With the reboot train in full swing, we are seeing many of our favourite old shows have new life breathed into them — and often with refreshing modern twists that reflect more diversity and inclusion on-screen.
One such re-imagining is the upcoming series The Wonder Years, which this time, will focus on a Black family in the late 1960s living in Montgomery, Alabama and will be executive produced by the original show’s star, Fred Savage.
Savage shot to fame as Kevin Arnold — the youngest member of the Arnold family whose adult voiceover provided a retrospective of life as events such as the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement and the Space Race took place around him.
Reminiscing on landing the role of Kevin to The Hollywood Reporter, Savage recalled: “I remember coming into Los Angeles from Chicago with my dad to meet (the show’s creators) Neal (Marlens) and Carol (Black).
“We stayed at the Century Park Hotel in Century City. They told me that’s where President Reagan stayed when he came to Los Angeles. I was very excited about that.”
Of the network test, Savage said, “I remember standing in this stone and marble conference room doing my scenes in front of a conference table that was a mile long.”
The role of Kevin Arnold ended up seeing a 13-year-old Savage become the youngest male actor ever nominated for an Emmy for outstanding lead in a comedy series — a record he still holds. The show itself (which ran from 1988-1992) was nominated for 28 Emmy Awards over the course of its time on air, winning four including for outstanding comedy series in 1988.
Savage told THR that he found out he had been nominated for the prestigious acting award courtesy of a note left by his friend’s mother on the dishwasher that read: “Good morning, guys. There’s breakfast in the fridge. And congratulations, Fred. You were nominated for an Emmy.”
The new version of The Wonder Years, which will premiere in the US on September 22, stars Elisha “EJ” Williams as the show’s lead. Williams will play Dean, an “inquisitive and hopeful 12-year-old who is trying to figure out his place within his Black family and the world at large”. Just like in the original, the show will be told via a series of narrations by a future version of the main character, this time voiced by the legendary Don Cheadle.
Saycon Sengbloh and Dulé Hill will play Dean’s parents Lillian and Bill, while Laura Kariuki will take on the part of Dean’s older sister Kim. Milan Ray, Julia Lerner, and Amari O’ Neil round out the cast as Dean’s closest friends.
Savage will also direct the pilot episode of the new series, having become a successful TV director in recent years who has worked on episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Conners, Modern Family, The Goldbergs, and 2 Broke Girls.
Stay tuned to find out how to watch The Wonder Years reboot in Australia.