Film Review: Ladybug Ladybug (dir by Frank Perry)


Long before he played the long-suffering Mr. Feeney on Boy Meets World, William Daniels made his film debut as another school principal in the 1963 film, Ladybug Ladybug.

In Ladybug Ladybug, Daniels plays Mr. Calkins and he’s got a lot more to worry about than just some unstable student with an unhealthy fixation on a girl that he’s gaslighted into loving him.  No, Mr. Calkins has to deal with the very real possibility that a nuclear war might break out at any second.  One day, when an imminent nuclear attack warning signal goes off, no one can be sure whether or not it’s real or if it was an accident.  However, Mr. Calkins takes no chances.  He dismisses school for the day and tells all of the students to go home.

However, there’s a problem.  The school is in a rural area and most of the students live several miles away.  Because it’s early in the day, there aren’t any school buses running.  The children will have to walk home.  To make sure that the kids get to safety, they’re divided into groups.  A teacher is assigned to each group, tasked with keeping the children calm and making sure they reach their houses.

It’s a long walk and the countryside is deathly quiet.  Some of the children talk about what’s going to happen if there really is a war.  Others, being too young to understand the seriousness of the situation, treat it all like a game.  As each child reaches their house, they have to deal with parents who are more concerned about why their child has come home early than the fact that there might be a war about to break out.

Back at the school, Mr. Calkins and a few remains teachers wait.  One teacher tries to clean up her classroom, all the while realizing that there’s a chance that the classroom will never be used again.

And we, the viewers, keep waiting for a bomb to drop or, at the very least, some sort of clarification about what’s really happening.  We wait in vain.  The film’s ending is harrowing but, at the same time, ambiguous.  Is the world ending or are the children going to wake up in the morning and head back to school?  It all depends on how you interpret the film’s final few moments.

Of course, by the time we reach that ending, a group of children has already taken cover in a bomb shelter.  Unfortunately, their self-appointed leader has decided that there’s not room for all the children, which means that one girl ends up getting kicked out.  Wandering around outside, she finds an old refrigerator to hide in.  Your heart sinks as you watch her climb in and close the door behind her….

Ladbybug Ladybug is a grim film.  At times, it runs the risk of being a bit too grim.  The film definitely gets across its point but it’s so relentlessly depressing that it’s a bit difficult to sit through.  Of course, Ladybug Ladybug was filmed around the same time as the Cuban Missile Crisis so, for many viewers in 1963, the film was less an allegory and more just a record of the feelings and fears that they had to deal with every single day.  Towards the end of the film, when one of the children desperately starts to yell, “Stop!  Stop!  STOP!,” he was undoubtedly speaking for an entire generation that grew up under the shadow of mutually assured destruction.

Ladybug Ladybug was one of the many nuclear war-themed films to be released in the early 60s.  One could easily imagine it as being a companion piece to Fail Safe.  While President Henry Fonda is debating whether or not to sacrifice New York, the children are simply trying to get home.

Kolchak: The Night Stalker 1.4 “The Vampire” (dir by Don Weis)


On tonight’s episode of Kolchak….

Kolchak is on assignment in Los Angeles and he’s shocked to discover that the town is turning into a city of vampires!  This episode is a sequel to the made-for-TV movie that first introduced to Carl Kolchak to the world.  Not only does this episode feature a vampire but it also features the great character actor, William Daniels.  William Daniels is one of those actors who plays astonishment quite well so his scenes with Kolchak are a lot of fun.

This episode originally aired on October 4th, 1974.

Enjoy!

An Olympic Film Review: Blades of Glory (dir by Josh Gordon and Will Speck)


All good things must come to an end and the Winter Olympics have done just that.  Tonight, here in the States, NBC will wrap up their coverage of the Games and they’ll broadcast the Closing Ceremonies.  As NBC tends to do, they’ll pretend that they’re broadcasting live but the truth of the matter is that the Winter Games are over and now we’ll have to wait two years for the far-less exciting Summer Games.

I enjoyed the Winter Olympics this year.  I was one of those obsessive people who would watch all of the recaps at one in the morning.  Medal-wise, Norway dominated with a total of 39 medals.  The United States came in fourth with only 23 medals but that’s still 22 more medals than Latvia got!  (Just kidding, we love you, Latvia!)  Overall, though, it was a pretty good Olympics.

That said, there were a few things missing.

For instance, no one attempted to recreate JFK’s affair with Marilyn Monroe on ice.  I thought that was definitely a missed opportunity.

There weren’t any frantic chase scenes.  No mascots were injured over the course of the Olympics.  I guess we should be happy about that, all things considered.  Still, it’s hard not to feel that this break with Olympic tradition left something lacking in the games.

Finally, none of the skating routines featured the risk of decapitation.  Again, I guess this is a good thing.  I mean, we really don’t want to see anyone lose their head, especially not when the games are being broadcast across the world.  But again, it was hard not to feel that lack of the Iron Lotus was unfortunate.

In short, the Winter Olympics may have been good but they were nothing like the 2007 film, Blades of Glory. 

Blades of Glory tells the story of two very different ice skaters.  Jon Heder is Jimmy McElroy, who was adopted by a hyper-competitive, kinda creepy millionaire (William Fichtner) and practically raised to become a gold medalist.  Will Ferrell is Chazz Michael Michaels, who is a hard-drinking, hard-living, sex addict.  Jimmy is all about technical perfection.  He’s a non-threatening, almost child-like celebrity, the type who has earned himself his own obsessive stalker (Nick Swardson).  Chazz is, on the other hand, is a self-styled rock star, as well as being something of an idiot.  In 2002, when they both tie for the gold, they get into an argument that 1) leads to a mascot getting set on fire, 2) brings shame upon the “World Winter Games,” and 3) leads to them getting banned from men’s single competition.

But, as Jimmy’s stalker figures out, that doesn’t mean that they can’t compete in pair skating!  The former rivals may loathe each other but it’s either that or a future of skating in cheap ice shows and working in retail!  Under the guidance of their burned-out coach (Craig T. Nelson), Jimmy and Chazz learn to work together.  And what better way to win the gold than to do an extremely dangerous maneuver that could potentially lead to one of them losing his head?

However, not everyone is happy to see Chazz and Jimmy return to competition.  The reigning champions — Straz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg (Amy Poehler and Will Arnett, who were still married when they played creepy siblings in this film) — have no intention of allowing themselves to be upstaged.  And if that means using their younger sister (Jenna Fischer) to try to drive a wedge between Chazz and Jimmy, so be it…

So, obviously, Blades of Glory is not a serious look at the world of ice skating.  The plot is really just an excuse to highlight the absurdity of putting people who clearly don’t belong there on the ice.  This is another Will Ferrell comedy where the majority of the laughs come from the absolute dedication that Ferrell brings to playing an almost absurdly stupid human being.  Ferrell has the ability to deliver even the most nonsensical of dialogue with total sincerity and conviction.  In Blades of Glory, he’s well-matched by Jon Heder, who brings his own odd style to the role of Jimmy.  If Ferrell is all about aggressive stupidity, Jon Heder is all about impish stupidity and it becomes surprisingly compelling to see whose stupidity will ultimately win it.

While it never quite reaches the highs of Anchorman, Blades of Glory is still a funny movie.  It made me laugh and that’s always a good thing.

A Movie A Day #255: Her Alibi (1989, directed by Bruce Beresford)


Tom Selleck is Phil Blackwood, a best-selling mystery author who is suffering from writer’s block.  Paulina Porizkova in Nina, a beautiful Romanian who has been accused of murder.  When Phil sees Nina being arraigned in court, it is love at first sight.  He provides her with a false alibi and invites her to stay with him while he writes a book based on her case.  At first, Phil thinks that she is innocent but he soon has his doubts, especially after Nina shows off her skills as a knife thrower.

1989 was a strange year for Australian director Bruce Beresford.  On the one hand, he directed Driving Miss Daisy, which went on to win the Oscar for the best picture.  On the other hand, he also directed Her Alibi, a disjointed comedy that feels like an extended episode of Magnum P.I.  (Even Sellecks’ narration feels like a throwback to his star-making role.  But if Phil is a best-selling writer, why does his narration sound so clunky and clichéd?)  Her Alibi is a predictable film, not really bad but just very bland.  It tries to duplicate the style of a classic screwball comedy but it lacks the bite necessary to make much of an impression.  On the plus side, the great William Daniels was given a few good lines as Phil’s caustic agent and Paulina Porizkova was absolutely beautiful.  The scene where Nina gives Phil a haircut almost makes the movie worth it.

One final note: When watching Her Alibi, be sure to pay attention to the scene where Phil holds up his latest novel.  The book is so thin that it looks like it is only 20 pages long, at the most.

Confessions of a TV Addict #1: It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… No, It’s CAPTAIN NICE (NBC-TV 1967)


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Yes, that’s distinguished actor William Daniels in those long-johns as CAPTAIN NICE, which aired Monday nights on NBC-TV for eight months and fifteen episodes during the height of the superhero camp craze in 1967. Similar in theme to MISTER TERRIFIC on rival CBS, I preferred this one as a kid because of it’s MAD Magazine-level of jokes and gags – which ain’t a bad thing, in my book! The silly superhero series was created by Buck Henry, who also (along with pal Mel Brooks ) was responsible for another campy sitcom, the 60’s spy spoof GET SMART!

Mild -mannered chemist Carter Nash works for the Big Town Police Department, and invents a super-secret super-formula that transforms him into Captain Nice. His domineering mother (Alice Ghostley) sews him up a super-suit and tells him to go out and fight crime like a good boy. Carter’s got all the powers of Superman, except he’s a bit…

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A Movie A Day #145: The Incredible Hulk: A Death In The Family (1977, directed by Alan J. Levi)


Following the events of The Incredible Hulk and with the world convinced that he is dead, Dr. David Banner (Bill Bixby) is hitchhiking his way across California, hoping to reach a hospital where research is being done on the effects of gamma radiation.  When he stops off in an orange grove, he spots a young, crippled woman named Julie (Laurie Prange).  When Julie faints, David carries her back to her mansion.  It turns out that, after the mysterious death of her father, Julie stands to inherit millions.  David suspects that her doctor (played by William Daniels) may be poisoning her and he gets a job working on the grounds of her mansion.  At first, David thinks that his biggest problem is going to be the head groundskeeper (Gerald McRaney), who is jealous of David’s relationship with Julie.  But, actually, it’s Julie’s stepmother (Dorothy Tristan) that David has to watch out for.  When David tries to protect Julie and a bitter hermit (John McLiam) from the stepmother’s evil plans, he soon finds himself being pursued through the swampland by both men with guns and tabloid journalist Jack McGee (Jack Colvin).  They are all making David Banner angry and they’re about to discover that they wouldn’t like David Banner when he’s angry.

This was the second pilot for The Incredible Hulk.  It aired a week after the first pilot and, like that one, it was also given a theatrical release in Europe.  While the first movie established David Banner’s backstory and explained why he transformed into the Hulk whenever he bumped his head on a door frame or twisted his ankle, A Death in The Family is more typical of the series that would follow.  Like every subsequent episode, A Death In The Family opens with David Banner finding an odd job and ended with him walking down the road with his thumb stuck out.  In between, Banner helps a special guest star.

Watching the second pilot, it’s easy to see why CBS took a chance on The Incredible Hulk even though, at the time, comic book adaptations were considered to be a risk.  Both Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno really throw themselves into playing Banner and his alter ego and the show takes the idea seriously.

There’s nothing special about the pilot’s story.  The stepmother and the doctor are obviously guilty from the start.  But the plot (and the 90 minute running time) does allow for four appearances by the Hulk.  David Banner even gets attacked by a grizzly bear, which brings the Hulk right out.  David Banner always had the worst luck with wild animals and barbed wire.  The Hulk, though, just throws the grizzly bear over into the next pond.  The bear is not harmed.  The Hulk may have been angry but he was never really dangerous.

Finally, for the record, Death In the Family featured the first of many aliases that David Banner would assume over the next four years.  This time, he’s David Benton.

Lisa Reviews An Oscar Nominee: A Thousand Clowns (dir by Fred Coe)


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The 1965 film A Thousand Clowns is one of the most annoying films to ever be nominated for best picture.

I know what you’re thinking.

Really, Lisa — even more annoying than Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close?

Well, no.  No movie is as annoying as Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  In fact, even if it didn’t particularly work for me, I can kind of understand why A Thousand Clowns was apparently a box office success in 1965.  To be honest, part of my annoyance with the film comes from the fact that not only can I understand why other people would love it but I probably would have loved it if I had been alive to see it when it was first released.  A Thousand Clowns isn’t an awful film but to say that it has not aged well is a bit of an understatement.

It tells the story of Murray Burns (Jason Robards).  Murray lives in a cluttered New York apartment with his 12 year-old nephew, Nick (Barry Gordon).  Seven years ago, Nick’s mother abandoned him with Murray.  Murray views Nick as being his own son.  Nick worships his Uncle Murray.  Murray randomly sings Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby.  Nick picks up on the habit and is soon wandering around and humming Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby.  By the end of A Thousand Clowns you will be so freaking sick of hearing that song.  (Fortunately, Murray never sings Send In The Clowns.  The film dodged a bullet on that one.)

Murray’s a nonconformist, the type who starts his day by standing outside and mocking everyone who is getting ready to go to work.  Murray used to have a job.  He was a TV writer.  He wrote jokes for a detestable entertainer known as Chuckles The Chipmunk (played by noted Broadway director Gene Saks).  Five months ago, Murray quit his job.  He’s now unemployed and proud of it.  He swears that he will never again sacrifice his freedom for a paycheck.  He raises Nick to take the same attitude towards life.

Two social workers, Albert (Williams Daniels) and Sandra (Barbara Harris), show up at Murray’s apartment.  They say that unless Murray gets a job and proves that he’s a good guardian, Nick will be taken away from him.  Murray explains that he’s a nonconformist and that he’s raising Nick to reject anything conventional.  Albert is offended.  Sandra is charmed.  Soon, Sandra and Murray are going for bike rides through New York City.  Murray sings Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby some more…

And it all sounds good but the film just didn’t work for me.  First off, I’ve actually experienced what it’s like to grow up with a frequently unemployed father and, sorry, it’s not all studio apartments and cheerful trips to Central Park.  Secondly, A Thousand Clown‘s message of carpe diem might have seemed groundbreaking in 1965 but today, it just seems like a cliché.  I mean, everyone claims to be a nonconformist today.

Watching the film, it’s hard not to feel that it doesn’t really play fair.  It’s easy for the film to always portray Murray as being enlightened when the only people who ever disagree with him are humorless strawmen.  Albert is a self-righteous prig while Chuckles The Chipmunk is a heavy-handed caricature, the type of TV star who could only be created by a writer who is resentful that more people are watching TV than reading his latest masterpiece.  Martin Balsam appears as Murray’s brother, Arnold, and gets a chance to defend his decision to lead a normal, conventional life.  When it comes to the brothers, the film obviously want us to side with Murray but instead, you feel more sympathy for Arnold, largely because Martin Balsam was such an authoritative actor that your natural tendency is to assume that he must know what he’s talking about.  It’s interesting to note that it was Balsam, as the voice of mainstream conformity, that won the film’s only Oscar.

Jason Robards was not even nominated, though his performance is often better than the material.  He and Barbara Harris have a sweet chemistry, even though Harris is stuck playing a rather demeaning role.  (When we first meet Sandra, she is dating Albert and assuming that he’s correct about anything.  Then she falls for Murray and assumes that he is the one who is correct about everything.  What the film never bothers to really explore is what Sandra herself thinks about anything.)  But then you’ve got Barry Gordon, who, in the role of Nick, comes across as being a bratty know-it-all weirdo.  Nick is so obnoxious that it undercuts the movie’s claim that Murray deserves to be his guardian.

Also not nominated, despite the film winning a best picture nomination, was the director, Fred Coe.  (Nominated in his place were William Wyler for The Collector and Hiroshi Teshigahara for The Woman In The Dunes.)   His omission is less surprising than that of Jason Robards.  If you didn’t know that A Thousand Clowns was based on a stage play, you’d guess it after watching the first ten minutes of the film.  Despite a few shots of Murray and Sandra in New York City, A Thousand Clowns never breaks free of its stage origins.  Taking place on largely one set, it feels rather confining for a film meant to celebrate nonconformity.

As I said, I didn’t care much for A Thousand Clowns but I can understand why it was probably a hit with 1965 audiences.  Murray’s a transitional figure, standing between the Beats and the Hippies.  With America’s confidence shaken by the Kennedy assassination and growing social unrest, I’m sure a lot of people wanted to drop out of society just like Murray.  To be honest, a lot of people feel like that right now.  I just hope that, if you do decide to follow Murray’s example, you’ll sing something less annoying than Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby.

A Thousand Clowns was nominated for best picture but it lost to a film that Murray probably would have hated, The Sound of Music.

Shattered Politics #34: The Parallax View (dir by Alan J. Pakula)


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Judging from the films that the decade produced, the 1970s were truly a paranoid time.  (Of course, 2015 is a paranoid time as well, which is probably why so many of the classic films of the 70s still feel incredibly relevant.)  Some weekend, you should watch a marathon of 1970s films and I guarantee that, by the time Monday rolls around, you will be looking for lurkers in every shadow and automatically distrusting any and all authority figures.  The 1970s were a good time to be paranoid.

And it’s really not surprising at all.  The previous decade was a time of turmoil and upheavel, a time when some people feared protestors and some people feared the establishment but, ultimately, everyone was afraid of someone.  When you think of the 1960s, you think about all the leaders who were violently assassinated — John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Robert F. Kennedy, and more.  (And that’s just in America!)  And then the 70s came along, with Watergate and the revelations about the CIA partnering up with the Mafia to try to kill Fidel Castro.

The 70s were a good time to be paranoid and the films of the 70s reflected that fact.

Take for instance, 1974’s The Parallax View.  The Parallax View opens and ends with assassination.  In both cases, the victims are U.S. politicians who are running for President and whose ambitions have caused concern for the shadowy and rarely seen leaders of the established order.  In both cases, the official story is that the assassin was a lone gunman, a nut with a gun and absolutely no political or religious motivations.  Of course, both accused assassins were apparently involved with the shadowy Parallax Corporation and, over the course of the film, anyone who knows anything about Parallax ends up dying.  Reporter Joe Frady (Warren Beatty) goes undercover to investigate the group but, as he does so, he grows increasingly paranoid and unstable, until finally  it’s easy to mistake him for any other paranoid madman, ranting in the street and, in many ways, indistinguishable from the accused assassins that he’s been investigating.  In many ways, Joe becomes like a character in a H.P. Lovecraft short story who, upon laying eyes on Cthulhu, is driven mad as punishment.

It’s a good film, one that’s enhanced by Gordon Willis’s trademark shadowy cinematography and the convincing desperation of Warren Beatty’s performance.  In the film’s best scene, Frady applies for a job with the Parallax Corporation.  As a part of his job interview, he’s taken a dark room and he’s told to watch a short film.  His reactions will help to determine what role he could possibly play at Parallax.

Needless to say, The Parallax View feels just as relevant today as it did when it was first released.  We still live in paranoid times and hints of conspiracy are still everywhere to be seen.  Perhaps the only thing that has changed is that, back in 1974, conspiracies could still take people be surprise.

Now, we just take them for granted.

Shattered Politics #25: The President’s Analyst (dir by Theodore J. Flicker)


Presidents_movieposter “If I was a psychiatrist, which I am, I would say that I was turning into some sort of paranoid personality, which I am!” — Dr. Sidney Schaefer (James Coburn) in The President’s Analyst (1967)

Let’s just be absolutely honest about something.  Judging from what they regularly get caught saying and from some of the policies that they support, a good deal of politicians could probably use some sort of professional help.  That’s probably especially true of the men who sit in the Oval Office.  It can’t be easy to have to hide so many secrets, tell so many lies, and be constantly aware of how close the government is to actually collapsing.  We’ve had 44 Presidents and I imagine all of them probably could have used someone to talk to.

But here’s the thing.  We spend so much time worrying about the well-being of the President that we often don’t stop to think about the people who have to listen to them speak on a daily basis.  I imagine that being the President’s therapist must be a thankless job.  Not only do you have to spend hours listening to someone who you may not have voted for but, at the same time, you can’t share any of the information that you’ve learned.

That would certainly seem to be what’s happening with Dr. Sidney Schaefer (James Coburn), the title character of the wonderfully psychedelic 1967 satire, The President’s Analyst.  At the start of the film, Sidney is a supremely confident psychiatrist.  He can calmly and rationally deal with all of his patients problems and, in order to keep from getting overwhelmed, he has his own analyst (Will Geer).

One of his patients is Don Masters (Godfrey Cambridge), an agent for the Central Enquiries Agency (CEA) who is first seen casually murdering a man on the streets of New York.  (When Sidney discovers that Don is an assassin, he’s thrilled and impressed to discover that Don has managed to channel all of his hostility into his job.)  What Sidney doesn’t realize is that Don is testing him to see if he’s up to the job of serving as the President’s analyst.

At first, Sidney is thrilled with his new position but he soon discovers that being the closest confidante of the leader of the free world has its downside.  For one thing, Sidney is viewed by suspicion by Henry Lux (Walter Burke), the head of the Federal Bureau of Regulation (which, in this film, is exclusively staffed by people who are less than 5 feet tall).  Even beyond being targeted by the FBR, Sidney struggles with not being able to see his own therapist and discuss what he’s been told by the President.  Soon, Sidney is becoming paranoid and is even convinced that his girlfriend is a spy.

(And, of course, she is.)

So, Walter does what any sensible and paranoid person would do.  He makes a run for it.  Pursued by the FBR, the CEA, and a Russian assassin (a funny performance from Severn Darden, who also played Kolp, the sadistic torturer in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes), Sidney hides out with everyone from a group of hippies to a family of heavily armed, karate-trained, middle class “militant liberals.”

(The father of the militant liberal family is played by William Daniels, who decades later would play Mr. Feeney in Boy Meets World.)

Of course, there’s an even bigger conspiracy at work than even Sidney realizes.  The real threat is the TPC and I’m not going to tell you what that stands for.  You need to see the movie.

And really, The President’s Analyst is a film that you really should see.  What makes this film truly special — beyond the clever dialogue and the excellent performances and the great direction — is that it’s both a product of when it was made and a timeless portrait of power and paranoia.  It’s a time capsule that still feels incredibly relevant.

 

What Lisa Watched Last Night #52: Boy Meets World S5E17 “And Then There Was Shawn” (dir by Jeff McCracken)


Last night, my BFF Evelyn and I watched the infamous “And Then There Was Shawn” episode of the old ABC sitcom Boy Meets World.

Why Were We Watching It?

We were watching it because it’s October and we both had Halloween on the mind.  Of course, according to the Boy Meets World wikia — and yes, I am as shocked as you to discover that such a thing exists — this episode actually originally aired on February 27th, 1998 so, technically, it was more of a belated Valentine’s Day episode than a Halloween episode.  But anyone who has ever sat through And Then There Was Shawn knows that this was so totally a Halloween episode, even if it did air in February.

What Was It About?

And Then There Was Shawn pretty much starts out the exact same way as every single episode of Boy Meets World: Obsessive-stalker Cory (Ben Savage) and frigid, self-righteous Topanga (Danielle Fishel) are having issues and the entire world is just so concerned about whether or not they’ll be able to get back together so that they can eventually get married at the age of 18.  Cory’s friend Shawn (played by the very adorable Rider Strong) manages to stop talking about living in the trailer park long enough to disrupt Mr. Feeney’s history class.  Rather then questioning why his entire life seems to revolve around a bunch of 16 year-olds, Mr. Feeney (William Daniels) responds by giving everyone detention.

So, Topanga, Cory, and Shawn are all in Mr. Feeney’s after-school detention, along with Shawn’s boring girlfriend Angela and a random student named Kenny.  (It took me a while to recognize that Kenny was being played by Richard Lee Jackson, who I remembered from Saved By The Bell: The New Class.)  Since this is Boy Meets World, everyone is using their time in detention to discuss Cory and Topanga’s creepy relationship when suddenly “No one gets out of here alive” appears on the chalkboard, written in blood.

And from that moment on, it goes from being a standard episode of Boy Meets World to transforming into being perhaps one of the weirdest episodes ever to show up in a family sitcom.

Soon, Kenny’s dead as the result of someone jamming a pencil into his head, Mr. Feeney’s dead with a pair of scissors in his back, there’s a creepy janitor stalking the hallways, and Cory’s cute older brother Eric (Will Friedle) shows up, along with Jennifer Love Hewitt.  By the end of the episode, almost the entire cast has been killed and, of course, it turns out that it’s all because the entire world revolves around Cory and Topanga…

What Worked?

Over the course of the episode, just about every character on the show is killed off.  Considering just how annoying most of the characters on Boy Meets World could be, it’s hard not to appreciate this episode’s determination to kill all of them off.

The episode, itself, is actually pretty well-written and clever.  Unlike a lot of sitcom Halloween episodes, And Then There Was Shawn actually feels like a legitimate (and respectful) homage to the great horror films of the past.

What Did Not Work?

I’ve often wondered if the audiences in the 20th Century found the character of Cory Matthews to be as creepy as I find him to be in the 21st.  Seriously, whenever I see Boy Meets World, I’m struck by the fact that Cory basically spends every episode telling everyone that 1) they’ll never love anyone as much as he loves Topanga, 2) that Topanga’s belonged to him her entire life, and 3) that everyone in the world has an obligation to think about him and Topanga before they do or say anything.  In addition to that, you have to consider his oddly co-dependent relationship with Shawn, the fact that he looks nothing like anyone else in his family, and the fact that whenever he and Topanga have a fight, he yells, “NO!  We’re not supposed to ever disagree because I love you Topanga and … YOU LOVE ME!”  Seriously, what a creep!  Fortunately, Corey is less of a jerk than usual in this episode but, all things considered, it’s still hard to root for that little psycho.

Finally, what was up with the Boy Meets World theme song?  I mean, it’s awful but it certainly does get stuck in your head.

“OMG!  Just like me!” Moments

To be honest, I find almost all of the regular characters on Boy Meets World to be so annoying that I’m almost tempted to say that there wasn’t a single “Just like me!” moment in this episode.  However, I do have to admit that — much like Jennifer Love Hewitt in this episode — I probably would have found time to make out with Eric as well.  Seriously, he was soooooooooo cute!

Lessons Learned

Sitcom love = creepy love.