Thursday, February 18, 2010

Small Wonder: She’s Fantastic, Made of Plastic

Since the beginning of the time, man has yearned for the DVD release of Small Wonder. Well, my friends, that day has finally come. If you don’t know what Small Wonder is, you probably grew up in one of those backward, neo-Neanderthal, anti-android homes, often scrutinized on Dateline NBC...or you’re really young...or Andy Rooney (the hottest nonagenarian this side of the Mason-Dixon line). 

For those of you unfamiliar with Vicki the robot, I urge you to borrow the 4-disc DVD set from that hip, slightly older, obscure pop-culture ephemera-loving friend of yours--you know, the one who gets every Family Guy non-sequitur and peppers your little tête-à-têtes with multifarious ALF and Night Court allusions.

But if you don’t have a friend like that, here’s the first episode in a nutshell:

This scientist guy, Ted Lawson, works for some sort of science company, and he’s been slaving away on something called a Voice Input Child Identicant or V.I.C.I. (The episode synopsis on the back of the DVD case describes it as a "domestic aide in the form of a ten-year-old girl," which is just morally reprehensible. I’m sure Samuel Gompers is doing somersaults in his grave.) Ted gets the thing working and he, his wife, and their Cabbage Patch Kid-faced son, Jamie, accept the V.I.C.I., now Vicki, as a member of the family. 

OK, so they occasionally stuff her in Jamie’s armoire, but other than that they treat her like a real kid. Oh and the Lawson’s have this nosy, ginger, troll of a neighbor named Harriet--they don’t want Vicki’s true robo-nature to be revealed, so Harriet, whose head is 50% bangs, is a total menace.

And here are a few of the small things that I wondered about while watching the first disc:

  • How was Ted able to create a robot as advanced as Vicki when his computer looks like this:

You can’t even play Minesweeper on that thing. According to the theme song Vicki’s "fantastic, made of plastic" with "Microchips here and there." Seriously? Should we email those specs to the weirdo Japanese scientists desperately working to perfect their horrifying sex bots?

  • Why is this show called "Small Wonder"? I think there’s a double entendre at work there that I’m not quite smart enough to grasp.

  • When Ted was working on the Vicki blueprints or whatever, why did he think it was OK to make the robot look like a 10-year-old girl? Ted, you are the skeeve-master. Stop making little robot girls and Ted’s family, stop not seeing how disturbing that is!


Tina K said...

I think Tina's a great name for a robot, Andy Rooney.

nikki said...

I fucking love Small Wonder. LOVE IT! Remember when the Russians came over and Ted was furious that they had their own little kid robot? Bastard commies!

Denise said...

I used to walk around my house pretending to be Vicki, talking in the robot voice for days. I've had the DVD set in my Netflix saved cue for months, so I sure hope it won't disappoint.

Amiee said...

I'm from Australia and we are decades behind the rest of the world so obviously I have missed this. Looks very creepy.

Richard @ The Bewildered Brit said...

I don't think this show made it to the UK...

From what you say, I think I'm scared of this show. But nonetheless, I want Ted's computer!

Fear Street said...

Get out of my nightmares, Harriet!

"She's fanstastic, made of plastic" makes me think of that Aqua song "Barbie Girl"...

hollywoodjane said...

I actually work for the company that put Small Wonder on DVD :D I screened a few episodes for quality control, and boy did it bring back memories. My whole office is nostomanic, really. It's a brilliant place to work.

Amber said...

Tina: Tina is the name my 10-year-old cousin gives me whenever she's pretending I'm her daughter.

Nikki: I sort of remember that episode. I never understood why Ted didn't get Vicki patented or go public with her. Maybe he actually stole the idea from the Russians...?

Denise: I still do that.

Amiee and Richard: I think you both need to check out Small Wonder on youtube. You deserve to be creeped out by Vicki and her hijinks just as much as any kid who grew up in the states.

Fear Street: Harriet is evil. And I never made that Barbie Girl/ Small Wonder connection. There have to be more words that rhyme with plastic...right?

Hollywoodjane: That's pretty awesome. I hope you guys will look into releasing 'Welcome Freshman' and 'Fifteen' on DVD. I loved those shows.

Cupcake said...

I think I just met my soul mate!!! Could you be any more fucking awesome? I mean really???? Come on!!
You have just made my blogroll, NOT an easy task my friend!

I'll be bock... done in my god awful, horribly awkward impression of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator!!!

rogue evolent said...

Great post Amber, you brought back a lot of scary memories for me... I used to surf right past this show as quickly as I could when I went up and down the cable listings with my remote.
Loved your line about "skeeve master" LOL

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

the andy rooney picture is fucking hilarious

Sadako said...

Love the Andy Rooney pic. Andy Rooney is so hilarious he HAS to be ironic. Or something.

Never saw this show but I knew too well all about it. I think I'm glad I never had to watch it--it's WAY too uncanny valley!

Megs said...

Oh God, I loved this show. I think Harriet is actually creepier than the robot child. Who I recall being something of a maid as well?

And off topic: wasn't there something on at the same time about a girl whose dad was in space or something, and she talked to him through a crystal? My husband thinks I made that up.

Angie said...

How could I not know about this show!!! I need it immediately on DVD.

Amber said...

Cupcake: "I'll be bock." That's actually a perfect Arnie impression. Thanks for visiting and I appreciate the blogroll add a ton.

Rogue Evolent: I think you should rent the DVDs. You know, face your fears.

Chelesea, Sadako, and all Andy Rooney Lovers:

Megs: Yeah, the show you're thinking of is "Out of This World" w/ Evie who could freeze time. I think her dad was an alien.

Ally said...

OMG! I loved loved loved this show! Jamie looked a little like my brother did back when this show aired. I always thought that. Also, did you ever hear the urban legend that the he was really Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins? Obviously not true.

Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing

Pana said...

She's a smaaaaaaaaall wonder!

Vicki didn't even try to act like a real girl - did she ever wear a different outfit? Although if they were actually selling robot children I might purchase one. (and I added might in there just so I don't seem creepy)