The Goldbergs “A Kick-Ass Risky Business Party” Review (Season 3 Premiere)

TROY GENTILE, HAYLEY ORRANTIA, SEAN GIAMBRONE

When I was a kid, there was “The Wonder Years,” which I enjoyed to a certain extent, but didn’t entirely “get,” as what was going on seemed so foreign to me. (For those unfamiliar, it was a show that aired in the late 80’s to the early 90’s, but actually took place in the late 60’s to the early 70’s.) Now, many years later, we have “The Goldbergs,” and, as a child of the 80’s, the ground covered here is all too familiar, if a bit flashback-inducing.

As with “The Wonder Years,” we follow an adult looking back on his childhood, with the added nifty touch of actual video “evidence” of some of the things we see taking place in the show version. While I don’t doubt that there is some elaboration here, particularly in terms of the things said, if not the events themselves, much of it does ring true, so it’s always nice to see that some of it is confirmed to be real via photographic materials, making it ring that much more true.

For instance, in the premiere, we saw Adam Goldberg (Sean Giambrone) attempting to do justice to the perfectly horrible 80’s pseudo-classic “Toy Soldiers”- which some of my younger readers may know better as “that weird thing Eminem sampled in one of his songs”- then cutting to actual footage of the real Goldberg doing just that, and failing miserably, not to mention hilariously. Very cool.

(Fun fact: two of the kids singing on the chorus of the song were none other than Fergie and Jennifer Love-Hewitt, former cast members of the kid’s show “Kids Incorporated,” which main singer Martika was also part of. Thanks, Wikipedia!)

However, what really made me laugh was the highly-amusing music video Adam and older brother Barry (Troy Gentile) recorded as a declaration of love to the former’s long-distance girlfriend, Dana (Natalie Alyn Lind, soon to be relocating for real to TV’s “Gotham”). Made in the style of LL Cool J’s eternally embarrassing “I Need Love,” which I’m sure even he’d like to forget, the faux video for “Dat’s Love” was hilariously bad, making LL’s version look positively gangsta in comparison, believe you me.

Love that they dressed like him as well, and that the video had the old-school MTV-style credits on the bottom-left corner, which were attributed to “Big Tasty (feat. Lil’ Yum Yum).” LOL. The lyrics were priceless as well. Sample lyric: “There’s nothing in between us- ‘cept love…and dinosaurs.” Well played, “Goldbergs.”

The bulk of the episode was devoted to sister Erica (Hayley Orrantia) and Barry’s quest to throw a wild “Risky Business”-style party while their parents were out of town. While admittedly a blatant attempt to re-capitalize on the success of their “Ferris Bueller”-themed episode from last season, it still made for some fun moments, including making the star of that film’s name into a verb when Barry tried to recreate his iconic underwear-and-socks slide on the floor with limited success: “No Tom Cruising in the house!” shouted mama Beverly Goldberg (show MVP Wendi McLendon-Covey).

I also laughed when the girls, including Barry’s own girlfriend, Lainey (AJ Michalka) relegated Barry to “Booger” status, a reference to “Business” co-star Curtis Armstrong’s iconic role in “Revenge of the Nerds,” by forcing him to sit in the not-exactly-accommodating back seat of the “accept no substitutes” Porsche. And, of course, there was the 60’s “Batman”-esque exclamation of “Sweet Rebecca De Mornay, it’s happening!” You gotta love it, even if the homage was somewhat dated even within the show’s timeline. (“Toy Soldiers” came out in early ’89, according to Wikipedia, while “Risky Business” was released in 1983.)

Also a nice touch was when they, at one point within the expected party-going-off-the-rails scene, cut to a decidedly “real”-looking prostitute in the crowd, who was no Rebecca De Mornay, let me tell you. It was definitely a case of the reality not living up to the fantasy, to be sure.

All in all, it was a solid enough premiere, I thought, with the usual funny one-liners, my personal favorite being when dad Murray (the indispensible Jeff Garlin), after getting wind of the enormous amount of time Adam was spending on long-distance phone calls with his GF, announced: “I can’t afford your love!”

Even better, it was hot on the heels of my second favorite line, when Murray grabbed the phone from Adam and hung it up, after an interminable round of “You hang up” and Adam declared, all wounded pride: “You made me hang up first!” Let me tell you, all that brought back some memories. I can remember it like yesterday, doing the whole “No, you hang up!” thing with old girlfriends. I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one. (Thankfully, I never resorted to trying to fax someone a love letter, though.)

I also enjoyed the Principal (Stephen Tobolowsky) begging Beverly: “Don’t parent me!” and Barry announcing at one point: “I’m so angry even though I don’t have all the information!” Funny stuff. It’s because of this level of clever writing that the show is able to get away with the fact that it’s basically just recycling plots from old 80’s movies more often than not. What it lacks in originality, it makes up for in funny, though, so it’s all good.

Besides, when you’ve got a cast this solid, they do half the work for you. The fact that they also have solid writers as well is just icing on the cake. Factor in a fun soundtrack, even when it’s bad for effect (see again, “Toy Soldiers”), and it’s just a plain entertaining show, especially if you were a kid back then. Hell, even if you weren’t, really. My mom watches it, for instance, and there’s no way she’s getting half the references in this thing. (For instance, she asked why they had Charlie Sheen in the “Ferris Bueller”-themed episode, not realizing he was, in fact, in the movie itself and it was an in-joke to that end.)

So good so far, in other words. Hopefully they can keep it up because I wouldn’t have a problem with them moving this thing into the 90’s, which I have a much clearer memory of. Here’s hoping. If not, it’s nothing if not a fun show, even if it’s primarily a nostalgia kick for a lot of us.

What did you think of the “The Goldbergs” premiere? Did you get a kick out of the “Risky Business” thing? How about the subplot with Adam’s long-distance love affair? Or Beverly’s pseudo-adoption of poor Lainey? Were you a “Toy Soldiers” fan? (It’s okay, you can admit it- hell, Eminem did, more or less, by sampling it.) Sound off on this and more down below!