Today, we look at when (or if) you folks believe that The Wonder Years “jumped the shark.”
This is “Just Can’t Jump It,” a feature where we examine shows and whether they “jumped the shark.” Jumped the shark (coined by Jon Hein) means that the show had a specific point in time where, in retrospect, you realize that show was going downhill from there (even if, in some rare occasions, the show later course-corrected). Not every show DOES jump the shark. Some shows just remain good all the way through. And some shows are terrible all the way through. What we’re looking for are moments where a show that you otherwise enjoyed hit a point where it took a noticeable nose dive after that time and if so, what moment was that?
For a time there, it seemed like all of the networks had decided that using the Super Bowl to launch a new TV series was, like, the greatest idea ever. Sadly, while The A-Team was an early success story using that concept (even there, The A-Team technically appeared as a TV movie first for its pilot a week before its first regular episode aired after the Super Bowl, but I think everyone still thinks of it as being launched after the Super Bowl, so we’ll count it), it was mostly a bust, with some notable exceptions, one of them being Homicide: Life on the Street, and the other being The Wonder Years, which had almost 30 million viewers tune in for the excellent pilot episode of the series, starring Fred Savage as Kevin Arnold, a boy coming of age in the late 1960s (with narration from adult Kevin, played by Daniel Stern). His crush, Winnie Cooper (Danica McKeller), loses her older brother, killed in Vietnam, in the first episode. It’s an intense, well-told episode of a series that then went on to run six seasons.
So first…DID IT JUMP THE SHARK? I am going to say no.
WHEN DID IT JUMP THE SHARK This is such a tough one, because the show DEFINITELY took a turn for the worse in the last two seasons, when Kevin was now practically an adult. Savage’s boyish charms were kind of almost creepy as a young adult. But you know what? The show sort of went with that approach, not necessarily even asking us to LIKE Kevin, but just to say that, hey, kids sometimes go through adjustment periods where they don’t always act like little angels. So I think that the show always remained a good show, just not nearly as good as it was in the first four seasons.
Let me know what you think in the comments or on social media!
Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for suggestions for shows for us to do in future installments!