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The Goldbergs - 1990-Something - Review

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The Goldbergs took a break from regular proceedings this week to air the failed spin-off pilot ‘1990-Something’, and I absolutely loved it.

As the title suggests the episode is set in the 90’s. The Goldberg kids have all moved on. John Glascott is now head of school. The only thing that hasn’t changed is Beverly still attempting to meddle.

The focus here though is very much on John Glascott. In 1980 something he’s the guidance teacher full of hope who doesn’t really get much screen time, which is a shame because Tim Meadows is a terrific actor with excellent comedic timing. Choosing to center the spin-off episode on him is a wise choice. As the head of school now he is still full of optimism and wants to make some changes to the school, to give it a more positive attitude. Those changes include getting rid of dodge-ball and anything that could be deemed as negative, which the other Teacher’s really don’t like. He suggests they have a school gathering, which Coach Mellor decides to turn into a pep rally with the other Teacher’s support. While Glascott assures Principal Ball that the school is safe in his hands, Principal Ball is sure that the school is doomed.

We’re then introduced to Nia Long who plays Glascott’s sister Lucy Somers. It took a little while to warm to her character Shay Mosley on NCIS: Los Angeles, but here she fits in straight away with her no nonsense attitude. When John visits her at the DMV where she works and a customer gets irate, she resets the counter to #1. It’s the type of move Beverly would make, and it’s clear that if the spin-off does take off, Lucy Somers will be the Beverly type character. Also introduced are Lucy’s daughters, Felicia and Gigi. Felicia is in danger of falling in with the wrong crowd and making many unwise decisions, while Gigi is socially awkward with her Uncle’s sense of optimism. Glascott offers Lucy a job working for him so that her daughters can attend the school. She’s hesitant at first but quickly changes her mind.

Unfortunately for them Felicia very quickly falls in with the wrong group of people, and Gigi is obliviously suffering at the hands of her peers within 5 minutes. Lucy is worried about the people Felicia has fallen in with, and John suggests that she give her space to express her feelings. Coach Mellor on the other hand thinks she needs competition to build her character. Lucy decides to stick with her brother’s methods for now. This brings us the excellently awkward moment of Coach Mellor referring to Glascott as his brother thinking that Lucy is just using the world as a turn of phrase, and Glascott explaining that he is actually her brother.

After witnessing more of Felicia’s behaviour, Lucy goes to Coach Mellor behind John’s back and asks for help. Coach Mellor then decides to bring out the now banned dodgeballs and set Felicia free on the court, and she is well and truly in her element. Unfortunately John isn’t happy with this and when Coach Mellor airs some home truths, John responds by firing him. It isn’t long before Lucy hears about this, and tells her brother that she asked Mellor to intervene. This gives us a bit of personal character development between the siblings as some long standing issues come to the fore.

The next day at the pep rally AKA All-School Community Share Session, Coach Mellor interrupts proceeding with moving his trunk out of his office. A student then interrupts and a pep rally is almost started up but John puts a stop to it. John invites the students to come to the mic and share their ‘specialness’ and Gigi is the first to put her hand up to Lucy and Felicia’s dismay. John however is still full of positivity and gladly welcomes her up to the mic. She explains that she has formed a club which is looking for members and she wants to tell the school what they’re about. Lucy pleads with John to put a stop to it, but he refuses to claiming that they have to support Gigi’s passion.

That passion turns out to be singing Backstreet Boys ‘I Want It That Way’ very badly. Felicia then joins her mum in calling for John top stop it before the other students turn on her. Unfortunately they’re a bit late for that and John is forced to turn to Coach Mellor for help in saving Lucy from humiliation. They join her in the Backstreet Boys singalong, and soon enough the whole school is joining them and Gigi is saved from humiliation.

John and Coach Mellor come to an understanding, as do John and his sister, and everything ends rather well. There’s of course still time for Beverly’s second cameo of the episode as she storms into Glascott’s office, only to be put in her place by Lucy. Having Nia Long and Wendi McLendon-Covey go head to head is something I never knew I needed. Beverly is very much a fan of Lucy and so is John.

After watching 1990-Something, I really need ABC to give the go ahead to the spin-off. Pilot episodes are always tricky to navigate, and even more so when it's a spin-off. Expectations come with it and I think the writers nailed it here. The episode did a great job in setting up the main storyline and dynamics between the characters, whilst also spreading a few crumbs for future character development. Some parts were predictable and cliché, but it is a comedy, so that is to be expected.

What are your thoughts on the episode? Share your thoughts in the comment section down below.

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