The Goldbergs, “The Adam Bomb,” (2.17) - TV Review


Goldbergs Adam Bomb

April 1st, 2015, 8:30 PM, ABC

Dismayed by Erica’s choice to postpone college by spending $200 on a demo tape to better pursue a singing career, Beverly is supportive to Erica’s face…and behind her back freaks out and pushes Murray to talk their daughter into staying in school. But instead of being a dream smoosher, Murray becomes a dream pusher, and both parents refuse to break Erica’s heart and look like the bad guy, then try to pawn the responsibility onto someone else. Erica, meanwhile, plots to slip singer Tiffany her demo tape during the girl’s gig at the local mall and has to face down the biter reality of disappointment when she finds herself ignored – but it seems that Murray and Beverly might just have a way to encourage their daughter’s dreams after all. Meanwhile, Barry and Adam go to war over an April Fool’s joke gone wrong when Adam swipes Barry’s prized Charles Barkley shoe, pretends to stick it in the dryer and then films the emotional carnage that results – so Barry destroys Adam’s prized Castle Greyskull playset. The feud deepens as personal possessions are wrecked, and Barry risks his future with Lainey to cop the ultimate revenge against his brother – only to have his consciousness raised by an unexpected event that mends the brother’s relationship and sets them on a course to repair Barry’s with Lainey.

This week’s Goldbergs manages to capture a certain mood, now commonplace in the emotional parlance of American teens, but once very new. Before the 80’s teenage singers had to rely on a combination of good luck and determination to land record deals. The 80s started to change all of that. The Tiffanys and Debbie Gibsons of the world, plucked from minor child fame by agents and pushed to the moon, provided for teenage girls the first possibility that they too could become famous if they popped up on Star Search or managed to sing loudly enough in their choir. Nowdays that dream is more accessible than ever with YouTube influencing the possibility of instant stardom – or instant ridicule – in a single breathless incident. Erica’s journey toward recording an actual demo is purely a sitcom staple (Twenty years ago the Lubbock Babes started their own band on their own show on this network – there are examples leading all the way back to the first sitcom family, the Nelsons), but there’s something very sweet about how the show handles the situation. It’s also wise to rein Beverly in just enough to make her funny without letting her run obnoxiously roughshod over the whole production.

Adam and Barry’s plot is decently funny, though there are a few cracks in the storyline . Chiefly, the use of the fall of the Berlin Wall as a metaphor for brotherly unity straddled the borderline between a unique plot idea and just plain oddball storytelling. At least we got another Big Tasty video out of it.

Altogether this is a pretty darn nifty episode - not only funny but hitting the right emotional high note at the right time.
The Roundup

  • We get a number of clips from the previous season and this one to illustrate the gap between Barry and Adam’s personalities. The only new footage is of Adam and Barry with their trading cards.
  • This episode takes place on April 1stth , 1980-something.
  • For those wondering, Sam Goody was a huge music store. They filed for bankruptcy nigh on ten years ago.
  • Teenaged Tiffany Darwish really did make her own mini-empire by touring malls to bolster her debut album. She was too young to play at clubs, and thus her manager had to find an alternate way to make an impact. This resulted in three top ten hits, two of them hitting number one on the Billboard charts, a self-titled number one album, and a rivalry with fellow 80’s teen queen Debbie Gibson. Her follow-up album yielded one top ten single and a top forty hit, but Tiffany never attained such chart success again. She became a voice over artist, playing Judy Jetson in the 90’s Jetson movie revival, and went on to dabble in reality TV and camp SyFy movies. She also continues to produce music, though none with the success she had at sixteen.
  • Erica debuts her stage name in this episode - Riki Gold.
  • Ana Gasteyer makes another appearance as Erica’s teacher.
  • This episode… definitely set in 1987-something, when Tiffany mania swept malls America-wide (or in 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell. Either-or.).
  • “But not Debbie Gibson, because I’m realistic!”
  • Nitpick: the Berlin Wall fell in November of 1989 – the Hasslehoff concert, meanwhile, took place on New Years Eve of the same year. That’s some creative thinking even for this deliberately ahistorical show.
  • Musical motif: We repeatedly hear Tiffany’s number one hit cover of the original Tommy James and The Shondells hit “I Think We’re Alone Now” . It was a number one hit for Tiffany in the fall and winter of 1987.
  • The actual home video footage this week is the real picture of Adam Goldberg in that white suit that the fictionalized Adam abhors (Along with a picture during the closing credits of Adam with Charles Barkley).
  • Next Week: Adam gets his first taste of booze during his birthday party when his friend Garry brings some of his dad’s homemade brew– which promptly results in all of the kids getting violently ill due to its tainted nature. Meanwhile Erica and Barry write a song for their dad, who offers in turn to buy them a new CD player if they succeed in “I Drank the Mold.”< /li>

A funny time capsule, even with its flaws.

  • GREAT 8.5

About Author

Staff Television Critic: Lisa Fernandes, formerly of, has been watching television for all of her thirty-plus years, and critiquing it for the past seven. When she's not writing, she can be found in the wilds of the Northeastern United States.