The Goldbergs, “La Biblioteca Es Libros” /”Just Say No”, (2.19-20)


Goldbergs Adam Bomb

April 15th, 2015, 8:30 and 9:30 PM, ABC

We get a double-shot of Goldberg-related wackiness this week!

In “La Biblioteca Es Libros”, Bev pulls out all the stops to make sure Adam improves his failing Spanish Grade and avoids being moved into the remedial class – in this case, applying her ‘mom logic’ to the situation and convincing Senorita Taraborelli to tutor her son privately (which is against school rules) to fund Lambada dancing lessons. This leads to Senorita Taraborelli slipping him answers to better grease her own palm on Beverly’s dole, which Beverly accepts because according to her logic this means Adam is somehow learning, especially when he starts bringing home B’s – but in the end it comes down to Adam’s (lack of) talent, and Beverly must confront the fact that her son needs extra help or allow him to accept his flunking grade for once and for all. Meanwhile, Barry tries to impress Murray by getting a job where Erica works – at the Gimbles Department Store as an assistant stock manager – and after flunking a series of interviews ends up working at a pizza place in direct competition with Dominos and their Noid mascot instead. Murray praises and respects him, but Barry soon blows the job; he lies to keep his father’s esteem, winning huge rewards, but when the lies come to light and Murray is still accepting of his son, Erica demands respect of her own for her conversely consistently responsible behavior.

In “Just Say No”, Erica tries to teach her mother about voting in preparation for the 1984 presidential election (the apolitical Bev uses a cheat sheet when she votes), hoping to turn mamma into a Mondale supporter in the vain wish of getting Geraldine Ferraro into the White House. But Beverly get swept up in Nancy Regan’s “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign and conducts a humiliating sketch at Erica’s school that may wreck Erica’s interest in politics forever. Meanwhile, Barry becomes obsessed with proving his athletic prowess when he loses a wrestling match that cedes territory from the JTP’s designated area in front of the Wegmans. The ‘intimidating’ video he records results in the put-upon Adam sending the tape to America’s Funniest Home Videos for revenge, resulting in the silent treatment from Barry.

These two episodes are interesting mixed bags, with a strong lean toward the positive. The first episode does a good job of giving us the show’s more outlandish side in a consolidated bite. Over the past few episodes Beverly’s scheming on behalf of their futures has been less successful, doing a nice job of showing why Bev’s smother won’t work for her and the kids indefinitely, and is smart enough to poke fun at the unintentional racism of Adam’s report and the foolish Lambada-related dreams of his teacher. Barry’s attempt at a career turning into a total disaster due to his lack of direction is appropriate, and Erica – who often ends up seeming the forgotten child in the show’s busy plots – comes forth with an understandable yearning for attention. It’s not that her parents ignore her (with a mom like Bev, how could she be ignored?) but that she gets shuffled aside for her more dramatic siblings plotwise. The majority of this season’s tracing of her musical career has done a lot to rectify this, as has her speaking out more within the storyline.

The second episode is a bit more difficult to parse as being in-character. The relationship between Barry and Adam has never been this bluntly violent before – more Wayne and Kevin versus the usual tone of Eric and Cory Matthews. I was wondering how they’d manage to rope America’s Funniest Home Videos into the show, and the idea they came up with isn’t too bad, even though it involves a modicum of personality bending.

Erica and Bev’s plot was a lot more interesting; Erica becoming political and Bev learning about the world around her – it’s easy to imagine somewhat-pampered Bev, whose whole life is entirely centered around her children, being unable to tell Mondale from Regan. The end result is Erica taking an interest in politics and Bev…well, there’s a lesson ahead for her, too.

Both episodes combine to make an hour of pleasant fare, and round out to a number in the high nineties because of this.

The Roundup

  • This is a semi-rare example of the show airing two unconnected new eps airing on a single day.

  • Unless you lived through it you have no idea how deeply the anti-drug mania of the 80s were rooted in the lives of its teenage and child populace – inspired by fear of the crack epidemic, our television programs were filled with anti-drug PSAs, and the DARE program launched in the mid-80s. It reached its zenith in the late 80s with Cartoon All Stars to the Rescue, in which all of the popular cartoon stars of the age teamed up in a single animated special to warn kids not to take drugs.
  • Erica works at Gimbles, a genuine Midwestern department store that was popular through the early 80’s.
  • The Lambada was a Latin dance craze that spun off of dance crazes of the(very) late 80s, stretching back into the ‘90s before disappearing. The dance was infamously the subject of dueling cinematic bombs in …but were actually a craze of 1990.
  • The Noid was a rubber-faced Claymation mascot for the Dominos Pizza chain, who was hugely popular in the 80s. The mascot was unfortunately retired after a hostage crises precipitated by a mentally ill man wearing a Noid mask.
  • This episodes…..were definitely set in 1989-something, when the Lambada was huge and 1983, during the Mondale/Regan campaign.
  • Adam was apparently conceived as a write-off for his parent’s taxes.
  • Musical motif: We hear Baltimora’s “Tarzan Boy”, which was a hit in 1985.
  • The actual home video footage this week is of the actual Senora Taraborelli’s Spanish class – and of the real Adam’s Spanish presentation and of Adam F. Goldberg’s homemade anti-drug PSA.
  • Next Week: Inspired by The Princess Bride, Adam decides to join the school fencing team much to Murray’s chagrin – he’s not thrilled that his son’s interested in a less than stereotypically manly sport. Meanwhile Beverly tries to play miss matchmaker for Erica’s voice teacher and Barry’s Wrestling Coach in “As You Wish”.

A solid hour of comedy all around.


About Author

Jordan Ferguson is a lifelong pop culture fan, and would probably never leave his couch if he could get away with it. When he isn’t wasting time “practicing law" in Los Angeles, he writes about film, television, and music. In addition to serving as TV Editor and Senior Staff Film Critic for Next Projection, Jordan is a contributor to various outlets, including his own personal site, Review To Be Named (where he still writes sometimes, promise). Check out more of his work at, follow him on twitter @bobchanning, or just yell really loudly on the street. Don’t worry, he’ll hear.