ABC’s The Goldbergs is a love letter the 1980s and contains a veritable cornucopia of pop culture references and jokes about decade in each and every single episode. While it’s next to impossible to list every single 1980s reference on The Goldbergs, we’re going to run down some of each episode’s geekier and more obscure pop culture moments. Please note that this column tries to cover only the “unique” references that appear in each episode, while passing on the posters, toys and other background pieces that appear in every episode and are irrelevant to the plot.
Troop Beverly Hills
Erica and her friends have an annual tradition of throwing a pajama party and watching Troop Beverly Hills every year. Troop Beverly Hills was a relatively obscure comedy film about a shopaholic (Shelley Long from Cheers) who becomes leader of a local Wilderness Scouts troop to impress her recently separated husband. Though her methods are unorthodox, Shelley Long turns the Wilderness Scout troop around, impressing her husband enough to take her back. It…wasn’t a very good movie.
“How many times I’ve gotten caught in a well?”
Barry says he needs a dog because of all the times he’s gotten stuck in a well. Lassie, the star of the classic TV series by the same name, often was credited with saving his owner Timmy from getting caught in the well. However, while Timmy fell into a lot of things (badger holes, live minefields, a quicksand pit, a tiger’s mouth) he never actually fell into a well on the TV show. Timmy was a pretty big idiot, though, possibly even stupider than Barry.
Nintendo Powers sweatshirt
When Adam sets up the spy equipment in the basement, he’s wearing a Nintendo Power sweatshirt. Nintendo Power was Nintendo’s official magazine and published strategy guides, reviews and features of upcoming Nintendo video games. The magazine ran from 1988 all the way to 2012.
Barry says he wants a “McGruff” breed of dog, which Adam reminds him is impossible since McGruff is a cartoon. McGruff the Crime Dog was a cartoon dog that appeared on public service ads through the 1980s and 1990s to promote crime awareness in children. Police officers used McGruff costumes and puppets to help children get comfortable with law enforcement. Currently, McGruff appears in commercials warning people of identity theft. Ironically, the actor who voiced McGruff is currently serving a prison sentence for multiple drug and weapons charges.
Murray makes Lucky a specialized “Ron Paworski” Eagles jersey. Jaworski was the Eagles quarterback during the early 1980s and led the team to their first Super Bowl appearance. Jaworksi currently works as an analyst for ESPN.
Barry mentions that he thinks Sorbo is the last letter of the Greek alphabet. That’s probably a reference to Kevin Sorbo, an actor best known for playing Hercules in Hercules: The Incredible Journey and Xena: Warrior Princess. Sorbo also starred in Andromeda, a TV series based on a scrapped Gene Roddenberry idea. Since Hercules didn’t appear on TV until 1994, it’s entirely possible I misheard this joke.
Luck Tin Tin
The final scene of the movie shows a home video starring “Luck Tin Tin”, a crimefighting dog. That’s a spoof of Rin Tin Tin: K-9 Cop, a TV series about a police officer and his canine partner. The series was known as Katts and Dog in Canada, a reference to the police officer’s last name.