The Wonder Years - The Complete Series DVD Review
There's no other way to put this: The Wonder Years
was groundbreaking television. It is a series which singlehandedly
help change the television landscape and the potential for the way
dramas could be told. In a way, the series works as a perfect precursor
newer golden age of television we are currently in. Without it, I doubt
television would look so bright today. There were no other family
it before its creation, and since the series ended there have been no
match it (though a number of series have tried and have had some degree
success). The Wonder Years is one of television's crowning
Set during the late 60's and early 70's, The
focused upon the Arnold family and the experiences and journey they all
during this turbulent time of change and development. Told through the
perspective of Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) with voice-over narration
done by Daniel
Stern as an older, wiser Kevin Arnold, The Wonder Years
lives of the family individually and as a family unit.
Kevin's parents Jack (Dan Lauria) and Norma
(Alley Mills), or characters otherwise known as Mom and Dad to the
(Jason Hervey), Kevin's older brother, and Karen (Olivia d'Abo), his
sister, make up the rest of the Arnold family. The series also focused
Kevin's best friend growing up, Paul Pfeiffer (Josh Saviano) and his
crush and close friend Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar). These
Wonder Years one of the most successful programs ever made. The course
story was successful in large part because of these fine actors and the
writing that made their storylines so compelling.
The performances were incredible. Fred Savage
gives one of
the greatest performances ever delivered by a child actor. The
earned him an Emmy nomination as the youngest nominee for Best Actor
nominated in the category. Savage made the role so charming, so
relevant to the series with his humorous delivery and empathetic
Everything about the performance is stunning; it's the kind of
might overlook as 'not acting' but that couldn't be further from being
accurate. Kevin Arnold was an incredible character from the writing
and it took a perfect actor to make the part so believable, memorable,
convincing. When the series required dramatic depth, Savage was there
deliver. When it needed light humor, he was there for that too. And he
great with working within the framework of the voice-over narration in
that felt seamless and that genuinely felt convincing throughout the
course of the
show. At many times, the long pauses experienced due to the narration
like moments most child actors wouldn't be able to successful meld
made those moments work perfectly and used his own form of expression
balance these scenes out.
Danica McKellar was also a perfect choice for the
of Winnie Cooper. She was the quintessential American girl-next-door
the dream-girl of Kevin Arnold, but it was her intelligence, strength,
growth as a character which made Winnie Cooper stand out as being one
most compelling characters on the show. Winnie had some of the most
difficulties to deal with out of the entire cast of characters, as
to accept the loss of her brother as a result of the Vietnam war, the
(and finalized) divorce of her parents, and the struggle of growing up
such circumstances. McKellar made the role believable and memorable in
way and was a great match to the enthusiasm and spirit of Savage.
Josh Saviano was also great as the best-friend
In real-life, Saviano was a popular kid who was a lot better with
having that 'cool' factor but on the show Saviano made Paul the
smart-kid (who some might refer to as being a 'nerd') with a heart of
character was one that experienced compelling ups and downs
and yet Paul was always there for Kevin Arnold when he needed him. This
is another home-run for the series and it completed the group of the
members that predominately drove a large number of the 'growing-up'
featured on The Wonder Years.
The rest of the Arnold family was also essential
story. The storyline involving Jack and Norma Arnold had a huge
the show. There were a number of ways that these characters played a
Jack was the working-father of the 60's and the gruff-voiced father,
who worked his day-job and then came home to watch sports while every
the family wondered about his mood and when it might burst. He was
grumpy a lot of the time but Jack was also someone who cared a lot
family and his character had some surprising moments throughout the
show. Dan Lauria
made the character highly believable. In
fan-favorite episode "My Father's Office" Kevin starts to wonder
about what his father does for a living and gets to go down to his
take a look. It's one of the most believable episodes about a
person ever made on any television program in the way it shows the
and family life in a way that rang true for many viewers.
Norma was the stay-at-home mom working to make
sure the kids
had help with school when they needed it and regular meals, and she
to take care of the home. Yet this was something that changed over the
of the show as the series delved into exploring the changing cultural
America when Norma eventually goes to find work and seeks a deeper
her life outside of the family life and home. This concept of the
times was perhaps best explored in the fan favorite episode, " Pottery
Will Get You Nowhere", which focused on a disagreement and argument
arose between Jack and Norma.
This episode presents
the first moment in the series the audience sees the parents argue, and
Kevin Arnold it's an eye-opening moment where he sees both his parents
differently than he had before. He sees his Mom as more than just his
sees Norma and her wants and desires to do something more. And he sees
stubbornness and mean-spirited way in which his Dad, Jack, responds to
he also realizes for the first time they are not just mom and dad but
were also their own beings and husband and wife. Alley Mills gives a
performance as Norma and is perhaps one of the greatest actors on the
a stellar emotional range and a believable mom, which is impressive as
she had no experience as a
when making the series. Mills finds a perfect balance between
motherly role and the characteristics that her kids
sometimes overlook on the show but that the audience most assuredly
a great performance on every level.
In no way should the impeccable voice-over
Daniel Stern be overlooked. Voicing Kevin Arnold as the narrator of the
series storytelling, Stern brought many of the series best lines to
fruition. The narration and performance of the voice-work was great and
entirely essential to the framework of the show. The narration is
that worked the rhyme and flow of the series to greater heights. The
series was more successful than it would have been without said
simultaneously made the series feel nostalgic and in-the-moment at the
time to a degree uncommon for any story. Part of this was the excellent
but another part was the craft and style of Stern. Stern would later
of the best director's on the program, and his significant impact on
was felt from beginning to end.
The writing was such a pivotal aspect of The
Without the great writing, none of the great performances would exist.
characters were so well drawn by the staff of writers telling the
series emphasized all of the character moments with a precision that
occurs anymore. And these screenwriters knew how to emphasis important
in numerous ways on the show.
Some of the topics covered through the series
included changing views about war during the Vietnam war and how this
America (as many viewed the war as not being right for American
citizens and it
was the first time war had been public to so many people with televised
coverage in the news), the drafting of people into war, societal
women taking on more work roles outside of the home, better empowering
for women, hippie culture, Woodstock, change from black and white to
television, the greatness of a teacher who did believe in you, the
of loss (recognizing the loss of family or loss that
felt by someone close to you), a shift in marriage with
acceptance of divorce by society, school plays, music
first kisses, family friendship, rivalries, differences in cultural
experience, and fighting for what you believe in to the end. These are
some of the many varied topics covered on the show: some carried along
seriousness and relation to the time-period and other topics conveyed
of the sheer normalcy in life and growing up regardless of the setting.
The directing and editing was also a huge part of
the show worked as well as it did. Throughout the seasons, the series
to feel (at least in part) like a documentary film, where the
ebbed and flowed like a home movie. This is one of the strengths the
involved on the program brought to it. And as far as the editing is
the careful selection of newsreel footage clips selected for the series was so well handled it's amazingly
impressive. Every time footage showed the Vietnam war going on the
teamwork in place made it so that no clips were incorrectly used in
to their corresponding years. This was a dramatic element that
splendidly as a result connected to seamless and effective
The Wonder Years had another magnificent
could forget the endless array of classic rock and pop songs sprinkled
throughout the program? The music was an aspect which was just as vital
series success as any of the characters, the writing, and the
ranged from Bob Dylan to The Rolling Stones to The Beach Boys. No
the artist was viewers could count on some of the best music around to
soundtrack to the storytelling. This was a magnificent part of the
creation and it is undoubtedly part of the reason the series was one
struck a powerful chord (pun intended!) with so many audience members.
Now, I would like to take a moment and simply
of the most essential episodes of the series and to briefly describe
relevancies - which were so integral to why these are episodes of
that made such a tremendous mark on the legacy of the show. While all
episodes made a special mark on the show's success I would like to talk
some great moments within the series that I feel have a particularly
place within the show.
Some of the landmark moments on the show
occurred in the
following episodes: The Pilot (in which the show was
viewers with a perfect montage of newsreel footage set to incredible
that explored the opening dynamic of the show. It also introduced the
role of the Vietnam
war on the show with the death of Winnie's brother, who was killed
during the Vietnam war, and the first kiss of Kevin and Winnie (which
was also the first kiss of actors Fred Savage and Danica McKellar). Swingers
explored changing sexual-education in America. Coda explored
presented of a dream and the realization of a lost dream through
attempt to play successful piano music. The Phone Call explored
simple (but daunting) task that is remarkably difficult for Kevin:
crush on the phone. Our Miss White
was a exploration on a student's crush of a teacher at school, and it
the production experienced for a school play with political tones
Christmas explored American struggles with
economics of Christmas as a holiday and being able to afford the things
families tend to want (in this case, the focus was set around going
black and white television to a color TV set). Walk
Out was a special episode in which
Kevin, Paul, and others end up staging a school walk out to protest the
Vietnam. Birthday Boy explored the growth of maturity in Kevin
comes to accept that Paul's bar mitzvah is happening on his birthday.
end up enjoying it together that day, and it's something that became a
celebration of both of their births. Odd Man Out explores the
disagreements between friends can get out of hand.
On The Spot explored Winnie's performance
school play Our Town, which was essential to the plot as she was
prevent her parents' divorce through her performance in the play. In Whose
Woods are These? Kevin, Winnie, and Paul stand up for what they
at a discussion about the woods being changed into a shopping center:
fight for their memories and the importance of it as something
important as a piece
of their town's history. In The Family Car, Jack must come to
the family needed a new vehicle and be able to let go of the emotional
connection to the old clunker because of time invested in the vehicle
and the family
memories which he associates with it. The Pimple is all about
obsession with getting a pimple when a girl he used to have a crush on
visit. Yes, there is an entire episode of The Wonder Years
the youthful agony of body acne. Yet it is in moments such as these
series has found a way to remain just as relevant all these years
it's still something that many kids face and can relate to. (Still
one-drop cure for a little pimple).
Goodbye (a Emmy award winning episode for
Writing and Best Direction) focused on the determination of Kevin to do
in math as he receives help from his favorite teacher, before he must
face and accept his passing. The end result of the episode being to
hold onto one's drive and determination to do better and to hold on to
special memories of those individuals in one's life who inspired and
you the most to succeed. In its own way, this may be the best episode
entire series run. It's impact is so remarkable and I can cry simply
about the episode and it's meaningful impact. This episode is a true
every sense of the word.
There is little doubt in my mind that the impact
series is one the extends far beyond what anyone might guess for an
television show: this was a cultural goldmine of a program that has
meaningful to so many people's lives and in a real way. Viewing it now,
I encountered and discovered things I never noticed or picked up on
past viewings. I realized that as I have grown, so has part of the way
experience the show. This was a series
my childhood favorites growing up and I was glad to know that the
up to my memories. It's every bit as
good as I remember it being. But it's also a better show than I even
as I can now sense things I never did about the show previously. It's
The writing was so brilliant that this is a series
bring new insight into each viewing and experience. There is so much to
in this well of creativity and it helps to make this series one of the
achievements in television history. That realization is something that
the show even more special. Anyone who has in any way, shape, or form
Wonder Years meaningful to their lives at one point or another
revisit it as there is an enormous amount of room for fond memories but
also plenty beneath the surface of experiencing this show again after
years: the beautiful writing, the depth of the characterizations, and
arcs seem even better with the distance of time. Even if experiencing The
Wonder Years was one of my favorite television experiences as a
it again feels even more meaningful now.
The series managed to deftly blend writing,
acting of high caliber into each weekly episode. The storytelling of
characters, their journeys, and the way the times played a role in
their lives was
always the driving point of the show's story and audiences could relate
connect to these stories of middle-class suburban living in a genuine,
heartfelt, and memorable way because it was so inherently relatable. In
ways, The Wonder Years tapped into not only one generation but
generations of many. Even though technology has changed and culture has
shifted, the truth of the matter is that the way people and family are
something enormously meaningful and relatable that hasn't changed much
years. Family is still family. Growing up is still growing up. These
that everyone can relate to. And the common experiences we all hold is
something that doesn't change over time. And this is one significant
the series has remained so timeless. Any kid watching this series today
find something meaningful and important in it. That is part of the
indeed the wonder) of The Wonder Years.
The Wonder Years has been so highly anticipated for DVD
release that I'm sure one of the big questions series fans are
is: "well, how does it look"? Well, there isn't a easy answer
to this question. The series was originally filmed on 16mm film stock,
for any viewers familiar with the types of film that have been commonly
television series, a simple way of responding might be to say 'well,
good'. The choice of film stock is a element of the show's production
that was most likely chosen for budgetary reasons alongside the fact
was in keeping with the series documentary-style filmmaking and
This was done to make the show feel more authentic and true to the time
originally aired. Back then, no one had HDTV's or fancy home theater
to make presentations as vibrant as they are today. No one who worked
The Wonder Years had any idea the show would eventually be
own, let alone in a fancy collectible set with all the trimmings. The
as so many productions are, a product of its time. And with that comes
the limitations of the way television productions were handled during
80's and early 90's.
During that time
period, countless television productions during were shot on film but
was completely handled and cut for VHS. The Wonder Years is
program. The original footage was transferred entirely to the tape
what you have on this DVD collection is essentially a replication of
of quality one would expect for a VHS tape being transferred over to
Don't expect any
miracles with the quality of the video. If you are a video quality
(as I am), you may find it t be a bit disappointing on some level.
will say that I found the presentation to be amongst the best PQ
I have seen for a show transferred from VHS source to DVD. I have
(and reviewed) other shows from the same production period which faced
time, budget, and technological limitations that had significantly
presentations than The Wonder Years.
The series certainly
looks 'watchable' throughout and has generally clean cinematography.
isn't a lot of print damage and the image appears generally stable and
consistent. Some VHS to DVD PQ presentations look horrendous and
This is not the case here. For The Wonder Years it looks like
did the best they could do with the original materials available to
putting together this collection. The sources they had were kept in
good shape (all things considered). Season
1 does look slightly less refined in
comparison to subsequent seasons, but is not dramatically different
follows. It's slightly softer and the photography is a little less
of the reason it looks different at all is probably because of
aspects (such an budget changes) after the show became a proven hit.
In order for the
show to look any better than it does on these DVD's would be for the
of the show to be re-scanned from the original film negatives and then
meticulously re-edited to match the original frame-by-frame editing
throughout the entirety of the series. This is something that has only
once in the history of television releases coming to home media.
project was Star Trek: The Next Generation, which is one of the
successful franchise series ever produced, and Paramount had to invest
sums of money to hire many individuals to work in teams on the project
several years. Do you see this ever happening to The Wonder Years?
I don't ever see it happening.
Especially knowing that the show was shot on only 16 mm film
stock. By comparison, Star Trek: The
Generation was shot on 35 mm using Panavision cameras and original
materials had been meticulously stored.
One last thing I
want to note regarding the presentation is that Time Life has done a
good job with their encoding process. I have noticed no encoding
and the PQ is something that seems to be as good as possible given the
was transferred to DVD. The discs contained in this collection have an
usage of space for the presentations. Each episode of the show tends to
fluctuate between 5 and 8 mbps for the encode quality and this is
entirely reasonable rate for the DVD format and given the limits that
in the source material. The entire series run is presented on
26 discs and is in the original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full
exactly as it should be.
Keeping all of these
important and relevant details in mind, I am confident that Time Life
best job they could have possibly done to bring the show to DVD with as
presentation as one could have reasonably expected from a home media
for The Wonder Years. Fans of the show should feel enormously
with the quality available, even if it might initially be something
less than ideal.
importantly, the series is still perfectly
watchable. You'll have a blast watching it regardless of PQ
in mind the limitations inherent in the source and you'll undoubtedly
experience more. Even though the show looks like videotape on DVD, The
Wonder Years remains just as entertaining and enjoyable as it did
it aired on television.
Time Life put even more care into the audio
equation of the release.
While the quality is dated to the production time period and only
reasonably good for a stereo audio sound presentation it's a acceptable
that should still leave fans pleased with how things sound: dialogue is
area and even if songs lack high-fidelity audio, the sound of the music
certainly is remarkable to experience on any level.
The beauty of the release is in the efforts
made by Time Life to put the show out on DVD with as much of the
as was possible, though. This alone makes the audio effort an enormous
undertaking that should be appreciated.
Time Life was the perfect company to release the
DVD as meticulous care was put into clearing rights to the various
and rock tunes that were an integral part of the series experience. The home division experts of Time Life are not
strangers to licensing music for release. It was vital that the series
as close as it could to the original broadcast. The
songs made up a huge part of the themes,
emotions, and storytelling. In total, 285 songs were cleared for
release and 96%
of the show's original music is now intact on this DVD collection.
For the remaining 4%, Time Life replaced with
collaboration with Fox Studios and the lone 14 tracks were selected to
sound similar to the original style or intent, or in some cases (such
as in the
case of a Blood, Sweat, and Tears song) were replaced with similar
the Blood, Sweat, and Tears song was replaced with a version of the
had been performed by the lead singer of the band -- only solo). It is
remarkable and commendable that Time Life was able to secure so much of
original music for the DVD presentation. (For a full list of the
please check here.)
This is the first time the show has ever been made
in years with these songs as a part of the viewing experience. The
previously debuted on streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon
Video but with none of the original music left intact. This alone makes
release an essential purchase for serious fans of The Wonder Years
looking to finally own a great classic in television history with the
possible presentation, true to the way it was intended by the creative
behind the making of the series.
To say that the
supplemental aspect of this release is extensive is to actually
under-cut it to
some extent: this is a behemoth of a release that has more supplemental
materials attached to it than virtually any other television-on-DVD
have ever encountered in my many years of reviewing DVD releases. It's
the most extensive, well-produced, and organized sets regarding
viewers will discover themselves considering the packaging of the set
to be an
extra itself. The Complete Series collection is housed in a locker.
an actual locker with a closing hinge and everything that swings
when you want it to. Sure, it doesn't lock (neither did the ones used
while filming!) but it's a genuine replica of the type of locker seen
series. It looks almost exactly like what one will remember seeing on
from Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper. That's a stunning packaging choice
I can't think of there being a more creative style packaging decision
other DVD release in the history of the format.
collectors will see a resemblance to the previously-released Heathers
Collector's Edition (which also came housed in a similarly themed
packaging) the implementation of the design style is much more
here and feels much more suited for a complete series release of one of
most beloved shows ever made. It's a truly awesome and awe-inspiring
package. It's easily one of my favorite designs ever used.
Inside of the
locker, owners will find a set of Wonder Years magnets designed
complement the locker packaging. If someone wants to be creative with
of the packaging they can add extra flair to it with the included
magnets have the following sayings/illustrations: 'I Love Kevin
Winnie Cooper', Peace & Flower signs (hippie style), the school
Wildcats mascot sign, a 'Love Me' psychedelic design, and quotes from
"Butthead!", "McCovey is off the table!", and "Holy
The set also
contains a Wonder Years Yearbook (1988-1993). This is one of
and most well put together book bonuses I have seen included as an
any DVD box-set. While some sets occasionally throw in printed books
mostly stills from the show or movie with no major text or interesting
sub-sections, this is a genuinely thoughtful inclusion for the complete
includes a replica-style printing of real signatures and notes that
by a sampling of cast and crew involved in the making of The Wonder
The opening pages show these signatures as they were created for the
the back of the yearbook includes a typed notation on who left which
to the signatures (which makes this a yearbook easier to read for those
with harder-to-read signatures). It works extremely well and even if
is admittedly smaller than an actual yearbook, it feels a bit like a
to some degree: a degree that works quite well.
in putting together this Wonder Years yearbook did a tremendous
doing so. It is absolutely terrific! Looking through its 59 pages, the
managed to bring smiles and an overwhelming sense of emotion to me. The
offers a heartfelt note from creators Neal Marlens and Carol Black, a
for memories from the wonder wall (which features pictures from during
production run across the years, alongside some fun captions
them), a section on the cast members with full two page spreads for all
lead actors: Fred Savage as Kevin Arnold, Josh Saviano as Paul
McKellar as Winnie Cooper, Dan Lauria as Jack Cooper, Ally Mills as
Arnold, Olivia d'Abo as Karen Arnold, and Jason Hervey as Wayne Arnold.
includes photographs and a page for narrator Daniel Stern. Plenty of
quotes and series photographs from the series appear alongside the
well as occasional notes from the creative team.
There are also
pages with blurbs and photographs dedicated to the beloved teacher
of the show: Miss White, Mr. Cantwell, Coach Cutlip, and Mr. Collins.
two pages on the school sports, eight pages for "Say it with style",
showing costumes through production photos of the wardrobe selections
would wear for roll call. A few pages are given to call sheets and
Then there's a
section entitled "Most Likely to..." which catches viewers up with
the main actors and what they are doing today in their lives. For
Savage is now a popular director working on television programs like
Family and Danica McKellar now writes successful books for
girls designed to help them get a better grasp of learning math.
There is also a
'Then and Now' section with photographs from the show with the actors
by new photographs of them today (and in many cases, now all grown up!)
is also a 'Last Looks section with production behind-the-scenes
rarities. Lastly, the book includes humorous fake ads featuring some of
made-up businesses featured on the series, and some 'dedicated ads' for
characters (the kind you actually see parents and friends sponsoring
kids in school yearbooks). A cast and credits list is also included for
the set is also designed with two book-style packages (one for Seasons
for seasons 4-6) which feature covers designed as replicas of notebooks
actual characters on the show. Each notebook feature heavy cardstock
design art and a sampling of quotes, illustrations, and cultural
the series and the emphasis on different parts of the series is made
prominently clear through the creative design. In pulling out the discs
the sleeves, viewers will find that they can be a little bit tricky to
extract. One must be a bit delicate with the discs and the holders to
that these discs are carefully pulled out so as to not get smudges or
scratches on them. However, it's not something I would describe as a
inconvenience and the packaging is one of the best I've personally
It's gorgeous, fits perfectly with the series, and works fine. It's
just a bit
less conventional than typical. In this case, I do not consider that to
bad thing. This set is an immensely unique center piece in my film and
television collection now. Each book of discs also includes a detailed
guide with episode descriptions, air-dates, notes on music highlighted
episodes, and there is a sampling of iconic quotes sprinkled
will also find the occasional commentary by writers and producers.
worth noting that introductory notes were written by executive producer
Brush and actor Fred Savage.
As to the
spend an entire week just to explore the bonus materials (if viewing
extras per day), which is a lot more than you can say for your average
Wonder Years: The Complete Series set by Time Life understands that
groundbreaking series deserved a lot of love in the extras department
there's no way (...zilch of a chance!) that any fan will walk
this set feeling it was shortchanged in this department. There is a
around 23 hours of supplements. In "technical" terms one could go
through all of them in one day if they did so without sleeping,
and any pauses. I imagine most viewers will find it significantly more
enjoyable to explore the featurettes, interviews, outtakes, and the
footage across an entire week of marathon viewing or several months of
selecting from the extensive list of extras. A diehard fan could even
intersperse watching the show with these supplements over the course of
entire year if they wanted to. It's clear that a significant amount of
spent from those DVD-wizards at Time Life just to put it all together.
listed by-disc below:
from The Wonder Years Cast Reunion (May 28, 201) - (20 min.):
Wonderful Day: Highlights from the
Cast Reunion is a cast get together where the actors
their time spent working on the show, with Fred Savage, Danica
Saviano, Ally Mills, Jason Hervey, and Olivia d'Abo.
Wonderful Day: In the Arnold Kitchen
is a sub-section of the supplement where a portion of the reunion takes
within the kitchen set with the entire Arnold family, including Dan
(joining the rest), the actor who played the dad, Jack Arnold.
With a Little Help from My Friends: The Early Days of The Wonder
discussion with the cast and creators about the casting and making of
Creators Neal Marlens & Carol
Include: Bringing The
Wonder Years into Being -- where the creators discuss their early
at turning it into a feature film before deciding on the television
the Narration's important place in the storytelling, the Inspiration
show (focusing on honoring their generation more-so than the series
true-to-life autobiographical creation), the Location (production
and finding the television Cast and Crew, Jack and Karen (discussing
characters), and the great premiere ratings after the Super Bowl, and
series positive reception.
Episodes Discussed: "My
Father's Office," and "Pottery Will Get You Nowhere."
(Kevin Arnold) (29 min.):
Include: Starting Out
- Savage discusses how his parents were the first to see the potential
series and his involvement; how he enjoyed the pilot script but at the
age he didn't
grasp all the things he does today, Getting the Job (auditioning for
following the producers interest in his involvement), Moving to Los
(his own family journey into new territory of television production), The
Wonder Years Moms, Learning the Character (and his approach to
Jason Hervery as Wayne Arnold, Karen and Kevin (with emphasis on their
relationship), Josh Saviano as Paul Pfeiffer, Dan Lauria and Alley
Norma's Evolution, Daniel Stern, Guest Stars, Working with (who became
Savage is real life) Crystal McKellar, Kevin and Winnie's Love
First Kiss, Watching the Finished Show, the Music, Acting with… a Piece
Tape? (as this was a one camera show and they sometimes had to work
stand-in's for the other actors and film reactions to acting that
separately), Winnie's Point of View, and "Being a Kid in the ‘60s".
Discussed: "My Father's Office"
McKellar (Winnie Cooper) (12 min.):
Include: Getting the
Job -- McKellar's journey from acting "for fun" in spare time to
unexpectedly finding herself involved on the series (the part was
be a guest spot only), Getting Educated: the juggle between school in
and showing up on set prepared, Acting with Fred, Becoming Famous, Just
Kid (she avoided the partying so often associated with Hollywood
Cooper, Kevin Arnold, the Music, Neal Marlens and Carol Black, Working
Josh Saviano, Awkward Pauses (as the actors had
to learn to act while knowing that there would be voice-over narration
simultaneously), and Understanding the ‘60s.
Josh Saviano (Paul Pfeiffer) (22
Include: Getting Started,
Auditioning for The Wonder Years -- and getting the part of
nerdy best friend despite being a varsity baseball player who was
most popular kid of the bunch, the Premiere of the show, the
Up (and the impact this had on his life), Getting Recognized, Moving to
Angeles, Playing a Kid from the ‘60s (and how this made him feel like
actually had a part of the same experience kids had growing up then as
learned and experienced part of that time in a way many kids wouldn't
an opportunity to experience), Cast and Crew, and working with Skip
Cook, Fred Savage, Kevin Arnold, Winnie Cooper, and finding himself
in Paul Pfeiffer (who he describes as always remaining as a special
part of him
even with their noted differences).
Days: Roundtable with Danica McKellar, Fred Savage, and Josh Saviano (8
Fred, and Josh discuss their real lives and their character's school
experiences. Highlights of the roundtable include: School Days,
Teachers on the
Set, Brawls in the Halls, and Growing Up on Set.
The Times They Are A-Changin': The Era (29 min.):
with the cast and crew about the time period of the show: the importance of the period's social context
and bringing that to life in an authentic way for the show. In no small
this is one of the best and most vital bonus material featurettes. The
radically changed the way television shows could discuss history by
looking to the past and placing an impact on modern productions.
series tapped into telling it's story with the 60's ad 70's time-period
essential element of the show. In one especially wonderful tidbit, one
the every moment throughout the show where television archival footage
was chosen to match seamlessly with the time period by year so nothing
out of place and the actual sequences of events relating to the Vietnam
would be accurately portrayed as an aspect of the storytelling. The
producers of The Wonder Years did great work to showcase all of
immense ways in which the times were (quite literally) changing in
in the cultural landscape. This piece highlights some of those moments
truly great way. A must see for all fans.
Daniel Stern (Narrator) (31 min.):
Cast, the Narration, the Narrator on the Set, Working Around School
Choosing Which Episodes to Direct, a New Style of Television, Playing
Kevin, Dan Lauria and Alley Mills, Preserving the Style, and David
brother was a writer for the series).
Directing "Pottery Will Get You Nowhere"
Dan Lauria (Jack Arnold) (21 min.):
Include: Getting the
Job, Joining the Cast, Episodes Featuring Jack, the Crew, Why the Show
Special, the Arnold Family, Jack and Karen, Alley Mills, Jack and His
Saviano, Kids Growing Up, Acting with Tape, and Jack and Norma.
Discussed: "My Father's
Office," "The Lost Weekend," "Swingers," "Our Miss White," and "Pottery
Get You Nowhere."
Ally Mills (Norma Arnold (34 min.):
Include: Getting the
Job, A New Breed of Sitcom, Daniel Stern, Favorite Moment from the
Working with Kids, Fred Savage, Jason Hervey, Danica McKellar, Josh
Dan Lauria and Olivia d'Abo, Playing Kevin's Mother, Norma's Evolution,
Up in the ‘60s, Vietnam, Dan Lauria's Military Service, John Corbett,
Discussed: "My Father's
Office," "Angel," "Hiroshima, Mon Frere," and "Pottery Will Get You
Three Disc Four:
Roundtable with Danica McKellar, Fred Savage, and Josh Saviano (8 min.):
Fred, and Josh discuss the magic of The Wonder Years, and
the show is really about growing up from the kids perspective and
feeling. They also discuss the episode "Carnal Knowledge."
A Family Affair: At Home with the Arnolds (27 min.):
Wonder Years heart was the Arnold family, and this featurette
both the family and the sum of its parts through cast and crew
Olivia d'Abo (Karen Arnold) (34 min.):
Include: Getting the
Job, Preparing for the Part, Karen's Childhood, Alley Mills, Dan
Working with Actors Your Own Age, Wayne Arnold, Fred Savage, Danica
Working with Child Actors, Daniel Stern, the Narration,
Acting with Tape (stand-ins), Shooting the Pilot, the Emmys, and the
(and its impact on the show).
Jason Hervery (Wayne Arnold) (24 min.):
Include: Getting the
Job, Wayne Arnold, the Music, the Era, School on
Just Being a Kid.
Danica McKellar (Winnie Cooper) (16
Include: Getting a
New Boss, Winnie's Struggles, the Final Episode, the Teachers, the
on Set, Growth Spurts, Working with other Kids, Growing
Screen, Memories, Winnie After the Show, and Moving On.
and "Just Between Me and You and Kirk and Paul and Carla and Becky."
Crystal McKellar (Becky Slater) (21 min.):
Include: Getting the
Job, Life on the Set, Fred Savage, Directors, Acting to a Piece of
Music, Education, Going to Yale with Josh Saviano, Dan Lauria, Family
Kevin and Winnie, Life After The Wonder Years, and The
Wonder Years on
DVD (at last).
Between Me and You and Kirk and Paul and Carla and Becky," and "The St.
Later: The Wonder Years Cast Reunion, May 28, 2014, in Los
California (52 min.):
Savage (Kevin), Danica McKellar (Winnie), Josh Saviano (Paul), Alley
(Norma), Olivia d'Abo (Karen), and Jason Hervey (Wayne) get together
and talk excitedly
about the show. They recollect their memories of making the series, and
culture significance then and now (the significant impact of the
what it was like growing up while making the show. You can tell the
cast is so
excited to see one another that sometimes that there can be overlap
what some of them end up saying as there wasn't moderation done to the
conversation and cast members talk over each other somewhat. This means
some of what is said, but it also shows how close these beloved actors
(and are) with each other, and the piece is still a blast because of
see these beloved actors together again.
Episode Outtakes: The First Kiss with commentary by Danica McKellar
Savage (20 min.):
all six of the takes of the first kiss from the pilot episode. Danica's
saved the outtakes on videotape and provided them for this bonus
Danica and Fred provide commentary and state that it was the first time
they had seen the footage for twenty years. The last take was the one
ended up using as Danica McKellar points out it was the lone take where
end's the scene stroking her hair (which was a special moment for her).
joke that they thought they heard their Mom's applauding the kissing
other on-set members) but both apparently filmed the scene without
(and both needed them) so they got confused about the applause. A funny
When a Man Loves a Woman: Kevin & Winnie Forever (30 min.):
This focuses on the Kevin and Winnie relationship arc over the
the show, includes interviews with cast and crew, and a sampling of
clips that were focused on the character's romantic storyline.
Neal Marlens and Carol Black, Creators (31
Include: Kevin and
Winnie, the First Kiss, the Music, Life Lessons, the Test of Time, the
Production, Controlling the Look, Anywhere - USA, Guest Stars, Life
Wonder Years, and Describing The Wonder Years in One
have to watch to find that out!
Dan Lauria (Jack Arnold) (22 min.):
Include: Bob Brush,
Preserving the Style, True to the Era, Favorite Episodes that You are
Mr. Collins, Jack Changing Jobs, Kevin and Winnie, the Music, the Theme
Song, Quality Television, the Cast, and Fred Directing.
Episodes Discussed: "The
Ties That Bind," "The Wedding," "Buster," and "The Tree House."
Alley Mills (Norma Arnold) (24
from Neal and Carol to new showrunner Bob Brush, Filming in Warehouse,
Kitchen Sink, Kevin Growing Up, What Kevin Would Be Like Today, the
Song," "Cocoa and Sympathy," "The Pimple," "Mom Wars," and "The
ABC: Teachers That Made a Difference (36 min.): The
cast and crew highlight the important teachers of The Wonder Years.
Highlights on this featurette include: Kevin's English teacher crush
White, who even got him involved in an acting career momentarily),
teacher mentor (Mr. Collins), disgruntled "Physical Education" teacher
Cutlip), and science teacher with the monotone commentary (Mr.
Fred Savage (Kevin Arnold) (21
from Neal and Carol to Bob Brush, Wendel Meldrum as Miss White, Mr.
Fantasy Sequences, Acting Challenges, Getting Educated, key grip
(and his importance), Hanging out with Josh, Art Imitating Life
real-life events going on with them would later end up being integrated
directly into scripts by the series writers), Kevin Arnold Grown Up, On
Training, Directing Kids Today (as grown-up Fred Savage is a successful
director), Going Back to Acting, Keeping in Touch with the Cast,
the Cast and Crew, The Wonder Years on DVD, the Meaning of The
Years, and Looking Back.
Song," "On the Spot," "Little Debbie," "The Ties That Bind," "A Very
Christmas," and "The Accident."
Robert Picardo (Coach Cutlip) (38 min.):
Include: Getting the
Job, Working on 2 TV Shows, Neal Marlens and Carol Black's
involvement as creators, Working with Child Actors, Josh Saviano,
White, Mr. Collins, Karen Arnold, Favorite Scene, Dan Lauria, Alley
Daniel Stern, Fan Reactions, the Baseball Hat, the Test of Time, and
Episodes Discussed: "Swingers,"
"Loosiers," and "A Very Cutlip Christmas."
Ben Stein (Mr. Cantwell) (15 min.):
Include: Getting the
Job, Becoming an Actor, Mr. Cantwell, The
Voice (that made Stein famous for dry
dialogue in film and television), the Show's Success, Fred Savage, the
Family, Favorite Character, Casting, Being on Set, the Era, the Music,
Lines, Junior High School, and the Test of Time.
Wendel Meldrum (Miss White/Mrs. Heimer) (13
Cast, Working with Child Actors, the Casting, Fred Savage, Kevin
Being a Crush, The Teachers, Working with the Cast, The Music, Relating
Wonder Years, and Looking Back.
Episodes Discussed: "Our Miss
White," and "Graduation."
Wrap! Mark B. Perry's Farewell Set Tour Season Five (4 min.):
movie made about Mark B. Perry's (Writer/Producer) last day on set when
the show at the end of season five. Includes a tour of the layout of
in the warehouse the show was filmed in. With audio commentary by Mark
Will You Love Me Tomorrow: The Wonder Year's Love Stories (26
cast and crew highlight the many love stories of The Wonder Years.
Kevin and Winnie may have been the main love story arc for Kevin all
Arnold kids (Kevin, Wayne, and Karen) had their interesting and
stories throughout the series.
Olivia d'Abo (Karen Arnold) (36
Include: Transition to
Bob Brush as showrunner, True to the Era, David Schwimmer, Why Karen
Michael Worked, Introducing Michael to the Family, Standing the Test of
Character Arc, Keeping in Touch with the Cast, Favorite
Line, Favorite Memories, and The Wonder Years on DVD.
Discussed: "Pilot," "My
Father's Office," "Angel," "Pottery Will Get You Nowhere,"
Woods Are These?," "Daddy's Little Girl," "Stormy Weather," and
David Schwimmer (Michael) (40 min.):
Include: Getting the
Job, Fan of the Show (Schwimmer insists he was a huge fan), Casting,
Savage, Dan Lauria and Alley Mills, Michael, Olivia d'Abo, Karen and
the Arnold Family, Kevin and Winnie's role on the show, Jason Hervey as
Arnold, Alley Mills as Norma Arnold, Karen and Michael's Future, How The
Wonder Years Changed His Life (he feels he would have never ended
getting cast for Friends without having been cast on The
Funny Memories, and Standing the Test of Time.
Episodes Discussed: "Stormy
Weather," and "The Wedding."
ABC broadcast of the Series Finale (48 min.):
one hour broadcast version of the series finale. Time Life has included
the original broadcast version and the reedited two episode syndicated
that all viewers can choose between the versions they would most prefer
This is a wonderful inclusion as the broadcast version originally shown
is a must. Thanks, Time Life!
At Last: The Final Episode (16 min.): The Cast
and Crew discuss the final episode of The Wonder Years and the
the ending of one of television's most iconic series.
Bob Brush, Executive Producer (55
Include: Joining the
Show, Preserving the Style, Kevin Arnold, Danica McKellar as Winnie
Josh Saviano as Paul Pfeiffer, Karen Arnold, Wayne Arnold, Jack and
Arnold, Casting Kids, the Generation Gap, Evolution of the Story,
Life, Choosing the Music, Clearing the Music, W.G. "Snuffy" Walden
Working with Child Actors, Making the Magic, Pleasant Surprises, Growth
the Final Season, the Final Narration, the Test of Time, Picking
The Wonder Years on DVD.
Episodes Discussed: "Daddy's
Little Girl," "Goodbye," and "Graduation."
Vault: Alley Mills and Bob Brush Letters (5 min.): Alley
Mills reads a letter she had written to Bob Brush (Executive Producer)
ending on the series, and the response letter she got in return.
Have a Neat
Summer: The Wonder Years Cast Reunion, May 28, 2014, Los
Angeles, CA (18
from the cast reunion with Olivia d'Abo (Karen), Jason Hervery (Wayne),
Mills (Norma), Danica McKellar (Winnie), Fred Savage (Kevin), and Josh
Catching up on how many kids everyone has now as fully grown adults,
experiences in getting cast, the child star's moms, favorite episodes
series, and fond memories of Dan Lauria (Jack Arnold).
My Generation: The Kids Grow Up (30 min.): The
cast and crew discuss some of the guest star highlights from the
challenges of working with and being child actors, getting an
the "moms" of The Wonder Years child cast.
Josh Saviano (Paul Pfeiffer) (49
Include: The Pfeiffer
Family, Success of the Show, Preserving the Style, Favorite Episodes,
Stein, the Era, the Music, the Emmys, Friends on Set, Standing the Test
Time, Life after The Wonder Years, Watching with his Daughter,
Wonder Years Family, and Final Thoughts.
Discussed: "Heart of
Darkness," "Little Debbie," "Birthday Boy," "Just Between Me and You
and Paul and Carla and Becky," "My Father's Office," "Loosiers,"
"Heartbreak," and "Final Episode."
Jason Hervey (Wayne Arnold) (27
Highlights Include: Wayne
Grows Up, Favorite Episodes, Life After The Wonder Years, the Fans, Standing the Test of Time, the
Reunion, and The Wonder Years on DVD.
Episodes Discussed: "Angel,"
"Private Butthead," and "Independence Day."
David M. Stern, Writer/Producer (36 min.):
Include: Getting the
Job, the Characters of The Wonder Years, Daniel Stern, the
Closing Narration, Working with Child Actors, Fred Savage, Alley Mills
Lauria, Roberto Picardo as Coach Cutlip, Transition
and Carol to Bob Brush, the Music, and The Wonder Years on DVD.
"My Father's Office," "Steady As She Goes," "Birthday Boy," and "Odd
Bruce Nachbar, Producer (30 min.):
Include: Getting the
Job, Daniel Stern, Working with Kids, Transition from Neal and Carol to
Brush, Cast and Crew, the Narrator on the Set, Favorite Episodes, the
Stock Footage, Shooting in Los Angeles, Deleting Scenes, Bloopers,
Point of View, the Test of Time, and The
Wonder Years on DVD.
"Independence Day," and "CODA."
Bookends: Kevin & Paul (14 min.): Writers,
Producers, and Fred Savage (Kevin) and Josh Saviano (Paul) discuss the
of their characters friendship, their growth and development together
the show and in real life), and special moments on the series as well
of the differences between the actors (in real-life) and the characters
Both Sides Now: The Music That Made the Moments (18 min.):
creators, writers, producers, cast members, guest stars, and the series
composer W.G. "Snuffy" Walden discuss the importance of the shows music
telling the story. They describe the significant impact that the
used throughout the series had throughout pivotal moments and the role
on the show as its own character. They also discuss the simple, melodic
effective score of W.G. "Snuffy" Walden. Artists
featured on the series (as included on this DVD collection, which
retains 96% the original music as broadcast) include the likes of Bob
and Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, The Rolling Stones, Joni
Mitchell, and countless other great
classic rock and pop musicians, with hit songs highlighted like "When a
Man Loves a Woman", "Good Vibrations", "My Girl", and
"Louie Louie", and the iconic theme song no one can forget, "With
a Little Help from My Friends" as performed by Joe Cocker.
Seth Green (Jimmy Donnelly) (10
for The Wonder Years, Being a Child Actor on The Wonder
with a Character on the show, Favorite Episode, the Music, Jimmy
the Show was so Unique, Fred Savage, and the Beauty of The Wonder
Episodes Discussed: "Lunch
Stories," and "Sex and Economics."
Ken Topolsky, Producer (33 min.):
Include: Getting the
Job, Getting Started, Job Description, Working with Child Actors, Fred
Danica McKellar, Josh Saviano, the Moms, Directing, Casting Kids, the
the show, Episode Air Dates, Narration (and its importance),
Meldrum as Miss White, Crew, and the Pride of a Parent.
Episodes Discussed: "Whose
Woods Are These?," and "Independence Day."
W.G. "Snuffy" Walden, Composer (18 min.):
Include: Getting the
Job, Surviving the Show, the Scoring Process, "Winnie's Theme," the
Transition from Neal and Carol to Bob Brush, Composing for the End
Inspiration, Playing other Instruments, Scoring Internal Emotions,
Winnie, Scoring for Television over Film, Looking Back, Current
includes Under the Dome), the
Test of Time, and The Wonder Years on
Episodes Discussed: "Pilot"
David Bianculli, TV Critic (29 min.):
Wonder Years as a Series, Premiering After the Super Bowl, First
Impressions, the Narration, Daniel Stern, Kevin and Winnie, Jack
Arnold, Wayne Arnold, Karen Arnold, Paul Pfeiffer, the Politics of the
the Music, and Standing the Test of Time.
Discussed: "My Father's
Office," "Our Miss White," "Little Debbie," "Independence Day," and
Me and You and Kirk and Paul and Carla and Becky."
Dinner, Director (35 min.):
Job, Job Duties, Casting Kids, Working with Child Actors, Fred Savage,
and Winnie, Norma Arnold, Karen Arnold, Kevin and Wayne, Daniel Stern,
Narration, What The Wonder Years
is About, the Teachers,
Characters, Network Support for the show, Kevin Growing Up, the Music,
Final Season, Standing the Test of Time, and
"Goodbye," "Little Debbie," and "Private Butthead."
Bonus Disc Four:
I Love You for Sentimental Reasons: Fan-Favorite Episodes (22 min.):
Producers, writers, and the cast discuss fan-favorite episodes of the
Episodes that are discussed are: "Just Between Me and You and Kirk and
Carla and Becky," "Nemesis," "Swingers," "Separate Rooms," "The Lost
"Private Butthead," "Homecoming," "Little Debbie," "My Father's
Treehouse," "Goodbye," and more.
Daniel Stern (Narrator) (27 min.):
Include: Working as a Voiceover Actor, Making the Connection,
the Wisdom of
Wonder Years, the Final Episode, Kevin and Winnie, Standing the
Time, Memories, The Wonder Years on DVD, and Final Thoughts on
Mahaila McKeller, Danica and
Crystal's Mom (9 min.):
Include: The Cast of The
Wonder Years, Life on the Set, Danica and Crystal, Auditioning,
Competition, Memorable Moments, Fred Savage, Josh Saviano, and Crystal
Skip Cook, Key Grip (24 min.):
Include: Getting the
Job, Taking Care of the Kids, Dennis Bishop (Gaffer), On the Set, Fred
Fred's Mom, Jason Hervey, Wayne Arnold, Alley Mills, Dan Lauria, Bob
(Executive Producer), Daniel Stern (Narrator/Director of episodes),
Show Must Go On", and Final Thoughts.
Episodes Discussed: "The
Alicia Alexander, Location Manager
Include: Getting the
Job, What She Knew Going In, Job Description, Finding the Right
Finding a School, the Basement, and the Crew.
Mark B. Perry, Writer/Producer (52 min.):
Started, the Show's Appeal, Working with the Kids, the Writers, The
Family/Cast of Characters, David Schwimmer, the Pfeiffer Family, Becky
the Final Season, the Music, The Wonder Years on DVD, Standing
of Time, and Final Thoughts.
At last, The Wonder Years is available on
"a little help from my friends" as a result of the immense work done
by the fine folk at Time Life. The bottom line? This complete series
worth the wait. The Wonder Years
would receive 24 wins in various categories at the Emmys and Golden
Globes (with a lot of emphasis on the
and direction) and with a total of 70 nominations received across its
six season run it was clear the show made a dramatic impact on
the show on this newly compiled complete series set makes it easy to
audiences and critics alike helped the show to become such a huge
Time Life painstakingly worked for over a year to
DVD release would have as much of the original broadcast music as
making its home media debut. The end result is absolutely triumphant:
the original music is intact (for more information on the 14 songs
what replacements were used please read here).
That means 295 classic rock and pop songs were cleared for this DVD
lot of effort was made in securing those rights and in finding the
songs for the 14 broadcast run songs unavailable
Years is one of
the greatest television series ever made. It has been one of the most
shows for DVD release from television fans. Yet it was considered one
series least likely to be released on home media because of
issues related to the 299 popular classic songs used throughout its
And yet, here it is... all 115 episodes in a great collection on DVD
first time. This is a miracle that fans should appreciate and the
long wait for the DVD's is now over.
Time Life has done such an impressive job with
This is one of the most well thought out and prepared DVD collections
It's clear that a lot of dedication and hard work went into making this
complete series set that would be well-worth owning for longtime fans.
solid presentation which ensures the best picture quality possible, to
made to secure music rights, to the beautiful collectible packaging,
and to the
enormous, mind-boggling array of bonus materials (as this set harkens
when DVD's used to include more making-of supplements) its abundantly
set more than deserves the coveted DVD Talk
Collector Series. This
is the best and most essential DVD release of 2014.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.