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The True Colors of Bill (and) Murray

Spoiler Alert: Content from this blog post is from the May 6, 2015 episode of The Goldbergs

“I want my MTV!”

The ’80s were a glorious time, when music was forever transformed into a visual addiction for hours and hours of VHS-quality entertainment. Fortunately, Adam Goldberg figured out what made this groundbreaking art form such a success.

“A music video is one part thumping bass, one part big hair and one part animated dancing cat.”

Adam’s expertise as a pop culture savant and budding filmmaker came into play because Erica was bound and determined to make the perfect audition video for Juilliard. Since Juilliard was (and is) the best performing arts school in the country, her singing would have to be the best of the best…like Madonna good. And double fortunate for Erica was the fact that her smother mother Beverly would be right by her side throughout the entire process.

Beverly literally held up a fake Garfield puppet on Erica’s right side during her MTV music video-inspired audition tape. Clearly, nothing could go wrong here.

Murray, on the other hand, surprisingly discovered the one person who brings a smile to every man’s face: Bill Murray. Even more impressive (and comical) was that his enemy was named Bill and they were in the principal’s office when this “coincidence” about their names was revealed. Surely (“Don’t call me Shirley”), the writers were waiting for the right moment when they could premiere this episode with that title and storyline. Hopefully, the writers gave themselves well-deserved high-fives.

Bill and Murray soon became the best of friends, which led to watching TV together, eating Philly cheese steaks together, drinking beer together and napping on opposite sides of the couch together. Nothing could come between this electrically-charged adult bromance, except the one thing no men dare talk about under any circumstance:

Feelings…with tears.

Well, Bill/Murray was nice while it lasted.

As Erica and Beverly watched Adam’s raw editing magic, they immediately realized the Jenkintown Funk Academy may be more her speed. Despite glorious, but ultimately disastrous attempts by Adam to recreate iconic ’80s music videos (from A-ha to ZZ Top), Erica’s hopes at Juilliard were dashed. Devastated, she chose to think about her path to becoming a pop singing sensation, which led to a beautiful rendition of, “True Colors” by Cindi Lauper to end the episode. As this show does so perfectly, Erica’s singing provided the inspiring mood for Murray to hear Pops when he explained the true meaning of friendship in a heartfelt moment for the kings of the Goldberg castle.

This revelation further proved that Bill/Murray in any form will live forever, regardless of the quality of character impressions (looking at you Murray!).

The A-ha video (“Take on Me”) that Adam tried to recreate for Erica’s video is widely regarded as one of the best music videos and one-hit wonders of all-time. I can’t remember when I first saw it, but it was around Adam’s age in the early to mid-’90s and it remains one of my permanent impressions of the ’80s. I wanted to be in a world that was part real life-part pencil drawing. Spielberg movies, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Superman and Speed the movie (among many other influences), the music video below was a prime example of the excitement related to escapism into a new, fun place for a little while. This all helps frame our imaginations for the future, which is an eternally powerful force.

The Goldbergs is a weekly reminder of the awesomeness of the ’80s and all its funny life lessons involving family that helped shape its very enthusiastic fan base. The show’s viewers thoroughly enjoy the nostalgic trip down memory lane to a world that borders between real life and a wonderfully exaggerated picture of the past.

A-ha, got it.

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.

A is for “As You Wish”

Spoiler Alert: Content from this blog entry was featured in the April 22, 2015 episode of The Goldbergs

(The Goldbergs Twitter)

(The Goldbergs Twitter)

During the summer in 1991, The Rocketeer flew into our imaginations with rocket-fueled fun (don’t forget about the gum). To a six-year-old, it was a spectacular time to be alive. What was better than the idea of flying like Superman, without needing Kryptonian genetics, through the skies to save the world?

The answer was nothing.

Mesmerized, I took it upon myself to scrounge through my very own tool shed/kitchen drawers to find the necessary pieces to build my own personal flying machine. With an old garage door opener in hand, I was one click away from soaring to unknown heights and adventure! This enthusiasm was shared by Adam Goldberg in last night’s episode, except his cinematic obsession was the cult favorite, The Princess Bride. Specifically, it was the film’s famous sword fight that drew him in. Fought on a dramatically set cliff, the battle was intense and immensely entertaining. And the dialogue was surprisingly equitable and conversational.

Another battle fought on a cliff of sorts was between Adam and Murray, underscored by a jockeying of similar interests and ulterior motives. Using Westley-level charm, Adam convinced his stingy dad to buy him two fencing swords to practice in his “pursuit” of becoming a future Olympic champion. Unfortunately, the overly dramatic hijinks in The Princess Bride were no match for Murray, who saw right through his son’s grand manipulation. It also didn’t help that immediately after quitting fencing, Adam was sword fighting Dave Kim in his basement in full Princess Bride gear.

Plus, stabbing your father in the neck rarely helps anything.

Meanwhile, Beverly was busy being a yenta hell-bent on cross-fitting athletics with music. The result was the sweet sound of faculty romance (and kissing at school). The only downside was ruining Barry and Erica’s lives. Oh, and can’t forget about altering the stable career path of a certain music teacher. Besides that, this social experiment was a rousing success.

In order to fix everything, Beverly had to match up the unmatchable, romantically bitter teacher in his brown clothing from head -to-toe. But if this series has taught us anything, it’s that there are three words that inspire the greatest from Beverly Goldberg:

“Can’t be done.”

Back to Adam, he would need magic that could only be found in one place. The question was whether Murray would play along. This situation called for both sides to realize to be bigger than their own self-interests, no matter how embarrassing. Adam discovered his fencing inspiration from The Princess Bride for his fencing battle in front of a large crowd at school, including his dad and grandfather sitting front row center. And would you believe it? Embodying the goofy personalities from a movie led to an unexpected point for the swordsman-in-training. And in perfect harmony with his son, Murray literally embodied a giant character’s clothes (André, to be precise) from The Princess Bride movie for a scene of bonding with his youngest son and his friends after the match.

One of Adam’s dreams came true: His father understood the importance of an influential movie in his life.

You could say it was an inconceivable reality.

Whilst engaging in misguided hilarity, Beverly did manage to match the unmatchable with a little help from a future yenta. Erica couldn’t fight it, she has meddling DNA. In this instance, Beverly’s excitement nearly reached the adrenaline level achieved at a Jazzercise session.

This episode beautifully revealed that no matter how much we may resist things that we swear to ourselves are foolish and/or ridiculous, we are uncontrollably drawn to the foolish and ridiculous because, despite all logical reasoning, we know deep down that wishes are meant to come true.

Sometimes, all it takes is clicking play on a VCR…or an old garage door opener.

Just Say Yes to America’s Funniest Family

Spoiler Alert: Content from this blog entry is from the April 15, 2015 episode of The Goldbergs

“Son, you are no longer a moron. You are a man.”

Last night, The Goldbergs gave its fans treinta minutos extra (that’s “30 extra minutes” for Adam Goldberg-level Spanish speakers) in a 2-episode feature. In dealing with this new, altered reality, the major highlights of both shows will be intertwined in a creative way…

I can relate to the Goldberg family in countless ways, but Adam in particular. And his titanic struggles with Spanish was like a play-by-play from my life, except for dressing up as a bullfighter and making guacamole in class (well played, Beverly). Full disclosure: we all had one subject that was just never going to happen, no matter what.

It was like, “No way, José!”

For me, like Adam, my least proficient subject was Spanish. Basically, it was all about survival. Pass and move on. And, whenever possible, pray for a teacher that was merciful in her grading. I never received special treatment for any of my profound proclamations, even when I conjured up such enlightening revelations as, “Donde esta la biblioteca?” However, Adam’s Smother, Beverly, was very good friends with Alexander Hamilton and his many, many twin brothers…

Beverly’s tactics became a forbidden dance involving Adam’s Spanish teacher in more ways than one, two steps to the right and dip!

And on the other side of town, Barry was exercising his gladiator skills. This involved heroic obstacles, such as balancing on an ottoman whilst getting hit in the head with two pillows taped to both ends of a stick with a helmet on, dodging zero tennis balls and failing to deliver a record-breaking number of pizzas in one evening…as in a crazy high number…it was 33! Fortunately for Barry, his old man could relate to his struggles as a first-time teenage worker and even had a cold brewsky waiting for his oldest son when he got home to share with him. Unfortunately for Murray, the beer company failed to print a warning label about not slapping the beer across the room out of nervousness.

Some people don’t need to drink a beer to feel its effects.

Perhaps Barry was subconsciously restraining himself while he trained for his audition video for “American Gladiators,” one of the greatest shows ever. Literally! Lucky for him, his trusty younger brother Adam was fully-equipped with a video camera and sick editing tricks. Now, would Adam use his tricks for good or for evil?

(Hint: Bob Saget was involved…)

Whenever confronting two evils, politics cannot be too far behind. For the Goldbergs household, it got personal. The presidential election with Reagan v. Mondale evolved into Nancy Reagan v. Geraldine Ferraro that really became Beverly v. Erica. Predicting what issues are important to voters can be impossible to anticipate and this was clearly revealed between newly political Erica and her priority opposite mother. “Just Say No” turned into a search and seizure of polarized opinions within the family.

Since last night was special and featured 2-episodes, how about an original lyrical poem written in the spirit of the Rapping King of the Goldberg household to summarize the night’s events:

Big Tasty here, and you wanna know what’s up?
when I see a beer, I just slap-that-cup!
My little bro is helping me out, flexing my muscles,
“American Gladiators” watch out, ’cause I ‘just say no’ to snuggles
Pops is around, always ready with sage advice,
except when I’m chillin’ in my new chair watching “Miami Vice”
It seems the fam is getting political, talkin’ about taxes,
I don’t wanna hear it because I’ve gotta go practice
But Erica said Mondale, Mom and Dad said Reagan,
set in their corners, they each think the other is mistaken
Pizza delivery wasn’t meant for me, there were just too many calls,
now Adam can resume hitting me with bright yellow balls!
Gotta get tough, the JTP needs me, we’re the Dream Team,
but a rival crew just booped my nose with a dollop of ice cream
Mom realized her baby boy isn’t perfect and replied with a, “que?”
“Tengo problemas y necesito ayuda” is what Adam wished he could say
Dad crossed into my sister’s universe and it was a mess,
he told Erica he was proud of her, speaking with fatherly finesse
She didn’t get the beer, but she definitely knew,
what it meant for them to almost share a brew
Adam and I had a tennis racket-to-chest and a heart-to-heart,
and in the end, we learned we never wanted to be apart
I was embarrassed on national TV, yet with a chance at prize money,
but hey, that’s just life with my family, which I guess is pretty funny

Like Reagan in ’84, The Goldbergs is a landslide win.