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JayInChicago

The Wonder Years: The Original Series

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I converted the show request into this harrowing look into your very soul.


Please feel free to start new threads for characters, episodes, media mentions, actors, etc.

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I'm Margaret Farquhar. I didn't grow up to be a professor of biology, mother of six, friend to bats. But that was me in middle school, and thank God for the Square Dance episode that showed me, when I was exactly the characters' age, that the Kevins in my world were going to get it someday.

Edited by IvySpice
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A place to discuss particular episodes, arcs and moments from the show's run. Please remember this isn't a complete catch-all topic -- check out the forum for character topics and other places for show-related talk.

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During the show I really loved the episodes that focused on family related problems more than Kevin's adventures with his friends and Winnie. I will say that Winnie is one of the biggest teases in tv show history.

 

I did love the episode where Norma took up pottery classes and Jack didn't like it which lead to them arguing and all the kids were on the couch listening to them fight. It brought back memories when my parents fought and me and my siblings would be in our eldest brother's room listening to them.

 

I absolutely loved the Kevin/Wayne relationship, so realistic that despite all the fighting and name calling they do, you could see they love each other and feel bad when they hurt one another. Like when Wayne killed the hamster and Kevin got mad and reamed him out on why girls never like him. They both hurt each other but forgave each other in the end. When Wayne crashed the car into a field and asked Kevin if he was okay which is the first time Kevin ever heard Wayne ask him that.

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The complete series on DVD is available for pre-order and will be released in October. It's advertised as having original music, but I don't know how much of the original music they got the rights to. The official site says "over 300 songs," which works out to about 3 songs per episode, but it's been so long since I've seen this show, I don't remember how many songs were typically in each episode. Overall, these DVD sets are fairly expensive.

 

There are three different packages available:

 

The Complete Series -- a 26-DVD set with every episode from the series run and 15 hours of bonus material including ten featurettes, outtakes, a cast reunion, and individual interviews with all the series regulars, several recurring actors, and production staff. It's packaged in a replica junior high school locker and comes with two notebooks with episode information and a yearbook with behind-the scenes photos. $249.95

 

The Wonder Years Experience -- everything that's in The Complete Series set, along with Kennedy Junior High School memorabilia (basically, tube socks and some other garbage) and a CD of 60s music. $299.95

 

The Wonder Years Signature Edition -- everything in The Complete Series and The Experience, signed by Fred Savage and Danica McKellar. Limited to 500 sets; comes with a Certificate of Authenticity. $499.95.

 

The cheapest option breaks down to about $50 per season. There were officially six seasons, but seasons one and two combined were only 23 episodes (5 in season one and 17 in season two), which is the length of one normal season. So that price isn't outrageous, especially considering how expensive the music rights are, but honestly I don't care that much about the extras. Featurettes and interviews are nice, but I would watch them once and then never again. And packaged in a "replica locker"? Pfft. No one wants that. I also read somewhere that there are no subtitles, which seems like a huge oversight.

 

I'm going to wait to see if there's going to be a second release of just the episodes (or maybe the episodes plus some of the video extras) in normal packaging. It's possible that these sets are going to be all there ever is, but the thing about making us wait 21 years for something is that we have a lot of time get used to not caring that we don't it.

 

This is the official site, with more information and a link for ordering. Currently, the DVDs can be purchased only through TimeLife.com.

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I agree that the family centered episodes were more interesting and relatable than the teen antics episodes. Kevin's dad always really reminded me of my dad and since this show was on air when I was a kid, seeing Kevin's reactions sort of validated how I felt.

That's not to say the friend focused storylines weren't good. There are actually no episodes or character arcs I dislike.

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Yea Jack's character is a character I wouldn't normally like on t.v. but Dan Lauria was able to make him likable for me. He just wanted what was best for his children and didn't want them to struggle like he did and be successful. 

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I'm watching a special now, Starvista is releasing the first three seasons along with extra reunion footage. Interviews and the like. It seems they got the rights to use the original music!

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Happy to have found this forum. The one episode I can watch anytime is Pvt. Butthead. Wayne and his friend Wart sign up for the army. Wart is this naive, goofy kid and for me he seems to represent the idealistic young men who ended up shipped to Vietnam. His transformation from kid to  veteran a few episodes later was haunting and was so well done. One of the few episode where Jason Hervey was given more to do.

 

For my money, the ending lines to Pvt. Butthead is one of the best TV episode endings of all time. It gives me chills every time I hear it:

 

Kevin: A few days later, Wart left for basic training. He spent two months at Fort Polk, Louisiana. And then, David Wartshafter was shipped to Vietnam. A big goofy kid. Who didn't know what his future would be.

Edited by EarlGreyTea
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So glad to find the forum for this show! Rewatching the show courtesy of Netflix and man it was so well written. Watching with hubby and we both agree Winnie is horrible. Her and Kevin are horrible together. Sorry Kev/Win fans but she does nothing to deserve him. He clearly was way more into her all the time, you actually feel sorry for him half the time.

 

I also enjoy the family dynamics more than Kev and his friends. All in all such a strong show though, all the seasons were well written. Well minus a few clunkers in the 4th season. The dentist assistant and Vet episode come to mind.

 

Wonder if this show would have survived if it was made now instead of back then?

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I just noticed the Wonder Years was on Netflix and have been binge watching, just finished Season 3.

 

  1. I get why they had to change the theme song but why did they choose that guy? Who is it? It's horrible. They should have gone instrumental like the closing theme.
  2. Kevin is kind of unlikable. My husband and I joke about his "Kevin Fits."
  3. Jack and Norma never reigned in Wayne and he was f'n awful.
  4. Watching this again as an adult (late 30's) and having lost MY dad. The Karen/Jack relationship kills me even though my Dad and I were super close with no angst.
Edited by Megan
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I watched the first season recently, and remembered just how much I loved watching the Arnold family dynamics.  It was awkward, or even downright painful, to watch sometimes, but that's because it felt so real.

The episode when Kevin goes to work with his dad, and sees the crap he has to put up with (and starts to kind of understand how it goes when reality shifts your life from dreams and ambitions to obligations) is very good, and I'm glad they did that one early on to help the audience understand why Jack is the way he is.

I remembered that Winnie's brother being killed happened in the pilot, but I had forgotten the Kevin/Winnie kiss did, too.  I never cared about their relationship, and I have even less patience for it now.  I'm just so happy they didn't wind up together as adults, because I hate how many shows have childhood sweethearts stay/get back together, when in reality very few do (which is a good thing!).

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Yahoo had a clip of Fred Savage co-hosting Live and that led me down a Youtube-watching rabbit hole, where I found this special (possibly the one Scarlett45 was referring to last year) of Fred, Danica, and Josh reliving the show. 

Very cute special and the three of them turned out lovely and charming. 

Wonder Years DVD release special

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So glad to find the forum for this show! Rewatching the show courtesy of Netflix and man it was so well written. Watching with hubby and we both agree Winnie is horrible. Her and Kevin are horrible together. Sorry Kev/Win fans but she does nothing to deserve him. He clearly was way more into her all the time, you actually feel sorry for him half the time.

Yeah, maybe it was the way Danica McKellar chose to play the character, but half the time it seems like she doesn't really like Kevin, even when they are dating. 

Also, with the joy of Netflix, when the storylines drag, you have time to look at the background in the outdoors shots.  I've noticed that sometimes you will see modern (80s/90s) cars driving around in the far background.    

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Coach Cutlip was a classic, especially since I was about Kevin's age when the show was originally on. The infamous sex ed diagram? The horror of choosing teams for basketball, and him getting bonked on the head? Awesome. 

That said, I'm now basically Jack and Norma's age, and wow are the parent-centered episodes painful and heartwrenching to watch. Kevin asking his mom to ignore his presence at school because he's embarrassed by her; Jack's fights with Karen; Kevin asking his dad not to die; Jack's job at Norcom - yeah, I had to stop watching those and focus on the sillier teen angsty ones. 

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On July 5, 2016 at 7:02 PM, moonb said:

 

That said, I'm now basically Jack and Norma's age, and wow are the parent-centered episodes painful and heartwrenching to watch. Kevin asking his mom to ignore his presence at school because he's embarrassed by her; Jack's fights with Karen; Kevin asking his dad not to die; Jack's job at Norcom - yeah, I had to stop watching those and focus on the sillier teen angsty ones. 

Now that I'm older, I have a new appreciation for Norma and particularly, Alley Mills' acting. Very underrated performance, IMO. As a kid, she just seemed like a generic "mom" but watching it now, she plays the person under the mom persona really well. (And apparently, has no kids of her own and never played that type of role before this, which makes it more impressive.) 

The scene where she gets fired from Kevin's school and Kevin doesn't know what to do when she's just quiet and doesn't want to talk about it is so well done. As is all of her tightrope walking in managing the relationship between Jack and the kids. Dan Lauria also did an outstanding job, but I always thought that, it wasn't until I got older that I could appreciate Alley Mills' performance.

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On 8/4/2016 at 10:43 AM, ljenkins782 said:

Now that I'm older, I have a new appreciation for Norma and particularly, Alley Mills' acting. Very underrated performance, IMO. As a kid, she just seemed like a generic "mom" but watching it now, she plays the person under the mom persona really well. (And apparently, has no kids of her own and never played that type of role before this, which makes it more impressive.) 

The scene where she gets fired from Kevin's school and Kevin doesn't know what to do when she's just quiet and doesn't want to talk about it is so well done. As is all of her tightrope walking in managing the relationship between Jack and the kids. Dan Lauria also did an outstanding job, but I always thought that, it wasn't until I got older that I could appreciate Alley Mills' performance.

I kind of felt that way regarding the last season.  I'm 4 years younger than Kevin's character was supposed to be when the episodes were released (born in 1980).  So I didn't care as much about the last season originally.  But as I rewatched it, it has some of my favorite episodes from the series.

The acting from the parents was always good IMO.

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Apparently procrastination paid off for me (finally!) because I just bought the DVD set (without the locker or other memorabilia stuff) for $60 on amazon! Perfect timing since The Wonder Years is no longer available on Netflix.

It doesn't have all the extras that came with the fancy set. This one has 22 DVDs and 12 hours of bonus material including:

  • highlights from the first cast reunion in 16 years
  • roundtable discussions with Danica McKellar, Fred Savage, and Josh Saviano
  • 6 newly produced featurettes
  • farewell set tour
  • one hour ABC broadcast of the series finale (which made me go huh? Does that mean they're including the commercials? How is this different from the final episode?)
  • exclusive interviews with the show's creators and cast including Fred Savage, Danica McKellar, Josh Saviano, Alley Mills, Dan Lauria, Olivia D'Abo, Jason Hervey, and more

It has three less hours of bonus materials, but it ended up costing me only $10/season so I'm okay with that.

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I've been re-watching the show on Hulu for a few weeks and I'm up to the middle of season 4.

I have to voice my dislike of Winnie Cooper. I watched the show when I was kid during its original run, and I was a Kevin/Winnie shipper and looked forward to the episodes that focused on them. I disliked every girl that turned Kevin's head or showed interest in him (Madeline, Susan, Linda, Teri, etc.). I remember I adored Winnie, loved her wardrobe, and her beautiful long shiny hair.

Now, ugh, I can't stand her and her wishy-washy treatment of Kevin. She strung him along until someone better along, and then acted hurt when Kevin said he didn't want to be friends. How oblivious (or self-centered?) could she be? She should not have been dating at the age of 12; she was clearly immature and messed up from her brother's death. I hate the annoying way she said "Hi" and "Can we talk" and "I don't know", and the manipulative way she always teared up when arguing with Kevin over their toxic relationship. 

Like I said, I'm up to season 4 on my re-watch, and all I can think of when Kevin & Winnie have relationship problems is that they were too young & immature to be so obsessed with each other and should never have been allowed to date each other. How did Kevin's parents never realize how messed up their kid was because of his relationship with Winnie? Why were these kids so desperate to have boyfriends/girlfriends in middle school? 

Anyway, besides the endless Kevin/Winnie episodes, I really am enjoying the trip down memory lane. My favorite episodes are definitely the ones that focus on the Arnold family, particularly the Jack/Kevin relationship. Wayne is still annoying but he has his moments...but that hair is still hideous. The Mr. Collins death episode still gets to me after all these years.

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I recently rediscovered the WY and it's still one of my favourites.  I'd forgotten how well the show captured the joys and disappointments of growing up. I'm currently on season 3 and the following YouTube clip is the ending to the episode "Don't You Know Anything About Women?"  One of the best episode endings of the series IMO.  Helps that the song in the background is Unchained Melody. 

https://youtu.be/O_klEA7EVXc

 

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I mentioned in the Shipper thread, but in retrospect, I ended up preferring the entirety of Kevin/Winnie over Cory/Topenga and respect the show for giving what the audience needed instead of wanted where Kevin and Winnie not ending up together after high school but still maintaining their friendship. Also, I actually liked that Kevin and Winnie were both very flawed people with a very flawed relationship. Kevin could be a real jerk sometimes and Winnie could be wishy-washy, but  they were both children played by children, both trying to figure themselves out, while dealing with the social changes of the the 60s and 70s and the death of Winnie's brother Brian. Nor did I mind that both of their heads were occasional turned by someone else because they were getting huge doses of raging hormones, not much different than what I observed when I went to middle school and high school. Sometimes I think the audience forgets when we were their age, we were probably as big as jerks as they were at those ages. And looking back on the series, it is a bit mind blowing that Fred Savage was only in his more adult body in the last two seasons of the show, so his Kevin emotional maturity wouldn't catch up to his physical maturity at the same time. 

Kevin and Winnie dancing together to the Stylistics "You are Everything" is probably my favorite moment to music in any medium, amazing since Fred and Danica were only 16 when filming love's first blush moment.

Edited by Ambrosefolly
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On 8/12/2014 at 2:36 AM, oceanblue said:

I love Becky Slater.

I've always been fascinated by Becky as the quintessential example of a person who at the start is the party in the right in a dispute, but handles the situation so badly that they end up becoming the bad guy in the dispute. 

Kevin was an absolute scumbag to her during their relationship, and he got what was coming to him in that classroom (if anything she should've kicked him a few times in ribs while he was down for good measure.) But instead of moving on, she continues to escalate the situation, drags all their circle of friends into the dispute, and afterwards holds unto the grudge for years, to the point of starting to blame him for things he had no involvement whatsoever in.

Then again, I've also always had the theory that she never got over him. Despite how he treated her and the nasty fallout of their relationship, she was awfully quick to take him back when she got that mistaken valentine and thought he was apologizing. 

On 5/25/2016 at 3:40 AM, AndySmith said:

The hilariousness of Becky and Winnie being sisters in real life.

When I first found out about that my mind was blown. They look nothing alike.

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On 5/20/2021 at 6:16 PM, AzureOwl said:

First teaser for the reboot.

 

This looks good. I think Don Cheadle will be an excellent narrator. 

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On 6/7/2021 at 4:06 PM, Scarlett45 said:

This looks good. I think Don Cheadle will be an excellent narrator. 

And from this seconds-long trailer, Dule Hill is going to be AMAZING as the dad. He seems to have the same gravitas and world-weariness that Dan Lauria possessed in the original (although who knew he was old enough to credibly have elementary age kids? He is 46, apparently. ). For me, much of it hangs on this particular casting and the narration of Cheadle. Can't wait.

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I do wish the reboot wasn't happening in the same era as the original, from what I hear. It would be more interesting if it took place in the 90s.

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On 7/2/2021 at 3:35 PM, Hiyo said:

I do wish the reboot wasn't happening in the same era as the original, from what I hear. It would be more interesting if it took place in the 90s.

Yes! I said the same thing, it wouldve been amazing if it was set in the late 90s/early 2000s, since the original Wonder Years took place in the 1960s but aired in the 1980s/90s.

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The early 90s could work better, with the Rodney King/LA riots being a backdrop/launching point for the show...then the OJ trial a few years later. Also when hip-hop, RnB, black culture, etc, was starting to find it's way into pop culture in general. Plus the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill controversy. All things the show could address.

Edited by Hiyo

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On 7/2/2021 at 4:51 PM, Hiyo said:

The early 90s could work better, with the Rodney King/LA riots being a backdrop/launching point for the show...then the OJ trial a few years later. Also when hip-hop, RnB, black culture, etc, was starting to find it's way into pop culture in general. Plus the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill controversy. All things the show could address.

And a story about the much-ignored Xennial cohort. 

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