THE SHOW "The Goldbergs"
WHEN|WHERE Tuesday night at 9 on ABC/7
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Growing up in the pre-Internet, pre-digital, pre-Britney Spears '80s was not the breeze most of us remember, though if we'd grown up in the Goldberg household, it would've been a hurricane. This is the sitcom roman à clef of TV and movie ("Fanboy") writer Adam F. Goldberg, with dad Murray (Jeff Garlin), mom Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey), older brother Barry (Troy Gentile), sister Erica (Hayley Orrantia), grand "pops" Albert Solomon (George Segal) and Adam (Sean Giambrone). Tonight, Barry learns to drive, while Adam records the family proceedings -- much to the annoyance of the family -- on a giant camcorder.
MY SAY "The Goldbergs" is the TV equivalent of a slab of raw meat whacked across your head. It startles you awake. It assaults you. It repels you. Its charms are hidden at first, but they are undeniably there. First off, there's the cast, which clearly had a good time with the material. Who wouldn't? Everything here is played to the back of the room, so to speak -- sonically over the top, full of sound and fury (and something more). The jokes and one-liners aren't just told -- they're violently expectorated. Some are blue (an unsettling number of poop and boob references), some fall flat and a few are priceless. (When Barry -- who's learning to drive -- reaches around to smack his mouthy brother, Dad bellows, "Don't hit the child in back -- that's way too advanced.") Garlin, naturally, is perfect for this, bringing a little bit of "Curb's" Jeff Greene and a lot more of Susie Essman's Susie to the role. Same with McLendon-Covey ("Bridesmaids") -- who, like Garlin, has probably been funny in everything she's ever done, and manages to make this work, too. Certainly, some viewers will hate "The Goldbergs," seeing it as an overblown ethnic stereotype. Others will giggle (especially when Garlin sings).
BOTTOM LINE Noisy, silly, occasionally obnoxious, sporadically funny and ultimately sweet.