'The Wonder Years' DVD Video News: Danica McKellar & Cast Members Share Thoughts & Stories [INTERVIEW, PHOTOS]
ABC's The Wonder Years made an instantaneous splash when it burst onto the scene following Super Bowl XXII in 1988, even nabbing an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Comedy Series" in its inaugural season.
For six years, audiences both laughed and cried to the half-hour network dramedy as they watched Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) and Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar) go from childhood to adolescence right before their very eyes.
Some 21 years later and a couple of months after their July 14 cast reunion on Good Morning America, McKellar, Olivia d'Abo (Karen Arnold), and Alley Mills (Norma Arnold) shared their innermost thoughts on the popular series amid the upcoming debut of its long-awaited DVD box-set release.
"It was the first show that truly honored the strengths and emotions that kids have at such a young age," d'Abo stated. "You got inside the world and heart of a child."
Having lived through the Vietnam War and the decade's counterculture herself, Mills served as an on-set teacher of sorts for d'Abo, whose hippie character epitomized the bohemian spirit of the era.
"The whole truth began with the introduction of the Vietnam War on a little TV in a kitchen; the movement of the 60s. At that time, the country began to feel the pain and ramifications," explained Mills.
While it seemed much of the TV programming in the 1980s was filtered through an adult lens, The Wonder Years told a different story, one bearing the point of view of an awkward tween growing up during the turbulent 1960s.
"We got to explore a terrain that was not very much about work, but more about the vibe, period and emotion behind it," d'Abo said.
d'Abo also acknowledged the progression of technology since The Wonder Years went off the air, and believes the humility of the show could have a positive influence on the youth of today.
"We can rewire their [minds] a little bit to have the span of concentration to get through an actual scene and be moved by it," d'Abo said.
As if her insight into Generation Z wasn't clear enough, McKellar playfully summed it up.
"So you're actually saying it's healthy for them?" she said.
McKellar, also the author of Math Doesn't Suck and a previous Dancing With the Stars contestant, chimed in on The Wonder Years' wide range of appeal, which she feels will never be outdated.
"It's a universal thing that could happen in any time period. I think people can relate to the show even if they didn't experience the 60s," McKellar said.
The 39-year-old quipped about once being forced to don a pair of go-go boots and star-covered pants of which she was "horrified."
"From my perspective, my character was almost acting independent of the time period except for the wardrobe," McKellar said.
However, the actress admitted that she actually learned the ins and outs of dating through Kevin and Winnie's character development.
"I learned that relationships aren't straightforward or black and white and that's okay. Love could be very confusing," McKellar said.
She revealed that she and Savage were considerably chummy off-camera, confessing that they'd talk frequently about their own love lives.
"Kevin and Winnie's relationship was in some ways defined by my friendship with Fred," McKellar said.
Interestingly enough, she also added that the premise of season two, episode 11 was more or less verbatim from an actual conversation the two teen stars had behind-the-scenes.
"Writers would actually take lines from things we were saying to each other off camera," McKellar said.
As McKellar describes it, she spilled the beans to Savage about a real-life crush, prompting him to query her on whether she likes him or likes him, likes him. This ultimately led to that very same question being posed in the aforementioned installment.
"I broke up with first boyfriend a week before I broke up with Kevin on the show. Real life informing TV. TV informing real life. It was fascinating," McKellar said.
Speaking of reality, Mills couldn't help but be enthused about the DVD collection's first-time ever rollout, feeling that it will serve as a memento to her grandkids.
"I'm so thrilled my grandchildren can always see this and have that human link," Mills gushed.
Not having seen some of the cast members in as many as 16 years, Mills boasted about how proud she is for them all having stayed out of trouble despite the inclination of many former child stars to crash and burn.
"It blew my mind to see the men and women they've become. It was so unlike the children I've seen grow up to be adults in this business. We worked so hard to protect their integrity," she said.
While the price of the 115-episode set isn't exactly affordable at $250, Mills feels the bonus footage is worth the price, and then some.
"The behind-the-scenes stuff is worth all the money in the world for the people who are diehard Wonder Years fans, and the people who are curious about becoming familiar with the show. These interviews are going to be really a trip," she said.
The Wonder Years: The Complete Series is slated to ship orders in early October. The 26-disc DVD box set released by Time Life will come with 15 hours of bonus material (including never-before-seen outtakes), two notebook-style episode guides and a yearbook replica, all encased in a Kennedy Junior High-style metal locker.
Click here for more information and cast photos.