In 1991 the book «The Wonder Years - Growing up in the Sixties» by Edward Gross was published by Pioneer Books. The book is long out of print and the publisher went out of business.
In 1998, following a fan petition that was even supported by Josh Saviano («Paul Pfeiffer») and Ken Topolsky (producer of «The Wonder Years»), the author Mr. Edward Gross gave us the exclusive permission to publish his book online. We would like to thank him very much for his help and support.
In continuing to read, you agree to the following terms:
COPYRIGHT © 1991 BY EDWARD GROSS.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
NO PART OF THIS BOOK MAY BE USED OR REPRODUCED IN ANY MANNER WHATSOEVER WITHOUT THE PRIOR WRITTEN PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR. ANY PERSON WHO DOES ANY UNAUTHORIZED ACT IN RELATION TO THIS PUBLICATION MAY BE LIABLE TO CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND CIVIL CLAIMS FOR DAMAGES.
And now enjoy «The Wonder Years - Growing up in the Sixties»!
THE WONDER YEARS - Growing up in the Sixties
Designed and Edited by Hal Schuster
Library of Congress Cataloging Data
Edward Gross, 1960-
The Wonder Years
1. 'The Wonder Years' (television)
Copyright © 1990 by Pioneer Books, Inc. All rights reserved.
All artwork copyright © 1990 Pioneer Books, Inc. All photos are used to illustrate reviews only and are in no way intended to infringe on characters or concepts of any party. All rights reserved.
Published by Pioneer Books, Inc., 5715 N. Balsam Rd., Las
Vegas, NV, 89130.
First Printing, 1990
Edward Gross: «Growing up in the Sixties: The Wonder
Years», 146 p,
published by Pioneer Books, Inc.
ISBN #: 1-55698-258-5 / SCU#: 9 781556 982583
List Price: $14.95/$19.95 Canada
To my son, Teddy
and years of wonder
Acknowledgements: For taking time to be interviewed, the author would like to thank Bob Brush, Steve Miner, Todd W. Langen, Michael Dinner, Mark B. Perry, Jill Gordon, Art Wolff and Andy Tennant.
Edward Gross has written for a variety of publications, including Premiere, Starlog, Comics Scene, New York/Long Island Nightlife, Fangoria and Cinefantastique. He is the author of Trek: The Lost Years, The Unofficial Tale of Beauty and the Beast, The Making of the Next Generation, The Odd Couple Companion, Secret File: The Making of A Wiseguy and Paul McCartney: 20 Years on his own. In addition, he co-authored the story for an episode of ABC's Supercarrier and his first screenplay is scheduled to go into production later this year. He lives on Long Island, New York with his wife Eileen and their son, Teddy.
The Wonder Years is one of television's most respected series and now, four years into its network run, it is continuing to grow in popularity, drawing in new audiences and taking them back through the decades via this very unique time machine.
Highly respected by both the critics and the audience, The Wonder Years is perhaps the best example of the genre known a dramedy. It combines humor with pathos, resulting in a heart-warming series that has touched a chord with several generations and won numerous Emmy Awards in the process. Nostalgic without being sappy, this is a genuinely heartwarming series that not only captures life in the sixties, but of the average adolescent in America.
Through the eyes of Kevin Arnold, both as an off-screen narrator today and as a teenager twenty years earlier, we are given a glimpse of what it was like to grow up in the suburbs during that turmoil-filled period. While issues of the day are dealt with, it is never at the expense of Kevin, his family or his friends. They are our root in reality as well as our guide masters, and in a sense they represent a little piece of us in our youth.
Growing Up in the Sixties: The Wonder Years began as an article which couldn't be confined to the pages of a tabloid. It is a complete examination of the first three seasons of the television series and presents an episode guide to those years. Additionally, it offers the viewpoints of many of the individuals who have labored to bring the stories to the screen.
Let's proceed. The times, they are a' changin'.
«Our parents created a massive population of frustrated
would-be TV watchers by making us do our homework, and thus
restricting our freedom to vegetate. All that did was make us
want TV even more. Now we've got nineteen-inch stereo color TVs
and four-head VCRs and wireless remotes; I don't think I ever
even dreamed such a day would come. Nor would I have imagined TV
reaching the point where people my age -men and women who grew up
on Leave it to Beaver and All in the Family and
The Mary Tyler Moore Show - have taken over the airwaves with
shows that reflect those memories. I saw the pilot for The
Wonder Years .... I remember feeling some awesome critical
clichés burbling up. Innovative. Thoughtful. Provocative. A show
about us. In its flawlessly accurate portrayal of Kevin
Amold, The Wonder Years had finally captured the truth as
I remembered it. The producers had seen the world of 1968 exactly
the way I had and given it a brilliant dramatic spin. But as I
have continued to watch The Wonder Years- and I do still
revel in its enormous insight-it has become apparent that its
producers are not brilliant innovators. Like most of us, they
merely observed the world changing around them in 1968-and wisely
noticed that by the mid-seventies, after all the fighting had
stopped, people still wanted the simple things. We still wanted
to watch TV. We wanted to laugh and cry. We wanted to see people
in real situations that we could believe in. Jed Clampett was
out; Archie Bunker was more our style .... Like Kevin, The
Wonder Years aspires to goals it can reach. And it has found
its success in trying not to confuse television with art.»
-New York Magazine
«The Wonder Years, ABC's hearty half-hour slice of
life about a boy coming of age in 1968, is quite simply the best
show on television. There's more richness in one episode than you
see in dozens of other series.»
«Years crosses the line between drama and comedy
and back again as it plays hopscotch through a memory book filled
with dreams and emotions which, for most of us, have been tucked
carefully away with all the other remnants of youth. For those
who lived through it, this reflection back is a pleasant on
n-target and pungent as a high-school locker. For those born in
the '70s and beyond, however, the seines may remain a piece of
nostalgia to be placed alongside sepia-toned snapshots of
grandpa. We hope not. The Wonder Years is charming ....
Fred Savage as Kevin is perfectly cast and quite effective-as are
the remainder of the cast. Steve Miner directed [the pilot] with
style and sensitivity.»
-The Hollywood Reporter
«Here's about the nicest surprise I've ever had watching
TV .... If ever a new series deserved such a plum time slot, this
is it. As the series starts, it is 1968, a year noted in the
history books for, among other events, the premiere of The
Mod Squad. We follow young Kevin Arnold as he enters a
suburban junior high school and tries getting into the right
crowd, resisting authority (this is the '60s) and maybe, just
maybe, falling in love. Meanwhile, on TV, America fights the
Vietnam War. All the action is narrated by the adult Kevin, who's
not only older and wiser but also wittier, which means that he
can add a little perspective to the nostalgia. Back in those old
days, the present-day Kevin says, ‹kids could still go for walks
after dark without the fear of ending up on milk cartons.› How do
I love this show? Let me count the ways: The Wonder Years is
fresh, imaginative and intelligent-but most of all, it is true,
all true. It is a show about my life. If you're old enough to
remember the Tet offensive but too young to remember the Korean
War, it is a show about your life too. Finally, here is the best
new series of this season.»
«An absolutely wonderful treat.»
-New York Post
«Simultaneously pokes your funny bone and captures your
-San Francisco Chronicle
«The Wonder Years is charming.»
-New York Times
«You'll laugh. You'll cry. But most of all you'll
«Warm, funny, evocative.»
«A ‹Leave it to Beaver› with bite.»
«A series you can love as well as laugh at.»
«I really liked this show. It gave me the warm
«Funny, moving and wise.»
«A delightful half hour.»
«Funny and poignant.»
«Nostalgic and charming.»
-New York Daily News
«ABC's The Wonder Years is the kind of small,
beautifully crafted weekly series that is so good it prompts
immediate speculation on how long it can be held together .... The
Wonder Years has some built-in pitfalls. The period is the
late 1960's. There's the Vietnam War, protesting students,
hippies, psychedelic music, drugs. So far, Kevin Arnold, who
started out as a 12-year old, has been able to stay on the
sidelines, preoccupied with the standard problems of
adolescence-going on dates, kissing, discovering that his parents
are real people with problems of their own. But what happens when
he's 14 or 15? Does he remain the ingratiating good kid, or does
he start rebelling and possibly experimenting with drugs? For the
moment, a bit edgy about the obvious dangers, the producers are
proceeding one week at a time. To date .... The Wonder Years has
painstakingly tread a paper-thin line between unpretentious
emotion and sentimentality..... Perhaps not surprisingly, The
Wonder Years is most affecting when least cute .... There is
Kevin visiting his father's office and finding out why he tends
to come from work grumpy and unapproachable. Or there is Kevin
discovering that he will never be as good a pianist as the
obnoxious Ronald Hersheimer. For the time being, these are
moments enough for any television series. Mr. Marlens has said
the series would probably end when the required period music
reached disco. That still leaves a hefty slice of time for a lot
more special moments.»
-The New York Times
«The Wonder Years is Leave lt to Beaver-like,
no doubt about it. Beaver was about growing up in a
nuclear family in postnuclear America. So is The Wonder Years.
Beaver had a mom in the kitchen, a dad who made it home to
dinner every night, an older brother who could be difficult. So
does The Wonder Years. Beaver was a show that looked at
life from a kid's perspective. So is The Wonder Years. Beaver made
you laugh. So does The Wonder Years. What The Wonder
Years is is Leave It to Beaver with hormones and
headlines. Kevin is twelve and looking for love and any available
copy of Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex but Were
Afraid to Ask .... Kevin's life-or at least the margins of
his life-is also touched by events in the world outside his own.
The series is set in 1968, which means that each episode opens
with a time-capsule montage featuring footage of Nixon, Martin
Luther King Jr. and Vietnam protests. It means the occasional
late-Sixties reference played for laughs-Kevin's older sister
announcing at the dinner table that she's going to get
birth-control pills, junior-high girls wearing white go-go boots,
two pairs of adolescent guys' eyes poring over a sexual manual
while Gary Puckett's ‹Young Girl› plays in the background,
narrator Kevin remarking that ‹like about half the schools in the
country that year, my school was being renamed Robert F. Kennedy
Junior High.› And it means the occasional play for poignance, as
when the neighborhood cool guy introduced a few minutes into the
first episode is killed in Vietnam about fifteen minutes later
... While any number of television comedies have had suburban
settings, it's hard to think of one that tried this hard to find
poetry among the Pop-Tarts and patio picnic tables, to locate
lyricism in Levittown. Marlens and Black's The Wonder Years
tries. Really tries.»
«We just took what what's absolutely dirt ordinary to us
and tried to evoke it with some detail. It's surprising how many
people respond. They kind of jump at it because they never see
that on TV. You never see houses with bad linoleum in the kitchen
and stuff like that .... To give it reality, you take a lot of
details from things you actually remember .. and put them
together and use them in a story that's actually pretty
-Carol Black, Co-Creator
«Obviously not everybody grew up in the suburbs in the
fifties and sixties, but a lot of people did or were parents to
people who did. We have the advantage of being of the age and of
the sensibility of just writing what is fun and what comes
naturally, and having a built-in audience.»
-Neal Marlens, Co-Creator
«I think the television audience does feel some kind of
connection to this show. I don't think the audience looks at this
show as just entertainment. I think there is a general feeling
that this show almost feels like a documentary in some sort of
way; the audience responds to this as part of their lives, so
there is a lot of pressure there to not grab a story that's just
entertaining, but to find the universality in it, the thing that
speaks to the individual viewer and has something to do with
real, human lives, rather than just a diversion .... In one way,
the show is saying, ‹Remember how it felt to feel?›»
-Bob Brush, Executive Producer
«It captures everybody's youth. We used to get calls and
letters all the time saying, ‹How come you're using my junior
high school? How did you know my best friend?› Everybody is
convinced that it's about their specific life. I think that's
from the quality of the scripts. I thought the concept of the
show was brilliant, but concepts are concepts and so much of
filmmaking is execution. The scripts continue to be so good, and
writing like that touches universal feelings and experiences.
It's real. We all lived that exact life.»
-Steve Miner, Supervising Producer
«There is almost always some resonating moment that
people can identify with and respond to, whether it's kids who
are watching the show now and are the age of the characters and
who aren't even taking in its historical context. I think there's
that universal aspect of just being a human being and trying to
get through your adolescence. I think that's what people respond
-Mark B. Perry, Story Editor
«The material is usually very strong and emotionally kind
of runs the gamut, mixing both humor and pathos. I think the
ability as a director to deal with that is rather rare, whether
it be in the feature world or television. To be able to mix the
two, sometimes in the same breath, is not only rare but for a
director is a challenge, refreshing and sometimes dangerous ....
I think the bottom line is that there are characters on screen
that you care about, and that makes it appealing. Somehow we know
every week that those characters are going to live and
-Michael Dinner, Producer and Director
«For adults, I think it's really interesting because it's
somebody looking back and remembering different things about
their life....There's just something about older Kevin looking
back and remembering something with sort of bittersweet fondness,
that the nostalgia of it is what I think affects adults. For
kids, it's the relatability to what Kevin is going through they
identify with. It's a very personal show. I think the shows that
touch people the most, the ones that work most for us, are from
things that have happened to us. When we sit around a story
session, we don't pitch situations, we start talking about things
that happened to us .... Because the stories are personal, a lot
of people relate to them.»
-Jill Gordon, Co-Executive Producer and Writer
«I think the appeal is basically nostalgia, first of all.
Even without nostalgia, because kids like the series and people
from all generations like the series, what it evokes, more than
the folkiness of the time period of the sixties, is everyone's
adolescence and teenage years. It reaches the audience and the
stories resonate emotionally with the audience because no matter
what era you're in-the sixties, the fifties, the seventies, the
eighties, the nineties-kids go through the same sort of life
experiences, the same sort of Traumas joys, happiness and fears.
That's what the show gets to the core of. We recognize ourselves
in what happens to Kevin, no matter what particular time period
we come from.»
-Todd W. Langen, Story Editor
«I think about the events of that day again and again, and somehow I know Winnie does to, whenever some blowhard starts talking about the anonymity of the suburbs and the mindlessness of the TV Generation. Because we know that inside each one of those identical boxes, with its Dodge parked out front and its white bread on the table and its TV set glowing blue in the falling dusk, there were people with stories. There were families bound together in the pain and struggle of love. There were moments that made us cry with laughter and there were moments, like that one, of sorrow and wonder.»
Those words closed the first episode of The Wonder Years, and began one of the most innovative and appealing series ever to appear on network television.
A show like Happy Days essentially took nostalgia for a bygone time-in this case the 1950's-and presented it in a way we would like to remember the era. As seen through the eyes of Richie Cunningham and his «typical American family», as well as such friends as the extremely cool Arthur «Fonzie» Fonzarelli, the 50's was a decade in which fun was the operative word and life was carefree. Scoring with the chicks was more important than anything else, and the cold war paranoia of the time barely raised its red head. Conversely, the era of The Wonder Years is the late-60's/early-70's, perhaps one of our nation's most tumultuous periods and the perfect catalyst for comedy, drama and pathos.
Although similar in that it is seen through the eyes of an American family (the Arnolds), The Wonder Years differs from Happy Days in that the events chronicled are much closer to reality, and sustained through believable characters and scripts which have the uncanny ability to tap into the memories of a Generation. In addition, the stories are presented through the dual perspective of the unseen 34 years old Kevin Arnold, whose narration adds a 1990 slant to his memories, and the 14-year-old version, who lives out the events on-screen, from an adolescent's point of view.
«That dual perspective is a burden, but it's also a wonderful tool in that it allows such resonance to a story,» explains executive producer Bob Brush. «It's not often that you get a chance to kind of put a self-reflecting mirror on an event so that everything has two meanings. It allows us to do stories which are small stories, and view them with a greater meaning and perspective because of the older narrator. I think it's pretty much the key to why the show works. On the one hand, you have the emotional enthusiasm of the younger kid, against the wiser, cooler perspective of the older guy, so it gives you the opportunity for a tremendous synthesis in the ideas.»
The idea for The Wonder Years synthesized in the minds of the show's creators, NeaI Marlens and Carol Black, during the summer of 1987. This husband and wife writing/producing team had previously collaborated on ABC's Growing Pains, a series which was initially deemed by critics to be a white version of The Cosby Show, but has managed to come into its own as an enjoyable, long-running sitcom. While it hasn't revolutionized the medium, it has provided plenty of entertainment. They also worked together on the motion picture Soul Man, in which C. Thomas Howell finds the only way he can get into college is to pretend to be a minority.
«It was, like, that time of year where you have to go in and pitch something [to the networks],» Carol Black told New York magazine, «and we were sitting around trying to think of something to pitch and really, like, going, ‹Young couple runs a restaurant, in-laws move in.› Running out of ideas. We played around with writing a screenplay that used narration as a device. We just started to think that there was a lot of Potential fun in that 'cause you can really play with the contrast between the narrator's point of view and what the characters are doing. And you can go inside their head and expose what they're really thinking about when they're saying something different. You could really do so many funny twists with the contrasts. We thought it was fun-and then we just sort of jumped from there to thinking that the effect is accentuated when you have an adult narrator looking back on childhood.»
«The format is different,» elaborated Neal Marlens elsewhere. «The whole idea of an accurate depiction of kids told in this format is new. The next thing we thought is that no network in their right mind is going to buy this idea as an idea. The next idea was to set it in an era when we were that age. We both grew up in that period and in that environment in the suburbs, and it just struck us as a particularly interesting time to write about. Maybe particularly interesting to us because it was our period, but also because, historically, there was so much happening. I think people are finally ready to look at that period in a sort of period way. Obviously not everybody grew up in the suburbs in the fifties and sixties, but a lot of people did or were parents to people who did. We have the advantage of being of the age and of the sensibility of just writing what is fun and what comes naturally and having a built-in audience.»
Black has also stated, «We just took what's absolutely dirt ordinary to us and tried to evoke it with some detail. It's surprising how many people respond. They kind of jump at it because they never see that on TV. You never see houses with bad linoleum in the kitchen and stuff like that. To give it reality, you take a lot of details from things you actually remember. Like, my mother wore shorts exactly like the [Bermudas worn by Kevin's mother], and I had a teacher who drew a picture on the chalkboard of a reproductive system that looked exactly like one in an episode that we used. But you must take little things like that that you do remember and put them together and use them in a story that's pretty fictional.»
In explaining how the show actually came into being, Marlens said, «We were on an overall deal at New World Television, so we were being paid whether we wrote or not. We had the luxury as writers of writing something, which is what every writer always clamors for the opportunity to do, and we figured, ‹Let's put up or shut up. Let's write the damn thing. If it's good, people will want to make it; if it's not, it'll be over in 10 days.› I think they went to all three [networks] at the same time. ABC read it first. They called and said, ‹We'd like to shoot this pilot.›»
The script that ABC approved for production introduced us to the world of 12-year-old Kevin Arnold, and clearly established that the series point of view would be through his eyes. We met his family: Jack, the typical 60's father who broke his back for his family, but didn't feel any particular need to be overly friendly to them; mother Norma, a traditional American housewife-sort of an intelligent Edith Bunker, happy to serve her family, and slowly realizing that there could possibly be more to life; older siblings Karen, a blossoming Flower Child who fights back every value her family has tried to teach her; and Wayne, who obnoxiously refers to Kevin as «butthead» and will go to any means to torture his younger brother («As we always say, Wayne is Wayne,» laughs Bob Brush). In addition, we get to know his nerdy best friend, Paul Pfeiffer; and Winnie Cooper, the first true love of his life.
In bringing this vision to the screen, Marlens and Black approached director Steve Miner, whose credits include Soul Man and the original Friday the 13th. Needless to say, this choice seemed a bit surprising.
«Why? You don't think Friday the 13th would lead naturally to The Wonder Years?» asks Miner with a smile. «You start off killing the Teenagers, but after a while you figure that you'll let them live and talk. Basically, I got involved through my association, both professional and personal, with Neal Marlens and Carol Black on Soul Man. They co-produced that film and I directed it. We worked closely together, became good friends and shared certain sensibilities. They called me up one day and said, ‹Would you read a script for The Wonder Years?› It was probably the best 32 pages I'd ever read. I called them and told them that, and they said, ‹Would you like to direct it?› I said, ‹I'd kill to be able to direct it,› and that's how I got started with the show.»
So impressed was ABC with the pilot, that they greenlighted a total of six episodes for the spring of 1988. Miner was brought aboard as a supervising producer.
«I was involved with the show from the beginning,» Miner explains, «even before we knew which network was going to do it. I remember we spent so much time in casting, and I think it shows that we were so careful in that. Interestingly, no matter who we talked to in terms of casting directors, everyone said the same thing: we had to look at Fred Savage. We screened some footage on him and all felt strongly that he would be perfect. The other cast members just fell into place. It was tough in the sense that we wanted to do it right. We also had to be careful in choosing locations and deciding on the look.»
«A pilot is very important for a number of reasons,» he continues, «one of which is to set the tone and the look. A script can be interpreted in so many different ways, both in tone and visually. Carol, Neal and I spent a lot of time discussing how we wanted it to look, finding the right locations and making it just right. It was a great script, we got a great cast, yet there's always that sinking feeling when you finish shooting it. Nothing looks better than dailies or worse than the rough cut. Neal was fairly positive the whole time, but I remember screening the rough cut and Carol and I looking at each other and saying, ‹Does this work?› There's always that moment, but we just dove in there and fixed whatever we didn't like. We spent a lot of time in the editing room, as we did on all the episodes. It's just part of the process when you're doing a film. You've got to cut the bad stuff, the material that works on paper but doesn't quite come off right. You make three films basically. You write one, you shoot one and it becomes something a little different, and when you cut it together and finish it, it's something else. It's just part of the process.»
«The thing that this show does so well, when it's done well, is balance the humor and the touching moments,» he adds. «If the show was going to succeed, moments like the one in which we learn Winnie's brother was killed in Vietnam, had to work. To push it that far with the pilot was a stroke of brilliance, I thought. It was just so well written.»
Bob Brush notes, «I feel a tremendous responsibility because I think the television audience does feel some kind of connection to this show. I don't think the audience looks at it as just entertainment. I think there is a general feeling that this show almost feels like a documentary in some sort of way; the audience responds to this as part of their lives, so there is a lot of pressure there to not grab a story that's just entertaining, but to find the universality in it, the thing that speaks to the individual viewer and has something to do with real, human lives, rather than just a diversion.»
«One of the remarkable concepts in the creation of this show that Marlens and Black had, was that they settled on a time of life for their hero where so many primary emotions still exist at the surface,» he continues. «Adolescence is a time when you're just learning to bury your emotions and put on a false face. I think that this allows the audience to strip away the facades, and remember what it was like to really feel things deeply before we all developed the capability to pretend that it didn't matter or pretend that we didn't care, or dismiss what we feel to be childish. Adolescence is such a wonderful mix of the childish and the adult, it really is about very deep emotion and that's certainly how we approach the show. We look for the emotions that ring the truest and remind us of what it's like to feel. I think that's one thing the show is about and I suspect that's why the audience responds to it, because in one way it's saying, ‹Remember how it felt to feel?›»
«It's a wonderful tool, because there's something nihilistic at the heart of a lot of American comedy, and this is just the opposite. This is saying, ‹These things are not nothing; these things are not to be dismissed.› Even though we have an older narrator who's always saying, ‹Gosh, we were just being stupid,› at the same time he's saying, ‹Maybe it wasn't so stupid. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could be stupid like that again sometimes?›»
Todd W. Langen, who served as story editor for the series and is now writing motion pictures, including the first two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live-action adventures, concurs: «The overall appeal seems to be nostalgia, but even without nostalgia-because kids like the series and people from all generations like the series-it evokes everyone's adolescence. It reaches the audience and the stories resonate emotionally with that audience because no matter what era you're in -the 60's, the 50's, the 70's, the 80's, the 90's kids go through the same sort of life experiences, the same sort of traumas, joys, happiness and fears. That's what the show gets to the core of. We recognize ourselves in what happens to Kevin, no matter what particular time period we come from. I think that's the appeal of the show.»
Explains co-executive producer Jill Gordon, «It's a very personal show. I think the shows that touch people the most, the ones that work the most for us, are from things that have actually happened to us. When we sit around a story session, we don't pitch situations. We start talking about things that happened to us in the past. There's a reason you remember certain things, and they're like deep psychotherapy sessions, trying to remember what it was about that moment that you remembered, and why you remember it today. Because the stories are personal, a lot of people relate to them.»
Current supervising producer/director Michael Dinner points out, «The material is usually very strong and emotionally kind of runs the gamut, mixing both humor and pathos. I think the ability as a director to deal with that is rather rare, whether it be in the feature world or the television world. To be able to mix the two, sometimes in the same breath, is not only rare but, for a director, a challenge, refreshing and sometimes dangerous. I've done material before in the feature world that mixed humor and pathos in a similar way. It was a film called Heaven Help Us, and very similar tonally to The Wonder Years. I remember the first public preview of the movie, and sitting next to a woman. In the course of a single scene she was laughing to begin with, and crying the next moment. That's pretty powerful. So, certainly, the mixture of humor and pathos is very appealing. The Wonder Years is a fairly stylized piece. Not as stylized as Twin Peaks, but it's not flat television. The bottom line is that there are characters on screen that you care about, and that makes it appealing. Somehow we know every week that those characters are going to live and breathe, and we care about them.»
Bob Brush adds, «What I find is that there is certainly a commonalty of specific experience among a huge portion of the American population who grew up in suburban areas. I think that one of the things that this show has done is speak to people who always felt that somehow growing up in the suburbs was meaningless; that they should have grown up in the vitality of the city or the tranquility of the country, and growing up in the suburbs was nothing. I think what they've found in the show is a voice that says, ‹Your lives were not meaningless. The suburbs had real people in them too.› A lot of my writers have that experience of modem American-rootless America in a way-an America that was transplanted from where they began to a place where the houses were no older than 20 years, who began to reform their lives. The point is that there is a commonalty among most Americans. Most Americans went to school, most Americans remember how jerky and emotionally terrifying it was to be in seventh, eighth or ninth grade, so you've got that on one hand. On the other hand, the stories we do, I think, come from an emotional truth, which has been true since the beginning of time. The truth of what it's like to be an adolescent, and the stories that we pick ring true beyond the specifics of what they're about.»
«One of the ways I like to describe the show is that it's about something as small as a paper clip, and as we examine the paper clip we realize that there are resonances to it. I have a four year old and a six-year old, and when I get down on the floor to play with them, I look up at the bottom of the dining room table and I remember what it was like to look up at the bottom of the dining room table. It all floods back. When our stories really work, they're usually about experiences that we all remember, which may not have seemed very important then, but in the perspective of looking back and remembering, we realize it wasn't just a school election or basketball game. Who we were had a lot to do with our family and our friends, and everything was meaningful at that age. Small children have very little capability of judging one thing being more important than another. Everything is important to a little kid, once it captures their attention.»
Brush, who took creative control over the show when Marlens and Black departed following the second season, adds, «We've been trying to develop along with our characters. At the very beginning, when they were in seventh grade, there was very much a sense of a wide-eyed kind of terror at the workings of the universe. Things were very fragmented and shattered. How do you piece together a series of experiences? I thought in the pilot, which is one of the most brilliant things I've ever seen in television, it was interesting that what clothes to wear, or having a teacher say something to you, had almost an equal impact as a man dying in Vietnam. There was a kind of ‹how do you sort it out? How do you know?› Every experience is big, and in the end, which had been the most important experience, seeing Winnie Cooper in her Go-Go boots or finding out that Brian Cooper had died in Vietnam? What we try to do is pay a lot of attention to the kids here and how they're developing, and try to stay true to where they are. Over the last couple of years they have grown and become much more emotionally capable and sophisticated, which happens between seventh and ninth grade. We're trying to track the stories along with that, so their universe is becoming a little more integrated. They're still fighting all of these wars, but they understand more and are capable of expressing more.»
Fred Savage: Kevin Arnold
Dan Lauria: Jack Arnold
Alley Mills: Norma Arnold
Jason Hervey: Wayne Arnold
Olivia d'Abo: Karen Arnold
Danica McKellar: Winnie Cooper
Josh Saviano: Paul Pfeiffer
Daniel Stern: Narration-Kevin as an adult
PRODUCTION CREDITS-YEARS ONE & TWO
Executive Producers: Carol Black & Neal Marlens
Co-Executive Producer: Bob Brush
Supervising Producers: Jeffrey Silver, Steve Miner
Associate Producer: Caroline Baron
PRODUCTION CREDITS-YEAR THREE
Executive Producer: Bob Brush
Co-Executive Producers: Bob Stevens & Jill Gordon
Producers: Ken Topolsky and Matthew Carlson
Associate Producer: James C. Hart
Story Editors: Todd W. Langen & Mark B. Perry
PRODUCTION CREDITS-YEAR FOUR
Executive Producer: Bob Brush
Co-Executive Producer: Bob Stevens, Jill Gordon
Supervising Producer: Ken Topolsky
Producers: David Chambers, Michael Dinner
Associate Producers: Bruce J. Nachbar, Sue Bea Belknap
Executive Story Editor: Mark B. Perry
Story Editors: Eric Gilliland, Mark Levin, Jeffrey Stepakof
«No matter who we talked to in terms of casting
directors, everyone said the same thing. We had to look at Fred
Savage. We screened some footage on him, and all felt strongly
that he would be perfect.»
-Steve Miner, Supervising Producer and Director
«Fred is such a normal, nice kid. He's incredibly
knowledgeable about camera and he's really genuine. It's like
working with a Mozart. The kid is just amazing.»
-Andy Tennant, Director
«One of the ways the show has changed is that Kevin's
gotten older, and one of the things we dealt with .... is that
you couldn't ‹get away› with kid things anymore. And you couldn't
just depend on Kevin's cute little smile to pull you out of a
situation. It's become a little bit more of a challenge to
address his adolescence, and not rely too much on the cuteness of
-Todd W. Langen, Story Editor
«The thing that I was probably proudest of about that
episode [«Good-bye»] was that in the long run it was
not specifically a weeper, which I never wanted it to be. I
thought there was a strength in it. I thought at the end of the
episode where Kevin Arnold walks down the hallway, there was a
manliness to him, which I had wanted to accomplish. I wanted an
episode where he accepted being a man.»
The strength of The Wonder Years, beyond its thoughtful scripts and direction, is the ensemble of characters, and no character is stronger than its lead, Kevin Arnold. Much of Kevin's strength is provided by one of the finest young actors in Hollywood today, Fred Savage. In his hands, between seasons one and four, we've seen Kevin develop and grow as a human being as Savage grew up.
Kevin began as a 12-year-old boy trying to come to grips with the metamorphosis of his life through adolescence and the era he is growing up in. Through the ensuing years, he's become a young adult ready to deal with relationships and take the plunge into his teenage years. Savage, through his considerable talent, is able to take the audience along for his journey through life, making us reflect on our own and perhaps allowing us to learn something about ourselves.
«The auditions were near our house and it sounded like fun,» explained Fred Savage in terms of entering a career in acting. «So mom and I went over. I didn't get it and six months later the same director held another audition. I didn't get it again. Six months later, the director called and I was cast in a Pac Man vitamins commercial. I did commercials for two years, then I got into movies. I did quite a few and I was in a TV series called Morning Star, Evening Star. It only lasted six weeks.»
This extremely talented young actor had TV roles in The New Twilight Zone, Convicted: A Mother's Story, Run 'Til You Fall, Runaway Ralph and the recently aired When You Remember Me. His film credits include The Princess Bride, The Boy Who Could Fly, Little Monsters, The Wizard and Vice Versa.
«I was called in to read for The Wonder Years, because the producers had seen me in the movie Vice Versa,» Savage recalled. «They sent me the script for the pilot. It was just a terrific script, so special and something so terrific, we flew to LA and read for the producers, and then for network approval and they approved.»
Of the show itself, he's added, «The beauty is that when my voice changes I can still do the show. Even if I get zits. I see Kevin as just a typical kid growing up in the late 1960's. He's very shy. He has a non-stop fear of the men in his family. His older brother's always beating up on him and everyone's afraid of his dad. He's sort of insecure, especially around girls. But I think he's a cool kid. He's a normal kid.»
«The narration really gives me a lot of room to play around with the acting, because it lets me go further than you would be able to go without it. If there wasn't any narration, my [facial reactions to things] would be too much. The narration lets me play around with it. What they do is, when we're filming one of the scenes, there's someone off stage reading the narration where it should be in the show, so we get the timing and the reactions right.»
One of Savage's greatest strengths, and one of the things that has given him his reputation as such a consummate professional, is the way he has remained so level-headed despite his enormous success in the industry.
«Usually each episode takes about six days to film, and that's Monday through Friday and the next Monday,» he's explained. «Usually I work around nine and a half hours a day. There's a lot of work that goes into one show. It takes hours and hours to shoot one scene that you only see for 30 seconds. I actually never get bored, because when school is in session as soon as we're done with a scene, I go right into school, so that keeps me busy. And when there are ten minutes break or something, I learn new things all the time. You can't learn too much on the show. You ask different questions about everything. That's what I do, and play cards.»
«As far as someone coming up and asking for my autograph,» he's added, «from my first one to my last one, that's going to be flattering to me and I love to do it. That part doesn't bother me, but sometimes when you're working and you're really tired, you wish you could be other places. But there's a lot of give and take. I haven't been to a school dance, so I'm a freshman in high school and this is my first one, but I have been able to go to the Emmys. The best part is that I get to experience things that no other 14-year old experiences. I get to go to the Emmys, which is just terrific; I get to dress up in tuxedos, then I get the best of both worlds, because I can do that and I can also go to school and be with my friends. I think that's one of the best parts about it.»
Savage is quick to point out that he's not worried about what playing a character like Kevin for so long will do to his career in terms of typecasting.
«I don't think I worry about the next role,» he has admitted. «You pick things as they come. If The Wonder Years is on hiatus and there are no roles, then I go to camp. There's not really a worry. People I haven't met before, for the first day .... not even the first day, but for the first couple of hours, react to me differently. I think someone's only a celebrity when you don't know them. When you first see someone you say, ‹Oh, there's Tom Cruise, there's Tom Cruise!› But when you get to know a person and talk to them, they're just a person and you kind of forget that they're on television or do movies or sing songs. I guess someone's a celebrity or star when you don't know them. Being a star is the same thing as being a regular kid. Friends of mine are football stars, hockey stars or big tennis players, and they get a lot of recognition for that. I feel that's the same thing I do, except with acting. They treat me the same way they treat the captain of a football team, really.»
«I definitely want to go to college. Acting is really a big part of my life, but I think education and my family comes before that. If it means taking four years off from acting, I'm definitely going to go to college.»
He is justifiably proud of the impact that the show has had on the television audience.
«A lot of adults come up to me and say, ‹You know that episode where your family went shopping for a new car, and you went to your father's office? That exact same thing happened to me,›» Savage reflected. «They say I'm reliving their lives. I think one of the great things about the show is that in the same episode I'm doing something that people were doing twenty years ago, and kids are still going through the same things today. It might have been fun to live back then for a week, you know? And I could buy all the really good baseball cards for like a nickel a pack. And then I'd bring 'em back.»
«I really enjoy acting,» Fred Savage concluded. «I'd like to continue it for a while. I do want to go to high school and college. I'd like to direct. On the set they call me ‹Little Opie,› because Ron Howard started as a child actor and grew up to direct. He could be a role model for me. I'm always looking through the camera and checking angles. I want to learn all I can.»
And one has to believe that he will.
Karen Arnold is what everyone in 1990 imagines a Flower Child of the sixties to be. She is caught up in the sweeping changes of the decade, her consciousness raised as she becomes aware of the events-some quite terrible-taking place around her.
While the character has not developed very far beyond the rebel daughter who rejects her parents' ideals, she is nonetheless a valuable member of the ensemble, providing the necessary fireworks in numerous episodes. Perhaps the most interesting Karen episode besides «Daddy's Little Girl,» was season one's «Angel,» in which her sleeping-around boyfriend makes her realize that all of the things she believes in may not be exactly the way things should go; that, in a sense, the more things change, the more they remain the same. The hazel-eyed blonde beauty was born a true child of the '60s. Olivia is the second child and only daughter of Michael d'Abo, former lead singer of the classic rock band, Manfred Mann. Her mother, Maggie London d'Abo, was a top model in London for ten years and had feature rotes in two '60s cult classic films, A Hard Day's Night and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Her cousin, Maryam d'Abo, portrayed the leading lady in the fifteenth James Bond film, The Living Daylights.
Olivia spent her first eight years growing up in London, where she attended a French school. Her family then moved to Taos, New Mexico. They lived there for five years, «which was like my '60s,» she says. Olivia started getting involved in theatre music and dance. «I was never the cheerleader type,» she recalls, «and I was always around very creative people.» She studied briefly at the London Royal Ballet Theatre.
At 13, Olivia moved to Los Angeles and appeared in her first commercial. She celebrated her 15th birthday on the set of the feature film, Conan: The Destroyer. Her other feature films include A Dream to Believe, Bullies, Mission Kill, Legend of Wolf Lodge and Beyond the Stars. Her TV credits are Tales of the Weird and Unknown, Not My Kid, Growing Pains, One Big Family, Simon & Simon, The Bronx Zoo, Crash Course and Tour of Duty.
Now that Karen has gone off to college, it will be interesting to see how the writers will work her into the storylines.
«Wayne is Wayne.»
If there is one character who can be considered a cartoon on The Wonder Years, it would have to be Wayne Arnold. From his introduction in the pilot episode through what has aired of the fourth season as of the time of this writing, Wayne has evolved the least.
He is a bully, nothing more and nothing less. He's also obnoxious, ill-mannered and cares for no one but himself. Wayne's greatest joy is to beat the hell out of Kevin, and to ruin his younger brother's life at whatever opportunity he can find. Watching the episodes, one gets the feeling that even his own family can't stand him, and only tolerate his nastiness because he's one of them.
Although we've seen the barest hints of conscience («Hiroshima, Mon Frere») and pain («Growing Up»), Wayne has continued to get nastier as he's gotten older, as witnessed by his continual abuse of Kevin in such episodes as «Wayne on Wheels» and «The Journey.» This perpetual barrage has resulted in the audience confusing fiction with reality.
«People always come up and call me a jerk and say, ‹Why don't you leave Kevin alone? How'd you like it if I beat you up? Come on, let's fight!› [Fred's] a cute little kid, with the cutest little face I've ever seen. If I were watching TV, I'd take his side too. [By confronting me], they let me know I'm doing a good job,» Hervey has pointed out.
The talented teenager who is recognized everywhere from his appearance as the young Rodney Dangerfield in the box-office hit film, Back to School, already has acquired the kind of professional credentials most actors long for. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Jason Hervey appeared in his first commercial at the age of four-and-a-half, after an actor friend of the family's insisted that Jason go see his agent.
Jason has since grown up, balancing a tight schedule that includes his acting career, school attendance and excellence in sports. He made his television acting debut at the age of six on the series Sweepstakes, and appeared at the age of seven in a Levi's jeans commercial that won the prestigious Clio Award. His other TV credits include guest starring roles on Trapper John, MD., The Two of Us, The Love Boat, Taxi, Alice, Punky Brewster, Simon & Simon, Together We Stand and A Year in the Life. He starred as a series regular on Wildside, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the last year of Different Strokes. His TV movies include Little Spies, The Last Electric Knight, Daddy, I'm Their Mama Now and The Ratings Game.
His other film credits include PeeWee's Big Adventure, Back to the Future (he's sitting at the dinner table in 1955, demanding that Marty McFly tell him what a rerun is while they're watching a brand new episode of The Honeymooners ), Police Academy II, The Buddy System, Meatballs II and The Monster Squad.
«I want my next role to be something challenging,» Hervey has said. «But if they just give me Wayne Arnold-type roles, I'm comfortable with that too. I'll just do a good job at being a jerk.»
Jack Arnold cannot be an easy role for Dan Lauria to play. For one thing, nine out of ten times the man is a grump, plain and simple. Certainly in most circumstances this must get repetitious and boring for an actor to play, but Lauria imbues Jack with just enough humor and an occasional smile to make you realize that inside he's a softie, despite his gruff exterior.
Right from the beginning, Jack Arnold was - and probably in many cases still is - the typical American father. He breaks his back every day at work and is undoubtedly unappreciated for his efforts by his superiors, all in an attempt to make sure that his family is provided for. Like Older Kevin noted in the pilot, just because he took care of his family, didn't mean that Jack Arnold wanted to talk to them. Food was on the table, what else did they want? Yet in episodes like the excellent «My Father's Office,» «Pottery Will Get You Nowhere,» «The Powers That Be,» «Faith,» «Tree House,» «Daddy's Little Girl» and «The Cost of Living,» we see his other side; the gentle, caring husband and father who just wants what is best for his loved ones. He may not always be able to demonstrate it openly, but he loves them and would do anything he had to in order to improve their way of life ... or, at the very least, keep things status quo. Now, with Karen off at college and Kevin getting older, Jack is finding himself in the position of having to accept change, something he's not always open to.
Dan Lauria never thought twice about it when he would come home from school and his aunt would order him to «eat your supper and go to sleep.» Later, in the middle of the night, she would wake him up with charmed words such as: «James Cagney» or «Jimmy Stewart.» Watching classic black-and-white American movies has become a lifelong love of Lauria's. It gave him his first glimmer of what he would like to do in life-act.
But as a kid growing up in blue-collar Lindenhurst, Long Island, Lauria didn't have much chance to think about acting. With his rugged, athletic build, the young Lauria lived and breathed sports, taking up everything from football - he was captain of his high school and college teams - to wrestling and baseball.
He won a football scholarship to attend Southern Connecticut University. One day on the practice field, Lauria was telling a joke to his teammates when he felt someone tap him on his helmet. «You're an actor, son,» said Constance Welch, acclaimed head of the Yale Drama (cq) for 30 years. «I need you for a play.»
Lauria studied with Ms. Welch over the course of six years. Graduating from college with a double BA degree in United States history and philosophy, he served from 1970 to 1973 as a captain in the Marine Corps. He was stationed in the Pacific and briefly in Vietnam. Lauria returned to Yale, where he did some directing, and then earned an M.F.A. degree in playwriting from the University of Connecticut.
Lauria's professional stage career began in the early '70s at the Washington Theatre Club in Washington, D.C. He has since accumulated an impressive roster of performances in 54 plays. From his home base in New York, he spent 12 years touring on the road and had roles in numerous off-off Broadway productions. Lauria also worked for nine years as dramatic director for the Raft Theatre in Manhattan. He wrote a number of full-length plays that were produced there, among them Game Plan and The Setup, both of which later moved to off-Broadway.
Lauria made his television debut on the daytime soap, Love of Life, and starred on several other soaps, as well as doing a two-year stint on One Life to Live. The chance to co-star with Carroll O'Connor in Brass took Lauria to the West coast. Some of his other TV credits include guest starring roles on Moonlighting, Growing Pains, Spenser: For Hire, LA Law, Wiseguy, Simon & Simon, Hill Street Blues, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Cagney and Lacey and Hooperman. His feature films include Without a Trace and Stake and in the TV movies David and Making the Case for Murder: The Howard Beach Story.
«There is only one Winnie, and she is the wonder years.
Winnie is everything good, sweet, true, wonderful, pure and
everything about love at 14.»
The children of The Wonder Years have gone through a tremendous transformation as they've evolved from childhood to puberty, and perhaps the change is no more evident than in Danica McKellar, who portrays Kevin's true-love, Winnie Cooper.
Our first introduction to Winnie in the pilot episode is of a virtual tomboy, just one of the guys who hangs around with Paul and Kevin. However, on the first day of school, she suddenly, according to older Kevin's narration, has blossomed into a beautiful young woman, who no longer wants to be called Winnie, but, rather, her given name, Gwendoline (although this was short lived, as with episode two she's back to being called Winnie).
McKellar has been quite convincing in her attempts - no doubt very real to her - to deal with her changing life and differing mores of her peers. Also in her friendship with Kevin, the temporary dissolution of that friendship and the eventual blossoming of their feelings for each other into love. As Bob Brush states above, Winnie Cooper, and in turn Danica McKellar, are the wonder years of life.
Born and raised in La Jolla, California, Danica McKellar and her younger sister, Crystal (who happens to play Becky Slater on the series) got their first taste of acting as toddlers in a class at their mother's dance studio. Apart from the fun of it, acting did not make much of a first impression on the little girls, who instead excelled at their dancing.
The family moved to Los Angeles in 1982. At the recommendation of Lesley Ann Warren, Danica began attending a children's acting program at the Lee Strasberg Institute. Crystal went too and despite the long, sometimes arduous days, both became mesmerized.
Danica won her first part in a commercial at the age of nine: all you saw of her were her long pigtails behind a beach ball that she was carrying. She went on to do several more commercials before making her television debut on an episode of The New Twilight Zone. She met with so much favor that she was invited back for another episode.
Danica's portrayal of Winnie Cooper is her first starring role on a television series. Most recently, teen singing star Debbie Gibson invited Danica to make a cameo appearance in Debbie's latest music video, «No More Rhyme.» The two girls had a great time working together.
An academically gifted student who has won honors and awards for her proficiency in math and French, Danica says her favorite subject is science. In addition, she leads a very full life off-screen. She loves to ski, swim and surf, and has taken synchronized swimming lessons. She also collects stuffed Garfield toys, and is a whiz at playing video games. She recently discovered a real passion for green growing things, and persuaded her mother to let her design and plan a walkway and garden at their house. She plans to attend college.
Elsewhere in this volume, Norma Arnold is referred to as «an intelligent Edith Bunker.» To a great degree, this is true. Norma is also the quintessential sixties wife and mother, managing to keep the peace in her household, and happy, to a large extent, is just being there for her husband and children.
As the sixties was a decade of self-discovery and awareness, we have seen her go through quite a change. Perhaps the first sign of this was in season one's «Angel,» in which Karen's hippie boyfriend makes some comments about her being a servant to her family, which at first infuriates her and then gives her pause to consider the role she plays in the Arnold household. This is taken a step further with season two's «Pottery Will Get You Nowhere,» in which she turns to pottery-making as a way of giving her something more to do. As was the norm at the time, the rest of her family can't comprehend Norma's need for something else. Don't they give her enough to do? Additionally, each episode provides continual development, however subtle it may be. We see her doing what she can to make everyone else happy, while simultaneously having to accept the fact that her children are growing up (season three's «How I Spent My Summer Vacation» and «Mom Wars,» and season four's appropriately titled «Growing Up»).
Alley Mills brings to the role of Norma warmth, humanity and a maternal instinct that makes you want to pick up the phone and give mom a call.
As a fifth-grader in the exclusive Miss Spence's School for Girls in Manhattan, Alley was given the role of the lion in a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which hooked her on acting.
She grew up the youngest of three children in a New York household devoted to the creative arts. Her mother was art editor of American Heritage magazine for many years and her father, Ted Mills, was a television producer, writer and director, later becoming an executive at NBC. Alley's stepmother, Genevieve Mills, a French singer and actress, was often seen on The Jack Parr Show, and her stepfather, Chester Kerr, was publisher of the Yale University Press.
At the age of eight, Alley made her television debut on The Patti Page Show. She studied drama while attending boarding school at Dana Hall, and during the summers, she performed, first as an apprentice, then as a company member, of the prestigious Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts. She made her professional stage debut at Williamstown, along with actors such as Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Reeve and Peter Evans.
In 1971, after two years at Bennington College in Vermont, Alley switched to Yale, where she was among the first women undergraduates ever admitted. She graduated magna cum laude in 1973 with a B.A. degree in drama and the history of art. The blonde, blue-eyed actress then went to England and earned an M.A. degree at the acclaimed London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. She returned to New York, where she appeared in several off-Broadway plays, toured nationally as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, and performed opposite Geraldine Fitzgerald in a New York Shakespeare Festival production of A Collier's Friday Night.
A cross-country camping trip took Alley to Los Angeles. The week that she arrived, she was offered a role in Voices at the L.A. Actors Theatre. That same year, she debuted as a regular on her first TV series, Jim Brooks' The Associates, opposite Martin Short. Among her numerous other television credits are roles on ABC's Moonlighting, Lou Grant, Hill Street Blues, I Married Dora, Making the Grade, and such TV movies as The Other Woman, The Atlanta Child Murders, Starting Over, To Heal a Nation and I Love You Perfect. She also co-hosted ABC's The Home Show. Her film roles include Diary of a Mad Housewife, Young Lust and Going Berserk.
«Josh Saviano has gone from a little squeaky voiced nerdy
kid, to a guy who has grown a foot in the last year, his voice
has dropped, so those are the real-life things that you play.
We're dealing with that in the show. One of the things you're
going to see happen this year is that Paul Pfeiffer is going to
begin to outgrow his nerd image, because that's just the way it
is. That of course will put more pressure on the Kevin/Paul
relationship, to accept each other as they're growing, to keep
the relationship going and accepting change.»
Probably since the first group of children gathered in a room to learn, there has been a class nerd; the misfit the other kids pick on. In a typical entry in the television sweepstakes, Paul Pfeiffer would have been that kid. Thankfully on a series such as The Wonder Years, such clichés fail to raise their repetitious head. Here, Paul, like everyone else in the ensemble, is a believable human being.
In the early episodes, there's no denying the character's annoying tendencies, being allergic to everything and reacting to events in so nerdish a fashion that you had to kind of shake your head. As the seasons have passed, however, we've gotten to know him, and even his annoying habits have become endearing. Thank you, Josh Saviano.
Josh Saviano became an actor on an impulse. One day, from his home in northern New Jersey, he and his mother took a neighborhood actor friend to Manhattan to see his manager. On the spur of the moment, Josh asked if he could see the manager too. The five-year-old boy was granted his request. He gave a reading, and a career was born.
Josh went to numerous auditions before winning his first commercial part at the age of six. Soon thereafter, he made his television debut on a clay-animated CBS special, My Friend Liberty, celebrating the centennial of the Statue of Liberty. In Josh's next appearance, he did a takeoff as a young Steven Spielberg in a yet-to-be-released feature, That's Adequate. That was followed by an originally substantial role in Woody Allen's Radio Days, much of which was cut, leaving Josh briefly visible in but one scene.
He then hit the bright lights of Broadway in The Nerd, starring Mark Hamill, which opened in March of 1987. Soon after that, he went to LA for his next feature role, in the New World release, The Wrong Guys, opposite Louis Anderson, Richard Lewis and Richard Belzer. Josh's amazing physical resemblance to Belzer won him the part of the comedian as a child. The Wonder Years is his first starring role on a television series.
Interestingly, like Fred Savage, Saviano has expressed an interest in filmmaking. During the third season, executive producer Bob Brush was quoted as saying that the two youths would be directing an episode of the series. Unfortunately, that has yet to happen.
«The Wonder Years»
Original Airdate 1/31/88
Written by Carol Black and Neal Marlens
Directed by Steve Miner
The pilot episode of The Wonder Years begins with a montage of events from 1968. The adult Kevin Arnold describes life in the suburbs, and how the era was a golden age for kids. His brother, Wayne, starts beating up on him in the street, when Winnie Cooper's brother, Brian, warns him to stop. According to the narration, Brian epitomized the word cool. We also learn that in June of that year he was sent to Vietnam.
Probably the most incredible aspect of these opening scenes is purely from the standpoint of how different the actors look from the way they look today. They were such kids, but delivered incredible performances.
As stated earlier, most of the early material in the pilot essentially introduces us to the characters, and really does seem to epitomize the home life of a sixties child (at least it does mine - how about yours?). Next morning, Kevin comes down dressed for his first day of junior high school in the loudest psychedelic outfit one could imagine. When Wayne bursts out laughing, Kevin decides to change into more traditional attire. At the bus stop, Winnie Cooper shows up, looking entirely different from the wall flower persona she presented at the beginning. For the perfect comparison, check out the original Rocky, and look at the transformation of Talia Shire's Adrian. The effect is the same.
Junior high is not easy for Kevin. Girls don't take him seriously and as a seventh grader he finds himself the victim of bullies. During lunch, Winnie joins Kevin and Paul. Wayne comes over and starts taunting him, resulting in Kevin inadvertently insulting Winnie, then leaving the Cafeteria in anger. Enroute, he tests the assistant principal and ends up in detention. Not an auspicious first day at school.
Jack and Norma pick him up and the narration lets us know that Kevin is expecting a beating when he gets home. However, when the family car pulls into the driveway, they learn that Brian Cooper has been killed in Vietnam. There is a very subtle, tender moment when Jack's anger drains from his face, and all he does is squeeze Kevin's shoulder with affection. Problems in school somehow can't compare.
Kevin goes for a walk, noting «back then kids could still go for a walk without ending up on a milk carton.» Heading to Harper's Woods, he finds Winnie sitting on a large rock. He sits down next to her, places his jacket around her shoulders and tells her that he didn't mean what he said in the Cafeteria, which she was already aware of. The two of them share their first kiss, and hold each other as we fade to black.
For a half hour television show to have the impact that the pilot of The Wonder Years does, is incredible. It's occasionally funny, occasionally touching, but always realistic thanks, in large part, to the fine ensemble of actors. The script perfectly encapsulates what we can expect from the ensuing series, and Steve Miner's direction effectively captures the era.
Original Airdate 3/22/88
Written and Directed by Neal Marlens and Carol Black
Guest Starring: Robert Picardo (Coach Cutlip), Bently Mitchum (Brian Cooper), William Bogert (Preacher), Bobbie Eakes (Bookstore Clerk), Douglas Emerson (1st Kid), Danny McMurphy (2nd Kid), Dante Basco (3rd Kid)
«Swinger» open at a cemetery - an image that immediately sweeps you into the moment, as we glance at rows and rows of tombstones. Taking place among them is the funeral of Brian Cooper, which the Arnolds attend. Through narration, Kevin tells us that Brian's death had changed his life forever - after all, this was the first person he'd ever known who had died. In addition, we learn that he hasn't stopped thinking of Winnie since the night they kissed in Harper's Woods. With «life's two greatest forces - love and death - tearing me apart at the waist-», Kevin is confused by his feelings. At the Cooper's house he starts talking to Winnie and is excited just to be near her. Then he has a fantasy that Brian is there, commenting on the fact that on the day of his funeral, Kevin's trying to «jump» his little sister. Surprisingly, this «vision» compliments him for being a man after his own heart, but suggests that the time isn't right; that he should wait it out. The image of Brian disappears. This would be the first of many such fantasies Kevin would have through the course of the series, and it's an effective way to tap into the imagination of an adolescent, bringing to life all of the things that he - and therefore we could only dream of.
Next day, Coach Cutlip starts teaching his class sex education. Intrigued, Kevin and Paul take their textbook into Kevin's room and try to check out as much as they can on the subject. Wayne picks up the text, gives them a hard time and suggests they pick up a copy of Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask. They go to a bookstore, where Paul actually steals a copy of the book and the two boys make it back to Kevin's room. Norma walks in, and is shocked to see the book. She takes it away, and expresses her displeasure with Kevin, not so much because he was looking at the book, but because he had apparently gone through her drawers to get it. Certainly a telling moment for Kevin, as he learns that his mother is actually a sexual being, something he apparently had never considered before.
Later, Kevin and Winnie, who is still trying to deal with her grief, go back to Harper's Woods. However, instead of picking up where they left off on their previous visit, they act their age, the older Kevin stating that they decided to remain kids just a little while longer.
«My Father's Office»
Original Airdate 3/29/88
Written by Carol Black and Neal Marlens
Directed by Jeffrey Brown
Guest Starring: Sandy Helberg (Stan), Ken Swofford (Al), Gregory «Mars» Martin (Pete), Deborah Rose (Phyllis), Cherie Franklin (Marian), Nancy Fish (Betty), Zachary Benjamin (Little Kevin)
Kevin gets to explore another aspect of being a kid in «My Father's Office.» Older Kevin informs us that when his father had a bad day at work, he sat in the living room with the lights off and the TV on, when a really bad day would mean that dad would be in the back yard, peering through a telescope. It was the signals by which the boys gauged their behavior. We see this cycle repeat itself the following evening, resulting in Kevin's crying in bed. He simply doesn't understand why his father is so hard on them, because there were happy times that he clearly remembers.
Things hit the proverbial breaking point the next day, when he and his friends are riding home from school and none of them really knows what their fathers do for a living. Upon arriving home, Kevin asks Norma exactly what his father does, but she doesn't have a satisfactory answer for him. At her urging, Kevin asks Jack himself, but, as usual, he snaps at him, essentially sending Kevin out of the living room. Further on in the evening, Norma tries explaining to Jack that Kevin is only trying to get closer to him. These words seem to affect Jack, who tells Kevin that he'll take him to the office the following day.
That morning, dressed in a suit, Kevin joins his father and is introduced to the office staff, then brought to Jack's office, which impresses him to no end. At first, Jack is really warm and open, going over the daily routine with Kevin, and impressing the boy with the way he manages to keep things running. As usual, there's a fantasy, this one with Kevin as the boss, Karen and Wayne cowering around him, begging for approval.
On a coffee break, Kevin and Jack start talking, and this is the moment where father really opens up to his offspring. It turns out that Jack had wanted to be a professional baseball player when he was a kid, and when he was Kevin's age he wanted to be the captain of a ship; to be out in the ocean during the night, navigating by the stars. Kevin wants to know why he didn't follow through with that dream, and Jack responds that he met Norma and they got married, had children and the rest is history. As he explains it, a man makes his decisions and lives by them. By the end of the coffee break, Kevin realizes that his father is «a great man.»
Then, Jack's day starts in force. People he's been depending on have screwed things up, and his superiors start screaming at him, humiliating the man in front of his son. Jack barely responds, keeping his rage hidden inside, which goes a long way in explaining why he is the way he is when he gets home at night. That night, upon returning home, both Jack and Kevin walk in the house, furious over the preceding day. Later, Jack is peering through his telescope and Kevin steps into the backyard. Father invites son to look through the lens and the two men peer at the stars.
«My Father's Office,» besides being a touching episode, is the first to look at the human side of Jack Arnold, adding depth and providing understanding of the man's make-up as a person. Thankfully, it elevates him from being a one-note character, and makes it three hits in a row for the series.
Original Airdate 4/5/88
Written by Neal Marlens and Carol Black
Directed by Art Wolff
In «Angel,» Karen comes into the house, decked out in her hippie clothes, music blaring. This instigates a fight with her parents, which goes well into the night. Next day, a classroom discussion of values leads Kevin to want to figure out what Karen is all about, and why she's interested in a psychedelic van-driving hippie named Louis. Louis joins Karen on the Arnold lawn in a passionate embrace, which does its share in exciting the nearby Paul. Later, Kevin is watching the color TV that the family finally got (this is a bit of a continuity screw up, as in the episode «Christmas,» Kevin's narration told us it would be two years before the family would ever get a color TV).
Karen and Louis come into the house, and, while Karen goes into the other room to get them something to drink, Louis makes a phone call to Marissa, talking about a protest march, mentioning that she can crash at his place and that he loves her. This infuriates Kevin. In a fantasy sequence, he punches Louis out, and Karen hugs him in gratitude for «saving her.» Fantasy over, Kevin asks him who Marissa is and is told by Louis that he and Karen have an open kind of love, that he can love both Karen and Marissa. The boy is confused, which grows worse when Karen walks into the room and Louis mentions that he had been speaking to Marissa, who will go to the protest. Karen is pleased, because it makes her feel less guilty about not being able to go with him.
Norma, trying to be friendly, invites vegetarian Louis to stay for dinner. Things begin to get a little tense when Louis starts asking Norma if she's fulfilled in her life as a housewife and mother, and that many women wouldn't be happy playing servant to their family. Angry at this, Kevin goes to Wayne for support, but his brother's response is, «So what, it's only Karen.» Ah, nothing like love for the family.
Things get even crazier at the dinner table, beginning when Jack is told that Louis doesn't eat meat. The conversation shifts to the fact that a boy was recently killed in Vietnam, to which Louis responds that it was another meaningless death. Jack retaliates that dying for democracy is not a meaningless death, to which Louis states that the government has turned people into «brainwashed morons» who believe that Vietnam is a noble cause. A screaming match ensues in which Jack tries to defend America's involvement, but Louis points out that Brian Cooper should still be alive, and that if Jack doesn't change his way of thinking, Wayne and Kevin could be next. Louis and Karen leave the house, and everyone else but Wayne leaves the table.
As Kevin lies in bed, his older self says he doesn't know who was right and who was wrong. He does point out that after a while the ideas and disagreements sort of dissolve, and you're just left with the people. People were no different then than they've always been and always will be. Outside, Karen is dropped off, crying. She's upset because Louis had told her that he loved Marissa, but not that he was sleeping with her.
A hell of an episode, doing what The Wonder Years does best: begin a story one way (Kevin is upset about his sister's boyfriend), and allow it to flow casually into much bigger issues, without losing sight of the characters. This story is the type that made All in the Family famous, but is made fresh by the dual perspective of Kevin Arnold and the general slant of the series.
«The Wonder Years was and is a very special television program,» notes «Angel» director Art Wolff. «The writing is great, and I loved being part of the first season, although we only did six. I don't know if there's ever been a situation where a show has only had six episodes and yet it wins the Emmy as best series. Amazing. For me, it was a terrific experience and one of those experiences where you could see what you've done on the screen, as opposed to its losing something.»
«When I first heard the premise,» he adds, «it seemed like one of those simple concepts where you say, ‹God, where have I heard that before?› Before I started to see the scripts they were doing, you kind of get concerned about the tone. It really has to be just right for it to work, otherwise it could get too sentimental, too cartoony. But the tone was just right on. I think what it has in common in terms of the production of it with a lot of other terrific things that have been on television, is that the people who created it were perfectionists. I think anyone you ask would agree that Neal and Carol are, as evidenced by their work. I think the care that went into both the writing and producing of it was exceptional. Now everyone asks, ‹Will it be able to continue?› Who knows? But so far it's done very well. You always tend to ask, ‹Can that kind of excellence happen on a weekly basis?› It's an enormous drain, but I think it's worth it.»
«I thought ‹Angel› was very powerful. I remember the way we shot it, especially the dinner table scene, and it affected us all. Dan Lauria was a marine and served in Vietnam. Of course now he was coming around and trying to be the father viewing it from the other side. I just thought it was very powerful. It was also interesting that Brian Cooper's death was tied in to the episode, though only insofar as you're aware that what's happening to Kevin is that he's beginning to understand. He's seen someone he was close to die, then of course he's also seeing the imperfection of people you look up to who you think have all the answers. You realize that they don't. Nobody has all the answers. Basically you have to realize that somehow, as he says at the end, everything will all come together. In the meantime, all you can do is toss and turn and at some point you just have to let it go.»
«I remember when I read the script and thought, ‹Boy, this is heavy duty stuff.› Also, what it allows you to do, and I think this is another reason the show is so successful, is set up the conflict of the jealousy the kid feels about this wiseass boyfriend of his sister's. He just can't stand him for all sorts of reasons. You're laughing at the fantasy sequence where he imagines he's the western guy who knocks the boyfriend out, thinking that this is where the episode is going to go. But then you have that dinner table scene and suddenly it's like, ‹Wait a minute, what just happened here?›»
«The Phone Call»
Original Airdate 4/12/88
Written by Scott A. Frank
Directed by Jeffrey Brown
Guest Starring: Linda Hoy (Mrs. Ritzo), Paul Price (Mr. Katz), Kathy Wagner (Lisa Berlini), Geoff Witcher (1st Newscaster), Ron Tank (2nd Newscaster), Michael Bacall (Kid)
«The Phone Call» represents every adolescent's fear of the first time they called a girl. Kevin has fallen pretty hard for Lisa Berlini and manages to get her phone number. The majority of the episode deals with his efforts to communicate with her, whether that be through other people or «accidentally» bumping in to her in the halls at school. When all else fails, he decides that he will simply take the plunge and call her on the Telephone. What follows is his very humorous attempts at actually going through with the call. Finally he does so, and, as we find out in the next episode, the conversation goes great .... all four minutes of it.
«Dance With Me»
Original Airdate 4/19/88
Written by David M. Stern
Directed by Arlene Sanford
Guest Starring: Linda Hoy (Mrs. Ritvo), Paul Price (Mr. Katz), Kathy Wagner (,Usa Berlini), Erica Gayle (Red-Headed Girl), Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Brad), Krista Murphy (Carla), Robert Picardo (Coach Cutlip)
In «Dance With Me,» Winnie tries to hide her disappointment when Paul informs her that Kevin is going to ask Lisa Berlini to the school dance. Kevin's biggest problem, however, is actually asking her. He and Lisa pass notes back and forth in class and she agrees to go with him, until she's asked by Brad and says yes to him as well. Kevin is stunned and goes to Winnie, discovering that she's not angry with him. He asks her to go with him, but it's too late. She's already got a date. Devastated, Kevin decides not to go to the dance at all.
At home, he watches a first-run episode of I Dream of Jeannie on the family's black and white TV, and is not acting like his normal self. Norma questions him, finds out what's going on and convinces him to go to the dance anyway. He goes with Paul, who ends up having a great time, while Kevin becomes extremely depressed. Not only because of Paul, but because Lisa Berlini and Winnie are both having good times with their respective dates as well. When attempts at making Winnie jealous fail, Kevin leaves the gym. As he sits outside, he imagines himself in a black and white I Dream of Jeannie episode, in which Winnie is clad as Jeannie would be. Then, surprisingly, the real Winnie joins him outside, and he asks her for a dance. They go back in the gym and have one. The adult Kevin informs us that he and Winnie knew that people around them were having a changing influence on their lives, and all they could do was hope that the slow song could last forever.
Season one of The Wonder Years was received extremely well by the critics and the public. While scoring in the ratings during its initial six outings, the show went on to win the Emmy Award for best comedy series.
«I don't think that anybody was prepared for the reception it got,» opines director Art Wolff, «because usually shows take a long time to build. Look at Hill Street Blues. The critics said it was a groundbreaking show, which it was, and then people would remind you, ‹Yeah, but when it first started it was barely hanging on. Not a lot of people were watching it, it was low in the ratings.› The same with Taxi, which was never in the top ten. This was one of the examples where it just happened to catch the mood of the majority of people who were television watchers, and the arbitrators of taste in the television industry were the very people that the series was about. It's also similar to the way that people are looking at Thirtysomething and saying, ‹This is my show.› I'm continually running into people who say ‹I love The Wonder Years because I think it's a television show about me.› Then again, when I talk to kids and Teenagers who watch it, they love the show because they're getting a look at their parents that they never got before. I think part of the success is that it cuts across all of those generations.»
As it would continue to do in seasons to come.
«Heart of Darkness»
Original Airdate 11/30/88
Written by Carol Black and Neal Marlens
Directed by Steve Miner
Guest Starring: Breckin Meyer (Gary), Shantel Cropper (Girl), Donnie Jeffcoat (Kirk's Friend), Michael Landes (Kirk), Linda Hoy (Mrs. Ritvo)
«Heart of Darkness» has Kevin haunted by mysterious dreams of a dark cavern, where he is joined by Paul and Winnie. At school, once awakened, Winnie meets up with Kevin and acts friendly, but Kevin is still hurt that Winnie chose Kirk McCray over him, and gives her the cold shoulder.
When Kevin allows cool kid Gary Cosay to cheat off his test paper, over Paul's protests, the three boys end up in detention. That night, Kevin has another nightmare in the cavern, and, within the dream, he appears in a classroom wearing nothing but his underwear. Next day, Gary convinces Kevin and Paul to join him on an all night camping trip that Friday. The night before the campout, Kevin dreams he's back in the cave, carrying Winnie, who appears to have a broken leg. Suddenly he's back in the schoolroom, carrying a large stuffed rabbit.
The night of the big campout. Kevin and Paul have brought a variety of snacks, while Gary has brought beer and cigarettes. Kevin tries to fit in with Gary while Paul resists, although he does end up drinking some beer and getting toasted. Paul voices his desire to do «something,» and Gary leads them to a cave - actually a storm drain - he knows of, which of course sends Kevin into a panic, as it reminds him of his dream. As the boys make their way through the dank drain pipe, Gary starts telling them of someone who was killed in these pipes. He fills them with terror. In fear, Paul trips and hurts his leg. Gary's only response is to make fun of their fear, and in disgust Kevin helps Paul get out of the pipe, their friendship with the cool kid severed. They come back to the Arnold household to sleep. Next morning, after we've learned that Kevin did not have the cave dream, Winnie greets he and Paul in the street, and finally the cold shoulder warms, friendships reestablished.
In every junior high school there's a kid like Gary Cosay; the cool kid who is, for all intents and purposes, without friends or any kind of family to speak of. In retaliation, they strike out against everyone, seeking companionship while spuming it at the same time. Kevin and Paul basically give him every break they possibly can, allowing themselves to enter his world of rebellion, while he seems to go out of his way to prevent entrance into theirs.
«An interesting episode,» notes story editor Todd W. Langen. «Very dark in certain respects and it had a dream-like element to it. I think it was a good attempt at doing something different, something very tonal and different in terms of atmosphere. I guess the episode worked for the most part, but it didn't bowl me over. I think they tried to push the envelope on things, which is admirable. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I think this episode worked, but it wasn't quite what I expected. Maybe what I'm talking about is the expectations. The first six episodes, particularly the first three, were so brilliant. I watched the pilot and said, ‹This is fantastic, but there's no way they'll be able to keep this kind of quality up.› Then the second episode aired and I said, ‹God, they did it again. No way they'll do it a third time. It's impossible.› But they did it again, and continued to do so.»
Director Steve Miner adds, «The network bleeped out the word fart, twice, and I think it was kind of silly. The producers took a stand not to listen to the network, but the bleeping ruins a couple of jokes in there and, for me, I can't watch that show because it makes me crazy. They sell laxatives in between the acts, but you can't say fart on the air. It's kind of bizarre. The kid's mouth is moving but you don't hear anything. As far as the episode goes, we all knew kids like Gary in junior high. It was a fun episode, and I enjoyed doing it.»
«Our Miss White»
Original Airdate 12/7/88
Written by Carol Black and Neal Marlens
Directed by Steve Miner
Guest Starring: Wendel Meldrum (Miss White), E'Lon (Young Martin Luther King), Krista Murphy (Carla Healy), Shea Farrell (Steven)
«Our Miss White» chronicles Kevin's crush on his English teacher. In school, Kevin and his classmates are watching film footage of the recently assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr., and it's obvious that everyone is moved by what they're watching, including Miss White. As the lights come up, we instantly become aware of Kevin's crush.
Class ends and she reminds the students that there's still time for them to try out for the school play. No takers, but as the children depart, she asks Kevin if he would consider taking a role in the political drama she's written, because he would be perfect as Robert F. Kennedy. The older Kevin informs us that he hated every aspect of plays, but the boy says, «Sure.» At home, Jack doesn't understand why Kevin would want to be in a play, but he does agree to pick him up at school after rehearsal each day.
Rehearsal. Kevin does the cutest little «Kennedy accent» you can imagine. Afterwards, using Karen's words to him the previous night, Kevin tries to impress Miss White with the statement that «plays like this can raise people's consciousness about racial oppression.» She's pleased to hear his comments, and his feelings for her swell. The «moment» is interrupted by the arrival of Jack. Next day, Jack shows up at the same time and Kevin gets the feeling that Miss White is interested in his father, which falls him with jealousy.
The following afternoon, Kevin calls his father at work and tells him that he's got a ride home. Then he mopes about not having a ride until Miss White offers to give him one. Once they reach his house, Kevin fantasizes that she reaches over and massages the inside of his leg. Undoubtedly the fantasy probably would have gone further, but one can imagine the letters ABC would have received. Then, abruptly, Kevin considers the image of he and Miss White together, and realizes how ridiculous the idea is.
Night of the play. Kevin is moved to tears by everything he's been through emotionally, and yet this propels him to perform his Kennedy speech perfectly. Afterwards, Kevin walks offstage and it looks like Miss White is about to give him a hug, when her boyfriend steps in front of Kevin and the couple embrace. Kevin and the other actors go on stage for a curtain call, and Jack - the proud father - leads a standing ovation.
This potentially sappy story of a first crush is surprisingly fresh in the capable hands of the production team. It is handled with tenderness and a sense of vitality that elevates it above what could have been a cliché.
Todd Langen explains, «We talked some times about that episode. The ending isn't necessarily linked strongly to a lot of the other things that happened in the story. In some respects, the ending sort of comes from a different place than the rest of the episode. Yet the ending, because it's so visually powerful, works, even though it's not necessarily born of the story. You wouldn't necessarily think it would work, but it's visually so interesting with the audience, the applause, the cheers and stuff like that. I learned something from that episode. Sometimes imagery and using the right music or words, even if they're not quite correct in terms of context, can still make the ending have an emotional impact.»
Original Airdate 12/14/88
Written by Bob Brush
Directed by Steve Miner
Guest Starring: Liz Torres (Mrs. Gambino), Mary Gregory (Woman), Tyde Kierney (TV Salesman), Michael Landes (Kirk McCray), Gary McGurk (Tree Man), Robina Suwol (Perfume Lady)
«Christmas» with the Arnolds. Jack is buying a tree - and arguing with the salesman over the price - while the rest of the family is mesmerized by the department store's color TVs, something they have not really seen much of before. This opening scene can't help but raise a smile, particularly for the MTV Generation, which probably can't imagine television without color.
While Jack is tying a tree to the car, the boys ask him if they can get a color TV, to which he replies that color TVs cost money and money doesn't grow on trees. In school the next day, Kevin stares at the clock which (humorously) is ticking backwards as the students await dismissal for the Christmas holiday. He meets Winnie in the hall, and she gives him a present. Lying, he says he has something for her and will bring it over to her house. Back at home, Jack is putting together the Christmas tree, growing grumpier by the moment, although Norma's recollections of Kevin's performance in a school play does its share in cheering him up. Leave it to Wayne, though, to ruin the moment by bringing up the color TV again and again. Jack finally discusses the subject, saying that he would probably like a color TV more than any of them, but they simply cannot afford it. That night, Kevin overhears his mother trying to convince Jack to buy the TV because it would make him feel good, and the kids so very happy.
Next night, the Arnolds go Christmas shopping. Kevin and Paul go off on their own to buy Winnie a present. He ultimately chooses a snow shaker housing a ballerina. On Christmas Eve, Kevin wraps his present for Winnie, while Wayne continues to make comments about their black and white television set. Things are rather tense, but Norma does her best to keep things light. As the older Kevin comments, maybe each family is only given so much Christmas cheer, and this year his family had run out.
Kevin heads over to Winnie's house, and fantasizes that she embraces him passionately. Upon arriving, though, he's told by a housesitter that the Coopers suddenly decided to spend the holidays away, mostly due to feelings over Brian's not being there to celebrate with them. He leaves the present with the woman. On his way back home, Kevin sees the rest of his family singing carols with the neighbors and joins them Then it starts pouring and everyone but the Arnolds run off, Jack deciding to stand there. They break out laughing and head back home, where the celebratory mood continues.
Alone, Kevin opens up his present from Winnie, only to find a four-leafed clover. He contemplates this for a moment and smiles, the older Kevin noting that sometimes maybe the best you can do is wish someone a Merry Christmas ... and good luck.
«A tough show,» admits Steve Miner. «We had restricted time and hours that you could shoot the kids, and we had a lot of night exterior with rain. We had like eight cameras on that one scene. We had technical problems on that show, but I liked the fantasy when Winnie opens the door. I think that's great, as was the whole idea of the color TV.»
Enthuses Todd Langen, «I thought the ending was brilliant. The whole thing setting up the package with Winnie ... you knew it had to be special when it was opened, because it was built up throughout the episode, and the words and the way it was shot and the whole feel at the end of the episode where the narrator is talking about the fact that at Christmas, the best we can do in life, basically, is wish each other luck. Then he opens the box and there is a four-leafed clover in there. I still get goose bumps when I think of it. I think it was such a beautiful image and a beautiful way to end the episode. It turns out that there was an entire end narration where the camera comes out through the window, shows the Christmas tree glowing and the other houses. It was beautifully written and very poetic. It was about our lives being in black and white and our memories in color, relating to the fact that the episode was about the color TV. It was beautiful. I'm not quite sure why they took it out. Maybe they thought the four-leafed clover was a stronger ending. I have to tell you that I was very impressed with Bob Brush, whose approach was to make the mundane poetic at the ending. That was basically our goal in a lot of episodes, and that came from Neal and Carol as well.»
«Steady As She Goes»
Original Airdate 11/1/89
Written by David M. Stern
Directed by Steve Miner
Guest Starring: William Lanteau (Mr. Frace), Crystal McKellar (Becky Slater), Michael Landes (Kirk McCray), Krista Murphy (Carla Healy), Robin Thicke (Boy), Melissa Clayton (Girl), Michael Tricario (Kid), Jason Miyashiro (2nd Kid), Jeremy Vecs (Kid in Line), Karin Woodward (Waitress)
«Steady As She Goes» provides a rather unique look at the wonderful junior high school Tradition of going steady. In the school cafeteria, Becky Slater informs Paul that Carla Healey is interested in him, and will be at the skating rink that night. Paul feigns disinterest, but mentions to Kevin that they should do something that night ... why not go skating?
That night, Kevin is feeling kind of lonely as Paul skates with Carla, and he sees Winnie dating with Kirk. Then Winnie blurts out that Becky Slater wants to skate with him. Not quite sure why he does it, Kevin skates over to Becky and asks her to go steady. Almost as soon as he does so, he regrets it. The feeling intensifies over the next few days as Becky's feelings for him start to grow. Acting selfishly, he starts using Becky to make Winnie jealous, and then learns from Paul and Carla that Becky is going to break up with him. Carla points out that he certainly can't blame Becky, because it's obvious that he still likes Winnie.
Outside, he finds a tearful Becky and tells her that he doesn't like Winnie, but at the same time he doesn't really know Becky well enough to like her. Then, she wonders, why did he ask her to go steady in the first place? Kevin doesn't have an answer. They do walk home together, leaving the status of their relationship ambiguous for the moment.
This is an episode that demonstrates that our hero, Kevin Arnold, is not always such a nice guy, as he clearly does take advantage of Becky's feelings for him to, hopefully, manipulate Winnie's. The end result is that he doesn't get Winnie back, and hurts Becky's feelings in the process.
Steve Miner enthuses, «I really think that's one of my favorite shows. I'm crazy about Danica. Personally, I like her and what she did with that show. I just like certain moments, like when Kevin skates over to Becky Slater and says, ‹Let's skate!› Fred plays those moments really well. Then there's the whole ice-skating rink...it's hard to do stuff like that in half hour television, because you have very little time to do it. I just think this was a really funny show.»
«Just Between You and Me .... and Kirk
and Paul and Carla and Becky»
Original Airdate 11/8/89
Written by Matthew Carlson
Directed by Peter Baldwin
Guest Starring: Donnie Jeffcoat (Eric Antonio), Michael Landes (Kirk McCray), Crystal McKellar (Becky Slater), Krista Murphy (Carla Healy)
«Just Between You and Me .... And Kirk and Paul and Carla and Becky» begins with Kevin and Becky, and Paul and Carla in the Arnold basement, watching a first-run episode of Star Trek and making out. Next day at school, Kirk McCray asks Kevin to speak to Winnie to make sure she still likes him. He barely manages to get the question out, and Winnie responds that she likes Kirk, she just doesn't know if she likes him. Eventually she does break up with Kirk, which gets Kevin's hopes up that she still likes him. He asks Paul to find out whether or not she does.
Then, Kevin is surprised to see Winnie making out with Kirk, and learns that she's going skating with yet another guy that night. Kevin is interrupted by Carla, who wants to know if he's mad at Becky. Kevin catches up with Becky and breaks up with her, claiming that he still likes Winnie Cooper. In response, Becky punches his lights out, which leads to a Star Trek fantasy in which Paul as Mr. Spock tells Kevin as Captain Kirk that they're on a planet of mysterious beings known as women, a race they cannot possibly hope to understand. With that, the women, led by a strangely garbed Winnie and Becky, use a device to stun them. Fantasy over, Kevin goes home to dwell in self-pity.
That night, he meets up with Winnie and learns that she's confused by what she's feeling. Kevin comes right out and asks if she likes him, to which she responds that she really doesn't know. They do joke around with each other, and the episode ends with Kevin looking hopefully to the future.
«Pottery Will Get You Nowhere»
Original Airdate 2/1/89
Written by Matthew Carlson
Directed by Daniel Stern
Guest Starring: Ben Stein (Mr. Cantwell)
At the outset of «Pottery Will Get You Nowhere,» Kevin's narration discusses the relationship between his parents, noting that they never yelled at each other in front of the kids. He never really thought of his parents being in love, knowing that it was always there, like the ground you walk on.
As the episode proceeds, we learn that Norma has begun a pottery class and is making bowls, ashtrays, etc., and the only one in the family showing any support whatsoever is Karen, although Kevin does his best. Things grow a little tense when Jack can't find his favorite cup. He eventually does, but learns that Norma has made him a new one, which he uses despite the fact that it's obvious he doesn't care to make a change. A few moments later, Jack accidentally knocks Norma's cup to the floor, where it shatters. Norma is terribly hurt by this, feeling as though he did it on purpose. Things grow even tenser between his parents, a completely new experience for Kevin.
Next day, the argument from the night before turns into a full-fledged screaming match between Norma and Jack, in which we get the feeling that Jack simply doesn't want his wife doing anything but stay home and take care of the family. A moment later, she accidentally burns her hand and breaks down, crying. Jack takes her into his arms and they hug each other, effectively making up. The kids watch, witnessing this open expression of love for one of the first times.
Incredibly moving. That's the only way to describe «Pottery Will Get You Nowhere.» Although through Kevin's eyes, we see other cast members really getting the opportunity to shine. Alley Mills and Dan Lauria deserve a great deal of the credit for breathing such life into these characters.
Observes Todd Langen, «One of the finest episodes in that first complete season, and it was the script that got Matthew Carlson nominated for everything in the book, including the Emmy. What was interesting from a series perspective in terms of the mechanics and the way the series works, is that Kevin was not a main protagonist in the story. It was a departure. It was a case where Kevin was more an observer to what was happening in his family, rather than directly involved in the story. There were times in the season that followed where we tried to adhere to the main rule that Kevin has to be the main man all the time, and we ended up forcing things a bit. I wish we could have done a couple of more episodes like ‹Pottery› where it was freer and he could just be an observer.»
«Television,» he adds, «tends to be very much filled with exposition and people talking. The old saying is that for television you can close your eyes for half an hour and still get the main story. In a movie, if you close your eyes you don't get it, because movies are a much more visual medium. Here was a case in a half hour television show where they used the visual at the end, where Jack and Norma have this final reunion after Norma burns her hand. It was a very subtle, non spoken sequence where he takes her and hugs her, and you understand it somehow without there being words to cover. I like that.»
Original Airdate 2/8/89
Written by Todd W. Langen
Directed by Beth Hillshafer
Guest Starring: Maxine Stuart (Mrs. Carples), Joseph Dammann (Ronald Hershmuller), Brandon Crane (Doug), Alexis Fish (Recital Student), Jake Jundeff (Recital Student), Michael Weiner (Recital Student)
«Coda» begins with Kevin at his weekly piano lesson, the older Kevin informing us that the student there before him, Ronald Hershmuller, is great at the instrument, a fact the boy's mother makes sure everyone knows. The instructor, Mrs. Carples, tells Kevin that he could be a good piano player, if he would give more time to practice. She asks Kevin if he's ready for the recital, but he doesn't want to play, because he can't be as good as Ronald.
With a little «encouragement» from Jack, who's paying the bills, Kevin practices piano more steadily, although his older self says that it was pointless, because there would always be a Ronald Hershmuller in his way. He relates this to Mrs. Carples, who says that Ronald is a machine, while Kevin has a feel for music, which can be developed and enhanced. She gets him to play a number on the piano, and it goes so well it builds his confidence. In the following weeks, he practices like he never has before, his playing improving constantly. He finally decides to play in the recital at Mrs. Carples' house.
At the dress rehearsal, Kevin is stunned to learn that Ronald is playing the same piece that he is. Ronald goes first and does very well, which serves to shake Kevin's confidence. When Kevin begins to play, he starts screwing up and can't stop. This results in his deciding not to play in the recital after all, and giving up the piano. The next day, after hanging out with Paul, he rides his bike by Mrs. Carples' house and through the window sees Ronald playing the piano.
As older Kevin notes, «I never did forget that night. I remember the light glowing from Miss Carples' window, and I remember the darkness falling as I sat out there listening. Now, more than 20 years later, I still remember every note of music that wandered out into the still night air. The only thing is, I can't remember how to play it anymore.»
The Wonder Years serves up another winner, this time a bittersweet tale of unfulfilled dreams and untapped potential.
«This was from the first group of ideas I pitched to them,» relates Todd Langen. «I used to play the trumpet back in high school and college, and I pitched this story about Kevin being in band class, playing the trumpet and about the troubles he has playing in a band recital, how he freezes up and can't play. The idea got turned around in ‹Coda,› an episode about Kevin taking piano lessons. Neal and Carol felt the piano was a bit more recognizable, that more people had taken piano lessons than trumpet lessons. It sort of comes a little from personal experience in that Kevin has this big failure during his piano recital, and it's about giving up the instrument for the wrong reason after that.»
«One of the nicest things about ‹Coda› is the way it resonates with the audience, especially at the end where Kevin says he gave up music. I think it hits people, because it's about giving up something for the wrong reasons; having something that you thought yon might have been good at as a kid, but were afraid to find out and just kind of left it. I think that, more than any other episode, touched a chord with the audience. A great experience all around. There was, however, originally a fantasy sequence in that episode that got cut. Kevin imagined himself playing in this recital. He ends up on stage in this tuxedo and there's a grand piano up there with him, and he's playing before a crowd. We were going to do all these cute little inserts, like crowd scenes in Carnegie Hall and shots of Queen Elizabeth and Nixon applauding like crazy. Then he was going to get up, this beautiful girl was going to give him flowers and kiss him, and as he walked off stage he was going to pass the janitor, who turned out to be Ronald Hershmuller. It got filmed, but cut. I don't know how it happened, but ‹Coda› ended up almost 10 minutes too long in the rough cut. That's just an incredible amount of time in a half hour show. So they ended up cutting out a lot of the humor.»
«Hiroshima, Mon Frere»
Original Airdate 2/15/89
Written by Matthew Carlson
Directed by Steve Miner
Guest Starring: Ben Stein (Mr. Cantwell), Laura Mooney (Girl in Science Class), Sarah Jo Martin (Angela), Ian Fried (Doug), Erin Reed (Angela's Friend), Addie Friedman (Kevin-as an Old Man), Sam Bernstein (Wayne as an Old Man)
At the outset of «Hiroshima, Mon Frere,» the narrator details the history of the relationship between he and his brother Wayne, in which his older brother is constantly beating him up, probably because Kevin was born in the first place.
In school, Kevin and Paul try to come up with an idea for their science experiment. Paul's thought is to use the school's hamster in some way, and Kevin gives in to him. On the bus, Paul takes the hamster out of its cage and talks to it, when Wayne pulls the rodent out of his hand and threatens to hurt it if Kevin and Paul don't back off. Then he uses it to make breast jokes about one of the girls on the bus. That night, Kevin and Paul are doing their experiment in the Arnold household. Jack and Norma are going out to the movies, and Wayne, who thinks a girl named Angela is coming over, wants them out of the kitchen. After the parental units leave, Wayne pulls the hamster out of the cage and threatens to drop it down the garbage disposal, unless Kevin agrees to move the experiment into his bedroom.
Two hours pass. Kevin goes downstairs to get some water, and he sees Wayne on the phone basically begging Angela to come over, and pretty depressed that she won't. Making sure he isn't seen, Kevin sneaks back upstairs, wanting to spare his brother any embarrassment. A moment later, however, Wayne bursts in, «armed» with a vacuum cleaner. The noise startles Paul, who lets the hamster loose. Being as obnoxious as ever, Wayne turns the vacuum on, jokes around and accidentally sucks the hamster up, killing it. All of Kevin's anger swells up, and he confronts Wayne, the narrator informing us that he didn't hate his brother's gut .... he hated his brother!
«You know why Angela didn't come over, Wayne?» asks Kevin. «Because she doesn't like you. She doesn't. Nobody does. You may be bigger than me and stronger than me, but I have friends. Nobody likes you, Wayne. You're just mean to everybody all of the time, because nobody likes you. You're pathetic!» Then we get the image of an atomic explosion, and Wayne is reduced to near tears.
Next day, Kevin and Paul bury the hamster. Several days later, Kevin and Wayne finally talk about the situation. Wayne gives his best attempt at an apology, noting that he hopes Kevin doesn't think he meant to do it. Kevin accepts this, the older version informing us from that day forward the two brothers knew that their relationship would never be the same, because, now, Kevin had the means to hurt Wayne.
«The first big Kevin/Wayne episode,» says Todd Langen. «It was a great idea and great execution. The entire script had originally been presented as a ‹March of Time› old newsreel where the narrator is sot of in and out, doing this whole thing, so the entire metaphor of the episode was about war. It was really clever and well done, but for some reason they backed away from that a little bit. You still have the metaphor of war, but it's interesting to see how things evolve sometimes. What is interesting in the metaphoric message is that Kevin, who is beleaguered by his older brother and set upon all the time, gains a weapon in his arsenal that he can use it to hurt Wayne - ‹Nobody likes you, Wayne!› Yet what happens is that he learns that having that weapon can be an awesome and dangerous thing, and it alters the relationship. He sort of disarms a little bit at the end and goes back to conventional warfare, which is like belting each other and rolling around in the park. I like that metaphoric relationship. In fact, some of the episodes that work best are when there is a metaphoric relationship between what is happening on the surface in the episode and what's really happening beneath. More than any other episode, ‹Hiroshima, Mon Frere› got more negative mail than any other because of the sucking up of the hamster. You can do anything you want to the people, but, man, you hurt a pet, watch out!»
Adds Steve Miner, «The thing about that show is that it kind of pissed off a lot of people, because we killed a hamster. We didn't really, but some people thought we did and accused us of being barbaric. I think it was kind of daring to do that kind of story at 8:30 at night. I thought Jason was real good as Wayne, there was some funny stuff in it and the hamster was a real pain in the ass. You can't tell a rat what to do. You did see just a touch of humanity in Wayne, but there's a lot more in Kevin than there is in him. I think it has some interesting cinematic moments in it. I'm an older brother, so I'm sure my brother felt the same way about me. It brought back some memories and made me feel guilty about some of the things I did to my brother. The show definitely brings all that kind of stuff back.»
Original Airdate 2/28/89
Written by David M. Stern
Directed by Steve Miner
Guest Starring: Robert Picardo (Coach Cutlip), Dustin Diamond (Joey Harris), Salim Grant (Patkus), Johnny Green (Stetson), Art Hoffman (Grimly), Adam Jeffries (Simeonee), Matt Norero (O'Hara), Marshall Raduziner (Norklen), Larenz Tate (Basketball Player), Kyle Thompson (Rygot)
Kevin gets his ire up in «Loosiers,» first when Coach Cutlip takes all of the fun out of basketball by insisting on doing a wide variety of diagrams on the blackboard, which serves to all but put his students to sleep. Then he chooses four captains to pick players, and Paul is the next to last to be chosen. He performs poorly on the floor. This continues for several weeks, and his confidence is completely shaken. Kevin complains about the «system» to Cutlip who, in response to having his method called unfair, decides to make Kevin a captain.
Kevin's first choice of player is Paul, which causes the other students to laugh. From there he starts picking all of the supposed «losers» of the class; the ones that everyone saves for last choice. Naturally this results in a disastrous score for Kevin's team, but at least he got the chance to make his statement, and things don't turn out too badly when Paul throws a ball that hits Cutlip on the head, sending him out of the gym. Suddenly, the game becomes fun again as everyone shares a laugh.
We cut to Kevin's backyard, where he and Paul play a game of one-on-one, and then there's a dissolve to the two of the in silhouette-as adults, playing the same game. The friendship, despite its occasional humps, will last.
«I shot more film for that show than anyone has probably ever shot for half hour television,» laughs Steve Miner. «I had three cameras going at high speed on all the basketball stuff, so I shot about a feature's worth of film on that. Everyday the studio was saying, ‹What the hell's he doing?› We had the kids playing basketball, tried to stage those sequences to look right, shot it in slow motion and got coverage at the same time so it would all match. Bob Picardo was also so good in that show as the coach. When the ball hits him on the head, you're watching it at regular speed and it looked like it was going to be great, but to see it in slow motion in the screening room, you see how funny it really was.»
Explains Todd Langen, «A very interesting idea, that sometimes you have to go back to just having fun when things get too serious. Using basketball and the whole gym experience to show how things can go wrong and how your friendships can be upset by that, was a clever idea. It was a fun episode to examine the friendship between Kevin and Paul. One of the best images was the ending, and the final shot of Kevin and Paul playing one-on-one basketball as adults, silhouetted against a great sunset. That was one of the most beautiful images that ever ended an episode, and it's great to see that they're still going to be friends.»
Original Airdate 3/7/89
Written by Matthew Carlson
Directed by Steve Miner
Guest Starring: Denis Arndt (Mr. Tyler), Linda Hoy (Mrs. Ritvo), Raye Birk (Mr. Diperna), Michael Manasseri (Mark Hooper), Paul Harkins (Rusty), Melissa Clayton (Karen), Linsay Price (Lori), David Brian Markus (Student Body President), Kyle Thompson (1st Boy), Brandon Crane (2nd Boy), Robin Thicke (3rd Boy), Sean DeVertich (4th Boy), Tanya Fenmore (1st Girl), Misty McCoy (2nd Girl), Sheila Pinkham (Strange Woman)
As «Walk Out» begins, older Kevin observes that by 1969, the population was getting Vietnam for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In a sense, they were becoming immune to the images projected on the TV screen.
Paul and Kevin (involuntarily) become their respective homeroom representatives for the Student Council. Most of the council is worried about things like ice cream and a jukebox in the Cafeteria but one kid suggests they be a part of the national protest to walk out during class - which is the aspect that gains unanimous support.
At an ensuing meeting on this subject, the assistant principal addresses the council, stating that all the students who walk out will get suspended and it will go on their permanent record (incidentally, just what the heck is the fabled permanent record that school authority figures always talk about?). Afterwards, this leads to a discussion of why they should protest Vietnam (which happens to awaken Kevin's desire to understand the subject a little better), and leads them to gather over 400 signatures in support of a walk out. The assistant principal doesn't care, as he makes clear to them. He then talks to Mr. Tyler, who cautions the students that if they go through with this, there could be consequences.
That night, Kevin remembers the principal's words, and fantasizes that he is an Astronaut about to get on a rocket, but is pulled off at the last second because of what's on his seventh grade permanent record. He nonetheless decides to go through with the walk out, but Mr. Tyler doesn't come in that day, which is a shocking blow. At the appointed time, however, Kevin walks out of the classroom, and he races into the bathroom where he thinks he'll be ill. However, other students who have seen him start to walk out of their classroom, and it's only a short matter of time before all 800 students go out to the football field, singing John Lennon's «Give Peace a Chance.»
An effective episode, but what really happened to Mr. Tyler? Was he sick? Fearful of losing his job? Or perhaps he was letting the students make the decision regarding the walk out on their own. There is no mention of this whatsoever, and there should be.
«Fun to do, but I don't remember a lot about it,» admits Steve Miner, «except that we did a lot of location work for it. I do wish I'd gotten to do the last shot over again. That shot with all the kids walking out .... no matter how many years you're doing this stuff, you can always learn something new every day you're on the set. I just would have staged it differently.»
Concurs Todd Langen, «I had a little bit of a problem with the ending of the episode. Just the idea of an entire school walking out like that, I had a bit of trouble buying. But I did like the idea of the episode. I did like the idea of Kevin's being picked for a committee, like a juke box committee and all these different ones, and his saying, ‹Let's go to the Vietnam committee, because the line is shorter.› I like that, because it's true to life.»
Original Airdate 3/14/89
Written by Matthew Carlson
Directed by Daniel Stern
Guest Starring: Wendel Meldrum (Miss White), Crystal McKellar (Becky Slater), Krista Murphy (Carla Healy), Michael Landes (Kirk McCray), B.J. Barie (Huge Kid), Skip O'Brien (Bus Driver), Sean DeVeritch (Bobby), Laura Mooney (Donna)
In the beginning of «Nemesis,» we are reminded that love has no fury like a woman scorned. At the same time, Kevin shares meaningful glances with Winnie in class. Suddenly we see Becky Slater, and it's obvious that she is not happy about being dumped. A flashback shows that Kevin had done his impressions of just about everyone, and she takes great pleasure in making his life hell by sharing these little revelations with all those concerned. The timing for this couldn't be worse, because things are really moving between he and Winnie, particularly since she's been sick and he's been taking care of her. Upset that he would talk about other people in such a bad way, she suggests he apologize to everyone.
Kevin begins by apologizing to Paul, who «pays him back» by letting loose with a wide stream of insults. From there he meets Becky outside the school, with the theme for Clint Eastwood's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly playing on the soundtrack. They approach each other like gunslingers, sagebrush actually blowing by the camera. Kevin asks why she's doing this, and apologizes yet again for hurting her. She has not gotten over the pain of being used to get to Winnie. Kevin tries to tell her he did like her, but the words don't mean anything. It turns out that she didn't tell Winnie how Kevin had made fun of her, because she didn't want her to be hurt. She does, however, list the people she did tell, and Kevin feels sick.
Next day, Kevin tells his mother what happened and she tries to provide him with some encouraging words. Then, Winnie shows up and when they're alone in his room, she yells at him, obviously having been told by someone of his comments. She storms out of the house, leaving Kevin convinced that she truly does love him, although the audience believes otherwise.
«My favorite beat,» Todd Langen smiles, «is when they're facing each other, doing the whole Clint Eastwood thing, and the sagebrush blows by. That's fun. When you can do a surrealistic thing like that, it gives you a lot of latitude in a series and that's fun stuff to do.»
Original Airdate 3/28/89
Written by Bob Brush
Directed by Steve Miner
Guest Starring: Bobby Jacoby (Eddie Pinetti), Nat Bernstein (Mr. Skenk), Raye Birk (Mr. Diperna), Krista Murphy (Carla Healy), Matt Levin (2nd Henchman), Justin Whalin (1st Henchman), Ryan Rushton (Kid), Erica Gayle (Girl)
Two elements are immediately introduced in «Fate»: the school bully, Eddie Pinetti, is pushing kids around, and Winnie is still furious with Kevin over the events of «Nemesis.»
In class, Kevin is asked to describe what war is, and he gives a thinly veiled analogy of the fight between he and Winnie. In the hallway, he catches sight of Pinetti in Winnie's locker. Kevin tries to stop him and is about to be punched out, when he's «saved» by the assistant principal. There's no doubt that Pinetti is going to want revenge. To make matters worse, Kevin learns that Winnie has been dating the bully for the past week.
Kevin tries to make amends, but Eddie punches him in the face and sends him sprawling to the ground. The bullying continues over the next few days, which Kevin accepts until he sees Pinetti and his friends teasing Winnie in a very nasty way. He comes up to Eddie and delivers a slow motion punch that .... misses its target, striking Eddie's shoulder. As a result, Kevin is knocked down to the ground yet again and pummeled. When Eddie departs, Winnie comes over to see if he's okay, and at that moment it seems that she has finally forgiven him.
«What's really great about the show,» relates Steve Miner, «is that those moments that are TV moments, we tend not to do. In bullshit TV, Kevin would deck the guy and get the girl. I think what The Wonder Years did so well was play those moments the way they'd really happen to you, and make them touching and funny.»
Original Airdate 4/11/89
Written by David M. Stern
Directed by Steve Miner
Guest Starring: Philip Sterling (Grandpa Pfeiffer), John C. Moskoff (Mr. Pfeiffer), Stephanie Satie (Ida Pfeiffer), Torrey Ann Cook (Debbie Pfeiffer), Gregory «Mars» Martin (Steve), Roger Nolan (Car Salesman), Zachary Benjamin (Young Kevin), Benjamin Diskin (Young Paul)
In «Birthday Boy» Paul's Barmitzvah is coming, and from Kevin's reaction we can see that he's a little jealous, particularly after Paul mentions that he'll be getting over a hundred presents, and probably a thousand dollars.
One night, Kevin has dinner with the Pfeiffers and during the meal Paul's grandfather tells tales of the family's background and says that he has a gift for Paul. Kevin is thinking that it may be money or the keys to a car, but it turns out to be the prayer book of his grandfather's, which has been handed down from generation to generation.
Next day, Kevin tries to get a feel for his family's heritage, but Jack is more concerned about the expenses of getting a new car or fixing the old one. Norma does her best to piece together the family background for Kevin, with somewhat embarrassing results.
At school, Paul gives Kevin his invitation for the Barmitzvah, and Kevin is startled to find that it falls on his birthday. In a truly selfish (albeit normal for an adolescent) moment, Kevin states that he won't be able to come, which obviously cuts Paul deeply, particularly after he's told that Kevin won't even be there for the ceremony. Kevin walks off in anger. Later, he's helping his father fix the family car. He tells his mother he doesn't want to talk to Paul when told that Paul is on the phone, and then tries to get some sympathy from his father regarding this whole Barmitzvah thing. But, again, Jack is too wrapped up in the task at hand to really listen to him. Changing the subject, and desperate to find some sort of family tradition, Kevin asks his father how he learned to fix cars («Just something I picked up along the way,» he responds) and whether or not grandpa was good at cars, which he was. Jack then starts teaching Kevin how to do some of the repairs. Older Kevin lets us know that all he had been looking for was someone to acknowledge that he was growing up, moving towards manhood.
Kevin's birthday. The family gathers in the living room, where Norma serves the cake as they await Jack's arrival in the newly repaired car. Karen gives Kevin a rather depressing poem and leaves, and Kevin opens his other presents, which include a turtle neck, bathrobe, wallet and a thesaurus. Going up to his room, we can see - and older Kevin informs us - that he's very disappointed in his birthday as a whole.
We cut to Paul's Barmitzvah, where he's reciting his prayers in front of family and friends. In the middle of this, Kevin shows up and a smile crosses Paul's face. After the ceremony the two friends greet each other and join the others in celebration. The narrator lets us know that in a sense this felt like it was his Barmitzvah as well, as he gets swept up in the moment, gaining a fuller understanding of the concept of Tradition. The ending is absolutely beautiful, everyone dancing in slow motion and the moment being frozen as if in a variety of photographs.
«‹Birthday Boy› changed more than any of the others as far as the structure and the elimination of scenes,» says Steve Miner. «It's funny, but that and ‹Loosiers› are my favorites. The scenes cut weren't critical, but it went through some transformations. Neal and Carol both spent a lot of time in the editing room on that one, and did a good job. I had to do that show really fast, because we had run over on the previous show, and I only had four and a half days. When you have to rush to finish a show, you do compromise more than you would normally like to do. That's a problem with doing episodic television. But a great show. When I read the script I knew it would be a great show, if I didn't screw it up. I think it turned out to be a legitimately touching episode.»
Adds Todd Langen, «What was particularly interesting for me about that episode is what you didn't see as much as what you did see. Paul is having his Barmitzvah, which signals his manhood, and Kevin is looking for something like that too. What happens is that there's the scene where Jack is working on the car with Kevin and Wayne and he won't let Kevin start the engine. At the end, there was supposed to be a scene after the Barmitzvah where dad pulls up in a new car and he takes Kevin out to a little parking lot and lets him drive the car. That becomes sort of Kevin's Barmitzvah, because his father is letting him drive the new car. I thought that was really nice. For my money, this ending was more expectable than the ending I just described. We tried not to do the status quo.»
Original Airdate 4/18/89
Written by Matthew Carlson
Directed by Daniel Stern
Guest Starring: Darren Powell (George), Kyra Stempel (Julie), Devon Pierce (Sandy), Jodi Rae (Young Karen), Trevor Owen (1st Guy at the Rock)
«Brightwing» is a Karen episode, beginning with the Arnold daughter decked out in her hippie clothes, and Kevin wondering why the two of them live in such different worlds. The narrator lets us know that it wasn't always this way; that there was a time when brother and sister were very close and used to enjoy spending time with each other. Those days, it would seem, are gone forever.
A couple of days later, Karen and her friends pick Paul and Kevin up on their way to school and ask Kevin to stop by their high school and place some notes in a certain locker for them. Then the girls drop the kids off at school and everything seems fine. That evening Kevin thinks that he and Karen have struck a chord, but is disappointed to learn that everything is exactly the same as it was.
A week passes, and Kevin reluctantly agrees to do the same favor again. Only this time he reads the note he's dropping off, and finds out about a place called «The Hill.» After school, Kevin goes to this place, where he finds Karen and a group of her hippie friends playing guitar, painting, etc. Amazingly, Karen seems delighted to see him. The note placing continues, and Kevin is continually welcomed to this special place, where he basically immerses himself in Karen's lifestyle. For the first time, we're seeing some genuine affection between brother and sister.
Things do seem to be getting overwhelming as he lies to his parents and Paul about his whereabouts. One night, perhaps plagued by guilt, Kevin has a nightmare in which his parents are cops who come to his house to arrest him from his hippie existence. His fears aren't put to rest, however, when Norma gets a call from Karen's guidance counselor. He starts to panic, but Karen assures him that everything will be alright. In the middle of the night, he discovers that she lied to him, as a note states she's gone to San Francisco with her friends. Hours later, however, she shows up at home again, crying to her parents. Kevin's narration explains that in 1969 people often tried to find themselves, and got lost along the way.
«I never understood what was going on,» smiles a perplexed Todd Langen. «Why did Kevin have to drop these notes off in the locker? What does that have to do with anything? I did like the ending where we didn't use a lot of words, and you have that scene where Kevin is in the kitchen, with Jack and Norma standing on either side of him. As he walks out, she gives him this little bit of a smile. In that moment, everything sort of wraps up without a lot of dialogue. I like that. Bob Brush's idea was that we should set everything up earlier, so that the endings sort of play by themselves without being doused in exposition.»
Original Airdate 5/2/89
Written by Todd W. Langen
Directed by Tom Moore
Guest Starring: Robert Picardo (Coach Cutlip), Lindsay Fisher (Margaret Farquhar), Michael Tricario (Randy), Johnny Green (Mike), Ashlie Walker (Heidi), Wendy Bowers (Miss Bruntley)
Coach Cutlip announces to his class that they will begin learning the art of the square dance in the episode entitled «Square Dance.» Girls enter the gym, with the coaches assigning partners. Kevin is upset at getting paired up with the most unpopular girl in school, Margaret Farquhar. As the narrator notes, «Margaret Farquhar could get on the nerves of any teacher. Even Gandhi.»
Later, in the halls, a bunch of kids start giving Kevin a hard time about being paired up with Margaret. He gets home, only to have Wayne give him the same treatment. Kevin's ready to dump her as his partner, until Norma guilts him out of the decision. In gym the next day, Kevin's unhappiness is apparent on his face. He walks through the halls and Margaret stops him, asking him all sorts of bizarre questions («Do you go to the bathroom a lot?» «Do you like bats?»), and then shocks Kevin by plopping down on the seat next to him in the cafeteria, which mortifies him. He tries to get her to take off, but she just keeps on talking, ignoring his protests. The iceing on his cake is when a group of girls asks him if he and Margaret are going steady. The only way out of the situation, in his mind, is to snub Margaret, not talking to her, refusing to touch her, etc. It seems to work, until that afternoon when Margaret shows up at Kevin's house, bringing her bat named Mortimer in a box. Kevin wants to get rid of her, but Norma, being a good person by nature, asks Margaret to stay a little while, but she, too, makes a quick retreat when she learns that Margaret's brought her bat.
They spend an hour together in the Arnold house, and Kevin becomes fascinated by her quirkiness, and touched by the fact that she has spent most of her life moving from army base to army base and has never had any real ties. This is interrupted by the realization that Wayne will be home at any moment, and Kevin is abruptly rushing her out the backdoor. The only way he can truly get rid of her, though, is to agree to come over her house later that evening to see her tarantula, Isabelle. He keeps his promise and gets to the front door, paranoid that someone will see him. He slips into another fantasy, in which his friends are all there laughing at him, spotlights shine down and a helicopter flies overhead, alerting the neighborhood to the fact that he's over Margaret's house. Fantasy ended, he runs away just as Margaret answers the door.
Next day, Kevin sees Margaret and, because of peer pressure, tells her that he can't talk to her anymore or be seen with her. They can be secret friends, which, he claims, is even better. As weird as she is, Margaret is not stupid. She starts to yell at him and all the kids gather around, starting to taunt both of them. Kevin doesn't defend her. She says, «I thought you were different,» and walks off in tears. The last day of square dancing, Kevin dances alone, Margaret not acknowledging his existence.
Older Kevin informs us that in seventh grade you are what other seventh graders think you are. Ironically, it's difficult to remember the names of the kids you spent so much time trying to impress, but you don't forget someone like Margaret Farquar, «professor of biology, mother of six .... friend to bats.»
«This one was based much more on personal experience,» says Todd Langen. «I used to have to take square dancing in elementary school and junior high school, and I pretty much hated it. So that was one aspect of the story that I wanted to inject. The other thing was that Kevin sort of rejects this little girl, the butt of everyone's jokes because she's different. I was sort of in a similar situation in elementary school. I used to tease rather mercilessly this little girl and I guess this is sort of my way of doing penance for that. Again, it's the sort of story that everyone could recognize because it's about someone who was not afraid to be an individual and ended up being an outcast because of that. More importantly, it's about Kevin giving up on someone because of peer pressure; someone who could have been a friend and could have been an interesting sort of acquaintance for him. Even when Kevin begins to like her, he can't bring himself to like her in public. Again, because of this sort of sad, realistic ending it touched the audience more than your standard, happy sitcom ending approach. Generally, with the exception of when it was going out for humor all the way, The Wonder Years tried to round out the ending and make it touch people somehow.»
«Whose Woods Are These?»
Original Airdate 5/9/89
Written by Bob Brush
Directed by Peter Horton
Guest Starring: Madison Mason (Foreman), Matthew Faison (City Hall Official), Raye Birk (Mr. Diperna), Angela Paton (Woman at City Hall), Charles Kahlenberg (2nd Man at City Hall), Jeremy Yablan (Young Kevin), Daniel Lee (Young Paul), Jenny Drugan (Young Winnie)
In «Whose Woods Are These?» Kevin and Winnie take a walk to their old stomping grounds, Harper's Woods, the place they shared their first kiss. They're interrupted by Paul, who informs them that Harper's Woods is going to be torn down to make way for a shopping center. The trio are horrified. After all, it was their woods, right? Kevin races home and confronts his family with the news, but they aren't concerned at all. How can this be? seems to be the look on his face.
Karen suggests that they go to the Planning Board meeting Sunday night and state their case; demand to be heard; fight for what's important and take action. On Sunday, the three kids arrive and wait for an opportunity to speak. First, Kevin fantasizes that he addresses the crowd and they listen in rapt attention to his every word, giving him a standing ovation and ripping up the construction blueprints. In reality, the kids never even get a chance to speak. In school, they come up with radical approaches, Winnie suggesting they pour sand in the gas tanks of the bulldozers, Paul recommending they hijack the vehicles. Everyone starts fighting with each other.
Late at night, Kevin sneaks out to the construction sight and is joined by Winnie and Paul, each of them having come on their own. With flashlights they lock on to the tree trunk and read all their initials carved there. Paul offers a few more radical ideas, but Kevin makes them face the fact that Harper's Woods will be a memory in a couple of years. Winnie tries to instigate a game of hide and seek, and Kevin reluctantly joins in on the game being played out one last time. The final image of the episode flashes forward to the time when the shopping center is complete and there, carved in the cement, are the initials of Kevin, Winnie and Paul. The final result is another terrific episode, looking at the loss of youth and our attempts even in adolescence - to hold on to it a little bit longer.
Todd Langen points out, «Here was a wonderful ending, about giving up a little bit of your childhood. That last dissolve made between the woods and the initials in the cement, I thought was a very well conceived moment on Bob's part and was touching. We tried to keep the fantasies down to only one per episode, if that much.»
«How I'm Spending My Summer Vacation»
Original Airdate 5/16/89
Written by Jane Anderson
Directed by Michael Dinner
Guest Starring: Lynn Milgrim (Mrs. Cooper), Richard H. Greene (Mr. Cooper), Raye Birk (Mr. Diperna), Ben Slack (Mr. Ermin), Ben Stein (Mr. Cantwell), Brandon Crane (Doug), Ian Fried (Nerd), Risa Littman (Girl), Danny McMurphy (Greaser), Bentley Mitchum (Brian Cooper), Robert Picardo (Coach Cutlip)
«How I'm Spending My Summer Vacation» begins with the end of school, and Kevin's enthusiasm regarding the coming summer. In his mind he's developing big plans, but the forces of nature and those around him seem to be conspiring to ruin it for him. The disappointment sets in when he learns that Paul is going to be spending the summer on vacation with his family. At least, he considers, he's got Winnie, whose yearbook he fills a page of, concluding with the words, ‹l love you.› More disappointment follows when Winnie signs his book, «have a neat summer.» Kevin doesn't understand this, and is truly hurt.
Meanwhile, the Coopers are planning a barbecue, which Kevin no longer wants to attend, but his parents force him to. There he finds Winnie to be extremely distant from him, and acting as a go-between for her parents. Finally she and Kevin get the opportunity to talk, and she announces that she's going away with- her mother for the summer. Again, Kevin is stunned, and he starts complaining about the way his summer is shaping up, until he realizes that Winnie's parents are separating, and she can't handle it. Finally, he tries to console her in the best way that he possibly can. Despite all this, his summer isn't half bad.
Director Michael Dinner says, «My recollection of that show is the scene at the end between Kevin and Winnie. He kind of figures out that her parents are getting divorced and she says, ‹I miss my brother.› that, to me, is the moment we were going for. Seeing these two people together at the end, I found very emotional.»
«We've been talking about endings,» notes Todd Langen, «and that is absolutely one of my favorites. I guess one of the things the show does so well is the use of period music to accentuate the show and, especially, the ending. You can't go wrong with a piece like ‹Scarborough Fair.› There's just something so nice about the way it was filmed, the whole way it was put together at the end where the camera cranes up from Winnie's house at night. Kevin's got his arm around her because he can't do anything else but be there for her, and then you dissolve to the next day. The camera comes down through these beautiful trees and sunlight, past these billowing sheets on the clothesline. In one continuous movement, the camera travels underneath Kevin's hammock to his side, where he is swinging back and forth. There's that wonderful narration, ‹I guess I had a pretty good summer after all. I mowed Mr. Erman's lawn, dad and I went fishing, a man stepped on the moon.› He's got an Archie comic over his face and he's just swinging, saying, ‹I guess, all in all, it wasn't a bad summer.› Meaning that after all his complaints that Paul and Winnie wouldn't be there, he learns that he has not had it so bad. Just the way it was filmed, the music ‹Scarborough Fair,› and the narration .... everything worked so well in conjunction with that episode. I watched the ending over and over and over again. Every time I watched it, I would get goose bumps. The first time I ever met Michael Dinner was at the Emmy Awards. I congratulated him for the episode, because it was the perfect ending for the season.»
Following year two of The Wonder Years, Neal Marlens and Carol Black elected to pull back from day to day involvement with the series in order to pursue other creative directions. Filling the gap in in the wake of their departure was Bob Brush, who had been involved with the series from its early days.
«It's always tough when you have a change at the top, because most television, especially television these days, needs to have a central clearing house at the top,» explains Bob Brush. «Certainly I was concerned, because I didn't want the show to radically change and I didn't want it to slip. I can't praise Neal and Carol highly enough for their creative talents, but when they left, it was up to me to use mine. I never really compared myself. I'm here and now I've got to do it. That's the only way it can happen.»
Also departing the series was supervising producer Steve Miner. «It was time to move on. How many times can you stage three kids and a locker?» he asks rhetorically. «Even though the scripts were fresh and good. Plus, Carol and Neal left for their own reasons, and I mainly did the show because I wanted to work with them. We're good friends, and I enjoy spending time with them, which is why I did the show. Series television is a real grind when you try to do it well, and I suppose it's a grind even when you do it badly. It's a man-eater for energy and time. I wasn't seeing my family as much as I wanted to, so when they left, a lot of the reasons for me to stay on the show was gone as well.»
The one positive of all this is that Bob Brush managed to maintain the quality established by Marlens and Black, continuing The Wonder Years on its journey through time.
Original Airdate 10/3/89
Written by Mark B. Perry
Directed by Michael Dinner
Guest Starring: Holly Sampson (Teri Winchell), Juliette Lewis (Dolores), Jodi Raye (Young Karen)
«Summer Song» begins with the feeling that the Arnold family unit is having trouble again, as Karen and Wayne really don't want to go on the annual vacation to Ocean City. Kevin doesn't really care one way or the other, as a letter from Winnie, who's living in Maine with her mother, states that she'll be coming home soon, and that she's met a guy named Chip. Moments later, the family, plus Paul, sets off for the journey, with Paul getting carsick on the way. They arrive and the bickering starts. Jack quickly gets upset at the way the prices for everything has gone up.
Kevin's fun is kind of taken down a peg as well when Paul breaks out from eating fish, and has to stay inside for a day or two. Kevin is left wondering what had happened to the vacations the family used to take, when everyone was happy. Things do improve somewhat when he meets a slightly older girl named Teri, and the two of them hit it off. This is good news, as the rest of the family still seems to be splintering apart. Through a montage of scenes, we see Kevin and Teri having a great time, riding rides, taking photos in one of those little booths and playing games. That night, they go under the boardwalk and kiss each other. Moments later, Teri drops the bombshell that she has to leave the next day, to go back home. She promises to write him, they kiss again and she departs.
By episode's end, Kevin joins up with the rest of the family, who seem to have wrapped up the trip in a much more positive way than they spent most of it. Kevin gets home from vacation and finds that Winnie has arrived at home, and he's overjoyed to see her. He asks about Chip and is told that they broke up, as it was probably «one of those summer things.»
Several days later, Kevin is reading a letter Teri sent him, which describes how much she misses him, how she couldn't wait to see him again and what that night meant to her. Older Kevin informs us that it's the only letter she ever wrote to him, and he keeps it in an old shoebox with the photos they took that night.
«This was a spec script I wrote for the show which they bought,» says Mark Perry. «I wrote that before I'd had a break in the business. I was thrilled and elated with the way the show came out. ‹Summer Song› was a dream come true for me. To see scenes I had written with the hope the script would sell, actually being filmed and actually playing out was quite an experience.»
Notes Todd Langen, «Interesting, and based on personal experience for Mark Perry. He actually met an ‹older woman› like that at a beachside resort. One of the most fascinating things to me and the thing I loved about the episode-and again, I thought the ending was beautiful where he says he keeps the photo in a shoebox and it was the only letter she'd ever sent him-was that it was bittersweet in a nice, warm sort of way. Mark Perry can actually take one of the pictures out of his pocket of he and this girl in the photo booth. I think it's so great when somebody can take something that's real and personal like that, put it up on the screen and make it work in the context of different characters.»
«I do all the summer shows,» laughs Michael Dinner. «The thing about ‹Summer Song› I remember is that kiss underneath the boardwalk. To me, that was a show about that one moment. It was also a show about the family, and the dissolution of the family, and then its coming back together at the end. I think both of those things are very powerful in that show. I think we all have recollections of that kind of thing, whether it's a girl under the boardwalk or a girl you met one summer. I think that's very powerful.»
Original Airdate 10/10/89
Written by Tom Gammill and Max Pross
Directed by Andy Tennant
Guest Starring: Steven Gilborn (Mr. Collins), Robert Picardo (Coach Cutlip), Joie Magidow (Miss Martinson), Francia DiMase (Hippie Teacher), Siera Samuel (Girl), Josh Berman (Boy), Chris Fielder (Eager Beaver), Ian Wade (Kid)
«Math Class» turns out to be algebra for Kevin, and an instructor named Mr. Collins who dives right into the lessons and gives every indication that this is not going to be an easy course. Kevin nonetheless seems confident. Days later, Kevin gets back a pop quiz and is stunned to see that he has received a «D» grade. He tries talking to Mr. Collins about this, not understanding how his grade could be so low. Collins points out that if he's having a problem in class, there are extra help sessions available. Appalled that someone would think he needs extra help, Kevin declines.
Kevin goes home and really tries hitting the books. The next pop quiz results in another «D,» while Paul is scoring «As.» Time goes on and Kevin's grades aren't improving. Paranoia starts to grip him, resulting in a dinner table fantasy in which the Twilight Zone theme plays while Norma asks him algebra questions. Next day, he nearly goes into Mr. Collins' extra help session, until he sees a group of class losers there. He bumps into Collins, who suggests that he take part as there is a major test coming up, and this would be a good opportunity for him to bring up his grade. He refuses. At home, Kevin and Paul are playing basketball, with Kevin taking great delight in beating Paul, just to prove his superiority, and putting his friend down for being so «mathletic.»
The following day, Kevin takes his test and finds that he really doesn't understand anything on the page. He hands in the paper, telling Mr. Collins he got an «F.» Finally, he admits to the teacher that he doesn't understand math. Mr. Collins responds, «Good, now maybe you're ready to start,» and he crumples up Kevin's test paper, adding that there will be another test in two weeks. Over that time period, he seeks out the help of Paul, his father and Mr. Collins, and things seem to be looking up.
«Math Class» is an important episode of The Wonder Years, in that it forces Kevin to recognize his own limitations as a human being, and teaches him that it's perfectly alright to look to others for help in life; that, in a sense, you cannot always depend on yourself for everything.
«I liked the episode very much,» enthuses director Andy Tennant. «It was one of the first shows that I'd seen that had dealt with Kevin actually learning something we all- whether it's math class, English or even gym-have to: where we confront, finally, an adult who demands from us something we haven't been asked to do before. What I find remarkable about the Wonder Years is the writing. The writers somehow capture their memories and put it on paper, but they always find the little tiny nuance that makes it poetic. They're the best. I hope they can keep it up, because I think that's where the magic of the show is. I've never seen such a dedication to quality. These guys work so hard, and that kind of integrity and passion for the work reflects on the air. Everyone thinks it's such a mystery why a show takes off, but I don't think it's that big a mystery.»
«Wayne on Wheels»
Original Airdate 10/24/89
Written by Mark B. Perry
Directed by Beth Hillshafer
Guest Starring: Juliette Lewis (Dolores), Jennifer Baron (Dream Girl), Elyse Eberstein (Nerdy Girl)
Kevin's ultimate nightmare comes true in «Wayne on Wheels,» as Wayne finally gets his driver's license. This coupled with the fact that he has a girlfriend is enough to scare anyone, particularly Kevin as now Wayne has to drive him places, which does not please the older boy at all. He drops Kevin and Paul off at the mall, and warns them to be ready at 6:30 or «be prepared to spend the night.» At the mall, Kevin pursues a pretty girl he had seen the previous Saturday. He and Paul go into a theatre playing Romeo and Juliet and sit near the girl and her friend. After the movie, he starts to speak to her but Wayne pulls up and embarrasses the hell out of him (and you can just imagine that when they get older, Kevin is going to take a hammer to this guy's skull). When Jack finds out about Wayne's abusive behavior, all driving privileges are suspended, which don't make things any easier for Kevin.
At school, Paul tells Kevin that he spoke to the pretty girl's friend, and found out that the two of them will be at the mall that night. It's Paul's recommendation that they go to the mall, and Kevin asks his mother for a ride. Then he finds out that Wayne is allowed to drive, and has to take him to the mall. Enroute, Wayne stops the car and tells Kevin to get out, because he has a date and doesn't want to be late. Kevin refuses, a fight develops between them and Paul gets out of the car. Wayne finally agrees to take Kevin, but acts like his typical moronic self in an effort to scare him, resulting in their nearly crashing into a stalled car. By avoiding it, they crash into a corn field. The front end of the car is damaged pretty badly, and when they get home Jack is less than happy about the situation. He demands an explanation and Kevin claims there was a blowout, which probably earns him about a minute's worth of respect from Wayne. The narrator notes, «Wayne and I didn't have to be friends, but we would always be brothers.»
«That turned out to be a very funny show and I was very pleased with it,» says Mark Perry. «I think Wayne is such a fascinating character, it's interesting to see how he figures into Kevin's life. Getting his driver's license is a milestone in Wayne's life, and it's interesting to see how it immediately complicates Kevin's. I thought that worked very well too. Generally, as in ‹Wayne on Wheels,› a funny episode comes around to being about brothers, so I felt like it had a little something to say about human relationships. There's a certain universal quality to the experience that Kevin has.»
Original Airdate 10/31/89
Written by Todd W. Langen
Directed by Daniel Stern
Guest Starring: Sean Baca (Craig), Michael Tricario (Randy), Brandon Crane (Doug), Jim Bullock (Salesman)
«Mom Wars» represents the point where Kevin feels he has to convince his mother that he's growing up and not just a little kid anymore. We cut to the afternoon, where Kevin, Paul and their friends are playing contact football, and just enjoying being boys at play. At dinner, Wayne mentions the football game, and Norma expresses her displeasure at the fact that Kevin is playing, fearful that someone might get hurt.
After school the next day, Kevin and the guys are getting ready to play again, when Norma meets him outside school in the family station wagon, wanting to take him clothes shopping. Mortified, he goes with her but as he keeps trying on clothes, we can see that he's getting angrier. She wants to take him shopping for shoes the following afternoon, which infuriates him. To make matters worse, Norma won't let him play football with his friends that night.
The following afternoon, Kevin purposely comes home on the school bus, acting as though he was supposed to meet her at home. Then, finding no on there, he gets on his bike and rides to the park to play football. Suddenly, Norma shows up, angry that he «forgot» to meet her. She still wants to go shopping, but Kevin refuses and when she voices her disapproval over his playing football, he demands that she stop babying him. A very hurt Norma leaves. Unfortunately, Kevin does indeed get injured during the game, cutting his hand open. He walks his bike home, enters the house and starts bandaging his hand by himself, despite Norma's obvious desire to help him. She has taken him at his request, and is trying to let him grow up.
«Up to this point,» details Todd Langen, «there had been a story about Kevin plus every other main character in the show, but there really hadn't been an episode yet that dealt specifically with Kevin and his mother. I remember thinking that that might be the proper approach to take. I thought, ‹This is a story about Kevin having problems with his mother when he's at the age when you want to start cutting the apron strings.› That was really the kernel of the idea. We just built it from there, the whole conflict about Kevin playing football, just for the vivaciousness of slamming into other kids. Mothers are dead set against that, and this is what causes the final conflict and the explosion by Kevin in which he tells her to basically back off. Again, I thought there was a very nice moment at the end, when he's bandaging his own hand when it's hurt, and his mother has decided not to help him because he doesn't want her to. And he says, ‹The funny thing is, it's hard to tie a bandage with just one hand ... but you learn.› That's the point of the episode. At some point, you do learn and the apron strings gradually fall away.»
«On the Spot»
Original Airdate 1/17/89
Written by Matthew Carlson
Directed by Matia Karrell
Guest Starring: Nicholas Hormann (Mr. Weber), Richard H. Greene (Mr. Cooper), Lynn Milgrim (Mrs. Cooper), Sean Baca (Craig Hobson), Joe Elrady (Stage Manager), Parker Jacobs (Mr. Webb), Ryan Francis (George)
In «On the Spot,» the school is doing the play Our Town, which Kevin, like the majority of the students, could care less about. Winnie wants to try out for a role, but Kevin discourages her. Paul wants to join up as well, and Kevin even decides to give it a crack when he learns that rehearsal will get him out of seventh period-gym.
While Kevin gets the position of spotlight manager, Paul is unable to be picked for a role. Winnie reads for Emily, the lead character, and gets it. She is so excited about this, but Kevin doesn't seem to share her enthusiasm. Then Paul shows up, dejected. Kevin suggests that Paul work the spotlight with him, which Paul jumps at the opportunity to do, although he does get carried away with the whole idea.
For Winnie, things are a little difficult. During rehearsal she has problems remembering her lines, and goes to Kevin with her frustration. Kevin comments that it's only a play and since it's an excuse to get out of seventh period, she shouldn't worry about it. Winnie thinks that's the most insensitive thing she's ever heard. Later, she wants to quit, but her father is flying in from Chicago just to see her performance. Since her parents haven't seen each other in two months, it's an opportunity she doesn't want to blow.
On the night of the performance, Paul is stricken with «backstage fright,» and Kevin, who hasn't done any preparing because he's allowed Paul to do it all, has to run the spots. At first he is simply awful, but eventually he manages to coordinate the light, particularly after Winnie comes out on stage. In a sense, he feels that via the light he has become one with Winnie, and in his mind he would like to think that he helped her through the performance.
Our Town is a success, Mr. and Mrs. Cooper seem to be connected (indeed, we learn that a week later Mr. Cooper moved back home), and Kevin's feelings for Winnie have never been stronger.
«I thought this was a beautiful episode, and I'm surprised Matthew Carlson didn't get another Emmy nomination for it,» opines Todd Langen. «Matthew actually wrote the first draft of the script with the play being Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, so they did Our Town. Of course, Our Town works equally as well, if not better. What's fascinating to me as a writer, and again it just shows how enormously talented a writer Matthew is, is that The Glass Menagerie draft he wrote is equally as good as the later draft, and of course they're two totally different metaphors that you have to integrate in terms of the humor and the action. I just thought ‹On the Spot› was a beautiful concept and episode, the idea of Kevin holding her up with that spotlight, and Winnie playing out a scene that reflects her own personal situation while her estranged parents are sitting in the audience and bonding together again. It's a very well constructed, emotional piece and I thought they executed it very, very well.»
«Odd Man Out»
Original Airdate 11/14/89
Written by David M. Stern
Directed by Peter Baldwin
The Kevin/Paul friendship hits hard times in «Odd Man Out.» The two best friends start fighting over baseball card swapping, which leads to personal insult and a supposed severing of their bond. What follows is a pretty basic plot in which the duo set about getting new best friends, and then making the other guy jealous. Ironically, Kevin's choice of best friend, Doug Porter, is driving him crazy, and he basically tells him off, resulting in guilt-filled dreams. He tries to stop by Doug's house to apologize, but is told that he can't come to the door. As he's leaving, Kevin hears laughter from Doug's room and glances in a window, only to see Doug having a great time with Paul's supposed new best friend. Suddenly, he feels the odd man out, recognizing that Paul is his perfect counterbalance in life. By episode's end, they're buddies again.
«Odd Man Out» is probably the most linear story done in the course of the series. Very simple, it deals with one theme: boy has best friend, boy loses best friend, boy gets best friend back again.
Notes Todd Langen, «The thing that struck me about it is the character of Doug Porter, a character I supposedly created in ‹Coda.› Here was a kid that I immediately recognized from my own past. The kid who is dying for love and affection, and would give you the shirt off his back and tell you how great you are, almost to a sickening degree. Everybody knows that kind of kid, but until I read it in David Stem's episode, I hadn't remembered. I would never have thought of it myself, but there it was on the page and it very much impressed me.»
«The Family Car»
Original Airdate 11/21/89
Written by Debra Frank and Jack Weinstein
Directed by Michael Dinner
Guest Starring: Patrick Cronin (Marvin Lutz), Sean Baca (Craig Hobson), Biff Yeager (Man), Jodi Rae (Young Karen)
As «The Family Car» begins, Jack is once again working on the station wagon, doing his damnedest to keep the vehicle running. The neighbor across the street has just gotten a new car, and Wayne suggests they get one as well. Jack refuses, despite the fact that it continually breaks down and sounds like a tank. That night, Norma brings up the subject again, and Jack reluctantly agrees to look for a new car.
The Arnolds go to a dealership. Jack wants to get another station wagon, but the family is taken by the image of a red '69 Mustang. The salesman points out that with his family is growing up and Jack probably doesn't need a station wagon as much as he thinks he does. Jack leaves in a huff, though, because he doesn't like the amount of money the salesman offers him for the station wagon. The next night, Norma suggests that perhaps the offer was not as bad as Jack. thinks it was, and he finally agrees. The entire family pitches in to clean the station wagon up before its sale; to make it look as good as it possibly can. Unfortunately, everyone who expresses interest in the car leaves laughing once they hear the price that Jack wants for it. Karen accuses him of being cheap and Jack tries to leave, but the car won't let him get out of the driveway. Norma meets him in the driveway, praises him for all he's done to keep the car going but points out that now it's time to move on. Both of them realize that what Jack is really afraid of is letting go of the past, but he recognizes that it's something he has to do.
The episode ends with Jack pulling up in a new Ford Fairlane, and the family gathers as the old station wagon is towed away.
«I just remember the image of the car going down the street,» reflects Michael Dinner, «and the feeling that they were moving on to something new, but that was a piece of them going away. I think it was another family show, about the family in a state of flux. To a certain extent, that theme runs through a number of our shows. Even the treehouse show I did, which you could say was about male bonding, also dealt with a father and son really talking for the first time.»
Original Airdate 11/28/89
Written by David M. Stern and Todd W. Langen
Directed by Matia Karrell
Guest Starring: Heather Green (Gina Pruitt), Ben Stein (Mr. Cantwell), Tony Nittoll (Tony Barbella), Patricia Nickell (Claire Pruitt)
«The Pimple» raises its ugly head at the most inopportune time for Kevin. Now going through puberty, the young Mr. Arnold is having enough problems to deal with, which he compares to a clip from I Was a Teenage Werewolf. One morning, Norma receives a letter stating that old family friends -who they haven't seen for several years- are going to be in town. Kevin is particularly excited, because the daughter of that family has aged beautifully and she is someone that he had played «Ben Casey» with.
Kevin's world collapses around him when he finds his first pimple, and it's a real beauty. He tries to convince himself that it's not that noticeable, but Norma makes a comment, as does Karen and Wayne, who takes the greatest pleasure. At the bus stop, Paul makes several observations about it, including the fact that the timing couldn't be worse because Gina, is coming to town that weekend. Things don't improve once he gets to school, when Mr. Cantwell, the science teacher, shows a film about volcanos, which Kevin compares to an erupting pimple.
When he gets home, Kevin is horrified to learn that Gina will be arriving in two days rather than a week. That night, he tries every method he can think of to get rid of the pimple, but nothing works. He stares at his reflection and remembers the transformation clip from I Was a Teenaged Werewolf. Out of desperation he goes to Wayne, who says that he should pop it, but then goes on to discuss the potential gruesome consequences. After that, Kevin is led into the bathroom where Wayne shows him his various skin care products, but then charges him a buck for its use. Humorously, when the drawer is opened, we hear the sound of a Geiger counter doing its thing.
While applying the cream, Kevin fantasizes that he and Gina are running toward each other in slow motion, and miss. Next morning, the pimple is bigger than ever and he goes to school with a bandaid covering it. He tells Winnie that he's wearing the bandaid because he got into a fight with a school bully, who gets really annoyed when he hears this story. Going home, Kevin hopes more than anything that this night will pass quickly without his coming out of his room, but Gina and her family arrive. Norma comes to get him and demands that he come out of his room. He comes face to face with Gina and is delighted to find that she has a large pimple on her forehead. The couple get along great, and Kevin realizes that in life there are going to be little .... bumps .... along the way.
«This is one of the things you hear about, a one sentence idea, and this one came from Bob Brush,» explains Todd Langen. «We were sitting around the table one day and Bob said, ‹Guys, we've been doing all these deep episodes. We need to break it up a little bit where something silly and recognizable happens. This is it. Kevin gets a pimple.› That's all we had. From that basis, we built an episode. It turns out we were starting to get pressed for time at that point in the season, so Dave Stem and I teamed up to write that episode. It was a simple story. It's just the familiar and recognizable tale of getting the first pimple at the most inopportune time you can imagine, when a pretty girl is coming to visit. That's all the episode was. No deep message. I did like the moment when Kevin opens up the drawer in the bathroom where Wayne keeps all his Clearasil, and you hear the sound of a Geiger counter going. Just silly stuff like that. We also used the classroom situation, where they're talking about a volcano ready to explode, as a metaphor for what's going on. We do that a lot on the show.»
«Math Class Squared»
Original Airdate 12/12/89
Written by Matthew Carlson
Directed by Daniel Stern
Guest Starring: Steven Gilborn (Mr. Collins), Robert Picardo (Coach Cutlip), Chris Demetral (McCormick), Joshua Smith (Bob), Eric Ratican (Ken), April Dawn McCaffrey (The Girl)
«Math Class Squared» is essentially a sequel to the earlier episode «Math Class.» Older Kevin discusses the concept of heroes and we see photos of astronauts, John Kennedy, comic book super heroes and then his algebra book. As we dissolve to Mr. Collins' classroom, we learn that Kevin has really gotten to like the teacher, who's as hard as ever but someone that inspires Kevin to do his best.
While studying with Paul, Kevin overhears a group of kids who have gotten their hands on a teacher's edition of the algebra textbook which has all the answers. Their plan is to cheat on Collins' tests, as the man takes his exams straight from the textbook. Later, during gym class, one of the kids asks Kevin if he wants in but Kevin refuses, pointing out that they'll never get away with it, and proceeding that way will mean death at Collins' hands.
During the next test, the trio of cheaters use their crip sheets and Kevin thinks Collins is aware of this, but he fails to catch them. Kevin's frustration grows even more intense when the cheaters are affecting the grade curve, thus lowering his «C» average down to a «D.» After this happens a second time, he goes to Collins and expresses his feelings about the curve, but Collins doesn't seem to understand what he's getting out.
«Thank you for your feedback,» says Collins. «I would suggest that you not concern yourself with the rest of the class. Every problem contains its own solution, Mr. Arnold.»
Kevin is stunned, realizing that this wasn't a hero. Mr. Collins was apparently human after all. Disillusioned, he walks out of the classroom and tells McCormick, one of the cheaters, that he wants to have the answers to the next exam. That test, Kevin gets a «B,» but he feels lousy about it. Then he gets an «A,» and Collins make things worse by saying he would like to put him in the honor's math class, an offer Kevin sees no choice but to accept. Needless to say, he is totally confused. During class, Collins asks Kevin a specific algebra question and he imagines that everyone is speaking to him in numbers, and then we have Paul imitating Rod Serling who is introducing an episode of The Twilight Zone.
Kevin races into the bathroom to splash water on his face, where the three cheaters come in and we learn they got an «F» on the unit test, which counts for 50% of their grade, because Collins did not take it out of the book. When he gets home, Kevin realizes that if he had just stayed put, his «C» would have become a «B» thanks to the curve.
Next day, Kevin goes to see Collins, who asks, «Had enough? Every problem contains its own solution, Mr. Arnold.» Kevin moves back to his old class and starts pulling in his old grades again. Why Collins chose to pick him and provide this incredible break, he doesn't know. But one-thing Kevin is aware of is the simple fact that Collins is indeed a hero; a mentor among teachers.
«That script went through a tremendous amount of angst and agony in the formulation stages,» reflects Todd Langen, «because everybody was so wary and so concerned about Kevin cheating. Would that soil the character permanently? They went through every single device they could think of that he had to cheat, he had no choice. I disagreed with that approach a little bit, in that I thought we could have been a little more realistic and gotten away with it, because our character is realistic and people would have accepted and loved him anyway. He's a great person and that's what people do. That's television, I guess.»
«Rock 'n' Roll»
Original Airdate 1/2/90
Written by Bob Stevens
Directed by Michael Dinner
Guest Starring: Sean Baca (Craig Hobson), Joshua Miller (Larry Beeman), Ben Slack (Mr. Ermin), Casey Ellison (Mark Bernstein), Dana Young (Neal Rhodes), Stefanie Scott (Amy Ermin)
«Rock 'n' Roll» is the long awaited Beatles episode of The Wonder Years. The show begins with footage of the moptops on the Ed Sullivan Show, and has older Kevin detail some of the ways that rock 'n' roll had an impact on the people of the sixties.
When some of his friends start a rock and roll band, Kevin decides to take a crack at it. To this end, perhaps dreaming of Beatle-like stardom, he gets his hands on an electric guitar and decides to practice at home. Unfortunately he strums one chord and all the power is knocked out of the house. Still, he is not discouraged. No, this does not come until he and the other members start practicing and he realizes just how truly bad they are. Kevin elects to quit, even after hearing that the band has got a gig at a local party. However, when Kevin learns that the Beatles are about to break up, he realizes that he's got to go through with it-for the sake of rock 'n' roll!
This moment of fame never takes place, however, when police officers break up the party before they are able to play anything.
«That was kind of like going home for me,» admits Michael Dinner. «I started a long time ago as a musician. There were two things I wanted to be when I grew up. One was Keith Richards and the other was to make movies and be John Ford or somebody like that. I actually worked as a musician and was a studio musician on a couple of albums during the early to mid-seventies, so I guess it was fate I ended up doing that show. I guess it was that image of his buying the guitar, coming home and plugging it in on an ear shattering volume that comes to mind, He hits that one powerful chord and all the lights go out in the house. I think I lived through that myself. My parents were very tolerant when I was growing up. They'd lock me in a room and let me crank up the volume to the point where they couldn't stand it anymore. I think it was a part of me that I hadn't dealt with in a long time.»
«Don't You Know Anything About
Original Airdate 1/16/90
Written by Tammy Ader
Directed by Jeff Brown Guest Starring: Maia Brewton (Linda Sloan), Kelly Packard (Susan Fisher), Christa Murphy (Carla Healy), Ben Stein (Mr. Cantwell), Andy Howard (Steve Padway), Sean Wohland (Donald Wallach)
In «Don't You Know Anything About Women?» Kevin wants to ask the like of his life, Susan Fisher, to the school dance, but he realizes he hasn't got a chance. Instead, he asks his buddy, Linda Sloan, to go as friends.
On the night of the dance, Kevin stops by Linda's house to pick her up and discovers that in a dress, with her hair down, she really is a cute girl. He's impressed. At the dance itself, Linda ends up dancing with a guy named Steve (which is okay, since she and Kevin are, after all, just friends). Suddenly, Susan Fisher comes over and asks for a dance. Afterwards they have some punch and discover that they have absolutely nothing to speak about. Susan excuses herself for a minute and Linda comes over, thinking that one of the cups of punch he's holding is for her but he bluntly lets her know that one of them is Susan's, although he doesn't mean to hurt her feelings. Then Kevin sees Susan dancing with her supposed exboyfriend and at that moment, Kevin realizes just how alone he is at the moment. There is a beautiful closing shot of he and Winnie just missing each other on the dance floor.
Todd Langen points out, «Here's a case where, again, the music can make the ending. They used ‹Unchained Melody,› the music that's in Ghost, to great effect, because the whole last scene is at this dance. Kevin has just lost this girl, Linda, who liked him, but he wasn't in love with her. He's sort of wandering around the dance floor, and in the last minute or so you use ‹Unchained Melody,› pumping it up, pumping it up, slowly increasing it until it reaches its climax, and it has this tremendous swelling effect that you feel. And yet-here's the point-the words the narrator was speaking, in my mind, in some respects are totally false. The narrator's saying things like, ‹All our young lives we look for someone to love and someone to love us back,› and I'm thinking to myself, ‹But that's not true. When I was 13-years-old, I wasn't looking for someone to love me for the rest of my life. I was trying to figure out what second base was.› It's interesting, because that totally gets swamped by everything else that's happening at the end: the music, the imagery, Winnie walking in ... all of it gives a tremendous emotional impact, yet what's being spoken, in some respects, is incorrect.»
«The Powers That Be»
Original Airdate 1/23/90
Written by David M. Stern
Directed by Daniel Stern
Guest Starring: David Huddleston (Grandpa Arnold), Gary Grossman (Mr. Corey), Jodi Raye (Young Karen)
Grandpa Arnold arrives in «The Powers That Be,» and tensions become immediately apparent. Jack starts avoiding him, occupying himself with household chores, while grandpa greets the rest of the family. He gives Kevin a puppy, which Jack says they can't keep. Kevin promises that he'll take care of the dog, but Jack won't hear anything of it, until grandpa claims that he can't bring the dog back for a week, so therefore they're stuck with it for that amount of time.
As the episode proceeds, we see a constant stream of arguments between grandpa and Jack over some of the most mundane things imaginable. While this is going on, we're witnessing Kevin's dealing with the responsibility of the dog, which is not always a fun one. As the fights continue, however, Kevin gives the dog back to his grandfather, believing that that is the catalyst of the arguing.
The next morning, grandpa leaves before Kevin awakens. When he steps outside, Jack is walking the puppy and explains that he and grandpa had a long talk that morning. He thinks it's a good idea that Kevin keep the dog. Although Jack doesn't come out and say it, this is a symbolic way of mending the fences between he and his father; of righting disagreements of the past.
«She, My Friend and I»
Original Airdate 2/6/90
Written by Kerry Ehrin
Directed by Peter Baldwin
Guest Starring: Robert Picardo (Coach Cutlip), Juliette Lewis (Dolores), Krista Murphy (Carla Healy)
The title «She, My Friend and l» refers to Winnie, Paul and Kevin. As the episode opens, Carla breaks up with Paul because she doesn't have enough time to spend with her friends. He's totally depressed, and Kevin tries to come to the rescue. He and Paul start to go over potential girls he could ask out, but Paul finds something to criticize in each one of them. The only one he would like to ask, but doesn't have the guts to, is Winnie. Convincing himself that he no longer has feelings for her, Kevin decides to come to the rescue and asks Winnie to ask Paul out. Reluctantly she does so, and in fact things go so well on this «date» that the two of them are going out again the coming weekend. This raises Kevin's jealousy, despite himself. Maybe his feelings aren't as deeply buried as he thinks they are.
In school a few days later, Paul is still walking on cloud nine, particularly when he catches up to Winnie in the halls. Kevin views this and is joined by Carla, who's angry at him for having arranged this in the first place. At home, Kevin's jealousy gets worse. Watching an episode of Mr. Ed, he imagines that Ed is talking about the situation between him, Winnie and Paul. From there we cut to gym where Coach Cutlip is teaching wrestling. Kevin and Paul are pitted against each other, and it turns into an actual fist fight which has to be broken apart.
That night, Kevin is riding his bike in the neighborhood when he catches sight of Winnie and Paul sitting outside her house. Moments later she goes inside, and Paul walks off. Kevin rides up to him and apologizes, expressing his concern that he and Winnie be very happy. Paul tells Kevin that she dumped him, because she likes somebody else. Paul bids him goodnight, and Kevin is suddenly filled with optimism that Winnie is very deeply in love with him. Paul won't tell him for sure, because he promised Winnie he wouldn't. Moments pass and he goes to Winnie's door, the two of them smiling brightly at each other. Kevin loudly announces, «Paul told me, Winnie. You're crazy about me!» And with that, she slams the door in his face.
Nothing like true love.
«St. Valentine's Massacre»
Original Airdate 2/13/90
Written by Mark B. Perry
Directed by Matia Karrell
Guest Starring: Wendel Meldrum (Mrs. Heimer), Crystal McKellar (Becky Slater), Sean Baca (Craig Hobson), Ben Savage (Curtis Hartsell), Krista Murphy (Carla Healy), Elyse Eberstein (Melissa Bemil), Jean Palmerton (Mrs. Dougherty), Tony Nittoli (Tony Barbella)
The «St. Valentine's Day Massacre» begins with Winnie calling Kevin rude, insensitive and smug (among other things), and Kevin desperately wanting to talk to her. He comes up with the idea of giving Winnie a valentine and has a seventh grader place it in .... the wrong locker! Kevin waits until the owner of that locker shows up, but is horrified to find that that person is Becky Slater.
At lunchtime, Becky sits down next to Kevin in the cafeteria, stating that she forgives Kevin for the pain he caused her and then kisses him. The rumor mill starts immediately, and Kevin takes off trying to head it off before it reaches the table that Winnie is sitting at. Unfortunately, the same freshman who put the valentine in the wrong locker gets in his way and trips him to the ground. Winnie stands over Kevin and announces, «I hope you and Becky Slater will be very happy.»
Now finding himself trapped with Becky Slater, and afraid of telling her to take a hike for fear of getting punched out like in the past, Kevin tries to get advice from Miss White, but that does no good. In the library he tries to talk to Winnie, but Becky shows up. Facing up to facts, he tells Becky the truth, and she says she can take it gracefully. Becky gives the valentine back to Kevin and he tries handing it to Winnie, stating, again, that they could work out their problems because he knows she likes him. Winnie announces that she only told Paul that so as to not hurt his feelings too badly. Kevin is crushed as he walks out of school. Suddenly, in a great parody of The Wizard of Oz, Becky Slater tears down the street on her bike, intent on running Kevin over. That same freshman suddenly appears in her way, she swerves and ends up running over Craig Hobson. At that moment, it's instant attraction between hitter and hittee.
As Kevin walks home he sees Winnie, who calls him a jerk for embarrassing her in front of everyone. Once again he proclaims that he likes her, and this time Winnie states that she lied about saying that she lied (have you got that?) to Paul about not liking him. They hold hands and walk home.
At last! Waiting for Kevin and Winnie to get together is similar to waiting for Sam and Diane in Cheers, or Maddie and David in Moonlighting. Congratulations, Kev.
«The kitchen sink show,» laughs Mark Perry. «We threw everything in there but the kitchen sink. That show was designed to be rather farcical and plot heavy. When we approached the show, we said, ‹Let's do something farcical,› and as a result you're already plot heavy. You write the valentine, you give it to a kid and the kid puts it in the wrong locker, and then your old girlfriend gets it and she thinks that you still like her. It's that sort of thing, as opposed to something that started more simply, like ‹The Pimple,› where Kevin gets his first pimple. It's a different starting point. But also another true-to-life experience.»
Original Airdate 2/20/90
Written by Matthew Carlson
Directed by Michael Dinner
Guest Starring: Janet Wood (Donna), Sean Baca (Craig Hobson), Brandon Crane (Doug Porter)
Sexuality is the overall theme of «Tree House.» First off, in school more and more of Kevin's friends are having the talk with their parents concerning sex. Meanwhile, back at the Arnold house, Jack is driving Norma crazy because he's on vacation and wants to play Mr. Fixit on absolutely everything. To get him out of her hair, she suggests that he and Kevin build a tree house. Kevin thinks he's too old for a tree house, while Jack states that you're never too old for a tree house.
As the days pass, they're making terrific progress on their project, bonding together as though they were more than father and son. This changes, however, when they hear a neighbor humming. Looking from the platform they constructed, they see a rather voluptuous woman watering her garden. Both men smile at the sight, until they see the other smiling and realize that they've been looking at the same thing. Abruptly they're reduced to being father and son again, both of them doing everything they can to avoid going back up there. Norma starts after them, and the boys start cutting wood again. Soon, they're climbing up the ladder to do some work. Once they reach the top, both are delighted to find that their «friend» is nowhere to be seen. They dive back into the project and things are going great, until they come back into the house and find that the neighbor, Donna, is in the kitchen with Norma, the two of them having met at the supermarket.
They go back to work and shortly thereafter, Norma climbs up to see how they're doing. Once reaching the top she takes in the view, including Donna in her garden. Norma's delight fades with a simple, «Oh,» perhaps believing that Donna is the reason Jack was so happy to work on the project in the first place.
Jack and Kevin never do have «the talk,» perhaps, as older Kevin notes, because some things are better left unsaid.
Michael Dinner notes, «When we finished that episode, I almost felt like it was a New Yorker type of story. There was something really goofy and charming about it. Like I said, you could say it's about two guys spying a neighbor from a tree house, but it's really about a father and son bonding, which I think is a powerful theme in a number of these episodes. I guess just the image of these two guys on a six by six platform up in a tree, with what wasn't said between them when they spotted the neighbor for the first time, really tickled me. I just found it really funny. When we're growing up, we don't even think of our parents as sexual beings. Then all of a sudden for this kid to realize that his father's been looking at what he's been looking at, and feeling something similar to what he's been feeling, is a pretty big revelation.»
«A fun episode,» details Todd Langen, «with a slightly different tone, dealing with sexuality and the underlying theme that, and it never got stated explicitly, both you and your father realize at some point that you're both sexual beings and males. It was a relevant, realistic episode handled in a very humorous way. In writing, you talk about, for instance, half hour shows where there are two acts and a thing called an act break, the commercial break. One of the theories is that at the act break, you should get your main character up a tree without a ladder, and that's exactly, physically, what happened at the act break, which was kind of cute.»
Original Airdate 2/27/90
Written by Todd W. Langen, Story by Langen and Bob Brush
Guest Starring: Andrea Walters (Miss Haycock), William Lanteau (Mr. Frace), Brandon Crane (Doug Porter), Michael Tricario (Randy Mitchell), Dustin Diamond (Joey Lapman), Jeffrey Baum (Warren Butcher), Troy W. Slaten (Eric)
In «Glee Club,» Kevin and his fellow students consider the class to be nothing but a time waster. They sing a few notes off-key, waste some time and basically get by. That is until a new teacher comes in and decides that she really wants them to sing their little hearts out. It falls to Kevin to tell the teacher, Miss Haycock, that they're really not interested in singing in the Spring Sing. Shockingly, she starts to cry in response, which causes the students to change their minds.
The Spring Sing, for all intents and purposes is an unmitigated disaster with Murphy's Law in full effect. The result is that Miss Haycock disappears, never to be heard from again.
«This situation happened to Bob Brush,» explains Jill Gordon, «and I actually thought it was a fun, cute show. It wasn't big, emotional or dramatic. Just one of those little moments, and I love the fact that we can do a show that can move you and make you cry, and we can also do a show that's just purely fun. That's what ‹Glee Club› was. I think if you can make somebody laugh and cry in a half hour, you've done really well.»
States Todd Langen, «This is a story that Bob and I came up with. The thing is that we both have glee club in our background, so it seemed a natural idea. Since Kevin isn't a talented singer, we had to put him in a humorous situation, so we came up with the idea of the overzealous new teacher. The theme of the episode is that you shouldn't push kids too far to do things they shouldn't do-this was, again, a humorous episode, nothing deep. The ending got a little bit ludicrous, but you can do that now and then, even on a show like The Wonder Years.»
Original Airdate 3/13/90
Written by Todd W. Langen and Mark B. Perry, Story by Tammy Ader
Directed by Dan Lauria
Guest Starring: Krista Murphy (Carla Healy), Sean Baca (Craig Hobson), Ben Stein (Mr. Cantwell), Crystal McKellar (Becky Slater), Greg Davis (Robbie Hudson), Richard H. Greene (Mr. Cooper)
«Night Out» is a simple story: Kevin and Winnie are invited to a make-out party, and the pressure of said party is driving a wedge between them. Not being able to take it, Winnie runs out in the middle of the «festivities» and Kevin is thoroughly confused. Thinking his relationship is over, he goes home to sulk-a task made the more painful by Wayne's needling.
In the middle of the night, he awakens to see Winnie outside his window, hair billowing in the wind, fog filling the air. It has a definite dream-like quality to it, enhanced by the narrator's comment, «Please, God, don't let this be one of those dreams where I can't get the window open.» It turns out to be real and as they walk through the streets, she explains that she hated the party because he's her boyfriend and although she wanted to kiss him, she didn't want to kiss him then. At that moment, as the narrator points out, he realized that love was going to be much more complicated and yet simple than he had planned. Winnie leans over and starts kissing Kevin. Young love is free at last.
«A difficult show,» admits Mark Perry, «because it was a kind of difficult milestone in life, the whole idea of this make-out party. It was tough to bring all those elements together and make them work, but I feel like the ending of that show really pays off, with the Elton John song and the moment when they're out walking at night. It was a tough show to get to that. A lot of work went into the episode. One thing we're blessed with is incredible kids. The actors are just such a pleasure.»
Todd Langen offers, «That was an interesting, pivitol episode. We had established that Kevin and Winnie had finally gotten together as boyfriend and girlfriend, and now they had to confront the inevitable: the first kiss. The entire episode is built around that, and how to make it interesting. And how, in particular, to make it so that we know Kevin and Winnie are not your typical kids. Obviously, the narrator is telling these tales from his adulthood, and Winnie is a very special person in the context of the series. We wanted to show that Winnie, being a little bit beyond her years, wants something more than just your typical make-out party sort of relationship with Kevin, and that's what the episode came from. To me, my favorite moment is after they kiss and just sort of hang out at night. The music is talking about just being friends. Winnie hits Kevin on the shoulder and they take off running, so they're still sort of kids, even after this first kiss. There was something nice about that. It's interesting, too, that the original concept of the story was about Winnie revealing something about herself, and she and Kevin sort of staying out all night and having this odyssey. They go into the park, look at the city of lights from the hill and Kevin learns that there's something more about Winnie than the pure, sweet person that everyone thinks she is. She has something more than that inside her, something special. Time considerations made us lose some of that, but I thought it worked nicely.»
A humorous aspect of the episode is the aforementioned scene when Winnie shows up outside Kevin's bedroom window. There is a dream-like quality to the scene, particularly when the older Kevin narrates, «Please, God, don't let this be a dream where the window doesn't open.»
Opines Jill Gordon, «You have to be careful sometimes with fantasies, especially in a half an hour show, where every moment counts and the story needs to move. Fantasy can pull you out. We use them judiciously. We've had great ideas for fantasies, but we couldn't do them because it wouldn't work. We have to be consistent with the idea: would Kevin at 34 be telling us this fantasy?»
Original Airdate 3/27/90
Written by Matthew Carlson, Story by Carlson and Bob Brush
Directed by Michael Dinner
Guest Starring: Salome Jens (Ms. Stebbins), Emily Schulman (Susan), Mya Akerling (Christine), Josh Berman (Harold), Troy Searcy (Martin), Yunoka Doyle (Debbie), Billy Joe Wright (Larry), Michael Bower (Joel)
In «Faith» it's tax season, and Jack is grumbling more than ever. Meanwhile, at school Kevin is given the assignment of writing his own obituary. It's an assignment he takes lightly, which is the direct opposite of Paul's reaction. Unfortunately, when Kevin sits down that night to write up his obituary, he finds it to be the impossible assignment. Meanwhile, Jack is watching the newscast of the Apollo 13 mission while Norma starts searching for the receipts needed for tax purposes.
At school the next day, Kevin tries bluffing his way through the assignment by delivering a thinly disguised biography of George Washington. His teacher tells him to have his own life on her desk Monday morning. Back home, Kevin sees that Norma is troubled, and she admits that she has indeed misplaced all the receipts. While they're talking, a special report comes over the television announcing that there are problems aboard the Apollo mission. Now Norma has two things weighing heavily on her mind.
Later, Jack wants to start the taxes, but Norma says she has to run an errand. When his father announces that he's going to get started on his own, Kevin decides to ride his bike as far away from the house as possible. Doing so, he inadvertently sees his mother enter a church, somewhere he'd never seen her before, except for weddings and funerals. He can't believe she's lighting a candle over the tax receipts. Kevin approaches her and she's, startled to see him. They ride home in the car, talking very little. As soon as they walk in the house, Jack starts yelling for the tax receipts.
Amazingly, Kevin finds that Jack has handled the news just fine, and is stunned to watch them recreate the past year from memory. He's even more surprised to learn that her prayer at church was for the astronauts, not for the receipts. This seems to free Kevin of his writer's block, as he sits down and is finally able to write his obituary. Older Kevin says, «For the first time I understood that some things are bigger than death and taxes. Like family. Faith. I could only hope that Miss Evans could understand too.»
«The main image of that episode in my mind is when Kevin sees his mother in church,» says Michael Dinner, «a place he hasn't seen her before. It's an interesting show, but one more about ideas. In some ways, it's a real intelligent episode. Whether it works on an emotional level as well as the other ones I did, I'm not sure. But I like it.»
Jill Gordon enthuses, «A really beautiful episode. The thing I loved most about it was the interesting perspective of Norma it provided. I just thought that was vintage Wonder Years, that twist where you thought Norma was going to pray for the tax receipts. Real interesting and very daring. I also love little hints that she and Jack are in love.»
Original Airdate 4/17/90
Written by Ian Gurvitz
In «The Unnatural» Kevin and Paul try signing up for the school baseball team. Paul doesn't make the tryout cut, while Kevin does despite the fact that he doesn't seem terribly good in comparison to the other players. In fact, he believes that the coach, whose life was saved by Jack in Korea, is merely keeping him on as a favor. Kevin asks the coach why he keeps him, and the response is that Kevin's got a lot of heart and compassion, which is the first thing he looks for. Nonetheless, Kevin has a fantasy of his father and the coach in Korea during battle, where Jack saves the coach and in return only asks that if he ever has a son and the other man handles a team, he'd like that boy to be on the team. He agrees.
Kevin's faith is shaken by these thoughts, until he sees on the coach's list has his name scratched off- he's been cut. Knowing that his father wasn't pulling strings, just pulling for him, gives Kevin the confidence he needs to make contact with the ball and send it flying. At least that's the way Kevin likes to remember, and if dreams and memories should mix together, that's the way it should be. As he points out, every kid should be a hero; every kid already is.
Original Airdate 4/24/90
Written by Bob Brush
Directed by Michael Dinner
Guest Starring: Steven Gilborn (Mr. Collins), Sean Baca (Craig Hobson), Phyllis Flax (Teacher), Raye Birk (Mr. Diperna)
«Goodbye» marks the third, and final, part of the so-called «Math Arc.» Kevin is starting to have trouble with algebra again, and he tries talking to Mr. Collins about the situation. Collins, who has always sensed a special something in Kevin, decides to give him private tutoring lessons, which elevates the boy's opinion of him even higher than it was before.
The lessons for the upcoming big test are going along very well, with Kevin coming to the classroom several days a week after school. Then, one day he shows up and Mr. Collins is nowhere to be seen. Kevin goes out to the teacher's parking lot, where he finds the man getting into his car. Kevin is told that he's going to have to finish the lessons on his own; that Collins has faith that he can do it. Kevin can't believe this, feeling like he's been betrayed.
«I thought you were my friend,» says Kevin.
«No, Mr. Arnold,» is the response. «I'm your teacher.»
And with that, Collins is gone. Kevin, for his part, grows more and more furious at this, deciding that he's got to teach this supposed great man a lesson. On the day of the test, he doesn't answer any of the questions properly. His responses consist of «Who cares?», «So what?» and «What difference does it make?» He hands in the paper, glares at Collins and leaves.
That night Kevin's overcome with guilt over his attitude and what he's done. The next day he wants to speak to Collins, but is surprised to see that the assistant principal is teaching the class. As the bell rings, he asks Kevin to remain behind. After school he goes to speak to Collins and is surprised to find that the man is gone. The assistant principal catches sight of him and Kevin asks if he knows where Mr. Collins is. A beat. Then another. Finally, the man tells Kevin that Collins passed away that morning due to a heart ailment. In addition, he mentions that everyone's mid-terms have been graded, except for Kevin's. Somehow it's missing, and his choice is to take the exam again right then and there or get an «F.» Naturally he chooses the former, accepting this final gift and opportunity from Mr. Collins. He sits down, takes the exam and hands it in, noting, «It's an ‹A.›»
As Kevin starts to walk out of the room, he glances back at the desk and sees the image of Mr. Collins sitting there, the trace of a smile on his lips. «Good job, Mr. Collins,» says Kevin softly.
And there is not a dry eye left in the house. «Goodbye» is one of the most successful episodes of The Wonder Years ever produced. Fred Savage gives his best performance to date, and guest star Steven Gilborn, as he did in «Math Class» and «Math Class Squared,» proves himself to be a wonderful actor. The chemistry between the two stars is electric, and it's a shame that we'll never see it again. «Goodbye» also won two Emmy Awards, one for best writer (Bob Brush) and the other for best director (Michael Dinner). This is the kind of show that elevates the medium.
«That was a story I planned to do for a year,» explains Bob Brush, whose script won an Emmy Award. «When we first came up with the idea of doing the math teacher, there was the premise of a three part arc from the beginning that I wanted to do. I loved the episode, because I thought the whole arc was very poignantly about becoming a man and accepting the keys and responsibility to manhood from the teacher and the master. It was really a rite of manhood, so it was a personal story. The pleasure for me in writing that episode was the fact that I could write it very simply, because I so understood what it had to do and who the characters were. I also had two really fine actors to write for: Fred Savage and Steven Gilborn, who were both wonderful. I was as pleased as l'll ever get with that episode. It certainly meant a lot for me. It had to do with a lot of parts of my own life. The thing that I was probably proudest of about the episode was that in the long run, it was not specifically a weeper, which I never wanted it to be. I thought there was a strength in it. I thought at the end of the episode, where Kevin Arnold walks down the hallway, there was a manliness to him, which I had wanted to accomplish. I wanted an episode where he accepted being a man.»
«My favorite show,» says Michael Dinner, who also won the Emmy Award for this episode. «In a lot of ways, that was personally important for a lot of reasons. First of all, I think both Fred and Steve Gilborn were fantastic. I think it's a real important episode. It's not just an episode about the effect of a teacher on a student. I think it goes deeper than that. It's almost a father-son relationship on a subliminal level. To me, what was most interesting is that it was about a boy growing up, because I think at the end of it there's a lot of dignity in Kevin's character. I think there's a realization that he's been selfish, unfair and didn't realize what he had been given. He realizes it at the end, and I think that is probably a big leap for that character to make in growing up. You're fond of all the ones you do as a director, they're all your children, but that one is real personal to me, and real personal to Bob Brush. More than anything else, it's about a kid dealing with something real tough to deal with, and coming out of it a little taller. It's not just a kid dealing with death, but someone growing up and realizing his own failings. That's pretty mature. On the surface, beside all that, are two really wonderful performances. Seeing the two of them work together was great, and I think everyone in the cast and crew kind of rose to the occasion.»
«We pretty much knew that would be the highlight of the season,» says Todd Langen. «Back in the summertime, when we were putting together a three episode math arc, we knew that if we did it right, ‹Goodbye› would be the highlight of the season.»
«Cocoa and Sympathy»
Original Airdate 5/1/90
Written by Winnie Holzman
Directed by Peter Baldwin
Guest Starring: Sean Baca (Craig Hobson), Brandon Crane (Doug Porter), Michael Tricario (Randy Mitchell)
As «Cocoa and Sympathy» begins, Norma announces to Jack that she's gotten tickets to a special concert, but Jack has other things to do and suggests one of the kids go with her.
In school, Paul's esteem is particularly low, especially after the «Lisa Berlini Poll» deems him «The Brainiest.» His depression carries over to the Arnold household, where Norma tries to cheer him up and Paul takes her every compliment to heart. He jumps at the chance for some cocoa, which is slightly confusing to Kevin. This confusion grows as over the next few days. Paul continues to talk to Norma, getting to know her a little better ... in some ways, better than Kevin himself knew her.
As time goes on, it becomes obvious that Paul has developed a serious crush on her. Paul and Norma go to the concert together, and afterwards she basically sets Paul straight without being too harsh on him, pointing out that he's a very special person that will make a girl happy some day. With that, Paul, still happy, departs the house, his crush effectively ended.
Before the credits roll, Jack, having become aware of Norma's happiness at being treated like a woman rather than a housewife or mother, states that he would like to go to the next concert with her.
«A very simple, little story: Paul having a crush on Norma,» says Jill Gordon. «Josh was wonderful, and I loved the jealousy between Paul land Kevin, and what was going on with Norma. The thing we were trying to do is have Kevin see his mother as a woman for the first time. When she lets down Paul, older Kevin says, ‹I realized she was breaking my best friend's heart without breaking my best friend's heart.› That's a wonderful moment.»
«Daddy's Little Girl»
Original Airdate 5/8/90
Written by Todd W. Langen and Mark B. Perry
Directed by Jim McBride
«Daddy's Little Girl» is growing up, as evidenced in this episode. Nearly 18, Karen is annoyed at the way Jack tries to control her life and the two of them get into another screaming match. The result: Kevin and Wayne are given all kinds of household chores to do. In school the next day, Kevin tries telling Winnie what's going on, but is surprised to find that she's on Karen's side.
As the fights continue, Jack gets angrier but works it out by taking his sons to play golf. Things go very well, with Jack actually sticking up for Karen when Wayne puts her down. When he gets home, Jack remains in a good mood, until Karen announces that she doesn't want a cake, a party or presents for her 18th birthday. Then she leaves the house in the ultimate hippie outfit, leaving Jack to say one thing: «Kevin, tomorrow I want you to mow the lawn.»
A few days later, Jack takes Kevin and Wayne shopping for Karen's birthday presents, despite the fact she claimed she didn't want any. Wayne buys her a can of Raid (we're talking class here) and Kevin buys her a diary. As they get ready to leave, Jack announces to the boys that he didn't pick her up anything. As older Kevin points out, dad always bought her a special present every year...how could he not get her one this year?
Kevin dumps some garbage and finds Karen sitting against the garage. He mentions the cake that mom is baking, but she doesn't care about it. He asks her why she always has to be so hard on their father, and wonders why she won't give in this one time. After all, it's not like she'll be there next year once she goes to college. The narrator states that it was perhaps then that the two of them first realized the impact of that statement.
Karen comes into the house and is greeted by a lit birthday cake. Everyone but Jack sings «Happy Birthday» to her. A car horn honks and she's ready to go. Jack tells her she's not leaving until she opens the present from him. She opens it and finds his old kit-bag from the Corps. He was going to get her a new one, but thought she would like this one better for college, or if she goes someplace. Either way, she's got to have something for her clothes and this one got him through a lot of rough times. Tearfully she thanks him and blows out the candles before leaving.
Older Kevin observes that the night of Karen's 18th birthday, when he let her, go out, he let her go, and maybe that's how it has to be. Children leave and parents have to stay behind. Some things, he notes, are deeper than time or distance, and your father will always be your father, and he will always leave a light on for you.
As we've witnessed in the past, Jack Arnold has often had a difficult time dealing with the idea of things slipping by; of losing things that are important to him. The idea of Karen moving out of the house is more than he can deal with, and beyond words. Yet, by episode's end, he knows that it's something as inevitable as taxes and death. Very moving stuff.
«For my own tastes, a little too dramatic,» admits Todd Langen. «It didn't have to get quite so heavy at the end. It's one of those episodes that's a father and daughter show, and it was the only one of the season that was really a ‹parent› episode. The obvious thing is that she was turning 18, she's graduating high school, she's getting ready to go off in the world. There's the conflict of not only daddy letting go of his child, but daddy letting go of his only girl. That's what that one was built from. Perhaps we didn't spend as much time on it as we would have liked to, but it came out okay at the end.»
Mark Perry adds, «With something like ‹Daddy's Little Girl,› it was fun to take the basic premise of Karen's 18th birthday and her wanting to exert her independence a little, and then see how that affected the whole family. If dad's losing control over his older daughter, maybe he's going to put his thumb down a little harder on his two sons. I watched them filming the last scene at the birthday party when Jack gives Karen the duffel bag, and there was real atmosphere on the set. You could tell that people were really into what they were doing.»
«Our actors always come through for us,» says Jill Gordon. «That last scene is such a great moment between Jack and Karen. The evolution of that story had changed so much. At one point that was all about Karen getting married. We discovered what we were trying to say, and that it could be said simply and elegantly in the way it was done.»
Original Airdate 5/16/90
Written by Jill Gordon and Bob Brush
Directed by Michael Dinner
Guest Starring: Krista Murphy (Carla Healy), Sean Baca (Craig Hobson), Bob Stein (Mr. Cantwell), Richard H. Green (Mr. Cooper), Lynn Milgrim (Mrs. Cooper), Crystal McKellar (Becky Slater), David Byrd (Jeweler)
«Moving» begins with a narration that is quite similar in tone to the one that opened and concluded the pilot episode of the series, as Kevin describes for us what life in the suburbs was like. This is contrasted by the abrupt statement made by Jack that they ought to sell «this dump.» He's found dryrot in the basement.
As summer approaches, Kevin is thrilled at the way his relationship with Winnie is going, but when he comes home he hears his father talking about selling the house again. He starts to grow concerned about the prospect of moving. That night, Kevin makes the announcement that his family is moving, but Winnie feels that they're relationship can withstand any move. Paul, on the other hand, pleads with him not to go, which is the reaction that he wanted Winnie to have.
Back home, Norma is doing Wayne's tie for his new waitering job, when Jack walks in and says that they're going to go through with it. Kevin panics, until he learns that his father's talking about fixing the dryrot-not moving. But then he drops the bombshell: the Coopers are moving. They just thought it would be better if Winnie told him. Kevin is in shock.
He runs across the street to Winnie's house to see if it's true, and finds the «for sale» sign in front of it. Winnie tells him she just found out about it, and that they're only moving four miles away. Even though she's going to be going to another school, Winnie believes that everything will be okay between them. The second punch of a combination blow is that they'll be moving in three weeks.
A couple of days later, Winnie breaks up with Kevin, after realizing that a long distance relationship between them would probably be impossible to maintain. However, the day the Coopers are moving, Kevin stops by to talk to her before heading out for Karen's graduation. Winnie explains that they're putting Brian's stuff in storage, and she believes that this move will be good for her parents in terms of finally coming to grips with the death of their son. Before Kevin takes off, Winnie gives him a ring to bind them, essentially uniting them as a couple.
We dissolve to Karen's graduation, then to the restaurant Wayne works at, with Kevin observing the changes in his family. The final image is of young Kevin getting on his bicycle and beginning the four mile oumey to Winnie's house. As the narrator notes, «Until Winnie left, everything in the world was outside my front door. Maybe the world would have to get a little bigger.»
And thus the third season of The Wonder Years comes to a close. Amazingly, this is one of those rarities of television: a series that continues to improve with age.
«I loved that one for lots of reasons,» admits Jill Gordon. «It's the only show I took a credit on, because Bob and I sort of babied that one through. I love what's going on with Kevin and Winnie. It's funny, because so many people have said, ‹I can't believe you guys are getting rid of Winnie.› We're not getting rid of Winnie. It's just so interesting to see everyone's response to it.»
«It turned out very well,» says Todd Langen, «part of which had to do with the way Michael Dinner shot it. There were some nice emotional scenes in it, and I think it turned out to be one of the better episodes of the season, and a good season-ending show. The final image of Kevin fixing up his bike because he has a lot of pedalling to do was very nice. It was an upbeat at the end, a message of hope and a message of promise. A nice way to go into the summer again.»
Michael Dinner interjects, «The strongest image for me is that Kevin's world is in a state of change, and it's going to get bigger. Just the last shot of that show, with Kevin riding his bicycle to see Winnie .... all of a sudden his world is not just across the street anymore. All of a sudden, there's going to be new problems and new situations, and I think that's what that show is all about.»
«For me, the show has been a really great experience,» he continues. «I have the ability to do material that's close to me and somehow personalize it. I think the tough thing for directors in episodic is that it's difficult to personalize a lot of the material. Not only am I able to do so on a psychic level, but I'm involved creatively with the show. My job is to come in, do every third or fourth episode and watch over the other directors. Director-producers are becoming more common these days. I think the thinking behind it is to have a consistent tone and look to the show, and to make sure the other directors do what's demanded of the material. I also serve as a sounding board for them and a resource. It's been interesting for me, because directors generally don't like authority figures, and now I'm finding myself a ‹suit› on the days I'm not directing. So it becomes interesting. I feel like I'm part of the family, and hopefully we'll continue to do our job correctly.»
During its first three seasons, The Wonder Years became one of ABC's most prestigious series, as well as one of its biggest successes. It had apparently come out of nowhere and went on to win numerous Emmy Awards, including the 1988 Emmy for best comedy and the 1990 Emmys for best writing and directing.
Examining the critical and ratings success of the series, the network decided to move it to Wednesday nights where it could open the night and, hopefully, pump new ratings blood into the aging Growing Pains. While his hopes are that The Wonder Years will hold on to its audience, Bob Brush points out that he doesn't concem himself with the move at all.
«We have no control over the placement of the series on the schedule,» he says. «All we can do is the same job we've been doing.»
One departure from the series between seasons was Todd W. Langen, who has decided to pursue a career in films. «I love the show,» he emphasizes, «but other career things beckon me. It's funny, because I absolutely love the show and think it's the best half hour on television. It's ironic that partially because of my success on the show, it's almost taken me away from the show because of the offers I've received in other arenas, particularly features.»
Original Airdate 9/19/90
Written by Bob Brush
Directed by Michael Dinner
Summer 1970. We learn that Wayne has bought a car, Karen is accepted to college and Kevin kissed Winnie under the bleachers at the Fourth of July celebration. Things are great between Kevin and Winnie, having survived a whole summer of a «long distance» relationship.
Unfortunately, things are tense in the Arnold household (what else is new?). Wayne's got a new girlfriend, Angela, who's truly a pig, having the audacity to ask Jack if he's going to eat the food on his fork when he pauses for a moment to talk. Additionally, Karen is taking courses in college like «Hindu Philosophy,» which ticks Jack off to no end, and everyone just seems to be getting on each other's nerves. To help soothe things over, Norma suggests that the family go to Jack's company picnic. The kids don't want to, but Norma wins out. Enroute, the mood lightens a bit as Kevin, Karen, Norma and Jack reflect on picnics past, laughing at the memories. This joyous spirit is short lived, however, as Wayne smashes his car into the family's as they come to a stop.
As the picnic gets underway, spirits seem to have dampened. One of Jack's associates invites him to play on the company softball team, which excites Kevin until Jack squashes any hopes of his participation in the game. Kevin's mood brightens a bit when he meets former Tom boy Mimi, who has, shall we say, developed since the last time he saw her. The duo take a rowboat out on the lake, where Mimi admits that she's always liked and looked up to Kevin. The boy's mood darkens again when he learns that Mimi's father, who Jack has always considered the company fool, was promoted right over him. With that bit of information, Kevin states that he wants to row back, until one of the oars slips into the water. Mimi suggests that they go swimming, but Kevin things that's a ridiculous idea, because they're not wearing their bathing suits. «Who needs bathing suits?» is Mimi's matter-of-fact response. Kevin gets instantly flustered, starts stuttering and is about to fall into a state of shock as Mimi begins to lift her shirt over her head and he slips out of the boat and into the water.
Back on land, Kevin's mood is not a good one, particularly after Jack teases him in front of some other men. Kevin loudly declares that he's playing in the softball game. Later, during the game, Kevin is the only kid on the team. Jack pitches some balls and Kevin, who is angry over this whole day, makes some snide comments about Mimi's father's promotion. Infuriated, Jack throws a fast ball, which Kevin actually strikes, and he begins running. By the time he gets to third base, he learns that the ball he hit struck Jack right in the head. Not knowing what else to do, Kevin runs off and spends the remainder of the day thinking.
That night, Kevin meets up with a devastated Wayne. Angela dumped him, and he doesn't know how to deal with it. Kevin tries being a good brother, providing supportive words, but Wayne shuts him up on every turn. Jack, bandage on head, approaches them. Wayne, expecting some serious fireworks, runs off. Jack, surprisingly, talks to Kevin about his co-worker's promotion, apologizing to him for not telling him himself. They joke about Kevin's «lucky shot.» Later, the family gathers around a burning fire at the picnic, joining a sing-a-long. Older Kevin notes that it was time for the family to address the future, and accept the fact that they're all growing up, which is an undeniable aspect of life.
At episode's end, Karen sets off for college. At that moment, there is a beautiful transition to an old home movie look, as though the Arnolds in 1990 are watching old films of the event. A lovely touch.
The biggest flaw of «Growing Up» are its striking similarities to season three's opening episode, «Summer Song.» There are certainly enough differences to make this an enjoyable episode. After all, even an average episode of The Wonder Years is better than 90% of the shows on television.
«Ninth Grade Man»
Original Airdate 9/26/90
Written by Jill Gordon
Directed by Daniel Stern
Guest Starring: Charles Tyner (Mr. Nestor), Julie Condra (Madeline), Julie Payne (Miss Falcinella), Crystal McKellar (Becky Slater), Tony Nitolli (Tony Barbella), Blake Super (Shop Kid), Josh Berman (Guillomme), Robert Picardo (Cutlip)
Older Kevin discusses evolution; how things in life change. It's the week before school begins. Kevin, Paul and Winnie are at the local pizza place. Paul is freaking out about starting ninth grade, and Winnie about beginning life in a new school. Kevin reassures her that their love will get them through, and Winnie counters by saying they have to think of each other every hour on the hour for the first day in school. Kevin agrees.
Kevin feels confident about beginning ninth grade, until the school day actually begins. He is accosted by bully Tony Barbella, who makes claim to his locker, and Becky Slater, who expresses her hatred for him. Kevin had introduced her to Craig Hobson (actually, she ran him over with her bike last season), and Craig broke up with her and went to military school. As Becky so delicately puts it, she doesn't get mad ... she gets even. One has to wonder why she and Wayne don't get together, as they're both such angry people.
At 11:58, Kevin looks at the classroom clock, knowing that in two minutes Winnie is going to be thinking of him. Suddenly his life becomes more complicated, when he is truck by the beauty of classmate Madeline, and she seems to take an instant liking for him. Naturally, he doesn't think of Winnie at noon, which adds guilt to his menu of emotions that day.
Later, Paul finds himself stuck in chemistry (a course he didn't want), and Kevin is given industrial arts-in other words, shop. Incredulous, Kevin goes to speak to the teacher, but the man is absentminded, hard of hearing and just plain weird. He does ultimately say he'll let Kevin switch out of his class, if he wins an arm-wrestling match. Older Kevin notes that it wasn't even lunch time, and things were off to a smashing start.
At lunch the cherry is put on Kevin's cake as Becky dumps milk all over his lunch. Afterwards, in French class, Kevin is surprised to see Madeline, who speaks the language fluently. Fantasy time, as Kevin images he and Madeline are speaking to each other in French. What follows is the translation as revealed via subtitles.
Madeline: «I've waited for you all my life.»
Kevin: «Do you want some butter?»
Madeline: «The moment I saw you, I knew there was no one else.»
Kevin: «Do you want some butter?»
Madeline: «You fill my heart .... you haunt my mind.»
Kevin: «Do you want some butter?»
Brilliantly comical moment, as it makes perfect sense that even in a fantasy, Kevin would only speak the words of the language he knows. Fantasy ended, he finds himself standing in the middle of the classroom, softly saying Madeline's name. The class laughs, while Madeline smiles at him.
Kevin goes to see the guidance counsellor, who, it seems, is out for most of the fall. In his place is Coach Cudip. Reluctantly, Kevin starts to spill his guts about how the ninth grade isn't what he thought it would be, how he has no locker and how his classes are all wrong. Cutlip contemplates this for a moment, and just for the barest of instances we and Kevin think he might have something useful to offer. Naturally, he doesn't. He admits that what Kevin has brought to him is a complex problem that can only be solved in one way: running laps.
Outside, Kevin is running, when the girl track team approaches. Everyone but Becky stops running. Kevin sees her approaching him and picks up his speed. Becky starts running next to him, and older Kevin notes that this might be the kind of competition the two of them need to setde their differences. For a time the duo are neck and neck, but it is Kevin who ultimately wins the race, leaping up and down in slow motion like Rocky Balboa on top of the museum steps in the original film of that series. Becky's response is to deliver a humiliating punch to Kevin's stomach, which sends him down to the ground, gasping for air. A moment later, Madeline is standing there, smiling. She thanks Kevin for being so nice to her, because it's difficult being the new girl in school. She kisses him, smiles and joins the other girls on the track team as they walk away.
That night, plagued by all that has happened that day, he goes to the pizza place and sees Winnie waiting for him. We see the love in their eyes, and can sense the satisfaction Kevin feels at having at least one constant in his life that's working out the way it's supposed to. But, like the rest of his day, things get screwed up when Madeline walks in, sees Kevin with Winnie and goes to the jukebox. Winnie rests her head on Kevin's shoulder, noting, «You don't know how hard it is to be the new girl in school.» The final shot is of Madeline looking over her shoulder at Kevin, and the look on Kevin's face revealing that he's in deep trouble.
Don't know about that Kev. He finally gets Winnie and his eyes start wandering. So young, so much to learn, so much dramatic fodder for future episodes.
Original Airdate 10/3/90
Written by Jeffrey Speakoff
Directed by Peter Werner
Guest Starring: John Anthony (Walter), Michael Tricario (Randy), Brandon Crane (Doug), Sara Lundy (Girl #1), Stacey Young (Girl #2), Robert Picardo (Cutlip)
Accompanied by clips from war films, older Kevin compares adolescence to war. You try to do the right thing at a crazy time, but there is a noble side to war, where you forge friendships, bringing together the good, the bad and the ugly. We cut to gym class where Cutlip is instructing the class in a sport that will help refine their reflexes: dodge ball. Naturally, it's a slaughter for the boys, as their fellow classmates take pleasure in hitting each other with balls, doing their best to knock each other down. The overall thought one has is who came up with the idea of this sport in the first place? It seems like an open invitation to take out all of your hostilities on someone else and not get in trouble for it. Anyway, we digress....
In the locker room, a kid named Walter informs everyone that there is a slumber party taking place that Friday night at the home of a local high school girl. It is Walter's intention that they crash the party. Kevin is resistant, although Paul definitely wants to go. Later, Doug Porter tells them that Walter's sister said that bringing beers will be the ticket they need to get inside the party. While fantasies of sex fill their young minds, with everyone but Kevin enthusiastic over the idea.
On Friday night, Kevin and Paul are camping out in the former's back yard. They are joined by the other kids, who want to use the tent as a waiting place for Walter, who's bringing beers with him. Walter shows up and reveals the beer. Suddenly the tent collapses, thanks to Wayne, who starts beating up on Kevin all but three of the beers. Older Kevin informs us that at that moment, he realizes that there are some things worth fighting for .... no matter how stupid they might be. He joins his comrades and they slowly make their way towards the slumber party.
Enroute, they imagine a station wagon is a police car, and leap behind some bushes. Doug hurts his ankle and Kevin breaks one of the bottles of beer. Everyone heads to Walter's house so that he can sneak out more beers. Unfortunately, Walter walks in the house, is caught by his mother and grounded. It is Paul who steps forward and delivers what to their young minds is an awe-inspiring speech. They must go forward on their mission. That is exactly what they do, right into the midst of a raging thunder and rain storm.
Finally, they arrive at the address. They see the silhouettes of the girls through the shades. Paul whispers to Kevin that he's scared, because he's a virgin (like they're really going to get sex!) Then, one of the boys go up to the window and one of the girls peer out at them. After a moment, she dismisses them as ninth graders and pulls the shade closed again.
The boys head back home, uniting in having at least accomplished their mission. There may not have been any booty waiting for them, but at least they put a goal before themselves, and achieved it. And yes, Paul remained a virgin that night.
Not a great episode, but certainly one that provides its own share of enjoyment. Looking back at it and the scene where Wayne beats up on Kevin, when are we going to get a story in which Wayne gets a taste of his own medicine? If anyone deserves it, he does.
«The Cost of Living»
Original Airdate 10/10/90
Written by Mark Levin
Directed by Nick Marck
Guest Starring: Alan Fude (Ken Stein), Justin Whalin (Mark Kovinsky), Brandon Crane (Doug Porter), Cal Gibson (Caddy Master), Eric Foster (Kid)
Jack is doing the bills, resulting in his frustration at the level of «out-go» compared to income. He calls the boys in for their weekly allowance, creaking open his wallet to the sound of a mausoleum door slowly swinging open. He gives Wayne four dollars and Kevin two dollars, then closes it to the same sound effect. Wayne complains about his expenses while Kevin accepts what he gets.
In school the next day, Doug Porter is complaining about the price of an ice cream cone, while Paul moans about the fact that his five dollar allowance just isn't enough to get him through the week. Kevin is stunned that Paul gets so much, and realizes that something has to be done about it.
That night, Kevin plans on speaking to Jack, until the man comes in, complaining that the new manager, Ken Stein, is busting his hump. Kevin nonetheless asks him about a raise in allowance, and Jack's response is to say that it will require extra chores. «I work hard for my money,» says Jack, «and so will you.» Kevin has absolutely no problem with that, and in a montage we see him really breaking his back working around the house. The result: one dollar more in allowance.
Kevin talks to Mark Kovinsky and learns that the youth is making over $20 a week working as a caddy at a local golf course. Jack doesn't like the idea, but before he can say anything, the phone rings and it's Ken Stein. Kevin hears him say, «That's what I'm here for. Whatever you say, Ken.» Then he hangs up and is obviously angry. At that moment, Kevin considers Kovinsky's words and realizes that it's time he become his own man, despite Jack's feelings, and signs up.
That weekend, Kevin gets ready to go to work, while Jack is on the phone, agreeing to meet with Ken, once again muttering, «Whatever you say, Ken.»
At the golf course, Kevin is assigned to Ken as caddy, and as such is with his father, who pretends he doesn't know him. As the game continues, Ken is doing great, while Jack keeps screwing up. Ken rubs the apparent victory in Jack's face.
Ken goes off to get some refreshments, and while they're alone Jack asks Kevin if he's alright, suggesting that Ken finish with another caddy. Missing his father's concern, Kevin snaps that he's fine. Their conversation is interrupted by Ken who rejoins them, suggesting that Jack's poor performance may have something to do with the fact that his clubs are old and cheap. Jack's only response is to say, «Let's just see what these old clubs can do.»
The game continues and we see that Jack was holding back. Suddenly his whole attitude changes and he starts winning, with Ken screwing up. His superior attitude alters. At the last hole, Ken screws up and in frustration throws his club into the lake, demanding that Kevin go into the water and get it. Kevin hesitates and ultimately responds, «Whatever you say, Ken,» not missing the irony. Looking at Kevin in the water, Jack purposely screws up so that ken wins, thus making sure that Kevin gets a good tip.
Afterwards, Kevin is given $10, and, having gained a new respect for his father, offers to buy him lunch. As we see the two of them eating, older Kevin tells us that this was the first time that he had taken the time to thank his father for all he had given him.
Pass a tissue please.
Like «Coda» and «Summer Song,» «The Cost of Living» presents an enjoyable little story, but caps it off in such a way that the preceding events suddenly become that much more poignant. Not since season one's «My Father's Office» and season three's «Tree House» has Jack and Kevin been so close. In the author's mind, this only reaffirms the belief that in the ensuing years, the two men would become extremely close.
«It's a Mad, Mad Madeline World»
Original Date 10/24/90
Written by Eric Gilliland
Directed by Rob Thompson
Guest Starring: Julie Condra (Madeline), Michael Tricario (Randy), Julie Payne (Mrs. Falcinella), John 0'Leary (Jeweler), Josh Berman (Harold), Ben Stein (Mr. Cantwell)
Winnie gives Kevin an I.D. bracelet for their anniversary. They make a date for the movies the following night.
At school, we learn that Kevin hasn't said anything to Madeline since the day she kissed him. In French class, the students are given the assignment of cooking a French dish that they will have to prepare in teams of two. Choosing names out of a bowl, Madeline picks Kevin. At lunch, Randy emphasizes that anything can happen with Kevin and Madeline alone in her house. Paul comments that Kevin is going out with Winnie Cooper and is practically married. The other boys leave and Madeline joins Kevin at the table, asking what they should cook. She suggests chocolate mousse. She then compliments his I.D. bracelet, which he says he got from his girlfriend, Winnie Cooper. She calls Winnie special, which allays his fears of being alone with her. Later, Kevin breaks his date with Winnie, who emphasizes that doing his homework is the right thing to do. One thing you can't deny, that Winnie is quite a gal.
That night at Madeline's, they begin preparing the mousse. Things go great, with the two of them having a wonderful time. Kevin panics, however, when Madeline asks him to taste the chocolate on her finger. This moment is built up hilariously as the ultimate temptation. Kevin is clearly tempted, but he runs out of the house and starts riding his bike home, until he realizes he left his bracelet at her house.
Next morning, he rides his bike down to Winnie's bus stop, which surprises her in a delightful sort of way. Then she notices the bracelet isn't on his wrist, but he lies to her, stating that he doesn't wear it while he's riding to make sure that nothing happens to it. Kevin promises to wear it for their date at the movies that night. Winnie calls him «the best» and boards her bus.
At school, Kevin says he needs his bracelet for that night's date with Winnie at the movies in town. Madeline states that she doesn't have it on her, so Kevin will have to go to her house that evening to get it. In class, Kevin turns to Paul for advice and is told he should buy a new bracelet. Later, he goes to a jewelry store and purchases a new one, which he has engraved. Kevin arrives home and is horrified to see that the inscription on the bracelet is «Kevin Amold.» He has to go to Madeline's house now.
He gets there, knocks on the door, but there is no answer. We can see that he's nauseous.
At the movies, Kevin does everything he can to hid his wrist so as to keep Winnie from noticing the missing bracelet. Suddenly, Madeline walks into the theatre and sits down behind the couple. Kevin starts sweating and breathing nervously. With no choice, he starts to tell Winnie about his bracelet. Then, Madeline's hand comes between them and hands the bracelet back, with her explaining that Kevin must have dropped it on the floor.
At episode's end, Kevin states that he and Winnie are united forever, as he clasps the bracelet closed. A second later, it slips off his wrist to the floor.
The last five minutes of «It's a Mad, Mad, Madeline World» are just terrific, with the audience going through a wide variety of emotions as Madeline enters the theatre and has the sheer audacity to sit behind them. Then she does something so kind at the end. Great manipulation of an audience.
The final image of the bracelet slipping to the floor is a terrific one, foreshadowing things to come.
Shortly before The Wonder Years began its fourth season, the series received Emmy Awards, for best writing and best directing. This was certainly an auspicious way to begin a new year, and served to express the appreciation of the Television Academy for the series' high level of quality.
Part of the show's success, undoubtedly has a lot to do with the fact that it has continued to adapt to the changes in its cast of characters.
«Kevin's gotten older,» explains Todd Langen, who left the show after its third season, «and one of the things we dealt with last season is that you couldn't ‹get away› with kid things anymore, and you couldn't depend on Kevin's cute little smile to pull you out of situations. It's become a little bit more of a challenge to address his adolescence basically, and not rely too much on the cuteness of the situation. I think they could probably last right through Kevin's high school graduation.»
«The interesting thing about this show is that as the actors continue to grow up, there's always something new that's happening,» elaborates Mark Perry. «I believe this show could go on for a while, just because it's a reflection of life. I honestly don't know. We could follow Kevin through college and eventually make him a grandfather, though we'd have to break a couple of records to achieve that. Neal and Carol have joked that when he hit the disco era, the show's over. But, by 1996, there may be a certain charm in disco.»
Bob Brush, the guiding force of the series, contemplates the fourth season, noting, «Wait until you see the kids this year. They're adolescents and they're growing like crazy. Josh Saviano has gone from a little squeaky voiced nerdy kid, to a guy who has grown a foot in the last year. Those are the real-life things that you play. We're dealing with that in the show. One of the things that's going to happen this year is that Paul Pfeiffer is going to begin to outgrow his nerd image, because that's just the way it is. That of course will put more pressure on the Kevin/Paul relationship, to accept each other as they're growing, to keep the relationship going and accepting change. Certainly accepting change is a large part of the show.»
«The way our show works,» he continues, «is that we're usually not written very far ahead, so it comes as a surprise to us. One of the things we're tracking is that Kevin and Winnie are going to try and keep together a long distance relationship, which, when you're 14, is no small task. There is going to be a threat to that relationship in Kevin's school-a gal who is definitely a temptation. There is only one Winnie, and she is the wonder years. Winnie is everything good, sweet, true, wonderful, pure and everything about love at 14.»
«We'll see an exploration of the parents and more of the relationship between Kevin and his father, because dads are so important to boys at that age. Kevin Arnold's obviously a very smart kid, because he's so reflective, although part of that is the narrator. But his is a combination, because he's a kid who is trying to find himself in the best ways possible, and he needs help in that. I think he looks to his dad a lot for that kind of guidance. One of the things about the Arnold family, and one of the reasons they're interesting, is that they're a family which, at any moment, can approach nonfunctionality. We've done a lot of episodes where the family has become almost non-functional, and then always finds a strategy to work their way out of the crisis. Certainly Jack Arnold is a key to that. The same with Norma. What's nice about the show is it's not anchored. Not only are the kids growing, but the times are changing. Unfortunately one of the little problems we have is that the times get a bit less interesting once we approach the seventies. But I'm sure the show will go on. I hope it goes on with the same vitality over the years, and I think that will come from being sure that this show shifts and changes in a way that's true to the characters. There is never a lack of stories to do. Our problem is never a lack of stories, but, rather, if we have stories that we can do the right way. The geography of the young teenager is so chock full of guideposts, stopovers and things to look at, that I don't see it ever becoming a problem keeping the stories moving.»
Overall, Bob Brush sees his experience on The Wonder Years as being ... well, wonderful.
«But you have to remember the caveat that episodic television is a war,» he concludes, «and you're dealing with untenable schedules. You do the best you can under tremendous schedule pressures. Doing a show a week is a tremendous challenge, and I think it's part of what makes it good sometimes, because you can't weep over the ones you feel you missed on, because you're always on to the next one. In retrospect, five years from now, I think it will have turned out to be a truly wonderful experience. Right now what it is is day-to-day, fighting the battle of getting the next episode done. It's hard work, and it's hard because we care so much about Kevin Arnold and what's going on. When you care about something and you want it to be as perfect as you can make it, you're always dealing in a dicey area. You're always faced with one question: how are we going to do the next one?»
Judging by its past track record, the cast and crew of The Wonder Years will continue to do «the next one» with class, style and an eye towards the human condition.
#34. «Don't you know anything about Women?»
#40. «Night Out» (wrote story)
#23. «How I'm spending my Summer Vacation»
Carol Black & Neal Marlens:
#1. «The Wonder Years»
#3. «My Father's Office»
#7. «Heart of Darkness»
#8. «Our Miss White»
#22. «Whose Woods are these?»
#39. «Glee Club» (co-wrote story with Todd W. Langen)
#41. «Faith» (co-wrote story with Matthew Carlson)
#45. «Moving» (co-wrote with Jill Gordon)
#11. «Just between You and Me... And Kirk and Paul and Carla and Becky»
#12. «Pottery will get you nowhere»
#14. «Hiroshima, mon Frere»
#16. «The Walkout»
#28. «On the Spot»
#32. «Math Class Squared»
#38. «Tree House»
#41. «Faith» (also co-wrote story with Bob Brush)
#36. «She, my Friend and I»
Debra Frank & Jack Weinstein:
#30. «The Family Car»
Scott A. Frank:
#5. «The Phone Call»
#45. «Moving» (co-wrote with Bob Brush)
#43. «Cocoa and Sympathy»
Todd W. Langen:
#21. «Square Dance»
#27. «Mom Wars»
#31. «The Pimple» (with David M. Stern)
#39. «Glee Club» (story co-written with Bob Brush)
#40. «Night Out» (co-written with Mark B. Perry)
#44. «Daddy's little Girl» (co-wrote with Mark B. Perry)
Mark B. Perry:
#26. «Wayne on Wheels»
#37. «St. Valentine's Day Massacre»
#40. «Night Out» (co-written with Todd W. Langen)
#44. «Daddy's little Girl» (co-wrote with Todd W. Langen)
David M. Stern:
#6. «Dance with me»
#10. «Steady as she goes»
#19. «Birthday Boy»
#29. «Odd Man Out»
#31. «The Pimple» (with Todd W. Langen)
#35. «The Powers that be»
#33. «Rock 'n' Roll»
#1. «The Wonder Years»
#7. «Heart of Darkness»
#8. «Our Miss White»
#10. «Steady as she goes»
#14. «Hiroshima, mon Frere»
#16. «The Walkout»
#19. «Birthday Boy»
Neal Marlens & Carol Black:
#3. «My Father's Office»
#5. «The Phone Call»
#34. «Don't you know anything about Women?»
#6. «Dance with me»
#11. «Just between You and Me... And Kirk and Paul and Carla and Becky»
#29. «Odd Man Out»
#36. «She, my Friend and I»
#43. «Cocoa and Sympathy»
#12. «Pottery will get you nowhere»
#27. «Mom Wars»
#32. «Math Class Squared»
#35. «The Powers that be»
#26. «Wayne on Wheels»
#121. «Square Dance»
#22. «Whose Woods are these?»
#23. «How I spent my Summer Vacation»
#24. «Summer Song»
#30. «The Family Car»
#33. «Rock 'n' Roll»
#38. «Tree House»
#25. «Math Class»
#28. «On the Spot»
#31. «The Pimple»
#37. «St. Valentine's Day Massacre»
#39. «Glee Club»
#44. «Daddy's little Girl»
#40. «Night Out»