One of my other favorite shows in the 80s was Mama’s Family. That means I was really excited for the episode of Mama’s Family that Dick Christie was in, but I was super freaking excited for the episode of Small Wonder with Ken Berry. This is the Ken Berry episode. Also, two more episodes after this one before I get to the better seasons!
This episode starts with Vicki’s panel flickering and making noises like she drank another milkshake, only more static-y. Ted looks worried as he stabs at her with a screwdriver. Joan says that she needs Vicki, but Ted says he’s fixing her because she’s receiving interference on her voice circuits. Also, Vicki is in her old pinafore. Just worth noting. Anyway, Ted tells Vicki to talk and he’ll adjust while she’s doing that, and you know we’re in for fun with the soundboard. Vicki’s voice goes low and high until it evens out. It was semi-entertaining. Joan then immediately asks Vicki to polish the coffee table. Then Joan asks if Ted fixed the end table, and he says he and Vicki did it together and it’s solid as a rock and hits the table. He asks for confirmation from Vicki, and guys… this is the most horrible set up I have ever seen. Look at this.
You can see the areas where the table is already ready to break. That is like cartoon crap where you can see where characters are about to interact with the scenery because it’s a different color than everything else. Sure enough, the table falls right apart when Vicki hits it. Joan wants to know why Ted made Vicki so strong, and he stutters before asking Vicki to take the pieces into the kitchen. Jamie comes home, sees the broken table, and knows Vicki did it. Then he complains about school – the school is putting on a show for new gym equipment, and he got cast as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, and Harriet is Juliet.
Bonnie and Harriet come over and Jamie tries to slam the door in their face, but Joan actually manages to catch it this time. I love how much Jamie hates Harriet. It’s how I know he really loves her. Bonnie wants to take a picture of the kids to put in the newspaper, hoping the publicity will really help the show. Bonnie is an active mom in the community – why are the Brindles so vilified again? Oh, yeah, that Brindle Swindle. While Jamie and Harriet are posing, Vicki looks on curiously, as if she’s wondering why she’s not special. Poor Vicki. Anyway, she accidentally photobombs them.
Later, in the kitchen, Jamie and Harriet are rehearsing and Vicki is looking at the script, so obviously she’s helping them. Vicki mouths the words as Harriet says them, and I think poor Vicki wants to play along. Joan enters the kitchen from outside and offers to make the kids a snack. Ted comes home to show the kids their picture in the newspaper and Harriet runs off to show the paper to her mother. Jamie decides to borrow Vicki and practice in his room while Harriet is gone, preferring Vicki as Juliet. I know she’s only his adopted sister, and a robot, but dude. Once the kids are out of the room, Ted makes a sex joke. Because of course he does. The doorbell chooses that moment to ring because Ted and Joan always get interrupted. Laws of Small Wonder.
Buddy O’Connor is the guy ringing the doorbell, and he turns out to be important because he thinks Vicki is his daughter. He has a picture that looks like Vicki at a younger age, and the Lawsons try to explain how they know Vicki isn’t his daughter Mary without revealing she’s a robot. They’re not very successful. His ex-wife put his daughter up for adoption a year prior and he just wants to see her before he goes to Hong Kong for a gig. Ted and Joan go into the kitchen to discuss what to do, and Ted reveals he used a picture from a modeling agency to make up Vicki’s appearance, and it might have been Mary. Ted is more afraid that it’ll come out Vicki is a robot and they forged documents to get through her adoption, so he decides to just let the guy see her. Oh, now you realize forging documents is illegal whether it’s for a human or a robot. Because you seemed pretty well convinced it wasn’t when you were doing it!
Ted and Joan tell Buddy he can see Vicki and they call her into the room and introduce the two. Vicki nearly crushes Buddy’s hand in a handshake, and when he asks about her voice, Ted says she has laryngitis. Laryngitis is an acceptable go to. No, I won’t get ahead of myself. You’ll see in two episodes. Anyway, we learn that Vicki can tap dance.
Bonnie comes over to show off the newspaper that Ted bought in the first place, and they introduce Bonnie and Buddy O’Connor. Bonnie reveals that one of the acts have canceled, and Buddy reveals he’s in show business. Bonnie uses the Brindle Swindle, and it actually fails. But when Buddy learns that an agent will be in the audience, he changes his mind. Buddy wants to put Vicki in the act, and while reluctant, the Lawsons accidentally agree.
They show Vicki and Buddy rehearsing their bit and they’re adorable, but Buddy isn’t funny. After rehearsal, they kick Jamie and Vicki out of the room. Buddy reveals that he wants Vicki to be part of the act and that since he never agreed to any adoption he will make trouble if they won’t let her. Ted decides the really easy fix is to program Vicki to sabotage Buddy’s act, and it’s the smartest thing Ted has ever come up with.
At the show, Jamie and Harriet do the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, and they both take a bunch of creative liberties with Shakespeare. Immediately after is Buddy and Vicki because of course it is. Vicki looks adorable in her red striped uniform. Vicki steals all the punch lines, just like Ted programmed her to, and Buddy is upset by it. The agent likes Vicki, but the Lawsons don’t want Vicki in show business. Buddy tries to override the Lawsons’ decision, but the agent reveals he only wants Vicki, not Buddy, so Buddy lets the whole thing drop. Before leaving forever, though, he does ask them to take care of the kid, so even though he was selfish he does care somewhat. The whole thing ends with Harriet Brindle Swindling a kiss from Jamie! It’s pretty awesome.
Firsts: Vicki’s identity is mistaken, Jamie kisses Harriet