The upcoming reboot of The Wonder Years just took a major step forward as Oscar nominee and Marvel Cinematic Universe star Don Cheadle has joined the cast. Like the original version of the series, Variety reports The Wonder Years will feature an ongoing narration from the adult version of the lead character, with Cheadle filling that role for the reboot. Young actor Elisha Williams will play the on-camera role of the main character, Dean. The original version of the series saw Fred Savage take on the part of Kevin Arnold on screen while Home Alone's Daniel Stern provided the ongoing narration.
While the original take on the sitcom focused on a suburban white family from 1968 to 1973, the new version of The Wonder Years will take place in the same time frame but instead focus on a black middle class family. Despite the original series not actually revealing where the Arnold family lived, the new take will place its family in Montgomery, Alabama, a key location in the United States' Civil rights movement of the era (the new series seemingly taking place just years after the Montgomery Bus Boycotts with Rosa Parks).
The new Wonder Years series is being produced by Empire creator Lee Daniels with Fred Savage returning to direct the pilot. Saladin K. Patterson will serve as creator and executive producer, penning the pilot as well. Original series creator Neal Marlens will serve as a consultant for the show.
Joining Elisha "EJ" Williams in the series will be Dulé Hill as Bill, his father, described as "a music professor by day and a funk musician by night" and said to be "The baddest guy I knew" by the adult version of Dean. Saycon Sengbloh will star as Lillian, Dean's mother, "confident, kind, perceptive and has a good sense of humor." Laura Kariuki will take on the part of Dean's teenage sister Kim, "confident, bright and popular."
The Wonder Years and its style of storytelling, featuring the adult version of a character narrating their younger life, has become a staple of sitcom formulas in the years since with ABC's The Goldbergs a notable example of following a similar structure. To bring it all full circle, Patton Oswalt, who provides the adult narration in The Goldbergs, tweeted congratulations to Cheadle for taking the role in The Wonder Years.
Yay @DonCheadle! Join me & @RealRonHoward for a cocktail later at Expositions, the bar exclusively for narrators. It’s in the mini-mall on Pico next to the paint ball supplies store. https://t.co/OosSVNw1zn— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) March 26, 2021
Over the years it was on the air, The Wonder Years won four Primetime Emmy awards including the Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy in its first season on top of twenty four other nominations throughout its tenure.