×

TV Review: ‘The Goldbergs’

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

With:

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

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

More TV

  • Another-Life-Netflix

    TV Review: 'Another Life'

    Netflix’s new series “Another Life” brings Katee Sackhoff back into space, a decade after the conclusion of “Battlestar Galactica,” the beloved series on which she starred. But her new series looks more like the rest of the fare on the SyFy network — it’s inelegantly made and operates less in the realm of ideas than [...]

  • Vince McMahon WWE

    Vince McMahon Out of Excuses for WWE Woes

    When World Wrestling Entertainment reported its sluggish first-quarter performance in April, CEO Vince McMahon blamed it on “superstar absences,” the temporary sidelining of many of his star grapplers due to injuries accumulated in 2018 and early 2019. But now that WWE is on the verge of releasing its second-quarter numbers on July 25, McMahon is [...]

  • How Cooking-Travel Shows Are Changing TV

    How Cooking-Travel Shows Are Changing TV

    Toyo hunches over his street food stove, cooking tuna with a blow torch, stopping to light his cigarette with it and produce a cheeky grin. The Japanese chef, who owns a roadside stand in the city of Osaka, is one of many highlighted in the Netflix series “Street Food.” Over the course of 30 minutes, [...]

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Leaders Approve Proposal for New Film-TV Contract

    The SAG-AFTRA national board has approved proposals for a successor deal to its master contract covering feature film and primetime television — a key step in the upcoming negotiations cycle with companies. The board approved the package Saturday with the performers union declining to reveal any specifics — its usual policy. The board established the wages [...]

  • Shannen Doherty'Jennie Garth: A Little Bit

    Shannen Doherty Joins 'Riverdale' Season 4 in Luke Perry Tribute

    “Riverdale” is planning to make a special tribute to Luke Perry. The show’s executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa announced at Comic-Con that Shannen Doherty, Perry’s longtime friend and “Beverly Hills 90210” co-star, will guest star in the season 4 premiere. The tribute episode will “reflect Perry’s enduring legacy and the indelible imprint his character” Fred Andrews [...]

  • Supernatural CW

    'Supernatural' Team Gets Emotional Final Season Sendoff at Comic-Con

    The cast and creative team of “Supernatural” bid a fond farewell to the attendees of San Diego Comic-Con on Sunday. At the show’s final panel in the gargantuan Hall H, the team thanked the fans for all of their support over the years as the series prepares to enter its final season. “I’m trying not [...]

  • Alicia Rodis photographed by Alicia Rodis

    SAG-AFTRA Moves to Standardize Guidelines for Intimacy Coordinators

    SAG-AFTRA is moving to standardize guidelines for intimacy coordinators as part of an effort to establish policies for union members when their work involves nudity and simulated sex. “Our goal is to normalize and promote the use of intimacy coordinators within our industry,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. “Intimacy coordinators provide an important safety net for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content