The Slice

Great Endings of TV Episodes Dept.

After I posted something about "The Wonder Years" not long ago, a friend who worked at Spokane International Airport for ages mentioned having met Dan Lauria when he was passing through town once.

He played the dad on that show.

Reasonable people can disagree about his merits as an actor. But he had a few shining moments in that series.

One was an episode that first aired on Nov. 21, 1989. I rewatched it this weekend. Called "The Family Car," it told about Jack Arnold's reluctance to admit that the worn-out station wagon needed to be replaced. His kids think he's slow to face the facts because he is cheap. But of course, there's more to it than that. Life in the Arnold household is changing, and Jack knows it. He wants to hold on to the way things were just a little longer.

"The Wonder Years" made a habit of swinging for the fences when it came to poignant moments. And I think the show had a decent batting average. But the conclusion of "The Family Car" is an upper deck home run.

Amid the end-of-the-episode excitement of a new car's arrival in the driveway, members of the Arnold family turn to see the old station wagon about to be towed away. Then, as it starts to sink in about why Jack had struggled with the decision, we hear the instantly recognizable opening of Neil Young's marvelous "Long May You Run."

Talk about hitting the right notes.

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