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Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Goldbergs: The Complete First Season DVD Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Before there were parenting blogs, trophies for just showing up, and peanut allergies, there was a simpler time called the '80s. For geeky 11-year old Adam these were his wonder years, and he faced them armed with a video camera, ready to capture all the crazy. "The Goldbergs" is produced by Happy Madison Productions, Adam F. Goldberg Productions and Exhibit A Productions in conjunction with Sony Pictures Television. It was created by Adam F. Goldberg (Fanboys) and executive produced by Adam F. Goldberg, Seth Gordon (“Marry Me”) and Doug Robinson (“Rules of Engagement”).


Show (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
If you weren’t alive in the 80s, you can’t possibly appreciate "The Goldbergs." The people, the clothes, the d├ęcor….I remember it well and the 80s are as much of a character in this show as any member of the Goldberg Family. "The Goldbergs" is a look back in time at the life of young man named Adam Goldberg (Sean Giambrone) whose adult voice (Patton Oswalt) narrates his toughest and fondest memories from the 1980s. Adam has an older sister Erica (Hayley Orrantia) and older brother Barry (Troy Gentile) and they all live with mom Bev (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and dad Murray (Jeff Garlin) in eastern Pennsylvania.

Murray works hard all day at the family furniture store and has barely closed the front door when he takes off his pants and heads for his favorite plaid easy chair. Bev gives new meaning to the term helicopter parenting, not only hovering over her childrens' lives but inserting herself right into the center of any and every issue. As the baby of the family, Adam has to endure clothes shopping with mom who purchases a sweater with a train on the front that looks like it belongs on a toddler. His grandfather “Pops” (George Segal) is the voice of reason that takes Adam shopping for the appropriate Z Cavaricci pants and day glow jacket he needs to fit in at school.

The Goldberg boys Barry and Adam are both highly emotional and full of problems. For Adam it’s the Presidential Fitness Test in gym class, going trick or treating with the cool kids instead of pops, or getting rid of his toys in order to be a man and eventually kiss a girl. For Barry his problems range from learning to drive, to perfecting his karate demonstration for the school talent show. Sister Erica is the most normal of the children, who is your typical teenage girl involved in dating and studying for the SATs. Their mom is right in the middle of any and every problem. 

When Adam tricks Pops into taking him to see Poltergeist (after mom warned it was too scary) Adam has nightmares. Rather than talk to him about his fears, Bev uses dolls and walkie talkies to increase his terror so that he wants to snuggle with her each night. When Adam can’t do a pull up to pass the physical fitness test, Bev starts at the comptroller’s office and works her way up until she has a note on presidential stationary excusing her son from the activity. When she learns Barry likes a girl that may be out of his league, Bev heads to a high school party dressed in a Halloween costume to put in a good word for her son.

Bev is the type of mom that knows no boundaries and Murray is the kind of dad that can’t easily relate to his kids and yells a lot. Many of us have known or had parents exactly like this. The Goldbergs are loud, pushy and weird but they clearly love each other. When the show initially aired I wanted to watch it, but I didn't have the available space to record it on my DVR. With any new sitcom, it might get cancelled anyway, so I don’t mind letting the show establish itself before I get too invested in it. It turns out, The Goldbergs is a keeper, with season two premiering on ABC on Wednesday September 24th.

"The Goldbergs" is a very funny and entertaining show. For kids of the 80s you can’t help but get nostalgic for your old toys. The set design is amazing and tremendous attention was paid to every detail. It’s not just the house and the cars, it’s the clothes, the hair, the toys...even the textures. If you were a young person in the 80s you had a house and a room just like what you’ll see on The Goldbergs. Clips from Creator Adam F. Goldberg’s actual home movies show at the end of each episode tying the episode to real life, adding a very unique and personal touch. You see the real Murray yelling at his kids, but also indulging his sons hobby. After an episode about a re-used engagement ring, you see a picture of the real Bev and her real re-used engagement ring. I’m surprised how much I like this show. The show will make you nostalgic for your old toys, your old room, and it just might make you look up your best friend from 7th grade on Facebook.
Video (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Unfortunately The Goldbergs is only available on DVD, but considering it’s not Blu- ray, the video quality is not that bad. You are able to pick out all the unique textures of the 80s with fine detail being more than adequate. I’m sure the hypercolor and day-glo would really pop in high definition, but I’m not complaining about this DVD overall. The extra tall case, though, doesn’t fit in with my Blu--rays on the shelf – and that does make me want to complain.
Audio (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Goldbergs is presented on DVD with a Dolby Digital 5.1 track that supports Murray’s yelling and the rest of the dialogue well. The 80s music isn’t as big of a part of the episodes as you’d expect but the rear and peripheral speakers step up when needed. Subtitles are available in English, English SDH and French.
Extras (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The DVDs contain five audio commentaries with the principal actors involved. I’m pleasantly surprised to see so many and that they don’t all contain just writers and producers. 
  • Commentaries: 
    • “Call Me When You Get There” – Audio Commentary with Executive Producer Doug Robinson, Writer Stacy Harman, Writer Niki Schwartz and Actors Wendi McLendon-Covey, Troy Gentile, Hayley Orrantia and Creator Adam F. Goldberg. 
    • “Kara-Te” – Audio Commentary with Actors Wendi McLendon-Covey, Troy Gentile, Hayley Orrantia, Creator Adam F. Goldberg, Executive Producer Doug Robinson and writer Andrew Secunda. 
    • “You Opened the Door” – Audio Commentary with Actors Wendi McLendon-Covey, Troy Gentile, Hayley Orrantia, Creator Adam F. Goldberg, Director David Katzenberg and Writers/Producers Alex Barnow and Marc Firek. 
    • “Goldbergs Never Say Die” – Audio Commentary with Actors Troy Gentile, Hayley Orrantia, Creator Adam F. Goldberg, Executive Producer Doug Robinson, Director David Katzenberg and Writer Andrew Secunda. 
    • “Lame Gretzky” – Audio Commentary with Actors Wendi McLendon-Covey, Troy Gentile, Haley Orrantia, Creator Adam F. Goldberg, Executive Producer Doug Robinson, and Writers Stacy Harman and Niki Schwartz. 
  • Blast From the Past: Making Season One – A look behind the scenes cast and crew interviews, including the actors missing from the commentaries. 
  • Our House: The 80s Revisited – This featurette centers on set design and the authentic pieces used to re-create a 1980s home. Production Designer Cory Lorenzen leads a tour of the set. 
  • On the Set with Jeff Garlin – Follow the Goldberg Family Patriarch on a behind the scenes tour of the Sony lot. If you like Jeff Garlin, you’ll like watching him goof around. 
  • Patton Oswalt: Adam Grows Up – Patton Oswalt discusses his role as narrator in this 8 ½ minute featurette. 
  • Costumes of the 80s: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – A look at the wardrobe and all the signature pieces that complete the 80s look. 
Summary (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
"The Goldbergs" has pleasantly surprised me. When most of my shows are hour long dramas with complicated running story lines, its nice to have a half hour show that is wrapped up by the end of the episode. Of course, you have to watch the whole season to really get to know the ins and outs of the Goldbergs. If you start anywhere in the season it is sufficient to know that they are a family in the 80s with an overbearing mom and a handful of kids. For children of the 70s and 80s, its bound to create an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia and might even have you digging in the garage for that Goonies T-Shirt you haven’t seen in years. The DVD set contains a healthy offering of commentaries and a few featurettes, all worth watching. This is a very easy show to motor through if you want to catch up before the season premiere.

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