The best episodes of The Wonder Years were the ones where it felt like you were sharing a drink with Daniel Stern as he recounted his youth. He sets up a story so poignant and vivid that you don’t want to interrupt him and make him hurry up because you see it coming. You might even know where the story is going, but you’re lost in his words and emotions. The Wonder Years: Season Five could have seen the show losing its greatness as the stories get dull. But there was enough change for nothing to get predictable. Time for Kevin to step up to William McKinney Senior High in 1971. And one family member to make a major change in her life. You want to hear more from Daniel Stern.
“The Lake” is a perfect tale of teen summer lust. Kevin and Paul (Josh Saviano) join their families up at Lake Winnihacci for a week of fishing, stand up paddle boards and water sports. But Kevin wants more when he catches the eye of Cara (Lisa Gerber). She’s sitting in the back of a pick up truck when they share a stare. He wants more. Paul also wants more which is why he keeps showing off his lucky condom stashed in his wallet. Kevin has his chance to meet Cara when they’re both at the drive-in watching Planet of the Apes. Can he really hook up with her? This season is best known for Paul no longer being the bespectacled spaz. It would be easy to believe that Josh Saviano had been replaced in a Bewitched move. This does make his awkward time showing off the rubber more realistic.
“Day One” puts Kevin Arnold back at the bottom as he enters Senior High. He rapidly goes from cool guy in junior high to a worthless worm. He no longer has Paul as his pal. He’s terrorized by his brother (Jason Hervey) and Wart (Scott Menville). Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar) is popular with the football team. His teacher has singled him out as a troublemaker who needs to be taught a lesson. The only person who wants to be his friend is the annoying Stuart (Adam Sneller) who can’t help but tell horrible store is about their time in fourth grade. Kevin seems doomed to not survive his first week of 10th grade. “Hardware Store” puts Kevin in the frustrating choice of wanting to quit his drab job so he can work near girls at the Mall. It’s a tough decision since the old boss want to give him a raise gives him a raise.
The end of the season allows sister Karen (Olivia d’Abo) to get plenty of screen time. There are moments on the show where she vanishes for a few episodes that you ponder if she’d quite the cast and nobody remembered to remove her name from the opening titles. She’s missing for 17 for the 24 epidoes. “Dinner Out” has mom try to bring Karen back into the family after she had enough of her dad. The big surprise is the arrival of her live in boyfriend being David Schwimmer (Friends). She’s a bit of an unconventional woman, but towards the end of the season, she ties the knot with Schwimmer on “The Wedding.” The ceremony is not pleasing as they go with a theme of the time. This is the end of d’Abo’s run as a regular cast member as she heads off in a Volkswagen Microbus with her new husband. The season ends with Arnold going after his two great loves. “Back to the Lake” has him return to the water in search of Cara. Will this summer romance take hold? “Broken Hearts and Burgers” has him and Winnie face the realities of their desires and relationship. The quality of The Wonder Years is how it explores of rites of passage and captures the early ’70s. There’s no point in the penultimate season where you want Daniel Stern to go silent.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The show was shot on film and post-produced on standard definition video so the resolution is low. The fuzzy nature helps makes things look more from the ’70s. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The soundtrack is full of the super hits of the ’70s. The episodes are Closed Captioned.
That’s A Wrap! (3:56) is Mark B. Perry’s Farewell Set Tour Season 5. The writer/producer wanders around the studio after he quit the show. It’s a great view of the sets between uses.
Will You Love Me Tomorrow: The Wonder Years’ Love Stories (26:03) covers all the hearts Kevin seduced besides Winnie Cooper. David Schwimmer recounts his marriage on the show and ponders where his parents were at the ceremony.
Olivia d’Abo (35:36) talks about her time as Karen Arnold. Always amazed when she speaks with her English accent.
David Schwimmer (40:07) gabs about being Michael. This was his big break in Hollywood after retreating to Chicago for two years. Since his role was originally a few episodes, he had to take time off his waiting gig to be a star.
Time Life presents The Wonder Years: Season Five. Starring: Fred Savage, Olivia d’Abo, Danica McKellar, Josh Saviano, Alley Mills, Jason Hervey & Dan Lauria. Boxset Contents: 24 episodes on 4 DVDs. Released: May 24, 2016.
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