It has been quite a while since I posted a legit Very Special Episode on this blog. I figured I better go ahead and get back in the game, lest the internet gods grow angry and take this website’s name away from me. Today, we’re exploring a little show called Small Wonder. I’m primarily looking into this show because several years ago a friend said to me, “I think I also read somewhere that they based Small Wonder off of your childhood.” I had never heard of Small Wonder, so he linked me to Wikipedia and it turns out that it’s a show about a robot child, so I replied, as one does, “I have emotionsssss.”
I can only assume he drew such a comparison because I was once a small brunette child who could rock a pinafore dress like a mofo. Today, I watched my very first episode of Small Wonder. It is a creepy, creepy show.
Basically, there’s just like this really adorable child who is like Rosie the Robot from The Jetsons. She is NOT technically a human, but it kind of looks like this suburban family has a little girl as a house slave. As the robot mops the floor, Ted “the Dad” has a cigarette after a stressful day at work. Both his wife and child robot-maid admonish him. (So does the child-robot have self-awareness or not? If so, then this is like even creepier.) Also, this show ran for four (4!) seasons! What happened when the child actress aged? Does the ROBOT age? Is it a feature of the robot to grow up? AHHHH I WILL HAVE NIGHTMARES.
Anyway, some (real) children enter the kitchen. While the parents run errands, the (real) kids find the pack of cigarettes in the trash. They’re like ooooh if we smoke these, then the older kids at school will think that we are cool. The the robot offers to show them how to smoke because she saw it on TV and retained the info in her hard-drive.
The robot demonstrates how to smoke but she exhales through her ears and even blows smoke rings THROUGH HER EARS. I’m telling you people this is the CREEPIEST thing ever.
The next morning (none the wiser to the smoking) the mother sends the robot to her son’s room to fetch him for breakfast. The next thing we see is the robot dragging the kid into the kitchen by his ear. He complains to his mother that the robot barged in on him changing, and his dad says not to worry because she isn’t a girl, she’s a robot. (Okay, so she is JUST a machine. That’s only until the machines rise up to get us, of course.) But after some discussion, the parents agree to keep her in their room instead. I literally do not understand how this show was EVER on the air.
Then their son and his friend entice a cool kid to hang out with them by promising him a rare baseball card. They try to casually smoke some cigs to show him how cool they are. But he informs them that cigs are out and chewing tobacco is in. (Um people who were teenager in the 80’s, is this true? I SERIOUSLY hope not beause I cannot think of a more disgusting habit.) He then demonstrates how to use “chewing tobacco,” but he actually shows them how to use dip, so this loser either doesn’t know what he’s doing. Or has stuck leaves of tobacco inside his lip. So either way, that’s gross.
Meanwhile, the robot has moved her cabinet into the parents’ bedroom. Mom and Dad get freaked out when they realize the robot can both see and hear them through her cabinet. It’s almost like having a lifelike child robot in your home is NOT the ideal situation. Also, this robot seems to have opinions. Like she doesn’t LIKE it when the dad makes her face the back of the cabinet. She seems to have THOUGHTS and a PERSONALITY. This is just WRONG on SO many levels.
Anyway, I’m thinking the real kid in this family might get away with smoking/dipping with no consequences from his parents. They’re pretty distracted by the artificial intelligence in their bedroom and they did carelessly throw out a pack of cigarettes where their twelve year-old son could easily find them. So I’m thinking, they are hands-off on the whole parenting thing. Plus, the kid stupidly swallowed the dip and I thought maybe THAT would be the whole “learning your lesson” thing because like omg the horror. I’m feeling ill just thinking about it. Nicotine poisoning is REAL, people!
But in the last 5 minutes of the episode, the parents both learn about and resolve the issue. That’s a pretty tight turn around even by very special episode standards. Actually, they only find out because they are self-conscious about sharing their bedroom with the robot child, so they turn on the TV to watch a Bette Davis movie. And by the way, the robot just happened to learn how to SMOKE from a Bette Davis movie. Oh yeah and their kid was also dumb enough to store cigarettes in the robot’s pinafore pocket and not remove them before insisting she hang out with his parents overnight. So she starts smoking a cigarette in her cabinet and the parents start to ask some questions. (Finally.)
This kid is more stupid than I ever thought possible (once again, even by VSE standards.) He tells his parents that he’s never going to smoke again because chewing tobacco is his new thing. His dad tries that parenting tactic where you make your kids do a whole bunch of one thing to make them hate it. But like here’s the thing, forcing your kids to ingest a whole bunch of nicotine (oh yeah the kid swallows it again, smh) is almost definitely child abuse. You don’t get to swoop-in with five minutes to spare and make your kid really sick just because you were too busy dealing with a robot in your bedroom to notice he’d not only gotten into your cigarettes, but also picked up a dipping habit. Try explaining that to the social worker someone’s going to send to your house.
Also, in the last two minutes of the episode, that cool kid who does dip ends up getting cancer. So. Yeah. Bummer.
Very Special Lesson: Don’t leave cigarettes where kids can get them. DON’T DIP/CHEW/WHATEVER BECAUSE IT IS GROSS. Gross is not cool. Also, purchase Alexa or a Roomba or whatever, but don’t have a creepy childlike robot.