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September 12, 2014

What the hell was going on with that old guy and his robot girl in Small Wonder?


You can get away with a lot on television today. AMC is nothing but zombies and meth labs. HBO hasn’t aired a single show without tits in the past 75 years. (Not complaining.) And CBS — well, I’ve actually never watched CBS but I imagine there’s crazy shit on there, too. But despite the current state of television, there has truly not been a more harrowing program since the 1985 “children’s” show Small Wonder.

Small Wonder, for those who’ve blocked it from their memories as a coping mechanism, was the story of a full-grown man who built preteen robot girls in his garage. You can go back and reread that sentence but it won’t change. A 50-year-old man assembling 11-year-old girls for “private use.” I guess “the hook” of the show being that no one ever called the police?

Here are several of the MANY unanswered questions about Small Wonder:

TV Shows don’t just appear on television. There are at least a dozen people that need to say “yes” before even a pilot script is approved. Basically, this means MULTIPLE people were like, “Oh, this is great. Let’s see how 96 episodes do.”

This was the pitch meeting:

“He’s a middle-aged man obsessed with building lifelike preteen girls.”
“We’re listening…”
“But she’s a SECRET.”
“Yes, OK, good.”
“She has no feelings and will do whatever he says without question.”
“I’m reaching for my checkbook…”
“She goes crazy when she gets wet.”
“Funny and appropriate! Here’s $50 billion dollars.”

Here’s one question no one in the pitch meeting thought to ask — WHY?
The dad in Small Wonder is a technological genius. He’s brilliant. So what made him wake up one morning and say, “I’m actually gonna put this cancer research on hold. I think a better use of my talents would be building myself a little girl.” Ted — you’re the finest engineer at United Robotronics. I could be writing this from my space station right now if you weren’t such a fucking weirdo. And don’t say you built a lifelike preteen robot girl for the greater good because you built exactly ONE of them and it was for your exclusive pleasure. You built her because you wanted her.

If this little girl wasn’t built strictly for nefarious reasons, WHY THE SECRECY?!
If I remember Small Wonder correctly (and I should because I’ve called in sick to work for the past four days to watch), Vicki was built in private in the garage. Ted, if you had nothing to hide, how ’bout building her at work where you actually had scientific resources? A budget? A chance for a second opinion? (Though, assuming you didn’t work with sexual deviants, the second opinion would probably be, “How ’bout just don’t do this?”) If I had to guess, you knew cute little Vicki would raise a couple of eyebrows.

Speaking of raised eyebrows, why was the WIFE OK with this?
Joan, just cause you didn’t build Vicki yourself, don’t think you’re off the hook. Complacency is just as bad if not worse. When your husband introduced you to Vicki (which you had NO idea he was working on but we’ll ignore those lies for now), you said nothing. “Boys will be boys,” you thought as you moved her into your home. “It’s fine. She’ll sleep in the closest with all the other skeletons this family has.” I realize the show is only 22 minutes so time’s a factor but here are a few valid questions you could have asked in the pilot:

“Wait, what?”
“For serious?”

And those are just the basics! After you picked your jaw up off the floor how ’bout:
“How come when she overheats she has to say, ‘I’m so hot for you, Daddy’?”
“Why the functioning sex organs? What purpose do those serve?”
“What are the pubes for?”

And most importantly:
“Have you seen the phone anywhere? I need to make a quick call to the police.”

All solid questions. All without answers.

Oh, here’s another—

“Um, Ted, we already HAVE a child?”
Don’t act like you built this sexbot to complete a family. “Joan! She’s the child we always wanted!” I would MAYBE buy that if you didn’t already have one. I mean, sure, he sucks but he’s still yours. “But she’s customized exactly the way we wanted!” “WE?! Where was I when we were picking out her brown hair and maid’s outfit? You customized the girl YOU wanted.” So don’t be a pussy, Ted. You didn’t build Vicki to start a family. You built her to destroy one.

I can see those disgusting perverts in the writers room now:

“How about Ted and Vicki go camping but bears steal all their clothes?”
“Um, there’s a blackout in the city so Dad and Vicki fumble around in the dark for three acts?”
“Maybe an episode where the mom and son die so Dad and Vicki hug for 30 minutes? They don’t even need to die on screen; we can just open with their funeral.”
“These are all great pitches and they’re going up on the board.”

And here’s something:

How come Vicki doesn’t age?
This is a rhetorical question cause I’ve seen To Catch a Predator and already know the answer. But if you TRULY built a robot who’s like a human in EVERY OTHER WAY, she would get older. Ted, your son’s getting older. Your wife, as I’m sure you’re painfully aware, is getting older. The only person in your family that will forever be a pure, untainted child of 11 is Vicki. And don’t tell me the science isn’t there cause at one point in the show she had telekinesis so, though you might be an awful man, you’re a terrific engineer. No, Vicki doesn’t age cause you don’t want her to.

And finally, the most important question of all: What happened in the final episode when Ted finally got his comeuppance?
Trick question. He didn’t. They all lived happily ever after. It was a disgusting lesson but if there’s one thing Small Wonder taught us, it’s that sometimes the bad guys win. (And if there’s a second thing it taught me it’s that I’ll give any show four seasons before deciding if I like it or not.)

Previously:…the fuck was happening with the Tori episodes of Saved by the Bell