The Wonder Years—Season 1

wonder years season 1 dvd episode guide
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great writing and surprisingly good child actors

Short season

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What would you do if I sang out of tune?

Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) has a nice home in the suburbs, but Kevin’s discovering life is changing rapidly.  War is raging in Vietnam and his sister Karen (Olivia d’Abo) is turning into a hippy.  His brother Wayne (Jason Hearvey) beats on him daily and his father Jack (Dan Lauria) seems to hate life while his mother Norma (Alley Mills) just tries to hold the family together on a day-to-day basis.  Kevin has other ideas on his mind however…Kevin, his friend Paul Pfeiffer (Josh Saviano), and Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar) are entering junior high, and Kevin is finding his interest in Winnie is changing just as much as her appearance.

The Wonder Years—Season 1 was an ABC mid-season replacement series that aired after Super Bowl XXII running form January 31, 1988 to April 19, 1988.  The series was an instant hit and ended up running six seasons.  The short six episode season won the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series and was nominated for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for the pilot.

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The average all American family

I loved The Wonder Years.  I was the same age as Fred Savage and was experiencing a lot of the events in his life just as he was getting older.  The show smartly gained a young audience but also was popular with older adults who lived through the time that Kevin inhabited.

The series preys on the nostalgic, and I often hate that, but The Wonder Years does it well.  Unlike something like Forrest Gump which finds major events hitting every second (and revolving around Gump himself), Kevin lives through the events which are more tangential to him rather than a direct effect.  Vietnam is prevalent in the pilot and “Angel”, and episodes like “The Phone Call” uses events like the Apollo 8 mission to propel the story, but the series doesn’t just rely on events every episode.  It is more akin to John Updike’s Rabbit stories than Forrest Gump.

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Listen kid…I’ll buy you a beer if you just leave me alone…

The cast is also quite strong.  Fred Savage is likable but he is a kid actor.  He’s quite strong, but does have some weaknesses (and Daniel Stern is his flipside as the older Kevin reflecting on his childhood).  Jason Hervey was very popular in films at the time and always was the perfect jerky brother.  Josh Saviano is the typical goofy friend that everyone has (or might unfortunately be) and Danica McKellar is the nice girl that everyone wants (the role almost went to her sister Crystal McKellar who went on to play Becky Slater in later episodes).  Dan Lauria came from more of a stage background and Alley Mills worked in film and television.  While they could have bene one dimensional episodes like “My Father’s Office” show that the outward stock characters actually have real dimension.  The dark horse character is Olivia d’Abo who covered her English accent in real life and was an enigma in the series…which I kind of liked.

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This is the best representation of a woman…ever

The show does a nice job presenting suburbia.  Old look of the series makes for a classic feel, but looking at it now, it is a bit washed out and has aged.  The series was held up for years on DVD because of its use of popular music, but luckily it has been recently freed up for release.

The Wonder Years is still a great show and now a classic.  It is great to revisit Kevin Arnold and his friends and now it is like revisiting “the wonder years” as an adult looking back on it.  The series has come full circle and when I was Kevin when the show aired, I’m now Kevin as an adult looking back now on childhood…with wonder!

The Wonder Years—Season 1 Episode Guide:

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“Pilot”

1.1       Pilot Airdate:  01/31/88

Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) is starting junior high.  With his best friend Paul (Josh Saviano) at his side and Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar) sporting a new look, things are looking up.  Unfortunately, Kevin has to deal with his brother Wayne (Jason Hervey), a grumpy father (Dan Lauria), a hippy sister Karen (Olivia d’Abo), and his mother (Alley Mills) who tries to held them all together, and a bad first day of school is about to become a changing day in his life.

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“Swingers”

1.2       Swingers Airdate:  03/22/88

Winnie buries her brother Brian (Bentley Mitchum) and Kevin wonder what to do about his growing feelings for her.  Coach Cutlip (Robert Picardo) is teaching sex education…but it isn’t all that Kevin and Paul hoped for.  When Wayne tells Kevin and Paul about Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask), Paul and Kevin decide they must get the book.

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“My Father’s Office”

1.3       My Father’s Office Airdate:  03/29/88

After Wayne and Kevin realize that they don’t know what their father does at work…leading an impromptu visit by Kevin to the NORCOM office where he learns why his father is grumpy every day.

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“Angel”

1.4       Angel Airdate:  04/05/88

Karen has a new man named Louis (John Corbett) in her life, and Kevin doesn’t like him.  When Louis comes for dinner, Kevin sets out to sabotage the relationship by using his family.

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“The Phone Call”

1.5       The Phone Call Airdate:  04/12/88

Kevin has his eyes on Lisa Berlini (Kathy Wagner), but he must first gain the courage to call her.

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“Dance With Me”

1.6       Dance With Me Airdate:  04/19/88

Kevin’s romance with Lisa Berlini is short lived when she leaves him for Brad Gaines (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), but Kevin’s fallback plan of Winnie Cooper for the big dance hits a snag when Winnie agrees to go to the dance with eight-grader Kirk McCray (Michael Landes).

Related Links:

The Wonder Years—Season 2 Review and Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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