Friday, October 6, 2017

Season 2, Episode 15: Smoker's Delight

Guys, I know I way past owe you this review. I reviewed this episode on my YouTube channel as a special episode, but it's been a year so I figure it's the same as me watching it with fresh eyes now. I just saw a season one episode on TV that I barely remembered, and I actually got through all those episodes!

The episode starts with Vicki mopping the floor while Joan is like "supervising" or something (read: she is reading a magazine). Vicki announces that she's done, and Joan tells Vicki she can dump out the water. So Vicki dumps it out on the floor. Never lose that passive-aggressive streak, Vix. Ted then comes home and immediately slips on the floor. It's karma for how he is in every other episode.

Apparently, work is stressful for Ted these days and it's driven him to start smoking. Joan isn't having it, though, and she gives pinches Ted. I'm starting to believe Joan's anger issues need to be addressed. Ted really just wants one last cigarette before he quits forever, but Joan throws them out. Joan may be borderline abusive, but at least she cares.

Jamie and Reggie come home from school, and they seem real down about something. The boys say school was terrible because it's the first year of junior high and everyone looks down on them. After Joan and Ted assure the boys that it will get better, Joan decided she's going to the market and Ted's coming with her. She then makes Ted grab his ear and pulls him out the door. I'm dropping the borderline. Joan is abusive. Is it the stress from being allowed to leave the kitchen this year?

Jamie and Reggie brainstorm ideas to not get picked on by the 9th graders anymore. Jamie comes up with the idea to buy off the older students, but both Jamie and Reggie are broke. Jamie then decides that if he does chores, he might get an advance in his allowance and he'll start by taking out the trash. This is Jamie Lawson. I have spent a season and a half calling his work ethic into question. This is the most contrived set up ever.

Of course, Jamie finds the cigarettes in the trash because they're right on top, and Reggie realizes that he's seen the older kids at school smoking, so this might just be the way to seem cool with them. Jamie points out that they don't know how to smoke and Vicki generously offers to give them a tutorial. Is Vicki trying to destroy all humans on a slow burn? Apparently, Vicki learned from watching Bette Davis on TV. Guys, this was the 80s. Did they really have to go that far back to find an example of smoking on TV? Also, Vicki's tutorial is ridiculous.

After a weird transition, the kids are up in Jamie's room watching Vicki smoke. Vicki blows the smoke out of her ears because that's a good use of special effects funds. Jamie takes the cigarette and sends Vicki off to make him and Reggie sandwiches. At this point, I can't blame Vicki for trying to give the boys cancer.

Jamie and Reggie try smoking for themselves, but they're really bad at it and they hate it. It's just part of the joys of trying to fit in. Harriet then suddenly pops up in the window, yelling that she smells smoke and "Fire, fire!" Jamie tries to blow her off, but Harriet catches on that the boys have been smoking and casually threatens to snitch on them. Harriet, hon, having to threaten really damages your brand as a respected snitch; it should be assumed. Jamie asks what Harriet wants in exchange for her silence, and all she wants is a romantic day with her future husband. D'aww. Jamie tries to pawn it off on Reggie, but Harriet is clear that it has to be with him. Jamie reluctantly agrees, because he's slowly warming up to his woman, and Harriet does that thing where she walks away from a second story window. Why don't they ever investigate how she does that?

Jamie then realizes that he needs to hide the cigarettes, so he decides to hide them on Vicki. That just leaves the one that the kids had all been smoking, and stumped as to how to get rid of that one, Vicki just eats it. She can't have a milkshake without glitching out, but sure, just casually eat a cancer stick.

The next day at breakfast, the Lawsons start their day with a sex joke. Because of course they do. Vicki then drags Jamie into the kitchen because Joan all but told her to. Seriously, Joan, don't program Vicki with your abusive ways. Jamie had been getting dressed when Vicki barged in, so he demands privacy. That might have been a valid request had Jamie not already spent all episode sneaking around, but it's not like his parents know that. Joan and Ted actually agree with Jamie, and decide to store Vicki in their room. She lives in a cabinet. They could store her literally anywhere - why does she have to stay in someone's bedroom?

Jamie invites over Peter Watson, a 9th grade joke, while his mom is shopping and his dad is at work. Peter can't tell Jamie or Reggie apart because all 7th graders look the same to him and you have no idea how much I love that joke. Jamie invites Peter to stay for a cigarette, but since the boys learned to smoke from Vicki, they just look ridiculous. Peter tells them nobody cool smokes anymore and chewing tobacco is now all the rage. The boys really want to fit in, so they give it a try.

Ted and Joan move Vicki into their room, and she is so adorable when she decides to sleep in her parents' bed. Of course, Ted banishes her to the cabinet so he can try to get intimate with Joan, but knowing Vicki can hear and see them is a bit of a mood killer for her. Joan decides to watch TV instead and there's a Bette Davis movie on and you see where this is going, don't you?

Joan and Ted immediately bust Jamie because Vicki ratted him out, but that's a little unfair because she was the one who taught them to smoke. Jamie fesses up, but promises to never smoke again because he's into chewing tobacco now. Why would you confess that to your parents?! Well, since Ted is a psychopath, he decides to use this as a teaching moment and deliberately make Jamie sick from the tobacco, because grounding him is a foreign concept to the Lawsons.

The next day, Jamie comes home from school super bummed. Turns out, chewing tobacco gave Peter Watson mouth cancer. Even lighthearted 80s sitcoms about robot shenanigans can have a full on Degrassi moment. They treat this revelation with the seriousness that it deserves - by following it up with Jamie very rudely breaking his date with Harriet. Small Wonder - always appropriately handling serious issues. Then the episode ends with a sex joke because of course it does.

It's never good when a sitcom gets preachy, but that joke about 7th graders all looking alike is just pure gold.

Peter was played by Adam Rich, who was already known as America's little brother because of his role on Eight is Enough, so I'm picturing that this is like when Eve Plumb was on The Facts of Life. Also, Wikipedia says he was in more than one episode of Small Wonder, so I'm looking forward to that.

I'm really really sorry that I was gone for so long. I want to do better. I'll try to do better. But just in case, Happy New Year.


  1. I'm going to assume Ted used to smoke and then quit awhile back, because it's hard for me to imagine someone Ted's age taking up smoking for the first time to relieve stress. It was the 80s; more likely he'd be raiding Joan's valium bottle.

    Harriet does that thing where she walks away from a second story window. Why don't they ever investigate how she does that?

    *chuckles* Nice. Of course, since I'm a Star Trek nerd, I immediately began trying to rationalize this. (There's some first-story roof below the bedroom window? Or maybe Harriet is a witch, and this is an undeveloped genre crossover.)

    chewing tobacco gave Peter Watson mouth cancer

    What?! After, like, a couple weeks? It must have had uranium powder mixed in. There's a good chance Ted's punishment just gave Jamie cancer, too, if that's all it takes.

    See you again soon! Or next year! :-)