Lee Daniels (Empire), writer Saladin Patterson (Frasier, The Bernie Mac Show, The Big Bang Theory), and original series co-creator Neal Marlens and star Fred Savage are teaming up to bring The Wonder Years back to ABC. The reboot of the popular coming-of-age comedy will focus on how a Black middle-class family in late 1960s Montgomery, Alabama, was able to live out their "wonder years" during a very turbulent time in modern American history. Targeted for the 2021-2022 television season, the project received a strong pilot-production commitment and is expected to open a writers' room once script approvals are in place. Patterson will pen the script, with Savage expected to direct and Marlens serving as a consultant. Daniel, Patterson, Savage, and Lee Daniels Entertainment banner president Marc Velez will executive produce, with Disney-owned 20th Century Fox Television producing.
Reportedly, the project was brought directly to ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke by Daniels, Velez, Patterson, and Savage- and with good reason. Burke has said in the past that The Wonder Years was one of the shows that influenced her to work in television. The project comes at a time when the network finds itself with a lighter-than-usual pilot load for filming, in large part due to the massive number of productions that were shut down over COVID-19 pandemic concerns. A major advantage that a project like The Wonder Years has going for it in a crowded sea of production pitches? Familiarity. Running for six seasons between 1988 and 1993, the series has a "brand name" that will get an executive's attention on a list of pilots. In addition, bringing back a series with a level of popularity that the original series did reduces marketing and promoting costs. Throw into the mix that one of the original series' co-creators and its star are involved and you have the makings of strong pilot potential.