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The Goldbergs - The Opportunity of a Lifetime - Review: "Dream Big"

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The Goldbergs was back from a 2 week break with ‘The Opportunity of a Lifetime’. The break honestly felt a lot longer than just 2 weeks, but it continued with the fine form that ‘Flash Little Flashdancer’ left off with in that it was a mighty fine episode.

Barry was once again the A storyline of this week. He was desperate to win a radio contest which offered the opportunity of throwing the first pitch at a Philadelphia Phillies game.

As a Brit whose only intake of sports comes from soccer, swimming, tennis & of course the diving championships, baseball and the American version of football completely and utterly confuse me. I’ve tried to understand both sports but it just ends up with a headache. However as a soccer fan, and having two teams that I love with all my heart, I know that sense of pure joy that blinded Barry and Murray all too well. It was only last year that I finally, after supporting them all of my life, got to visit Old Trafford and walking through the dressing room, museum and stands where so many of my favourite players have stood? It was a moment like no other. I have also been one of those people to enter a radio contest. Wasn’t to win the first pitch, but I did get an awesome signed shirt out of it.

Barry thinks he’s come up with the perfect system to make sure he is the 100th caller, and of course his system is anything bit. Adam tries to point out the errors with his system, but with Barry refusing to listen, he takes it upon himself to win the radio contest much to his brother’s horror. Barry is soon offering up random junk in his room as an exchange for the ticket which Adam refuses to accept, but does accept the offer of Barry being his smother protector; every time Beverly attempts to hug Adam, Barry has to step in the way. It’s a price Barry thinks is worth paying for tickets, and that’s something he ends up having to repeat a million times over probably as the smotherer attacks with hugs.

Murray joins Barry in the delirium of joy, delighted that for once a dumb dream that his kids have is something he can get behind. Surprisingly though Beverly has her doubts. She thinks Murray and Barry are putting him on too high a pedestal, expecting something to come from this, which just isn’t realistic for Barry. It was strange seeing Beverly be the voice of reason for once, but completely understandable given the circumstances. She was soon paying a visit to Coach Mellor for advice.

This is the first review I’ve done since the news of the spin-off was announced, so let me take a moment to fangirl! The back door pilot we saw earlier this season was absolutely perfect, and I’m so glad ABC decided to give the show another chance. Sure the spin-off is being slightly rejigged with Nia Long out and AJ Michalka stepping in, along with the centre of the spin-off changing to be more in the lines of a work place comedy. But Bryan Callen and Tim Meadows will still be on board, and they’re two of my favourite supporting actors on The Goldbergs, so I can’t wait to see what they get up to on the spin-off. Losing Nia Long is a blow, but AJ Michalka is the perfect replacement. I was extremely sad when she was downgraded from being a regular this season, as Lainey is another of my favourite supporting characters. She was slightly wasted in her relationship with Barry, and I adore her friendship with Erica, and most definitely intrigued to see how her place in the spin-off works.

Back to this weeks episode though and Coach Mellor informs Beverly that Barry doesn’t have any shot of his pitch for the Phillies leading to anything more. He’s not the most athletic of Coach’s pupils and if Ruben Amaro Jr who is one of the best won’t make it? Barry is totally screwed. He also points out that Beverly is usually the one with the extremely unrealistic expectations for her children, and I love that Beverly denied this whilst claiming all the careers that Barry could have once he leaves High School. She’s completely oblivious to the fact she is contradicting herself and it’s beautiful.

When Beverly returns home and tries to let Barry down gently, we get a great moment of Barry mistaking ‘don’t pitch’ for ‘dumb bitch’ and thinking that a pariah is a piranha. These comedic moments of Barry’s character is where Troy Gentile excels in his portrayal of him, and are a delight to watch compared to some of Barry’s other moments. Being completely blinded by his love for the Phillies, Murray sides with Barry over Beverly, even goes as far as to say if he doesn't support his kids he's failed as a father. Beverly hilariously points out she's usually the one building the kids up, whilst Murray has more realistic expectations. She even brings out her signature 'I have failed as a mother' phrase, which Barry then uses against her and saunters off whilst Beverly is trying to work out what just happened.

Murray and Barry are then outside playing catch, and since the gentle route of just trying to talk to them didn’t work, Beverly decides to give Murray a visual of her point. She instructs Barry to move all the way back and then throw the ball. Barry’s a bit confused as he thought the pitch could be made from wherever he wanted to stand, and as he starts throwing, Murray realizes this is all gonna blow up in Barry’s face. He throws the ball many a time, and it goes in many a different place including through the Goldbergs front window.

Wanting to save Barry from embarrassment, Murray asks Adam to take his place as pitcher but he refuses, as does Pops, who then asks Barry if he wants to do it. Barry then realizes that both his parents know he’s gonna screw this up and is downcast. Given how pleased and proud of him Murray was, I can get why Barry would want to go through with the pitch, because this really was a rare occasion where Murray wasn’t yelling at him. But as a parent once the cloud of judgement has worn off, protecting your kids is the #1 priority. So I can see both points of view.

All is well as ends well though, as Barry does make a pitch, Beverly is absolutely ecstatic with happiness, Murray is proud as punch and Barry & Murray are playing catch like old times.

The other storyline of the episode was Erica’s college adventures. Lainey paid her a visit and after the pretence had worn off, both admitted the basically hated their lives. Going off to college and being away from home for the first time sounds like a great adventure, but the reality is often quite different. Sometimes what you’re studying doesn’t fulfil you as much as you thought it would, you develop different interests and suddenly taking tests and building towards one career is really boring, when you could be doing something different with your life.

In our Erica, college Erica and Lainey’s case, that something different is starting their own band. They’re completely terrible at first, ripping off ‘I Love Rock and Roll’ which they don’t realize until they’ve performed at a club, and have all their gear stolen. But singing for bus fare back home, it gives Erica a newfound determination. I don’t often speak of Patton Oswalt’s narration as the older Adam Goldberg, but I think it had a fantastic point this week. In life there are going to be many obstacles and false starts that come your way, but if you have the determination and belief in yourself, then you can achieve whatever you want to do.

Sure packing college in is a massive risk and I doubt that Murray or Beverly will be too happy with Erica’s decision, and it could be seen as character regression, given she’s spent so long wanting to get away from her crazy family. But if Erica leaving college means that we get more of her on our screen? I’m not going to complain at all. Episodes featuring her really are the best episodes, since they tend to bring a balance of sorts to the show, and the worst episodes this season have been ones where she hasn’t featured.

What did you think of ‘Opportunity of a Lifetime’? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and don’t forget to tune into The Goldbergs next Wednesday at 8pm.

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