The Wonder Years is coming back, and if you assumed the reboot would do what the original did — look back at life 20 years prior — you were wrong. The revival, like the original, is set in the 1960s (with the hopes, of course, of bleeding into the 1970s), but with one major caveat: The focus, this time, is not on a lilywhite white family in a never-specified suburb but on an African-American family living in Montgomery, Alabama. And now we have the first idea of what it will look like.
In the debut teaser that dropped Tuesday, we see Elisha “EJ” Williams’ Dean, a 12-year-old growing up and experiencing a number of firsts: his first baseball hit, his first kiss, his first real recognition from the father whose respect he craves. We also hear Don Cheadle, taking over the original’s Daniel Stern as the narrator, i.e., Dean as an adult, looking back. (Cheadle, incidentally, only turned four in 1968, but it’s cool.) We also hear a soundalike of the original’s theme song: Joe Cocker’s cover of The Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends.”
We don’t get a sense yet of how much the reboot will deal with the very circumstances a Southern Black family dealt with in 1968, which would be very different from the only occasionally turbulent world of Fred Savage’s Kevin Arnold. But given that one of its executive directors is no less than Lee Daniels — and Lee Daniels does not skirt away from exploring the nation’s oft-deplorable history with race, from The Butler to last year’s blistering The United States vs. Billie Holiday — it should be fascinating to see how it mixes the everyday with one of America’s most tumultuous recent eras.
Meanwhile, Savage himself — who morphed into a seasoned TV director — helmed the show’s pilot, and even broke the news to its star that he’d been cast. The revival is set to premiere later this year, and it will air on ABC, which played home to the beloved original.
You can watch the teaser above.