The Wonder Years: Pilot
September 22, 2021 6:22 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Struggling to figure out where he fits in, Dean decides to pursue his calling as "The Great Uniter" and attempts to organize the first integrated baseball game between his team and his friend Brad's team. (ABC reboot)

Variety review - New ‘Wonder Years’ Depicts ’60s Turbulence, as Told by Don Cheadle: "The raw material is here for a strong show: The entire cast, including and especially the younger members are warm and likable, with Williams delivering a refreshingly unmannered turn and Cheadle doing his best to anchor us in the story. And the pilot’s final insight — that these were years of wonder because the family was a single still point in a rapidly changing world — is nicely communicated (even if the episode-ending music cue, in what may become a hazard for this show, is a bit familiar). It’s worth hoping that future episodes, not likely to have massive historical events to depict each time, manage to show change in ways that are easier for the show to get its arms around. This is an evidently big-hearted show whose pilot has great fundamentals but tries to juggle a bit more than it realistically can in less than half an hour. That’s suggestive of ambition, which makes a viewer hope this show finds its voice and its pace in the coming weeks. That desire to do and say more is so rare on TV nowadays that “The Wonder Years” feels, for reasons beyond its setting, like an ultimately welcome dispatch from the distant past."

The Hollywood Reporter review - Saladin K. Patterson's reboot of the classic sitcom retains the voiceover narration, coming-of-age tropes and 1960s setting, but revolves around a new family — the Williamses, a Black middle-class household in Montgomery, Alabama.
posted by oh yeah! (5 comments total)
I don't think I was a regular viewer of the original 'The Wonder Years', though I feel like I must have watched it by osmosis, as I'm certainly familiar with who the old cast was. So, I didn't have any strong feelings either way on there being a reboot.

I thought this was a pretty strong pilot though. Definitely a little on the nose in a 'over-explain for the white audience' at times. But overall the casting seems great (Dulé Hill is looking absolutely gorgeous in those 1960s suits - I'm so used to him in Psych adorkable mode, I was not prepared for his cool musician look, hot damn). I just wish it wasn't airing on the same night/network as 'The Connors', it's going to suck to have to see promos for that show whenever I watch this show.
posted by oh yeah! at 6:37 PM on September 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

I also wasn't a big WY watcher but I thought this was fine. It was a bit more earnest and generally seemed to have a more integrated family life than the original, but I suppose in those heady post-"Stand By Me" years the original may have been much more earnest than it seems now, like how I remember "Doogie Howser M.D." was. But yeah, all for the better!

This is an evidently big-hearted show whose pilot has great fundamentals but tries to juggle a bit more than it realistically can in less than half an hour.

Legit. They definitely stuck their neck out by putting MLK's assassination in there, but with the timeframe it's probably good for them to set expectations on depth. We'll see how all that goes.

I just wish it wasn't airing on the same night/network as 'The Connors', it's going to suck to have to see promos for that show whenever I watch this show.

I don't think the show's that bad. We all know its troublesome genealogy and I think all of the characters are better served with a Darlene-centered show, especially for Goodman. Brian Austin Greene is fine for a show like this, and the guy from Mad Men is continuing his skills as a sensitive bear-man. Also, the Darlene's daughter character is excellent, as good as teen Darlene. On top of all that, Laurie Metcalf can do no wrong in my book, anywhere.

I'm not really attached to the show that much, but I did catch it tonight, and I do happen to see it from time to time, and an ex was from the same city as Matt Williams and the house in the original opener was on the same block as her grandma's, and I guess I felt like typing. :)

While I'm disappointed in Roseanne's IRL choices, I give props to the original show, her standup and her pre-Obama(? not sure where the line goes) accomplishments, and what the show stands for. I guess I think the show is still acting with the show's original promise.
posted by rhizome at 12:52 AM on September 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

The MLK assassination is a parallel to Winnie’s brother being killed in Vietnam in the original pilot. In the original this led to Arnold and Winnie sharing a kiss, so the update definitely subverted expectations and landed a gut punch.
posted by cardboard at 2:18 PM on September 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

A gentle, kinda bittersweet family sitcom is so far outside of my wheelhouse that it's very difficult for me to gauge whether people who like sitcoms will like this. (I'm so ill-accustomed to watching sitcoms that I was kind of startled when the show was suddenly over. It felt like it just started!) But I think it's a really great-looking show that evokes a world. I was a little surprised when I perused the AVClub review and the critic went out of his way to say it doesn't look like a movie, because I was struck by the exact opposite thought when it began. That shot of the streetlight coming on, and then the wider angle and pan to show us Dean on his bike, was so nice that I wound it back and watched it again. Honestly, I think if this episode had been a short film unto itself, I would be very satisfied with it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:40 PM on September 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

I really liked the pilot. I assume going forward some of the episodes will be lighter family sitcom fare and some will touch more on social issues, but I thought this did a good job introducing the family and setting the scene.

I'm in it for Dulé Hill - can the sexy music professor /funk musician also have an interest in tap dance, or would that take the fan service too far?
posted by the primroses were over at 7:57 AM on September 26, 2021

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