Small Wonder (TV series)
|Genre||Science fiction sitcom|
|Created by||Howard Leeds|
|Directed by||Peter Baldwin
Leslie H. Martinson
|Theme music composer||Rod Alexander
|Opening theme||"She's a Small Wonder"|
|Ending theme||"She's a Small Wonder" (Instrumental)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||96|
|Executive producer(s)||Howard Leeds|
|Running time||22–24 minutes|
|Production company(s)||20th Century Fox Television (1986-1989)
Metromedia Productions (1985-1986)
|Distributor||20th Century Fox Television (DVD prints of episodes only)|
|Picture format||Color (480p)|
|First shown in||1985-1989|
|Original run||September 7, 1985– May 20, 1989|
Small Wonder is an American science fiction sitcom that aired in first-run syndication from September 7, 1985 to May 20, 1989. The show chronicles the family of a robotics engineer who secretly creates a robot modeled after a real human girl, then tries to pass it off as their daughter. The show was created under Metromedia Productions and its rights were acquired by 20th Century Fox Television in 1986.
The story lines revolve around V.I.C.I. (an acronym for Voice Input Child Identicant, pronounced "Vicki"), an android in the form of a 10-year-old girl. V.I.C.I. was built by Ted Lawson, an engineer/inventor for United Robotronics, in an effort to assist handicapped children. The robot is taken home by Lawson so that it can mature within a family environment. V.I.C.I.'s features include superhuman strength and speed, an AC outlet under her right arm, a serial port under her left arm, and an access panel in her back. Despite this, the Lawson family tries to pass the robot off as their daughter.
The Lawson family tries to keep the robot's existence a secret, but their disagreeable neighbors, the Brindles, keep on popping up at the most unexpected moments — especially nosy next-door neighbor Harriet, whose dad happens to be Ted Lawson's co-worker. The show's humor frequently derived from V.I.C.I.'s attempts to learn human behavior, the robot's literal interpretation of speech and the family's efforts to disguise the robot's true nature.
To explain child actress Tiffany Brissette's aging during the show, the series' producers had Ted gave V.I.C.I. an upgrade in the series' third season. He aged her face, dressed her in modern clothes, and allowed her to eat and drink. The food passed through her naturally and the drink cooled her internal system.
- Victoria "Vicki" Ann Smith-Lawson (Tiffany Brissette) - A robot modeled after a real human girl. The robot was a Voice Input Child Identicant (V.I.C.I.), but was nicknamed Vicki. She has real hair and realistic skin. She possesses superhuman strength and speed and runs on atomic power. Vicki has an access panel in her back, an electric socket in her right armpit, and an RS-232 serial port under her left armpit. Vicki's artificial intelligence is not perfect; she is incapable of emotion, speaks in a monotone voice and interprets most commands literally. She does manage to blend into the real world to a point. Vicki attends school, and no one but her family members and a few trusted friends know her secret. Occasionally Vicki had rare abilities that seemed to only appear in one or two episodes, such as elongating her neck to reach a door's peephole, shrinking her size to become as small as a doll or making herself ten feet tall to get noticed by everyone. One recurring theme was that Vicki had a super-powered learning system which enabled her to improve something such as a new detergent or to greatly increase the gas mileage of cars, which Jamie often saw as a chance to get rich quick, only to find her improvements were not perfect. Vicki lives in a cabinet in Jamie's bedroom, and becomes more human-like over the course of the show.
- Jamie Lawson (Jerry Supiran) - The 12-year-old son of Ted and Joan.
- Ted Lawson (Dick Christie) - Jamie's father and Vicki's creator. A robotics engineer who originally created the Vicki robot as a domestic servant with a female child's appearance.
- Joan Lawson (Marla Pennington) - Ted's wife. Joan, more than anyone else on the show, regards Vicki as a real person.
- Harriet Brindle (Emily Schulman) - The nosy neighbors' daughter who has a crush on Jamie.
- Brandon Brindle (William Bogert) - Harriet's father. Becomes Ted Lawson's boss after stealing Ted's ideas.
- Bonnie Brindle (Edie McClurg) - Harriet's mother. Written out after the second season.
- Ida Mae Brindle (Alice Ghostley) - Brandon's outspoken, know-it-all sister, who is nearly identical to his wife Bonnie.
- Reggie Williams (Paul C. Scott) - Jamie's best friend.
- Jessica (Lihann Jones) - Jamie's sometime girlfriend.
- Warren Enright (Daryl Bartley) - Jamie's sometime school friend.
- Vanessa (Tiffany Brissette) - Evil robot who looks identical to Vicki, but does not speak in monotone. (Seen in seasons 3 and 4)
On January 14, 2009, on Fox's The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet, Tiffany Brissette appeared in-studio as a guest for a "Where Are They Now?" segment; unbeknownst to her until the segment began, Dick Christie, Marla Pennington, and Edie McClurg were all present for the interview via satellite. Fond remarks and memories were shared about Brissette in the very brief segment. On the show, Brissette had stated that she was living in Boulder, Colorado and attending nursing school.
In the United Kingdom, the show was screened regionally on the ITV Network and in the early 1990s on Sky One. In Italy, the show appeared in the mid-1980s on Italia 1 network and was titled "Super Vicky". In France, the series was shown as "Petite merveille" on Canal+, starting in November 1985. In Spain, the show was broadcast on Antena 3 Televisión as Un robot en casa in December 1995. In India, China, Pakistan and other Asian countries, Small Wonder was syndicated on local TV stations and the Star TV Network in the mid-1990s. In Latin America, the show appeared on Rede Globo and, later, TV Record in Brazil and was called "Super Vicky", VTV (Venezolana de Television) in Venezuela between 1987 and 1990, Canal 13 in Argentina, and Frecuencia Latina in Peru, where it was called La pequeña maravilla. In the Philippines, it aired on GMA Network in the mid-1980s, and on ABC in 1992. In Saudi Arabia, it was aired during the '80s as a daily family show during the month of Ramadan on Saudi TV (Channel 2). India on Star Plus first in English then in Hindi most of the time. In Indonesia, aired by TVRI. In Iraq it was presented to children with Arabic subtitles and called (الاعجوبة الصغيرة); it aired on تلفزيون العراق - ألقناة ألاولى in 1987.
Awards and critical reception
|1986||Young Artist Award||Best Young Supporting Actress in a New Television Series||Emily Schulman|
|1987||Exceptional Performance by a Young Actress in a Long-Running Series, Comedy or Drama|
In 2002, Robert Bianco, TV critic for USA Today, listed it as a contender for one of the worst TV shows of all time. This was repeated in 2003 by Mark Lewisohn of the BBC who referred to the program as "widely considered one of the worst low-budget sitcoms of all time."
|Episode #||Prod #||Episode Name/Summary||Original Air Date|
Ted Lawson introduces his family to V.I.C.I. (or the Voice Input Child Identicant), a secretly constructed robotic domestic aide in the form of a ten-year-old girl.
|September 7, 1985|
The Brindles, the Lawsons' snoopy neighbors, suspect the Lawsons are hiding something and attempt to sniff out their family secret, while Harriet shows off her toy robot.
|September 14, 1985|
When the Lawsons' babysitter cancels, Ted sees an opportunity for a new function for Vicki.
|September 21, 1985|
Jamie's friend Warren, the school nerd, falls in love with the only girl who doesn't slam the door in his face, Vicki.
|September 28, 1985|
Jamie decides to run away when he feels that his parents attend to Vicki more than him.
|October 5, 1985|
When Jamie and his best friend Reggie put together a sci-fi movie project for school, the directorial power goes to Jamie's head.
|October 12, 1985|
Jamie learns the value of consistent honesty when he can't convince his parents that he's not responsible for breaking a teapot.
|October 19, 1985|
When a bully begins extorting money from Jamie and his friends, Ted attempts to teach Jamie how to fight.
|October 26, 1985|
Jamie uses Vicki to do his homework and gets on the school's honor roll.
|November 2, 1985|
After Bonnie Brindle tips off Child Services about the Lawson's new child, Vicki must pass a medical exam.
|November 9, 1985|
With Child Services watching, the Lawsons must hire a tutor for Vicki, and Joan resolves to complete her teaching degree.
|November 16, 1985|
|1-12||112||Ted's New Boss
Following a house fire, the Brindles muscle their way into staying with the Lawsons.
|November 23, 1985|
When Vicki begins to mimic Harriet, Ted decides to reprogram her.
|November 30, 1985|
|1-14||114||The Burrito Story
Jamie attempts to mass-produce burritos made by Vicki.
|January 4, 1986|
|1-15||115||The Camping Trip
The Lawsons, Reggie and Harriet take a wilderness camping trip and get lost.
|January 11, 1986|
Jamie throws a lavish party to impress his first crush.
|January 18, 1986|
Brandon Brindle begins a father war when he finds that a golf-crazed Ted has been neglecting Jamie.
|January 25, 1986|
|1-18||118||The Robot Nappers
A rival robotics firm suspects that Vicki is a robot and plans to steal her.
|February 8, 1986|
|1-19||120||The Company Takeover
Cutbacks at United Robotronics have the Lawsons scrambling for odd jobs.
|February 15, 1986|
|1-20||123||Good Ol' Lou
Ted is motivated to get the family into shape when an obese co-worker loses a record amount of weight.
|February 22, 1986|
|1-21||121||Like Father, Like Son
Jamie tries out for the Pee-Wee football team.
|March 1, 1986|
A vaudeville actor becomes convinced that Vicki is his long-lost daughter.
|May 3, 1986|
|1-23||119||The Real Facts of Life
Jamie attempts to educate his dad in the ways of love.
|May 10, 1986|
Ted must break it to his father that Vicki is a robot.
|May 17, 1986|
|Episode #||Prod #||Episode Name||Original Air Date|
|2-01||215||Chewed Out' (Smoker's Delight)
Jamie and Reggie try smoking for the first time; Vicki tries smoking too, which angers Ted.
|September 13, 1986|
|2-02||201||Money, Money, Money
Jamie thinks that his crush Jessica will only like him if he has a lot of money.
|September 20, 1986|
|2-03||203||My Mother the Teacher
When Jamie's teacher is ill, Joan Lawson gets hired as a substitute.
|September 27, 1986|
|2-04||213||Here Comes the Judge
Jamie plays a judge in his school's mock courtroom.
|October 4, 1986|
|2-05||209||Home Sweet Homeless
The Lawson family gets first-hand experience about how a homeless man lives when Jamie accidentally brings one home.
|October 11, 1986|
|2-06||212||Crazy Like a Fox
A con man sells Jamie and Vicki stolen merchandise that doesn't work.
|October 18, 1986|
|2-07||210||The Older Woman
Jamie meets Harriet's older sister Mary, so he makes a plan to get to know Mary better.
|October 25, 1986|
|2-08||204||Who's the Boss?
Jamie has a dream that he's the boss of his parents.
|November 1, 1986|
Jamie is assigned to help a stuttering girl gain confidence to give an oral report. Vicki decides to get to the root of the stuttering through aversion therapy.
|November 8, 1986|
|2-10||211||You Gotta Have Heart
Vicki becomes best friends with Harriet in order to learn more about love, while Ted thinks about inventing a heart for Vicki.
|November 15, 1986|
Mrs. Fernwald from Child Services visits the Lawson family, and Vicki steals an expensive gold watch from the department store.
|November 22, 1986|
Jamie's friend Adam talks about being from a broken home, so Jamie and Vicki try to bribe an agency into going on a ski trip.
|November 29, 1986|
The Lawson family get robbed so they develop a neighborhood watch program.
|December 6, 1986|
Ted turns down a job promotion at one of the top robotics companies.
|January 10, 1987|
Ted makes up a story about Project Blender to make his job sound exciting.
|January 17, 1987|
|2-16||218||The Personality Kid
Reggie thinks Vicki has a stuck-up personality, so Jamie gives her an adjustment.
|January 24, 1987|
Jamie wants a new bike so he starts a computer dating service.
|January 31, 1987|
|2-18||223||Little Miss Shopping Mall
Vicki gets entered into a beauty contest, but Ted doesn't want her to enter. Jerry Supiran, did not appear in this episode.
|February 7, 1987|
Jamie disguises Vicki as a boy named Victor to aid his struggling baseball team, but Ted is unsure about having a robot play against a bunch of little boys.
|February 14, 1987|
|2-20||222||Look Into My Eyes
Vicki tries out hypnosis on the Lawsons after she sees it performed on television.
|February 21, 1987|
|2-21||217||Wally the Wimp
Joan gets a visit from her college friend Wally. Guest star: Jesse "The Body" Ventura.
|February 28, 1987|
|2-22||219||The Cat's Meow
Ted buys Vicki her first toy, a robot cat that causes Vicki to have an emotional breakdown.
|May 9, 1987|
Jamie wants to get a summer job, so he and Vicki decide to work at Sid's Garage.
|May 16, 1987|
Ted and Joan, along with Bonnie and Brandon Brindle, decide to renew their wedding vows.
|May 23, 1987|
|Episode #||Prod #||Episode Name||Original Air Date|
|3-01||303||Woodward and Bernstein
While Jamie and Reggie search for a story for the school paper, Vicki discovers that a new girl in class is a missing child.
|September 12, 1987|
|3-02||312||Everyone Into the Pool||September 19, 1987|
|3-03||314||Whodunit?||September 26, 1987|
|3-04||306||Bride and Groom||October 3, 1987|
|3-05||302||It's Okay to Say No
When a schoolyard pusher tries to hook Vicki on drugs, the Lawsons help the police on an undercover sting, to stop the pusher.
|October 10, 1987|
|3-06||307||Read My Lips||October 17, 1987|
|3-07||316||The Promotion||October 24, 1987|
|3-08||320||The Lawsonville Horror||October 31, 1987|
|3-09||308||The Bad Seed
Ted brings home Vanessa, an upgraded twin of Vicki whose revolutionary but quirky quasi-human artificial intelligence runs amok. Note: Tiffany Brissette, plays a dual role.
|November 7, 1987|
|3-10||318||Breakfast of Criminals
Vicki is discovered by a marketing firm to play in a cereal commercial, but the Lawsons have second thoughts when her taste test reveals that the product isn't all it's crackled up to be.
|November 14, 1987|
|3-11||317||The Fats of Life
Ted unwittingly upgrades Vicki's energy-supplementing polynucleotide processor with an appetite, which creates excess digestive gases and causes her to be bloated which caused a major issue for an upcoming dance.
|November 21, 1987|
|3-12||309||The Bank Job||November 28, 1987|
|3-13||305||Oooga Mooga||December 5, 1987|
|3-14||301||Here Today, Gone Tomorrow||January 16, 1988|
|3-15||304||Bye Bye Brindles
Tired of the loud and impudent Brindles as neighbors, the Lawsons concoct a fake earthquake to scare them into moving.
|January 23, 1988|
|3-16||319||For Sale by Robot
Ted begins remodeling the house, and Joan's new real estate side job gets upstaged when Vicki sells the Lawson homestead to an unscrupulous cowpoke couple.
|January 30, 1988|
|3-17||411||Ronald McDonald House||February 6, 1988|
|3-18||325||The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming||February 13, 1988|
|3-19||311||I'll Drink to That||February 20, 1988|
|3-20||313||Big J, the D.J. (Special guest star NFL star Lyle Alzado)||February 27, 1988|
|3-21||324||The Rock Band||April 30, 1988|
|3-22||415||Book-It||May 7, 1988|
|3-23||310||Safety First||May 14, 1988|
|3-24||320||When You Hear the Beep||May 21, 1988|
|Episode #||Prod #||Episode Name||Original Air Date|
|4-01||409||Divided We Stand||September 17, 1988|
|4-02||413||Double Dates||September 24, 1988|
|4-03||315||The Gang's All Here||October 1, 1988|
|4-04||422||Rashomon||October 15, 1988|
|4-05||410||Come Fly With Me||October 22, 1988|
|4-06||322||Love at First Byte||October 29, 1988|
|4-07||405||The Sheik||November 5, 1988|
|4-08||403||Togetherness||November 12, 1988|
|4-09||416||My Favorite Martian||November 19, 1988|
|4-10||406||Mommie Dearest||November 26, 1988|
|4-11||407||No Laughing Matter
A digestion feedback problem with Vicki's polynucleotide processor generates nitrous oxide gas that brings laughs to anyone near her, but not to Vicki herself — just as Ted's boss is about to visit about lay-offs.
|December 4, 1988|
|4-12||401||Tag, You're It
On their first day in junior high, Vicki becomes a hall monitor and Jamie tries to avoid Harriet for a dance while vying for a class fox. Meanwhile, Ted prepares to host a cybernetics conference. Marcia Wallace guest stars.
|December 11, 1988|
Jamie and Vicki are arrested for spray-painting a wall—and its owner's $60 shirt.
|January 7, 1989|
|4-14||408||Riches to Rags||January 14, 1989|
|4-15||418||Radio Days||January 21, 1989|
|4-16||421||Kid-O-Grams||January 28, 1989|
|4-17||402||More About LES||February 4, 1989|
|4-18||420||Hooray for Hollyweird!||February 11, 1989|
|4-19||419||Minnesota Vicki||February 18, 1989|
|4-20||417||Vicki Doolittle||February 25, 1989|
|4-21||414||The Tattletale||April 29, 1989|
|4-22||323||The Strike||May 6, 1989|
|4-23||412||See No Evil||May 13, 1989|
|4-24||326||Thy Neighbor's Wife||May 20, 1989|
|DVD Name||Ep#||Region 1|
|The Complete First Season||24||February 16, 2010|
|The Complete Second Season♦||24||June 22, 2010|
♦ - Shout! Factory select title
References in popular culture
- American Dad!: In the episode "Haylias", Hayley's secret agent code name is "Small Wonder". And, in "Brains, Brains and Automobiles", a flashback in Roger's mind shows him auditioning for the part of V.I.C.I. in the 1980s.
- Family Guy: In the episode "Brian Goes Back to College", Tiffany Brissette is seen at the Small Wonder booth at a convention of fans of 1980s TV series.
- I'm With Busey: In the episode "Technology: Rise of the Robots", Gary Busey is (in real life) fooled into temporarily believing that a young girl, dressed and acting like V.I.C.I., is actually a robot (series regular Adam de la Pena includes an explanation describing Small Wonder and Brissette).
- MADtv: In episode #707 (November 24, 2001), V.I.C.I. (played by Stephnie Weir) was parodied in a spoof of the TV game show The Weakest Link, where all the contestants were classic American TV stars.
- The Small Wonder Experience: A musical group from Joshua Tree, California named after the television program (and also in honor of the famous guitarist Jimi Hendrix). The band's songwriter and guitarist, Leslie Mariah Andrews, cites the show as a memorable influence on some of her early work. Jerry Supiran, cast member of the original series, showed his support for the band and made an appearance at a March 2013 concert of theirs, celebrating the release of their debut CD.
- TV Junkies: In the episode "I, Wonder: It's Small Wonder meets I, Robot" (Episode #16) of this YouTube-based web comedy, Small Wonder is spoofed simultaneously with the movie I, Robot.
- Karishma Kaa Karishma: An Indian television sitcom is a remake of the sitcom Small Wonder. The series premiered on STAR Plus.
- Two Broke Girls: In the first-season episode "And the '90s Horse Party", the main characters meet a group of '80s dance party-attending hipsters at a laundromat who claim that Tiffany Brissette would be attending the party.
- In (500) Days of Summer the protagonist describes the titular character as being "either an evil, emotionless, miserable human being or she's a robot. Small Wonder. You know, Vicki?"
- On the audio commentary for the South Park episode "The Simpsons Already Did It", co-creator Matt Stone laments "we only get compared to The Simpsons which is unfortunate that we get compared to one of the best shows on television, ever and one of the most popular shows on television, ever and the show with 350 episodes. So we never get compared to Sister, Sister or Small Wonder, we always get compared to The Simpsons, which I guess is a good thing."
- In the Season 4 Glee episode "Guilty Pleasures", when the glee club members reveal their musical and pop-culture guilty loves to each other, Tina Cohen-Chang (played by Jenna Ushkowitz) dresses up as V.I.C.I. in one scene and speaks in her characteristic monotone, and bothers bitchy cheerleader Kitty by following her around in character.
- In season one of The Aquabats! Super Show!, a superhero-themed action-comedy series which makes regular references to 1970s and 1980s pop culture, a small girl with clothing identical to Vicki's appears in two episodes: the season premiere, where she's seen in the background, and the season finale, where she's revealed to be a malevolent space alien who proceeds to control a gigantic destructive robot.
- Not Quite Human, a series of novels in which a scientist creates an android, passing him off as his son, telling only his daughter the truth. The series was made into several TV movies for the Disney Channel.
- "Robert Bianco". Usatoday.com. 2005-01-21. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
- BBC Comedy Guide (saved at archive.org)
- "Small Wonder - Shout! Factory Inputs the Official Press Release for The Complete 1st Season".
- "Small Wonder - 'Shout! Select' DVD Release for The Complete 2nd Season: Packaging and Date!".
- "Adorable robot girl of Karishma Kaa Karishma". TribuneIndia. March 9, 2003.