Wednesday, July 3, 2013

stevo looks back (at his twenty seven favorite episodes of all time). here's number twenty six.

"And I guess that's when I finally understood.  I'd been a part of Winnie's past.  A past she wanted to forget.

And now?

There was nothing to do ... but go."

-- Kevin Arnold.


In the words of a show that had zero episodes selected for this rewatch experience: "welcome back!  Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back!!!"

Today's installment of this series looks at an episode that twenty two years later, still never fails to make the room a little dusty, for the final couple minutes of it.

(bud light guy voice) Here we go ...


For the record, here are the 27 episodes of television greatness, that will at some point (again, between now and eternity -- emphasis on "eternity" ...) be "live blogged" for their greatness ... and their standing, from "greatest episode ever" to "twenty seventh greatest episode ever" ...:

1. "Hearts and Souls", NYPD Blue.
2. "The Man Behind The Curtain", Lost.
3. "Mud Bowl", Friday Night Lights.
4. "Heartland", NCIS.
5. "The Thrilla Near The Vanilla Extract", Roseanne.
6. "Chuckles Bites The Dust", The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
7. "Cries of Silence", Hunter.
8. "Raging Bulls", NYPD Blue.
9. "The Son", Friday Night Lights.
10. "The Shape Of Things To Come", Lost.
11. "A Matter Of Mothers", Good Times.
12. "Happily Ever After", Lost.
13. "Leslie and Ben", Parks and Recreation.
14. "2162 Votes", The West Wing.
15. "I Dream Of Jesus", Family Guy.
16. "JR's Masterpiece", Dallas (reboot).
17a. "College", The Sopranos.
17b. "Made In America", The Sopranos.  What?  I couldn't decide.
18. "What A Day For A Daydream", Roseanne.
19. "Forever Blue", Cold Case.
20. "The Merv Griffin Show", Seinfeld.
21. "Pilot", Smash.
22. "The Rainy Day Women", The OC.
23. "Two Cathedrals", The West Wing.
24. "The Wind That Blew My Heart Away", One Tree Hill.
25. "Cabin Fever", Swingtown.
26. "The Accident", The Wonder Years.
27. "Baby Blues", Cold Case.


"The Accident", The Wonder Years.
Season Four, Episode Twenty.
First Aired: April 24, 1991.
Director: Richard Masur.
Writer(s): Jill Gordon and Bob Brush.
Running Time: 22 minutes.

Netflix? Yes.  The entire series is available.
Hulu? No.
Youtube?  No.

Plot Summary: When Winnie shows up at Kevin's house to "talk", he tries to chat, but she is evasive.  Kevin learns that Winnie broke up with Roger, and Paul thinks that she may want to get back with him (Kevin).  Later he meets her looking at her old house, but she isn't interested in doing anything together.  At the skating rink, Winnie's "distress" cannot be seen in front of her new friends, a couple of 11th grade guys.  Realizing Winnie's instability, Kevin tries to talk to her, but she is again evasive, wanting to forget the last three years.  Later, Kevin learns that Winnie was in a car accident.

Why I Love This Episode So Much: there are exactly three scenes in TV history guaranteed to get to me emotionally every time I see them.  One, we covered a few weeks ago (Julie tackling Saracen after winning the Mud Bowl).  Two, we'll get to when we cover the number one favorite episode on this list.

But the one that gets me the most, is at the 2:15 to go minute mark, of this episode ... and doesn't stop until the episode fades to black.  Grab your tissues folks -- if you don't enjoy a healthy cry at the final scene of this epic episode, then I feel awful for you.

Because if you don't get choked up at this episode's ending, you've never known what true love is.

(late 1980s nbc announcer voice) And now, "The Accident", from season four of "The Wonder Years".


23:04: oh great.  Netflix counts down the moments left, not the moments enjoyed so far.  Figures.

23:03: this is the only Beatles cover, that improved on the original.  Joe Cocker is one helluva underrated artist, that's for sure.

22:57: "What would you do, if I sang out of tune?  Would you stand up and walk out on me?"  Well, I've been kicked to the curb by a couple friends over this past year, for doing less than that.

22:23: Wayne beating up Kevin, then the fake make-up for the cameras.  In my house, the kid wearing the Jets jersey, got his ass kicked by his younger brother routinely.  I may or may not still have the scar by my left eye where it conveniently hit a window sill once upon a time.

22:11: they're playing football in the street.  If a bunch of kids were to attempt that today?  Their parents would probably sue the city for negligent paving.

21:57: "There are things about your childhood you hold on to, because they were so much a part of you."

21:44: "Somewhere, in every memory I had, was Winnie Cooper":

(Image credit: (I'm guessing) Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

21:37: "She was a part of me, and I was a part of her."  So she's the Natalie of Kevin's life.  Nice!

21:33: "By the end of ninth grade, I knew everything about her.  (Dramatic pause).  What I didn't know ... was that she was falling apart."

21:25: Woo roller skating rink!  Who the hell doesn't remember a skate party back in the day?

21:02: "Not that I didn't have my own style.  In fact, I'd turned lack of balance into an art form!"  I so should have used this line eleven years ago when that less-than-pleasant highway patrolman pulled me over at 2:45am after leaving Ameristar ...

20:55: Winnie!

20:52: "Hey stranger!"  Paul's the best.

20:49: the awkward "exes run into each other" conversation.  I so hate those sometimes.

20:37: the gang's back together:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

20:35: "You changed your hair!"
20:33: "Yeah, and I got my ears pierced!"

Those are two things probably never heard, back to back, in describing me.

20:13: "Oh.  Roger and I broke up.  (Pause).  See ya guys!"  Hey, an opening!

19:55: Winnie makes the first move to reconcile:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

19:50: "Are you busy?"
19:48: "Well ... no."

19:40: "Can I talk to you?"
19:39: Kevin looks ready to talk:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

19:33: the awkward "ok, so where exactly do we talk" moment.  I hate those.

19:30: inside for a soda it is!

19:20: the "mom still loves the ex, and is thrilled to see her!" awkward moment.  I'm telling you, this episode nailed, just blanking nailed, at least 2/10ths of my life.

19:15: "Privacy being hard to come by, when your mom's clogging up the kitchen."  OK, that part never happened to me -- my mom's 40th birthday gift from my dad was the promise she'd never have to cook again.  If it wasn't for the (cough) red wine stains (cough), my folks would probably still have off-white carpeting in the kitchen.

19:15: uum, not that I contributed to the staining of said off-white carpet.  (fake verne lundquist voice) No sir!

19:13: "Can I get you kids something to eat?"

18:57: the awkward "Mom realizes she's not wanted in the room" moment:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

18:53: the awkward "it was really nice seeing you!" fake compliment from the ex-girlfriend of Mom's kid.  I hate those moments.

18:47: Mom's still there.

18:45: "Mom!"

18:38: Mom's finally walking out.

18:17: "So, what'd you want to talk about?"  I like it -- direct, to the point, open and honest.  Which means this is gonna be a disaster.

18:13: "Well ...":

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

18:06: "It's really going to be fun going to high school, isn't it?"  Wait, what?  You rode halfway across town, to ask that question?  Even in my doped up, drunked up state, I call b.s. on this being the reason why "the ex" is here.

18:04: "High school?"  I'm with ya Kevin -- I'm about apoplectic too.

17:56: "Yeah.  High school."  Again -- gotta side with Kevin here.  The "BS-o-Meter" is off the charts at this point.

17:52: "It might be good to be in a new place.  Don't you think?"

17:51: looking for reassurance:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

17:46: "Well ... sure!"  I love fake enthusiasm:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

17:40: "Me too.  I was getting kind of sick of junior high.  I mean, you feel like you're stuck with things the way they are forever.  You know what I mean?"

17:35: Not a godd*mned clue what she means:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

17:33: "Definitely!"

17:25: "So ... is that what you wanted to talk about?"
17:21: "Well yeah ... kinda ..."  Hey, at least she opens her mouth and is willing to talk.  That more than some people in my life over the last year can say.

17:10: "Thanks for listening!".  God I hate that line, such a "no scoring for you tonight, pal" letdown:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

17:03: "And there you had it.  Our first real heart-to-heart in months.  Just one little question ..."

16:52: "Sometimes?  You can be so dense ..."  If Paul is your voice of reason, you got issues.

16:48: "Isn't it obvious?  She broke up with Roger, she came to your house.  Don't you see what this means?"
16:41: "She wants you back!"
16:38: "I don't think so."

16:36: "Paul, Winnie and I have a different relationship now."  Jesus dude, you're in the eighth grade, and already talking like you're 30.  That's ... pretty damned amazing, actually.

16:33: "Yeah right."  Wait -- maybe Paul is a voice of reason.

16:30: "I heard the Super Cooper's single again.  You going for it?"  I cannot believe I am about to type this ... but I am thankful that junior high was literally over half my lifetime ago.

16:26: "No."
16:25: "Do you mind if I do?"
16:23: "YES!":

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

16:15: "I don't want to hear it!"

16:13: Kevin walking home from school.

16:11: "OK, so I didn't know what I was feeling.  Love does that to you."  Yes.  Yes it does.

15:58: "All I knew was, things were different now."  Yes, yes they are:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

15:55: "There was a time when Winnie Cooper lived on my street."
15:51: "When all I'd have to do is turn around and ... she'd be there":

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

15:35: small talk.

15:20: "It was really nice talking to you yesterday."

15:17: "Yeah.  It was really nice talking to you too."  What a novel idea -- friends talking and being polite, courteous, civil, and (gasp) friendly, towards one another!  That never happens!  Good God, I'd forgotten how flat and ridiculously full of (fertilizer) the middle of this episode was.

15:12: "There aren't a lot of kids at my school I can talk to."  Whoa -- Winnie's starting to open up.

15:08: "I don't think I fit in there."

15:06: "What?"  Oh Kevin, Kevin, Kevin -- the one word you NEVER want to say to a chica who is about to open up to you.  It's the Pandora's Box of "Wrong Word, Wrong Time".

15:04: ooh, we gonna get a fight?

14:59: nope.

14:56: "It's funny -- it doesn't seem like I ever lived there."  Wait -- upset about changes to her life, not happy with where she is at in life ... I'll take "seriously depressed for 400, Alex".

14:50: "The thing is, I knew I should say something ... I just wasn't sure what."

14:44: "Well ... I'd better be going."  I love girls who dodge, evade, and refuse to discuss what issues they have with you.  Not.

14:42: Winnie uses the "mom's expecting me" excuse to get out of an awkward situation.  Wait -- that excuse WORKS?!?!?!?!  I gotta file that one away under "next time I'm at the Eclipse, and the 400 lb elephant in the room is hitting on you hard for a Coyote Ugly night ..." file.

14:37: Kevin is not happy.  I wouldn't be either.

14:34: "It was strange.  Suddenly, she looked so out of place on the street where she'd spent her entire life." Do I go there?  Do I?  (Pause).  Yup.  It's time.  (jim nantz voice) It's called "foreshadowing"!  (cue smug ass grin).

14:25: AND OUT OF NOWHERE!!!  Kevin: "Winnie?  You maybe wanna go out sometime?"  (Pause).  Do I go there?  Do I?  (Pause).  Yup.  It's time.  (bill raftery voice) ONIONS!

14:21: "No thanks".  Wait -- WHAT?!?!?!

14:18: "I think I'd just rather be by myself."  Ouch.  (But you've heard that one before?)  Hell yes I have.  I'm 36 and single for a reason.  (Pause).  What?  (Pause).  OK, fine -- a plethora of reasons.

14:14: "And that was that."  Yup.

14:05: back at the skating rink.

14:03: Winnie is not alone.

14:00: "I don't get it!"  Me either Kevin.  Me either.

13:54: "She looks ok to me!"  Why Paul Pfeiffer should never be your Voice of Reason 101.

13:51: "Paul, those guys are juniors!"  So that makes them ... hang on, carry the two ... three years older than Winnie?

13:48: "So?"  Why Paul Pfeiffer should be your Voice of Reason 101.

13:42: "It was that smile on Winnie's face.  She didn't look like that yesterday."

13:22: Yeah, I gotta side with Kevin here, she looks ... happy:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

13:20: "It was time for a talk."  Oh God.  That NEVER goes well buddy.

13:10: "I see that ... you have some new friends."  Yeah, you could say that.  Juniors, to boot!

13:07: "Yeah.  They're really nice guys!"
13:06: "Oooh ... kayyyyy ..."  Nice touch Kev.

13:00: "It's just that when we talked yesterday, you said --"
12:57: "I really don't think that's any of your business, Kevin."  Wait a second -- Winnie's the one who went across town to talk to Kevin, and now it's "none of his business" why she came over?  I swear to God, once humans evolve into whatever the hell we're gonna be in one billion years, I pray that evolution comes with a "how to deal with a volatile chica" manual.  Good to see that ... hang on, carry the four ... twenty two years after this episode aired, forty some odd years after it's setting, that none of us dudes still have a damned clue about how the female mind works.

12:49: "I couldn't understand it!"  Me neither Kev:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

12:43: "What was going on with this girl?"  If I had a nickel for every time I've said that, I'd be sleeping in an oceanside villa tonight.

12:36: Kevin confronts her.  NOT a good idea:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

12:32: "Don't be silly!  Everything's fine!"  Sure it is.

12:30: "Look Kevin -- I don't want to talk about it!"

12:27: "And that's when I knew -- something was wrong."  (leroy jethro gibbs voice) Gee, ya think?

12:20: "Winnie Cooper ... was out of control."  Uuh, actually, I'd argue she's in total control at this point, but what the hell do I know.

12:11: "Kevin!  You're holding me back!"  Oh God.  This won't end well.

12:01: Told ya:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

11:49: that painful moment when you realize nothing you do, can help your friend ... and even if you could, they don't want to be helped:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

11:46: The background music is "Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson.  I always thought this scene would have been better scored to "Walk Away Renee" by The Left Banke.  But then again, I wouldn't have picked the background music for the final scene(s) of this episode, that makes me love it so much, so what do I know.  (I'd have gone with "In My Life", instead of ... well, we're getting there.  Hang tight.)

11:35: "I don't know why I pursued her".  Thankfully, that is a question I have never asked before.

11:28: "Maybe it was because I wanted to help her.  Or maybe it was because, I needed to know, she needed my help."

11:28: oh, you are looking live at the new Cooper residence, as Winnie and her mom unload the trunk, with Kevin (semi-creepily) watching on his bike across the street.

11:21: "Hi Kevin!"

11:19: Winnie is NOT pleased at this development her mom just pointed out:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

11:06: "Honey?  Why don't you stay out here and talk?"
11:04: Winnie is NOT pleased at this development her mom just gave rise to:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

11:00: "You should come around more often!"  That's something every guy likes to hear!

10:46: Winnie attempting to apologize for the skating rink debacle.

10:43: Kevin attempting to act like it meant nothing to him.

10:33: Kevin ... so NOT the right time to spring the "does your mom know you're ..." question.

10:29: Kevin realizing it was so NOT the right time to spring the "does your mom know you're ..." question.

10:20: "Well it's just ... look, Winnie.  You know when you know somebody, but then all of a sudden you don't?  And you feel that you kind of missed out on something because they're not being like the way you thought they would?"  Jesus God above!  Do I SO know that feeling over the last 11 months!

10:07: Denial isn't just a river in Egypt anymore:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

10:02: the resigned look of disgust, at realizing no matter what he does, no matter what he says, no matter how he acts, he's lost his friend:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

9:54: small talk about a sleeping bag.

9:43: "We go every year on Brian's birthday."  For the first time, we gain some insight into Winnie's semi-depression.

9:38: "The anniversary of his (Brian, her brother) birthday."

9:38: the brother who was killed in Vietnam, in the pilot episode of the series.

9:33: "I hate camping."  Hey, me too Winnie!

9:28: (scooby doo voice) whroot whroo!  Those juniors are on the scene:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

9:25: "I gotta go!"

9:22: "So maybe I'll see ya!"

9:16: the "sh*t, this friendship is up sh*ts creek with a turd for a paddle" look:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

9:03: Winnie's mom: "Winnie?"
9:00: Kevin: "She left."

8:48: "There was a time when I saw Winnie Cooper every single day of my life ..."

8:41: cue the flashback to the pilot episode.

8:27: Kevin crosses the street, as Winnie heads towards him.

8:12: "Maybe we could do something tomorrow?"

8:03: Paul.  Always the third wheel.  And yet somehow, he got laid first on this show.  Just goes to show you:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

8:00: "See ya tomorrow."
7:50: the realization that tomorrow isn't coming anytime soon:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

7:38: back at the skating rink.

7:26: Winnie inadvertently knocks Kevin down.

7:14: (scooby doo voice) whroot whroo!  Kevin's frustrations are starting to emerge ...

7:09: "Kevin?  Can we talk?"  Take it from me -- those three words ("can we talk?"), NEVER amount to anything good.

7:04: "And here we went again ..."  Even eighth grade Kevin Arnold knows this ain't good.

6:50: "I wish I could explain."
6:48: "Well why don't you try then?"
6:46: the "not even remotely happy" couple:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

6:45: "For a second?  I thought I might actually get an answer."  Oh Kevin.  You have so much to learn about women ...

6:38: "Hey Winnie!  Come on!  We're going for a drive!"

6:30: "Winnie!  I know you!  Or at least, I used to know you!  And you are not acting like yourself!"  Oh God.  He opened the door.
6:27: "How am I supposed to act?"
6:26: "Like you!"
6:23: "Like the Winnie Cooper I know!"
6:20: "Kevin?  Let me go!"
6:19: "NO!":
6:18: "Why are you acting like this?"
6:17: "Because when I act like myself?  Everything goes bad!"
6:14: not even Kevin can argue with that logic:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

6:13: "I just want to forget the past three years!"
6:09: Kevin, realizing what she just said: "What about me?"
6:06: "You just don't understand!"
6:04: "Well, what do you want me to say?"
6:03: "NOTHING!"
6:02: and Winnie takes off.

6:00: in the theme of the episode so far, Kevin is not happy once again:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

5:52: "The funny thing is?  Those three years?  Had been the best years, of my whole life."

5:43: back at school the next day.

5:40: "Kev?"
5:39: "What?"
5:38: "About Winnie ..."

5:34: "I'd done enough talking about her.  Enough worrying about her."
5:30: "She had an accident."
5:29: the worst look young Kevin Arnold has expressed so far:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

5:18: it's gonzo time.

5:14: gotta say, Kevin Arnold barreling through the hallways of junior high, makes OJ Simpson's barreling run in the old Hertz Rent-a-Car ads look amateurish.

5:10: I'm done recapping.  I cannot now, nor ever, add to the last three scenes.  Just watch, and enjoy, for as long as Youtube! doesn't take the clip down:

4:35: ok, I lied.  "I waited all afternoon.  I didn't know what else to do."

4:25: Winnie's folks car pulls up.

4:13: "Mr. Cooper?  Is she ... alright?"

4:07: "She's going to need some time to recover."

4:02: "Can I see her?"
3:58: "Hello, Kevin."
3:57: "Mrs. Cooper, may I talk to her?"
3:52: "Kevin?  Maybe you should go home now."
3:48: "WHAT?!?!?!"
3:45: "Kevin.  Winnie doesn't want to see you right now."
3:41: "But that's impossible!  I know she wants to see me!"
3:37: "Kevin?  Please go home."

3:30: cue the opening quotation:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

3:06: cue (arguably) my favorite scene in television history, with the opening notes of Bob Seger's epic "We've Got Tonight".

3:04: Kevin riding off into the darkness.

2:56: on his way out of the neighborhood.

2:50: "Only ... I didn't."  The three words that make this episode.  Hang on, I need to grab some Kleenex for what's about to unfold.  I mean, to blow my nose due to allergies, yeah, allergies.  Hang on just a second, it's getting awfully dusty in the Casa de Stevo ...

2:42: "I couldn't."  I swear, this pollen, ragweed, whatever, is just killing me right now ...

2:41: "I know it's late.  I know you're weary.  I know your plans don't include me ..."

2:22: he has a plan:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

2:16: God above do I love this next line.

2:15: "There are things in a life that matter.  Things in a past?  Which can't be denied."
2:03: "Winnie Cooper was part of me, and I was a part of her.  And no matter what?  For as long as we lived?  I knew I could never let her go."
1:46: "Deep in my soul, I've been so lonely.  All of my hopes?  Fading away ..."
1:43: Winnie sees Kevin:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

1:28: true love:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

1:27: "I've longed for love, like everyone else does ..."
1:24: Kevin, to Winnie: "I love you."
1:18: "And I know I'll keep searching, even after today ..."
1:13: Winnie, to Kevin: "I love you":

(Image(s) credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)

1:10: "So there it is girl!  I've seen it all now! ..."
1:07: "And here we are babe -- what do you say? ..."

0:55: "We've got tonight!  Who need tomorrow? ..."
0:48: "Let's make it last!  Let's find a way! ..."

0:42: "Turn out the lights; come take my hand now.  We've got tonight babe -- why don't you stay? ..."

0:38: the perfect close:

(Image credit: Marlens / Black Productions, (c) 1991.)


And that brings to a close the fourth in this series of classic television episode rewatches ... and to be honest?  This episode is grousely underseeded.  The last five minutes never fail to make me cry.  Never.

Not sure which episode I'll do next, but I'm leaning towards one of the two "West Wing" episodes on the list ...

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the third thursday thirteen ...

"So you're dancing on the ocean -- Running fast, along the sand. A spirit born, of earth and water -- Fire flying from your hand...