Thursday, March 24, 2016

Television Review: The Goldbergs Season Two (ABC)

I used to read a lot of fiction and even though I still do read fiction I read more nonfiction now because I like the fact that it's real.   I love a show like "The Simpsons" or "Modern Family" because they're funny but I've never really thought of them as being real before.   But in a lot of ways, "The Goldbergs" is autobiographical and I think that's one of the things I've been thinking about most when watching it-- is that it really happened and that somehow makes it funnier (Especially because I have no trouble believing it since I went through a lot of similar situations in my childhood)

There are two aspects that I found fascinating in Season Two and they both are only really able to be there because this is the second season.   We have an established cast (Well, the non-George Segal grandfather is going to change actors) and characters and so we don't really have to worry or think about that too much.   This, of course, means we can usher in any number of guest stars (Which were also present in the first season) and I do enjoy seeing anyone from Tim Meadows to Nick Swardson.   I just can't help but wonder if we might also one day see cameos from 1980's celebrities such as Mr. T.

In addition to the guest stars you'll find (And recognize and love) there were more than a few themed episodes in here and for the first time in a long time I was able to watch a show and pick out favorite episodes.     I don't want to put them in any sort of order because who am I to say one is better than the other when they have different themes, but "Love Is a Mix Tape" begins Season Two and it involves Adam making a mix tape for Dana and then it turns out Adam's Mom thinks it's for her.

Since this show takes place in 1980something, it was only a matter of time before this happened and after this episode it really felt like I couldn't *stop* seeing cassettes in every episode, but yes, this show is full of cassettes and I love it.   The funny thing is that each kid has one of the cassette holders mounted to their wall and full of cassettes and really back then you only had one or two because they held anywhere from 60 to 100 cassettes and when you were paying (or your parents were paying) $13 or so for a cassette, most kids didn't have that many cassettes growing up.    And now I struggle to find as many of these wall-mount-thingies as I can for my some odd 2000 cassette collection.

But yes, I took some screengrabs from "Love Is a Mix Tape" and if nothing else the episode will at least hopefully spark some nostalgia within the youth to go out and appreciate cassettes again.   Granted, I think more commonly of the scenario where someone makes someone else a mix tape in 2016 and the recipient of it says "I don't have a way to play this", but c'mon, you can still buy tape decks at Walmart or your local thrift store so stop making excuses and start dubbing blanks.

Aside from my obsession with cassettes and "The Goldbergs" need to feed it (Though it should be noted that in one episode Barry and Erica try to convince their Dad to buy a CD player for $900) we saw the episode "I Rode a Hoverboard!", which was kind of about "Back to the Future" as much as it was about George Michael and, well, now we have hoverboards, do we not?   It's funny to listen to how something will never happen and then it does, but it's that whole thing about hindsight being 20/20.

"The Most Handsome Boy on the Planet" explores common mall scans which no longer exist but I can safely say that I never took part in one of those things.   The closest I came to it was one of the through the mail scams where you submit your poem to a "contest", they "accept" it and then you have to essentially pay to get the book published.   That's actually probably more embarassing though and I should have just said I did the modeling scam and burned all the pictures or something.

As soon as I saw the title "DannyDonnieJoeyJonJordan" I knew exactly what it was going to be about.   While I realize the show has the female character Erica in it, you have to realize that not only am I the middle child but I'm also the only boy of three kids, so I knew perhaps a bit too much about NKOTB growing up, but it's cool, I embrace it now because that one remix cassette they did was actually really good and withstands the test of time.  (For the record, my favorite New Kid was and still is Donnie.  It was always something about his hair)

And if you're watching Season Two or reading these words about it and wondering what would make it better than an episode dedicated to the original boy band, then you need look no further than "Barry Goldberg's Day Off" which is exactly what it sounds like: an entire episode dedicated to the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" complete with a cameo from Charlie Sheen.    This might be my favorite episode of "The Goldbergs" but again, how do you compare a movie to music to trying to bring Optimus Prime back to life?  They're just all such different things which can't be compared and I feel they all deserve my love.

One of the biggest factors with this show and me though is that it hits right in the childhood and my family never had a video camera growing up and I don't remember anyone in my extended family really ever having one either.   I realize Adam F. Goldberg was able to capture much of his life on film at such an early age and meanwhile there are just times from way back then which I don't remember but are occasionally reminded of by pictures or someone else.

In that way, a lot of things with modern technology come into play, especially for someone like me who has a child because you have to appreciate that not only do I have a video camera in my phone but just to have a regular camera in it, you know, I can take a picture of my son every day and then it's right there and saved.   No developing film from a third party like when I was growing up.    So while it is nice that I can document really anything and everything in 2016, I didn't have the same luxury growing up and now I'm beginning to relive a lot of it all though with "The Goldbergs".

I've peered into some of the titles so I know what's coming (and one Season Three episode particularly excites me just based on the title) but for once I'm not full of ideas like, "Oh, they should do a show about this and one about this", but rather I'm just really enjoying the nostalgia.   Though in all fairness I wouldn't mind seeing more discussion of the "mail-away" trust we had growing up as kids-- something you don't see as much today.   Whether it was a specific toy like G.I. Joe or from cereals, I always remember collectings UPCs (or proof-of-purchase) and getting $2.95 shipping and handling (my Mom would write a check) then sending it in and waiting forever for my prize to come.   Barry did this briefly in "The Adam Bomb" with a football phone from Sports Illustrated but still, I feel like everything was mail-away in 1980something.

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