Friday, April 11, 2014

'The Goldbergs' review

'The Goldbergs' is a new sitcom (six episodes in as I am writing this) that takes place in the 80's and centers around a rather high-strung family who shouts a lot, but you can tell through and through that they care about one another.  It doesn't have the corny feel that many sitcoms that actually aired in the 80's did, but the father is not a Homer Simpson/Al Bundy/John Goodman in Roseanne-style idiot/pushover.  He (Murray) is just hot-blooded in that 'because I care too much' kind of way.  Screaming "Where have you been?  I could have killed you!" means "I was very worried."  He is definitely a good father who cares about his kids and his kids know that, so the show has a nice realistic vibe without being too edgy to be family-friendly.

The main character in this show is Adam, the youngest of the three Goldberg kids.  What is innovative about this main character is that the creator of the show is also Adam Goldberg.  This show is based on his real-life family.  The main character is him when he was an adolescent in the 80's and they even show Adam's real-life home movies during the closing credits.  That made me appreciate the show even more because the actors in this show nail their real-life counterparts.  Patton Oswalt from 'Parks and Rec' provides the voice of an adult Adam narrating from the future.

Adam has his high-strung (like dad) older brother Barry, his sister Erica, his doting mother Beverly and his grandpa Albert, all of whom are very relatable, witty characters in a well-written show.  Erica appears to be the voice of reason among the kids.  Beverly the mom provides some relatable (yes, relatable) humor, embarassing her children who are trying to be their own people.  (Yes, you can relate to that.)  And Grandpa Albert (whose wife has died) dates a different woman every weekend.  The only word of caution I would offer as far as this being a "family show" is that, in the first two episodes, Albert provided some off-color humor in the form of advice he gives to Adam about girls and something he says about his own date.  Since then, I don't recall any of that kind of humor being in the show, his character has focused more on trying to be there for his grandkids.  It was kind of like Howard Wolowitz in 'Big Bang Theory', where Howard provided a lot of off-color humor and now he's married, so not so much anymore.  Yes, Grandpa Albert still dates a bunch of women, going to bars dressed in 70's clothes, but the jokes aren't like they were in the first two.  There was a rather touching moment in one episode where Albert admits to his daughter that the reason he dates different women was because he is positive that no one can replace his deceased wife.

This show has additional apeal for those who grew up in the 80's.  There are countless references to things we grew up with.  One episode shows Barry begging his dad for some Reebok pumps.  (Like I did.  Well, my mom.)  He thinks they can make him jump higher.  (We all did.)  And then he tries to slam dunk without the athletic skills to back up the shoes and does a hilarious face plant on the pavement.  (I knew a kid.)  I think the show is funny on its own merits without the 80's references, just because the characters are very relatable, but seeing references to Rubix cubes, Flashdance, neon being in fashion, doing research on microfiche and Lou Ferrigno's Hulk are icing on the cake for those who remember that stuff.

I took away a 'star' because of Albert's off-color humor in the first two episodes. but gave back half of that star for the Reebok pumps episode.  I would rate 'The Goldberg's' 4.5 stars out of 5.  It is on ABC Tuesdays at 9 and is more than worth keeping the TV on after 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' which I'm sure you are already watching.

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