I watched the pilot episode of The Goldbergs last night as my first venture into the upcoming 2013-2014 season (it’s available on ABC.com; the series doesn’t launch on air until the 24th.) I can’t say that I was bowled over with its comedy. The series is built around a creator telling some version of his younger family life (a la Brooklyn Bridge) with an adult version of a child character narrating (a la Wonder Years) while they aggressively put on display the items that make the period it is set on So Different From Ours, with everyone making references to the aspects of fashion/culture/technology which can still be recognized today as being from a specific era (a la That ‘70s Show, etc.)
While this show did not inspire me to want to see a lot more of it, it did set me thinking that it would be fun to try to make an episode or two of this kind of show set very much in the present. No, I don’t just mean voiced-over-from-the-future-by-a-different-actor-who-is-supposed-to-be-one-of-the-guys-on-screen (obviously, we already have How I Met Your Mother); I mean the exaggerated focus on the items of the exact moment that it’s taking place. “Hi mom! I was just watching The Goldbergs, bold new series that I’m sure will run forever! Got it on my iPhone 5.” “Sorry, Bryant, but it’s not as cool as my iPhone 5S I just stood in line for. Look, it knows my finger!” (Mom puts her index finger on the phone’s button. “Now it knows me!” (switches to the adjacent finger) “now it doesn’t” (switching back and forth) “Now it knows me, now it doesn’t, now it knows me, now it doesn’t.” “I would pretend not to know you, too, if you kept sticking that middle finger at me!” It would be fun trying to get it just right, so that if we watch it thirty years from now, it will feel just like The Goldbergs does now.
(And for the intense TV folks, no, there is no sign I saw that they’re trying to embrace the historical import that comes with the title they chose. As for what the show is, it doesn’t have the sense that it is intended to carry some dramatic overtones like Wonder Years or really meaningfully capture the moment and locale like Brooklyn Bridge. Of the batch mentioned before, it’s got more of The ’70s Show in its heart, but not that particular comedic texture – it’s still about a family, whereas ’70s w