Transmission date: Dec. 9 2012.
Welcome back Satellite subscribers. Thanks for the great response from last post hopefully this will be of interest as well! This installment is all about my personal favorite TV show probably of all time, The Wonder Years. So heroes jump aboard the Satellite and we are going back to 1988 for this transmission.
January 31, 1988, Tv sets around the world heard the Joe Cocker singing “A little help from my friends” and the show The Wonder Years debuted on the ABC networks airwaves and little did viewers know that this show unlike millions of others would change the way we watch tv and was the first honest reflection of growing up that no other show or movie up to that point could do.
The show centered on the life of one Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage), who is being raised by two blue collar average American parents Jack and Norma Arnold who could very well have been any of the viewers parents in that they were so fully realized. Kevin had a pesky older brother named Wayne (Jason Hervey) and a hippie sister named Karen (Olivia d, Abo). Kevin’s best friend was an ackward Jewish kid named Paul Phieffier (Josh Saviano). Of course last but not least Kevin’s childhood love interest, the “Girl next door” Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar). The show centers early on with Kevins trials and tribulations in school and with his quirky family, while the latter seasons focused on Kevin’s journey through his teen years revolving mostly around dating and friendships. It was simple storyline that looks like any other show that was on at the time. What was so special about this show? The writing and execution was so fully realized that viewers like me were convinced that this was my story on that screen and each episode was something everyone who has ever grown up could relate to.
The show was told from the point of view of a Thirty something year old Kevin Arnold as voiced brilliantly by Daniel Stern. Stern was pitch perfect in his reflection of Kevin. The narrator really set the tone and mood of each show. Stern successfully framed each situation expertly to the point where it could almost be you the viewer relaying stories of our own childhood.
The Wonder Years resonated with me on every level and it was well beyond the scope of a formulaic sitcom. There was not always a happy ending. Things did not always go the right way for the characters. Kevins Dad struggled with his career and keeping the bills paid while playing the parent. Kevins Mom Norma was a strong woman who was a typical homemaker who struggled to do better for her and her family by working horrible jobs and stumbling through school while barely balancing being a Mother to three kids. Wayne always seemed to have it together. The sarcastic antagonist always bugged Kevin to death with his own annoying ways. Wayne however was insecure in his own dealings outside the Arnold house. Karen was the on screen off screen again sister to Kevin and who was always in some sort of trouble whether participating in protests to moving away to find herself. Kevin’s friendships were not always perfect. Paul and Kevin were always together but they would grow apart at times and find different paths to the same end.
Winnie and Kevin were TV magic. They were pitch perfectly portrayed on screen as a the bashful couple. We see Kevin stumble through his first and promising relationship. We root for Kevin as he try’s with all his heart to be Winnie’s boyfriend. He endures breakups, new boyfriends, a separation, and many reconciliations. The whole time the viewer is along for the ride and cringing as Kevin makes all too familiar mistakes, and screw ups. Winnie’s character is a complex one as well. As she grows up her and Kevin go their separate ways Winnie encounters family deaths, abusive boyfriends, car accidents, separated parents and realizes that her only constant is Kevin. We laugh, we cry, and we share in the lives of these two kids so richly developed that they could very well be us on that screen.
For those who grew up in the 70, and 80s easily related to the plight of the Arnold’s. We remember our first color TV or getting cable for the first time. We remember the heart break of breaking up with a loved one. We remember seeing our parents struggle to make ends meet to keep a roof over our head. We remember our love of seeing Star Trek for the first time. We remember our first car and joyride around town with our friends. If we did not have pictures or video of our youth then we could watch an episode of The Wonder Years and we can remember. It was THAT good.
These days the Wonder Years is still reasonably rare to find on DVD, but lives on forever on Netflix (USA). So for the fan now just wanting to check this show out for the first time Ill give you my Top five favorite episodes. These are purely selfish picks and in no way reflect any critical top 5 lists out there.
1. My Fathers Office: Season 2. Kevin goes to work with his Father and comes to a stunning realization of what his Father does not only for work but finds out the type of man he is.A great episode I am sure all viewers can relate to the moment we understand of what our love ones go through to make a family work.
Narrator: But as we walked back to my father’s office, I suddenly realized something that made a lot of things make sense. My dad was too good for this place. Sure it was good – we were all lucky he had it and all that… but my dad had something finer in him than S-14’s and distribution reports. I’ll never forget how I felt at that moment. I felt that my father was a great man.”
2. How I’m Spending My Summer Vacation: Season 2. This is a episode where we really see deep development of Winnie and Kevin’s relationship as Winnie’s parents split and Winnie’s world falls apart.
Narrator: She wasn’t helping her parents, she wasn’t doing anything, she was just standing there. OK, enough was enough, the game was over, let’s lay out the cards. And then, for the first time that night, I looked around. The music was playing. Couples were dancing, holding each other tight. But not everybody. And suddenly I began to understand. I wanted to tell Winnie I understood what was happening to her family. I wanted to say something that would give her comfort, something incredibly wise …
Winnie: Will you write to me when I’m away?
Narrator: That summer, kids everywhere swam, water-skied, and sailed, while Winnie Cooper struggled to keep her head above water, in a family torn apart by anger, and grief.”
3.Summer Song. Season 3 Kevin while on summer vacation meets Teri a far more mature older girl who Kevin become infatuated with. s with many summer romances this was was never meant to be. This captures the innocence and the special feeling of a Summer vacation away from home and that weird thing that happens when you meet someone new.
Narrator: When you’re thirteen, it’s a long way to Albuquerque. Teri told me about getting her learner’s permit, and taking her first drive with a stick-shift. She wrote of our night at the beach. She told me she missed me so much that she cried herself to sleep at night. And she promised to write to me, until we saw each other again. I keep that letter in an old shoebox. It was the only letter she ever wrote me.
Narrator: I knew at that moment, that life was not fair. Sure … I’d write to [Teri], and maybe she’d write me – then what? Could we really wait for each other for the next ten or twelve years? It was hopeless. I’d never felt pain like this before in my entire life. It felt … wonderful.
4.The Christmas Party: Season 5 Its Christmas at The Arnold’s and that means one thing. The planning of the annual Christmas party. The Arnold’s struggle to get their family in order to pull off yet one more party. It would be the disaster they thought it would be but it did not matter The Arnold’s had something special.
Kevin comes to appreciate his parents relationship. A beautiful episode that always reminds me of Xmas time at my own house growing up with the parties and lights dancing under my bedroom door and the sounds of Christmas that goes along with it.
5. The Accident: Winnie and Kevin had drifted apart. Winnie had a new boyfriend and a whole new set of friends, however it would be a car accident that would make Winnie realize that it is Kevin who will always be there for her and her one true friend.This episode is probably in my mind the best in the series especially when it is closed out by Bob Seager’s “Weve got tonight” is one of the most heartwarming episodes.
Narrator/Adult: And I guess that’s when I finally understood. I’d been part of Winnie’s past, a past she wanted to forget. And now…there was nothing to do… but go. Only I didn’t. I couldn’t.
(Kevin climbs up to the roof’s overhang)
Narrator/Adult: There are things in a life that matter,
things in a past which can’t be denied. Winnie Cooper was part of me,
and I was part of her. And no matter what, for as long as we lived, I knew I could never let her go.
Kevin: (whispering to Winnie through window) I love you. (Winnie smiles at him)
Winnie: (whispering to Kevin from her bed)
I love you.
So that’s it folks. Hope you have enjoyed this transmission, The show holds a special place in my heart and I still look on in Wonder. See ya next time now back to the satellite!
So that’s my list. Now go enjoy some Wonder years!
If you are interested in watching the Wonder Years and are not interested in shelling out the bucks for a Netflix subscription then this site may interest you. http://www.thewonderyearsepisode.com/
As well I would like to throw a shout out to the gentlemen who runs retroist.com for putting out an outstanding Retro oriented podcast that recently featured a Wonder Years episode! Check it out and support this amazing site! Listen to the podcast episode here! http://www.retroist.com/2012/12/07/retroist-podcast-episode-125-the-wonder-years/
If you have enjoyed this blog post feel free to leave a comment as I will reply to them all. If you want to contact me directly catch me on Twitter as @charlton_hero, or join the conversation using #SuperHeroSatellite.