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'The Goldbergs' season finale recap: 'Livin' on a Prayer'

Season 1 | Episode 23 | “Livin’ on a Prayer” | Aired May 13, 2014

Narrator Adam waxes nostalgic about what an enigma his dad can be. Seemingly simple on the outside, Murray occasionally drops some random fact about himself on his offspring — was in the Army, was in a plane crash, waited tables with Lou Reed — that keeps them guessing as to who their father really is and if they know him at all. When Bev tells Murray and the kids that someone broke Murray’s high school basketball free-throw record and the school wants to honor him at a banquet, the kids are surprised, and Barry bugs his dad for pointers on how to be good at basketball and popular in high school.

Murray wants nothing to do with any of it.

In the cafeteria, Barry tries to get the attention of his dream girl, Lexy Bloom, who mistakes him for the Swedish exchange student. His solution: Have a party when his parents are at the banquet on Saturday and invite the whole school. As he plans the high jinks that will ensue — really, if you’re planning high jinks, there will likely be no high jinks — Pops emerges and chimes in that he’s down for the cause. “Really?” Barry can’t believe his grandfather would condone a party thrown without his parents’ knowledge. Normally Pops wouldn’t, but, Pops says, “I’ve been tracking your highs and lows this year and, frankly, you need this.” It’s a sad state of affairs when a grandparent goes rogue to help improve your social life.

The Goldbergs: season 1, episode 23, MurrayThe night arrives and Barry nearly implodes his party plans by acting suspiciously with Bev. Good thing Pops is there to reassure her that all is well.

At the game, the entire school fetes Murray with applause and back-patting. Just as he starts to enjoy the attention, the principal offers him a basketball signed by the team in honor of his 25-year-old record. The crowd chants for him to “shoot that ball,” Murray steps to the line, he shoots — aaaannnndddd he misses. Much humiliation follows.

Meanwhile Barry’s party couldn’t be more flaccid. Pops recruits Erica to invite her friends over. One call, and the house runneth over with the high school’s in-crowd, including one Lexy Bloom. When the frat guys show up, Erica begins losing her cool. They’ve raided her mom’s closet and rechristened the occasion a “sweater party.” The Goldbergs: season 1, episode 23, EricaErica: “That’s not a thing!” Pops tasks her with shutting down the event. She, in turn, passes that duty off to Barry, who refuses and plans to “party on till the break of dawn.” Erica points out that it’s her world, and he’s just living in it — these are all her friends. She crosses the line when she directs Barry’s attention to Lexy Bloom making out with some guy in the corner.

Murray and Bev have a heart-to-heart in the car, in which Murray confesses that the reason he doesn’t talk about the past is because it was great, and these days — not so much.

Erica’s best friend, Lainey Lewis, pulls up and gives Barry a pep talk about what a great year he’s had, saying that there’s really no one else like him. He’s encouraged enough to brave the party again, until his parents drive up. “Run! Ruuuunnnn!” wails young Adam, skittering off into the house. Bev, Murray and Barry collectively freak out — especially when Bev sees that her sweaters are now donned by teenage boys. Barry calms down long enough to give his parents the full sob story of his high school experience. This night, this party is the best he will ever have — “This is my moment!” Murray gives Barry 10 minutes to make a memory. Bev disapproves. Barry grabs his full rapper kit and hits the dance floor. His moves inspire awe and attract Lexy’s notice. Lainey dashes up to let Barry know, and in an effort to help make Lexy jealous, kisses Barry. Sparks unexpectedly fly — surprising, dismaying and enthralling them both simultaneously.

Murray and Bev bust in and break up the revelry. Barry is grounded for the entire summer — but basks in the glory of that one brief moment when he was a legend.

Murray starts to open up to his kids a bit more and even hits the court with his family. Narrator Adam offers a final thought: “When it comes to my childhood, I may not always remember exactly when something happened or exactly who was there, but I do know that it was 1980-something, and it was awesome.”

’80s music watch (in which I note the show’s aural indulgences): Bon Jovi, “Livin’ on a Prayer”

The Goldbergs airs on ABC.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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