The Wonder Years digresses from its usual episode format with “On the Spot “ In this episode, Kevin primarily narrates and observes Winnie’s struggles rather than his own. I enjoyed the episode for what it was. However, I did miss experiencing Kevin’s woes, which usually lead to comical but enlightening thoughts.
Winnie’s problems center on the school play. She auditioned and got the lead role in “Our Town.” When Winnie first expresses interest in auditioning, Kevin is shocked to think she, or anyone, would want to be in the play. After his own experiences with the play the previous year, he has had enough with acting. However, once he learns that play participants miss seventh period (which would be the much hated gym class for Kevin), Kevin eagerly joins. Instead of acting, Kevin takes the easiest job – managing the spotlight.
Winnie is excited to play the part but soon develops memory and stage fright issues in dress rehearsals. She is unable to remember her lines during pivotal scenes. Winnie confides to Kevin that she wants to quit the play, but won’t because her father – who is now living in Chicago- is flying out to see her performance.
I liked watching Winnie struggle and hearing her admission as it continued to humanize and flesh out her personality more. Just as in a season 2 episode when Winnie admitted to Kevin she doesn’t know if she likes him as a friend or boyfriend, we gradually get to see Winnie as a conflicted teenager rather than as Kevin’s idealized version.
On the night of the play, Winnie initially pauses in the scenes which frustrated her during rehearsals. Kevin, however, sees his role as spotlight director as pivotal in helping Winnie through her struggle. He puts the light on her in one particularly long pause, and Winnie somehow comes through that scene.
Kevin continues to strategically use spotlight throughout the play and Winnie successfully acts out her role. To me, Kevin’s belief that he could help her with the spotlight was a sweet/learning moment, as it showed the importance of good friends to get us through our problems.
Overall, though the episode served its purpose in highlighting Winnie more, the episode felt like a filler episode. Perhaps it is due to my unrealistic expectation that every Wonder Years episode should have some type of life lesson at the end, which this episode did not necessarily have. Sometimes, a tv show episode can be taken at its face value, without seeking a deeper meaning.