Remembering: Small Wonder
Updated: Aug 29
DID THAT LITTLE GIRL JUST SPIN HER HEAD ROUND AND ROUND?
If I asked you to close your eyes and try to come up with a tv show during the 1980s that starred a robot, but that wasn’t a cartoon, Japanese anime, claymation, or dealt with a talking car, do you think you’d be able to come up with a tv show? Go ahead and try it yourself right now. What would you come up with?
If you guessed the show, “Small Wonder,” you’d be right! Ding! Ding! Step up and claim your prize and pay yourself on the back!
A little back story, “Small Wonder” was a 1980s comedic sitcom that aired from September 7, 1985 to May 20, 1989. If it wasn’t for it’s theme song still ingrained in my memory, I probably would not be writing about this right now.
Small Wonder told the tale of a regular suburban American family called the Lawsons, except that the father, Ted Lawson, didn’t have a normal job and was super smart. Mr. Lawson was more of an egg head character who worked for United Robotronics as a robotic engineer.
In his hopes to help children with physical disabilities, he invented an android named Vicki, who was built as a clean cut, sweet, All-American ten year old girl. Thinking that the world was not ready for Vicki yet, Mr. Lawson, together with his wife Joan Lawson, and ten year old son, Jamie Lawson, spend the rest of their days trying to keep Vicki a secret by passing her off as a real little girl and part of their family, first as an orphan whom they had taken in, but eventually as their legally adopted daughter.
The Lawson’s neighbors, the Brindles, always suspected that something was not right with Vicki and so week after week we’d see the Lawsons try to fool their nosy, but good intentioned neighbors, from finding out the truth.
Thinking back now, Small Wonder was probably pretty cheesy. The jokes were often corny, and most of the humor involved sight gags of Vicki doing something crazy and characteristic of being an android robot. Built as a Voice Input Child Identicant (V.I.C.I.), although Vicki looked like a regular girl, because she was an android, she wore a wig and sometimes you’d see her bald head. You’d also see her access her back panel, where a rectangular panel would open up from her back and you’d see her circuit board, and when she malfunctioned, you’d see her back shoot sparks from her back.
You’d also see Vicki’s neck extend ten feet up in the air, her arms move and bend like she was Elastic Man, see her jumpstart a car with her bare hands, increase her physical size just like Alice in Wonderland, make dinner with super speed, make voice recordings of other people or things, slept in a cabinet in her brother’s bedroom where she would recharge every night, and do all sorts of chores and activities that were superhuman. Moreover, Vicki always spoke in a monotone voice and always displayed no emotion.
However, despite not having any human feelings and being able to do superhuman things, she was still very relatable. She was often picked on by the other kids for being different and acting strangely, which for me personally, and I’m sure for many of us who remember this fond show, we could all relate to and identity with. Not only was Vicki around the same age as we were growing up, but she went through the same adolescent and childhood struggles that we were facing. For many of us who grew up in the 80s where tv was a real staple in the family, and where most of the values we have today we learned from watching sitcoms and tv growing up, shows like “It’s a Small Wonder,” taught us kindness, how to treat people with respect, and made us aware of bullying and bullies.
For a kid growing up in the 80s, not only should this show be commemorated for entertaining and educating us future bot-heads, but also for being just a good tv show that we grew up with. Sure, the jokes were corny. Sure, the special effects looked odd as we saw Vicki turn her head around and around like a cork screw. But Vicki, despite being a robot android, taught us about humanity and how a proper human being should treat other humans.
Don’t remember the theme song? Maybe this will help.
She’s a small wonder, pretty and bright with soft curls.
She’s a small wonder, a girl unlike unlike other girls.
She’s a miracle, and I grant you
She’ll enchant you at her sight.
She’s a small wonder, and she’ll make your heart take flight.
She’s fantastic, made of plastic.
Microchips here and there.
She’s a small wonder, brings love and laughter everywhere
Any fans of the show out there? What do you remember about it? We’d like to hear your thoughts and experiences? You can leave a comment here or shoot us a message on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts.