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.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Season 2, Episode 17: Wham-Bam Body Slam

You guys, this is sincerely one of my favorite episodes of Small Wonder of all time! It has a future governor in it! Who's also a wrestler! Also, this is the first time as a child I noticed a continuity error - well, my mom noticed but she relied on my memory to confirm that it actually happened. I'm the one who submitted it to the episode's IMDB page!

Without any further ado, let's get into this feature presentation.


The episode starts with Jamie and Vicki watching Jesse the Body Ventura wrestling on TV, because of course it does. Then Ted comes downstairs and he gets really into it, too. I barely remember 80s wrestling since, well, I was a toddler, so I don't remember who all the heroes and villains were - but judging by the boos and Jesse throwing the referee out of the ring, Jesse definitely seems to be a villain. The entire Lawson family loves him, though, so I believe this substantiates some of my theories about them being sociopaths and serial killers. Joan comes in from the kitchen because of course she does and wants to talk about dinner, but the entire family silences her. Who cares about food? Wrestling!

Joan waits politely for Jesse to perform his signature Wham Bam Body Slam before trying to talk again, but Ted remembers he hasn't expressed his alpha maleness in awhile and starts demanding popcorn and drinks. Ted, Joan hits you. You should think things through before manterrupting. Joan does get upset and throw a popcorn bowl at Ted before storming out of the room. Vicki threw a towel at Ted and followed after Joan, but at this point I can't tell if it's in solidarity for the mom who usually loves her, or it's that beautiful Vicki/Ted relationship. Maybe both.

Vicki and Joan come back from the market, because Small Wonder has amazing transitions, and literally the second they walk through the door, Joan asks Vicki to make her coffee and toast. In her own special Vicki way, she calls Joan out for being a hypocrite. The doorbell rings, and Joan decides to have Vicki answer the door instead. Joan listens to reason and that's why I like her, even if she does hit. Also, you know this isn't someone who normally associates with the Lawsons because they don't automatically know what room they happen to be in.

Vicki opens the door and it's Jesse the Body Ventura! He asks Vicki if her mother is home. Vicki confirms she is and then shuts the door. Wow, living with the Lawsons and next door to the Brindles has just made Vicki so over the human race. Joan comes into the living room to ask who was at the door, and Vicki gives a proper introduction before showing Jesse the Body Ventura on the other side. Joan seems really nervous that a wrestler just showed up at their house, and treats him like he's an escaped criminal she saw on the news. Oh, I guess Joan is the one Lawson who doesn't love the villains.

Apparently, Jesse saw Joan at the shopping mall and followed her home. Um, wow, Small Wonder. You don't know how to introduce a big guest star like a professional wrestler, so you just result to having him stalk a woman at the mall? Apparently, Joan went to college with him when he was known as Wally Crandle and she used to give him mercy dates. Now that she knows who he is, she ignores the stalking and invites him into her home. Joan's all about her family's safety like that.

It also turns out that Jesse took up body building because he was tired of getting picked on by guys in college - and the most relentless was Ted Lawson. I mean, that checks because Ted Lawson is a sociopathic serial killer, but he's a robotics engineer - how did he swing being the nerd and the bully? Joan decides to invite Jesse to dinner, and he agrees under the condition that Joan does not tell Ted how much he's changed since college. That's fair. Wally the Wimp deserves comeuppance.

Ted comes home and straight up catches Harriet in the act of eavesdropping. There's no way Harriet doesn't know Vicki's a robot by now, right? The Lawsons barely watch what they say when they know someone's in the other room, and here's Harriet always snooping. Ted asks her if she's heard anything interesting, and she said a guest is coming to dinner and she's trying to find out who it is. Then Harriet suddenly realizes that she's been busted and explains she's been practicing for when she grows up to be a Hollywood gossip columnist. Small Wonder - fast and loose with the definition of stalking. Ted then gives Harriet the tip to use a stethoscope. Um, does Ted want Harriet finding out Vicki is a robot if she hasn't already figured it out? What the heck is this scene?

Ted enters the kitchen and Vicki announces that the jerk is home. Yep, it's just that beautiful Vicki/Ted relationship. Every day I'm more and more sad Fox quit this show just before the teenage years. Joan lets Ted know that they have a surprise guest, but then tells him that it's Wally Crandle, so Ted should really be suspicious of what's going on. Of course, he's not, because he's already thinking about tormenting Wally Crandle because that's what sociopaths do. Joan warns Ted to be nice to Wally, and he says he will. Then he borrows Vicki under the guise of looking for old college yearbooks, but he wants to program his robot for evil. Then he straight up does an evil villain laugh. I can't make this up! Ted Lawson is a super villain.

Ted and Vicki are going over the pranks he's programmed her to pull off, and he gets excited just thinking about them. Then the doorbell rings, and Ted is already making fun of Wally - but nothing shuts him up faster than opening the door and seeing Jesse the Body Ventura. That's right, Ted. You're going to die.

Jamie comes in to tell Joan that the oven timer just went off, then makes this precious face children only make when face to face with their idols. Jesse shakes hands with Jamie and Vicki, only unfortunately, Ted had already forgotten about the pranks, so Vicki shocks Jesse and Ted can't stop it from happening. Everyone knows Ted did it, but he still tries to pass the blame onto Vicki.

So, three of the Lawsons and Jesse eat dinner, and I'm wondering how Jesse didn't question Vicki not eating? I know I would. Jesse compliments the meal, the home, and the kids and does it in a way that insults Ted, and I love Jesse even more than I already did. Meanwhile, Jamie catches Harriet at the door, and she's back with a stethoscope. Jamie yells into the door, which of course hurts Harriet's ears. Jamie says it serves her right for snooping, but Harriet says she just wanted to meet Jesse the Body Ventura with a look she normally reserves for Jamie. Oh, man, Jamie's being replaced by a much older man. Jamie gets jealous because he can deny his feelings for Harriet all he wants, but he still feels them. He asks Harriet if she'd like it if he had a body like Jesse's, but she doesn't think he has the head for it. Jamie slams the door on Harriet.

Vicki comes into the kitchen and announces that dinner is ready. Everyone adjourns into the living room, but Joan tells Ted to bring the coffee. That's right, Joan. Make him bring you drinks. Ted walks into the living room again just in time to catch Vicki pulling off a second prank he forgot to unprogram her to do. Despite the fact he very obviously tries to stop Vicki, Ted tries to blame the whole thing on Vicki, but Jesse is not dumb. He decides to use Ted as a volunteer to show Jamie some wrestling moves.

After the demonstration, where Ted is clearly all shook up, Joan and Jamie go to clean up the kitchen. Jesse says it's a good thing that he didn't use his Wham Bam Body Slam on him, and Vicki decides this is a perfect time to show off. Also, I'm pretty impressed that this is the only special effect in the whole episode, and it actually ties into the plot. Jesse's confidence takes quite the hit being body slammed by an 11 year old girl. Ted decides to do the most human thing in his life, and he lets Jesse in on the family secret.

Jesse is impressed by Vicki, and grateful that Ted let him on the secret just to restore his confidence. I mean, that is an extreme act of trust - Jesse is a celebrity and could easily put that information on blast. It also puts all of his conspiracy theories into perspective when you realize he's known robots walk among us since 1987. Jesse decides that he needs to make things right and make Ted look good in front of his family, so he stages it so it looks like Ted beat him at wrestling. This friendship seems mended to me.

After Jesse leaves, Ted admits to being a jerk and apologizes. Joan forgives him. However, there was one prank that Ted had forgotten about the whole time.

The Duck Prank.

The end. I love this episode so much. Ted gets everything that's coming to him, and a celebrity is in on Vicki's secret. But let me show you this continuity error. It's involves Vicki's pinnafore. As you know, Ted unhooked it to show Jesse Vicki's back panel. But when he tried to hook it back together, he missed and it stayed unhooked.

And it stayed that way, which you can see in some of the other screenshots, but here's some more.

However, it was fixed here, right before Ted goes upstairs.

And here, after the reveal of the duck prank.

But continuity was never a word in the Small Wonder memory banks.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Season 2, Episode 16: Computer Dating

Two weeks in a row! I know! I was surprised, too.

The episode starts with Joan in some kind of panic about running late and Ted being home soon, so she asks Vicki to quickly clean the living room. Vicki delivers at supersonic speed - just in time for Ted to come home and compliment how good the living room looks. Joan takes credit because her awful family just keeps rubbing off on her.

Jamie demands his family join him in the backyard quick. What is up with everything needing to be in a hurry? We're only two minutes in, geesh. Jamie is showing off a used bike he used for just $10 down, with a whole week to come up with the other $100. Those are the worst loan terms I have ever heard of. When Jamie's parents tell him they're not going to bail him out, he asks for an advance on his inheritance. Jamie Lawson, son of the year.

Harriet comes over, excited to show Jamie something. She took a computer dating quiz in a magazine, and it confirms what we always knew - Jamie is her soul mate. Harriet uses these results to propose, but money-motivated Jamie decides to start a computer dating service for the kids at school. Oh, gee, I wonder how he's going to pull that one off.

Just kidding, his robot slave sister gets to do all the work. Oh my gosh, Jamie even has a business line. All I wanted as a 12 year old was a phone in my room. It didn't even have to be my own line, just a little privacy when I talked to my friends. But Jamie gets a business line. I'm jealous. Also, he's only charging $5. He doesn't understand the value of his service. Anyway, it's one of the clients who called and the rest of this episode must've come in under budget because they used special effects for the second time in less than five minutes. I'm suspicious of what that means.

What is up with people just walking up to Jamie's second story window? A boy named Herbert stops by to ask Jamie if his service might work for him. Twelve year old me would have liked Herbert. Unfortunately, Herbert is poor and can't afford the $5 for Jamie's service. Do you think Jamie through the kindness of his heart decides to help a kid that can't even make friends, let alone find a date? Actually, yes. I'm surprised. Body snatchers?

Down in the kitchen, we find Joan because throwbacks are fun. She's filling out a questionnaire for Jamie's dating service for fun, to see how compatible she and Ted actually are. Is this how Joan files for divorce and takes Vicki with her? But it turns out, Ted filled one out, too. Ted has Vicki scan the results of both questionnaires to see what the results are. Seven minutes in, and we get special effects for the third time. Where did all this money come from?! Anyway, Ted's perfect match is 13 year old Cynthia Williams. That's actually funny.

Jamie comes home bummed out and asks how old one has to be to declare bankruptcy. We're only 7 and a half minutes in - Vicki has a whole ten minutes before she screws everything up. Everyone that matched up hated each other and Jamie had to issue refunds. And because everyone in Sitcomland has perfect timing, the kid Jamie owes $100 to shows up.

Wait, isn't that the bully Vicki beat up to become the leader of the He-Man Woman-Hater's Club? Dude, Jamie, just sic your sister on him. Ernie wants his money because of course he does. Jamie offers to give the bike back, but Ernie rationally decides he'd rather murder Jamie. Jamie has one more day to come up with the money before he's murdered. Jamie decides to set Ernie up with a date using his failed computer service as an extension until Jamie can raise the $100 - which would be smart if not for that word failed. Come on, Jamie-Jame. But teenage boys can only think of one thing, so Ernie agrees to it - so long as the date happens by the next day at 4:00.

Harriet shows up in the window and decides to sign up for Jamie's dating service, just in case she realizes she can do better than Jamie. After asking her a few questions, Jamie thinks the only person Harriet would work out with was Ernie. Harriet asks, "You wouldn't do that to me, would you?" with such fear in her voice, I now have to know what 12 year old Ernie did to 10 year old Harriet. Jamie says he wouldn't do it to Ernie and pulls the shade on Harriet.

Joan is worried about Jamie having to deal with Ernie, but Ted says they need to stay out of it. Joan is just regretful the computer dating service didn't work out because it was such a cute idea. Ted thinks there's no future to computer dating and nothing beats meeting in person, and in 2017 that's funny on many levels. But in 1987, it's still weird to hear it from the robotics engineer. Then Ted sets up an argument because Ted thrives on the chaos. At least this argument ended with them giggling and not with Joan assaulting Ted.

Ernie comes over ready for his date. Jamie decided that if it would save his kneecaps, he's cool with pimping out his sister, and introduces Vicki as Ernestine - a girl Ernie. Ernie tells Vicki to give him five, and she punches him in the stomach because she learned affection from watching Joan. Ernie takes this as a sign that she likes him.

The doorbell rings and Jamie leaves the lovebirds to find out who it is. It's Herbert, who wants to know if Jamie was able to find him his blonde bombshell. Herbert takes the news that Jamie hasn't found her yet really badly, so Jamie decides to double pimp out his sister. Jamie's getting lazy.

Jamie goes back to the kitchen, where Vicki and Ernie are arm wrestling, and that bored look Vicki has is just everything. I love it when the robot is just so over the situation. Ernie finds himself warming up to "Ernestine," but Jamie borrows her.

Vicki is now Marilyn for Herbert. She is super adorable, but also this whole thing is super ridiculous. This not what people signed up for when they signed up for computer dating, Jamie. Also, this twelve year old is way too sexually charged for my liking. He makes Warren Enright seem tame.

Ernie comes up to Jamie's room, and he's not as dumb as Jamie thought he'd be because he recognizes "Ernestine" right away. Ernie starts threatening people's faces, but Herbert pulls out some awkward karate. Man, he's really into "Marilyn." Anyway, Herbert is just crazy enough to scare off Ernie, but Jamie isn't off the hook. But Herbert sure is happy, and I guess that's worth it.

Ted and Joan come up, and they tell Jamie that Ted is going to loan Jamie the money for the bike after all - because he ran over it with the car when Jamie left it in the driveway. Ted, no. Teach Jamie more lessons. Don't give him guilt money when it was his fault.

End of episode. I don't know. I'm stunned. I don't have a reaction.

The next episode is one of my favorite episodes, so hopefully I'll actually post it next week.

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.