It’s been nearly 30 years since The Wonder Years aired and changed the face of American television forever. The Wonder Years marked the beginning of the golden era of television and it’s always nostalgic to take a look back on one of America’s most-loved television shows. Here’s a list of 25 things even the most dedicated fans don’t know about the show.
1. The Basic Concept Began As A Film Script
According to series co-creator Carol Black, she and her husband Neal Marlens started writing a screenplay that used narration. Of course, the script was never used for a movie, but for the show that we would come to love.
2. The Series Was Inspired By ‘A Christmas Story’
Can’t you tell the similarities, especially with the narration? Peter “Ralphie” Billingsley even appeared in the series’ final two episodes acting as one of Kevin’s roommates.
3. Its Lack Of Laugh Track And Single-Camera Setup Were Revolutionary
According to Josh Saviano, the actor who played Paul Pfieffer,“The Wonder Years that it’s okay to create a show like that—to take out the laugh track, to try different camera styles—to take a risk.”
4. Fred Savage Was Clearly The Right Choice For Kevin
In order to get the perfect fit for Kevin, the show’s directors, Carol Black and Neal Marlens, interviewed five casting directors for recommendations– they all gave the name “Fred Savage”. This was most likely attributed to his recent role at the time in the film The Princess Bride.
5. The Show Has No Offical Setting
No specific hometown was ever given to Kevin Arnold, yet this is not done by the means of the show’s creators. Marlens wanted it to take place in his hometown of Huntington on Long Island, but the producers of ABC wanted to keep the town anonymous. However, some fans reported that the show takes place in California due to the license plate of Jack Arnold and the driver’s license of Wayne, both of which have “California” written on them.
6. The Show Premiered After The Super Bowl
After more than 80 million viewers tuned in to watch the 1988 Super Bowl, The Wonder Years premiered immediately after, giving the show tremendous ratings from the beginning.
7. It Won An Emmy Very Early
The Wonder Years was obviously a success, but who would have guessed that it would win its first Emmy after just six episodes? In 1988, Black and Marlens took home the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series.
8. Keep The Awards Shows Coming
In 1989, at the age of 13, Fred Savage became the youngest actor to be nominated for an Emmy as an Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series category. He was again nominated in 1990.
9. Danica McKellar’s Toughest Competition Was Her Sister
While casting dream girl Winnie Cooper, there were just two actors left to choose: Danica and her sister, Crystal. Danica was ultimately chosen as Winnie, but Crystal was still given the role of Beck Slater on the show.
10. Kevin and Winnie’s First Kiss Was The Real Deal
In the first episode Kevin and Winnie Share a kiss, and if it looked awkward to you, it’s probably because it was actually Winnie Cooper’s first kiss! Savage admitted to being unsure and nervous about the kiss, too.
11. A Mutual Crush Was Inevitable
Although they now claim to have a brother-sister relationship, McKellar and Savage both admitted to having a crush on each other while filming the show. “I was in love with her for the same reasons every other boy fell in love with her,” Savage said in an interview with People Magazine. “You won’t meet a sweeter, nicer girl—and she’s gorgeous.”
12. Some Of The Dialogue Came From Real Life
McKellar admitted that the relationship between Winnie and Kevin was sometimes based on their actual relationship. “The writers would actually take lines from things that we were saying to each other, off camera, and put it into the script,” McKellar told Collider. “There was this whole episode dedicated to, ‘Do you like him, or do you like him, like him?’ That was an expression that he and I used when we were talking about some guy that I had a crush on, in real life. And then, it showed up in a script.”
13. A Growth Spurt Caused A Break-Up
The relationship between Kevin and Winnie was a huge part of the show’s storyline. But between the third and fourth season, the two characters broke up due to McKellar’s towering figure over the shorter Savage.
14. It Was Dan Lauria’s Suggestion That Jack Be A Veteran
“I really didn’t contribute that much, but the one thing I did contribute to the character is that when we were shooting the pilot I said to Neal, ‘Look, I’m a vet. I’m a Vietnam veteran and a Marine, and I think if the story is that I’m a vet, that’d fit the character,’” Dan Lauria said to Paste. “Before we even finish the pilot, he said, ‘Well, if we go, Dan, we’re going to make you a Korean War vet to fit the frame.’ And so they did, and it paid off.”
15. Growing Up Was Part Of The Show’s Demise
The Wonder Years dealt a lot with the theme of growing up. The show only lasted six seasons and this was largely due to the characters growing too old.
16. The show enlisted the help of Sopranos creator David Chase
Producers of The Wonder Years wanted to bring in a little more mature themes into the show, and that’s when they brought on the help of David Chase to write a script. Although the script was never used, it was an interesting almost-to-be on the show. It was said that the script dealt with intense themes that included drug use.
17. Daniel Stern Wasn’t The Original Narrator
Daniel Stern’s voice became synonymous with Kevin Arnold’s adult voice, however, Arye Gross narrated the original pilot. Eventually, though, the pilot was re-recorded with Stern’s voice.
18. Marilyn Manson didn’t play Paul Pfeiffer
Contrary to popular belief, Marilyn Manson was NOT Paul Pfeiffer–Josh Saviano was. This rumor never seemed to die down, regardless of the proof that surrounds the conspiracy. Manson even played along with the rumor, running into Fred Savage telling him that they used to work together in the past.
19. But Paul Pfeiffer Did Become A Lawyer
It was said that Paul went off to Harvard and become a lawyer, per the season finale, but this is not too far off. The actor that played Paul, Josh Saviano, went to Yale and actually became a lawyer! Talk about foreshadowing.
20. The Little Boy’s Voice In The Season Finale Is Daniel Stern’s Son
The voice of Kevin’s son asking to come outside and play ball is the voice of Daniel Stern’s son, Henry.
21. The Series Gave A Boost To Many Young Actors’ Careers
Actors such as Juliette Lewis, Jim Caviezel, Alicia Silverstone, Giovanni Ribisi, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, David Schwimmer and Robin Thicke had roles on The Wonder Years.
22. You Won’t Hear Joe Cocker If You Watch It On Netflix or Amazon Prime
Due to music rights, some of the songs never made it over to the digital medium platform. This included Joe Cocker’s cover of The Beatles’ “With a Little Help from my Friends”. It was replaced by a different version.
23. But You Can Hear Joe Cocker On The DVD Release
Executives of Time Life spent years obtaining the music rights for the DVD release, stating that getting the original theme song was their top priority.
24. The Doors music Is Absent
Although producers obtained the rights to Joe Cocker’s music, they couldn’t get the right to The Doors’ songs “Light My Fire” and “Riders on the Storm.”