Finally back with a new episode ‘cap. I remember this one is about sports, and I’m sure Cory learns a very valuable lesson from his dad at the end.
We start off right away with some guy we’ve never seen before – the basketball coach – putting up the list of who made the basketball team -which Cory, in a fabulous ensemble, immediately comments on.
Considering Cory is holding a basketball outside the basketball coach’s office (I guess that’s his office, I don’t know for sure), I can only assume he tried out for the team. But it’s only 20 seconds into the episode, so I’ll let him go on.
Cory, Shawn, and some kid I don’t think we’ve ever seen before talk about how awful second string is. Cory says he’d rather not make the team at all than make second string – or the “B-Team”, if you will. Shawn pretty much agrees with Cory, and the kid with that totally 90s hairdo doesn’t really comment on anything.
After Minkus proudly announces he made B-Team – which I think is definitely an accomplishment for that little guy and his giant glasses – the three boys decide to step up to the list and find out their fates. Shawn and that other kid (whose name is apparently Harris Robertson) made A-Team. If I ever watched The A-Team I could probably think of a joke here.
Cory, unfortunately, made the B-Team. Shawn and that kid we will likely never see after this episode tell him it’s no big deal, it’s not like he’s gonna lose his friends or anything. The irony being that they tell him this while taking his basketball away and then running out of the hallway, leaving Cory to look dejectedly at the door before the opening credits start.
In class, Feeny is giving a demonstration on the evolution of man, or something.
Feeny eventually gets to say something relating to the primordial soup and how we were waiting for the lowest scum to slide in – right at that moment, Cory walks in. The class laughs at this timing, as real kids would.
Also it appears that Topanga got a makeover.
Feeny overhears Cory telling Shawn – thanks in part to the fact that literally no one else was talking in the room – that he talked to the coach, and it WASN’T a mistake that he made B-Team. After everyone else leaves, Feeny asks Cory why he’s so upset – after all, Minkus is pleased to be on the B-Team. Feeny goes on to make a connection between’s Darwin’s theory of Survival of the Fittest and Cory not making first string – nature already decided that Cory will be Second String forever, because he’s small and weak. Cory is like “heck naw” and says maybe he’s on the B-Team because the coach wants him to evolve into a better player. Cory leaves the classroom, resolved to turn into a great basketball player.
Feeny, being the greatest teacher ever, had this planned out all along, and says “It’s so simple.”
Later on, Cory asks Eric to help him get better at basketball. Eric’s too busy working out because every girl in the school dumped him because he’s only a sophomore and not a senior.
Morgan is a princess.
Cory comes back from his first basketball game. He asks Amy if she wants to hear about it, and she does, but oh no someone has to take the cookies out of the oven!
Then Alan comes home and apologizes for missing Cory’s game. He couldn’t go because the manager unexpectedly showed up or something. I was pretty sure Alan was the manager, but maybe I”m misremembering that, or misremembering a line I heard 5 seconds ago.
Anyway, Alan asks for the play-by-play of the game, and Cory starts off by saying that the team won. He’s about to continue with something really important, but then Eric comes in and interrupts him.
Eric needs $36,000 right away to buy a new car to impress Heather. What is it about people named Heather on shows? There’s Heather on this show, who we rarely if ever see but is mentioned all the time. On The Nanny, there was Heather Biblo, who I think we saw in one episode after she was mentioned a lot of times, having gotten this boob job or done this slutty thing. On Degrassi: The Next Generation, there’s Heather Sinclair who we never see except in one mini-episode, just barely, who was mentioned at least once per episode, having gotten this botched nose job or being out with this illness or being a slut or whatever. Later seasons followed this up with Heather Poullett, but it’s not the same. [And incidentally, Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High had a character named Heather who was an actual person we saw all the time]. It’s just weird, all these shows with this mythical character named Heather we always hear about but never see.
…So anyway, Eric and Alan have a short back-and-forth about cars and motorcycles, with Cory saying that, hey, he’s still here, trying to tell a story! Alan apologizes and tells him to go on.
There’s another minute of people coming in and talking over Cory who’s just trying to talk about his first basketball game. Finally he just starts talking louder and not letting anyone interrupt him. He gives a thrilling play-by-play, running around the living room, telling the exciting things he did during the game – darting between people, making a fabulous shot into the net, whatever – and his family reacts with awe and excitement. Cory’s a hero!
Except he’s not. He sits down sadly on the couch, saying he didn’t even get to play. He’s just a lousy second-string player. His parents try to reassure him, saying being second-string isn’t that bad. Cory says it IS bad, and what’s worse is that all he’s trying to do is tell a lousy story about how his game went and everyone else is having a family meeting and ignoring him. He tells them that being second-string on the basketball team is bad enough without having to be second-string in his own family.
Amy pulls Alan into the kitchen to talk to him. Alan doesn’t want to talk, he wants to just go upstairs and tell Cory he’s overreacting. Amy, however, thinks Cory is totally justified in being upset. After all, Alan’s spending time with Eric, talking about his girl problems, and then Amy is spending all that time with Morgan, making her a princess, and where does that leave Cory? I got lost in all the basketball lingo, but I think Amy and Alan decided to talk to Cory together, rather than just having Alan talk to him. But the next scene is at school so I guess they decided to talk to him later in the week or something.
So at school the next day, Minkus is talking to Cory about how exciting the game was. Minkus is totally pumped from sitting on the sidelines, cheering for the team. Cory gives him a look that just says he’s crazy. Then Shawn and that other kid come over and tell Cory all about these great basketball players who played second-string before becoming stars. This gets Cory really pumped up – he’s inspired, and he’s totally going to work hard! Then he rips his shirt open and reveals he’s wearing his jersey underneath his 90s-style multiple layers, then the coach materializes from nowhere and asks him what he’s doing, since second-string doesn’t go to away games.
I feel like Cory should’ve known that before the day of the game. And why is it they’re having an away game literally the day after a home game? Is that a normal thing for 6th grade basketball teams? To have games that close together? I’m honestly not sure.
So later, Cory comes home, sad. No one is in the living room, so he assumes everyone’s baking cookies with Morgan. Except there’s no on in the kitchen. There’s no one home at all. I’d question why no one left a note, except I remember where they all went, so it wouldn’t make any sense for there to be a note.
A short montage goes by of Cory sitting on the couch, watching tv. The first thing he watches is a story on a woman who killed an entire Girl Scout troop so her daughter would be the top seller. Cory’s comment is “Now there’s a family who cares.”
Also at one point there’s a show where some guy mentions something about life being great when you’ve got a house full of love – and a puppy. Sounds like Full House to me, even if the puppy grew up into an obnoxious dog pretty quickly.
After a while, Cory realizes it’s dinner time, and still no one is home, and how is an 11 year old supposed to make dinner for himself? Huh?? That’s when he notices Feeny is conveniently grilling something outside. Rather than go over and ask Feeny for help – he doesn’t know where his parents are or when they’ll be back and he’s pretty hungry so maybe Feeny could share or at least help him make something on his own – Cory calls Feeny’s house, and runs over to get Feeny’s chicken or whatever after Feeny goes inside to answer the phone.
But Cory drops the chicken or whatever while jumping over the fence, and Feeny catches him while he’s trying to eat the soil-covered chicken. Cory explains that his family is out, probably because they’re ashamed of him being second string on the basketball team, and he was just listening to the advice of good ol’ Chuck Darwin and go into survival mode. Feeny says that, for one, stealing a chicken off a grill is hardly the same as hunting down and spearing a mastodon or something, and secondly, the Matthews family went to see Cory’s basketball team at that away game that Cory can’t go to since he’s second-string.
Seems like Cory should’ve had a game schedule or something so his parents would know not to go to away games that second string players aren’t in, but I guess if Cory didn’t even know he wasn’t going to the away game that day…
Cory begs Feeny to drive him to the game, because his family is finally there for him so he figures he should be there for them being there for him (he actually phrased it pretty much this way in the show), and he promises to buy Feeny some corn dogs to make up for the ruined chicken.
Later, the Matthews family arrives home. We learn that three of the first string players were injured, or something, during the game, so it was sure lucky that Cory was there to fill in for them. Also Eric says something about enjoying the game because all those 6th grade girls thought he was super cool. I like that this line comes right after an episode where a 6th grade girl had a crush on him and he was like “Whoa, no, calm down.”
So Amy tells Cory that they’ll love him and be proud of him no matter if he’s 1st, 2nd, or 3rd String, or no string at all. Alan tells Cory that if he ever feels like no one’s paying attention to him, to just grab his old man’s face and say “Hey! Listen to me!”
So during the credits, Cory is insisting to Shawn, Minkus, and that kid who might as well not have been in this episode that Feeny is a total speed demon behind the wheel. They of course don’t believe him – I mean, Feeny? Old, boring, dry Feeny? They have not yet learned that Feeny holds mystical powers and can certainly drive furiously if he wants to.
Then Feeny and a guy who may or may not be the basketball coach – he doesn’t look much like the coach, but I only saw the coach for like 10 seconds before this, and who else would it be? – come around the corner. The other teacher says he would’ve beat Feeny if that light hadn’t turned yellow. Feeny says something like “You snooze, you lose.” Also Feeny is dressed like this:
Indisputable proof that Feeny is a drag-racing speed demon.
All right, so this episode. Alan actually didn’t share some great wisdom. It was just, if you want someone to listen to you, grab their face. Actually there wasn’t really much great wisdom in this episode. Cory didn’t succeed because he believed in himself, he just did it because his heart was moved by his family finally caring about him, and because three members of the team hurt themselves and Cory happened to be there when he otherwise wouldn’t have been there.
But we got to see the other hallway, where Topanga kissed Cory, again. Sadly, there was no Topanga. Only a classroom full of people we’ve never seen before, and will never see again.
Also, I noticed there’s a huge fire extinguisher in the cafeteria, next to the vending machines, and there’s a fire hose in the hallway. I’m not sure I’ve seen a fire hose in any show that didn’t take place at a fire station, so major kudos to the set designer once again. I definitely have the feeling that the people who worked on this show actually attended a school at some point in their lives, which is more than I can say for plenty of other shows. (*cough*Glee*cough*)