Also, so so gay:
Suddenly, my childhood devotion with the show makes a lot more sense.
But this is not all I have to say about a show that is so wretched, it lives up to its name: it is truly something to behold, a marvel, a wonder. It is hateful and awful, a level of terrible rarely seen for 30 straight minutes, let alone for four seasons. Obviously, I'm completely obsessed.
You may think that Small Wonder is a show about the trials and tribulations of a family (the Lawsons) that lives with a robot girl, V.I.C.I., whom they can't seem to shut off and aren't interested in trying, anyway, despite the burden it is to pretend that she is human and related to them 24/7. However, Small Wonder is mostly about people screaming at each other. Seriously, I'd be willing to bet that to prepare for her role as terrible actress Sheila Albertson in Waiting for Guffman, Catherine O'Hara studied the Lawsons' next-door neighbor Harriet (listen to hear what I'm talking about). Fucking Harriet, the most deserving target for any misguided, bigoted rage for red-headed stepchildren that you may have inside of you.
She is evil, and not in a figurative way, but in a way that's so brimming with Satan, red is spilling out of her scalp. Everyone on this show is, really, but Harriet and her parents (the Brindles) are particularly vile. If they were cleverer, I'd say they were straight from a Roald Dahl book, but they're so horribly written that they aren't fit to be found in Dahl's stool. They are freeloading liars without a shred of self-awareness who regularly contact the authorities when their collective disorder that disallows them from minding their own business flares up. This is manifested, for example, when they call child-protective services multiple times on their fucking next-door neighbors, who in turn tolerate all of this without so much as a raised voice because at the end of the day, everyone's an asshole -- what separates these people is whether they're passive or aggressive about their assholishness.
If it sounds like I'm getting ahead of myself, I'm not: I blame the assholes for altering how this post turned out. I originally intended to write up this first season (out this week on DVD) as an endurance test, taking in nine or so hours at once and reporting the effects it had on me and my health. Into the fifth hour (after the second disc), I had to stop. I was tired of being screamed at, for one thing. I was sad at the displays of humanity I saw: the Brindles, I believe, exist only to make the Lawsons tolerable by comparison. Make no mistake, the Lawsons are horribly obnoxious in their own right, with boorishness that seems genetic and blatant disregard for decency (the father, Ted, smiles when he hears the Brindles' house is on fire).
It was at this point that my notes took a turn for the desperate. Among the things I wrote:
"I’m so exhausted."
"I’m starting to feel really hopeless."
"I feel like the eyes in my brain are crossing."
"I’m NOT watching eight consecutive hours of this. If that makes me a quitter, I’m a proud one."
"These people make up lies and everyone believes them; the Lawsons are the smartest people in their universe, which is such a depressing outlook on humanity."
"Not even bothering to take down Jamie’s lobbying joke."
"Headache and nausea."
"I don't feel anything anymore."
"No wait, I feel like this:"
"People on this show are so proud of their own poop." That was in reference to this:
And that's the thing: this show is so hammy with no justification for it. It's like someone who's cross-eyed deciding to be a bifocals model.
The jokes are sub-popsicle stick. For example:
Fucking Harriet: I got a new parrot!
Ted: That’s nice.
F.H.: No it’s not. I wanted a canary...[but] when my mom went to the pet store, the parrot talked her out of it!
Or, how about when Harriet accuses Jamie, the Lawson boy, of child abuse for keeping V.I.C.I. in the closet, and Jamie responds, "No, child abuse is someone like you being born!” They're both wrong: child abuse is like this show.
The worst of it is how fucking repetitive it is. Anytime a person says the word "time," V.I.C.I. sounds a tone and reports the time even if that's not why the word was mentioned (it usually isn't). Apparently, Ted's programming isn't sophisticated enough to handle altering this, the most boring special power a superhuman can exhibit...
Don't even get me started on V.I.C.I.'s dead-giveaway robo-monotone (so robotic that Jamie's friend, Reggie, who is Wanda Sykes 10 years early...
...says that V.I.C.I.'s "overdoing it" and that, "No real robot would talk like that"). V.I.C.I. can mimic people's speech patterns when a laugh is needed, but always goes back to her monotone since this show wouldn't be gimmicky enough without it. Inevitably, in any given episode, you know that she's going to report a word or phrase that's not in her memory bank ("slam dunk," "lying," "guilty," "tantrum," "gargle," "nerd," "one-on-one," among them) and learning what it means will provide at least a minor plot point...with asinine results! In any even episode, you know she's going to wink...
In any given episode, you know that she's going to be involved in some embarrassing, green-screen or otherwise kitchen-ass effects that often have no sense of proportion:
(Funnily enough, in the amazing premiere commentary, creator Howard Leeds, who must be about 900 by now, claims that Small Wonder had the smallest budget of any show on TV, and came in under-budget week after week. Probably not something to brag about, just saying.)
(Also, the best part of that commentary involves the cast -- the actors that played Ted, Lawson family mom Joan and Jamie, but not V.I.C.I., because I'm sure she was very, very busy with that Hollywood career she's held onto -- and Leeds freaking out over this part of the episode when V.I.C.I. crashes through a wall after being locked in a room. Joan notes how strong she is and then Ted gushes about how V.I.C.I. always takes the most direct path to solving a problem. Leeds takes several beats and then goes, "...and such strength!" It's really quite magical.)
(Also, the actor that plays Jamie now apparently has a kid, so...there's that. I wonder if he got pregnant by suckin' on a guy's fist.)
In any given episode, you know that people are going to be dressed like something you'd find in a Happy Meal...
...with the exception of Joanie, who was obviously a style icon way ahead of her time:
And speaking of Joanie, in any given episode, you know that she's going to either ask for a mink coat or reveal herself to be a complete dolt once she's done whatever menial task no one is helping with and gets the chance to actually speak:
Her catchphrase is, "That makes sense...?" which is code for, "I'm a woman, our brains aren't made of gray matter - those folds are actually tiny little vaginas that our skulls house, but since no penises can get at them I guess our brains are totally useless after all, huh?"
In any given episode, you know that Jamie's going to act miserly (he's always trying to enter uneven partnerships with Reggie) and he's going to say something that reveals him as being unhealthily obsessed with his parents' sex life. In any given episode, you know that someone's going to complain about Ted's cooking or praise his genius (I mean, he can program). What it comes down to is, this show thinks its audience is as stupid as it thinks women are. It is insulting and just the worst. And nobody has any teeth...
...and Jamie looks like Jerri Blank minus the happy-hooker vibe...
...and the nerd looks like Big Edie...
...and Mrs. Poole isn't Mrs. Poole...
...although she is ejaculated on at one point, I believe...
...and Jamie makes me hate him even more for owning a pajama top that I'm coveting to this day...
...and the bully is so tough, he has colored hairspray in...
...and Joan's too much of an idiot to realize that she's already covered up...
...and ugh, to think that I used to watch this unironically. For that, I deserve the punishment of the sitting through this thing, all 9+ hours (just not in a row), that I did for this post. I feel like, in a weird way, balance is restored to my life. This is like karma, except the going and coming around were both self-inflicted. Make no mistake, though: still a bitch.
You know what else is still a bitch?