September 15, 2013

TV: The Goldbergs (Tue 9, ABC)

Premieres September 24; pilot currently available at Hulu.

Twenty-five years ago, ABC gave us The Wonder Years, a heart-warming look back at one family in the 1960s. It's an all-time classic. The Goldbergs takes a similar scenario -- same sized family, this time in the 1980s -- and sucks all of the charm and warmth out of it, leaving nothing but a family of angry louts who spend most of the show screaming at one another.

At the center of the show is 11-year-old Adam (Sean Giambrone; voiced as an adult in voice-over "when I was a kid" narration by Patton Oswalt). There's an older sister, Erica (Hayley Orrantia), and an older brother, Barry (Troy Gentile), and perpetually bickering parents Beverly and Murray (Wendy McClendon-Covey and Jeff Garlin). Throw in George Segal as grandpa Albert, who seems to be just beginning his long decline into senility, and you've got perhaps the most unappealing TV family of the last decade. (And, may I remind you, I sat through more than one episode of I Hate My Teenage Daughter.)

Garlin's Murray is so loud and horrible that it is a running gag to subtitle his harshest rants at his children with subtitles telling us what he's "really" saying; "You're not a complete moron every minute of the day" becomes "I love you." Beverly's not much better; she's an emotionally manipulative harpy who seems determined to drain every last shred of happiness from her family's lives. At least in her case, I believe that the character choices are coming from McClendon-Covey; the bellowing and stomping about that Garlin is doing are, I fear, all that he's capable of.

This is an awful show on every level. It's poorly written, poorly directed, and poorly conceived. It deserves to be among the season's early cancellations.

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