Last night, ABC debuted Schooled, the ’90s-set spin-off to The Goldbergs, which is actually different than the original ’90s-set The Goldbergs spin-off that was passed over and then aired as a “special” episode of The Goldbergs last year. The original spin-off tested very well, but ABC ultimately passed on it, but the hope was that by airing it, audiences would ask that it be brought back.
It worked, although the new Schooled has been retooled in one significant way. While the original ’90s spin-off starred Tim Meadows (as the principal John Glascott), Bryan Callen (reprising his role as the Coach), and Nia Long (as a new teacher in Adam’s old school), the new iteration replaces Nia Long’s character with another character from The Goldbergs, Lainey, played by AJ Michalka. The original spin-off was centered on Nia Long’s character — sister to Tim Meadows’ Glasscott — and her two children. What’s somewhat bizarre here is that, while Nia Long’s character got scuttled, one of her daughters remains, Felicia (Rachel Crowe) remains.
I have mixed feelings on the retooling. I liked the Nia Long backdoor pilot, and obviously, it would have been really nice to have another sitcom featuring a Black lead character, especially as the original pilot was told from Long’s POV. I also like Lainey a lot, and understand why ABC would want to spin The Goldbergs off with one of its most popular characters (Bryan Callen and Tim Meadows are great on The Goldbergs, but they are tertiary characters, and while Lainey is not a series regular, she’s been on the show as much as Adam this year). I’m also guessing that neither Long nor Michalka would’ve agreed to do the show unless they were the POV character, which would have ruled out bringing them both back for the spin-off.
In any respect, Long is gone, and Michalka is in. The problem, however, was in extracting her from her storyline on the ’80s-set The Goldbergs, where she was engaged to Barry Goldberg. Had they gotten married, it would have been hard to keep Barry out of the spin-off, and Troy Gentile is already busy on The Goldbergs (although, his character is half as interesting without Lainey).
So, in last night’s episode of The Goldbergs, which aired before Schooled, Lainey and Barry broke up, amicably, realizing that they were both too young to get hitched. Lainey, in fact, moved to Los Angeles to continue pursuing her musical career. It was a bizarre episode, however, because it spliced in several actual scenes from The Wedding Singer. Beverly wanted Robbie (the Adam Sandler character) to perform at Barry and Lainey’s wedding and negotiated with his manager, played both in the movie and in the present by Jon Lovitz. Moreover, at the end of the episode, when Barry gets on a plane to ask Lainey to go to Los Angeles with her, they find themselves side characters in the climactic scene between Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in The Wedding Singer.
It was weird.
In any respect, in the ’90s, we see that Lainey’s trip to Los Angeles failed, and aside from being one of the background singers in the Chili’s baby back ribs commercial (“I want my baby back baby back baby back ribs”), she wasn’t able to make it as a musician. So, she returns to her old school to teach music, although she has no real qualifications to teach music. She does, however, have one very vocal champion in her corner: Beverly Goldberg.
It’s a fine episode. While the other attempt at a ’90s spin-off felt like a new show with a couple of familiar characters, this one feels more like an extension of The Goldbergs — they are spiritually very much alike, right down to the voice overs (here, from Lainey). A problem is presented (a difficult student), the problem is dealt with by incorporating decade-specific pop culture references (Lainey, as music teacher, convinces the difficult student to sing by incorporating grunge), and a lesson is learned while a decade-specific song plays (here Smashing Pumpkins). Schooled, like The Goldbergs in its sixth season, has been reduced to a likable, amiable formula perfect for family viewing. It’s a perfect complement to The Goldbergs, and that’s a compliment or a criticism depending on how you feel about The Goldbergs in its sixth season.
Header Image Source: ABC