In the US: Tuesdays, 9/8c, ABC
80s retro is very in right now. Look around at all the revivals of 80s shows on TV and at the movies (Knight Rider, Miami Vice), films like Ted that yearn after the 80s and even shows like The Americans that are set in the 80s and you’ll see what I mean. Of course, at the end of the 80s, 60s retro was very in, which is why The Wonder Years was so popular.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, we now have what is probably best described as the 80s, Jewish version of The Wonder Years, in which writer Adam Goldberg gets various actors essentially to play the parts of his family in scenes drawn from his childhood, which he was precocious enough to video tape extensively.
And while that does give the show a certain heart and authenticity that a lot of other shows don’t have, that’s not really enough to support an entire show. The characters may have more genuine and plausible personality details than a lot of TV characters, but they’re not desperately compelling. Although it’s set in the 80s, there’s nothing in the show beyond the period dressing and references to 80s pop culture that really identify it as such or is peculiar to the 80s, beyond the fact that the kids aren’t downloading Internet porn on their phones. The situations and attitudes are more universal than 80s.
Where the show does well is in terms of plots, particularly those involving grandfather George Segal, which are actually funny. But there’s no magic moment here that makes you love the show or see it’s singular USP until the closing credits where you see the real and make-belief characters next to each other in shots. It’s enough to make me want to watch the next episode, but it’s not enough to make me think this is going to be a keeper.