Vulture reports — and Netflix clearly verifies — that all 115 episodes of the show that made us nostalgic for the 1960s, even if we were not alive during that decade, are now available via streaming. This is notable because: A) “The Wonder Years” has never been released on DVD; B) fans of “The Wonder Years” have been clamoring to watch it in an on-demand format for years; and C) we kind of missed Kirk McCray.
It may be overwhelming to know that this many installments of nostalgia-infused comedy peppered with the sound of Daniel Stern’s narration are suddenly now available. Where to start?
How about with the five episodes most likely to make you sob, as listed below. Because, let’s face it, even though we all enjoyed Becky Slater’s mean-girl antics, Delores’s gum-chewing idiosyncracies and that special way Wayne said the word “butthead,” many of us watched “The Wonder Years” knowing full well that the final, sappy five minutes would often turn us into blubbering fools because . . . sniff . . . just look at how much Kevin Arnold loves Winnie Cooper. I mean . . . sob . . . it’s just so . . . (embarrassingly loud bawling) sweet.
Feel free to chime in with your favorite weepy “Wonder Years” moments by posting a comment.
This Season Two episode — in which Paul (Josh Saviano) and Kevin (Fred Savage) get into a major fight when Paul plans his bar mitzvah on the same day as Kevin’s 13th birthday — is a classic “Wonder Years” weeper. If you can get through the Simon and Garfunkel montage without tearing up a little, it’s possible you have very dry tear ducts or no soul whatsoever. Start reaching for tissues at the 3:20 mark in the clip below.
“Don’t You Know Anything About Women?”
Season Three was, arguably, the weepiest in “The Wonder Years”run. This episode-closer — which takes place after Kevin has broken the totally worthy heart of Linda Sloan (Maia Brewton) — features a sweeping, overly emotional piece of narration (“All our young lives we search for someone to love,” Stern intones), brilliant use of the song “Unchained Melody” and the sight of a forlorn Kevin and lonely Winnie (Danica McKellar) passing each other unknowingly on the dance floor.
In what might be the treacliest (and saddest) “Wonder Years” episode of all time — and one that collected two Emmys for its writing and directing — Kevin’s quietly supportive math teacher Mr. Collins unexpectedly dies. “You don’t need to grade it. It’s an A,” is the Kevin Arnold equivalent of “Oh captain, my captain” from “Dead Poets Society.”
Another Season Three entry, this one focuses on the anxiety surrounding Kevin and Winnie’s first kiss, an event whose innocence seems all the more poignant in these tawdry, “Jersey Shore” times. Setting the moment to the obscure but lovely Elton John song “Friends” elevates it into “The Wonder Years” Tear-Jerker Hall of Fame.
“The House That Jack Built”
Call it the first David Schwimmer episode. Or call it the episode in which Jack Arnold fights with his daughter and highlights why generational differences are so painful. When Dan Lauria screams, “I haven’t changed,” it’s as if he’s speaking on behalf of the entire so-called Silent Generation. And when Kevin catches his parents in a private hug, one that looks like an expression of comfort during defeat, it’s the older members of the Arnold family who may suddenly make you cry this time.