Picks and Pans Review: The Wonder Years

updated 03/14/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/14/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

ABC (Tues., March 15, 8:30 p.m. ET)

A+

Here's just about the nicest surprise I've ever had watching TV. On short notice last January, ABC threw the premiere of The Wonder Years into its schedule after the Super Bowl. Now Wonder returns as a Tuesday sitcom sandwiched between the hits Who's the Boss? and Moonlighting. If ever a new series deserved such a plum time slot, this is it. As the series starts, it is 1968, a year noted in the history books for, among other events, the premiere of The Mod Squad. We follow young Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) as he enters a suburban junior high and tries getting into the right crowd (with his nerdy buddy who's allergic to everything), avoiding bullies (including his own brother and father), resisting authority (this is the '60s) and maybe, just maybe, falling in love. Meanwhile, on TV, America fights the Vietnam War. All the action is narrated by the adult Kevin (the voice of Daniel Stern), who's not only older and wiser but also wittier, which means that he can add a little perspective to the nostalgia. Back in those old days, the present-day Kevin says, "kids could still go for walks after dark without the fear of ending up on milk cartons." How do I love this show? Let me count the ways: The Wonder Years is fresh, imaginative and intelligent—but most of all, it is true, all true. It is a show about my life. If you're old enough to remember the Tet offensive but too young to remember the Korean War, it is a show about your life too. Finally, here is the best new series of the season.

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