THE GOLDBERGS Review: “1990-Something”

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The Goldbergs does a backdoor pilot debut for its passed-over spin-off series in this week’s episode, “1990-Something.” In likely one of the best spin-off pilots I’ve ever seen, the show manages to set the premise for a completely new story with a completely new family, while maintaining certain touches that keep the ‘Goldberg’ feel alive and pull in some beloved characters with the promise that we’ll finally get to explore their lives more deeply. Too bad ABC decided not to order a full season.

The episode/pilot takes us to the 1990s – if you couldn’t tell by the title of the episode or the fact that the spinoff series had been announced as taking place in the ‘90s. After the Goldberg children have all graduated from school. Beverly Goldberg still manages to make an appearance, because, after all, she’s Beverly Goldberg, and it’s not a Goldberg show without Beverly Goldberg. In fact, I suspect that should, ever in the future, Adam F. Goldberg decide to create a terrifying sci-fi drama examining the fragile state of humanity, Beverly Goldberg would show up in that as well.

Anyways, I should note here that I can’t completely blame ABC for passing over this pilot, as actors Tim Meadows – who plays the now principal of the school – and Nia Long – who plays his sister – both have co-lead commitments to other shows. So I guess taping and scheduling could be an issue. However, it’s very disappointing that this show may never see the light of day beyond this pilot, because it was great.

Before I start listing the dozens of reasons why it was awesome, I’ll make my one critique in that the jokes could have been a bit more brushed up. They were pretty good, but some of them were a bit clunky and could have used some polishing. I’ll give it a pass, though, because seriously this show manages a feat of writing gymnastics that I haven’t seen anywhere before.

For one, it’s a workplace comedy set in a school. IN A SCHOOL. Yes, I know, there are like six other comedies about teachers on TV right now, but none of them are nice to the teachers. None of them depict the teachers as actually competent or caring about their jobs. None of them feel like they were actually written by anyone who knows anything about teachers. This episode manages to depict these adults with humor and heart without making them look stupid or idiotic, all while demonstrating how much they truly care about their jobs.

Secondly, it’s diverse! It’s a show set in the ‘90s, starring three women – plus our narrator – and a black family. That is a show I want to watch. That is something that isn’t on TV right now.

Third, it stars Coach as a co-lead. Coach is great. Next to Murray, Coach may possibly be my favorite character from The Goldbergs. I don’t know, I haven’t decided, but he’s definitely a contender. And this pilot promises us that Coach would be a part of it all. We’d get to see a side of Coach that we haven’t really explored – outside of that one episode where we meet his brother. And that would have been very delightful.

I will admit that I do feel as though there was a lot of subtly dissing going on about millennials with all the jokes about trophies and participation and nurturing. We get it, Adam F. Goldberg. You don’t like participation trophies.

Overall, I’m sad we won’t get to see more of this show come the fall. But maybe ABC will rethink their decision and pick it up later. Here’s to hoping!

TB-TV-Grade-A+

Season 5, Episode 14* (S05E14) – Backdoor Pilot
The Goldbergs airs Wednesdays at 8PM on ABC

Read all of our reviews of The Goldbergs here. 
Read our reviews of more of your favorite shows here.


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.

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31 Comments

  1. Judging a show based on the race of the actors is pretty shitty, superficial and tokenist.
    Deciding that it’s good/bad (circle any) because the actors are black/white/hispanic/asian (circle any) is crummy and racist.

  2. We were shocked by this new show! It’s no longer about the Goldbergs! If the original characters are no longer, we will no longer be watching! I agree, this first episode of the new show has already jumped the shark.

    • It’s not a new show, if you read the article it says it was the pilot episode of a show that never got picked up by ABC. The Goldbergs will be back next week.

  3. No offense, but I disagree wholeheartedly. The spin-off characters from Goldbergs, namely the gym teacher and principal, are good in small doses. It was too much when they are bigger parts of the show. Goldbergs is great because it’s genuine nostalgia based on Adam Goldberg’s childhood. Even if this is loosely based off of Nia Long’s experiences in the 90s, it isn’t HER upbringing. So it’s another run of the mill comedy. Didn’t feel right. And would likely be cancelled within a season or 2.

  4. My daughter and l felt it was more show diversity than anything to do with the Goldbergs. The mother at beginning and end was very odd. I want to watch the actual Goldbergs. You should have started with the children younger.

  5. Completely agree with the comments for once, this episode was pretty bad. Go watch Blackish it’s amazing. Can’t wait for the Goldberg’s to come back in the next episode.

  6. I love the Goldbergs, everything about it.

    This was the worst episode of the entire show, easily. I love the characters but as side characters, or in random episodes. I love all of the actors in it mind you.

    But the writing? Premise? Just sucks. While-heartedly sucks. I didnt want to finish it but believe in finishing the whole pilot before judging. It was a rough 22 mins

  7. This was not a good surprise by any means. As my family and I sit down to watch our favorite show we were in shock and very disappointed. This was not what we wanted to watch, thanks ABC. Please don’t mess up another good show!!! Leave it alone and do your spin off as a spin off don’t trick the fans of the real show to watch something that they didn’t want to watch!

  8. Absolutely Horrible! Stop Shoving Politically Correct Crap Down Our Throats! You have a better chance of buying a Cheese Burger from Jesus than you do Of anyone watching this show again!

    • K, like 100 shows over the past 20 years have had back door pilots. Idk what the big deal is. Get over yourselves. You’re regularly scheduled cheesy 80’s nostalgia trip will resume next week.

  9. Bad. So..so bad…im actually disgruntled that my pvr recorded it (via Goldberg’s schedule) and I added to the viewer ‘rating’.

    Sooooo damn bad. That’s not the Goldberg’s, shouldn’t have ran under the same title.

  10. Sorry, maybe the reason I didn’t like it was because I was not expecting it. I like my shows.. they are planned and I don’t like surprises. I feel I was deceived to watch something I was not planning on watching. They planned it wrong. I didn’t like the story behind it either. Sorry Charlie..

  11. Looks like you may be the only person who liked this terrible spin off. I thought it was terrible, not even funny and doesn’t deserve to be associated with the Goldbergs.

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