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 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Howard Leeds|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Production company(s)||The Small Wonder Venture
Metromedia Video Productions (1985-1986)
20th Century Fox Television (1986-1989)
|Distributor||Metromedia Producers Corporation (1985-1986)
20th Century Fox Television (1986-1992)
20th Television (1992-Present, 2015-present for Antenna TV reruns)
|Picture format||Color (480i)|
|First shown in||1985-1989|
|Original release||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 human girl, then tries to pass it off as their adopted daughter.
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 initially tries to pass V.I.C.I. off as an orphaned family member whom they eventually legally adopt 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 father 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 give 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. Somehow, she could also channel enough electricity through her hands to jump-start a car (or with more control, restart a person's heart after suffering a coronary). 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. Also a neighbor to the Lawsons.
- Bonnie Brindle (Edie McClurg): Harriet's mother and Brandon's wife. Written out after the second season after McClurg joined the cast of The Hogan Family, though Bonnie appears one more time in a third season episode.
- 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 and sometimes rival.
- 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, but this news was never confirmed.
Reruns and international airings
After the series ended, the show entered weekday rerun syndication on many stations across the United States and continued until 1996. Small Wonder later re-entered weekday rerun syndication on many stations in West Los Angeles and continued until 2004. After that, the show had not aired anywhere in the country until January 10, 2015 when Antenna TV began airing the series.
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. It also aired on VTV (Venezolana de Television) in Venezuela between 1987 and 1990, Canal 13 in Argentina, Bogotá local network Canal Capital in Colombia 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). In 1994, It was aired in India on Star Plus first in English then in Hindi the same year most of the time, until 1998. In Indonesia, it was aired on TVRI. It was aired on many TV stations in Middle East as well, such as Saudi TV Channel 2 and Iraq TV Channel 1, with Arabic subtitles and called الاعجوبة الصغيرة. In Germany the show was broadcast on ProSieben in 1990 (with several reruns in the early 1990s) and was titled Vicki. Antenna TV is currently running the show on weekends as of January 2015.
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." The Splitsider website called Small Wonder "unwatchable".
|DVD Name||Ep#||Region 1|
|The Complete First Season||24||February 16, 2010|
|The Complete Second Season||24||June 22, 2010|
- My Living Doll. Howard Leeds, producer of Small Wonder, also produced this 1964-1965 sitcom starring Julie Newmar with the same premise as Small Wonder (except the gynoid is an adult female and the lead male character takes custody of the robot as opposed to building her).
- 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.
- Karishma Kaa Karishma, the Indian television sitcom remake. The series aired on STAR Plus.
- Dr. Slump, where a crazy Japanese inventor makes an android daughter so he can become closer to a local teacher he is in love with.
- Extant – American science fiction television drama series created by Mickey Fisher and executive produced by Steven Spielberg. The story revolves around astronaut Molly Woods (Halle Berry) who returns home to her family inexplicably pregnant after 13 months in outer space on a solo mission, but it also includes Ethan, a boy android in her family unit by her robotics husband.
- A.I. Artificial Intelligence – also known as A.I., is a 2001 American science fiction film written, directed, and produced by Steven Spielberg, and based on Brian Aldiss's short story "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long". The film stars Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Sam Robards, Frances O'Connor, Brendan Gleeson, and William Hurt. Set sometime in the future, A.I. tells the story of David, a childlike android uniquely programmed with the ability to love.
- "Robert Bianco". Usatoday.com. 2005-01-21. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
- BBC Comedy Guide (saved at archive.org)
- Boone, Brian (October 18, 2011). "Looking Back at the Terrible Syndicated Sitcoms of the Late 1980s". Splitsider. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
- "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.