The Wonder Years

The Wonder Years

infobox Television
show_name = The Wonder Years

caption = Title Card
format = Comedy-drama
runtime = 22 minutes
creator = Carol Black
Neal Marlens
producer = The Black-Marlens Company
asst_producer = New World Television
starring = Fred Savage
Dan Lauria
Alley Mills Danica McKellar
Olivia d'Abo
Jason Hervey
Josh Saviano
narrated = Daniel Stern
country = USA
network = ABC
first_aired = January 31, 1988
last_aired = May 12, 1993
num_seasons = 6
num_episodes = 115
list_episodes = List of The Wonder Years episodes
imdb_id = 0094582
tv_com_id = 208

"The Wonder Years" is an US American television dramedy created by Carol Black and Neal Marlens. It ran for six seasons on ABC, from 1988 through 1993. The pilot aired on January 31, 1988 after ABC's coverage of Super Bowl XXII.

Set in 1968-1973 (each season took place exactly twenty years before the then current year), the series tackles the social issues and historic events of that time through the eyes of main character Kevin Arnold. Kevin also deals with typical teenage social issues, including those prompted by his main love interest, Winnie Cooper, as well as typical family troubles. The story is narrated by an older, wiser Kevin (voiced by Daniel Stern), describing what is happening and what he learned from his experiences in an alternately nostalgic and ironic tone.

The show achieved a spot in the Nielsen Top Ten for two of its six seasons. [ "The Wonder Years"] from the Museum of Broadcast Communications] "TV Guide" named the show one of the 1980s' 20 best. After only six episodes aired, "The Wonder Years" won an Emmy for best comedy series in 1988. Moreover, at the age of 13, Fred Savage gained the honor of being the youngest actor ever nominated Outstanding Lead Actor for a Comedy Series. In addition, the show was awarded a Peabody Award in 1989, for achieving two seemingly contradictory effects; evoking a traditional family sitcom while pushing boundaries and using new modes of storytelling. [ [ Peabody Award Winners Archive] ] In total, the series won 22 awards, and was nominated for a further 54 more. [ [ Awards for The Wonder Years] ]

The show's theme is Joe Cocker's cover of The Beatles' song "With a Little Help from My Friends." The title of the show is adapted from a once widely-shown television commercial for Wonder Bread, in which viewers were urged to nourish their children with the product through their adolescence ("Wonder Years").

The show received a wide appeal in the UK, particularly among young people when Channel 4 aired the show from 1989 - 1994. It aired at 6.30pm on Sundays, a popular teenage slot. In 2007 the show was repeated on the music channel TMF. They have been showing two episodes a day back-to-back on weekdays at 2:40 pm, repeated at 7 pm, and Saturday at 3:50 pm, repeated on Sunday at 11:55 am.

In the early 90's, the show was aired on Israel's Channel 1 by IBA. During these years, IBA's Channel 1, was co-sharing Israeli TV broadcasting with only a single, experimental channel - Israel's Channel 2. Being so, Channel 1 shows had a virtual monopoly over show viewings ( rating).Thus, the show was met by a huge exposure amongst young audiences and teenagers throughout Israel.For many adults in Israel, the show is both a personal and a collective childhood memory. One of Israel's leading cultural magazines has dubbed the opening song, as being nostalgic for kids growing in Israel during the 90's [,607,209,28103,.aspx] .


The story begins with Kevin, Paul, and Winnie on the verge of starting junior high school in 1968. The elder Kevin narrates that, like many schools that year, his junior high was re-named to Robert F. Kennedy. In the pilot, Winnie's older brother is killed in action in Vietnam. Kevin meets Winnie in a nearby wooded area called Harpers Woods, and they end up sharing their first kiss. This unsaid relationship between Winnie and Kevin remains dormant for a long while, with Winnie starting to date a popular 8th grader named Kirk McCray, and Kevin briefly going steady with Becky Slater. After Kevin breaks up with Becky due to his feelings for Winnie, Becky becomes a recurring nuisance for Kevin. Winnie eventually dumps Kirk as well, and Kevin and Winnie share a second kiss at the start of the 1969 summer vacation. Around Valentine's Day 1970, Winnie temporarily dates Paul, who has broken up with his girlfriend Carla. Winnie and Kevin start dating each other soon after.

Just before the summer break, Winnie and her family move to a house 4 miles away. Although Winnie attends a new school, Lincoln Junior High, she and Kevin decide to remain together and maintain a successful long distance relationship. A beautiful new student named Madeline Adams joins Kevin's school quickly catches Kevin's eye, but it is Winnie who breaks up with Kevin after she has met Roger, a typical jock-type at her new school. Both relationships don't last long, but Winnie and Kevin are not reunited until Winnie is injured in a car accident. After graduating from Junior High, Kevin and Winnie both go to McKinley High and Paul goes to a prep school.

Kevin has several brief flings during the summer of 1971 and the 1971/72 academic year. After Kevin's grandfather gets his driver's license revoked, he sells his car to Kevin for a dollar. Paul transfers to McKinley High after his first semester at prep school when his father runs into financial troubles. Winnie and Kevin are reunited when they go on a double date to a school dance and find themselves more attracted to each other than their respective partners. Facing peer pressure in the episode "White Lies", Kevin implies to his friends that he had had sex with Winnie, but the spreading rumor causes Kevin and Winnie to break up for a few episodes. In late 1972 Wayne starts working at NORCOM, and starts dating his co-worker Bonnie, a divorcee with a son, but the relationship does not last. Kevin's dad quits NORCOM, and starts up a furniture manufacturing business.

Final episode

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 have a huge 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 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.

The next day, Kevin confronts Winnie about her actions, and they have a huge fight. The fallout with Winnie leads Kevin to play another round of poker with the band. This time Kevin ends up losing everything, including his car. Desperate, Kevin confronts Winnie and her new beau at the restaurant and ends up punching him in the face. Kevin then leaves the resort on foot.

On a desolate stretch of highway, Kevin decides to begin hitchhiking. He finally gets picked up by an elderly couple and much to his surprise he finds Winnie in the backseat. Winnie was fired over the fight Kevin instigated at the resort. Kevin and Winnie begin to argue and the elderly couple get fed up and decides to drop them both off. A flash rain storm begins and Kevin and Winnie search for shelter. They find a barn and discuss how much things are changing and the prospects for the future. At first Winnie tells Kevin that she doesn't see them ending up together but quickly recants, telling Kevin "I don't want it to end." Kevin and Winnie share a passionate kiss and spend the night together. It is implied, and generally believed by fans of the show, that they make love for the first time during this moment, but it wasn't confirmed by the narrator one way or the other. [ [ The Five: Top 5 Teen Sex Moments - TV Squad ] ]

They soon find their way back to their hometown and arrive hand-in-hand to a Fourth of July parade. During this parade, the adult Kevin (Daniel Stern) describes the fate of the show's main characters. Kevin makes up with his father, returns to work, graduates high school in 1974 and leaves for college. Paul studies law at Harvard. Karen gives birth to a son in September 1973. Kevin's mother becomes a businesswoman and board chairman. Kevin's father dies in 1975, and Wayne takes over his father's furniture business. Winnie studies art history in Paris while Kevin stays in the United States. Winnie and Kevin end up writing each other once a week for the next eight years. In the final epilogue, Kevin mentions how he was there, along with his wife and child, to greet Winnie when she returned to the United States in 1982.

The final sounds, voice-over and dialogue of the episode and series, is that of Kevin (Daniel Stern) providing concluding narration with the sound of children playing in the background:

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. 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 still look back...with wonder.

A young boy (Stern's real life son) can be heard asking his dad to come out and play during a break in the final narration. Kevin's (Daniel Stern) narrative responds, "I'll be right there" as the episode closes.

Major characters

* Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage): A teenage American student, growing up in the turbulent late 1960s and early 1970s. The voice of Kevin as an adult (and the show's narrator) is supplied by Daniel Stern.
* Jack Arnold (Dan Lauria): Kevin's father, a moody man and 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. The last episode reveals that he dies of a heart attack in 1975 (around the end of Kevin's freshman year of college i.e. two years after the time of the show's finale).
* Norma Arnold (Alley Mills): Kevin's 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.
* 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.
* Wayne Arnold (Jason Hervey): Kevin's older brother, who enjoys physically tormenting Kevin and Paul. He takes over the furniture business when his father dies. 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. In one episode, her parents separate over their grief of the death of their son. In the epilogue of the final episode, it is revealed that Winnie goes on to study art history in Paris. Kevin and Winnie write a letter to each other every week for eight years until she returns. Despite their long romance, by the time Winnie returns to the US in 1982 Kevin is married to someone else.
* 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. In the final episode it is revealed that he goes to Harvard University.

Minor characters

* Grandpa Albert Arnold (David Huddleston): Kevin's paternal grandfather, Jack's father. He sells his last car (and Kevin's first) - a 1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass sedan - to Kevin for $1. He also gives Kevin a beagle named "Buster" (see below). Grandpa is a widower, as his wife died before the series timeline began and is only seen in flashbacks. In one episode, Grandpa takes the entire Arnold family to a funeral of a distant relative and is furious because Wayne and Kevin do not take the funeral seriously.
* Randy Mitchell (Michael Tricario): Kevin's friend, described as loyal and brave. Randy and Paul are the only characters to remain on throughout the series as Kevin's friends in both junior high and high school.
* Doug Porter (Brandon Crane): Kevin's junior high school classmate. In one episode, he briefly replaces Paul as Kevin's best friend after the two have a falling out.
* Rebecca "Becky" Slater (Crystal McKellar, sister of Danica McKellar): Kevin's junior high school classmate and one-time girlfriend. He dates her purely to make Winnie jealous and she punches him when she finds out he still likes Winnie. She holds a grudge against Kevin and becomes a recurring nuisance throughout junior high school. Her character is physically aggressive and hostile towards men.
* Craig Hobson (Sean Baca): Kevin's junior high school classmate and friend. He often berates Kevin and Paul over their emotional hang-ups resulting from girlfriend problems. He briefly dates Becky Slater and this allows the couples to happily co-exist. He gets sent to military school during the summer before ninth grade, dumping Becky and reviving her hatred of men.
* Carla Healy (Krista Murphy): Kevin's junior high school classmate and one-time girlfriend of Paul.
* Coach Cutlip (Robert Picardo): Kevin's gym teacher, who excels in bullying his students and always wears a red cap to hide his bald head. He enjoys drawing diagrams on the board that nobody can decipher. Kevin describes him as having an inferiority complex. However, he is shown to be somewhat of a more sensitive person than usually indicated when he plays a department store Santa in a Christmas-related episode.
* Miss White, later Mrs. Heimer (Wendel Meldrum): Kevin's junior high school teacher, upon whom he has a crush. Her name changes to Mrs. Heimer after her marriage. She is later pregnant in an episode, causing Kevin to have to drive her to the hospital to give birth.
* Mr. Cantwell (Ben Stein): Kevin's junior high school science teacher.
* Mr. Chong (Michael Paul Chan): Kevin's boss in high school and owner of "Chong's Chinese Food." He was known to shout rapid Cantonese and Mandarin (linguistics)Mandarin at Kevin but speak perfect English to his patrons.
* Chuck Coleman (Andy Berman): One of Kevin's high school friends, who often appears with a "nervous tick".
* Jeff Billings (Giovanni Ribisi): Plays Kevin's good friend in the later end of the series. His parents are divorced and he lives with his mom, which is why he moves in late.
* Alice Pedermeir (Lindsay Sloane): One of Kevin's classmates in high school and girlfriend of Chuck Coleman. Occasionally whines to make the person she's with feel bad to satisfy her for what she wants.
* Delores (Juliette Lewis): Wayne's girlfriend in high school; you never see her without a chewing gum in her mouth.
* Dave "Wart" Wirtschafter (Scott Menville): Wayne's best friend, who gets shipped off to the Vietnam War. After he comes back, he shows signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He frequently repeats whatever Wayne says.
* Madeline Adams (Julie Condra): Kevin's temporary flame during his final year in junior high.
* Cara (Lisa Gerber): Kevin's summer romance while vacationing with his family at a lake. He meets her before he begins high school and returns to see her after getting his driver's license.
* Debbie Pfeiffer (Torrey Anne Cook): Paul's younger sister, who has a crush on Kevin.
* Alvin Pfeiffer (Josh Moskoff): Paul's father.
* Ida Pfeiffer (Stephanie Satie): Paul's mother.
* Eric Antonio (Don Jeffcoat): Kevin's classmate in junior high.
* Young Kevin (Eric Lloyd): Seen in flashbacks in the form of family movies, such as where he is playing with a younger version of his sister or meeting his grandparents.
* Michael (David Schwimmer): Karen's live-in boyfriend and later husband. Kevin's father is happy that Michael will be a good husband to Karen and has a good job to provide for her, but is dismayed to learn he will be working on the distant Alaska pipeline.
* Mr. Collins (Steven Gilborn): Kevin's rigid but dedicated algebra teacher who he [Kevin] comes to admire at a certain level. The character unexpectedly dies of an unspecified illness which caused Kevin some grief.
* Buster Arnold: A beagle given to Kevin by his paternal grandfather. He had major roles in the episode "The Powers That Be" (third season) and "Buster" (fourth season). He appeared in scenes in "She, My Friend, and I" in the third season and "Growing Up" in the fourth season.
* Kirk McCray (Michael Landes): 8th grader who dated Winnie.
* Ricky Halsenbach (Scott Nemes): Kevin's classmate. He was featured a few times during the series.
* Mr. Nestor (Charles Tyner): Kevin's slightly eccentric shop teacher. He has minor parts during the fourth season when Kevin is in ninth grade.
* Louis (John Corbett): Karen's first-season hippie boyfriend whom Kevin takes a dislike to.
* Brad Gaines (Mark-Paul Gosselaar): Appeared in only one episode (titled: "Dance With Me"). Kevin asks Lisa Berlini to go to the dance with him and she agrees, but then decides to go with Brad Gaines when he asks her.

DVD releases

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. [cite web|url=|title=Pricey nostalgia|last=Lieber|first=Scott|date=July 10, 2006|work=The Denver Post] Because of this, The Wonder Years routinely appears high on the list of TV shows in-demand for a DVD release. Officially, "The Wonder Years" has so far only been released as two 'best-of' DVD sets, without the original music. They are the following:
* The Best of The Wonder Years July 24, 1999 - 1 Disc
* The Christmas Wonder Years July 24, 1999 - 1 DiscBoth sets are now quite rare and exceptionally expensive.

Audio soundtrack

The official soundtrack was released in 1988 by Atlantic/WEA and contains a total of 13 tracks, featuring Joe Cocker's cover of "With a Little Help from My Friends," which is the show's theme song. [ [ The Wonder Years OST] ]

Also, after the series' original run was over, Laserlight Digital released a 5-disc compilation box set under the title "Music from 'The Wonder Years'" in 1994. This is the same company that later released the only two DVDs for the series, "The Best of 'The Wonder Years'" and "The Christmas Wonder Years". The disc included 40 Motown favorites and 5 original songs (each is repeated twice in the set) written exclusively for the series by W.G. "Snuffy" Walden.

Popular Culture

*"The Simpsons" episode "Three Men and a Comic Book" features Daniel Stern as Adult Bart discussing his reaction to his first job.
*Hong Kong film "Yesterday You, Yesterday Me" series 1,2and 3 had somewhat similar storyline to "The Wonder Years".


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