Ben Savage, younger brother of Fred Savage, steps up to bat as 11-year-old Cory Matthews, brash boy with pleasant parents (Betsy Randle, William Russ). Cory’s got problems with his sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Feeny (William Daniels), who the undaunted Cory suspects hates him. Program, directed shrewdly by John Tracy, trails Cory through his difficulties coping with life; it’s sure to please 11-year-olds trying to cope with life as well as their parents.
Cory’s hurt when older brother Eric (Will Friedle in a stock role), breaks a tradition with Cory and decides to go to a ballgame with a girl; more, Cory has trouble trying to understand the intricacies of love in “Romeo and Juliet,” which Mr. Feeny is teaching the kids. Cory also has a little sister, Morgan (Lily Nicksay), who’s cute without being tedious.
Relationship between Cory and Mr. Feeny, something like a more mature Dennis the Menace and Mr. Wilson, is a strong springboard for the series. Feeny, who lives next door to the Matthewses, is on to children’s tricks; he outsmarts the smart Cory when the boy speaks back to him by keeping him after school.
Savage is just fine as the sharp boy with lots of ideas, and Daniels is excellent in what might have been a routine role. Writers Michael Jacobs and April Kelly have even included a message in the format — the value of love, something Cory presumably learns.