Perfect Strangers vs. Boy Meets World
Perfect Strangers was arguably the original poster child for TGIF, making it difficult to eliminate them so early. Larry and Balcy blazed a trail for the enormous success that was to follow in the 90’s, but Boy Meets World grabbed that torch and never looked back. They’re into the semi finals.
Step By Step vs. Dinosaurs
The concept of Dinosaurs was originally conceived by Jim Henson, and was brought to life in 1991. A family of anthropomorphic Dinosaurs and their wise-cracking baby went about their everyday lives back in their native Pangea, 60 million years ago. It ended in depressing fashion, when nuclear winter wiped out everybody in an extinction level event. We can’t say we didn’t see it coming. It was a good show (despite those claustrophobic inducing costumes), but it couldn’t compete with the longevity of Step by Step, which lasted 7 seasons and was a staple of the TGIF family. Chalk up another loss for the dinosaurs.
Family Matters vs. Sabrina The Teenage Witch
Urkel and the Winslow family take on a witch, her two witchy aunts, and a talking cat. Sabrina had some success on TGIF but it’s no match for the 8 year main stay in Family Matters. No magic spell to get out of this one.
Hangin' With Mr. Cooper vs. Full House
Ironically, Full House creator Jeff Franklin left the series in the later years to focus on Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, a show that had some decent comedic value thanks to Marc Curry, but I can’t see Mr. Cooper getting a Netflix reboot anytime soon. Full House moves on.
Step By Step vs. Boy Meets World
Step by Step put up a more than respectable run during its tenure on TGIF. It may not have been at the top of everyone’s list come Friday nights, but you still would make sure you were in front of the TV with your McDonald’s pizza and Crystal Pepsi when its timeslot approached. Despite these positives, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who has watched it in the last 15 years. I can’t say the same for Boy Meets World, as my wife and her best friend watched it last weekend. Corey and Topanga are a force to be reckoned with. They’re in the finals.
Family Matters vs. Full House
This is quite the heavyweight showdown. The Winslow’s vs. The Tanner’s. East Coast vs. West Coast. Urkel vs. Gibler. Two squeaky clean families with an unfortunate proximity to a neighbour who has no qualms with breaking and entering. At first glance it would seem Full House is the front runner, but dig a little deeper and it’s not as cut and dried as you’d think. While it would be an easy victory for the Tanner’s (and Gladstone’s and Katsopolis’s’s) if we were looking at lasting impact and syndication play, there’s one glaring issue. They were only on TGIF for three seasons. It was moved to Tuesday nights in 1991 and stayed there for the remainder of the series. This simply can’t compete with Family Matters and its dominant eight-season run as one of the major players on Friday nights. When I think of TGIF, the first show that comes to mind is Family Matters, with Full House sprinkled in five or six shows later. Sorry, Full House. I loved you and your terrible comedy, but Urkel and the gang are heading to the finals.
Family Matters vs. Boy Meets World
Duration is now out the window, as these two shows went the distance on Friday nights throughout the 90’s, running for 7 and 8 seasons, respectively.
No one on either side had the cultural impact that Steve Urkel did, and even if they did, it still wouldn’t be a contest. Urkel was ginormous. He had a doll, he had a song, he was everywhere. If you took Urkel away from Family Matters the show wouldn’t have legs to stand on. If you don’t believe me, watch some episodes from the first season when he was only a minor recurring character.
This is where the tide begins to turn in the favour of Boy Meets World. They had a solid foundation and cast to build stories on. Both shows dealt with serious issues but they resonated more from Boy Meets World. Except when Laura’s friend took a bullet for her shoes. That was chilling. Family Matters also had the exceptionally awkward annual Christmas episode in which the family would stand around the Christmas tree singing. It made me uncomfortable.
The comedy in BMW is a stark upgrade from Family Matters whenever Urkel or Waldo Faldo weren’t in the room, and while the acting on any Friday night sitcom is never great, the BMW cast was again superior (except for both versions of Morgan).
Both shows taught us valuable lessons, usually from one Mother Winslow or Mr. Feeny. In the 90’s, there were few people more wise than Mr. Feeny. Mother Winslow also seemed to be a weird, horny grandma a lot of the time.
Boy Meets World also maintained enough popularity to create a spinoff, the not as successful Girl Meets World. The same can’t be said for Family Matters, though I guarantee the ratings would be through the roof now that Jaleel White would be able to stomp anyone who called him a geek. In the later years of show, Urkel’s biceps and wiry reach were starting to hinder the believability of his nerdy character. He looked like a hipster who could throw hands if the situation presented himself.
While Family Matters is a legitimate threat and a strong runner up, it can’t contend with the overall quality and legacy of Boy Meets World.