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'The Goldbergs' fan recap: Dungeons, dragons, and climbing rope in gym

Season 3 | Episode 20 | “Dungeons and Dragons, Anyone?” | Aired Apr 6, 2016

Way before Elsa instructed an entire generation to “let it go,” the Goldbergs learned that lesson in 1980-something. Adam’s challenge comes in the form of public-school educators separating the strong from the weak. You guessed it—I’m talking about gym class.

Adam and his friends dodge huge rubber balls, dangle pitifully from the bottom of ropes they are expected to easily climb, and always get picked last by the team captains. Even though adolescent physical education often stings, there is a place where they reign as champions: the world of Dungeons & Dragons.

Barry is quick to warn his geeky brother and his friends that they have to find a way to not get picked last in gym, before they go to high school, or they will never get a date and find love. Who knew so much of their future was riding on an ability to race a tossed tennis ball to a wall? Adam explains his plight to Coach Miller. The man in shorty shorts with a whistle around his neck holds Adam’s fate in his hands. Will he break the cycle of dorkdom and let Adam be a team captain? Drunk with power, Coach Miller agrees. DWEEBS REJOICE!

Adam isn’t the only one rejoicing. Erica has decided to go to college at Carnegie Melon University. Beverly thinks it’s too far away, but Murray agrees to drag his wife to a college prep session with Erica’s counselor. After dropping a string of F-bombs, Bev realizes that this is Erica’s chance to make all her dreams come true. She changes her tune just as Murray changes his. Who are these boys in the CMU brochure, and why do they look so suspicious? There’s no way he’s letting her go.

In fact, he tries to convince Erica that Goldberg University is the perfect fit. They have a huge cafeteria (the kitchen), spacious dorm rooms (Erica’s bedroom), a cool mascot (the dog), and a wise old faculty member who hangs out in the student lounge (Pops sitting on the couch in the living room). Erica storms out, and Beverly blames Murray for being irrational. That’s her job!

Beverly sits with Pops, who is watching Back to School, starring Rodney Dangerfield. Pops comments that this is the best movie ever! This old guy gets to go to college with his kid. He’s living the dream! Suddenly, a smile creeps over Bev’s face.

Meanwhile, Adam preps for his big day as team captain. Barry tells him that he can’t pick his weenie friends. He has to pick the jocks and earn their respect. Adam agrees and picks all the athletes to be on his team, leaving Dave Kim and the others in his wake. Never fear; he’s climbing the social ladder by stepping on all of them. One day, they will all be cool! Adam crushes it in class that day. Coach Miller is so impressed by his effort, he assigns Dave Kim as the team captain for the following day.

Coach: We’ll have the same teams tomorrow. You pick the game we play. It can be anything you want. Chess, word puzzles, something with a calculator.

Dave Kim picks Dungeons & Dragons. Game one.

Adam tries to teach his new jock friends the ins and outs of the complicated game, but they are too busy wrestling and fighting over the imaginary affection of the busty chick who lives in a tree. Adam is furious that no one is paying attention. Enter Barry. Since he speaks both dude and nerd, he’s able to translate. The jocks simply don’t understand the rules and feel chastised when Adam yells at them for being morons. Then it hits Adam: He feels the same way playing basketball. Adam calms down, the jocks listen up, and Barry bridges the communication gap. All hail Big Tasty!

Upstairs, Bev apologizes to Erica for Murray’s behavior. She gives Erica permission to go to CMU, stating that they will have so much fun! Before Erica can properly celebrate, Beverly pops open her denim jacket to reveal a CMU T-shirt. Mama is going to college too! They will be roommates, share a hot plate, and rush a sorority. Beverly will finally get to be Erica’s mom and sister! Erica does not receive the news well. She vows she’s not going to go to college at all. Murray and Bev finally come to their senses. Letting go of their daughter is more important than holding on. It looks like Erica is going to be a Tartan!

The next day, the jocks and the dweebs battle it out, Dungeons & Dungeons–style, in the center court of the gymnasium. The class is no longer divided; they are united as warriors. Dave Kim can’t believe that Adam taught the athletes to play D&D. That was the one thing he was good at, and Adam took that away from him. In a heroic moment, Adam looks at his friend and metaphorically swan-dives into a gelatinous cube of deadly Jell-O. He no longer needs the respect of the jocks. He falls on his sword for something more important—his friends.

Totally Rad Quotables

Beverly: I heard all about that game on 60 Minutes. A stuffy preacher from the Midwest said this was a gateway to black magic.
Adam: That’s okay, Mama. I won’t play the thing that makes my heart happy.
Beverly: Oh, Shmoopie! Dungeons and Snuggles!

Erica: I’ve decided to stay in state for college.
Beverly: That’s where I live!

Barry: My body has been infected by my brother’s crippling geekery. I try to fight it, but it’s too powerful.

Erica: I get no respect.
Beverly: That’s what Rodney Dangerzone says!

The Goldbergs airs Wednesdays at 8:30/7:30C 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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