Tuesday, October 29, 2013

REVIEW: 'The Goldbergs' Is Growing & Getting Stronger Comedically - Especially in 'Who Are You Going to Telephone?'

ABC's The Goldbergs - Episode 1.06 Who Are You Going to Telephone?

Beverly loves Halloween, but is disappointed when all of the kids choose not to celebrate the holiday with her; Adam wants to hang out with some 8th grade students; Barry and Erica decide to attend a high school senior's party; and Beverly takes an unusual step to convince a girl Barry has a crush on to date him.

I really do like The Goldbergs a lot. "Who Are You Going to Telephone?" is probably my favorite episode of the first season so far. But a lot of what we've seen has been pretty stagnant in terms of what this show can offer comedically. It has its pairings that they know work - mostly Adam & Pops and Adam & Beverly - and goes to them frequently. And for good reason too. I absolutely love Wendi McLendon-Covey as Beverly Goldberg. She makes me laugh in every episode. And the dynamic between Pops, Adam and Beverly is the the show's biggest sense of heart. That feels earned at this point. So when Beverly is being overprotective of her children, I enjoy it. When Pops feels upset about not getting to spend time with Adam, I understand it and feel for him.

But I also really want the show to experiment and try different pairings of its characters. Spread the wealth around and let the other characters who I don't feel anything towards emotionally or comedically develop into something amusing. Erica literally doesn't have a distinguishable personality. They only sporadically toss her into situations at the service - or disservice like Barry's story in this episode - of other characters. She hasn't grounded any kind of main story. Thusly, when the show aims for sentimentality in the scene where she and Barry form a pact to have each other's backs, I don't feel warm and fuzzy inside because Erica is not a character.

Barry and Murray are largely just joke machines. They make me laugh but I don't get a strong sense of caring about what happens to them on a human level. When Beverly embarrasses Barry at the party, I don't really feel sorry for him that he lost the girl. With Murray, the show has tried to make him more human - especially in these last two episodes. So while it is funny to see Jeff Garlin yelling or in his underwear a lot of the time, it feels like a much better use of him during those moments where he is an actual parent to Adam.

Some more thoughts:
  • I just love how in every episode you can expect a classic 80s song to play during the third act. This week it was "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker, Jr.