Wednesday, September 24, 2014

REVIEW: 'The Goldbergs' - Adam Has Girl Problems While Barry Learns the Dangers of a Fake ID in 'Love is a Mix Tap'

ABC's The Goldbergs - Episode 2.01 "Love is a Mix Tape"

After spending the summer apart from Dana and unsure of their relationship, Adam makes a mix tape to express his feelings... only to have it intercepted by Beverly who thinks it's meant for her. Adam must carefully navigate not hurting Beverly's feelings as his relationship with Dana progresses. Meanwhile, Barry gets a fake ID, but after showing it off to the entire school, it's confiscated, and he needs to make good on some promises he made to his classmates.

It feels amazing to have the crazy 80s energy of The Goldbergs back. "Love Is a Mix Tape" does rely on some routine character pairings - Adam and Beverly, Adam and Pops, Barry and Erica, Barry and Murray. But those pairings occur so often because they work really well together. It's a great reminder of what this series is capable of doing before it embarks on its second year - in a much better time slot (between The Middle and Modern Family).

And frankly, it's hysterical watching as Beverly thinks a mix tape Adam made for Dana was actually for her. No sane person would ever think that. And yet, it completely works here because of how committed Wendi McLendon-Covey is to the role and how she later tries to justify her actions. All she wants out of life is her children's love. She is overbearing but she's that way because she cares about her children. She may claim that one of them is her favorite but it's all just a ploy to try and get all of them to love her. It's wonderfully distinct and works here largely because she comes to her senses and sees the error in her ways. Adam doesn't make the situation a whole lot better by trying to manage both women by giving them the same mix tape - not once but twice! But ultimately, he just talks about how he feels - just like Pops says. And then, he wins back the love of both of them. He may get frustrated with Beverly because of how obsessive she is. But at the end of the day, he is also thankful to have her as a mother. That's a quality the show always needs to remember with this family and fortunately it always does.

Meanwhile, Barry is desperate to be met with excitement by his fellow classmates. He figures a fake ID will make him the popular go-to guy for beer. Unfortunately, he just can't keep all that enthusiasm to himself. He's talking about it non-stop at school and understandably it gets taken away from him. He mistreated the responsibility that must come with a fake ID. Murray always says he won't bail his kids out of trouble whenever they get into it. And yet, we all know too well that underneath that gruff exterior he does love them and will protect them. It's always nice to see that side of the character peak out every once in awhile. He's done a lot for Barry recently - letting him have the party in the finale and letting him escape the senior party with his reputation intact. And yet, it always feels like Barry desperately needs a win so it still works.

This family is crazy and weird and yell at each other a lot of the time. But underneath all of that, they all strongly love each other. You can't choose family but they will always be there no matter what. That's ultimately what The Goldbergs stands for. And it's been pleasant and fulfilling watching the series continue to become better with each passing episode.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Love is a Mix Tape" was written by Alex Barnow and directed by Seth Gordon.
  • What the heck was on top of David Spade's hair? Also, his guest spot really wasn't that memorable. The tag with Pops was great but that was largely because of Pops also needing an ID. Remember he cut his up in the pilot!
  • Beverly bought a new sweater because she was going to see Die Hard with Adam. Of course, she did.
  • Erica also made Murray walk down the stairs - which led to a great line "I guess I'm down here for today."
  • Erica's reactions to both hearing Adam called the favorite child and later being the favorite child were quite great.
  • How did Barry think anyone would believe he was a 50 year old man?