Back in February, I posted the news that THE WONDER YEARS – COMPLETE SERIES was finally headed for DVD for the very first time. Details were scarce, but this week the full specs have been unleashed, and the folks at StarVista Entertainment and Time-Life sent them over along with all the pre-order information on three highly detailed configurations of the set – Standard, “The Experience” and one that’s being limited to just 500 copies – The Signature Edition. Personally, I think this looks fantastic. Check it out…
Before there was Modern Family, That ’70s Show or Freaks and Geeks, there was The Wonder Years — a nostalgia-inducing take on the traditional family sitcom — and one of the most beloved sitcoms of the past thirty years. Debuting in 1988 following ABC’s broadcast of Super Bowl XXII, the affectionate look at growing up in the late ’60s and early ’70s in suburban America was unlike anything else on television. And, for the next six seasons, America tuned in to follow the exploits of Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage), as he navigated adolescence in the most memorable of ways. Never before released on DVD in its entirety, THE WONDER YEARS COMPLETE SERIES will be presented as a 26-disc collector’s set featuring all 115 episodes housed in a replica metal locker, along with a host of extras including 15 hours of specially-produced bonus programming —featurettes, an incredible cast reunion 16 years in the making and never-before-seen outtakes, including all takes of Kevin and Winnie’s first kiss from the pilot episode. THE WONDER YEARS COMPLETE SERIES will be available exclusively online, available now for pre-order at TimeLife.com/WonderYears for $249.95.
It was 1968 — the year of Nixon and space walks and Mod Squad and Vietnam. Enter Kevin Arnold (Savage), a sixth grader at Kennedy Junior High School. Set against the suburban backdrop of Anytown, USA, Kevin sought to minimize his teenage angst while dealing with an older, noogie-happy brother Wayne (Jason Hervey), a rebellious sister, Karen (Olivia d’Abo), distant, workaholic father, Jack (Dan Lauria) and doting housewife mother, Norma (Alley Mills). Add to the mix Paul Pfeiffer (Josh Saviano), his nerdy, allergy-riddled best friend, a potential love interest in winsome girl-next-door Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar) and narration by an older, wiser, wittier Kevin (voiced by Daniel Stern) to add perspective to the nostalgia, and you have the perfect recipe for TV greatness.
With 28 million viewers tuning in to ABC for the first episode, all it took was one kiss between Kevin and Winnie to get audiences hooked on this series created by the husband-and-wife duo Neal Marlens and Carol Black. From 1988 to 1993, The Wonder Years was one of the most popular shows on TV, achieving a spot in the Nielsen Top 30 for four of its six seasons. And the critical accolades and awards would follow: after only a scant six episodes, the show captured an Emmy® for “Best Comedy Series;” and, at the age of 13, Fred Savage, would become the youngest actor ever nominated as “Outstanding Lead Actor for a Comedy Series.” The series would also go on to win 24 awards (and be nominated for 70 more), including multiple Emmy® Awards, a Golden Globe® and, in 1989, a Peabody® Award for pushing the boundaries of the sitcom format and using new modes of storytelling. Additionally, in 1997, “My Father’s Office” was ranked #29 on TV Guide’s “100 Greatest Episodes of All Time” and in the 2009 list, the pilot episode was ranked #43. Suffice it to say, The Wonder Years was one of the most critically lauded sitcoms of the late 80s and early 90s.
An integral part of The Wonder Years was its use of classic period music, so to release the series to the consumer marketplace, StarVista Entertainment/ Time painstakingly cleared over 300 songs as they were featured in the original broadcast. Included among the hundreds of memorable, era-defining recordings are Joe Cocker’s iconic title song, “With A Little Help From My Friends,” plus songs by Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, Smokey Robinson, The Who, Aretha Franklin, Carole King and many others.
THE WONDER YEARS COMPLETE SERIES ($249.95) is nostalgically packaged in a collectible metal locker, a replica of those used by Kevin and Winnie in Kennedy Junior High School — complete with colorful Wonder Years magnets to custom-design each locker. Within the locker are housed 26 DVDs, featuring every complete episode* of the beloved series. Also included are two notebooks, each featuring detailed episode information and production photos, as well as a replica yearbook embellished with signatures from cast members, behind-the-scenes photos and classic show memorabilia, and liner notes penned by Fred Savage, series creators Neal Marlens and Carol Black, and executive producer Bob Brush.
The TV archivists at StarVista Entertainment/Time Life have also put together 15 hours of specially-produced bonuses including the 2014 Los Angeles cast reunion, featuring all key cast together for the first time in 16 years; extensive individual interviews with all seven key cast members (Fred Savage, Danica McKellar, Josh Saviano, Dan Lauria, Alley Mills, Olivia d’Abo and Jason Hervey), as well as with notable actors featured as guest stars or in recurring roles, such as David Schwimmer, Ben Stein, Bob Picardo and Seth Green; plus, in-depth interviews with narrator Daniel Stern, Neal Marlens, Carol Black, Bob Brush and other production personnel; and, ten brand-new featurettes: “With A Little Help From My Friends: The Early Days of The Wonder Years, “The Times They Are A-Changin'”: The Era, “My Generation”: The Kids Grow Up, “When A Man Loves A Woman”: Kevin & Winnie Forever, “Bookends”: Kevin & Paul, “A Family Affair”: At Home With The Arnolds, “”I Love You For Sentimental Reasons”: Fan-Favorite Episodes, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”: The Wonder Years’ Love Stories, “ABC”: Teachers That Made A Difference and “Both Sides Now”: The Music That Made The Moments. Finally, never-before-seen outtakes, including alternate versions of Kevin and Winnie’s first kiss from the pilot episode completes this impressive collector’s set, certain to be a fixture in the homes of many a Wonder Years fan and TV DVD aficionado.
Additionally, being released day-and-date will be two additional configurations sure to excite die-hard fans who’ve been eagerly awaiting the series’ home entertainment release since it left the airwaves in 1993. THE WONDER YEARS EXPERIENCE, priced at $299.95,includes all the elements from the COMPLETE SERIES, along with a selection of limited-edition memorabilia created exclusively for this set: a Kennedy Junior High School tee shirt, tube socks, and a vintage gym bag; a Kennedy Junior High School pennant and commemorative patch, The Wonder Years collectible pins, and a newly-produced Wonder Years CD, featuring the theme song plus classics by Bob Dylan, Diana Ross, The Beach Boys, The Temptations and many others.
THE WONDER YEARS SIGNATURE EDITION ($499.95), limited to 500 sets, includes everything from the COMPLETE SERIES and EXPERIENCE editions; each set will also be hand-signed by Fred Savage, Danica McKellar and other cast members, housed in a numbered locker and accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity.
The most requested unreleased TV DVD in the marketplace, THE WONDER YEARS is the newest DVD release from StarVista Entertainment/Time Life, following in the critically acclaimed footsteps of for top-selling, award-winning boxed sets of CHINA BEACH, THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW and THE DEAN MARTIN CELEBRITY ROASTS, among many others. And much like Kevin Arnold says in the final episode, perhaps, after all these years, you’ll “still look back with wonder” at one of the landmark television programs of our time.