you shouldn’t do something just because it’s a tradition, and “if I’m forced to do it, just because of some tradition I don’t understand, that doesn’t make ME happy.” Cory rebuts by saying Topanga is weird. Topanga then calls Cory weird for pledging his allegiance to a flag every day. Cory then gives a rousing speech that’s cut off by the bell. Whatever class that was only lasted like 4 minutes. Maybe it was just homeroom, but… they seem to have all of their classes with Mr. Feeny. They never have gym or any other class, just Feeny and lunch. So if that was homeroom and they got dismissed to go somewhere else… where did they go? Do they have lunch immediately after homeroom? Or was that class actually a lot longer and they just do the Pledge of Allegiance at the end of it instead of the beginning for some reason?

I sort of agree with Topanga, by the way. I mean, I don’t have anything against pledging allegiance to a flag on a daily basis, but if you don’t know what the pledge actually means, you’re just sort of saying words. It’s just a thing you do with no meaning. I think Topanga has a totally valid point in saying that she shouldn’t be forced to do some tradition she doesn’t understand. I’m not saying you should totally disrespect the Pledge or anything, but maybe take some time to think about the words and what it actually means.

Stepping off my soapbox now, I’m going to take a second and wonder if perhaps this thing about being forced to do something just because it’s a tradition will be echoed in the father/son softball plotline.

At lunch, Cory and Shawn discuss how awesome weekends are and how awful it is that parents expect you to do things on the weekend after you’ve been doing things at school all week. Minkus comes over and says nerdily that there’s only three more days until Monday, and leaves his tray at the table while he goes to get an apple – instead of leaving his tray at the table he would actually be sitting at. While Cory complains about the softball game, Shawn takes the opportunity to pour salt on Minkus’ hamburger.

Minkus comes back and says something about fathers living vicariously through their sons, and asks suspiciously if Shawn did anything to his hamburger. Shawn denies it, and Minkus points excitedly saying that Shaquille O’Neal has unexpectedly appeared.

Cory and Shawn, knowing of course that Minkus is just tricking them so he can switch his tampered hamburger with Shawn’s, say “Oh, gee, where?” and turn to look, to humor poor old Minkus.

Expect Minkus knows this trick too and picks up both hamburgers and just puts them back down where they were originally – so Shawn still has his burger and Minkus still has salty burger. Then Shawn points, saying Stephen Hawking has unexpectedly appeared, to which Minkus turns, being more convincing at believing this trick than Cory and Shawn were. Shawn then switches the burgers and Minkus goes “Darn, missed him” and walks away with his tray. Shawn wonders why everyone thinks Minkus is so smart as he bites into his burger – which was originally Minkus’, as you’ll recall, and is quite salty now.

At the house, Cory and Eric struggle to find a way to tell their dad that they don’t want to go to the stupid softball game. Amy comes in and tries to guilt them by asking why they can’t just give up a few hours on a Saturday. They are not guilted.

Eric comes up with a brilliant solution – it’s the father/son game, meaning only one of them has to go.

Eric tells Cory he should go, and Cory blackmails Eric by threatening to reveal that Eric has driven their dad’s car around the block a bunch of times, despite Eric not having a driver’s license. They decide to have their dad decide which of them should go by having a battle of the excuses. Alan explains that it doesn’t matter, because the softball game was canceled due to lack of interest. Eric and Cory are pleased by this easy solution to their problem.

The following Monday, Cory tells Shawn about his amazing, laid-back weekend. Then Topanga comes over and asks where Cory was at the softball game. Cory continues thinking Topanga is insane, while Topanga explains that she knows for a fact there was a game – Cory’s dad’s grocery store against her dad’s bookstore. She was even there and actually played in the game. Then Cory is full of the guilt.

The next scene, Cory and Eric tell their mother that Alan in fact lied about the softball game being canceled, which Amy is not shocked about in the least. Eric and Cory realize their dad must of known all along that they didn’t want to play in the game, and ask Amy if she would fix it for them. She says no.

Leonard Spinelli, Assistant Manager, arrives and introduces himself, despite the fact that they’ve met before, and Cory and Eric were the ones who called him over. Leonard Spinelli has delivered some man food – ground beef, root beer, ketchup, pickles. Lenny mentions there’s some “all-man” party going on. Apparently Cory and Eric planned a boys-night-out-in-the-background to make up for not wanting to go to the softball game.

But Cory realizes that Alan isn’t as thrilled about the dinner as he was about the softball game, and Cory and Eric realize they’ve pretty much screwed up again.

At class… some time later, Topanga says not only does she not want to say the Pledge of Allegiance, but she also does not want to wear shoes. Also I’ve never mentioned this before, but Topanga has the best outfits on this show. Not that anyone has bad outfits on this show, but Topanga just has some really neat dresses and tunics and whatnot. Someone should start a fashion line based on Topanga’s wardrobe, and Kimmy Gibler from Full House’s wardrobe. I would definitely pay to have clothes like that.

So Cory then says that while he hasn’t changed his position on whether people should or shouldn’t say the Pledge, he’s got a better argument. He says it’s dumb to do something and not know why you do it – which is basically what I was trying to say on my soapbox paragraph at the beginning. Cory says if there’s something you care about, you should show your allegiance – which is a word he looked up and wrote the definition of – by respecting their traditions or something.

Later that evening, Alan is cleaning up the living room. The boys come downstairs to ask what the score for the softball game ended up being, and then they tell him that he broke tradition to – it’s the sons’ tradition to not want to go the softball game, and the dad’s tradition to force them to go anyway. Then they suggest they challenge Topanga’s dad’s bookstore to a rematch for the upcoming weekend, which Alan agrees to.

During the credits, the three guys come back from the game, having just won gloriously. Alan mentions having to wait a whole year for another game, but Eric says he doesn’t have to. The bookstore wants to go best 2 out of 3, so they’re having another game the following weekend! Alan, dirty and beaten up, is less than enthusiastic.

SO. This episode. It wasn’t bad, really. Honestly I’m not fond of the episodes centering on Alan’s relationship with Eric and/or Cory because they all seem to run together in my head, with how similar the plots tend to be (Eric/Cory doesn’t want to do something, Alan acts like he’s fine with it but he’s really disappointed, Eric/Cory try to make it up to him). But I actually like this episode. I can totally relate to Eric and Cory in this case. I mean, I’ve never been part of a father/son softball game or anything, but I know what it’s like to not want to do something with a parent but feeling like you have to just because it’s tradition or because they expect you to even though you’d rather be doing anything else.

This review is like 600 words shorter than my more recent reviews have been. I don’t know if it’s because I’m writing it at 11 pm or what, but I actually got through like 3/4 of the episode pretty quickly.


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