The Wonder Years Deluxe Edition

DVD Reviews Comedy Drama Family Television
10

Superb

The Wonder Years review

If you grew up in the late 80s or early 90s, you grew up with Kevin Arnold (Savage). If you were already grown, you looked back over your own endless summer of childhood, and remembered. And if you loved this show, this box set will fulfill your every craving for nostalgia, the music of the 1960s, and Winnie Cooper (McKellar).

the wonder years deluxe edition DVDThe Wonder Years was groundbreaking at the time, winning a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series after it’s first short season of six episodes in 1988. It left off the laugh track, and used a single-camera shooting style to show American life in a more filmic, less sit com manner. The main character was a kid, Kevin Arnold, but he was also an adult voice ver, commentating, remembering how it felt to grow up, to figure life out, to fall in love for the first time and wryly look back at lost innocence. The lost innocence of being a child, and the innocence of the 60s as an era of flower children, peace marches and suburban life.

It’s a clever and effective device, giving you a wry commentary on life as well as passage backwards into another time. The incredible soundtrack is also so evocative of a lost era, from Jimi Hendrix, The Byrds, Aretha Franklin, James Tayler, The Beach Boys… and of course, Joe Cockers husky cover of Beatles song With A Little Help From My Friends, a track which was noticeably absent from previous reissues due to copyright problems. Rest assured, die-hard fans, it’s back.

Although it was Kevin’s story, his family play such an important role, from his annoying older brother, his hippy teen sister, his middle management father and his homemaker mother, the 60’s nuclear family. Characters who teach Kevin to question the status quo and march for peace, to look deeper than irritating behavior for vulnerability, and what relationships are all about. It’s certainly a golden age for family, defined in a way that perhaps families no longer are.

Many actors got their first roles on this series, from David Schwimmer (Friends) to Alicia Silverstone (Clueless), and the DVD extras are swimming with interviews with cast members and writers. Fred Savage, Kevin himself, has gone on to work extensively in front of and behind the camera in TV and film, and if you want to see the stars all grown up, its here. If there was ever anything you wanted to know about this series, you’ll find it on one of the included discs.

The Wonder Years defined the generation who watched it, both the adults looking back at who they were, and the kids looking forward to who they might want to become. An excellent series that is as fresh, funny, poignant and unusual as the day it aired.  

EXTRAS: With four bonus discs, with 23 hours of exclusive bonus material, plus season guide booklets with extensive notes and interviews, this really is everything you ever wanted to know about The Wonder Years. 

Hermione Flavia is a Screenjabber contributor

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