- Network: ABC
- Series Premiere Date: Jan 31, 1988
Review this tv show
Jul 12, 2011It's hard to rate this less than a 10 in my book. Even being born in the 80's, watching this as a kid I still related to it. As an adult it's a refreshing breath of fresh air compared to the stale family tv shows we have now that can barely make a mark into true family drama. I can only wish that someday soon, the season sets will be released. If you're a classic tv lover, then this showIt's hard to rate this less than a 10 in my book. Even being born in the 80's, watching this as a kid I still related to it. As an adult it's a refreshing breath of fresh air compared to the stale family tv shows we have now that can barely make a mark into true family drama. I can only wish that someday soon, the season sets will be released. If you're a classic tv lover, then this show should be very high on your watch list.… Expand
Mar 4, 2017This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. In 1988, "The Wonder Years" hit the airwaves as a mid-season replacement show. In the span of just six short episodes, however, it captured the imagination of baby boomers everywhere.
Basically, "The Wonder Years" is the story of Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage), a kid starting junior high in 1968. The show touches on all aspects of his life, including best friend Paul Pffiefer (Josh Saviano), crush Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar), father Jack (Dan Lauria), mother Norma (Alley Mills), and siblings Karen (Olivia d'Abo) & Wayne (Jason Hervey).
The primary reason this show became so popular is because it played to the nostalgia of the baby boomers. For example, my father (whose own junior/high school experiences were set exactly in the same time frame as Kevin) considers this to be one of the greatest shows of all-time. The show creators were really able to capture the essence of 1960s life from a child's perspective. It was also the first show to have a narrator voicing the inner thoughts of the main character. The show was initially mocked for this, but without that innovative strategy "The Wonder Years" would have been a complete failure (as it is the "narrator thoughts") that provide the bulk of the really funny humor.
At the same time, the show (though slowed by legal wrangling over music rights, thus delaying any sort of release for decades) manages to remain relevant because it also portrays the junior high and high school experience. I first was introduced to the show when I was roughly 10-12 years old, and I could instantly relate to the characters even though the show was based in the 1960s. Again, the writers/creators expertly captured what life is like at that confusing, yet wonderful age.
In this first season, specifically, the groundwork is laid for what is to come. All the main characters are introduced (if somewhat briefly), and the viewer gets a feel for the show's unique blend of comedy and drama (much like "All In The Family", but just with a different sort of vibe). Besides maybe "The Phone Call", I can't really say that any of the other five episodes in this super-short "season" are incredible (granted, I've seen most of the episodes already so I know what is to come), thus the four-stars instead of five.
For an interesting parallel to today's television, I consider "The Wonder Years" to be something like a "Mad Men". Both shows are set in the 1960s are are incredibly detailed and careful about portraying those times accurately. The only different is that whereas "Mad Men" focuses on adults in business (and then branches out into family/relationships), "Wonder Years" begins with the family/school and branches out from their.
Overall, this six-episode introduction to "The Wonder Years" will leave you wanting more.… Expand
It's a likeable enough show, handsomely produced and acted and shot through with intelligence, humor and sentimentality. If it is as true to the times as it promises to be, the show could be a big hit with audiences in their mid-30s. [17 March 1998]
No one could maintain that the show deals in grueling realism. But the characters and their time do seem affectionately and thoughtfully portrayed, and genuineness along these lines is rare in TV. The Wonder Years is first-class time travel. [15 Mar 1998, p.1]
The Wonder Years is full of wonderment -- and grace, and charm, and wit, and insight, and poignancy and humor. The Wonder Years, in a word, is wonderful. [15 March 1988, p.1]