The Wonder Years: Complete Series DVD Review
“The Wonder Years” is easily a top 100 TV series.
Over the course of six seasons, the dramatic comedy “The Wonder Years” made viewers feel virtually every emotion imaginable. Through the eyes of Kevin Arnold, we (the audience) not only experienced what life was like in the 1960’s (perhaps for the first time), but we also got to see a truly timeless coming of age story. As we traced Kevin’s life through Junior High School and High School, the writers delved into relevant and relatable real world subjects such as sex, war, romance, life in the suburbs, holidays, nostalgia, peace, jealousy, human fragility, puberty, rock music, school, friendship, bullies, jobs, parties, vacations, and more.
Above all else, however, “The Wonder Years” was about family. Jack, Norma, Karen, Wayne, and Kevin Arnold were all so expertly written that it often felt like you were in their home right there with them. Of course, that resonance was part of the appeal. They felt real and honest and never came across as phony or forced. Of course, that was largely due to the performances by Fred Savage, Danica McKellar, Olivia d’Abo, Jason Hervey, Alley Mills, Dan Lauria, Daniel Stern (the perfect narrator) and Josh Saviano. Their chemistry was impeccable and they made every single episode explode with life.
Now, some folks will argue that “The Wonder Years” did suffer from the Kevin-Winnie relationship and that was true at times. While their friendship and romance was integral to the series, it did grow a bit tiresome in the later seasons due to their on and off again romance. Also, to be honest, I’m really not sure how I felt about the wrap-up in the series finale either. On one hand, it made perfect sense. On the other hand, it felt like a disservice to fans who thought Kevin and Winnie were meant for each other. However one may feel about it though, it was true to the spirit of the show and life in general.
Of all my years of reviewing DVDs and Blu-rays, this is far and away the coolest set I have come across. First of all, the discs are housed in a metal locker. Once you open it up, you will see 2 folder shaped packages housing a whopping 26 discs with each folder contains 3 seasons each and a notebook. The notebooks contain episode descriptions, cast and crew quotes, pictures and various asides. Also included is a hardcover yearbook which contains cast and crew signatures, behind-the-scenes photos, credits, a cast overview and some fun mock yearbook elements. Last, but not least there are 9 magnets for the locker. The only downside to the packaging is that the discs can be tough to remove from the cardboard folder sleeves. They can even get scratched as a result of moving them.
Presentation: Fullscreen. How does it look? For as much work that went into this gorgeous set, it would have been nice to see the episodes remastered instead of having them look like they did when they originally aired.
Audio Track: Unspecified. How does it sound? Alas, the audio has not been remastered either and it sounds a bit flat at times.
* Interviews with Neal Marlens, Carol Black, Fred Savage, Danica McKellar, Josh Saviano, Daniel Stern, Dan Lauria, Alley Mills, Olivia d’Abo, Jason Hervey, Crystal McKellar, Robert Picardo, Ben Stein, Wendel Meldrum, David Schwimmer, Bob Brush, Bruce Nachbar, Seth Green, Ken Topolsky, W.G. Walden, David Bianculli, Michael Dinner, Mahaila McKellar, Skip Cook, Alicia Alexander and Mark B. Perry. Expect to see personal and revealing information about careers, set experiences, what “The Wonder Years” meant to them, and a whole lot more. Note: Some individuals are interviewed more than once.
* The crown jewel of this set is by far the charming and joyous 2 part 69 minute 2014 cast reunion with Olivia d’Abo, Jason Hervey, Alley Mills, Danica McKellar, Fred Savage and Josh Saviano. They chat about everything from being cast, characters, memories from the set, certain episodes, chemistry, their own families, watching the show, and more.
* A featurette (“With A Little Help From My Friends: The Early Days of The Wonder Years”) that delves into the show’s characters and cast, music, and more.
* 2 roundtable discussions (“School Days” and “Hall Pass”) that features Danica McKellar, Fred Savage and Josh Saviano recalling memories from their times on set.
* “The Times They Are A-Changin’: The Era”- A 28 minute documentary of sorts about the 1960’s.
* Another featurette titled “A Family Affair: At Home With The Arnolds.” This one contains cast and crew interviews, discussions about the portrayal of the Arnold family in the series, episode clips, etc.
* “Pilot Episode Outtakes: The First Kiss”- Danica McKellar and Fred Savage provide commentary on 19 minutes of dailies.
* A featuretted titled “When A Man Loves A Woman: Kevin and Winnie Forever.” The title explains it all.
* “ABC: Teachers That Made A Difference”- A featurette about the teacher characters in the series.
* “That’s A Wrap: Mark B. Perry’s Farewell Set Tour Season 5”- This is essentially a video diary.
* “Will You Love Me Tomorrow: The Wonder Years’ Love Stories”- A featurette about the various romances in the series.
* The 1 hour ABC broadcast of “Independence Day.”
* “At Last: The Final Episode”- An overview of the final episode from the view of the writers and cast.
* “From The Vault: Alley Mills and Bob Brush Letters”- Alley reads an emotional and personal letter she sent to Bob Brush about the show and the series finale.
* “My Generation: The Kids Grow Up”- A fascinating extra about the young “before they were stars” actors that were on the series such as Giovanni Ribisi and Alicia Silverstone and the main stars.
* “Bookends: Kevin and Paul”- A featurette about the the friendship between the two characters.
* “Both Sides Now: The Music That Made The Moments”- A featurette about the importance of the music to the series.
* “I Love You For Sentimental Reasons: Fan-Favorite Episodes”- The cast and crew chat about their favorite episodes.
Overall Thoughts: If you love “The Wonder Years” or you have never seen it, but have wanted to, you owe it to yourself to pick this set up.
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