"The Wonder Years" is finally coming to DVD — with most of the original music intact.
For a long time, "The Wonder Years" and "China Beach" — both of them airing on ABC in the late '80s and early '90s, both covering the same period in the late '60s (one at home, one in Vietnam), both packed with classic songs of that era — were kept off of DVD because the music rights were just too expensive and too difficult to nail down. Netflix has streaming versions of "The Wonder Years" — starring Fred Savage as Kevin Arnold, a boy going through the tumult of adolescence in a tumultuous period for America as a whole — but with most of the songs stripped away — even the theme song is a different recording of Joe Cocker singing "With a Little Help From My Friends" — and the difference was palpable. But last year, "China Beach" finally cleared the music rights hurdle — in an expensive but gorgeous DVD box set demonstrating just why that show was too great to be lost to history — and now "Wonder Years" is about to do the same.
As first reported by TVShowsOnDVD.com, StarVista Entertainment/TimeLife — the same company responsible for the "China Beach" set — will release "The Wonder Years: The Complete Series" later this year, and per that press release:
As it did for China Beach, StarVista Entertainment/Time Life is painstakingly securing the rights for virtually every song in The Wonder Years. From Cocker's theme song, to hundreds of other memorable and classic soul, rock and pop songs, including classics from The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Smokey Robinson, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison and many others, StarVista /Time Life recognizes the necessity to release the series as it was initially broadcast, un-edited and untouched from original broadcast masters.
Over the summer, Fienberg and I revisited "The Wonder Years" pilot on our podcast, and I wound up watching a few more episodes on Netflix before stopping because the replacement soundtrack bummed me out. It's such a great show — and one that was a huge influence on this season's comedies like "The Goldbergs" and the upcoming "Growing Up Fisher" and "Surviving Jack" — and one that people should be able to see in its original form.
There's no info yet on release date or pricing, but you can sign up for updates at WonderYearsDVDs.com. With "Wonder Years" and the '60s "Batman" series coming soon to DVD, that probably leaves "Ed" as the most-requested show without a DVD release. In that case, though, there are both music issues and a dispute over who owns the rights to the show itself.