The Wonder Years reboot aired last night on ABC. I was busy watching Survivor, so I just watched it this morning.
The show is set in the late 1960s and looks back at the life of the Williams family, a Black middle-class family in Montgomery, Alabama. As with the original, the show is narrated by the adult version of the youngest kid in the family.
I was in college during the run of the original. I’m sure I saw episodes of the show, but I don’t recall watching it regularly, so I was able to look at this one outside of the shadow of the original. I think that is good because the downfall of any reboot is failing to measure up to the original.
The AV Club(the site that now seems to hate everything) headline says it fails to capture the magic of the original. The NBC headline says the opposite. Both reviewed the show based on how it compared to the original. But, this isn’t really a reboot. I see it as more of a new installment in an anthology about life in the 60’s. The only thing that connects it to the original is the name and the time period.
As for the actual show – it is very well done. The dad, the great Dule Hill, is a musician who wants the kids to go to an HBCU and sees no need to desegregate. The mom is strong and supportive and sees the value in learning to mix with people different than them. The older brother is in Vietnam. The older sister is a budding activist. Dean, the narrator, is a 12 year old dealing with trying to fit in and his first crush. They all meld together well to give us a funny, touching look at a different late 60’s experience. The show ends with the family learning of the death of Martin Luther King, so they are not shying away from tragedy of the time.
It was a good first episode. I would recommend it, but caution against comparing it to the original. It is not meant to be the same.