September 23rd, 2015, 8:30 PM, ABC
LAST SEASON: Erica’s focus on her career began to pay off, and she spent the summer taking a music course out of state –much to Bev’s chagrin. Meanwhile, Dana Caldwell informed Adam that she’s moving out of town, breaking his heart in the process and Barry and Lainey cemented their relationship in spite of some awkward social miscues.
As we return, Dana is still far away, and a pining Adam ties up the phone at all hours talking to her. This earns him his family’s annoyance – especially Murray’s, who finds out that his son’s been calling to Seattle great lengths of time and cancels the Goldberg’s long distance service in response. Adam cracks under the strain of this imposed silence and decides to break into the teacher’s lounge and use the faculty fax machine to contact his beloved, but when he’s caught in the act it leads to a strain in his relationship with Murray. Adam enlists Barry to help film a music video for Dana to keep the relationship afloat, but it’s Murray who must decide if his son’s first love is worth extending the family budget. Meanwhile, Barry, Lainey and Erica decide to throw a Risky Business party and drive Lainey’s dad’s Porsche while he’s out of town, but Barry’s dreams of coolness are pretty much instantly extinguished when his backseat discomfort leads to them crashing the car into a pool. Lainey kisses up to Bev to get them out of trouble and the party back on, but the result is Bev turning her smother powers on Lainey – and the girl blossoms under her guidance, resulting in their bonding, her outlook turning tame and Erica and Barry’s forming a scheming alliance to separate Bev from her new doppelganger. But when the party gets too hectic it’s up to Bev to save the day – and Lainey’s family home.
The Goldbergs has settled into a cozy rhythm; the right amount of fluff and feeling, a skosh of nostalgia, a twist of acerbic humor, all served as a pillowy casserole of morals and affection. It’s nonthreatening but it’s also a lot of fun if it catches you when you’re in the right mood. This week’s episode is no exception; for anyone who remembers what it’s like battling with monthly long distance bills before free weekends and nights became common enticements you’re going to understand Adam’s pain in this episode; it’s ultimately another occasion for father and son to embrace one another in spite of their differences. Dana and Adam’s sweet courtship continues apace in a way that continues to feel naturally organic to the plot.
Lainey’s plot, meanwhile, serves as an official welcome for her to the ways of the Goldberg family; unsurprisingly, Beverly smashes the girl to her bosom and instantly teaches her how to make fat-laden casseroles and brush up for her SATs. The comic rhythms here are traditional and strong all at the same time; they work precisely because you can already see Beverly saving the day just by being herself in your mind’s eye as the episode starts, because even if there’s a formula the formula will be handled in a funny way.
It’s unfair to the show to call this episode mediocre; it’s in fact a good example of what the program does well on a regular basis. So welcome back to ABC, Goldberg clan. May this season be Charlie Sheen cameo free.
- Risky Business is a romantic comedy about a teenager who turns his house into a brothel after hiring an expensive prostitute and ruining his father’s car while trying to pay off the fee he owes her. Which makes it an interesting target for a sheltered kid like Barry to want to emulate, though Tom Cruise’s iconic pants-free dance to Bob Seeger’s Old Time Rock and Roll had seeped into the culture by the mid 80s thoroughly enough for him to know of it without having seen it. Note: there’s no house party in Risky Business, though a Porsche crashed into a large body of water does relate to its plot.
- ”Dave Kim likes ‘em thick.” Thank you, Dave Kim.
- Pops once dated a Pilipino woman through telegram.
- “Don’t be confused my sweater. I’m not flappy. I’m very flangry…”
- This episodes……definitely takes place in 1983, which was when Risky Business came out.
- Tim Meadows appears once again as Mr. Glascott.
- “Oh, I’ll parent every damn child in this school if I have to! I’ll even parent you!”
- According to Pops, Murray called Beverly every day for six months while he was in ROTC training.
- Musical motif: The song “Toy Soldiers” by Martika plays repeatedly in the background; it was a hit in 1989. “Old Time Rock and Roll”, the key theme from Risky Business by Bob Seeger and his Silver Bullet Band plays during several points; it only made it to 28 on the charts in 1983.
- Lainey plans on dancing in “New York…or Las Vegas, whichever is closer.”
- This week’s Actual Home Video Footage features the actual Adam Goldberg singing “Toy Soldiers” into the phone, and various clips of him talking into it, presumably to the real-life model for Dana Caldwell. It’s dedicated to “Long Distance Love”.
- Next Week: Adam’s voice starts to change as he goes through puberty, forcing Bev to ask Miss Cinoman to let him lip synch his way through the school musical. Meanwhile Erica Is inspired by Murray’s story to take Geoff Schwartz to the homecoming dance in “A Chorus Lie.”
A warm, cute if not particularly stand-out return to the land of the Goldbergs.