The Wonder Years: 8 Quick Things We Know About The ABC Reboot
Even though it has been nearly 30 years since the last time we heard Joe Cocker belt out the opening lyrics of The Wonder Years’ title sequence, the coming-of-age story of a young Kevin Arnold is just as popular now as ever before. First there was the show’s run on Nick-at-Nite in the late ‘90s, then its arrival on Netflix and other streaming services, and now there will soon be a new version of the show with a new setting, new characters, but, hopefully, the same charm that made the original so beloved. The Wonder Years reboot, with its new cast and setting will hopefully capture the same charm of the original.
And, even though The Wonder Years reboot has only received a pilot order as of right now, the potential series seems to have a lot going for it. From its outstanding cast to the number of figures from the original series who are involved with this latest iteration, it seems like The Wonder Years is more than a grab at an old hit, and actually has something to say.
The Wonder Years Reboot Will Follow A Black Middle-Class Family In 1960s Alabama
When you first see the words The Wonder Years reboot, it’s safe to say that a chill runs down your spine in fear of ABC tarnishing the name of a series it cancelled decades ago. But, fear not, as the new version of the timeless classic won’t be set in a different time period or avoid a lot of the same issues addressed back in the day.
In July 2020, The Hollywood Reporter revealed The Wonder Years reboot will once again be set in late 1960s America, but instead of following a suburban white family, the show will follow a Black middle-class family in Montgomery, Alabama. You may remember that Alabama, Montgomery especially, was at the center of the civil rights movement and served as a backdrop to several of the decades’ most historic moments.
Elisha “EJ” Williams Will Lead As Dean Williams, The Reboot’s Version Of Kevin Arnold
If The Wonder Years reboot clears the pilot stage and receives a full series order, Elisha “EJ” Williams will become this generation’s Kevin Arnold. The casting was announced in March 2021 with Deadline reporting that Williams, who has appeared in Nickelodeon’s Henry Danger and Danger Force, will portray Dean Williams, an inquisitive and hopeful 12 year old determined to make his mark on the world around him. Considering the show is set in one of the most turbulent times in American history, young Dean will be given plenty of opportunities to rise up to the occasion.
In The Dark Star Saycon Sengbloh Will Serve As The Williams Family Matriarch On The Wonder Years
The Tony Award-nominated (Eclipsed) actress and In The Dark star, Saycon Sengbloh, will be taking on the role of Lillian Williams, the matriarch of the family at the center of The Wonder Years reboot. When the casting was announced in March 2021, Variety described Sengbloh’s character as sharp as a tack, confident, kind, and perceptive, along with having a good sense of humor. The full-time accountant, wife, and mother is the very backbone and driving force of the Williams family, who helps guide her husband and children through the insanity of 1960s America.
Psych Alum Dulé Hill Has Been Cast As Bill Williams, Dean’s Outspoken Musician Father
The Wonder Years reboot kept the momentum going throughout March 2021 with the announcement that Psych star Dulé Hill had joined the cast as Bill Williams, the musician father of series lead, Dean. When revealing the casting, Deadline described the elder Williams as a music professor by day and funk musician by night. The cool and composed figure will being a driving force in his family’s push to “be cool” as well as lead his kids and neighborhood to be as self-sufficient as possible.
That same report also announced that Black Lightning newcomer Laura Kariuki, who plays JJ in the final season of The CW’s superhero series, will portray Kim Williams, Dean’s older sister.
Lee Daniels And Fred Savage Are Executive Producers On The Wonder Years Reboot
If The Wonder Years reboot is picked up following the completion of the pilot (more on that later), the series will have two big names serving as executive producers. According to a July 2020 USA Today (opens in new tab) article on the project, Empire creator Lee Daniels, who recently directed Andra Day in her Golden Globe winning performance in The United States vs. Billie Holiday, will be helping run the show, along with someone with ties to the original series.
That person? None other than Fred Savage, who, following a successful run as a child actor, began to step behind the camera with shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Modern Family, and The Goldbergs. The good news doesn’t stop for the former Kevin Arnold there…
Fred Savage Is Also Set To Direct The Wonder Years Reboot Pilot
In addition to serving as an executive producer, Fred Savage will also be serving as the director for The Wonder Years reboot pilot, bringing things full circle, per The Hollywood Reporter. Even though Savage had appeared in The Princess Bride and The Twilight Zone by the time he was cast in the original run of The Wonder Years, he will forever be known as Kevin Arnold to a large part of the population. In addition to the previously mentioned directorial efforts by the former child star, Savage has also sat behind the camera on shows like 2 Broke Girls, Best Friends Forever, and The Conners.
The Big Bang Theory Producer Saladin K. Patterson Wrote The Pilot’s Script
Speaking of successful sitcoms of the 21st Century… Saladin K. Patterson, a writer and co-producer of shows like The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, and Psych, penned the script for the soon-to-be-shot pilot for The Wonder Years reboot. Patterson, who also worked on The Bernie Mac Show and Frasier earlier in his career, will serve as one of the show’s executive producers in addition to serving as a writer. Patterson was reportedly part of the group that initially approached ABC with the idea of rebooting the series, per The Hollywood Reporter.
The Wonder Years Pilot Will Be Shot In Spring 2021
It is still not yet known when ABC will make a decision on picking up The Wonder Years reboot for a full series, but we should know soon enough, as production on the pilot is slated to get underway at some point in Spring 2021, per Deadline. In the meantime, there’s never been a better time to go back and watch the original series to bring back all those old memories.
Watch The Wonder Years on Hulu. (opens in new tab)
There is still some time before we know whether or not The Wonder Years reboot will end up on the 2021 TV schedule, but considering all the great shows coming to television screens (and streaming services) these next few months, there’s plenty to hold you over.
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Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.