As it turns out, my experience wasnít all that unique, since many of my friends also did the same thing, only they didnít seem up for a fight with their DVR. Now that The Goldbergs: The Complete First Season is out on DVD, thereís one less excuse to not watch one of last seasonís best new comedies.
The Goldbergs takes an approach similar to The Wonder Years, with Sean Giambrone representing the pre-teen version of creator Adam F. Goldberg, while Patton Oswalt gives the adult Goldberg a voice as narrator. Both do their jobs and manage to capture the real situations that inspired the showís plotlines, many of which are shown as real home video footage shown during the end credits. Seeing a ridiculous situation on the show is one thing. Seeing the same situation on home video is another.
I am roughly the same age as Goldberg, so The Goldbergs feels like a close approximation of how I remember growing up in the 80ís. Similar to other "period" comedies, like That 70ís Show, The Goldbergs manages to encapsulate the decade without overly done, forced references. Nitpicky viewers will undoubtedly find inconsistencies with some pop culture references, such as Adamís Real Genius shirt or movie perfect Ghostbusters costumes, but doing so misses the point since childhood memories rarely come with exact dates (the show actually uses the ambiguous "1980something" as a time stamp).
Some references, like the The Legend of Zelda, Star Wars, or the U.S.S. Flagg are around for flavor, but the show manages to naturally weave 80ís references into plotlines that feel true to the time. Or, at least how I remembered them growing up. In one episode, the boys discover a scrambled porn channel, while in another Adam tries to convince his closet-nerd sister to wait in line for Return of the Jedi.
While the 80ís culture is central to most episodes, the real heart of the show is the familyís off-kilter, yet eerily relatable, dynamic. "Goldbergs Never Say Die," a Goonies-themed episode, stands out as great example. Adam leads his family and friends on a Goonies style adventure, complete with names and costumes, only to find out the map is a trick played by his older siblings. Although the episode is drenched in Goonies nostalgia, right down to the title font, the main thrust is the siblingsí "hate-you-but-love-you" relationship.
Although Adam serves as the main character, he isnít the main focus. Other members of family are a big part as well. Adamís older siblings Barry (Troy Gentile) and Erica (Hayley Orrantia) offer opposing looks at the life of teenager in the 80ís. Barry, or as heís known in the rap game (at least the rap game in is head) "Big Tasty," is overly emotional and a bit of a dolt. Erica, on the other hand, is the girl who is exceedingly bright and a bit of nerd, only sheíd rather focus on anything else.
The elder members of the family get in on the action as well, with mom Bev (Wendy McLendon-Covey, Bridesmaids) stealing the show. Even when Bev isnít the focus of an episode, her personality as the "Mother of All Helicopter Parents" looms large. Murray (Jeff Garlin) is just as good as Adamís father, though heís more of a pants-less, background grump and counterpoint to Bev in most episodes. Finally, thereís Pops (George Segal), Bevís dad and sometimes-irresponsible mentor to the Goldberg clan.
The 80ís are the focus of most of the DVD extras. In "Blast from the Past: Making Season One," Goldberg discusses the showís ambiguous timeline and how important it was for the show to capture the decade. Other cast members share their own memories, spicing up an otherwise by the numbers behind the scenes feature. The 80ís get even more attention in the incredibly fun, and nostalgic "Our House: The 80ís Revisited" and "Costumes of the 80ís: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" extras. Both go into the detail required to get the showís look just right. Itís a fantastic trip down memory lane and is sure to spark conversations for anyone who grew up in the 80ís.
"On the Set with Jeff Garlin" is a short "Day in the Life" feature that follows Jeff Garlin through his normal day on the set of the show. We also get a look at Patton Oswaltís contributions in "Patton Oswalt: Adam Grows Up." Here, we get to see Oswalt recording his narration and discuss the importance of narration to The Goldbergs.
Rounding out the extras is audio commentary with the cast and crew on five different episodes. Most of the talk centers on production notes, though some commentators, particularly Goldberg, share their own memories connected with the episode.
It was hard not to feel a kinship with The Goldbergs, so it is hard for me to not recommend the show, particularly if you grew up in the 80ís. The references alone are worth at least one watch, but the show is actually more than a bunch of nostalgia. Even better, the DVD set is a perfect intro to the series ahead of its Season Two debut in a few weeks.