You could do a lot worse than The Goldbergs, the new ’80s-set comedy following ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s got a cute premise, the cast is hilarious, and underneath the flashy fashion throwbacks and ALL THE YELLING, a strong and realistic family dynamic is cropping up.
Sure, I’m a sucker for a solid father-daughter coming-of-age TV moment like the one we got at the end of tonight’s episode 2, but whatever. Sometimes that’s all it takes. My heart has been warmed! Wendi McLendon-Covey’s absurdly hot roller rink moves have inspired me to wear more off-the-shoulder sweaters this fall! They’ve got me. I’m in. This better not get canceled.
Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and McLendon-Covey (Reno 911, Bridesmaids) play gruff tough-lover Murray and overbearing ball-breaker Beverly, who love to raise their voices but only because they so passionately want to “parent the sh*t” out of their three aging-too-quickly kids. Despite the intensity of their antics, I find them both believable as parents, and as a couple. Didn’t we all know obnoxious yet huggable people, growing up? These are just some of them!
Series creator Adam F. Goldberg, on whom the youngest kid Adam is based, mined his own family life for content and even drops some priceless home video footage of the “real Goldbergs” at the end of each episode. Meanwhile, Character Adam (Seth Giambrone) keeps catching his family members during their most vulnerable moments with his little camcorder. It’s a cute device that helps temper the characters and offer up another reason to care about this fictional family. I also really liked the subtitles provided for Murray last week — a cool way to suggest without hitting us over the head that when this dad yells, he’s actually being supportive.
By the way, that’s Patton Oswalt voicing the narrator, adult Adam. I’ll admit, my first impression last week was that the way the show plays out, it’s sort of as if The Wonder Years is on overdrive and begging for a laugh track. But after tonight’s daddy-daughter moment put me in tears, I’m realizing that’s so cynical, and not really fair to The Goldbergs, a cute show that makes me smile. Maybe I should let the show just be itself and stop comparing it to others.
THAT SAID, “Come Sail Away” at the roller rink totally reminded me of the Freaks and Geeks premiere. Barry (Big Tasty if you’re nasty)’s secret roller disco fetish mirrored Eric Foreman’s on That ’70s Show. And Murray’s dramatic freakouts at Erica’s tampons, leg-shaving, and other various “girl stuff” was straight-up Graham Chase shuddering as Angela crept around in a bath towel in My So-Called Life. But who in their right mind wouldn’t like to relive all these memories? A moron, that’s who! MURRAY’S FAVORITE WORD!
More highlights from “Daddy Daughter Day”:
–McLendon-Covey’s delivery on some of Bev’s lines is often more delicious than the material. She somehow manages to make throwaway lines like “Oh, please.” their own punchlines before rapidly moving onto entirely new topics. Her timing is everything.
–George Segal is hilarious as Albert “Pops” Soloman, though I hope they don’t keep repeating his “What’s happening?” punchline. I love how, much like Segal did with Just Shoot Me‘s Jack Gallo, he manages to sound clueless, incredulous, and wise all at once. “Who puts a train on a sweater? It doesn’t make sense!“
–I could have sworn Adam was attempting some sort of cartoon animal voice (but why?!) from behind his bedroom door when he refused to come out in the train sweater.
–”I don’t like spending a whole day by myself! It’s why I nap!” –Murray (Garlin)
–”Also, I have a coupon. It expired a year ago. You will honor it.” –Bev to the bewildered sales associate at the acid-washed jeans store
Do the Goldbergs already feel like the family you didn’t know you wish you had?