Every time we turn around, there’s another film or TV show being rebooted — Roseanne, Will & Grace, Magnum, P.I., Charmed, Murphy Brown and Party of Five immediately come to mind — but one you can be pretty sure won’t be happening is The Wonder Years. That 1988 to 1993 series starred Fred Savage as Kevin Arnold and Danica McKellar as Winnie Cooper, kids just trying to be exactly that — kids — but not always being allowed to do so because of the times they were living in (the late 1960s). Insofar as Fred, 42, is concerned, the beloved series is better off left alone than trying to continue things.
As Danica, 44, told Us Weekly in a new interview, “Fred really does not want to do a reboot. And he makes a good point: The show was about a certain time in your life that you can’t go back to and the bittersweet memory of that is what gave the show its flavor. So if we went back to it, we’d kind of be killing the integrity of the original intention of the show. I just don’t think it would work.”
That original intention was discussed in our 30th anniversary oral history tribute to The Wonder Years published last year — check out an excerpt from that below!
BOB BRUSH (executive producer): “One of the remarkable concepts in the creation of this show was that they settled on a time of life for their hero where so many primary emotions still exist at the surface. Adolescence is a time when you’re just learning to bury your emotions and put on a false face. I think that this allows the audience to strip away the facades, and remember what it was like to really feel things deeply before we all developed the capability to pretend that it didn’t matter or pretend that we didn’t care, or dismiss what we feel to be childish. Even though we have an older narrator who’s always saying, ‘Gosh, we were just being stupid,’ at the same time he’s saying, ‘Maybe it wasn’t so stupid. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be stupid like that again sometimes?'”
TODD W. LANGEN (story editor): “The overall appeal seems to be nostalgia, but even without nostalgia it evokes everyone’s adolescence. It reaches the audience, and the stories resonate emotionally with that audience, because no matter what era you’re in, kids go through the same sort of life experiences, the same sort of traumas, joys, happiness and fears. That’s what the show gets to the core of. We recognize ourselves in what happens to Kevin, no matter what particular time period we come from.”
STEVE MINER (supervising producer/director): “It captures everybody’s youth. We used to get calls and letters all the time saying, ‘How come you’re using my junior high school? How did you know my best friend?’ Everybody is convinced that it’s about their specific life. I think that’s from the quality of the scripts. I thought the concept of the show was brilliant, but concepts are concepts and so much of filmmaking is execution. The scripts continued to be so good, and writing like that touches universal feelings and experiences. It’s real. We all lived that exact life.”
Certain TV shows are sometimes like capturing lightning in a bottle, and The Wonder Years works the way it does because he takes on the lives of its characters as children growing into adolescence. Attempting to delve into their adult personas could make an interesting show, but it simply wouldn’t be The Wonder Years. It couldn’t be.