Friday, November 27, 2015

Season 2, Episode 9: Home Sweet Homeless

I had to take some screenshots without pausing this week for reasons. As such, some pictures have a certain derpiness to them, and some scenes don't have the actual photo I wanted to use to represent them. On to the review.

I don’t have a pre-episode thing that wouldn’t be depressing, and my goal is not to depress you. It’s to make you see that just because a show is objectively bad doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any redeeming qualities. And I fail that task sometimes, but you know, overall. That said, let’s just get right into it.

Vicki and Ted are in the kitchen and I don’t know what’s happening because Ted’s pants are distracting. Jamie comes into the kitchen and shields his face from the glare coming from Ted’s pants while he says they’re awesome. Ted takes the compliment. No, Ted, Jamie did not mean awesome like good. He meant those pants inspired awe because it’s impossible to comprehend them. Jamie makes his point clearer by saying he hopes there are no bulls on the golf course, and Ted threatens “to the moon.” Oh, cool, let’s bring back the euphemism for abuse. Ted finally says Vicki was making him a protein shake and I just realized everyone except for Joan is in the kitchen. Small Wonder is making excellent strides in feminism, especially since I don’t know if Joan is actually employed this week or not. Ted tries to use the blender, but it doesn’t work, so he uses the handy-dandy Vicki.

Joan finally enters the kitchen and says they can congratulate her. Joan, please don’t be the Ted this week. Apparently, her women’s auxillary club called and Joan is the chairperson of the committee to help the homeless. Shenanigans. Joan doesn’t have a cell phone, so everyone would have known she was on the phone and thus she could have had a less awkward entrance. “Oh, hey, honey, who was on the phone?” Entire women’s auxillary line goes here. Vicki doesn’t know what homeless means and 2015 me is like that’s privilege rearing it’s ugly head. Of course the robotics engineer who gets job offers out the wazoo doesn’t think to teach his robot child who was designed to help people about a group of people who need help. Check your robotics engineer privilege, Ted. Joan explains it to Vicki, and Ted agrees that they should help the homeless, but Vicki just walks away. I’m not making this up. It looks like they were explaining it to Jamie and Vicki happened to be in the room to overhear. Program your robot child some manners.

Joan says that it’s hard to make people aware of the issue, which is obvious since you couldn’t even hold the attention of a robot, and Ted suggests trying to go on TV and raise awareness that way. Jamie suggests telling Harriet. These are both valid suggestions. Joan sides with Ted. Ted agrees to drop her off and pick her up because he’s going to the golf course, and I knew it! One car family! Only bit of continuity that sticks. Wait, so how has Joan been getting to work as a teacher? Darn it... Joan asks Jamie to go to the store for her, but the length of that list is ridiculous. He brings Vicki along.

On the way home from the store, Vicki and Jamie see a homeless person. Vicki points out Joan said it was their duty to help the homeless. No, Vicki, Ted said that. See, that’s what happens when you walk away mid-conversation. Jamie notices the alley the homeless person was in was a mess and it should be cleaned up, so Vicki blows everything away with her super robot breath. Seriously. This show has a problem remembering robot is not Superman. Robots can’t breathe and while it would make sense for her to have an exhaust fan in her mouth area so it would mimic breath, it would never be that strong. I pay attention to real world stuff sometimes! Jamie and Vicki approach the homeless guy and wake him up. Rude! Just come back later. You wouldn’t like it if someone woke you up when you were sleeping.

The guy is a little confused when he wakes up, but he is very well mannered around the children. Says how do you do, removes his hat for Vicki - real charming. His name is Roland Cardwell. Jamie asks Roland if he lives in the alley, and he says for the moment. Then he lists the “conveniences” it has - solar heating, air conditioning. He’s a real positive guy. I like that.

We cut back to the Lawson kitchen, and Jamie is making a sandwich. It looks like the beginnings of that ridiculous sandwich he makes in the theme song. There’s a knock at the door and I’m sure it’s Harriet, but the shade is down so we can’t see - let’s find out. It’s Harriet! Jamie says he’s busy and tells Harriet to come back later, so she opens the door and says it’s later. I love Jamie Lawson’s future wife. Harriet wants Jamie’s sandwich, and he tells her to go home and make one for herself. Harriet says she’s not allowed to eat between meals and then makes a joke about Bonnie’s bad cooking. Jamie finishes the sandwich and it is a clone of the ridiculous one! It would make Shaggy and Scooby Doo proud. Jamie kicks Harriet out and then he goes into the living room just in time for Ted and Joan to come home.

Joan says that the reporter agreed to do a story on the homeless, and Jamie casually brings up bringing a homeless person home. Well, no, he says “guess what I did today” and Roland walks out in Joan’s robe. But it is all pretty casual. Roland says hello to Joan and Ted and politely asks Jamie for bubble bath. Ted needs some answers, like “who are you? What are you doing in my house? Why are you wearing my wife’s robe?” Roland, of course, answers the last one.

Vicki comes in wearing Roland’s hat and she is super adorable! She gives Roland some slippers which also look like Joan’s. Jamie introduces Roland to his parents, and Roland lays on the charm. He is so lovely, I want to adopt him. Jamie made the sandwich for Roland. I like how Jamie isn’t a little shit in this episode. I mean, he wasn’t even rude to Harriet earlier. Ted is really upset that Jamie brought the guy home, but Jamie points out Ted and Joan said they had to help the homeless find a home. Wrong. They never said that. But Joan agrees, so free pass, Jamie. Ted agrees to let Roland bathe and that they’ll feed him, but he worries Roland has a criminal record. Privilege check, Ted. No, I’m kidding, I have a roommate who locks her bedroom door when she takes a shower, so I get having trust issues.

We cut to the kitchen because transitions that make sense are for other shows, and Roland has apparently found Ted’s robe because he’s wearing that. He makes himself a cup of coffee as he tells Jamie some fantastic story involving a King Cobra. Jamie asks how Roland got the money to have such adventures, and he says he does things for free. Jamie asks if Roland ever works and he seems allergic to the word. Way to go, Small Wonder. Raise awareness for an issue by perpetuating the stereotypes. Ted and Joan come into the kitchen, and Jamie is enthralled by Roland. I see this going over well. Joan is washing Roland’s clothes, and Ted says that after the clothes are done and Roland eats, he can leave. I can’t even be mad at Ted’s bad attitude. He really could have kicked Roland out a long time ago, but he’s helping as much as he feels comfortable with his own home. Jamie is super offended, and wants Roland to sleep in his room. What, with Vicki in the cabinet? You think that through, Jamie? Roland turns Jamie down, and Ted and Joan use this momentum to make it seem like literally opening up your home to a homeless person isn’t enough, but then Roland drops the bomb and says he’ll be staying in the backyard. That’s when you call the police, but then this episode would only be 11 minutes long.

We cut to the backyard. Roland is sleeping in a lawn chair with that blanket I love so much, when Harriet enters through the gate. Harriet approaches him, but then quickly goes to report it to Jamie. That was responsible. Harriet can be responsible. Jamie pulls Harriet inside and says that Roland is the Lawson’s houseguest. Liberal use of the term houseguest there, Jamie. Jamie explains Roland’s situation to Harriet, and she thinks he’s a bum. You know, in this situation, you’re probably right, Harriet, but that’s not the fair assumption to make usually. Jamie defends Roland by repeating his fantastic stories and Harriet now likes him and wants an introduction. Also, Harriet manages to successfully hit on Jamie while asking him to make the introduction. Knew it. Harriet’s going to be a Lawson some day.

Ted is still upset Roland is around and says if Roland calls him Dad one more time, he’ll wrap him in a blanket and leave him on someone’s doorstep. Ted, you have a real serial killer edge that you may want to work on. Ted wants to kick Roland out badly, but Joan says she doesn’t want to look bad in front of her committee and maybe Ted should just find Roland a job. That is a great suggestion.

We cut to the living room later, I guess, since the people in the room have changed, and Roland is wearing Ted’s awesome red pants. Roland is telling Jamie and Vicki how he gets money when he needs it by saying hello and telling a hard luck story. Ted comes home, and Vicki calls him a sucker. I love those two so much. Ted threatens to bury Roland up to his neck in a sand trap for wearing his pants. See, Ted is totally a serial killer. Ted asks Vicki to take his briefcase up to his room, and she agrees and calls him sucker again. This show got canceled right when it was going to get good. Teen Vicki and Ted, guys! Would have been great.

Joan enters from the kitchen, and Ted says he has good news for Roland. Roland assumes they’re going to Disneyland. I love this guy. Ted got Roland a job, and Roland starts acting all allergic again. Jamie defends Roland, and I’m surprised Roland hasn’t started a cult. Like, that would be the perfect job for him. Roland then says he isn’t homeless because he chose his lifestyle, and he feels bad for the actual homeless. Okay, Small Wonder. I’ll give you points there. Roland is an early Freegan. Then Ted and Roland get into a fight over Roland’s lifestyle choices. Look, if Roland is happy - you know, kick him out and move on with your lives. Then Jamie says he wants Roland’s lifestyle. Shut up, brain. We’re trying to not be depressing.

Then we cut to the next morning in the kitchen and I really don’t think this episode of Small Wonder knew what it was doing, timeline wise. Vicki has made Ted eggs. Ted complains about how Vicki made the eggs, so she dumps them on the table. Love them so much. Joan comes into the kitchen, excited that the homelessness story is going to be on the news that night. Then Jamie enters from the backyard asking where Roland is, and Vicki reveals he’s gone. Jamie is really upset and wants to get Roland back. Joan and Ted decide that Jamie needs a taste of Roland’s lifestyle to get it out of his system.

So the Lawsons all go out after dark and go back to Roland’s alley. Vicki says no one else is in the alley, but she detects smaller life forms - the ones that go crunch when you step on them. Ew. But at least it isn’t rodents. Ted uses the opportunity to teach Jamie some of Roland’s life skills and dumpster dives for pizza when a rodent finally does show up (ew) and Ted says if they catch it, it could be dinner (triple ew). Right when Jamie starts to get it, the news crew shows up. This going to be hilarious. And are there no other alleys in town? The reporter mistakes the Lawsons for a homeless family, and I wonder why with all that dumpster diving. Joan asks the reporter if he remembers her, and when he does he assumes Joan moved the entire family out to the alley to prove her point. Well, technically, that is kind of what happened. Joan starts to tell the truth, but Ted steps in and says that’s exactly what happened. Jamie says that that’s no way for a person to live and they should help the homeless and then Vicki asks for money. Love that robot.

I did it. I got through an episode I knew would be hard. And now I’m done with it. I want to give Small Wonder credit for wanting to raise awareness about such an important issue, I just think there could have been better ways to do it. The End. See you next week.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Season 2, Episode 8: Thanksgiving Story

Guys, this is the only time this blog will ever be seasonally relevant! Thursday is Thanksgiving, and here’s the review of the Thanksgiving episode! I really don’t remember this episode, but it involves Jamie Lawson lying so I’m sure I’ll love it. Let’s get to it!

We start with Vicki writing the grocery list, and Joan asks her if she’s done. Well, except Joan calls it the marketing list and I realize this isn’t the first time Joan has referred to grocery shopping as marketing. Is that what people really used to call it? I have no idea. Well, Vicki isn’t done, so Joan asks her to speed it up so Vicki writes so fast the paper starts smoking. Joan tells her not that fast, but she sure waits long enough to say that.

Ted and Jamie enter the kitchen and they want to know what’s going on. Joan says Vicki was working on the shopping list, so Ted makes a joke and he and Jamie laugh about it. Seriously, Ted, Joan hits. You know this. Joan says that they’re having a Thanksgiving with all the ingredients from the first Thanksgiving, and I feel like that’s just weird but whatever, it’s their Thanksgiving. Ted looks at the list and is surprised that Vicki included 91 Indians. How are you surprised? When has anyone ever been specific enough with their instructions to Vicki? And Vicki does point out that there were 91 Native Americans at the first Thanksgiving. Actually, she called them Redskins, but it is not 1986 right now, it’s 2015 and I have been indoctrinated with not being racist. Ted says they have to settle for three whiteskins and a robot, so see, racist.

Jamie notices venison is on the list and he refuses to eat Bambi. Then Joan says they have a lot to be thankful for, but that is a weird transition from Jamie not wanting to eat Bambi. That is a valid complaint. Either way, there’s a knock at the backdoor and it’s Harriet dressed as a turkey. It’s her costume for the school play, and she’s super proud. Joan says she’s sure Harriet will be the best turkey there ever was because sometimes Joan is perfect. Jamie agrees, but says it’s because Harriet has a lifetime of experience. These are the things they’ll laugh about when they’re married old people. Ted disapproves of Jamie’s comments while trying to suppress a laugh, so I’m back to hating Ted this week. Harriet tries to Brindle Swindle her way into a Thanksgiving invitation, but 2/3rds of the Lawsons in the room politely refuse.

There is another knock at the door, and Jamie opens it to reveal this kid we’ve never seen before and I know we’ll never see again. His name is Adam, and Jamie invites him in and introduces him to his parents. Then the Lawsons leave three kids alone in their kitchen while they go to the store, and I’m like, the Lawsons are a lot less strict than my parents were when I was 12, and I was a latchkey kid when I was 12. Adam reveals he came over to help Jamie fix his bike, and then Harriet flirts with Adam. You do you, girl. When Jamie decides he likes it, he’ll put a ring on it and in the meanwhile you don’t need to be waiting on his indecision.

We cut to Adam and Jamie working on the bike because transitions that make sense are impossible to find on Small Wonder. Adam says Jamie’s parents seem okay, and Jamie says they think they’re strict. Really, because they left two 12 year old boys and a 10 year old girl alone in their kitchen, and I’m not convinced they even know where Vicki was because I don’t. Adam reveals he lives with just his mom because his dad abandoned them - went to get a newspaper and never came back. It’s okay, Adam, you’re in good company. Tracy Jordan, Adrian Monk, and Punky Brewster are all memorable fictional characters whose dads stepped out on them. You’re really bland and forgettable, but clearly you can still grow up to do anything, even in Sitcomland. Adam explains that he’s a latchkey kid because his mom works two jobs, and Jamie thinks Adam has it tough. Adam gets real defensive and says he doesn’t and it bugs him when people think he does. Dude, you were the one who brought it up. If you’re just going to go around talking about being a latchkey kid, people are going to have reactions. Adam says being a latchkey kid has its advantages because a whole group of latchkey kids are going to a mountain resort for Thanksgiving. Shenanigans. I was a latchkey kid, and I had to watch my younger brothers when I was 12, and I got no mountain resort trips. I just got like, normal Thanksgiving. At my house. Jamie is interested in how that happened, and Adam says he filled out an application at the community center and answered some questions. Shenanigans again. My community center just has like, art classes and guitar lessons. Anyway, Jamie now sees the advantages of coming from a broken home.

Jamie approaches Ted with a proposal for a fun Thanskgiving, and Ted defends the 1621 Thanksgiving the Lawson family is going to have. Ted says Joan is going to slave over a hot stove all day, but Vicki is very quick to correct that point. Good on you, Vicki. Always acknowledge your worth. Anyway, it turns out Jamie wasn’t even going for the slimy approach of suggesting a trip to the mountains or anything. He just wanted his dad to play football with him, but both Ted and Joan blow him off. You know what, I’m pro whatever Jamie does to feel good about that this episode. That was pretty crummy. I’m used to Ted being a bad person, but come on Joan. You’re supposed to be perfect sometimes. Joan even made the sex joke in the scene. Wow.

In the kitchen, Jamie talks out how Adam’s going to have a blast while his Thanksgiving sucks. Then he gets an idea and whispers it to Vicki. Jamie, do you really need Vicki for this scheme? I mean, right now I’m super supportive of you doing what you need to do to get over the hurt of your parents not caring about your emotional needs, but don’t drag the girl with a social worker into it. Even though I’m sure they forgot that small detail. But Jamie Lawson has to be scheming something that would get social services called, because he never goes small.

Jamie and Vicki are at what I’m assuming is the community center, and Jamie asks Vicki if she remembers everything he told her because he’s counting on her, and she says it’s stored in her random access memory. Wow, that was clunky, guys. “Hey, just in case you tuned in 8 minutes into an episode and have never seen Small Wonder before, Jamie is scheming something with Vicki, who also happens to be a robot.” Jamie asks Vicki if she can cry tears, and Vicki explains how she can cry. Apparently, she can also sweat. But, hey, now we know how the robot cried when Grandpa said mean things about her. Jamie thinks the sweat thing is too much information, and says that Vicki should just cry.

The guy at the center enters the room and greets the kids and apologizes for making them wait, and Jamie wastes no time in laying it on thick. Jamie and Vicki have keys - where did they get those from? Did Jamie rent keys from latchkey kids? Where are those kids right now? Sure, explain the parts you don’t need to explain but gloss over the glaring details. The guy says Jamie forgot to fill in his father’s first name on the application and Jamie says he doesn’t remember it. I just can’t with this. We’re not even all the way through the first act. Okay, whatever, power through. Jamie’s even made up a very thorough story, even though I would think it’s suspicious that Jamie keeps asking Vicki to verify his details. Like, honest people don’t need so much validation, dude. So the guy asks if Vicki wants to go on the ski trip, too, but Jamie says no because Vicki needs to stay home in case anyone calls because his mom put their dad’s picture on a milk carton. I hate awkwardness and this is super freaking awkward. The guy asks for Jamie’s phone number so he can call, and then Jamie says they can’t afford a phone. See how full of holes your lie is, Jamie? I can’t believe Vicki didn’t call him out on that in rehearsal, but she probably wanted to see this train wreck.

We cut back to the Lawson house, and Joan cleaned out the fireplace in the living room because she thought it might be nice to have a fire after Thanskgiving dinner. I specify because the Lawsons have two fireplaces - trivia. Jamie offers to get some wood, but Joan says Vicki went to get some. Vicki comes back with a tree. Love that robot. The front doorbell rings and Jamie goes to answer it. It’s the guy from the center! Yay, more awkwardness. He says that Jamie’s mom has to fill out a consent form because they can’t just take kids into the mountains without one. That makes sense. Score one for Small Wonder. Then the guy says he has to confirm everything Jamie said because some kids try to scam ski trips. You don’t say.

Jamie tries to blow the guy off, but the guy calls Jamie out on it. Then Joan calls for Jamie and my gut is sent to cringe. Jamie is still trying to sell that he’s from a broken home while he is so obviously caught. Jamie is so super busted. Ted comes home, and Jamie still tries to sell it. Learn how to call it quits, Jamie. Jamie immediately apologizes when he’s called out on what he did, and Ted is quick to tell Jamie how selfish he was. Joan and Ted are also quick to punish Jamie without bothering to find out why he lied. That part bothers me. I mean, yes, Jamie did wrong, but they recognized less obvious red flags in other episodes. Is it that hard to even talk to your son? No wonder Jamie is always doing crazy things. Once Jamie leaves the room, Joan wonders what they should do with him, and Vicki suggests tying him to a tree, covering him in honey, and letting the ants eat him. She’s an awesome little sister. Ted decides to let Jamie see what Thanksgiving without his family is really like. Yeah, except, you were already giving him that. This whole thing started because you two blew him off when he wanted to spend Thanksgiving playing football with you, which you might know if you would just go talk to him. Sitcomland parenting is weird.

Ted and Joan sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, and expect Jamie to play along as they set up in alternate universe where there is no turkey. Guys, he’s looking right at it. You guys suck at this. Also, “hey, Jamie, why did you make up that outlandish story in the first place?” Those should be the words coming out of your mouth, not, “how could your mom have made a turkey if she’s working?” Jamie gives up the argument ridiculously fast, and Joan and Ted decide to eat without him. The guilt sets in really fast, too, but I’m amazed by how horrible the parenting in this episode is.

Jamie is hanging out in his room when Harriet comes up in the window. Jamie doesn’t even make her leave. Oh my gosh, this is full on depressed. Even Harriet kind of realizes something is off, but she’s 10 and doesn’t get into it. Acceptable. She’s 10, and she at least asked questions that Jamie didn’t answer. She’s not his parents. After Harriet leaves, Ted and Joan come up and forgive Jamie and tell him to join him for dinner. Jamie says no. Ted and Joan are like, “okay” and start to walk away, but Jamie points out they could have at least argued a little. Yeah, seriously. They could have done a lot differently in this episode.

So, at the table everyone says what they’re thankful for, and guys, Ted says he’s thankful for Vicki and she smiles. I love their relationship. It’s so complex. Jamie says he’s thankful for his parents. Of course you are, apparently you were the one who did wrong in this episode when your parents blew you off and then didn’t even care why you were acting out. Then we see Harriet’s face pressed up in the kitchen door. Wow. Ted invites her in, and Jamie invites her to eat. And so Harriet becomes part of the family. For thirty seconds. The end.

I don’t like awkward, but I do like this episode. Even though it did a lot of wrong things, it did get across being appreciative of what you have, and that’s really all you can ask for in Thanksgiving episodes - and there aren’t that many of those. It’s the stepchild of all the holidays. We get two days off of school and work, and we’re still like “you’re not as cool as Halloween or Christmas.” We should be more thankful for Thanksgiving. Even though Small Wonder was popular in other countries - I wonder what they think of this episode?

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