Yooh-hoo! Come Watch the Goldbergs!
Aug 23, 2011
Review by Merle Levy
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:The Goldbergs care about each other. This is not your typical TV family.
Cons:The purists will kvetch that this collection isn't from the Bronx years.
The Bottom Line:
"The Goldbergs" is fun to watch in a multi-generation group, but solo viewing can be cathartic. Please include your kids.
Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
Recommend this product?
I remember sitting on the floor of a Brooklyn tenement, watching Molly Goldberg raise her family in a Bronx tenement that looked so much like my surroundings. Molly was a quintessential Yiddishe Mame of the '50s. She gave her best to her family, tried to keep a Jewish identity within her assimilation, and didn't apologize for her ample torso.
"The Goldbergs" double DVD set from Timeless Media Group captures the last couple of seasons when Molly, Jake, Uncle David, Rosie, and Sammy moved to the suburbs like so many real-life Jewish families.
We had originally borrowed the DVD set to show to our Yiddish Club. Several members were disappointed that the episodes weren't from the Bronx years. I understand, but I can also appreciate this portion of Molly's life. My family lived it 20 years later when my father got a job in Los Angeles and we moved 3,000 miles into culture shock.
My favorites of the 10 episodes in the set include "Social Butterfly," "Dreams," "The Poet," and "Milk Farm." In "Social Butterfly," the family has just moved to the very gentile suburbs. Molly expected a hearty welcome like the ones new neighbors got back in the Bronx, but it just wasn't happening. Her neighbors weren't interested in gefilte fish, kugel, or brisket.
In later episodes, like "Dreams," Molly has endeared herself to the neighbors. One of them is an amateur psychiatrist who nearly ruins Molly's life with her dream interpretations.
"Milk Farm" had Molly making an attempt at weight loss in a "fat farm" that made "The Biggest Loser" look like an ocean cruise complete with a 24/7 buffet. It's expected that Molly would cheat, but the way she cheated was beautiful.
"The Poet" was different from the others because it was the time Molly almost strayed from her husband. In an effort for independence, she rode the train into the city and met a poet who nurtured Molly's love for literature and ultimately fell in love with her. This was daring for a family show, especially in the '50s.
The story of "The Goldbergs" is more than two DVDs. There is the back story you don't see but should learn about. Gertrude Berg not only played Molly Goldberg, she was the creator and writer of the show. She also fought NBC when they insisted she fire the first Jake Goldberg, Philip Loeb, who was blacklisted. Although Berg finally had to give in to keep the show on the air, she secretly continued to pay Loeb his salary.
During the show's early years, the Goldbergs introduced the non-Jewish world to Yom Kippur, Passover Seders, and Holocaust memorials. While these 10 episodes characterized a more assimilated version of the Goldbergs, there are hints for the Jewish Trivia Mavens. My personal favorite was when I recognized the melody Uncle David hummed while contemplating his next chess move. It was a nigun (melody for prayer)! This touched me more than Molly's knaidlakh!
I need to explain my joy: My mother often played cantorial recordings -- Yosele Rosenblatt and Moyshe Oyshe were the most popular in the '30s, '40s, and '50s -- that belonged to her father. None of the family attended regular services, but the melodies crept in. They were kneaded into dough, scrubbed with Brillo pads into copper bottom pans, and sewn into our living room curtains (that used to be a bedspread). I heard Uncle David hum, and every childhood memory flared within my consciousness.
Getting back to the DVDs, the rest of the cast includes: Robert H. Harris as Jake, Arlene McQuade as Rosie, Tom Taylor as Sammy, and Eli Mintz as Uncle David.
Rose and Sammy are Molly and Jake's teenage children. They're supportive to the plots but not featured, which was the way of family shows in that era. If a child was prominent in the show, he was incorrigible (Dennis the Menace) or paired with a dog (Lassie and Timmy, Rin-Tin-Tin and Rusty). It wasn't until the '60s that children in prime time programs were heard as well as seen. Of course, kiddie shows were an exception to the rule.
Watching "The Goldbergs" is the best thing you can do to cure what ails you -- visual chicken soup.
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for Groups
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