Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Wonder Years

What would you do if I sang out of tune?

I recently watched The Wonder Years on Netflix (thank goodness I was able to watch them all before the show was taken off Netflix or before my computer went kaput!) and wanted to share my 10 favorite episodes from the 6 seasons (technically they had five and a quarter seasons since the first season was only six episodes!

I'm going to say it: I think Fred Savage is the best TV child actor ever. Sorry, Frankie Muniz. Sorry, JTT. Sorry, Ron Howard. Sorry, Finn Wolfhard. But it's just true!

Did you know that Fred Savage was the youngest person to be nominated for an Emmy when he was 12? And he is the third youngest person (13) to host SNL after Macaulay Culkin (11) and Drew Barrymore (7). 

So here are my ten favorite episodes The Wonder Years:

10. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (Season 3, Episode 14)

Okay, I admit, I may only have this episode on my list because Cory Matthews is in it. I knew Ben Savage was in an episode of The Wonder Years (only makes sense since Fred was in an episode of Boy Meets World!), but I just didn't know what season or when he would show up, but as soon as I saw him, I knew it was him. But even without Fred Savage's real-life little brother, I still would have liked this episode. Kevin's trying to win Winnie Cooper back and makes her a Valentine's Day card. Ben plays a student dressed as Cupid and Kevin tells him which locker to put the Valentine. There is a funny exchange between the two of them as Kevin (who is in 8th grade) is skeptical that the kid is in 7th grade (in real life, Ben is four years younger, so he would have been 8 or 9), but he says he skipped a grade. Uh, more like a couple of grades! Unfortunately, Ben (I don't think his character had a name), puts the Valentine in the wrong locker. Not only does it not get to Winnie, but it ends up in Becky Slater's locker. She is Kevin's ex-girlfriend/nemesis and she thinks Kevin wants to get back together. Whoops!

9. Don't You Know Anything About Women? (Season 3, Episode 11)

You know nothing, Kevin Arnold! This is just one of many episodes where Kevin is a total jerk. He has a crush on a beautiful blonde named Susan who is already taken and his lab partner, Linda, who he calls "comfortable" and "a great guy" gives him advice to ask Susan to a dance. Kevin tries to, but loses his nerve. Linda suggests that they go to the dance together "as friends" since neither of them have dates. Kevin agrees. Of course as soon as that happens, Susan reappears and tells Kevin to "save her a dance" at the dance and he is elated. He's trying to think of a way to weasel out of going to the dance with Linda, but decides he can't let a friend down. He even mentions it's "like going to the dance with Paul...only not at all" once he sees Linda in her dress and she's all made up. He almost seems like he made the right choice in going with her, but he gets his dance from Susan. Afterwards, when he's getting them both a drink from the punch bowl, Linda comes up and starts to take the drink, thinking it's for her, but he tells her it's for Susan and that she will be back soon. Clearly hurt by this, Linda leaves to look for the guy who initially asked her to the dance. He justifies this by thinking that while Linda was a great girl, he didn't like her the way he liked Susan...only to look up and see Susan dancing with her boyfriend, who she made up with. I thought the girl playing Linda looked familiar and she also played Sara Andrews in Adventures in Baby-Sitting, you know the one obsessed with Thor?

8. Carnal Knowledge (Season 5, Episode 19)

The Netflix synopsis of this episode spoils what happens, but I'll get to that later. Kevin and his friends are 16 and they are excited about a new movie called Carnal Knowledge (I looked it up, and yes, it is a real movie directed by Mike Nichols and starring Jack Nicholson, Candice Bergen, and Ann Margaret and it came out in 1971 which would coincide with the timeline of the series) which features a lot of sex and apparently, according to one of Kevin's friends, it shows "everything". Since they are only 16, they plan to sneak into the movie with fake IDs, only problem is there is a misunderstanding and the guy who was suppose to get the IDs doesn't have them. Before that we get a funny scene where Kevin's mom is trying to get her husband to see the movie (the same showing he was planning on seeing), but Kevin convinces his dad to stay home and watch the John Wayne marathon instead. Kevin and his friends try to get Paul to see the film with them, but he can't because his mom's friend from college is visiting with her family which includes a college-aged girl who we meet briefly. They are annoyed with him because what teenaged boy wouldn't want to see this movie? Well, it turns out he lost his virginity to the college girl while the other guys were trying to see the sexually explicit movie. Which is pretty ironic if you think about it cuz they were giving him grief about not wanting to see it. This is spoiled in the Netflix synopsis because it says something like "Kevin tries to sneak into an R-rated movie, while Paul is having his own R-rated night." Or something like that. It pretty much implies he has sex, so I wasn't as surprised as Kevin when it is revealed. After his failed attempt at seeing the movie, Paul comes over and is trying to tell Kevin what happened and Kevin sarcastically says, "Did you make passionate love on the kitchen table?" and Paul says, "Well, it wasn't in the kitchen..." which Kevin wasn't expecting at all.

So the remaining episodes on my list all made me tear up or flat out bawl!

7. The Hardware Store (Season 5, Episode 3)

I thought this episode was from an earlier season, but I kinda watched them all in a big clump, so that's probably why I thought that. I guess since this episode is about Kevin's very first job, I thought he was younger than 15, but I suppose that is pretty young! But in Wonder Years years (heh), 15 is on the older spectrum for Kevin since we first meet him when he's 11 and the show ends when he's 16 (or maybe he's 17...I don't remember). Anyway, this episode shows us Kevin's first job, which you may have guessed, is at the local hardware store. He just sorts stuff and helps out his boss, Mr. Harris, who is a curmudgeon. Kevin hates his job and wants to get a job at the mall food court, where his other friends work, and the pay there is....get this...$1.60/hour and he's thrilled about this. I was like, huh. I mean, it IS 1971, but that still doesn't seem like enough. This is ten cents more than his job at the hardware store and when he tells Mr. Harris this, his boss tells him he'll give him a 15 cent raise, thinking this is about money, although it's not, so Keven is forced to stay at the job. However, it doesn't last too long and he quits to take the job at the mall so he can hang with his friends and have an easy job. It turns out Kevin did learn a lot while working at the hardware store because his dad needs to fix something and Kevin seems to know exactly what kind of tools he will need, thanks to his apprenticeship. Looking back, adult Kevin narrates to us, "When I left [the mall job] a month later, no one cared, but every time I pick up a flat head screw, I think of Old Man Harris and how those cowbells clanged as I walked out that door. And even though I can't say exactly what I gained, I know I can't measure what I lost." Uh, that made me lose it and I started to cry!

6. Grandpa's Car (Season 5, Episode 12)

Kevin's grandfather (Jack's dad) has been a recurring character throughout the series. In this episode, he has been having trouble with driving safely and he is furious when Jack and Norma want to take his car away from him. He tells him he's leaving so Kevin drives him to his house and will take a bus back. Once they are out of sight from the Arnold house, Grandpa Arnold makes Kevin pull over and get out so he can drive. They visit many sites along the way which annoys Kevin at first, then realizes that all of these places serve as important memories for his grandfather and learns to appreciate spending time with him. Grandpa Arnold also realizes that he really shouldn't be driving after he has a near collision (which really wasn't that bad...Kevin was totally overreacting when he said they were nearly killed) and sells his car to Kevin for a dollar. What a great deal...even for 1971! The last line made me a little teary-eyed. Kevin says he remembers his first car "not because it was my first car, but because it was my grandfather's last." ::SNIFFSNIFFSNIFF:::

5 . A Very Cutlip Christmas (Season 4, Episode 9)

The 4th season takes place during Kevin's last year in junior high as a ninth grader. In another episode from this season where he says he's a ninth grader and was still in junior high, I was very confused. I had no idea that back in the day 7-9 was junior high and 10-12 was high school. Now I knew that sixth grade used o be part of elementary, but I just assumed junior high was only 7 and 8! I guess it would make more sense to have three grades in each school. This is also our last season with Coach Cutlip, Kevin's gym teacher who is a major hardass and nobody likes him. One day, while at the mall, Kevin sees a familiar man dressed up as Santa and recognizes him as his gym coach which shocks him because it's such a different side to the tyrannical coach. Cutlip sees that Kevin sees him and the next day at school he tells him "Kids like me when I'm Santa." He doesn't want Kevin to tell anyone, so he starts being really nice to him, which makes the other kids suspicious. Kevin doesn't plan on telling anyone, but he does let it slip that Cutlip "works at the mall" and the others are determined to go and find him and laugh at him. I'm assuming they think he works at one of those kiosks or somewhere at the food court. I really have no idea why they want to waste their time going to the mall just to look for their teacher, but then again, they are teenagers and it is the mall and teens love hanging out at the mall. When they see Santa, they are also like Kevin in that they see this guy giving small kids joy and they can't make fun of him. Maybe not the most memorable Christmas episode, but a very sweet episode, nonetheless.

4. Birthday Boy (Season 2, Episode 13)

Kevin and Paul's birthdays are only four days apart and they usually have joint birthday parties, but this year (1969) is different because they are turning 13 and that means Paul, who is Jewish, will also be celebrating his bar mitzvah. Kevin is livid when Paul tells him it's on his (Kevin's birthday), March 18. (I always like it when we know the birthday of a TV character...makes them more real). Paul invites his best friend to one of the most important events of his life and Kevin is a total jerk and tells him no, that's HIS birthday and HE has plans. Kevin, calm down, it's not like you can't celebrate your birthday another day. It is clear he is jealous that his best friend is having this HUGE party filled with tons of guests, tons of food, and tons of presents on his birthday. On March 18 we see that Kevin really didn't have any big plans and both of his older siblings leave as soon as Kevin has opened his presents and his mom seems to be the only one who wants to make the day special for her son. We cut to Paul at his bar mitzvah ceremony and Kevin enters the synagogue and Paul sees him. This is when I start crying and then we see Paul and Kevin celebrating and dancing with Paul's family and I am still crying.

3. The Accident (Season 4, Episode 20)

This was during the time Winnie Cooper went to a different junior high because her family moved. She's hanging out with new friends and acting very erratic and Kevin is worried about her. The accident the title is referring to is when Winnie gets into a car accident. What I really love about this episode in particular is the music. We have "Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson playing when Winnie is skating with her friends at the  roller rink (while I knew the song, I had to look it up to find out the title). It goes very well with the 1970 vibe of the scene. But most of all, I love the inclusion of "We've Got Tonight" by Bob Seger at the end. Although I looked it up and that song came out in 1978 (according to Wikipedia) and this episode takes place in 1970. In fact, it's 1973 when the series ends. Huh. Oh, well, I think it's the perfect song and I love that song. After Winnie comes home from the hospital, Kevin is waiting at her house to see her, but her parents tell him that she doesn't want to talk to her. This song plays as Kevin sneaks up to her bedroom window to mouth "I love you" and she does the same. It's a very sweet moment and you can bet it brought tears to my eyes.

2. Square Dance (Season 2, Episode 15)

This episode introduces a character named Margaret Farquhar who is only in this episode but leaves a huge impression. She's this really weird, nerdy girl who wears glasses and has three braids. She's into bugs and even has a pet bat. She doesn't have many friends and is often shunned. Kevin refers to her as the least popular girl in their grade. She's annoying because she is constantly asking really stupid questions. She also didn't seem to have any self awareness that nobody liked her which made me cringe. Throughout the series, Kevin has always been worried about being cool, but more so when he's in the seventh grade. In this episode, the boys and girls gym classes are working together because the kids are going to learn to square dance, so they're going to partner up together and this will last for a week. Kevin and Paul are total jerks and tell each other they hope they don't get stuck with any loser girls. Paul is thrilled when he is paired with a pretty girl, but Kevin's worst nightmare comes true when he is partnered up with Margaret Farquhar. After all, he tells us, being paired for a week in middle school is equivalent to eleven years! Everyone makes fun of him and Kevin is worried about his reputation. Kevin does dance with her because his mom tells him to be nice to her, but then she starts talking to him in the hall and cafeteria and he doesn't know what to do. His classmates start teasing him that he's in love with her. At the next gym class, he snubs Margaret by telling her that he sprained his hand so he won't be able to hold hers. He thinks she's gotten the message, but she comes over to his house that afternoon and brings her fruit bat named Mortimer. He tries to get her to leave, but Mrs. Arnold comes in and tells Margaret to stay. Kevin spends an hour with her and finds her very interesting "in a weird way". When Kevin asks her why she has three pigtails, she replies, "Cuz you never know when you're going to need an extra rubber band." He learns a lot about her and they seem to bond. In a haste to get rid of her before Wayne got home and started teasing him, he promises that he'll come over to her house for dinner. He does arrive at the house, but then starts freaking out that somebody is going to see him (even if they did, do they know that's the Farquhar house?) and runs away after ringing the doorbell. The next day at school Kevin tells her that they can talk to each other, but not at school or at his house or in front of anybody. Basically, they can be "secret friends". He is super proud of his "solution", but Margaret, is rightfully pissed off. She doesn't understand why he doesn't want to be friends and starts yelling at him which causes a commotion and Kevin's classmates start making fun of both of them. Narrator Kevin tell us he wished he had been braver and he could have stood up for Margaret and been her friend, but instead during their last square dancing lesson he said he danced alone as Margaret wouldn't look at or speak to him. He talks about her being one of the kids in his yearbook that he will never forget. She became a professor of biology, a mother of six, and remained a friend to bats. This episode definitely made me cry!

1. Goodbye (Season 3, Episode 20)

There is an arc in season three with Kevin struggling with his math class. He doesn't much care for his teacher, Mr. Collins, and is appalled when he suggests that he come to his tutoring classes because only the uncool people go to those and Kevin doesn't want to be associated with them. In another episode, he cheats on his math test because some of the other boys in his class are doing it after finding a book in the library that has all the teacher's answers. He and Mr. Collins do find a respect for each other, but in this episode, Kevin resorts back to being a jerk to a reasonably fine teacher. Kevin has been getting C's on his papers which he thinks are pretty good for him, but his teacher tells him he knows he can do better. He starts to tutor Kevin, but about a week before the test he tells him he won't be around and won't be able to tutor him. This makes Kevin angry and he feels betrayed by his teacher. When the test is given, we know Kevin knows all the answers, but to be a huge jerk, he writes responses like "Who cares?" and "I don't know" for the answers and when he gives Mr. Collins the test, he tells him something like, "Don't even bother grading it". This happens on Friday and by Monday, Kevin has regretted what he's done and Monday morning he tries to find Mr. Collins and asks the vice-principal where he is who has to give the Kevin the sad news that Mr. Collins had died. Even though I didn't know that is what happened, I could sense that was coming.
Even before he heard the news, we know that Kevin feels horrible for what he did, but after hearing that his teacher died and he never got the chance to apologize...oh, man, what a gut punch! The VP is the one taking over the math class and after handing out the math tests, he tells Kevin that Mr. Collins doesn't have his test and asks Kevin what he thinks he should do to which Kevis isn't sure. The VP tells him that Mr. Collins had a thought and gives him a brand new test with his name on it that Mr. Collins had written, so his math teacher had given him a second chance on the test posthumously. Kevin takes it and tells the VP he knows it's already an "A", then we see him look back at the teacher's desk where he sees an image of Mr. Collins and says, "Good job, Mr. Collins." Cue the tears! This episode had be BAWLING!

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.