THE GOLDBERGS Review: “Kara-te Kid”

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crane kick their way through a parody of Karate Kid in this week’s episode, “Kara-te Kid.” The episode offered up delightfully fun references to the movie, but this is about all viewers can expect to get out of this week’s episode. A more frequent occurrence of punchlines was sacrificed to make room for the necessary plot setup needed to make a Karate Kid parody relevant to the Goldberg’s world.

Despite this obvious but probably necessary flaw, some very interesting things did happen in this week’s episode that didn’t involve wearing a black belt at all. First, we finally get to see the long-running bit about the real-life fued between Adam F. Goldberg (the show’s creator) and Adam Goldberg (the actor) come to life in the show, by meeting the other Adam Goldberg in school. Second, we get another installment in the Erica and Geoff love story.

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The show starts when a school newspaper typo leaves out the “F” in Adam’s name, and everyone thinks a Karate Kid review Adam wrote was actually written by the other Adam in school. This of course doesn’t sit well with the other Adam, who has a reputation to uphold, so other Adam tells Adam that he has to change his name. Adam, who is naturally very intimidated by the looming eleventh grader, agrees to change his name until Murray and Beverly find out that this is what he plans to do. Murray thinks Adam should fight other Adam, but Beverly offers to take care of it herself. Of course Adam doesn’t want Beverly to get involved, so he makes her promise not to talk to other Adam about it at all. She finds a loop hole, though, and the next day Adam finds out that Beverly has convinced other Adam’s mother to make other Adam go by A.J. So now A.J. is really mad, because his name is just initials, and he challenges Adam to a fight.

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Adam, not sure how to get himself out of this one, goes to Barry, who willingly agrees to help Adam out. Unfortunately, it’s not by beating A.J. up for him or by getting the gym teacher to tell A.J. that there’s no fighting allowed on school grounds. Instead, Barry sets up a karate club to give Adam and A.J. a safe, cushioned and supervised space to fight it out. This is actually a really clever solution, so go Barry for being brilliant. Of course, Adam doesn’t see it that way, so Barry takes Adam to their deadbeat uncle to learn karate – which is not actually karate at all, he’s just tricking them into cleaning his house for him. When Adam realizes this, he freaks out, and retreats to Beverly and Murray for help. Also in a brilliant move, Beverly switches out fight partners so that Barry and Adam are fighting instead of Adam and A.J. Beverly tries to get Barry to take Adam out by having Barry sweep his leg, but beyond tripping Adam and guaranteeing he has to fight in the next round with A.J. because Barry has disqualified himself, the leg sweeping doesn’t really do anything. It does, however, give Adam the chance to fake an injury and escape. However, with some words of encouragement from Murray, Adam decides to go through with the fight. 

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While all of this is going on, Erica and Geoff are having a dilemma. Geoff is having a hard time breaking things off with Evie, but he’s already started seeing Erica behind Evie’s back. He’s scared of Evie and what her reaction will be when he breaks up with her, and he keeps chickening out. But an unfortunate encounter at the lunch table blows everything wide open when Geoff sees Erica talking to Evie and thinks that Erica has told Evie about her and Geoff. In the midst of the confusion, Geoff pretty much tells Evie about him cheating on her with Erica, and Evie is rightfully upset. Over the ensuing days, Erica and Geoff realize that they’re the bad guys in this story, for breaking Evie’s trust and her heart. Because of that, Erica breaks things off with Geoff, telling him that she doesn’t want to start a relationship with him out of all of that mess and negativity. Well that was short-lived. Sigh.

Going through with the fight actually works to Adam’s favor, and A.J. admits to Adam before their round begins that A.J. doesn’t really know how to fight. He was sure that Adam would chicken out so that he wouldn’t have to. Adam and A.J. come to an understanding right there, and decide to be friends. Then, using their stage fighting training, they recreate the final fight scene from the Karate Kid, except both Adam and A.J. use a crane kick at the same time, knocking each other down at the same time and creating a tie. Everybody gets to keep their name, I guess.

TB-TV-Grade-A-

Season 4, Episode 16 (S04E16)
The Goldbergs airs Wednesdays at 8PM on ABC

Read all of our reviews of The Goldbergs here. 
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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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