ABC’s 1980s-set family sitcom The Goldbergs has paid homage to all sorts of moments from that decade, from sports (Ron Hextall’s goal! Veterans Stadium!) to movies (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back To The Future, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) to music (everything from the Beastie Boys through Pat Benetar). And they’ve manged to get some impressive cameos, too, from Goldberg through Ruben Amaro Jr. through Charlie Sheen and Mike Quick. But Wednesday night’s episode maybe took it to another level, not only centering the episode around Mel Brooks’ famed Star Wars (and other science fiction) parody Spaceballs, but closing it with a voice-over cameo from Rick Moranis himself, reprising his Spaceballs role as villain Dark Helmet:
That’s pretty awesome, featuring jokes, a Schwartz duel, and a Spaceballs 2 script discussion. And it’s unusual to see, as Moranis largely retired from acting of any sort to focus on raising his children. His most recent on-screen appearance on IMDB is the 2007 Bob and Doug McKenzie anniversary special, with his last one before that 1997’s Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves! and his last voice-over credit Brother Bear 2 in 2006. And he famously turned down even a well-paid cameo in the new Ghostbusters in 2015., but has occasionally shown up for things such as last year’s SCTV reunion for charity. It’s cool to see him involved in this, especially with Goldberg being such an unabashed fan of Spaceballs, as he told USA Today‘s Bill Keveney:
Goldbergs creator Adam F. Goldberg, who grew up a fan of Moranis and Brooks, worked for several weeks to get a commitment from Moranis, who has only done a few voice roles after a career that spanned SCTV, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Ghostbusters.
“I truly think Rick Moranis gave the most underrated and brilliant comedic performance in any ‘80s movie as Dark Helmet,” Goldberg said in a statement. “I’ve been a lifelong fan of his work and became obsessed with having him reprise the role on my show. As an added bonus, maybe this even gets Spaceballs back in the conversation, and I can get my dream of helping make a sequel!”
The episode as a whole was a neat nod to Spaceballs, and also an interesting metatake on what happened to Goldberg last year, where right-wing Twitter users interpreted his tweets about that film’s incompetent leader President Skroob (played by Brooks himself) as being about President Trump. The episode largely followed those lines, with school paper editor and Adam’s girlfriend Jackie interpreting his cartoon ad for a Mel Brooks fan club as political satire of President Reagan, which then led to political activists on both sides arguing about him and a hilarious dinner conversation with Jackie’s parents about “Star Wars” (they meant the proposed missile defense system, but he gave them a detailed rundown of the movies). And Moranis’ appearance in Adam’s dream as Dark Helmet was a great way to cap that off, especially of the discussion of the script for Spaceballs 2: The Search For More Money. Maybe that film (which started as an in-joke in the actual movie, but has been discussed somewhat seriously by Brooks at points) will someday be made, but until then, we’ll always have this Dark Helmet appearance.