Judge David Johnson built himself a little sister who promptly turned on him and wiped out half the neighborhood.
Our review of Small Wonder: The Complete First Season, published February 3rd, 2010, is also available.
"She's a small wonder, pretty and bright with soft curls.
She's fantastic, made of plastic.
And nightmares. So many nightmares.
Huh…I thought I had hallucinated this series in the mid '80s, chalking it up to the effects of playing with lead toys. Not so.
Facts of the Case
How does one differentiate one's family sitcom from the legion of competing half-hour shows? Build on the success of The Terminator of course! That's what the creators of Small Wonder did, taking your typical, milquetoast TV family and adding a robot girl to the mix. The results? Surreal mediocrity!
Maybe you never caught this show when it originally aired; you did and years of psychotherapy have successfully purged all traces of it from your mind; or perhaps you're young enough to have only learned about the mythical Small Wonder through an oral tradition not unlike the spoken history passed down by the Iroquois. Regardless, I'm happy to flesh out the series for you:
Ted Lawson is the patriarch of the family. A brilliant robotics inventor—though apparently not monetarily successful enough to invest in some decent pants—Ted achieved his scientific breakthrough when he built a synthetic girl and shockingly didn't sell it to the Japanese. No, Vicki the Robot is designed for more unsettling purposes: unwavering domestic servitude.
Joan Lawson is a wife, mother, and substitute teacher. And that's everything I can remember about her. She's boring and, shockingly, less charismatic than the robot girl she forces to do dishes.
As your typical precocious TV kid, Jamie Lawson is quick with the witty retort. Having adapted well to sharing his bedroom with a frightening robot with superhuman strength and a potentially lethal habit of taking directives too literally, Jamie has turned his attention towards adapting to junior high school, making friends with the cool kids (which for some reason involves invitations to his backyard patio to swing on a tiny jungle gym), and going on hot dates with older girls. Interestingly, he has yet to turn his attention to grappling with a doubtless future of adult on-set diabetes.
Nosy neighbor Harriet is nosy and the Lawsons' neighbor. She also fails to notice the family's daughter is made of plastic and has, you know, microchips here and there.
Here she is, Vicki the Robot. Her capabilities are unknown and seemingly limitless: episodes feature her popping popcorn with her bare hands, shooting spotlights out of her eyeballs, roasting meat with her finger, spinning a basketball on her head, lifting grown men by their belt loops, and powering an entire house with her armpit. But with great power, comes great responsibility; namely setting the table and dusting the living room furniture.
Shout! Factory has a disclaimer about the video quality, and it is a choppy tape transfer, but that only adds to the nostalgia. The audio is standard television Dolby 2.0 Stereo. One extra, and I use that term loosely: a fan-made printable coloring page in PDF format.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention—this show is brutally unfunny, saved only by the brain-blasting weirdness of the concept.
Guilty of producing zero laughs, but when you're dealing with a timeless
piece of insanity like Small Wonder, the court is willing to show
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
• Coloring Sheet
Review content copyright © 2010 David Johnson; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.