The Goldbergs, “In Conclusion - Thanksgiving,” (3.8) - TV Review



November 18th, 2015, 8:30 PM, ABC

The Goldbergs try to celebrate Thanksgiving, though Bev’s attempt at gathering the whole family together proves foolhardy when she invites Murray’s undemonstrative father and his irresponsible brother to the festivities against Murray’s wishes. Adam, meanwhile, uses his homemade video set to the song “Cat’s In the Cradle” to manipulate his dad into doing what he needs and wants, a secret that leaks out and gives Bev leverage to bring the family together in some semblance of kindness. But then Marvin points out that the song can be seen as a revenge tune, which results him refusing to pick up his father – which turns into a cascade of fights that leaves Marvin eating outside, Murray on the couch in pain, and Barry and Erica fighting – but can Murray trust his brother to adjust his back and return harmony to Thanksgiving? Meanwhile, Pops tries to hand off the family’s traditional Thanksgiving toast to Erica and Barry. Barry thinks the tradition is hopelessly lame and yet he tries desperately to outdo Erica’s attempt at assuming the duty, eventually upstaging her with a flashy performance filled with ridiculousness and facts that forces Erica to try to one-up him, resulting in a melee that might not salvage either the celebration or the siblings’ bonhomie.

It’s another year and another Goldbergs Thanksgiving, which provides the usual dose of ridiculousness from Murray’s side of the family. Judd Hirsch makes an interesting addition to the brood as the latest version of Murray’s taciturn pop, who refuses to “make the same mistake twice” and eat Bev’s cooking and who thinks “Cats in the Cradle” is about the father’s revenge on the son’s annoying behavior; I actually want to know more about Bev and Ben’s contentious relationship and even a flashback to her first disastrous Thanksgiving, but what we end up with is still a lot of fun. Always dependable for laughs, too, is Marvin, and Dan Fogler continues to plumb his character’s annual appearances for new bits and lows and highs. Even Marvin may be growing up; his days of flitting from job to job might finally be coming to an end now that he’s found something worthwhile to do.

Eric and Barry’s competition to become top dog and be the best possible family toast-giver is extremely entertaining and properly ridiculous; Barry brings every bit of over-the-top silly bravado to his performance, and Erica’s contrast continues to be in her integrity. The end result is a stalemate – and personal victories for both kids ultimately, for Barry puts a lot more work into his presentation than he might have otherwise and Erica is the ultimate peacemaker, her inner Bev coming out to play.

In the end, Murray learns something about being a dad, his dad learns that he’s probably not as big of a jerk as he thinks he is, and the brothers bond. Harry Chapin might be the king of dysfunction, but The Goldbergs – marginally functional in the words of Erica or not – thrive and grow every year, making this particular Thanksgiving a tender, winning treat.

The Roundup

  • Bev is so obsessed with making a perfect turkey that she makes practice turkeys.

  • She also has eyes and ears all over town in the form of bag boys.
  • Judd Hirsch, of Taxi, Dear John and Sharknado 3 fame, takes over the role of Ben Goldberg from Paul Sorvino, who originated the role in last season’s “The Most Handsome Boy on the Planet”
  • The is Marvin Goldberg’s third appearance on the show. As fitting with his regular MO, he’s moved to another profession (therapeutic massage) and is still incredibly
  • This episodes……definitely takes place sometime past 1989, after the release of Alf and the mainstream popularity of LL Cool J.
  • ”Hah! You have to keep a lame-ass tradition alive!!”
  • ”L is for LL Cool J, who probably celebrates Thanksgiving like us. Why? Because he’s American!”
  • Musical motif: Cat’s in the Cradle by Harry Chapin, which was a number one hit in 1974.
  • ”Now that man will eat his words AND my food!”
  • This week’s Actual Home Video Footage is of the real Adam’s video of Cat’s In the Cradle an is dedicated to “all the weirdos who made videos like this”.
  • ”The cat eats the baby with a silver spoon…”
  • ”It’s Thanksgiving, pull up your pants!”
  • Bev cursing moment: “It’s Thanks-F**ing-giving!”
  • Pop Pop once sold 80 pound vacuums door to door with a shattered pelvis.
  • ”I don’t know which one that is, but thank you.”
  • Next Week: The Goldbergs is preempted for American Thanksgiving until December 8th.

The Goldbergs’ traditional Thanksgiving episode provides laughter and tenderness, and the traditional moment of franticness. It works, it’s dependable and wonderful, and that’s all it really needs to be.

  • GREAT 8.1

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.