TV Review: ‘The Goldbergs’

The Goldbergs TV review

Another coming-of-age comedy that's better on paper than in the execution

The best part about “The Goldbergs,” alas, comes at the very end, when we see video footage of the actual characters who inspired this autobiographical comedy. It’s a link to humanity and reality in a half-hour that often feels shrill and exaggerated — something that desperately wants to be this generation’s “The Wonder Years,” albeit by leaping back to a moment not long before that ABC series made its debut. There’s a lot of coming-of-age nostalgia in the ether (Hulu’s “Moone Boy” trod much the same territory), but series creator Adam Goldberg’s prism on his past too often feels like a good idea, and a missed opportunity.

It’s 1985, and Goldberg’s alter ego is 12-year-old Adam (Sean Giambrone), who has a new videocamera he uses to torment his older sister (Hayley Orrantia), brother (Troy Gentile) and parents, Murray (Jeff Garlin, in near-cardiac-arrest mode) and Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey, the show’s strongest asset).

Narrated by Patton Oswalt, the series recalls a time when there were “no parenting blogs or peanut allergies,” and in that respect, it should resonate with those currently obsessing about such things regarding their own kids.

As fertile as the mid-1980s are for comedy, however, the pilot is too often grating — with a little of Garlin, in particular, going a long way. And while Goldberg’s household was no doubt a boisterous place, filled with expressions of affection disguised as hurled insults (a recurring bit translates Murray’s broadsides onscreen), in old-fashioned TV terms, “The Goldbergs” simply aren’t particularly good company.

There are, naturally, a lot of pubescent possibilities, such as Adam’s grandfather (George Segal) dragging him to the Waffle House, coaxing him to flirt with a slightly older girl who has caught the lad’s eye.

Still, writers are so inextricably drawn to their own wonder years, there’s no shortage of material devoted to it. And that sets the bar pretty high for such an exercise — particularly if it has to adhere to broadcast content standards — unless you’re roughly Adam’s age, in which case all this seems minty fresh.

Those closing scenes, however, do offer at least a ray of hope, if “The Goldbergs” can find a way to connect the historical to the fanciful. (As a side note, based on the real family photo, one of Adam’s siblings underwent a sex change for sitcom purposes.)

Without threading that needle, however, any criticism directed at “The Goldbergs” won’t require subtextual translation.

TV Review: 'The Goldbergs'

(Series; ABC, Tues. Sept. 24, 9 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles by Happy Madison in association with Sony Pictures Television.

Crew

Executive producers, Adam F. Goldberg, Doug Robinson, Seth Gordon; director, Gordon; writer, Goldberg. 30 MIN.

Cast

Wendi McLendon-Covey, Patton Oswalt, Sean Giambrone, Troy Gentile, Hayley Orrantia, George Segal, Jeff Garlin

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  1. The Torn Prince/Royce Clayton says:

    You want some cheese to go with that whine?
    Jesus, all they do on this show is whine!

    oh no i cant watch the goonies, oh no that girl doesnt like me, oh no my daughters a slut and has a secret diary, oh no my brothers coming to thanksgiving, JUST SHUT UP AND STOP BITCHING!

    god, and this is supposed to be entertainment?

    i dont think so!
    jesus, i must of been drunk or really high to think this was a great show, but once i got the dvd for
    christmas and realized they’re just a punch of annoying yuppies complaning about life.

    and what about that narratoin? jesus, shut up for once!
    has to tell us EVERYTHING that’s happening, like yeah we get it, your fucking father is upset, dont need to hear about it!

    it was 1980 something, like you cant figure out what year it is?

    give me a break.

    they think it’s a orginal show, but this is just a copy of the middle and the wonder years.

    and besides, who the hell cares how a jewish kid spent his childhood?

    NOT ME!

    avoid this show like the plague, there are alot of BETTER tv shows out there, like Alf and Freaks and
    Geeks!

    at least those shows had likeable characters, there’s no-one likeable on the goldbergs.
    ugh.

  2. Duder NME says:

    Seemed more like a mish mash museum of “hey look at this, that was in the 80s!” and “oh hey, that was in the 80s too!”. If the creators tried to make the decade a character of its own, then it came off as seeming self-aggrandizingly effacing, viewed through the lensless glasses of an 80s kid turned modern hipster raised in a post-nuclear dysfunctional environ.

    However, Wendy McLendon-Covey was, like, so choice.

  3. Marin says:

    I was so disappointed in the show, with its loudness, rudeness, and inability to create anything funny of that era…….the only thing that was familiar were the jump suits the mother was wearing so YES to the wardrobe people……

  4. J snell says:

    On the goldbergs first episode, does Chris tucker make a guest appearance as the cop at the police station where the mother arrives ?

  5. Diamondback says:

    Moone Boy is funny so I’m not sure it’s the same territory.

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