You know, I really miss being alive during the 80s. For one reason and one reason only.
The television atmosphere.
Never had there been such a wide assortment of spectacularly great television and embarrassingly bad television. And I devoured it all, even at a young age.
One of these shows that fell into the latter category for me was Small Wonder. The sitcom that gave us Vicky, the little girl robot created by inventor Ted Lawson and integrated into his family, while wacky hijinks to teach her about humanity and keep her a secret from the rest of the world ensued. It was like having Lieutenant Commander Data in the body of a little girl who had the line delivery of Queen Amidala in Star Wars Episode I.
This show was the very definition of cornball and low budget. It made Out of This World look like All in the Family. (Note from RD: One more Out of this World reference, and your writing privileges on this site will be revoked. I still have nightmares about that show, and I believe all I ever saw of it was :30 commercials.)
AND IT RAN FOR FOUR YEARS!! FOUR YEARS!!!
In a world where this show could be kept alive for FOUR YEARS and The Critic barely lasted two, I think there’s something very wrong here.
Why am I talking about this show on Wrestlecrap this week? Because we’re going to go back and take a look when former Navy Seal, future Mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota and future Governor of the State of Minnesota, 80s wrestling legend Jesse “The Body” Ventura guest starred on this sitcom…for some reason.
(I’m sorry, Kelly, but I must interrupt. I don’t think you are putting over just how HORRIBLE this show was. I mean, I’ve watched Thunder in Paradise, and this is so many multiples of times worse I don’t even know how you could compare the two. Consider that for a moment – I’d rather watch a talking boat driven by Hulk Hogan – Hulk Hogan in SPEEDOS, MIND YOU – than this thing. I mean, just look at the intro to this show:
Who could POSSIBLY watch that :56 clip and think, “Now this…THIS is a show I can sink my teeth into! I need to invest 30 minutes of my life into this RIGHT DAMN NOW!”
Look, I know it was marketed for kids, but man…RD Jr. would look at that and say, “Daddy, that sucks.”
And he’s four.
And he’s not allowed to use the word “sucks.”
For starters, the theme song for this episode of the show sounds like it was sung by the same group of singers that would do jingles for Camel Cigarettes and Lux Soap during Fibber McGee & Molly radio serials.
(Note from RD: To any young heel wrestlers looking to make a name for themselves, I strongly suggest using the moniker FIBBER McGEE. In fact, if I had heard that name before I started on the indy scene, there would be no RD Reynolds. And I bet Death of WCW by Bryan Alvarez and Fibber McGee would have sold a LOT more copies. ~sigh~)
As the theme song plays, we’re introduced to the cast of characters. First, we have Ted Lawson, who peruses websites with pictures of little girls during working hours at the computer lab…
His 80s pretty wife, Joan, that dresses like June Cleaver but wears eyeball glasses while serving breakfast to show she’s WACKY…
Their son, Jamie, who eats a lot and looks like he’s about 35 years old…
There’s Harriet, the nosey neighbor, because every sitcom with a witch, genie, alien or robot needs one.
The comedy value would have went up tenfold if they’d have just called her “Harriet Kravitz”, but this show is nowhere near that clever.
And of course we have the star of the show, Vicky, dressed in ribbons and bows, who endears herself to the audience by karate-chopping a balsa wood coffee table in half.
Because nothing is more kid cute than wanton destruction of property.
The episode starts off with Jamie and Vicky watching wrestling on television. Well, it isn’t really “wrestling”. It’s just shots of Jesse “The Body” by himself in a ring as he poses to the sounds of about 10 people booing in the crowd. Imagine Jesse appearing at one of RD’s old PWI shows, and you get the jist.
(Note from RD: HEY! We drew more than 10 people! Well, except that time where we did a show with Ian Rotten headlining at a bar and drew, no joke, TWO PEOPLE. I bet if we had “Fibber McGee” on the poster, we’d have drawn at least double that.
At LEAST double that.)
I haven’t seen many of Jesse’s actual wrestling matches but I can’t remember anytime in the AWA or WWF when he worked the crowd by shaking his fist at them, unless he was describing a scene from Bob Guccione’s Caligula or had his lemon tree stolen by kids from Springfield.
Ted sits down to watch with them as Jamie describes the action, because they couldn’t afford to pay another person to wrestle with Jesse in the studio next door.
Incidentally, his invisible opponent’s name is “Bearclaw Billy, the Killer”. With a name like Bearclaw Billy (whom I assume/hope uses a pastry of the same name as a foreign object), “The Killer” add-on is superfluous.
Later that same day…Joan and Vicky come back from the grocery store when the doorbell rings and Vicky answers it. Why it’s Jesse!
Only she slams the door on him and gives Jesse his ring introduction, “HAILING FROM SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA!”, before opening the door again.
The sad part is she’s better than Michael Buffer and probably getting .00001% of what he made during WCW.
Jesse tells Joan that he saw her at the grocery store and followed her home because he’s an old college friend of hers that she knew when he was a 92 pound poindexter named “Wally Crandall”. She would give “mercy dates” to him while Ted, then her boyfriend, tormented him with goofy pranks that were popular in the 1930s such as giving wedgies, fly in the ice cube drink and planting fake dog poop.
NOW we know where Paul E. got the idea for the Raven-Tommy Dreamer- Beulah love triangle.
He and Joan rehash old times and she invites Jesse to dinner. He accepts but asks her to not tell Ted who he is to surprise him.
Ted comes home from work and Joan tells him that she’s invited their old friend Wally Crandall to dinner. Instead of behaving like a normal adult human being, Ted’s immediate reaction is to relive his moments of acting like a 12 year old jerk in college with laughter and relish while telling jokes about “Wally’s” physique that sound like they were written by Vince McMahon and even the fake laugh track had a tough time getting a chuckle out of.
There’s also mention of a prank involving a duck, toilet paper and a bucket that will unfortunately be revisited later on.
Ted isn’t satisfied with merely remembering his moments of jerkdom. He enlists Vicky in his plot to pull some 40 year old pranks on “Wally” when he comes over for dinner by giving her keywords to remember that will trigger the prank. Maybe it’s just me, but Ted seems like a real a-hole. And Joan might be a bigger a-hole for marrying him.
Before “Wally” arrives, Ted goes over the prank keywords with Vicky. “Shake” and “Whipped Cream”. How does Ted know “Wally” will say these words to Vicky?
Well, because it’s in the script.
Yep, that’s why.
When “Wally” arrives at the door, Ted is understandably dumbstruck but can’t stop Vicky from going ahead with giving Jesse the old joybuzzer when he tells her to “shake.”
Jesse overlooks getting 40,000 volts of electricity through his body and enjoys dinner with the Lawsons while Harriet eavesdrops on them right outside their kitchen door.
She makes her presence known and says she’s a big fan of Jesse’s and thinks he’s hot. Jesse laughs it off and tells Harriett he’ll send her an autographed pic. Whew, good thing Joan wasn’t college friends with Jerry Lawler. Jamie asks Harriet if she’d like him if he was built like Jesse. I don’t know if Harriet would but you could grow up to get a superstar push in the WWF, Jamie. I’m sure Dr. Zahorian could help you out there.
While serving dessert in the living room, Jesse asks Vicky to give him some whipped cream on his pie. Well, she does, only on his face. You know, after watching this episode, I’m wondering how this didn’t do irreparable damage to Jesse’s political career.
Well, Jesse’s had about enough so he decides to re-enact Hulk Hogan on Richard Belzer’s show with Ted.
But things go awry when Vicky gives Jesse his “wham bam bodyslam” by lifting him by one leg and breaking all the laws of physics and gravity by not immediately falling over on the opposite side.
Jesse is shocked and says if it got out that a little girl wham bam slammed him, he’d be laughed out of wrestling.
Not if Vince Russo was involved. He’d make Vickie Jesse’s tag team partner.
And then they’d hate each other.
Then they’d fight for something on a pole.
And so on.
Ted feels really bad for being a jerk to Jesse so he tells Jesse that Vicky is a robot and offers proof.
HEY! HEY! Watch it, Ted! She’s not a pedo pleasure bot from Blade Runner!
I’m sure if you looked in the back of many WWE and TNA employees, you’d find the same wires and circuits because the real ones have been replaced by Stepford Writers.
Jesse feels so privileged to be let in on Ted’s secret he offers to make it up to Ted….
…by letting Ted pin him for a 3 count.
I’d ask what is going on here, but seriously, it’s a late 80’s sitcom about a robotic little girl.
If you’re expecting deep storyline arcs, well…you’re not looking in the right place.
And when Jesse leaves and Ted goes up into the bathroom, we finally get the big “payoff” on the duck, bucket and toilet paper prank…so did he pull the duck out of his ass?
I hope that there’ll be a future episode of Jesse’s Conspiracy Theory show on Tru TV about Vicky’s involvement in HAARP’s mind control plot, where they get America to watch this sitcom for FOUR YEARS while secretly taking over the world.
That would almost be apology enough for this show.