It’s a wintery wonderland of parent vs. child in this week’s THE GOLDBERGS, “Snow Day.” The episode takes full advantage of everything a snow day stands for and keeps things simple in this week’s storylines. But even though the show doesn’t over-complicate, things still get icy between the Goldberg family members.
This week’s episode wasn’t anything particularly noteworthy – it was a well-executed stock episode of the show’s vein and voice. Yet, there’s something to be said about a well-structured, well-written, completely ordinary episode. There are quite a few shows out there that can’t seem to master this sort of an accomplishment – take MacGyver, another show I review, for example. Those episodes are all over the place. Now, granted, The Goldbergs isn’t a semi-serialized, procedural action-drama, but to a certain extent every show on television, no matter the network or genre, operates under the expectation that the audience will be given a set number of episodes from which to absorb whatever story or characters the show is offering. Thus, in every show, a certain number of episodes, or a certain portion of each episode, must contain what can best be described as ‘filler’ material. This is material that is entertaining and relates well enough to the characters and the tone of the show, but doesn’t necessarily add to the progression of the seasonal arc. Of course no show has to have this, but it is something that many, if not all, shows partake in, whether they’re doing it consciously or not, because stories just don’t naturally fit into perfect little 13 or 22 episode boxes.
The Goldbergs is no different. And this particular episode happens to fill that role. But despite the fact that my jabbering on about tv show “fluff” might make it sound as though I’m criticizing this episode, I’m actually praising it. It’s fluff, but it’s pretty good fluff. It’s exceptional fluff. It’s cotton candy. The stories are solid, and we really see a softer side of Murray in this episode – a little glimpse behind the hard shell facade that shows us why Murray is not a bad dad at all, but is actually a great father. Though the only seasonal arc progression we get in this episode is Erica writing her final college entrance essay, the episode stands on its own in a way that is funny and heartfelt – a very Goldberg thing to do.
When the Goldberg kids wake up to hear that school has been cancelled, that can only mean one thing – snow day! Barry and Adam immediately go outside to build a snow fort and completely ignore Murray’s instructions to shovel the sidewalk, while Erica is dealing with Beverly, who is in major smother mode after finding out that she is Erica’s hero, and subsequently the person Erica wrote her final essay about.
While those two are fighting, Barry and Adam are learning to embrace their rebellious side, after seeing Murray get stuck inside the tunnel entrance to their snow fort. Losing their respect for him and fear of him, Barry and Adam decide to take their antics inside, increasing the thermostat and eating Murray’s specialty popcorn. Turns out, getting under Murray’s skin isn’t that hard. He finally tells the boys that when they need him, he won’t be there to help – he’s cutting himself off as their father. And then the boys decide to go car-sledding. In other words, Barry has tied a sled to the back end of the Goldberg family’s car, and drives it while Adam hangs on for dear life in the sled.
Of course, when Barry gets back to the Goldberg house, Adam and the sled are no long attached to the car. Barry doesn’t know where the sled and Adam broke off. He’s lost his brother. In a desperate attempt to find him, Barry admits that he needs Murray’s help. Without hesitation, Murray helps Barry go find Adam, who is stuck in a snow back on the side of a street.
Meanwhile, Erica has decided to rewrite her college entrance exam to exclude Beverly as her hero, but Beverly won’t hear of it. When she finishes and addresses the envelope to the college, the two have the world’s slowest race to the mailbox on top of the sidewalk ice that has been left from the snow Barry and Adam never cleared.
In very Goldberg form, the two never make it to the mailbox, but they do have a heart-to-heart moment after crashing to the ground of the icy driveway. With that, they make up and everything is back to normal. Meanwhile, Murray has rescued Adam from the chilly arms of the snow bank, and the parent-child hierarchy has been righted. All in all, it’s a very good average episode.
Season 4, Episode 12 (S04E12)
The Goldbergs airs Wednesdays at 8PM on ABC
Tasha is a freelance writer currently based in Los Angeles. Originally from Kansas, when she’s not writing about or watching TV, Tasha is searching for the best BBQ place in LA to fill the KC BBQ hole in her stomach.
Keep up with all of Tasha’s reviews here.
Tasha Cerny | Contributor