It's taken a few episodes, but we think we've finally figured out the secret to ABC's '80s-era sitcom, The Goldbergs: the titular clan are time-travelers. How else to explain the fact that, while the pilot set the show down in 1985, subsequent episodes have jumped back and forth in time without the clan aging? The third episode, for example, found little Adam Goldberg and his grandpa Albert taking in a showing of 1982's Poltergeist under the pretense that they would be seeing 1986's The Great Mouse Detective. And while it's possible that Tobe Hooper's scary movie was in the midst of a re-release (back in the pre-DVD era when the movie studios actually did that sort of thing), that doesn't explain what happened on this week's installment, where Adam wooed a crush with his favorite Hollywood romance, Say Anything… a movie that hit theaters in 1989. Given that any chance of a linear timeline is now at the window, here are the momentous (for us, anyway) '80s pop culture events we hope the Goldbergs time-jump to over the course of the remaining episodes.
The Death of Mr. Hooper (November 1983)
An entire generation experienced their first brush with mortality when Sesame Street's kindly shopkeeper passed away and the show addressed it head on in a special Thanksgiving Day episode entitled "Farewell, Mr. Hooper." (Way to bury the lede there, writers.) With Thanksgiving approaching, what better way for the Goldbergs to spend it than gathered around the television, helping each other through the experience of losing a trusted TV friend who would certainly have been part of Adam, Barry and Erica's childhood. It'll double as foreshadowing for the very special series finale (if the show lasts that long) when Grandpa kicks the bucket.
The Release of "Like a Virgin" (November 1984)
They made it through the wilderness...you know they made it through. Didn't know how lost they were until they found Madonna. Seriously, how has oh-so-trendy Erica not been rocking out to the Material Girl all this time? (Besides licensing costs, natch.) And considering that several story lines have creepily revolved around Adam's pre-pubescent horniness, hearing this track would probably be the thing that pushes him into puberty at last. And we bet Wendi McLendon-Covey could do a hilarious Madonna impression.
The Launch of Top Gun (May 1986)
Nothing screams '80s more than Tom Cruise donning his Ray-Bans and romancing Kelly McGillis to the strains of "Take My Breath Away." We can just see a whole "wing man" themed episode, where a flight jacket-sporting Adam tries to hit on yet another tween girl Maverick-style, while Grandpa plays his Goose and Barry serves as his Iceman. And because no one can replace Michael Ironside, just pay him whatever money he asks to reprise his role as Lieutenant Commander Jester Heatherly, who happens to be in town to judge a beauty pageant or… something. Who cares -- just get Ironside.
The Premiere of The Simpsons (November 1989)
We can understand ABC not wanting to hype a competitor's programming, but c'mon… there's no way a kid like Adam wouldn't be watching Springfield's first family since its very first Christmas special, Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire aired on the then-struggling Fox network. We were within Adam's age range at the time and we know that The Simpsons became immediate appointment viewing that shaped our sense of humor for the decade to come. Besides, just spike his hair a little and the kid already looks like Bart.
The Release of Super Mario Bros. 3 (February 1990)
Technically, this NES classic didn't reach the U.S. until the second month of the last decade of the 20th century, but since chronology doesn't seem to matter on this show, that can easily be fudged. (Besides, the game did hit Japanese shelves two years earlier in 1988.) It may seem hard to believe now, but SM3 was the Grand Theft Auto of its day and the hype and enthusiasm amongst 8-bit gamers was off the charts as its Koopa-Day approached. It was also prominently featured in the 1989 Oscar-worthy feature-length commercial, The Wizard, which starred Fred Savage, the lead on The Wonder Years… which this show is a clear
rip-off of homage to. See, it's all connected! It's all about the Tanooki Suit, yo.
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