TV Preview: Boy meets fatherhood

Sydney Zink, Columnist

With the recent announcement of buzz-worthy developments like “Finding Nemo 2” and the “Star Wars” takeover, Disney has turned to the past for its future. Most recently, fans of  “Boy Meets World” met with mixed reactions the news that the company has a new spin-off series in the works predictably titled “Girl Meets World.”

Who is this girl, then? Nearly 20 years ago, audiences watched as Cory and Topanga began their path toward an adorable romance in “Boy Meets World” episodes taking place during their middle school years. When viewers last saw the couple, Cory and Topanga were fumbling newcomers to the married life as college students, until they finally moved to New York in the series finale for Topanga’s law internship. Today, after years of devoted fans aching for a cast reunion, viewers will get more than they ever could have hoped for as they catch up with the married couple’s 13-year-old daughter Riley, the titular character of the new show. The show’s premise features Riley navigating the awkward, tangled encounters of school and home life in junior high — after all, what other kind of middle school experience is there? The spin-off’s casting is still very hazy, but other announced characters include her older brother Elliot and her troubled-but-dear friend Maya. In addition to being a father, Cory Matthews also landed the job as his seventh-grade daughter’s history teacher.

Even foggier than the casting is consistency with the original storyline viewers know and love. The seventh and last season dropped major hints about Topanga potentially being pregnant, including a not-so-subtle episode title of the 17th episode: “She’s Having My Baby Back Ribs,” alluding to Topanga’s suspicious weight gain. An earlier episode included a flash-forward that indeed depicts Topanga as having a daughter, but one she refers to by the name Beverly Glen. “Boy Meets World” aired its series finale in 2000 and the aforementioned flash-forward was of characters in 2006. The daughter in the flash-forward was described as only being a few months old, adding to inconsistency regarding both the original and new series’ suggestions about this vague child.

More troubling than this easily forgotten inconsistency, however, is the uncertainty of how often Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel — Cory and Topanga, respectively — will be appearing in the new series despite the commitment-suggesting description assigned to parts like Savage’s character. Both Savage and Fishel have acknowledged talk about the new show without giving clear information about their degree of involvement. Key figures behind the original series that are returning to the new show include “Boy Meets World” creator and executive producer Michael Jacobs, who currently heads casting.

Disney faces the challenge of being appealingly creative with a familiar subject while remaining true to the original content. Hardcore fans everywhere wait with criticism ready. I will admit that the ‘90s shows I have grown up fond of are more along the lines of “Full House” and “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” than “Boy Meets World,” thereby excluding me from the emotional rollercoaster leading up to the eventual series premiere of “Girl Meets World.” However, as someone who has grown pessimistic of sequels’ and spin-offs’ potential in the midst of their prevalence nowadays, I, too, am holding my breath that Disney does justice to the original series.