With the complete series on DVD, a look back at Kevin Arnold's poignant (and sometimes angsty) adolescence.
By Hillary Busis in Entertainment Weekly
s Tennessee Williams mused,
"In memory, everything seems to happen to music." Which may
explain why ABC's Emmy-winning The Wonder Years -- a
nostalgic look at Kevin Arnold's (Fred Savage) coming of age
in the tumultuous late '60s and early '70s -- leans so
heavily on hits from that era. And while the series, which
ran from 1988 to '93, has been available on Netflix, it also
explains why it took so long to be released in its entirety
on DVD. (Songs by Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel don't
come cheap!) The wait is over now, and a new generation can
watch Kevin navigate the tricky waters of junior high and
high school -- with a little help from his
Kevin Arnold Fred Savage Our Everykid hero is a so-so student, neither popular
nor a social outcast. He is, however, cuter than the average
Joe -- and he's got a very inner monologue delivered by his
older self (Daniel Stern, in voice-over).
Jack Arnold Dan Lauria The Arnold Family's world-weary patriarch is a man of
few words -- but there's a big heart beneath that gruff
Norma Arnold Alley Mills The sun to Jack's grumpy man-in-the-moon is a
proto-Betty Draper of Mad Men who eventually finds
fulfillment outside of the kitchen.
Karen Arnold Olivia d'Abo Kevin's older sister, a strong-willed flower child who
fully embraces the era's counterculture, often butts heads
with her conservative parents.
Wayne Arnold Jason Hervey Kevin's immature older brother, the bane of his
existence, loves to call his younger sibling a butthead.
Paul Pfieffer Josh Saviano Gawky, brainy, and relentlessly loyal -- even when his
closest pal is being a bit of a pill -- Paul is Kevin's best
Winnie Cooper Danica McKellar What Kevin's dream girl lacks in personality, she more
than makes up for with excellent tresses. (Cue the slo-mo
NOTABLE ALUMNI Juliette Lewis
Soleil Moon Frye
SEASON 1 "Pilot"Episode 1 Few series debut fully formed -- but The Wonder
Years is one of them. Its pilot, in which Kevin's
journey to adulthood is accelerated when he (a) starts
junior high, (b) learns that Winnie's brother has been
killed in the Vietnam War, and (c) kisses her for the first
time, is a bittersweet masterpiece.
SEASON 2 "Steady as She Goes"/"Just Between Me and You and
Kirk and Paul and Carla and Becky"Episodes 4 and
5 A two-parter in which Kevin -- and young viewers --
learns that dating someone just to make someone else jealous
is a really, really bad idea. ("Friends? I'll give you
SEASON 3 "Goodbye"Episode 20 This double Emmy winner (for directing and writing) is
the heart-wrenching conclusion to a season-long arc about
Kevin's struggles with his eighth-grade algebra teacher,
tough but fair Mr. Collins (Steven Gilborn).
SEASON 4 "Heartbreak"Episode 11 Is Kevin and Winnie's relationship strong enough to
survive a year spent at different schools? Hint: Check out
the episode's title. The bookend use of the Beach Boys' "God
Only Knows" -- first as a dreamy love song, then as a
plaintive plea -- is a particularly devastating
SEASON 5 "The Wedding"Episode 22 Karen and Michael's (David Schwimmer) groovy nuptials
are both delightfully daffy (see, for example, how her
hippie friend Wind introduces herself to old-fashioned Mrs.
Arnold) and surprisingly moving.
SEASON 6 "Homecoming"Episode 1 Sure, the series finale is poignant, but even it doesn't
pack quite the same punch as this season's premiere, in
which Wayne's buddy Wart (Scott Menville) returns from his
tour in Vietnam. (And unlike the series closer, the episode
ends with Kevin and Winnie still together.
WONDER THROUGH THE YEARS The real life events that made history on the show, too
Vietnam War The conflict is always in the background -- especially
in the pilot, when Winnie's recently drafted brother
dies. (Season 1, Episode 1)
APRIL 4, 1968
MLK Assassination Kevin's teacher mounts a play about the civil rights
movement, inspired in part by the reverend's death. (Season 2, Episode 2)
JUNE 6, 1968
RFK Assassination "Like about half the schools in the country that year,"
Kevin says, his has been renamed for JFK's brother. (Season 2, Episode 1)
JULY 21, 1969
Moon Landing Kevin takes us through his summer: "I went fishing with
my dad. I saw a man walk on the moon." (Season 2, Episode 17)
AUG. 15-17, 1969
Woodstock Kevin's hippie eighth-grade social studies teacher
describes her concertgoing experience to his class. (Season 3, Episode 2)
APRIL 11-17, 1970
Apollo 13 The Arnolds aren't religious, but Norma goes to church
and lights a candle for the imperiled Apollo astronauts. (Season 3, Episode 18)
JUNE 30, 1971 Carnal Knowledge Kevin & Co. start the episode trying to sneak into
the R-rated movie, featuring a sultry Ann-Margaret. (Season 5, Episode 19)
NOV. 7, 1972
Presidential Election Winnie throws herself into campaigning for McGovern, the
Democrat running against Nixon. (Season 6, Episode 5)
Women's Lib Kevin and his father realize that the women in their
lives have been affected by the rise of feminism. (Season 6, Episode 19)
P.S. Contrary to urban legend, the guy who played Paul did
not grow up to be Marilyn Manson.
What would you do if The Wonder Years
theme seemed out of tune? If you're like some Netflix viewers --
surprised to find that the streaming version opens with a different
cover of "With a Little Help From My Friends" -- you might tune out.
Acquiring the series' original music was a priority for Time Life.
Objective No. 1: clearing Joe Cocker's take on the Beatles. "That was
one of the biggest challenges," says Time Life senior VP Jeff Peisch.
"If we couldn't clear that, it wasn't worth going forward." After
months of negotiations, the deal was done -- and hundreds more followed
over the course of about a year. Peisch's team secured 96 percent of
the original music (285 songs). So what about the others including hits
by the Doors and Neil Young? Peisch says the rights holders had one
complaint: "You're not paying us enough."
In March 1977, the crew at WJM-TV signed off for good.
by Danny Spiegel in TV Guide
When: March 19, 1977 Where: The Mary Tyler Moore Show What: The WJM-TV team signs off in the series finale
ove was all around for The Mary Tyler Moore Show
the night its highly anticipated last episode aired. This finale had
everything, including guest stars (Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman,
returning from their respective spinoffs, Rhoda and Phyllis),
an emotional send-off (the now-classic group hug and a bittersweet
rendition of "It's a Long Way to Tipperary"), and a triumphant curtain
call. When WJM-TV's new owner wanted to make big changes, instead of
firing nincompoop anchor Ted Baxter (Ted Knight), he canned the rest of
the staff: Mary (Mary Tyler Moore), Lou (Ed Asner), Murray (Gavin
MacLeod), and even Happy Homemaker Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White).
Everyone -- the fictional characters and the real-life cast, which also
included Georgia Engel as Georgette -- knew the end was coming, but
that didn't make things any easier.
Alan Burns (cocreater):
Mary was the last one who signed on to the idea of shutting the series
down, because she loved the process, the show itself, the cast, and the
staff. It was harder for her than anyone.
Harper: It was Cloris Leachman who called [cocreater] James L. Brooks and Allan Burns and said, "We'd really like to be on the last Mary. We know you're doing it at the office, but the apartment girls would like to be written in." So they did.
During the rehearsal, we went into the group hug, and Jim Brooks said,
"Now, is there a funny way that we can get out of this and maybe not
necessarily break up the hug?" Fortunately, Georgia said, "Well,
there's a Kleenex on the desk; we can go for the Kleenex." So we all
moved over like a centipede to get the Kleenex.
Jay Sandrich (director):
We were doing the lines in rehearsal with not a lot of feeling, just to
know what they were. But when Ed read the line "I treasure you people"
so beautifully, it just got us all. And I remember telling Mary she
should hold off tears as long as she could.
[On the night of the shoot,] Mary was really disciplined, and she made
herself get through this. And we were holding our breath the whole
All our family members were there. And Mary's mom and dad were always
there, every Friday night. I think Dick Cavett could have been there,
he used to come a lot.
When the [characters] walked out of the door and Mary turned the light
off, the man backstage who turned the studio light off was so in tears,
he forgot! [Laughs] And when the scene was over, tears were running down everybody's face.
MacLeod: The audience was weeping. They didn't want this group of people not to be together anymore.
I can't remember whose idea it was to include a televised curtain call
at the end, but it seemed only appropriate that we should recognize
what all these people meant to each other and to the audience. It broke
the fourth wall, but what the hell, where were we gonna go from