‘The Goldbergs’ “Barry Goldberg’s Day Off” Review

Troy Gentile as Barry Goldberg in ABC's "The Goldbergs"
Bueller? No, that’s Troy Gentile as Barry Goldberg in ABC’s “The Goldbergs”

ABC’s television comedy The Goldbergs is my generation’s answer to The Wonder Years. Equal parts funny and sweet with just the right amount of ’80s pop culture references for a geek like me, this sophomore comedy has easily become my family’s favorite TV show. The February 25th episode “Barry Goldberg’s Day Off” wasn’t the typical installment for this series, but as far as ’80s-defining pop culture nostalgia goes, this could easily be its best!

Though The Goldbergs regularly throws nods to movies such as Ghostbusters, Tron, and other “1980-something” movies, only last season’s Goonies-themed episode comes close to the dedication of “Barry Goldberg’s Day Off”. This episode was essentially a love letter to the John Hughes classic film starring Matthew Broderick, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and it did everything in its power to reference all the iconic scenes from the movie. Taking an honest look, the actual premise for kicking off this stroll down memory lane (that middle sibling Barry Goldberg was frustrated at being excluded from his school’s Junior Royal Court while his girlfriend won the popular vote and he needed a day away from all his frustrations) was a bit weak, but once you suspend disbelief you’ll certainly enjoy the ride.

From brothers Adam and Barry beginning the episode quoting Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and arguing who was a better match for Ferris or Cameron, executive producer and namesake Adam F. Goldberg lets the audience know that his love for the Hughes classic is on point, and he is committed to staying true to both Bueller and his Goldberg characters. As Barry enlists Pops and Adam to accompany him on his day off, hopping from the art museum to a Phillies game, Ericka perfectly embodies the role of Jennifer Grey’s envious Bueller character while mom Beverly continues to battle her insecurities of being a stay-at-home mom by working at a flower shop, and dad Murray is as affable as usual.

Without going through every plot point, just know that this episode touches some of the same beats as a typical Goldbergs episode: sibling rivalry, awkwardness and acceptance, and a love for family that brings it all together. This episode doesn’t have nearly the sentimentality of previous episodes, but what it may be lacking in that area is made up for in shot-for-shot scenes honoring Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Executive Producer Adam F. Goldberg spent the night of the show tweeting out some of these shot-for-shot scenes (to the delight of fans).

Mostly an excuse to thrill Ferris Bueller fans, overall this was a fun episode. A concise story, it can appeal to veterans and first-time viewers alike, but it certainly helps if you’re a fan of the Hughes classic. And, if nothing else, it gave us an excuse to remind ourselves of a time when Charlie Sheen was enjoyable. Not even the series finale of Two and a Half Men could do that.

Preston is a writer and graphic designer. He lives outside Atlanta, GA with his awesome wife and two amazing daughters (8 and 12). The host of the Gameroom Junkies Podcast, he has an affinity for VHS tapes and an obsession with arcade games and pinball machines. He has written for Paste and RETRO Magazines and is a founder of the Southern-Fried Gaming Expo.