The Wonder Years DVD Review

  • Complete Set: This 22-DVD set contains all 115 episodes from the six seasons of this landmark series.
  • Booklet: Also get complete show notes with episode synopses, cast member reflections, “Current Events,” and more.
  • Bonus Content:
    • Highlights from the first cast reunion in 16 years
    • Roundtable discussions with Danica McKellar, Fred Savage, and Josh Saviano
    • 6 newly produced featurettes
    • Farewell set tour
    • One-hour ABC broadcast of the series finale
    • Exclusive interviews with the show’s creators and cast including Fred Savage, Danica McKellar, Josh Saviano, Alley Mills, Dan Lauria, Olivia d’Abo, Jason Hervey

            “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 is it now available on DVD, it comes with the originally broadcast music, including Joe Cocker’s memorable rendition of The Beatles’ With a Little Help from My Friends and over 300 other classic songs. This is a show that is much more than the fantastic soundtrack, but it is also just as much of a classic as the hits that took so long to get copyrighting for. The full series was first released in a massive 26-disc box set a little less than a year ago, but this revised 22-disc set is pared down for those more interested in owning all of the episodes than how many hours of special features are included.

            The show followed the youth 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.

            This box set of all six seasons marks the end of a very lengthy release plan. It began last October with the complete series set, previously mentioned in this review. The only way to own the show was by buying the entire box set, until individual seasons began to have releases dates as well. Slowly each season was released, every month or so until all of them were available individually. This box set is essentially just a collection of all six of these individual releases, packed exactly the same within a joining cardboard cover. Some of the special features from the first release are included in each of these sets, though collectively there are only about 12 hours of extras, which is nearly cut in half from the original release.

            Which tactic you take in owning “The Wonder Years” is now just a matter of taste. If you like the show, but only in the early seasons when the cast was still young enough to be cute, there are individual seasons for sale. If you love all of the show, but don’t care about extras or fancy packaging, this is the set for you. Even though there are less special features, it still includes highlights from the cast reunion, six production featurettes, exclusive interviews, a roundtable, a set tour, and an hour-long broadcast of the series finale on ABC. There is also an insert booklet with complete episode information and cast insights.

    Entertainment Value: 10/10
    Quality of Filmmaking: 9/10
    Historical Significance:  8.5/10
    Special Features: 8.5/10

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