During the height of the mid-80’s computer craze, while Apple was doing battle with Commodore for the exclusive rights to Missile Command, a smart new sitcom capitalizing on the technology trend debuted on syndicated television. Small Wonder centered on the Lawson family, whose patriarch, Ted, was a cybernetic engineer. His piece de resistance was a robot built to resemble an adorable ten-year-old girl. Since the bot came complete with a built-in Voice Input Child Identicant, or V.I.C.I., the cybernetic one became known to the world as Vicki.
Ted and Joan Lawson pretended that Vicki was their goddaughter, the daughter of family friends who were killed in a crash, and that they were making good on a promise to take care of the child. This explained her sudden appearance in their lives and household, should inquiring minds want to know. Their real child was Jamie, a pudgy, good-intentioned junior high school student, who imagined himself a star at sports and a hit with the young women at his school, though he was hardly either. Most of the show’s plotlines depicted the misadventures and humorous situations the two kids would get themselves into as they tried to conceal the true nature of Vicki’s background.
Since she was in fact a robot, Jamie had no problem exploiting Vicki and her android abilities, employing her to clean his room, do his chores and finish his homework for him, which she would complete in record time. Vicki also had superhuman strength, which came in handy when she needed to defend herself, and sometimes even to defend Jamie. Vicki lived in Jamie’s closet and spoke in a robotic monotone, though no one ever seemed to question why.
The Brindles were the Lawson’s ultra-annoying next-door neighbors. Brandon Brindle was Ted’s boss at the plant, and was always trying to steal Ted’s ingenious ideas so he could pass them off as his own. His wife, Bonnie, was a nosy know-it-all who constantly snooped around the Lawson’s house, perchance to discover something unusual to tell her husband about. Unfortunately, Bonnie’s negative traits rubbed off on her daughter, Harriet, who could often be found peeping through Jamie’s window, trying to discover Vicki’s secret. Harriet also had a crush on Jamie, despite the fact that Jamie despised her and had a girlfriend of his own. Jessica was the girl of Jamie’s dreams and Reggie was Jamie’s best friend.
The 96 episodes of Small Wonder were produced for weekly syndication by five different production companies rather than by one network, which allowed the show to be scheduled at various times in various markets. This actually worked to the show’s advantage, and played a large role in the continuing success of the show over its four-season run.
“She’s fantastic, made of plastic,
Micro chips here and there,
She’s a small wonder, brings love and laughter everywhere…”
“She’s a smaaall wonder,
And she’ll make your heart take flight!”
USA / Syndicated – Metromedia – 20th Century Fox Television / 96×25 minute episodes / Broadcast 1985-1989
Creator: Howard Leeds / Producers: Howard Leeds, Budd Grossman
TIFFANY BRISSETTE as Victoria Ann ‘Vicki’ Smith
DICK CHRISTIE as Ted Lawson
MARLA PENNINGTON as Joan Lawson
JERRY SUPIRAN as Jamie Lawson
EMILY SCHULMAN as Harriet Brindle
EDIE McCLURG as Bonnie Brindle (1985-86)
WILLIAM BOGERT as Brandon Brindle (1986-89)