The Goldbergs Review: The Kara-te Kid (Season 4 Episode 16)

Reviews, The Goldbergs

The Goldbergs gives us an epic homage to The Karate Kid on Season 4 Episode 16.

I love when The Goldbergs dedicates entire episodes to classic eighties flicks.

“Barry Goldberg’s Day Off” (Season 2 Episode 14) and “Breakfast Club (Season 4 Episode 1) are two great episodes that come to mind.

Before I get into how well-done their tribute to the 1984 movie is, I must lament about Gerica. Can I not get one full episode where they are happy together?

Apparently, I cannot.

This episode takes place three weeks after they hooked up in “So Swayze It’s Crazy.” They have been sneaking around behind Evie’s back and neither of them feel good about it.

It accidentally comes out, and they try to enjoy being official while Evie is crushed.

Erica and Geoff are now the bad guys, the Zabkas.

The Zabka exchange is fantastic. If they aren’t going to be together, I’m glad we get this kind of argument before it’s kaput.

Geoff watches all the movies where William Zabka plays the bad guy and claims that he cannot be the Zabka. “I’m Geoff Schwartz, man. I can’t be the Zabka. I’m the sweet, lovable girl next door type. I’m the Elizabeth Shue!”

They end their argument admitting that they are both Zabkas, and this realization taints their relationship. Erica puts an end to it.

Geoff: I’ve known you for ten years, and the timing has never been right.
Erica: Someday.
Geoff: Hopefully.
Erica: Hopefully.
[“The Glory of Love” by Peter Cetera plays]

Excuse me while I cry and throw things.

I hate that they didn’t tell Evie immediately. When I said I was excited to see where this story line would take us, I did not mean this.

Related  The Goldbergs Review: The Scrunchie Rule (Season 5 Episode 17)
THE GOLDBERGS – “The Kara-te Kid” – (ABC/John Fleenor)

Heartache aside, the bulk of this episode revolves around Adam and the infamous other Adam Goldberg.

One thing that I love about this show is how self-aware it is. It pokes fun at itself and makes jokes at its own expense. I appreciate this.

This episode is loaded with moments like this, my favorite being the montage of every time Adam has referred to the other Adam Goldberg. Brilliant.

Also, I’ve noticed lately that the misfit couple, Johnny and Carla, have been used in scenes solely to make fun of the main characters. Erica expresses my attention to this.

Erica: Dear Lord, are you two just always lurking around to bag on people?
Johnny: For sure.
Carla: It makes me feel better about myself.

It’s exciting to notice these patterns and then have the show reference them.

The Goldbergs version of The Karate Kid stays true to the show as well as honor the film.

The other Adam Goldberg challenges Adam to a fight. Barry turns it into a “school sanctioned karate club” so Adam can learn to fight a bully, safely.

This sets up that final scene of the movie.

Adam has many senseis along the way; Uncle Marvin, Beverly, and Murray. They all have different techniques, but something his dad says is what motivates how he ultimately handles it.

Uncle Marvin makes him clean his apartment under the guise of training him. Beverly just wants to protect him.

Murray tells Adam a story of how he used to be the bully because he was an unhappy kid. When a kid was brave enough to stand up to him, he stopped.

Related  Preview: The Goldbergs: 1990-Something Spinoff Special

Adam takes this approach and the result is funny and kind of sweet.

The other Adam Goldberg was sure that Adam would wuss out. They find that they have more similarities than just their name, and discover that they are better off as friends than adversaries.

But they both have to face this crowd of people expecting some sort of public humiliation for one of the Adams.

They do a double crane kick, simultaneously knocking each other out. “That’s a tie. Both nerds get to keep their names.”

THE GOLDBERGS – “The Kara-te Kid” –  (ABC/John Fleenor)

I really love every bit of how this plot line plays out, from the movie references to that distinctive Goldbergs humor.

Stray Observations:

  • “Hey everybody, the pretentious film nerd is going to go by A.J. so we can tell the difference between him and the main stream film nerd.”
  • There are some great lines about the Adams fighting over the names. Adam Goldberg says as he signs up for the karate club, “I’m kicking butt and taking names. Literally.” Barry calls him Adam’s “same name nemesis, his namesis.”
  • Uncle Marvin making Barry and Adam clean his house is a funny little montage. “Shred my eight year old tax returns! Hiya!”
  • The Back to School reference! That is one of my favorite ’80s comedies.
  • “I’ll never stop worrying about you, but this is your battle. If you need to fight for your honor then you fight with everything you’ve got.” “I will, Mama.” That melts even my unsentimental mom heart.
  • Another great self-aware line: “You’re a good writer. Not good enough for books, maybe sitcoms or something.”
  • Martin Kove who played John Kreese in The Karate Kid movies makes an appearance in the tag scene. He says lyrics from the Joe Esposito song, “You’re the Best,” which accompanied the final championship scene in the film.
Related  ABC Announces Programming for the 2018/2019 Season

What did you think of this episode of The Goldbergs? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Reviewer Rating:

User Rating:

[Total: 3    Average: 3/5]


The Goldbergs airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on ABC.

Want more from Tell-Tale TV? Subscribe to our newsletter here!

Erin Allen

Erin is a former script supervisor for film and television. When she's not watching tv or movies she is reading, writing, thinking, or tweeting about tv or movies. She loves to read actual books and X-Files fan fiction. Her other passions include pointing out feminist issues, shipping Mulder and Scully, and collecting pop culture mugs. She is currently reviewing all of The X-Files at her blog, Buck Up Little Camper.

Leave a Reply