First Watch: The Goldbergs: “The Circle of Driving” (Season 1, Episode 1)

As far as decades go, the 80’s were a confused time. Hair Metal and synth-pop conquered the charts, neon clothing adorned the ‘fashion savvy’, and Dallas was one of the highest rated shows on television. Man, do I love the 80’s.

Adam F. Goldberg not only created and wrote the show, he wrote himself in the show as a prepubescent Adam Goldberg (Sean Giambrone) documenting his family on video (who were later brought up on charges of murdering the radio star). I know what you’re thinking: each episode will be a colorful, well-fabricated, stroll down memory lane. Not quite, though. Adam Goldberg actually had a camera and recorded his family often. These episodes are loose recreations of his early family films.

The major difference (as far as I can tell) between Goldberg’s original video projects and his current series is the impressive cast he’s managed to accrue. Jeff Garlin, a celebrated character actor, plays Goldberg’s father; Wendi McLendon-Covey, from Reno-911 and Bridesmaids, as Goldberg’s mother; George Segal, a veteran of television and film, playing his grandfather; and Patton Oswalt, a comic genius who needs no introduction, providing voice over.

The episode’s plot was largely forgettable. Even my notes, which I take at the time of viewing, are composed entirely of eighties pop culture references: GoBots, REO Speedwagon, parachute pants. I’ll be honest — I laughed. I enjoyed the references. And that’s all I did. This series has the potential to embroil us in nostalgia and thoughts of our own childhood. Instead, it’s only a family comedy. I expected Wonder Years, but got a watered down Malcom in the Middle. Maybe my problems with the show are exclusive to my own thinking; a product of my own expectations. Check it out for yourself, just don’t plan on anything more than a comedic period (the eighties count as a period) piece. ABC airs The Goldbergs at 9:00 pm.

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