Boy Meets World was a TV programme that ran from 1993 to 2000. It followed the story of Cornelius "Cory" Matthews (played by Ben Savage) through his coming of age, and everyday life lessons with his friends and family. From his middle school days as a pre-pubescent child to his life in college as a married man.
One important person in Cory's life was Topanga (played by Danielle Fishel), who was Cory's girlfriend and who eventually became his wife.
Fast forward and we pick back up with favourites Cory and Topanga in the new Disney Channel series of Girl Meets World.
We meet Rowan Blanchard who stars as Riley Matthews, the tween daughter of Cory and Topanga Matthews, while Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel reprise the roles of one of television's favourite couples.
Made for kids and families, Girl Meets World tells the wonderfully funny, heartfelt stories that Boy Meets World is renowned for – only this time from a tween girl's perspective. It focuses on relationships with family and friends and the important, indelible values therein, as the relatable and adventurous Riley and her bold best friend Maya traverse the twists and turns of teenage years at Manhattan's John Quincy Adams Middle School where Riley's dad is their History teacher.
I caught up with Ben and Rowan to ask them all about it.
'Boy Meets World' was a great show. How did the 'Girl Meets World' idea come about?
Ben Savage: I think it was initially thought of by someone who worked at Disney, who grew up by the name of Cory Marsh. He had grown up with the idea of Boy Meets World and he was a big fan of the show, he spoke with Michael Jacobs our executive producer about bringing the show back. That's probably a boring story but it was brought up to me probably in about October of 2012. I got a phone call about it and we had a lot of discussions and talks and I think once we kind of all understood where we were coming from in terms of the show, that we weren’t just going be redoing the old show but we would be doing a modern version with a twist from a different perspective, I think we were all really excited about it. Personally for me I was excited to get a chance to play the Dad, and a teacher, I just thought that would be really exciting and I hadn’t done that role. I thought it would be really interesting to be the same character but as a dad now.
Rowan Blanchard: I got involved in the show during November 2012. They had just started auditioning girls and I actually originally auditioned for Maya who’s now played by Sabrina and somewhere in the middle we both swapped because she had originally auditioned for Riley. That’s how I got involved, I knew that when I read the script it was something different that I hadn’t seen, something fresh, something that I hadn’t seen from my generation. When I saw the names Cory and Topanga I made the connection and I was like ok that’s cool.
What do you think made 'Boy Meets World' such a huge success and can you see the same happening for 'Girl Meets World'?
Ben: What I’ve said is that I think that we tackled issues that young people deal with but we did it in a fun relatable way and were never too preachy, so I think people appreciated that, they appreciated the fact that we didn’t talk down to them but we also presented them with storylines, issues and characters that they could identify with and hopefully we did it in a fun way. That's what people have said to me throughout the years you were such an important part of my childhood because you know they trusted us to convey a message but do it in the right way. As far as Girl Meets World, we are kind of taking it one step at a time and hopefully people like the show.
Rowan: Right, and we told our story for the first season for sure and we got messages across that we wanted to get across and hopefully we will be able to do it again.
Ben, how is it for you now acting the grown up?
Ben: I’m really enjoying it again it's really fun to be playing the same character from a different perspective. He’s older, he’s hopefully a little wiser, and is much more focused in this point in his life because he is a dad with two kids and a teacher. It’s still sort of this same quirky, neurotic, fun sweet guy but that being said I think he is really endeavouring to be a good teacher and to set a good example to his kids.
What is it like working with Danielle again do you guys keep in touch?
Ben: It’s been great, I mean she is great. Her character is now a lawyer and its fun reconnecting with everyone on the show because it’s like you’re just getting to spend time with your old friends again so it’s been a lot of fun!
How do you think Cory and Topanga cope with a pre-teen on the show?
Ben: I think they cope with it exactly the way people would expect. I think Cory doesn’t want his daughter to grow up at all and he loves her so much.
Rowan: Topanga kind of accepts change because she is a girl and she understands what it's like.
Ben: So if it was up to Cory she would probably never leave the house.
So what do you think Cory and Topanga have been up to since we last saw them?
Ben: Well they have been busy obviously they moved to New York and they had two kids and as I said Topanga is now a lawyer and Cory is a full time teacher and they are very focussed again about being good parents and spending time with their family.
Can you give us a sort of sneak peak, will we see any of the 'Boy Meets World' cast appearing in the new series?
Rowan: Sure we did a holiday episode that will air at Christmas time. That is also referred to as the reunion episode and we had Shawn come back, and we had Alan and Amy who are Cory’s parents come back, and then we had, fans of the later seasons of Boy Meets World will remember Joshua who was just born and was probably two when the series ended, so he’s grown up, and he’s seventeen and he comes back for the reunion episode. Besides from the reunion episode we have an episode where Minkus comes back, an early Boy Meets World character and then we have Janitor Harley comes back.
Ben: I just want to say one more thing about the guest stars, is that we have always said that the door is always open for all the former Boy Meets World cast when they’re ready and one of the things that has been so fun this past season was that every day that we got to set there was always someone visiting or someone just stopping by to say hi and just visiting so it’s really like a family atmosphere on the set so we really enjoyed that.
Rowan, how do you feel about playing the role of Riley, it must be amazing for you?
Rowan: It’s pretty amazing, it’s a really special role for me and it’s something I’m really proud of and I know I put my best work into it. I know that people will love Riley for her realness for being so off-beat and not a perfect character. What was the other part of the question?
How do you feel about being a Disney star, and how did your family and friends react when you told them?
Rowan: To be honest my family and friends were happy for me but nothing changed, thank god!
So what kind of relationship does Riley have with her parents on the show? How would you describe it?
Rowan: I would say that the father-daughter relationship between Riley and Cory is the epitome of a father-daughter relationship, you know we argue sometimes but at the end of the day we love each other and he’s out to look for me
Ben: You mean the characters?
Rowan: Yeah that’s what I meant.
Rowan: And we are looking out for each other.
Ben: You don’t mean we argue sometimes?
Rowan: I’m talking about Riley and Cory, but that’s what I mean it’s a very real relationship. I often compare it to my dad and I’s because my dad is a lot like Cory, if he had it his way, I would never leave the house. But my relationship with Topanga is very special, it’s a lot like Topanga was in my place during the seasons of Boy Meets World, so Topanga is like the cool mom and gets that her kids need to grow up and that sometimes her kid wants to be with her friends, she is a very nurturing mother.
How do you think Riley feels about her dad teaching her school?
Rowan: I think she likes it and I think there are moments where she might be embarrassed by him but he’s her dad of course she’s going to be embarrassed by him. I think it’s very special for her top come to class and always see her dad and I think that sometimes that can be annoying because she comes home and see her dad and she goes to school to see her dad but I think she deals with it well.
And how does dad feel about teaching his daughter?
Ben: He loves it because I think it’s just more of an opportunity to spend time with his daughter. He loves being a dad and being around his daughter and I don’t know if Riley likes being around Cory as much
Ben: Ok so he loves to be around her and I also think it’s a nice opportunity for him to impart some wisdom in a different atmosphere then at home and I think it is something he really enjoys.
Where could you see this show going in the future, maybe Baby Meets World?
Rowan: Well I mean we are taking it one step at a time and however long it takes to tell our story and if there is a new story we will find that out when the time comes.
Watch Girl Meets World on The Disney Channel, starts 5.30pm, Friday, September 12.