One of the best episodes of ''The Wonder Years'' had young Kevin going to his father's office and seeing, up close, what made his father such a grump at home. Tonight, ''Everybody Hates Chris'' used much the same theme. Chris, needing money for a leather jacket, worked for his father at the old man's newspaper-delivery job, and saw his father through other adults' eyes. As was the case on ''The Wonder Years,'' he also got a taste of how a paycheck puts a limit on personal independence and dignity.
It was a pretty good episode, with two nice caps to the leather jacket story -- one when Chris's father pays him for his work, another when Chris finally gets the jacket.
I bring this up not just because I like ''Chris'' but because anyone who watched ''The Wonder Years'' should also be drawn to this show. You've got the adult narrator, the self-aware kid, the warm but not overly idealized family, the humor and the thoughtful view of life. ''Wonder Years'' was more deliberately dramatic, where ''Chris'' prefers a gentler touch to serious issues. But they're both sharp shows, with a great deal in common.
Then again, I may have just felt something in the air. After all, Fred Savage is on Thursday nights, too, over in the ensemble on the improving ''Crumbs,''