Friday, October 27, 2017

Season 2, Episode 16: The Personality Kid

We did it, guys! I got through a whole month of reviews! Let's see if we can keep the momentum going!

But before I get way ahead of myself - another episode I have no memory of.

The episode starts with everyone except Joan in the kitchen. They've done it. They've completely inversed season one. Ted is reading the paper, and Jamie asks for the baseball scores. Vicki rattles them off without any teams, and when Jamie says he wants to know who won, Vicki just repeats the larger number from all the scores. Oh, that wacky robot. Ted just gives Jamie the paper then asks Vicki to heat up his coffee because it's been a whole 37 seconds and they haven't used special effects yet.

Joan enters the kitchen and asks Vicki to pour her a cup of coffee. Ted asks Joan about her substitute teacher job, and Joan loves it - even the part where kids throw pencils so they stick in the ceiling. I honestly think that's a thing that only happened on TV. I've seen it in sitcoms, but I've never seen it in real life. Ted reminds Joan to keep an eye on Vicki so nobody sees her being suspicious, but Jamie and Joan immediately say everyone thinks Vicki is a real human kid.

We're in the classroom, and Joan is asking the class a lot of questions. Keep raising their hands, but Vicki just keeps interrupting and answering before anyone else gets a chance. She even starts answering questions before Joan asks them. I think this is what Ted meant by "suspicious." Joan tells Vicki to give the other students a chance, and Reggie finally gets to answer a question. But then Reggie makes a face at Vicki, and she raises her hand and jumps up and says his answer is incomplete. I'm like 84% sure Vicki only did that because Reggie made a face. She is a very passive aggressive robot.

Jamie asks the guys to eat lunch, but Reggie pulls Jamie away from the guys and says the guys said Vicki can't eat with them. The guys said that, Reggie? Or did Reggie say that? Jamie points out that Joan can't leave Vicki home alone when she's substitute teaching, and Jamie can't just abandon her when she is in school, and Reggie says the guys say she's stuck up with no personality. Given the early situation, I feel like Reggie broke away from the guys to tell Jamie all of this because the guys didn't say anything and Reggie is too much of a wuss to tell his best friend he has beef with his sister. Come on, Reggie. You're supposed to be better than that. Reggie then basically threatens to end his friendship with Jamie and take all of their friends in the divorce if he doesn't do something about Vicki. Dude, you were the one who antagonized her!

So, Jamie does what any mature older brother would do - he takes it all out on Vicki. Dude, it's not her fault! She was programmed by a sociopath - what is she supposed to know about personality? But Vicki does manage to make a joke at Jamie's expense, and she smiles because Vicki amuses herself, and that's all that really matters in life.

So, Jamie has a screwdriver in Vicki's back panel. This feels safe and like nothing will backfire. I mean, Ted went to college and became a robotics engineer, but sure, any 12 year old with a screwdriver automatically knows how to program a robot. Vicki asks Jamie what he was doing back there, and Jamie says a surprise adjustment - admitting he didn't know what he was doing. Oh my gosh, Jamie, how have your parents not left you in the mountains and replaced you with a robot child? They can do that - they have the technology.

Jamie asks if the adjustment did anything to Vicki, and she says no before spazzing the flip out. Jamie broke Vicki, and he seems pleased about it. That sociopath gene runs strong in this family. He tells Vicki to walk around to see what happens, and she starts walking into walls and furniture. Jamie is so happy with himself. I always hoped Ted would be the first to go in the robot uprising, but Jamie's really making me reconsider that. It turns out, Jamie was just trying to stop Ted from sending Vicki to school, but none of this seems like a healthy decision.

Joan is in the kitchen, probably to make up for the fact she was the only one not in the kitchen at the start of the episode, and Ted decides to sneak up on her with an apple - because, again, Lawson means "healthy life decisions." Then he makes a teacher/apple based sex joke because it's Small Wonder and we've made it seven minutes without a sex joke. Then Jamie and Vicki enter the kitchen, and Vicki tossing her cookies. Like, literally. Vicki made cookies earlier and now she's tossing them all over the kitchen. Ted asks Vicki what she's doing and oh my gosh she made the same pun I did. I got my sense of humor from Small Wonder, y'all.What does that say about me? Joan asks what's wrong, and Ted says that there's an obvious malfunction. Vicki responds with "obviously, peebrain" and I'm like 94% sure that's just Vicki/Ted relationship.

Jamie says Vicki shouldn't go to school in this condition, and Ted promises he won't let Vicki out of the house until he knows what's wrong with her. He says he'll fix her after dinner, and sends her to her cabinet. Vicki then pushes the kitchen door off the hinges and now I know she's using her malfunction to her advantage. She's passive aggressive and she doesn't get along with Ted - why not destroy a door when you're already acting off?

Ted realizes there's a risk that more damage could occur to the house and decides to repair Vicki immediately. Ted looks and everything seems to be okay, so he tells Vicki to say something and she blows a raspberry right in Ted's face. Oh my gosh, Vicki is my favorite humanoid ever. Jamie thinks it may take Ted weeks or months to find out what's behind Vicki's "strange" behavior, but Ted finds it instantly because he's a robotics engineer and Jamie was just a 12 year old with a screwdriver. Ted explains a bunch of mumbo jumbo and Joan says "That makes sense," and man, I've missed that catchphrase. Apparently, the mumbo jumbo just meant Vicki had a screw loose.

To test to see if Vicki is repaired, Ted tells her to touch her finger to her nose and take three steps forward, and Vicki insists she hasn't been drinking. And Reggie said she has no personality. Ted gets Vicki to do as he said, and when she does he says, "Perfect. She's not drunk," and this may be the legitimately funniest episode of Small Wonder ever made. Ted also gives Vicki the okay to go to school. Joan asks Ted to help set the table, and Ted asks what's wrong with Vicki because alpha males don't set tables, and Vicki just responds, "I have a screw loose." I told you that robot knows how to milk a malfunction.

After an awkward act break, Jamie is on the couch pondering what to do with Vicki while Vicki listens to her brother's angst. Jamie decides to train Vicki to have a personality, and she agrees that she can do anything she's programmed to do. Jamie starts simple, by asking what Vicki does if she runs into someone, and she says she knocks them over, proving that even the manufactured Lawsons can't escape Ted's sociopathic tendencies. Jamie programs Vicki with greetings, sympathy, jokes, and different kinds of laughs, and to be honest, I think this may be the longest Jamie Lawson has gone thinking about people's emotions.

Jamie and Vicki are now at school because who knows how time works, and Jamie has Vicki prove to Reggie that she's got a personality now. Reggie is not happy to see Vicki, and when Jamie says he had a talk with Vicki, Reggie says he hopes it was about running away from home. Reggie is so salty for no reason. Who cares that Vicki knows specific and random trivia? In 13 years, she can be your lifeline on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire! Jamie tells Reggie to give Vicki a chance, and when she asks him what's happening, he responds that he's coming down with the flu. Vicki responds appropriately.

Just kidding, she laughs her ass off - but we know she's a passive aggressive robot and Reggie's really been testing her Three Laws compliance this episode. Jamie tries to defend Vicki, but Reggie makes a sarcastic quip about Vicki loving trainwrecks, and her reaction right here is like a foreshadowing of why everything goes wrong with Vanessa. Jamie tells Vicki that her dark sense of humor is going to kill him, and now she expresses sympathy - I mean, it's really super obviously fake and I love it, but come on - dark humor is awesome. I'm on Vicki's side here.

Vicki decides to continue to test her new personality out in class by telling jokes any time she hears a word that reminds her of one that Jamie made her memorize earlier. This endears the class to Vicki, but it makes Joan really mad. Joan demands Vicki stop telling jokes, but when she calls on Reggie, he also makes a joke. Joan is at her limit, and she says she's going to punish Jamie. Woah, woah, woah! What did Jamie do? He gave Vicki a joke book, he didn't tell her to disrupt class! I can't believe I'm defending Jamie Lawson here.

Jamie very obviously takes being punished for Vicki's bad behavior hard, so he tells Vicki to forget everything. You didn't want to make that more specific at all Jamie? Like, I get being frustrated, but you have to know... No, you know what, let's watch this play out. Ted comes out into the yard to throw out trash, and you know they didn't have another reason for him to come outside. Ted is mad at Jamie, but Jamie explains that he never meant for Vicki to disrupt the class. He tells Ted that the other kids don't like Vicki because she has no personality and he was trying to give her one, but Ted says if his friends don't like Vicki the way she is, then they're not his friends. Then Ted orders Vicki to go to her cabinet, but she just stands there. Jamie explains that he told Vicki to forget everything, and Ted realizes Vicki took that very literally and has forgotten everything.

Ted takes Vicki in the house, and Jamie is disappointed at himself. At that moment, Reggie comes over and Jamie is already not happy with him. Reggie says he and the guys were talking about Vicki, and Jamie interrupts and says if Reggie and the guys don't like Vicki the way she is, they can go suck an egg. That is the most brotherly thing Jamie has ever done. Pity he did it after accidentally lobotomizing his sister. Reggie says that Vicki is cool and she can eat lunch with the guys. I feel like this is a mixed moral, but what are you going to do?

Ted is working on fixing Vicki and not sweating it at all. Joan points out that Ted told Jamie that Vicki was ruined forever, and Ted says that he wanted to teach Jamie a lesson. Why do you always pick the wrong teachable moments there, Ted? But Ted is smarter than he seems because he gave Vicki a backup system. Then they make a super weird sex joke. Vicki is all back to normal, but Ted decides to not let Jamie know that. Again, weird teachable moments.

Jamie comes in to apologize to Vicki, and the second he admits to being a horrible brother, she reveals she's fine. Jamie thanks her for saving him with the guys, and Vicki makes a joke. Then Jamie says what I'm always thinking: "Love that robot!"

Can we all just agree that Reggie was the worst this episode? Where did all this active aggression come from?

There are six more episodes in season 2, so one of two things are going to happen - season 3 will start (as long as I can still find episodes) in January 2018, or season 3 will start in January 2019. One consistent month does not a consistent person make.


  1. I agree with you that Vicki knows how to milk a malfunction because she could have told Ted that Jamie was messing around in her panel and didn't. She was obviously hoping Ted couldn't find the problem so quickly.

  2. Jamie being mad because he got punished for something someone else did is the most relatable moment this show has ever presented.

  3. Hiya. So, I can't help but notice that there are a few episodes in your list that both you and some of your readers simply don't remember airing. It's quite odd. I'm wondering if you have run into anyone else that has never even heard of the show, because I've ran into a lot... people remember the girl who played Harriet right away as the girl from the roller skating doll commercial (Which holy cow, is that a weird thing to remember as soon as you see a kid from like 1986) but no recollection of the original airing of the show. When did you (or anyone reading this) first see Small Wonder?