Adam Goldberg (Sean Giambrone) is just trying to survive his childhood. He has a “smother” instead of a mother (Wendi McLendon-Covey), a dad (Jeff Garlin) that he cannot connect with, a brother named Barry (Troy Gentile) whose opinion of himself is so high Evel Kneival couldn’t jump it, a sister named Erica (Hayley Orrantia) who is too cool for all of them, and a swinging grandpa (George Segal). Growing up Goldberg in the ’80s is a challenge, but somehow Adam and his family will survive.
The Goldbergs—Season 1 premiered on September 24, 2013 and aired twenty-three episodes until May 13, 2014. The series is largely based upon events in the life of creator Adam F. Goldberg and has received mixed reviews from critics.
The Goldbergs is both entertaining and maddening at the same time. The series is very derivative but there is something also entertaining about it. You love the characters and hate the characters at the same time. The Goldbergs is a contradiction.
The ’80s stuff is smart and fun. The series gets around the idea that it is locked in time with events being shuffled around with narrator Patton Oswalt always stating “’80s something” at the beginning of the show. This allows writers to tap into tons of ’80s references. Childhood can often blur time and the show has a general effect…though points of reference like the release of Return of the Jedi and Geraldo opening Al Capone’s vault have you setting the time and sometimes frustrated at the time shifts.
The cast is also frustrating. Sean Giambrone is a rather typical child actor and he doesn’t quite have the charisma that Fred Savage had in The Wonder Years (which this show feels like it is closely emulating). Jeff Garlin’s yelling is typical of the sitcom dad, but he works better in moments when he isn’t yelling. Troy Gentile is a scene stealer as the annoying brother and Hayley Orrantia is a typical teen sister (she was an add to the series since the real Adam Goldberg had two brothers). George Segal seems to always play the same befuddled character in recent years. The most frustrating is Wendi McLendon-Covey who good at being the annoying but in mother that you both hate her and love her…while this is realistic it doesn’t always make for great shows (and it is cliché).
The show does have a lot of fun set pieces in the ’80s look. It once again is a blending of ten years and not always right, but for the most part, the series nails it. It is reinforced by real clips at the end of each show which shows the real Goldberg’s family…showing that it isn’t all just made up.
Adam F. Goldberg and I are the same age and this puts a bit of nostalgia in The Goldbergs that help. The Adam character has a lot of the same toys and memories I have (I just didn’t have a camera). Like The Wonder Years (Fred Savage is also the same age), The Goldbergs is a coming of age TV series. It will be interesting to see how the series maintains the ideas as the characters get older…eventually they will have to leave the ’80s behind (or do the ’90s take over?)
The Goldbergs—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:
1.1 The Circle of Driving Airdate: 09/24/13
Barry (Troy Gentile) is celebrating his sixteenth birthday but his dreams of driving might not happen if Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey) has anything to do with it. Adam (Sean Giambrone) and Albert “Pops” Solomon (George Segal) spend grandson-grandpa time at the waffle restaurant with Adam having a crush on the server.
1.2 Daddy Daughter Day Airdate: 10/01/13
Murray (Jeff Garlin) learns that Beverly is demanding he spend a daughter-daddy day with Erica (Hayley Orrantia). Adam finds that his mother’s plans for his “first day of school” outfit isn’t what he has in mind. Erica and Murray discover Barry’s secret obsession.
1.3 Mini Murray Airdate: 10/08/13
Barry’s attempt to get Reebok Pumps leads him to work at Murray’s furniture store…and Barry proves to be a better salesman than Murray expected. Adam tricks his grandfather into taking him to Poltergeist, and Beverly uses it against him.
1.4 Why’re You Hitting Yourself? Airdate: 10/15/13
Barry and Adam discover a scrambled adult channel and become obsessed with it. Beverly sets out to find the perfect woman for her father.
1.5 The Ring Airdate: 10/22/13
Beverly learns that Murray reused his engagement ring. Adam tries to romance his neighbor Dana Caldwell (Natalie Alyn Lind).
1.6 Who Are You Going to Telephone? Airdate: 10/29/13
It’s Halloween and Adam has decided to go out with some older kids who don’t intend to trick-or-treat. Beverly learns that Barry is going to ask out a girl out of his league…and decides to infiltrate the costume party without him knowing.
1.7 Call Me When You Get There Airdate: 11/05/13
Barry’s driving but Beverly has rules that are cramping his style…but Erica has her ways around it. Pops is getting older and Beverly demands he wear Life-Alert.
1.8 The Kremps Airdate: 11/12/13
When the perfect Kremps move in next to the Goldbergs, Adam gets a best friend in Chad (Jacob Hopkins), but Beverly could ruin it all when she and Virginia Kremp (Jennifer Irwin) can’t get along.
1.9 Stop Arguing and Start Thanking Airdate: 11/19/13
It’s Thanksgiving and the Goldbergs are celebrating. Murray finds his slacker brother Marvin (Dan Fogler) has come for the holiday and he is employed. Adam finally beats Barry in Ball-Ball and refuses to relinquish the championship. As the tempers flare, Beverly wants a happy Thanksgiving.
1.10 Shopping Airdate: 12/03/13
Erica gets a job at a Gimbles and Beverly abuses her employee discount…forcing Erica to take desperate action. Pops tricks Barry into thinking he doesn’t have bad luck which causes problems for Adam.
1.11 Kara-te Airdate: 12/10/13
Barry decides to audition for the school talent show, and Beverly has to force Mr. Glascott (Tim Meadows) to allow Barry in despite his inability to perform karate…leading Murray to try to prevent it. Pops tries to convince Erica to enter the talent contest.
1.12 You’re Under Foot Airdate: 01/07/14
Beverly makes Murray take her father to work, and Murray finds Pops is taking over the store. Adam tries to impress Dana but finds he might be too juvenile for her.
1.13 The Other Smother Airdate: 01/14/14
Beverly faces off against Betsy Rubenstone (Annie Mumolo) when she tries to get Barry into the school’s elected office. Pops finds Erica has been lying about her after school activities. Murray finds he didn’t return his copy of Slapshot to the video store and tries to cover his mistake.
1.14 You Opened the Door Airdate: 01/14/14
Adam has a dance coming up and has to resort to Beverly for dance lessons…which leads to her as a chaperone. Murray reveals he never had “the talk” with Barry, and Beverly makes Murray make up for lost time.
1.15 Muscles Mirsky Airdate: 02/04/14
Adam worries that his relationship with his best friend Emmy Mirsky (Stephanie Katherine Grant) is going to turn sexual when they see When Harry Met Sally… Barry and Erica find that their mother’s snooping is getting too much, and Erica is about to push it to the limits.
1.16 Goldbergs Never Say Die! Airdate: 03/04/14
Adam’s obsession with The Goonies becomes real when Pops needs Adam to find the family jewelry he hid to prove to Beverly that he’s responsible with his money.
Erica studies for the SATs but finds her mother is sabotaging her when she wants to go to Stanford. Adam’s hockey skills put him at odds against Murray who doesn’t understand his interests.
1.18 For Your Own Good Airdate: 03/18/14
Adam brings in Barry to deal with his bus bully, but the plan backfires on Adam. Beverly gets rid of Murray sacred chair which starts a war in the house.
1.19 The President’s Fitness Test Airdate: 04/01/14
Adam tries to get out of the Presidential Fitness Test which gains him the wrath of the class. Erica decides to “help” Barry hit on her French pen pal when she comes to visit.
1.20 You’re Not Invited Airdate: 04/08/14
It is Adam’s birthday party, and Murray once again has forgotten. As Murray tries to make amends (while anticipating the opening of Al Capone’s vault), Barry convinces Adam that a Laser Tag Party won’t get his first kiss with Dana…leading to a basement make-out party!
1.21 The Age of Darkness Airdate: 04/29/14
Erica has been dumped by Drew Kremp (Tyler Stokes) leading to darkness spreading over the house. Barry deals with an addiction to Punch-Out which could shatter his relationship with Adam forever.
1.22 A Wrestler Named Goldberg Airdate: 05/06/14
Barry joins the wrestling team but Pops and Murray convince him that Beverly can’t know…leading to Barry having to learn the role of Daddy Warbucks for the school musical. Return of the Jedi is hitting the theaters, and Erica finds a new way to disappoint Adam.
1.23 Livin’ on a Prayer Airdate: 05/13/14
Murray learns that his free throw record has been broken and that he’s going to be honored in a ceremony. With his parents away, Barry sets out to host the most epic party!