Short Version: That show you vaguely remember about the terrifying robot girl in the French Maid outfit.
This Fantastic Comedy
aired in first-run syndication
from 1985-1989. Ted Lawson, a robotic engineer, had a family like any other in California, except that his daughter, Vicki, was a robot he designed and built. Ted, his wife, Joan, and their son, Jamie, continually tried to keep Vicki's identity a secret. This was no easy task, since Ted lived next door to his gloryhound boss, whose daughter wanted to be Mrs. Jamie Lawson.
The series is often derided for its silly premise and uneven episode plots, some of which were downright uninspired. Due to popular demand, however, Shout! Factory released the first two seasons of Small Wonder
on DVD in the first half of 2010. The series' star, Tiffany Brissette, has retired from acting to avoid typecasting. More information about the show is at the Semi-Official Small Wonder "Cabinet of Contents" Home Page
Produced by Metromedia Producers Corporation for it's first season, after being bought out by News Corp in 1986, Seasons 2-4 were produced by 20th Century Fox Television
Tends to be confused with Out of This World
, which is that show you vaguely remember about the alien girl who could freeze time.
Small Wonder provides examples of:
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot
- Abhorrent Admirer: Harriet Brindle
- Amusing Nonhuman
- Bratty Half-Pint: Harriet, in spades. Jamie can be this way too, at times.
- Celebrity Star: Lyle Alzado, Art Linkletter and Jesse Ventura, among others
- Dark Horse Victory
- Do-Anything Robot
- Don't Eat And Swim: An episode had Ted stage his own drowning by cramps to get rid of his Nosy Neighbor's alleged life debt.
- Drop-In Character: Harriet and her parents
- Effortless Amazonian Lift: Vicki can lift and carry Ted around easily.
- Emotionless Girl: Played straight during the first two seasons, but subverted in two cases. At the openings, Vicki grins and winks to us, and in an episode where a computer with which she was smitten is deactivated, a tear trickles down her cheek. Starting late in the series' second season and progressively through the rest of the series, Vicki talks in a normal voice and shows emotion more often, to the point where she becomes more "humanized." (This was in part to compensate for actress Tiffany Brissette aging into puberty.)
- Evil Twin: Vanessa, successor to VICI
- Fantastic Comedy
- Fun with Acronyms: VICI stands for Voice Input Child Identicant.
- Hand Wave: VICI is upgraded in Season 3 to look older, since Tiffany Brissette had grown into a young teenager later in the series. Also, she's designed to eat food (to help pass for human) and liquids she consumes work as coolant.
- Human Hummingbird: Vicki acts like one in "Vicki and the Pusher".
- Hypno Fool: In the season 2 episode "Look into My Eyes", Vicki learns to hypnotize by watching a professional hypnotist on TV, and gets the family to do weird things at mention of a code word. The first one she hypnotizes is Joan, whom Vicki makes to act like The Vamp.
- Just a Machine: Ted's attitude toward Vicki, and his usual response to Joan thinking of Vicki as a real girl.
- Limited Wardrobe
- Literal-Minded: Much of the show's humor came from Vicki interpreting commands and figures of speech literally.
- Machine Monotone: This is Vicki's normal mode of speech. By the final two seasons, this was downplayed somewhat as she began speaking in a normal girl's voice (due to upgrades and to help her pass as human).
- New Powers as the Plot Demands
- Noir Episode: In "Big 'J', Private Eye", Jamie did his book report in the film noir style.
- Product Placement: Actually, sort of a reversal. If you don't remember ever watching this show, you certainly remember seeing posters in Pizza Hut that tied the series into its "Book It!" school fund-raising program. Lord knows what the connection was between robots and books.
- The episode involving the "Book It" plug, Big J Private Eye, involved Jamie (not having read or even selected a book until the last minute) doing a videotaped report so the class could go on a pizza party (at Pizza Hut, of course).
- Pun-Based Title
- Reading Ahead in the Script: Vanessa, posing as Vicki, does this in the series finale, much to the director's chagrin.
- Reset Button: After every episode, almost everything is forgiven and forgotten. Only sometimes do some details prevail.
- Robo Speak
- Robot Girl/Robot Kid
- Robot Maid
- Series Continuity Error: For one scene of one episode, Vicki is unaware of the fact that she is a robot. In said episode a tabloid prints a story claiming that she's a robot; Vicki reads the story and (inexplicably showing emotion and speaking in a regular tone of voice) asks her "parents" if she is indeed a robot. This is contradicted by the rest of the entire series, where it is very clear that Vicki is aware of what she is.
- Vicki started out as a failed prototype that Ted created at work. No one is able to figure out that Vicki is a robot, even though her father is a robotic engineer; this includes people from Ted's office who would have known about the project (and seen the demonstration of the prototype!).
- Sidekick Ex Machina
- Styrofoam Rocks: In the series finale, when Ted gives a literal meaning to the term Cardboard Prison. He offers to pay for the damage, but the movie director says there's no money in the budget for it.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: The kind of denials Vicki gives when asked what has she seen/done.
- Unwanted Glasses Plot: The basis of the episode "Vicki's Glasses".