• Small Wonder - Season One



    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: 2/16/2010
    Director: Various
    Cast: Dick Christie, Marla Pennington, Leslie H. Martinson
    Year: 1985
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Series:

    Back in 1985, who would have predicted in 2010 that I would be sitting around the staff room talking about a show like Small Wonder with a bunch of NYC teachers. Even stranger perhaps is coming home that night and finding a review copy waiting for me, especially when I didn’t even know it was coming out on DVD. So back I went to work the next day all psyched to let the dean of our school know that Small Wonder was “ON DVD.” (Note the enthusiasm in the caps…) These are the important things that teachers discuss, you know. But no… it doesn’t end there… a week or so later I’m sitting on my couch with a bunch of friends for a night of crappy, campy movies- one of those friends being a co-worker that was in on the infamous staff room Small Wonder conversation. How excited he was that the show we knew and loved and had conversed on so recently was ON DVD… (note, again, the caps). I only hoped that actually viewing it after such a lead up would prove positive. I mean, after all this, can I bring myself to go back into work and possibly crush my fellow teachers’ sheer existences by telling them that Small Wonder, dear sweet little robotic VICI, sucks when seen through a grown-ups eyes. Oh the humanity.

    Twenty-five years later, Small Wonder doesn’t hold up terribly well if you’re trying to get out of it what I can barely remember getting out of it as a kid. Watching it now the majority of enjoyment comes from making fun of the weird, outdated effects, the really dorky one-liners and the dirty jokes you didn’t know were there when you were ten. There are a lot of them! For those who were fans of this show when it originally ran and appreciate camp appeal, this set will surely bring hours of fun. For those of you who have never known the wonder of Small Wonder we have the Lawsons… Ted, a cybernetics engineer, Joan, a stay at home mom, and Jamie, their precocious son. Next door live the nosey and obnoxious Mr. and Mrs. Brindle with their even more nosey and obnoxious daughter Harriet. Most importantly though, we have V.I.C.I. (Voice-Input-Child-Identicant, lovingly pronounced “Vicki”), the child-robot Ted has built at home who has become one of the family. The show mostly revolves around Jamie and Vicki whose cover is being Jamie’s cousin. Still… her robotic voice, super strength, occasionally being found sleeping in a cupboard and random short-circuiting make The Brindles, and everyone, suspicious of her.

    Episodes include:

    Vicki’s Homecoming- We meet the Lawsons, and Ted introduces his family (and us!) to Vicki. *

    The Neighbors- We meet the Brindles, as they’ve invited themselves over for dinner!

    The Sitter- Jamie thinks he’s old enough to babysit himself. Ted and Joan agree to leave him “alone” for the night but little does Jamie know Ted’s programmed Vicki to be his babysitter.

    The Suitor- Warren, the school nerd, has fallen for Vicki! *

    Sibling Rivalry- Jamie starts to feel secondary in the Lawson household and decides to run away.

    Spielberg Jr.- Jamie does a film for a school project. Look out Hollywood!

    The Lie- Jamie must convince his parents Harriet’s cousin broke the teapot and not him. Lots of child abuse jokes… good times!

    The Bully-Ted teaches Jamie to defend himself when the school bully has got his eye on Jamie. When that doesn’t work, Jamie realizes Vicki’s the one to teach that bully a lesson.

    Slightly Dishonorable- Vicki doing Jamie’s homework all the time finally gets him in the end when he ends up on the honor roll!

    The Adoption- When Mrs. Brindle starts snooping and gets Child Services on The Lawsons, they must adopt Vicki… problem is, she needs a physical so Jamie must take it in her place!

    Child Genius- Newly adopted Vicki must start being home-schooled so Joan must finish school to get her teaching degree.

    Ted’s New Boss- Mr. Brindle gets the promotion Ted deserved which makes things even more uncomfortable when The Brindles have a fire and must stay at the Lawsons’. Parrot included. *

    Brainwashed- Vicki starts hanging out with annoying Harriet and turns into a brat… tantrums and all!

    The Burrito Story- Jamie and his friend Reggie start a business selling burritos but it’s hard work. Until Vicki gets in on it…

    The Camping Trip- When Reggie’s dad has to work and the boys’ camping trip might fall through, Ted and Joan decide to take them. Harriet tags along.

    Love Story- Jamie falls for his first love and decides to throw a big party to impress her. Unfortunately she doesn’t show up alone…

    Substitute Father-Ted, busy with work and golf, gets jealous when Jamie starts hanging around with Mr. Brindle.

    The Robot Nappers- Another robotics company shows an interest in Ted’s expertise… or is it Vicki they’re really interested in? *

    The Company Takeover- Ted might lose his job when his company gets bought out. Jamie has a garage sale to raise money.

    Good Ol’ Lou- Ted, looking to get the family in shape, programs Vicki to be their personal trainer.

    Like Father, Like Son- Ted wants Jamie to go out for the football team and carry on his legacy. Vicki’s the real football star of the family though!

    Vaudeville Vicki-An old vaudeville actor is convinced that Vicki is his daughter… especially when he sees how quickly she picks up his dance routine. Guest stars Ken Berry.

    The Real Facts of Life- When Vicki relays the story of the birds and the bees as told to her by Ted, Jamie thinks Ted has a few things to learn…

    The Grandparents- Ted’s parents find out that Vicki is actually a robot and they have a hard time believing it. *

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Small Wonder is presented in its original 1:33:1 full frame format. Picture quality is as good as can be expected with bright colors and crisp lines. The effects are terrible… haha… but twenty-five years later, that’s where a lot of the charm of this series shines through.

    English language track only, no subtitles. Dolby Digital 2.0. Pretty much what you’d expect.

    Extras on this four-disc set include original promos for each episode in the season as well as a fan art gallery. As a lover of weird nostalgic tributes I had very high hopes for the fan gallery and was, unfortunately, extremely disappointed. One might think to themselves, “How much appreciation could there be for this show really?” and that may be a valid argument… still... as a visitor to the Dukes of Hazzard Museum in Nashville, TN I guess maybe my expectations for a Small Wonder tribute were a bit unrealistic. Also on this are five commentary tracks (indicated above by the *) from stars Dick Christie, Marla Pennington-Rowan and Jerry Supiran. Two tracks also include Edie McClurg and one includes Darryl Bartley.

    The Final Word:

    Not sure if Shout Factory will continue with the four later seasons, but we all know, except in rare cases, first seasons are always best. Small Wonder, until now a lost gem of my childhood, was a lot of fun to revisit. I hardly think anyone who hasn’t seen this show before would appreciate it but on behalf of those of us who have and can, bring on season 2!