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Put on a Dolphin Sweater, it’s Snuggie Season!

Roads…where we’re going, we don’t need roads, a buffing machine or even pants.

Let’s get right to it: The Goldbergs returns to our lives with its season 3 premiere tonight at 8:30 p.m. on ABC.

The ’80s are back in business and it looks riskier and funnier than ever!

Dance of the Butterfly

Spoiler Alert: Content in this blog post is from the April 29, 2015 episode of The Goldbergs

Feeling like a dork is strangely normal, but only in the rare cases when it’s socially acceptable. In every other situation, the embarrassment is like freaking out in the middle of a high school cafeteria at lunch protesting the lack of chocolate pudding by smashing superfluous pears with slurred speech due to new temporary braces, all while enduring the tragic vision restrictions of pink eye by wearing giant rimmed glasses not considered cool in any decade.

This is Steve Urkel territory, which Erica experienced for the first time in years.

“I’m a butterfly! I’m just going through some stuff, OK?”

For Erica, her unlucky streak began when her unlucky brother Barry unknowingly spread his grotesque pink eye to his sister by laying face down on her pillow. This was after Erica and Lainey informed Barry his “dance moves” were just awkward moves in a small space. Therefore, the BFF’s forbid Barry from joining them on the regionally broadcast sensation, “Dance Party USA.” So, accordingly, Barry took it upon himself to learn real dance moves by asking his surprisingly nimble gym teacher to help him in a comically awkward midnight dance session.

End result: Barry’s dancing on TV with his girlfriend and Erica’s struggling to find her butterfly wings that’s totally not a metaphor for anything related to life and outer appearances.

(The Goldbergs Twitter)

(The Goldbergs Twitter)

The only other Goldberg more unlucky than Erica at this point was Adam. Blinded by the gloriously infinite all-you-can-eat popcorn shrimp Pops won as a bonus in Atlantic City, he was in sheer awe of Pops. Seemingly invincible, there was no end to Pops’ lucky streak of winning at anything gambling-related. Except, what if his bubble of wonderment was popped by his dad? Murray, always the straight-talker with no filter, informed his youngest son of the charade of Pops’ perceived perfection.

Awkward…especially after Adam over-estimated the lucky powers of Pops and nearly lost his entire childhood to his friend in a hilariously predictable game of lunchtime paper football at school. Super mom Beverly came to the rescue, except this was a job for the super grandfather, with or without his leather jacket.

Growing up with two older sisters who were in high school the same time I was in middle school (like the Goldbergs sibling trio), they seemed like they had the inside track on things. Even with all the chaos that comes with high school, there was a sense of control on their parts. And for the longest time, I had been (am) the goofy younger brother with a valuable obsession of insightful knowledge of movies, music and TV. They’ve basically informed me as much. But even when I was going through my awkward phase in middle school (as we all do), my sisters made sure I got to tag along on several occasions. This despite the “coolness” protocol that dictated otherwise.

It wasn’t just the specific activities we did together during this time in our lives, but more so that I was given a temporary visitors pass into their world for a little bit. They’re special memories. While I could list some specific events, it’s tough to beat Erica, Lainey and Barry all dancing and groovin’ together without bounds or concern over looking ridiculous on a popular regionally broadcast dance show.

And yes, “Dance Party USA” was a real thing back in the ’80s!

From Barry trying to a little bit less Barry in front of his admittedly too-good-for-him girlfriend Lainey to Pops passing down his grandfather’s pocket watch to Adam to Erica feeling a glimpse of sibling love to Mr. Meller sharing off some killer dance moves that his ex-wife is surely missing to Beverly losing a war (the card game kind), this episode showed there’s no luck needed when family and friends are involved.

The Goldbergs is simply all-you-can-get awesomeness.

Welcome to The Goldbergs: Episode XXII

“Sunday Matinee: It’s like wearing someone else’s wedding dress”

Spoiler Alert: This post contains scenes and content from the May 6, 2014 episode of The Goldbergs

As Adam’s quote above clearly explains, seeing the theatrical release of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi on opening night became the pinnacle of his existence. And, as all good younger brothers do when they’re in a life-altering quandary (speaking from personal experience here), Adam blackmailed his older sister into waiting with him in line to see this new epic space tale on the silver screen at the local theater.

Obvious success, right?

Think again.

A long line + a long time waiting (Forrest Gump-level soda’s consumed by the excited Adam) + sitting in between a 46 year-old man with a talking Yoda puppet and another grown man sitting on a life-size Tauntaun (no joke) + Erica’s friend walking by with two “cool” guys not into Star Wars = an epic betrayal and two cinnamon rolls/swirly muffins.

We’ll come back to this brother-sister equation a little later.

In the meantime, middle child Barry was busy embracing all things Hulk Hogan (as we all do). Unbeknownst to Barry though, the WWF wasn’t real. After several (yes, it took several) warnings that slamming your opponent over the head with a folded chair was not a legitimate aspect of real wrestling, Barry was training to do whatever it took to impress his crush. For him, this meant earning a varsity jacket. Hilariously, the only person standing in his way was his over-protective mother Beverly Goldberg with her countless stories of fellow teenage boys who all seemed to have tragic mishaps with absolutely everything she didn’t want her son to do.

The stories were totally believable, though. I mean, we’ve all seen a mom carrying the head of her son around the grocery store with her son’s vital organs perfectly functioning from his neck after a freak wrestling accident, right?

Okay, maybe Murray had a point about that one…

Growing up with siblings, there are those special moments that arrive with all the excitement and fanfare of a new Star Wars movie: the instance(s) when an older sister just might become a friend. It’s as rare as holding a real-life lightsaber and it should be treated with as much precision and ecstatic jubilation as waving Luke’s trusted sword made of blue light. This moment occurs during the older sister’s teenage years, which can be difficult because this is when she’s trying to leave behind childish indulgences. This includes dressing up like Princess Leia and battling her then much younger brother dressed as Darth Vader in their basement recorded on VHS (ie-Adam’s winning bargaining chip). As this sitcom does so perfectly, this plot line really hit home for me. My two older sisters and I used to build forts and act goofy all the time in our younger days before the necessity to be “cool” became the undisputed priority of all things important.

For me, it wasn’t Star Wars, but a compendium of events with my two older sisters: It was riding bikes to UDF for ice cream during the summer, playing football with one of my older sister’s friends one Saturday, learning clever and edgy jokes while sitting in an Asian airport while on a family vacation, being “kidnapped” by my sister and her friends for my birthday, trick-or-treating with my sister and her friends, visiting both of them at college and laughing at old-style SNL humor found in Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2.

The relationship between siblings is fascinating and special to say the least, partly because the seemingly unfiltered honesty. We can be blunt with comedic “burns” and it works somehow. We can blackmail our older sister with pictures during her first boy-girl party ($5 a pop!). A comfort level and understanding grows between brother and sister(s), even to the point when Erica finally realizes that after bailing on her younger brother to spend time with her cool friends while he went to the bathroom and therefore lost his place in line, she knew the real reason why Adam coaxed her to seeing Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi with him: the hope for sibling friendship.

Cognizant of her little brother’s sincere motivation, Erica did the unthinkable: she dressed up like Princess Leia (again), fully equipped with cinnamon rolls/swirly muffins on her ears and bribed an usher with a date at the local theater to sneak them into Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi!

“Star Wars: It gave us lightsabers, the force and Billy Dee Williams in a cape.” 

And a fun day at the movies between brother and sister.

At school, Barry heeded the wrestling advice of his dad Murray. After suffering defeat on the mat to his mother in front of everybody (don’t mess with Thunder Bev!), he embraced his WWF character (also named Barry from Philadelphia) and dominated his opponent with the support of his family looking on with pride.

Victory!

As his crush looked on with smiling approval, Barry messed that moment up like only Barry could, which led to a halted chair-over-the-head of his opponent finale.

But don’t worry, Big Tasty will be surely be back for another round…       

The Goldbergs: Return of the Family.

88 MPH to an ’88 (or so) Thanksgiving

In eight days, families from across the United States will gather together at their dinner table (and kid’s table) to individually and collectively give thanks for the blessings in their lives. There will be joyfulness from reminiscing about past memories, delicious aromas wafting from the kitchen and, above all else, complete and utter bedlam.

95% chaos, 5% peace and tranquility: Hello Thanksgiving!

Before we funnel into the designated house of our soon to be regretful host next week, one particular suburban Philadelphia family welcomed us into their home for a quintessential Thanksgiving celebration last night. While mission control was the kitchen and the commander was Beverly, the action spread far and wide on the Goldbergs premises.

Spoiler Alert for the DVR crowd for the latest episode of, “The Goldbergs”

The sons engaged in their made-up sibling game of “Ball Ball.” Or is it “Adam Ball” now…? The scenes with Adam and Barry (with Erica looking on, lounging on the spectator couch half-interested, half-rolling her eyes) was the perfect imagery of the glory that arises from a random, yet totally logical family game with a one-of-a-kind trophy to be used as a chalice at dinner for all to see.

In the case of this sibling game that involves knee pads, pillows, two hockey masks, a catchers mask and blue and yellow hula hoops scrunched in bean bag chairs, the age of old question between the older and the not-so much younger brother anymore is continuously answered:

Who’s the man? But what happens if that “one in a million” chance actually occurs? Then “the man” would have to be spelled A-D-A-M.

For Barry, the consequences would be comically dire.

When not fighting, this is the predominant therapy for how siblings interact with each other. This is how they bond. Are the rules absurd and never-ending? Will this ultimately lead to a colossal rematch for the ages that is the thing of legends and great mythology?

Yes, yes and yes!

And then, all of a sudden like something shot right outta thin air, the crazy (and oddly consistent) relative shows up with a grand entrance in a car that perfectly symbolizes the pure imagination of an entire decade and era of movies: the DeLorean DMC-12.

“Gotta get back in time!”

Huey Lewis and the News knows what that’s about.

Murray has always viewed his brother Marvin as a screw up, a chronically burdensome responsibility and, yes, a moron. Yet, during this Thanksgiving visit in 1980-something, Marvin promised it was different. Now working a “normal 9-5 job,” his future was assuredly looking brighter and smoother.

Did you know a triangle is the same shape as a pyramid?

A few mysteriously burning faces, an acknowledgement of basic geometry and a parking brake-less DeLorean DMC-12 on a hill later, the Goldbergs’ plus-1 was as unsettled as his car’s frame. Not even Beverly’s entertainingly deceitful promises to her fellow dinner companions in pursuit of her perfect Thanksgiving with a certain emphasis on the chef could have brought the harmony on the day she wanted it most.

No, it was going to take something much more powerful to change the dynamics of this disastrous day. In fact, it would take a curve ball.

In an act of sincere generosity sparked by a difficult, though necessary introspective, Marvin gave his big brother a small token of his lifelong appreciation for taking care of him when he was younger. It was a baseball. It was a memory. Perhaps most importantly, it was unexpected. Following this surprising gesture, Murray decided to bring his younger brother back into the future plans of his family’s Thanksgiving feast that evening.

What does a scheming in-law/uncle + a crazy grandfather + two battling brothers + a completely full of it (had already eaten turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce next door) teenage daughter + a thankful husband and family to their relentlessly hard-working wife and mother = ?

It equates to virtually everyone’s family at Thanksgiving.

By the end of the special Thanksgiving episode, “The Goldbergs” had confirmed the acutely accurate and reliable holiday formula: 95% entertaining chaos and 5% peace, tranquility and love.

With a full season ordered for, “The Goldbergs,” it’s a safe bet that lots of “fanz digit.”

P.S. Adam’s right, Harrison Ford does rule!