Friday, November 6, 2015

Season 2, Episode 7: P-P-P-Paula

I remember this episode! But man, it has a messed up name. Other than that, though, I remember this being a good episode. Please, please Nostalgia Glasses, please don’t fall off and show me I’m wrong, like that time I thought Super Mario Bros. Super Show was the best thing ever and then I got a DVD in my cereal. Let’s get to it.

We start with Vicki watching TV by herself. She’s watching a character called Funny Bunny who said he sent out invitations in the mail to visit him, so don’t take your eyes off of the mailbox. Oh, gee, here I was going to be happy Vicki has alone time and isn’t doing slave labor and the TV’s already badly programming her. Vicki walks out the front door.

Then we cut to Ted walking in through the back door because Small Wonder doesn’t care about making sense. Joan notes that Ted is home early - and look, she’s back in the kitchen. We get her a job and she’s back in the kitchen. Thanks, Small Wonder! But at least she’s cooking and not using Vicki as slave labor. You know, Joan, if just a couple weeks ago you did this, you wouldn’t have been bored enough to get a job. I don’t even know what I’m complaining about at this point. I think we’ve reached the singularity where so many things have gone ridiculous that everything is just bad now. Ted says he left early to play golf, and Joan says she wants to play to so that she and Ted would have an activity to do together - and yeah, I saw that sex joke coming from a mile away. Stay consistent, Ted. At least no children are in the room. Ted says he doesn’t want to break up his regular foursome, and then starts telling bad wife jokes right after he just said he doesn’t make them. Ted, if your wife asks you what kinds of wife jokes right after you say you don’t make them, play dumb. I’ve seen Joan hit you on multiple occasions. Joan feels bad she said anything, but Ted gives in and agrees to take Joan golfing on Saturday. Sometimes, he’s not all heel.

Ted and Joan walk into the living room and Ted notices the front door is wide open but keeps walking towards the stairs. Yeah, your house was only recently broken into, we don’t need to investigate these things at all. Joan’s super calm when she says Vicki was just in there watching television and not noticing the lack of Vicki. Oh, sitcom wackiness, you won’t disappoint me. And it doesn’t! Ted and Joan simultaneously realize they actually do like Vicki and they rush to the door. Vicki re-enters, carrying the mailbox that she apparently pulled out of the ground. That’s the way to keep an eye on it - but why did it take you so long to do that? You could have been back before your parents noticed you were missing. Ted asks what Vicki is doing and she says she’s keeping a close eye on the mailbox. Ted tells Vicki not to do that again, but Vicki is worried about upsetting Funny Bunny. Vicki is adorable.

Then Jamie comes home through the front door and wonders what happened to the mailbox. I’m wondering, again, what Jamie does at school that gets him home so late. Okay, this time Ted confessed to coming home early, but Joan and Vicki are home and I’m reviewing in production order, which means Joan is Jamie’s teacher and Vicki is in his class. Is he running a counterfeit hall pass ring or something? Ted says Jamie looks glum and wants to know what is wrong, and Jamie says his teacher wants kids who are doing okay - like him - to help out students who aren’t. I really just don’t know where to start dissecting everything that’s wrong with that sentence. So this episode is outside of continuity. Like, completely. Ted is proud of how smart Jamie is, but Jamie is bummed that he has to help Paula Preston. And given the title of this episode, no, Jamie was not that PC in saying what the poor girl’s name was. I wanted to make a Roger Rabbit reference, but this episode is two years too early for that. Jamie explains that Paula has a stutter and Joan lays into him for making fun of her. Yay, Joan! You got demoted for an episode, but you’re still awesome. Jamie says Paula is stuck up and he hates that he has to help her in English for two hours a day. Damn, even the schools in Small Wonder employ slave labor. Ted thinks Paula just might feel self-conscious because he did when he had a lisp as a kid. Ted has empathy? Is Ted evolving?

The doorbell rings and Jamie says that it’s probably Paula because apparently the school that employs slave labor can’t even provide the library as a meeting place because they clearly have no budget. Ted has Vicki put the mailbox in the hall closet, and she literally bounces off to do it. Ted says she’s a natural clown, and Joan says, “sure, look at the clown that built her.” Really, Joan? He’s going to take you golfing and everything. So, it’s Paula and Paula’s mother at the door. How close do the Prestons live? They were not at the neighborhood watch meeting, so I call shenanigans. An unimpressed Jamie takes Paula into the kitchen to get things over with.

Paula’s mother admits Jamie is going to need a lot of patience. One, this is Jamie Lawson. He doesn’t know what that is. Secondly... I don’t know where to start with secondly. There is just so much wrong going on here. Paula has apparently been to two therapists and her own mother thinks Job - you know, the one from the Bible - would have had a hard time with Paula. Wow, mother of the year. She goes on to say that Paula always had private tutors before but then they decided she should mix with other students in public school. That is Vicki’s exact situation. Stuttering and being a robot is the same thing, I guess. Paula’s mother says she doesn’t know if it was the right move, though, because her grades are low and she isn’t making any friends. Then Vicki comes downstairs and Joan introduces her to Mrs. Preston. Mrs. Preston notices Vicki speaks strangely, so I guess we’re noticing that this week.

In the kitchen, Paula and Jamie are going over what happened in Tom Sawyer and Jamie has zero patience for Paula’s stuttering. Of course he doesn’t. He doesn’t have any patience for Harriet ever and that’s his future wife. The most unbelievable part of this whole scene is that Jamie actually read the book for class. Paula gets frustrated because Jamie won’t let her finish her sentences. That’s exactly what you need - two pissed off twelve year olds working together. Gold star, Jamie’s underfunded school. Jamie’s mostly mad that Paula knows the answers but doesn’t do better in school.

There’s a knock at the door, and it’s Harriet wanting to know why her man is spending time with another woman. Jamie just slams the door in Harriet’s face, but Harriet is serious about her relationship with Jamie and barges right in and introduces herself to Paula. Harriet literally says Jamie will be her main man when he stops fighting it. And that’s why I believe in this relationship so much. Jamie says he’s just helping Paula study, but Harriet watches Dynasty so she needs to investigate these claims. Oh, dude, Harriet is a bitch. When she leaves, she admits Paula is prettier, but then she makes fun of Paula’s stutter. Look, I know it’s one thing to fight for your man, but you went too far, Harriet. I don’t support you for the rest of this episode. Jamie was right to slam the door in your face before.

Paula is clearly upset, and Jamie Lawson actually does the right thing by badmouthing Harriet. And it’s not even that bad - he just calls her spoiled. Bonnie Brindle has called Harriet that to her face. Vicki tries to defend her friend, but no - not this episode, Vix. Paula thinks Vicki is like all the other kids, too, but Jamie knows she’s not. Because of the robot thing, Jamie? Because I don’t think she’s ever met a kid with a stutter before and she tends to repeat what she hears, so from Paula’s point of view, there’s a good chance Vicki’s just like the other kids. Vicki does repeat Paula’s stutter, and Jamie gets upset with Vicki. You know what, I honestly believe Jamie is frustrated by the fact Paula is getting bad grades even though she’s smart. He’s otherwise being super nice, here. Jamie goes after Paula.

We’re in Jamie’s classroom and he’s giving a report on Moby Dick. Shenanigans. This episode now expects me to believe Jamie’s read two books. It’s Paula’s turn to do a report, and she says she’s not ready. Oh, now I know why Paula’s getting bad grades. She goes to the only school on Earth that doesn’t make kids write their book reports. Her parents should have maybe investigated that. The teacher tells Paula she’s going to fail her in front of the whole class, and I don’t think that’s legal. Jamie wants to help Paula, but she’s perfectly fine with failing.

So, after a commercial break, Joan comes down stairs dressed for golf. She’s looking cute. Also, this is the only time lapse cut that has ever made sense on this show. Ted gets handsy, but Joan wants pre-lesson pointers. Ted agrees with a look on his face that betrays just how much he’d rather be handsy. Guys, Ted is a total prevert. Jamie walks in on this super handsy golf lesson. He explains Paula’s situation to his parents, and Ted gets the idea to use Vicki to help Paula. This would have been great before the robot made fun of the girl’s stutter. But Ted points out that the reason he built Vicki was to help out therapists and doctors, and I’m like - then why all the slave labor? Joan points out that Paula has already been to professionals, and Ted thinks that kids feel at ease around other kids and it would give him a chance to see Vicki’s full potential. This is the first episode where Ted has said anything about inventing Vicki that sounded believable.

We cut to Jamie, Paula, and Vicki in the kitchen. Jamie tells Paula that Vicki can really help her, so pay attention. That was an awkward time to tell her that. Then there’s a knock at the door and it’s the Brindle I’m currently not speaking about. Actually, she came over to apologize so I guess we can acknowledge Harriet again. She admits she has a real problem of speaking without thinking. Paula forgives Harriet, and Harriet even regrets that she gets so jealous that someone might steal her man. Jamie is going to murder Harriet. Like, serious murder. Harriet just finds it hot. She leaves, and then Jamie leaves Vicki and Paula to do their thing.

Vicki starts with aversion therapy and gives Paula a list of words to read, tooting a horn every time Paula stutters. Paula gets frustrated, and Vicki explains the idea is that Paula will hate the sound so much that she’ll stop stuttering just to not hear it. Paula says she can see why it works because she hates it - and she didn’t stutter once during that sentence. Nobody is going to point that out. Vicki even toots the horn anyway. Vicki, you have one job...

Vicki then moves on to desensitization. Paula has to say the same tongue twister over and over until she doesn’t stutter. Paula thinks it’s stupid, but Vicki makes her do it. Then Vicki gives Paula Tom Sawyer to read and gives her a tip to not stutter. Paula gets mad, not understanding how she can say Mississippi without stuttering, and then Vicki points out she just did.

We cut to Paula giving her book report in front of her mom and the Lawsons, and though it’s not perfect, she can get through it. Paula’s mother is so proud, and the Lawsons are happy that they could help. Then the front door rings and apparently there’s a pizza delivery because one of the phone exercises Vicki made Paula do was order a pizza. How long did it take to deliver that pizza? Anyway, it’s super expensive because of all the things Paula had to order on it, but whatever, they’re celebrating.

Then we cut to the classroom and Paula is about to deliver her book report. The students make Paula nervous, and the teacher says she’s failing Paula right in front of the class. Again, not sure that’s legal. Jamie gets pissed off because of all the work Vicki did with Paula just for Paula to throw it away. Then Jamie makes fun of Paula because in his eyes, she deserves it. It’s enough to motivate Paula and she gives her report. Again, it’s not perfect, but she gets through the word Mississippi and the class cheers her on.

Back at the Lawson house, Vicki is watering the plants and talking to them to help them grow. The mail man comes and Ted sends Vicki out to pick up the mail. Joan decides she doesn’t want to golf anymore, which Ted is okay with. Then we can hear screaming from outside and Ted and Joan investigate. Apparently, Vicki decided pick up the mail meant pick up the mail man. Oh, that robot. The end.

That felt like a long episode, but I think because it wasn’t as fluffy as other episodes, they managed to get a lot of stuff in. Sure, it had continuity errors and stuff, but on the whole it was good. It was dense. There should have been more episodes like this one. Even though if that teacher is the battleax Joan replaced, I bet it was Paula that poisoned her. The whole class doesn’t need to know a student’s grade situation.

Firsts: Ted said something about inventing Vicki that actually made sense, Jamie read the book for class


  1. Jamie totally had Vicki write out his book report for him, that Kid had the real brains in the Lawson house. :] It would have been fun to see Vicki's adventures in accidental tv programming, would she have called in every telephone number from every infomercial that ended with, "Call now!" I think yes!

  2. That would definitely have made a fun episode.