The Wonder Years: One of the Best 80s TV Shows
A look back at one of the most memorable shows on primetime TV
Do you remember The Wonder Years? It was, in my humble opinion, one of the best 80s TV series -- no, erase that -- of all time. It was a nostalgic look at Baby Boom youth and adolescence as seen through the eyes of a teenager.
I watched this show while growing up as a teen myself and so I made this page as an homage to the series I followed loyally. If you're a fellow fan of the show, please read on. I hope the photos, videos and articles will remind you of the wonderful series we loved back then. If you haven't heard of the show - or have seen it but haven't really been paying attention, maybe I can convince you to give it a chance.
Image courtesy of A Hard Day's Night
The Wonder Years cast.
The people who matter.
"I guess sometimes the ground can shift between your feet. Sometimes your footing slips. You stumble. And sometimes you grab what's close to you and hold on as tight as you can." - Kevin Arnold/narrator
Meet the cast of characters:
Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage): A fresh-faced teenage American student growing up in the turbulent late 1960s and early 1970s. He lives in the suburbs with his family. The voice of Kevin as an adult (and the show's narrator) is supplied by Daniel Stern.
Jack Arnold (Dan Lauria): Kevin's moody and domineering father, also described to be a Korean War veteran; he mentions having been in the US Marine Corps and he is seen in photographs wearing the uniform of a First Lieutenant. He works at NORCOM, a large electronics corporation in a middle management position he loathes. Later, he starts his own business, building and selling handcrafted furniture.
Norma Arnold (Alley Mills): Kevin's ever-patient stay-at-home mother. She met Jack as a college freshman. When he graduated, she moved across the country with him and didn't finish college. She eventually gets her degree late in the series and starts working at a software startup called Micro Electronics. She is shown to be more moderate (In contrast with her more conservative husband.) and increasingly becoming bored and yearning to break away from her homemaker role hence reflecting the rise of feminism in the 60s.
Karen Arnold (Olivia d'Abo): Kevin's older, hippie sister. She continually clashes with her overbearing father due to her free-spirited ways and his traditional views while her mother usually acts as the mediator. She has a falling out with her father when she moves in with her boyfriend Michael (David Schwimmer) during her freshman year of college. A year later, the pair gets married in an outdoor wedding and moves to Alaska, where Michael has secured a good job.
Wayne Arnold (Jason Hervey): Kevin's older brother, who enjoys bullying and physically tormenting Kevin and Paul. Wayne is typically portrayed as a loser when it comes to serious romantic relationships.
Gwendolyn "Winnie" Cooper (Danica McKellar): Kevin's main love interest. In an episode entitled "The Accident" and in the final episode, it is stated that every important event in Kevin's life somehow involves Winnie. She lives on the same block as Kevin. Their first kiss and her older brother's death while serving as a soldier in the Vietnam War play an important part of the pilot episode.
Paul Joshua Pfeiffer (Josh Saviano): Kevin's lifelong best friend, an intelligent and excellent student. He is allergic to several substances. Paul is Jewish, which is the focus of an episode where he has his Bar Mitzvah.
Information & photos sourced from Wikipedia
The Wonder Years' theme, With a Little Help from My Friends (originally titled A Little Help from My Friends) is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney that was released on The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967. Joe Cocker's version was a radical re-arrangement of the original, in a slower, 6/8 meter, in a different key, using different chords in the middle eight, and a lengthy instrumental introduction (featuring drums by Procol Harum's B.J. Wilson and guitar lines from Jimmy Page).
With a Little Help From My Friends
The Wonder Years theme
Music & words by the Beatles/Performed by Joe Cocker
What would you do if I sang out tune?
Would you stand up and walk out on me?
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song
I will try not to sing out of key, yeah
Oh, baby I get by with a little help from my friends
By with a little help from my friends.
All I need is my buddies
By with a little help from my friends
I said I'm gonna get by with a little
By with a little help from my friends
Whoa oh oh oh oh
Said I don't know if that's what I'm sure do to, baby
By with a little help from my friends
Said I'm gonna make it with my friends
By with a little help from my friends
Whoa oh I'm gonna keep on trying
By with a little help from my friends
Said I'm gonna keep on trying.
Relive The Wonder Years. - Here's another chance to live in the world of this gone-but-not-forgotten show of yesteryear.
"I remember a place... a town... a house like a lot of houses... a yard like a lot of other yards... on a street like a lot of other streets. And the thing is, after all these years, I sill look back... with wonder." - Kevin Arnold/narrator
Unlike most long-running popular American TV sitcoms, The Wonder Years has still not yet been released on DVD as official season box sets due to the cost of securing the music rights. Because of this, The Wonder Years routinely appears high on the list of TV shows in-demand for a DVD release. Unofficially, The Wonder Years has so far only been released as an official 'best-of' DVD set without the original music. You may purchase the DVD and soundtracks from Amazon, check out the links below.
"Once upon a time there was a girl I knew, who lived across the street. Brown hair, brown eyes. When she smiled, I smiled. When she cried, I cried. Every single thing that ever happened to me that mattered, in some way had to do with her. That day Winnie and I promised each other that no matter what, that we'd always be together. It was a promise full of passion and truth and wisdom. It was the kind of promise that can only come from the hearts of the very young."
Kevin and Winnie's on and off relationship intrigued and captured the attention of viewers of all ages throughout the entire series, from the pilot up to the finale. Admittedly, both of them had some interesting dalliances with other characters in between, as you will see in some of the following clips I've compiled below. Sit back, grab a bowl of popcorn and enjoy.
Where are they now?
A peek into the lives of some of the characters we've grown to love after the show's run.
"Growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you're in diapers; the next day you're gone. But the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul." - Kevin Arnold/narrator
After The Wonder Years, Fred Savage went to Stanford University where he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity but took a year off to appear in the TV show "Working" after which he had another lead role in another short-lived sitcom "Crumbs". He primarily did guest and supporting roles, such as the show Boy Meets World (which starred his brother Ben) and in the film Austin Powers in Goldmember as Number Three. He has lent his voice to several animated projects, including "Justice League" in 2001 where he was reunited with Jason Hervey (who played his older brother Wayne in The Wonder Years). They played bickering brothers, of all things. He ranked at #27 on VH1's 100 Greatest Kid Stars. In July 2008, Fred guest-starred in the web series The Rascal on Crackle.
Beginning with episodes of Boy Meets World in 1999, Savage began a directing career in which he helmed episodes of over a dozen youth-oriented series. His credits include Drake & Josh and Ned's Declassified for Nickelodeon, as well as That's So Raven, Hannah Montana and Wizards of Waverly Place for the Disney Channel. Besides directing several episodes, Savage co-produced the Disney Channel Original Series Phil of the Future. In 2007, he was nominated for a Directors Guild award for the Phil episode "Not-So-Great-Great Grandpa". More recently, he has served as a director for several episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Fred is married to Jennifer Stone whom he first met when they were neighbors, as children. They became the parents of a boy on August 5, 2006, Oliver Philip Savage, who weighed in at 6 pounds, 13 ounces.
Stay tuned to goings-on in Fred's life via Twitter.
After the show ended, Danica McKellar went on to graduate Summa cum Laude from UCLA with a degree in Mathematics, and even proved a new math theorem, the Chayes-McKellar-Winn Theorem.
She then returned to acting and became familiar again to audiences from her year-long turn as the sardonic, dry-witted Elsie Snuffin on "The West Wing" (1999) in its 4th season. Since then, Danica has made guest appearances on shows such as "NYPD Blue" (1993), "Jack & Bobby" (2004), "Eve" (2003), "Navy NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service" (2003), and she played a strung-out heroine addict on Lifetime's "Strong Medicine" (2000).
Danica also tried out filmmaking with her award-winning short film Speechless (2001) (co-starring "The Wonder Years" (1988) pal Dan Lauria), which she wrote, directed, and produced.
Putting the "Math Genius" cap back on, Danica also wrote two books, "Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle-School Math without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail" and "Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss" both of which encourages girls in middle school to enjoy and succeed at mathematics. Both books made it to the New York Times children's bestseller list.
She married composer Mike Verta on March 22, 2009 in La Jolla, California; the couple had been dating since 2001.
Josh Saviano majored in Political Science at Yale University where he became president of Sigma Nu Fraternity. Upon graduation in 1998 he worked for a while as a paralegal for a New York City law firm. In 2000 he worked for an Internet firm before entering Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in August of the same year. He was admitted to the bar in New York. He is currently an associate with Morrison Cohen LLP. He is in the Corporate Department and Intellectual Property Group where he works on issues related to mergers and acquisition and intellectual property.
Here's a slideshow that shows the rest of the cast and what they've been up to since the series ended.
The Wonder Years: Comedy Coming of Age - Watch a wonderful documentary about the show right here, right now.
The following is a Comedy Coming of Age episode on The Wonder Years, a wonderful documentary on the show that aired in 2002. Have a closer look at what went on behind the scenes and see most of the original cast again years after the finale aired. It's a must-see for every fan!
Somehow though, things were different. Our past was here, but our future was somewhere else. And we both knew, sooner or later, we had to go. - Kevin Arnold/narrator
Danica McKellar (who played Kevin's longtime love Winnie Cooper on the show) has proven that beauty can coexist with brains (lots and lots of it) when she graduated summa cum laude in 1998 at the UCLA with a degree in Mathematics. As an undergraduate, she coauthored a scientific paper with Professor Lincoln Chayes and fellow student Brandy Winn which resulted to the 'Chayes-McKellar-Winn theorem'. Referring to the mathematical abilities of his student coauthors, Chayes was quoted in the New York Times as saying, "I thought that the two were really, really first-rate."
She then wrote a couple of New York Times best-selling books with the aim to teach and show middle-aged kids that they can enjoy their youth and succeed at Math (like she obviously did). Check out the books and a see why they have been called "fresh" and "groundbreaking".
What happened to Jack & Norma? Did Kevin and Winnie end up together? Did he and Paul keep in touch? Did Wayne end up with someone after all? Did Karen and Michael live happily ever after? Find out below.
Final episode and epilogue
In the finale double episode, Winnie decides to take a job for the summer of 1973 as a lifeguard at a resort. Kevin, anxious to experience a taste of adult life, plans a cross-country trip with his friends. Kevin's dad, Jack, vehemently objects to Kevin's plan and ultimately Kevin abandons his planned trip. Kevin returns to his job at his father's furniture factory and telephones Winnie, who by all accounts is distant and seems to be enjoying her time away from Kevin. Eventually, Kevin and his father fight and Kevin announces that he is leaving, reasoning that he needs to "find himself." Kevin hops in his car and heads to the resort where Winnie is working, hopeful that she can secure him a job and they can spend the rest of the summer together.
Much to Kevin's chagrin, Winnie does not appear too pleased with Kevin's arrival and maintains her distance. Kevin is finally able to secure a job at the resort's restaurant and resides in the bus boys' dorm. Feeling confused and frustrated over Winnie's behavior, Kevin searches out other activities to occupy his time. Kevin decides to play poker with the resort's in-house band members. Kevin wins big (by bluffing while only holding a pair of 2s) and goes searching for Winnie, anxious to share the tale of his good fortune. When Kevin finds her, Winnie is engaged in a passionate kiss with a male lifeguard.
Read the rest of the story.
The following are links to websites devoted to The Wonder Years. Do check them out to learn more about the show.
- The Wonder Years - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the American television dramedy.
- The Wonder Years - Wikiquote
Select quotes from every episode there is.
- The Wonder Years (1988) IMDb page
Created by Carol Black, Neal Marlens. With Fred Savage, Daniel Stern, Jason Hervey. Kevin Arnold recalls growing up during the 60's; the turbulent social times make the transition from child to adult unusually interesting.
- The Wonder Years at TV.com
Episode guides, cast biographies, and more.
- Wonder Years Cast: Where Are They Now? - AOL Television
The Wonder Years cast: where are they now? Find updates on the stars of the Wonder Years including Fred Savage, Danica McKellar, Jason Hervey, Daniel Stern, Olivia d'Abo, Josh Saviano, Dan Lauria, Alley Mills, Robert Picardo, Ben Stein, David Schwimm
Watch out for good deals on eBay.
Because the official season DVDs have not been released yet, current DVDs that were released have been in high demand and so the sets and soundtracks are now quite rare and exceptionally expensive. You can use this eBay tracker to check for good deals on The Wonder Years merchandise.
"Over the course of the average lifetime you meet a lot of people. Some of them stick with you through thick and thin. Some weave their way through your life and disappear forever. But once in a while someone comes along who earns a permanent place in your heart" - Kevin Arnold/narrator
Please leave me a message, I'd love to know what you think of the show and this lens.