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Alan Pergament: Some things about Pam, 'The Wonder Years,' 'A Million Little Things' and the USFL

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Renée Zellweger stars as Pam Hupp in "The Thing About Pam."

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This is what I’m thinking:

In the old days before there were so many viewing choices, last Wednesday’s episode of ABC’s “The Wonder Years” would have provided a water cooler moment.

In the “Love & War” episode of the reboot of the popular 1980s dramedy, Bruce (Spence Moore II), the oldest son of the Williams family, returned home wounded from Vietnam after being awarded a Bronze Star.

He seemed to have survivor’s remorse because his good friend Brian was killed during the battle in which he was injured.

At the end of the episode of a series that seems to look more for poignancy than laughs, Bruce showed his young brother, series lead Dean (Elisha Williams), a picture that Brian kept in his wallet during his Vietnam tour.

Bruce told Dean that it was a picture of Brian’s sister, Gwendolyn, who he called “Winnie.”

The picture revealed a young Danica McKellar, who played Winnie Cooper in the original version of “The Wonder Years.”

It was a very moving way of connecting the original version of the series with the current version featuring a Black family and set in Alabama, which has become one of the few new broadcast series that I regularly watch.

The finale of the NBC docudrama series “The Thing About Pam” starring Renée Zellweger may have had viewers wondering why the prosecution allowed Pam Hupp to take a verdict that gave her a lifetime prison sentence without the possibility of parole even though she didn’t admit she was guilty of murdering anyone.

Thankfully, the verdict was explained in a “Dateline” episode that ran Friday a few days after the series finale ran.

According to the prosecutor, it was decided to allow Hupp to take the so-called Alford plea that acknowledged there was enough evidence to convict her of murder because the plea would save the county the expense of a trial and wouldn’t have changed the end result.

Would ABC and all the cable networks in Disney’s universe please stop with all the promos for the new Hulu series featuring “The Kardashians”? No matter how many promos you run, I’m not going to watch it. Can’t they just go away?

ABC’s “A Million Little Things” and NBC’s “This Is Us” are two of the rare broadcast series I watch regularly, which is perhaps why I notice so many similarities in the shows.

“A Million" is another network series that navigates the subjects of divorce, dealing with depression and cancer, family secrets and racism. I enjoy the soapy series, even if it resolves some issues a little two quickly for my taste.

In last week’s episode of the Wednesday night series, Eddie Saville (David Giuntoli) and Katherine (Grace Park), a divorced couple who ended things badly, have gotten over their anger and become supportive of each other. They even went to a game night party with their new romantic partners.

Eddie, who is in a wheelchair after being hit by a car a few seasons back, is involved with the ex-wife of the music teacher who sexually assaulted the daughter of Eddie's deceased friend. (It is a complicated show.) Katherine brought the high school female friend she now is involved with romantically.

Like the April 12 episode of “This Is Us,” it was another positive message about life going on after divorce.

There are a couple of more amusing similarities between the two programs.

Both have had some uncomfortable scenes this season involving charades.

In a flashback “This Is Us” scene before they were married, Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Miguel (Jon Huertas) obviously knew so much about each other playing charades that it became uncomfortable for Rebecca’s date. It led Rebecca and Miguel to realize how much they meant to each other before they began dating.

In “A Million Little Things,” the connection between Eddie and ex-wife Katherine was obvious in a game of charades played before their new partners.

The other similarity in the series concerns casting. Chris Geere, whose character Phillip married Kate (Chrissy Metz) in Tuesday’s episode of “This Is Us,” previously played the British boyfriend of Maggie Bloom (Allison Miller) on “A Million Little Things.”

Geere gets around so much that you almost think he is the only British actor in Hollywood. He also played Arvin, the boyfriend of Haley Dunphy (Sarah Hyland), in “Modern Family.”

In another illustration of TV writers thinking alike, two network medical series, ABC’s “The Good Doctor” and NBC’s “New Amsterdam,” also had some storyline similarities this season.

In both series, a new administrator came into power who was more concerned about the bottom line than their patients’ well-being. Of course, both administrators ended up ousted.

The new United States Football League (USFL) kicked off its season Saturday by carrying the same game on two different networks – Fox and NBC. It was just the latest example of the networks giving up on Saturday night, which in the good old days was one of the best TV viewing nights.


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TV Critic

Alan Pergament has had a variety of roles at The News since 1970, including as a news and sports reporter. He has been the TV columnist since 1982, with more than year off for good behavior. He is a member of the national Television Critics Association.

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