George SegalThe last appearance of ABC’s “The Goldbergs” on Wednesday was the epitome of Pops: a mixture of humor based on misunderstandings of the generations and popular but legitimate wisdom and seasoned with a lot of heart.
The family comedy from the 1980s, now in Season 8, concluded with a touching 48-second Video tribute to the longtime film and television star, who died on March 23, 87 as a result of a bypass operation.
When the episode ended, the screen changed to a message: Dedicated to our friend GEORGE. A series of clips followed with Segal in various scenes as grandfather Albert “Pops” Solomon, including some from his roles in the program’s signature film and TV replicas: Pops as Batman, Pops in a straitjacket, Pops as one of the Ghostbusters – where his amusing ignorance has been shown in pop culture.
“Who are you going to call? The Ghost Fellas,” he said, slaying the famous catchphrase.
The tribute also featured Segal in the banjo, an instrument he often played on late night shows, along with his pops giving family members loving hugs and heartfelt advice: “If you only believe in yourself like me, you can’t to lose.” The segment closed with a simple message on the screen: “We will miss you, George.”
The Goldbergs completed a long and successful film and television career for Segal, who received an Oscar nomination for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Got. and starred in films such as “The Hot Rock”, “Flower in Love”, “California Split” and “Fun with Dick and Jane”. Prior to “The Goldbergs,” he had a six-year run on the NBC comedy “Just Shoot Me!”
In the episode that preceded the tribute, Segal’s “Pops,” the father of Beverly and grandfather of Erica, Barry and Adam, played a typically small role in terms of screen time, but size shouldn’t be confused with meaning. Until the end, the character remained a charming co-conspirator of aspiring filmmaker Adam (Sean Giambrone) – the adolescent alter ego of series creator Adam F. Goldberg – and offered both comic relief and vital advice for life.
Wednesday’s episode opened when Adam re-enacted the innovative pencil sketch animation of A-ha’s 1985 music video “Take On Me,” starring Pops and mom Beverly (Wendy McLendon-Covey) as his co-stars.
Pops didn’t fully understand the technology, of course. “I still don’t understand why we need to be animated,” he said.
“No, I’ll do the animation after that,” Adam explained. “It’s called rotoscoping.”
“Does it hurt?” Pops answered.
“That’s a wrap for Pops,” Adam concluded.
For all the laughing stock, Segal’s Pops has always been a wise presence, starting a family of characters known for their moody looks. That came into play later in the episode when Pops acted as both a sounding board and attorney when Adam was trying to find ways to show his much less privileged friend Brea that he wasn’t a pampered mom’s boy.
“Instead of trying to convince Brea you aren’t spoiled, why don’t you show her by getting a (beeping) job?” Pops suggested.
Adam listened and got a job alongside Brea in an ice cream parlor, but he hated the hard work and came up with a plan to get Beverly to intervene so he would get fired.
“That’s a big mistake,” said Pops. As always, he was right.
Brea saw through the charade and left Adam out of work and (possibly) a girlfriend.
Pops wasn’t pleased. “You didn’t like to work hard so you took the easy way out. Brea doesn’t like that. Honestly, neither do I,” said Pops.
In the words of the narrator, adult Adam (Patton Oswalt), “Pops’ disappointment was a rude awakening.” The chaste Adam listened this time and got both his job and Brea back. Moral: Always listen to pops.
At the end of the video homage, Segal received one final award, an appearance on the production card of executive producer Goldberg. Goldberg, who based the series on his own upbringing and frequently mentions family members in the credits, concluded with a black and white picture of him and Segal.
It was a deserved place for a loved one in the family, be it the Goldbergs, “The Goldbergs,” or the millions of fans who have enjoyed Segal on film and television over the decades.