The Philadelphia-inspired sitcom The Goldbergs began its 10th season Wednesday without Murray, the pants-hating Eagles fan played by Jeff Garlin.
After playing Murray for the show’s entire run, Garlin exited in December following an investigation into alleged misconduct on the set and was ultimately written off the show.
So how did The Goldbergs do away with Murray? They hit the fast-forward button.
The first episode of the new season begins several months after Murray’s death. As an adult Adam (voiced by Patton Oswalt) sums up the events that have happened since last year’s season finale, the camera focuses on Murray’s empty chair.
“Just a few months ago, out of nowhere, we lost my dad,” Adam says as the music turns solemn. “We will always love you dad, always. And we’ll find a way to continue on together, because after all, we’re the Goldbergs.”
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The episode never mentions how Murray died, but given the reasons for Garlin’s exit, it’s surprising how much of it is focused on the show’s missing patriarch.
Adam (Sean Giambrone) plays a Field of Dreams prank on Barry (Roy Gentile) not realizing the father-son connection in the film. Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey) reveals her shrine full of Murray’s clothes in the upstairs closet, and in a bid to purge gets rid of her late husband’s well-used recliner (referred to as “Mr. Chair”). That upsets Erica (Hayley Orrantia), who is pregnant and now married to Geoff (Sam Lerner).
As with just about every episode of The Goldbergs, there is an emotional reconciliation in the third act, one which involves the missing chair and Ben “Pop Pop” Goldberg (played by TV veteran Judd Hirsch).
“It honestly feels like a huge reboot for us,” co-showrunner Chris Bishop told Entertainment Weekly last month.
So did Garlin know his character was being killed? According to co-showrunner Alex Barnow, the comedian knew he was being written out of the show, but wasn’t sure if he was aware Murray was being killed off.
A representative for Garlin did not respond to a request for comment.
» READ MORE: How TV sees Philly: From ‘The Goldbergs’ to ‘It’s Always Sunny’ and ‘This Is Us’
Garlin exited the show late last year after multiple allegations of misconduct on the set of The Goldbergs led to an HR investigation. One unnamed Goldbergs employee told Deadline that Garlin was “extremely verbally and emotionally abusive” on the set. Other eyewitnesses described an incident where he screamed at a female stand-in.
Garlin gave an interview with Vanity Fair in which he repeatedly described his actions as “silly.”
“It’s always the same thing,” Garlin said. “It’s about me and my silliness on set. They don’t think it’s appropriate. I do. That’s where we’re at.”
Meanwhile, Garlin continues to star in HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, where he plays Larry David’s agent. The show was renewed for a 12th season in August, and Jeff Schaffer — a longtime writer and producer on the show — said in an interview last month shooting was expected to begin this fall. No release date has been announced.
The Goldbergs, which remains one of ABC’s top comedies, is based on the upbringing of creator Adam F. Goldberg, who grew up in Jenkintown and went to William Penn Charter School. Garlin’s character was based on Goldberg’s own father, Murray, who died in 2008.
Less successful was The Goldbergs spinoff, Schooled, which premiered in 2019 but was canceled following its second season.
ABC’s Wednesday night comedy lineup features The Conners (minus Roseanne Barr) at 8 p.m., followed by The Goldbergs at 8:30. Abbott Elementary, another Philadelphia-inspired sitcom created by Quinta Brunson, airs at 9 p.m.. It’s followed by Home Economics, featuring Topher Grace, at 9:30 p.m.
» READ MORE: How an ’80s-set episode of ‘The Goldbergs’ started as a Phillies pitch (with Mike Schmidt catching)