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Then & Now: Topanga (Danielle Fishel)

11.30.2012by: Salacious Crumb

Time: the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole. I had someone else in mind for this week's "Then & Now", but then I realized her most famous film also starred Fred Savage. We already went over Winnie from "The Wonder Years" (looking fine as wine) and the girl from THE WIZARD earlier this month, so I was all "Fred Savaged" out. Luckily, this week we received the announcement that "Boy Meets World" is getting the spin-off treatment with "Girl Meets World", and some of the original cast is expected to return! Even the dude who played Cory! What's his name? Ben..... Savage? Oh yeah, Fred Savage's brother. Shit. Okay then, let's take a look back at the other Savage's high school crush, Danielle Fishel.

Born out of Mesa, Arizona, and raised in Yorba Linda, California, Danielle first tried her hand at acting at 10-years-old in her community theater. She starred in productions of "Peter Pan" and "The Wizard Of Oz". Soon after, she started doing voice-over work for several commercials, including one as a Barbie girl. Next up, she landed guest spots on "Full House" and "Harry & The Hendersons", two helpful stepping stones which led up to her greatest achievement as child-star, "Boy Meets World".

I wasn't an avid viewer of "Boy Meets World". I knew the cool kids (the older kids) watched it, but it didn't relate a lot to my life when it reached its peak. It also had some of the worst theme-song lyrics ever known to man:

"When this Boy Meets World

Boy Meets World

Wandering down this road, that we call life

Is what we're doin'

It's good to know I have friends that will always

Stand by me

When this Boy Meets World."

Fun Fact: those lyrics were written in less time than they take to read. Anyway, after watching a handful of episodes for this retrospective, it seems like a show I would've been much more into had I gone to high school during the '90's. The entire first two seasons (and some later episodes) were directed by David Trainer, the guy who directed nearly every episode of "That '70's Show". That show was a big influence on me, so I guess it makes sense that "Boy Meets World" would be up my alley. Both of those shows aim not to insult the intelligence of the vulnerable teenagers they're geared towards. They deal with the same realistic, coming of age situations (at least in the later seasons). The fathers on both programs are as lovingly negative as can be. They even each have an episode about the struggles of trying to get laid on prom night. This, of course, brings us to "the girl".

           

And those demonic eyes...

Danielle's character, Topanga Lawrence, wasn't brought into "Boy Meets World" until the fourth episode, which forever changed the pace and direction of the show. Her chemistry with Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) pretty much rounded out the first season, when towards the end, Cory asks her out in order to "keep up with his buddies" in the dating game. Obviously, this set a new motive for the main character, and their relationship was the topic of many-to-most of the following episodes. As I said before, I didn't watch the show religiously, but I do remember letting myself get distracted by Topanga's pouty face more than once. You can see why Cory dreamt about pushing all of his friends down an open elevator shaft just to be with her (yeah, that happened).

"Boy Meets World" is one of the few sitcoms to follow its cast all the way from grade school to high school to college. There are a whole mess of life lessons to be learned in each of those eras, and luckily, they had a mentor named George Feeny (played by William Daniels) the whole way through. There's no explanation for why Mr. Feeny winds up teaching these same kids seven years in a row, unless a comet hit the earth and killed every English professor within the village. Perhaps the show's called "Boy Meets World" because it contains some post-apocolyptic hidden message, where the few civilized beings left must rebuild and move on with their lives. That would explain why Cory's address is as simple as "3... 2... 1". What the hell am I talking about?

I can't go on without mentioning the man who often stole the show, Rider Strong who played Shaun Hunter, Cory's troublemaking but well-meaning best friend. I still find it amusing that he ended up in CABIN FEVER of all things. Then of course, there's Cory's older brother Eric (Will Friedle), who's introduced to us as a suave jock and then devolves into the show's laughable jackass. Topanga wasn't the show's only love interest either. Those little man-whores got around, with actresses like Keri Russell, Brittany Murphy, Linda Cardellini and Marla Sokoloff. Even Jennifer Love Hewitt made a shameless cameo appearance as "Jennifer Love Fefferman", in an episode featuring a parody of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER. There was also a cross-over episode with "Sabrina, The Teenage Witch", guest-starring Melissa Joan Hart. Yeah, it was all pretty silly.

What a bunch of Savages...

So, by the end of the series, Cory and Topanga get hitched, and all is hunky dory. Things work out well for Ben Savage, as they did for his brother Freddy by the end of "The Wonder Years". When "Boy Meets World" completed its 150 episode run in 2000, Danielle was getting attention in all sorts of teen magazines, but a year or so later she kinda went missing. She had a part on the short-lived sitcom "Nikki", and would appear every once in a while as a drunk sorority girl in straight-to-dvd flicks. Well, I think it's time to get to what everyone wants to see. So here it is, folks! Danielle Fishel 2012 edition...

                      

Well, to sum up my reaction in one word: "damn". I find myself at a loss for description. She kinda looks like Stiffler's mom's daughter... I just blew my own f*ckin' mind, man. I remember seeing Danielle in NATIONAL LAMPOON'S DORM DAZE 2 (which I'd initially only watched for Vida Guerra's ass) and thinking she had gotten rather husky. That was about six-or-so years ago, though, and now she looks to be in top shape. Way to go, Danielle! I predict there will be some varied opinions here, though. If you dug her 15 years ago, you're likely to dig her now, because she's basically become Topanga with an exaggerated porn star body...

Really, Danielle hasn't ever been terribly out of shape, but I can see why those Disney Channel execs suddenly trust her enough to capture an audience's attention for 30 minutes every week. So, what else has she been up to? Well, just like her character in "Boy Meets World", Danielle''s been studying her ass off (likely partying, too). A couple years ago, she started attending Cal State University, Fullerton, to complete her degree in psychology. She also hosted her own show for a few years on the Style Network called "The Dish", which is basically like the E! Network's "The Soup" if Joel McHale had blonde hair and a huge rack. I'm hoping nobody throws a fit over the choice this week. Sure, a lot of us already have an idea who this girl is and how she's turned out, but like my uncle Walter once said, "stop crying, and enjoy these sexy pictures!"....

Clearly, Danielle's been getting in shape, so I'm anxious to see how she looks in that pilot episode of "Girl Meets World". Then again, I guess I'd be anxious to see all the cast reunite for the show. "Boy Meets World" is the sort of show where that kind of revamp is acceptable, because it's all in good fun. I favor it a hell of a lot more than that HEATHERS TV-series that was recently announced. I kinda wish I'd gotten into "BMW" more growing up, because it has better morals than the violent cartoons I watched instead, and I'd probably be sleeping better at night these days. From what I've learned about Danielle Fishel, it seems like she's been working hard, especially over the past few years, so I wish her luck on the new program. And for god's sake, give this girl some more sexy photoshoots! Thank you for coming into our world, Danielle!

Extra Tidbit: Does this girl rock your world?

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