Monday, May 18, 2009

Discover Your "Inner Kevin" With A Look Back At "The Wonder Years"

I cry each time I watch "The Wonder Years."

Can't help it. It's just too good

The show debuted on ABC in 1988 as a five-part mini-series and ran its original course until 1993. It's central lead, the wiser-than-his-then years Fred Savage, embodied the young "Kevin Arnold" so well, he was like a one-actor time machine, taking us back to the late 1960s and early 1970s (the era in which the show was premised) with psychologically-nutritious precision.

Remember the episode in which his hippie sister, "Karen," played by Olivia d'Abo, painted flowers on his pants?

My sister did that to me.

Remember how Kevin initially kissed long-time first-love "Winnie Cooper" (portrayed by Danica McKellar) in the woods in the first episode?

I was reminded of my real-life first kiss (with Linda Morales behind the gift-department at Sibley's department store in downtown Rochester, New York).

Yeah, that's it. Maybe that's why I love the show so much. It's MY life. I'M Kevin Arnold. He even looks like I did when I was 11-years-old. The hair, the little Roman nose. It's all the same (and I've got pictures to prove it!).

His best friend "Paul Pfeiffer" (Josh Saviano)? He looks just like Gary Sanfillipo, who was my best friend, while growing up on Erie Street in Rochester.

Kevin's father, "Jack" (Dan Lauria)? Yeah, my father Herbie Pompeii was in the same boat. He made some wrong career choices, too. He was a little frustrated with his position in life. But that didn't stop him from loving me any less than Jack loved Kevin.

Besides, like my Dad had my loving Mom Frances by his side, Jack had his wife "Norma" (Alley Mills) to ease his troubles.

And who hasn't had a "Wayne" (Jason Hervey) for a mean-spirited older brother or neighborhood bully at one point in their lives?

But everyone knows that good always wins out over evil.

At least that's the way it is on "The Wonder Years." Maybe that doesn't come across so directly, but ultimately, that's the message.

Every time Kevin's life seemingly doesn't work out as he plans, somewhere, by the 29th minute, he becomes all the richer for the experience. What doesn't kill him, makes him stronger, and all that stuff – stuff that was so skillfully interwoven into the sound narrative of "The Wonder Years" (compliments of supreme voiceover work from Daniel Stern as the adult Kevin).

No - we all didn't grow up in the suburbs like Kevin. (The old red-brick house in which I was raised remains in the Rochester inner-city neighborhood next to where now stands Frontier Field, and down the street from "Rocky's"). But, somehow, through the magic of television, the experience remains the same.

And "The Wonder Years" remains a television classic.

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