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Small Wonder

Entry updated 19 November 2023. Tagged: TV.

US tv series (1985-1989). Metromedia Productions, 20th Century Fox Television. Syndicated. Produced by Howard Leeds, Budd Grossman, Jean Hester, Bruce Taylor. Directors included Peter Baldwin, Linda Day, Leslie H Martinson. Writers included Dick Christie, Donald Ross, David Silverman. Cast includes William Bogart, Tiffany Brissette, Dick Christie, Alice Ghostley, Edie McClurg (first season only), Marla Pennington, Emily Schulman and Jerry Suprian. 96 30-minute episodes. Colour.

Howard Leeds, who had produced My Living Doll two decades earlier, was executive producer and showrunner for this similarly themed series. Ted Lawson (Christie), a Robotics engineer, decides to create a house servant: an Android in the form of a ten-year-old human girl which he names Vicki (Brissette), for Voice Input Child Identicant (VICI). At first explaining this android as the orphaned daughter of relatives, the Lawson family soon legally adopts Vicki, who possesses various Superpowers including superhuman strength and speed, and the ability to channel electricity through her body when needed. Except for Ted, her mother Joan (Pennington), and her brother Jamie (Suprian) are the only ones who know Vicki's true nature. Their nosy neighbours are a constant problem: Brandon Brindle (Bogart), his wife Bonnie (McClurg) and their daughter Harriet (Schulman), who takes a romantic interest in Jamie. McClurg was written out of the series after the first season and replaced by Brandon's sister Ida Mae Brindle (Ghostley). In the third season, Ted gives Vicki an upgrade to explain her changing appearance as Brissette grew older. Vicki is able to consume normal foods and liquids, and dispose of them "naturally".

The only real sf element of the programme was Vicki herself, with most of the humour derived from her lack of emotion and literal-mindedness in following orders. Otherwise Small Wonder was not greatly different from other Television series of the period featuring pre-teenage or teenage stars, such as Webster (1983-1989). While the basic idea was the same, the series lacked the charm and Sex appeal of My Living Doll, which starred Julie Newmar as the robot. [GSt/LW]


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