Friday, January 8, 2016

Season 2, Episode 13: Here Comes the Judge

The screencaps will be late again this week because of a hectic work schedule. I apologize. I will try to have them up by the end of the weekend.

I only have vague memories of this episode, but I’m pretty sure we get Joan back in the classroom, and I’m a big fan of anything that gets Joan out of the kitchen. Let’s just get right to it.

So of course we start in the kitchen. I was super optimistic for nothing. Vicki is setting the table while Joan is cooking, and based on what she’s wearing, Joan is definitely back to being a teacher. Like they remembered that little detail from 10 episodes ago. The roast Joan was cooking was raw because apparently Joan forgot how to cook and just set the timer. Joan says that Ted is going to growl like a lion, and Vicki is just like, “Then he should like raw meat.” Love that robot. No cares are given. But then Joan has a pretty good idea and has Vicki cook the roast with her finger. Dude, Vicki is faster than a microwave. I would make Vicki cook all my food with her finger - and I’m pro-robot rights. But you know what I’m also in favor of? Food that’s done in 30 seconds.

Ted conveniently comes home just then, through the living room, leaving me confused as to how the Lawsons decide which door to enter. I mean, their garage is in the backyard, right? So I’m starting to understand entering through the kitchen. Stop confusing me, Small Wonder. Ted thinks the roast smells great, and Joan says she slaved all day over it. Vicki kind of scoffs at that, so Joan begrudgingly admits Vicki helped. Ted asks how Joan’s day was, and Joan says she wishes she could substitute for Jamie’s regular teacher more often. Oh my gosh, you guys, Small Wonder actually covered up a continuity gaffe. If only there were Small Wonder related celebration gifs.

Anyway, Joan comments on how well Vicki is doing in class, and Ted says he still gets nervous when she’s out of the house. You were doing so well! Not only was it your idea for Vicki to go to school, Ted, but in the past 10 episodes since this dropped teacher storyline, Vicki has been out of the house a lot. Vicki has been out of the house a lot since season one. Vicki’s had a job, Ted, a job. How are you nervous? Then Ted comments on how Vicki is more human everyday. Then why are you always trying to dismantle her, Ted? I’m already over you and we’re only two minutes in, Ted. Joan says the only real difference is Vicki doesn’t eat at lunch, and Vicki comments on how gross cafeteria food is. No one wants to ask where she learned that from? No? We’re just going to let that line be a cue for Jamie’s entrance? Okay, fine. Come in, Jamie.

Jamie wants furniture polish to clean up a gavel. Three minute mark - and one minute of that was theme song. Congrats, Small Wonder. This is the fastest your nonsense has broken me. Also, this opening is dense. I’m kind of hoping for a light episode after we get this clunkiness out of the way. Ted asks what the gavel’s for, and Jamie says he’s a judge. So Ted makes fun of Jamie’s height. Seriously, Ted, you can go away now. Joan says she’s teaching Jamie’s class about the American Legal system. Since when do substitutes make up the lesson plans? Are you a long term sub or not? Get it together, guys! Joan says that they’re going to try the cases of students who break the rules at school. That is actually inspired. I like that idea. Accept this promise to let one flaw go. Jamie says the other kids voted him for judge because of his judge-like qualities, but Vicki is quick to bust his chops and point out none of the other kids wanted it. Vicki is the best little sister a kid could want.

Ted says he saved the family $50 by not getting a ticket when he parked in front of a fire hydrant. When Jamie asks how Ted missed seeing it, Ted admits he saw it but then gives a long winded speech about not caring. Then we’re at Jamie’s locker at school, and Vicki is standing next to him. I’m letting that one go. Jamie appoints Vicki to be his court reporter, but she says that word is not in her bubble memory module. Remember the good old days when she’d just say she wasn't programmed to know a word? That was less... painful. Then Reggie and Warren show up. Warren! I haven’t seen you since you were getting lusty with Jessica. Please, please get back together with Vicki.

Warren sneezes on Reggie and blames his allergy. Then Warren asks Jamie for some private time before class, where he reveals he’s Jamie’s first case. Jamie says he’ll take care of it, but Reggie is like, “that’s not how real judges act.” Jamie says he’ll learn through trial and error. Reggie’s face at that comment is worth letting two flaws go. Okay, this review is already pretty bulky six minutes in and I just want to type less. Whatever. Anyway, Reggie says Jamie has to be tough like Judge Wapner on People’s Court. Oh, oh, oh! So, I just discovered Sliders, so I think Jamie should be tough like Judge Wapner on Soviet States of America World! Okay, let’s get back to this show. Jamie agrees, and makes Reggie his baliff.

Then we’re in the classroom and Reggie is at the front of the class as Joan tells the kids to settle down. Letting that transition go. Joan says the kids should learn about the justice system by the end of the week, and then tells Reggie to call the court to order. But... nope, cashing in that other letting it go card. Jamie enters and court gets started. Warren takes the stand and tries to butter up the judge from the stand. For a smart guy, Warren, you are stupid. Warren’s crime is running up the down staircase. Is this Wayside school? What is a down staircase? Also, what kind of crime is that? I had really hoped Warren had stink bombed his science class or something. He is the worst nerd ever. Warren pleads guilty and then winks at the judge. This has to be Jessica’s influence. She makes boys stupid. Jamie says that running up the down staircase is a serious offense. No, it is not. It is not even a real thing. Jamie looks like he might go easy on Warren, so Reggie reminds him to think Wapner so Jamie sentences Warren to washing dishes in the cafeteria for six months. Wow. I’m stupefied. I have no other reactions.

Luckily, Joan can react for me. She tells Jamie that the punishment usually fits the crime, so Jamie sentences Warren to eating the food in the cafeteria, too. Joan then clarifies that she thinks the punishment is too harsh. Jamie asks the class what they think, and when they agree with Joan, he ignores everyone. Power goes to your head that fast, huh? The second case turns out to be Reggie. Wait, what? What? Just... what?! No reactions. Jamie says Reggie didn’t say anything, and Reggie says it doesn’t matter because Jamie will let him off. WHAT?! Guys, I can’t. I’m laughing uncontrollably and it’s because of how completely broken I am. Reggie was caught throwing water balloons and there were a lot of witnesses. Then Reggie bribes Jamie with Madonna tickets. You are a horrible person, Reggie Williams. Jamie throws out the case.

Joan decides at that point she needs to know what Reggie and Jamie were whispering about. Like the whole class couldn’t hear them. Jamie objects, but Joan overrules him and has Vicki repeat the conversation. Joan decides that the first case on the docket the next day is Jamie on the charge of accepting a bribe. Good. At least one thing in this episode makes some sense.

That was only act one you guys. Okay, let’s keep going.

So the Lawsons are at the table eating dinner. Jamie butters up Joan hard. Ted calls him out on it with pantomime. Joan says Jamie still has to go on trial, so Jamie appeals to Ted. Dude, Jamie, this is a school issue. It’s not Ted’s problem. Also, let’s not include him in this. He has no moral compass. Ted is like, “don’t drag me into it” but Jamie apparently thinks that means amp it up so he points out Ted got away with breaking the law. Ted says that’s different, but Joan agrees with Jamie’s point. Guys, act two is a really bad time to make the B-plot a thing. That’s what happens when the episode is too dense. Jamie decides Vicki should be his lawyer, but Vicki points out she isn’t programmed to be one. Vicki, sweetie, you learned to jump start a heart from watching TV. You can be a lawyer. Jamie tells her she will be programmed after reading a book, so she kind of agrees?

We cut to Ted flagging down the meter maid and oh my gosh it’s Harriette Winslow! She is pretty adamant that she’s a parking enforcement officer. Being a police officer runs in the Winslow family. Ted asks the meter maid to give a ticket to the car parked in front of the fire hydrant and guys - this is the first time we actually see the Lawson car. Like, we knew they had one but we have never actually seen it. I think it’s actually Discount Eddie’s car, but I want to believe. Harriette Winslow asks if it’s his ex-wife’s car, and when he admits it’s his, she’s like, “well, then, just move it.” Ted really wants a ticket, though, so Harriette Winslow decides to give him one - until she finds out his name is Ted. That’s her two-year-old son’s name and it’s his birthday. No two year old ever in 1986 was named Ted. You’re lying, Harriette Winslow. So Ted throws a temper tantrum, and Harriette Winslow thinks he’s just like her son and walks away. The parking enforcement officer is the best part of this episode. Also, I just realized Harriet Brindle isn’t in this episode. I digress.

We cut to the classroom, and we learn that Warren Enright is the new judge. Jamie’s going to be hanged. Jamie approaches the bench and asks if he has the right to an attorney. When Joan and Warren say that he does, he calls for Lawyer Vicki. Vicki is an adorable lawyer, but a very mixed up one. She asks the court if Jamie has the face of a man who beats his wife. I’m letting that one go because I just can’t right now. Vicki then asks if Jamie is a monkey or a man, then says he’s mentally incompetent and rests. Okay, that was funny. Warren suspends Jamie’s sentence, but Joan makes Warren actually punish Jamie so Warren sentences Jamie to erase the board. But Joan keeps pushing for more, so Warren adds writing “I will not accept bribes” 100 times, two weeks detention, and death by guillotine. Dang, don’t get tried in the court of Warren Enright. Joan guesses they can suspend the death by guillotine. You’re all heart, Joan Lawson.

Jamie apologizes to the class and accepts his punishment like a man. Joan says he got off easy and they should have thrown the book at him, so Vicki literally throws the book at Jamie and knocks him over. At this point I don’t know if I’m laughing because it was funny or because of the trauma. There’s still three minutes left.

We cut to Joan painting her nails at the kitchen table, when the phone rings. Joan comedically answers the phone with wet nails. Ted is on the phone and he regales Joan with his adventures in trying to get a ticket. It ended with him telling law enforcement how to do their job and Ted needing to get bailed out. Joan says she can’t because her nails are wet. I love her. She quickly says she was kidding, but Ted had already been dragged away from the phone at this point. Episode over.

That was not a good kind of dense, you guys. I like some of the denser episodes because they have a goodness that they’re trying to nurture. This episode was punishment. I just got punished for liking Small Wonder, by Small Wonder.

Firsts: we see the Lawson family car.


  1. Do you ever wonder where Small Wonder was supposed to be set in? Besides just the state of California? So, this is nerdy, but I think it's set in a small town called Danville CA. Why you ask? Because of the weirdly smalltown vibe I got from the show. The shops, bank, and later mountainous backdrop of the series are super close to Danville's looks. Why even care about it? There's no good answer, I just did. See? Nerdy! (Also- I thought these kids just started middle school, but they said the 7th grade vs? Did I miss something?)

    1. Story-wise, since Ted works in the robotics industry in the 1980's, I would guess his company is based in the Silicon Valley area, just south of San Francisco. So the Lawsons live in a San Francisco suburb.

      But production-wise, this show was filmed on the same Hollywood-based 20th Century Fox studio Married With Children would eventually be filmed on a couple years later.

  2. I appreciate the dedication you bring to dismantling the convoluted plot the writer(s) made for this episode. Cause, man, it sure was a dumb episode.

    What I remember most is both Reggie and Vicki doing their 'Here comes the judge' dance. That made me laugh a little.