“The Phone Call” is my first favorite episode of The Wonder Years. Kevin starts the episode finally (“finally”) over Winnie Cooper. The main reason is that he’s discovered Lisa Berlini, and honestly, who can blame him? He describes her as “The kind of girl you dream about but would never know your name.” Here’s what I feel is going to be a recurring theme for me while rewatching the show: Since we’re looking at all the love interests through Kevin’s eyes at that age, we’re looking at 12 year old girls as desirable partners. I have been reassured that it’s ok since I’m watching this as nostalgia, but still… super creepy. Also, keep in mind that Kevin is in love with her based on one look she gave him while watching the Apollo 11 take off in class.
Kevin spends the next three days following her around so he can plan to casually bump into her. He ends up actually casually bumping into her and not being able to talk. Instead, he asks Paul to ask her friends if she likes him, which, of course, goes horribly awry when her friends ask her directly. He ends up skipping school to avoid it the next day.
In order to get some courage, he asks his parents about the first time his dad called her mom. Turns out she was working at Macy’s and he called about returning a tie. He sits in the kitchen trying to work up the courage to call her, and ends up trying to call and hanging up multiple times. Obviously, kids watching this now would be confused, since with caller ID it would be impossible, and they’d probably just be Snapchatting pictures of their genitals to each other by this point. Wayne comes in to use the phone, figures out Kevin is trying to call a girl, and, of course, relentlessly mocks him for it. Can we also discuss the fact that Wayne calls Kevin “scrote?” The only thing I can imagine that would be referencing is “scrotum,” which joins “Boner” on Growing Pains as phallic nicknames for children in 80’s sitcoms.
While trying to call, Kevin has the best dream sequence of the entire series. He imagines her answering, but with friends around. The camera pulls back to reveal more and more of their classmates, and then teachers, and finally a pair of sportscasters offering play by play. Completely brilliant. Finally, inspired by the bravery of the Apollo 11 astronauts, Kevin calls Lisa Berlini.
As I tend to do while watching these episodes, I looked up Lisa Berlini on IMDb.com. She’s played by Kathy Wagner, who had a pretty decent career before and after her appearances on The Wonder Years. She appeared in Iron Eagle and Poltergeist II, and on episodes of Gimme a Break and Silver Spoons. More recently she played Lucy on MTV’s Undressed and was in How High. Her most recent credit was in 2006, some movie called You Did What? More importantly, she went to UMASS Amherst at the same time I went to college in central Massachusetts and spent the occasional time in nearby Northampton for various concerts. Apparently, I completely wasted my time in college not attempting to date Lisa Berlini.No tags for this post.
I’m actually getting more and more sad I never watched this show. It sounds quite endearing.