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The Goldbergs wallows in a decade’s worth of shame and guilt.

BY DEAN ROBBINS

The 1980s take a beating in The Goldbergs (8 p.m. Tuesday, ABC). An adult narrator looks back on his childhood in the days when REO Speedwagon seemed profound and even middle-aged moms wore a Madonna hairdo. The Goldbergs are a hostile-yet-loving family with a nutty grandfather (George Segal), a bossy mother (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and a dyspeptic dad (Jeff Garlin), plus three kids for the adults to yell at. Dad is the champion yeller, though the narrator insists his insults are really endearments cloaked in harsh language. When Dad snarls, “You’re not a total moron all the time,” a subtitle appears with a translation: “I love you.”

The Goldbergs could have settled for easy laughs about Burt Reynolds and Gobots, but it wants to be more than just an ’80s parody. It wants to find humor in an unsettling family dynamic that feels all too real (indeed, the series is based on producer Adam F. Goldberg’s own childhood). I found myself both laughing and cringing at the mixture of guilt, shame and affection.

The Goldbergs is the hardest-to-watch sitcom of 2013-14. Translation: I love it.

Mom

Monday, 8:30 p.m. (CBS)

Just when you think oldfashioned, multicamera, laughtrack sitcoms are dead, here comes producer Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men) to
prove you wrong. Lorre’s latest throws one problem after another at its
hapless protagonist, Christy (Anna Faris): a dead-end waitressing job,
an incorrigible tramp of a mother (Allison Janney), a promiscuous
daughter (Sadie Calvano) and a married boyfriend (Nate Corddry).
Overwhelmed by the chaos in her life, Christy is reduced to reciting
“daily affirmations.”



The Blacklist

monday, 9 p.m. (NBC)

T

he Blacklist is
the rare dramatic series with a criminal mastermind worthy of the name.
Raymond Reddington (James Spader) is a military officer who turned to
the dark side for mysterious reasons. For equally mysterious reasons,
this reptilian character offers to work with the FBI on tracking
high-level terrorists. His only condition is that he deal exclusively
with Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), a new agent who knows nothing about
him and wonders why he knows everything about her.



Hostages

monday, 9 p.m. (NBC)

In
this new dramatic series, a happy family is held hostage by domestic
terrorists. The mother (Toni Collette) is a prominent surgeon who will
be operating on the President of the United States the next day.
Carlisle (Dylan McDermott) and his goons break into her house and insist
that she surreptitiously kill the president during the procedure. If
she refuses, he will have her husband and kids murdered.

It’s a classic case of good guys versus bad guys … or is it?

Hostages keeps you pleasantly confused while delivering one gripping scene after another.


Trophy Wife

Tuesday, 8:30 p.m (ABC)

The
blond trophy wife is usually an object of ridicule, but in this new
sitcom, she’s the heroine. Kate (Malin Akerman) marries an older man
(Bradley Whitford) who comes with a chaotic extended family: a flaky
ex-wife (Michaela Watkins), a mean ex-wife (Marcia Gay Harden) and
several children. The ex-wives are resentful of her, and the kids
suspicious, but Kate does her best to reform her party-girl ways and fit
in.

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