July 09, 1990 12:00 PM

HBO (Sundays, 10 P.M. ET)


The Wonder Years, thirtysomething, they don’t speak directly to my experience. Ah, but finally a show I can relate to, about a man (Brian Benben) whose consciousness and imagination were shaped by being parked in front of the tube since he was a tot. As he stumbles through his day as a Manhattan pulp publisher, numerous black-and-white clips from vintage movies and TV shows flash on the screen to show Benben’s fears, hopes and thoughts in an exaggerated or idealized fashion. Everyone from Bette Davis to Jerry Mathers to Richard Deacon to Burl Ives pops up.

As a male Molly Dodd, Benben is appealingly droopy, and Denny Dillon as his acid bath of an executive assistant is terrific. The show has some funny lines, but it’s the cleverly selected clips that make this a uniquely amusing proposition. The debut (July 8), directed by the series’ executive producer, John (Coming to America) Landis, is really a classic TV episode.

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