The Wonder Years: Season Three DVD Review

     Actors: Fred Savage
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Time Life Records
  • DVD Release Date: May 26, 2015



            “The Wonder Years” was one of those shows I thought would never make it to DVD, mostly because of how much great music from the show had copyright issues. Not only has it finally made its way onto DVD for the first time ever, it comes with the originally broadcast music, including Joe Cocker’s memorable rendition of The Beatles’ With a Little Help from My Friends. In total, there are over 50 classic songs included from the original broadcast of season three. But this is a show that is much more than the fantastic soundtrack, though just as much of a classic as the hits that took so long to get copyrighting for.


            The series followed the youth and growth of Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) in suburban middle-class America in the late 1960s, narrated by Daniel Stern as the voice of the child grown with insight and profundity only found with age. Kevin has a stern father (Dan Lauria), a doting mother (Alley Mills), an obnoxious brother (Jason Hervey), and an older sister who is dealing with some of the more complex issues of the time. The show touches upon these issues, such as Vietnam and political scandals, but it is much more interested in the nostalgia of childhood growing pains.


            At the top of that list for Kevin are his relationships with neighbor girl and first-love, Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar), and his lifelong friendship with Paul Pfeiffer (Josh Saviano). This trio makes up all of the content that isn’t dealing with the Arnold family. The pilot episode establishes the importance of their relationship, and this is the one thing that stayed constant to the final episode after six seasons.


            Season three was a sweet spot for the series, as we know the personalities of the characters enough for each coming-of-age situation to fully resonate. While the episodes lack some of the social relevance of early seasons, they begin to deal with iconic issues for any child growing into a teenager. Kevin must deal with a bad pimple before a date, has his first French kiss on a summer vacation, gets a puppy from his grandfather, and countless other experiences which are universally relatable. His experiences with teachers, friends, and parents are timeless. He is also young enough in season three for the romantic issues, eventually leading to him dating Winnie Cooper, are still mostly lighthearted. Winnie became something of an enigma in the later seasons, so complex that the audience is forced to see her in a way that Kevin experienced her. But in the 8th grade, she’s still just a voice of reason and compassion for the often clueless Kevin.


            The single-season DVD release for “The Wonder Years”: Season Three includes all 23 episodes on four discs. Also included are two hours of bonus features that include a making of featurette, a roundtable with McKellar, Savage and Saviano There are also individual interviews with cast members Olivia d’Abo (Karen Arnold), Hervey McKellar, and Crystal McKellar (Becky Slater). While all of the pieces are here, it feels as though the package has been released almost out of lackluster obligation. The back cover is basically just a cut-and-paste copy of the previous season. They didn’t even bother to change the number of episodes that the season contains, claiming 17 instead of 23. 


    Entertainment Value: 10/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 9/10

    Historical Significance:  9/10

    Special Features: 5/10

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