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After football, ABC shifts to teen life in '60s

The Wonder Years ABC, Sunday, at conclusion of Super Bowl XXII. Stars Fred Savage. Executive producers/co-creators/writers: Neal Marlens and Carol Black. ABC is giving nostalgia a gentle workout on Sunday after the physical exhilaration of the Super Bowl.

``The Wonder Years,'' a comedy that explores the experiences of teen-agers growing up in the 1960s, has already been given a series commitment by the network and is now awarded a special early premi`ere to cash in on the huge sports audience which may or may not stay tuned to watch at the conclusion of the ball game.

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Viewers are in for a pleasant surprise. Narrator Kevin Arnold looks back at his seventh-grade adventures with a nice combination of rosy-hued tenderness and contemporary perspective. His adventures with the class bullies, the lunchroom proctor, and his first love are familiar bits of literary nostalgia, done with a certain amount of halting charm and psychological authenticity. The jarring, but valid, note is the intrusion of the Vietnam war into the lives of the youngsters.

Co-creators/writers Neal Marlens and Carol Black seem to be able to restrain the normal tendency in this kind of series to go for the gag. Future episodes, whenever ABC decides to schedule them, will continue the story of these youngsters into their later years. I hope the series will prove to be the oasis of quiet remembrance that is promised by this premi`ere.

Arthur Unger is the Monitor's television critic.

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