There's such a thing as "so bad it's good", but there's also the rare territory of "so bad it's sublime." "Small Wonder", a series that ran through the mid-80's, is truly a wonderful example of the latter. While I found the series amusing as a kid, the series has now both amusing as cheese (and we're talking Wisconsin-level cheese) and relic from the era.
The series focuses on the Lawson family, headed by parents Ted Lawson (Dick Christie) and Joan (Marla Pennington-Rowan). Ted works as an engineer and, in the first episode, brings home his latest invention: VICI (Tiffany Brissette), a robot in the form of a child.
The series largely revolved around Vicki's attempts to learn more about the real world, which usually turned into wacky misadventures that have to be solved by her parents or brother, Jamie (Jerry Supiran). The whole family has to try and hide Vicki from their nosy next-door neighbors, especially Harriet (Emily Schulman).
Watching "Small Wonder" again after all these years is more than a little amusing - the plots aren't brilliant by any means (Jamie and or/Vicki get in trouble, only to have the parents bail them out and then shake their heads disapprovingly like something out a 50's sitcom) but they're enjoyably corny (Jamie gets in trouble after Vicki does his homework.) The series as a whole is enjoyably silly stuff, and the acting is overboard in the best, most unintentionally funny way. Those who have fond memories of the series from the 80's will likely get a kick out of seeing the series all these years later - while the show has certainly aged, somehow that only adds to the fun.
1. 1- 1 7 Sep 85 Vicki's Homecoming
2. 1- 2 14 Sep 85 The Neighbors
3. 1- 3 21 Sep 85 The Sitter
4. 1- 4 28 Sep 85 The Suitor
5. 1- 5 5 Oct 85 Sibling Rivalry
6. 1- 6 12 Oct 85 Spielberg Jr.
7. 1- 7 19 Oct 85 The Lie
8. 1- 8 26 Oct 85 The Bully
9. 1- 9 2 Nov 85 Slightly Dishonorable
10. 1-10 9 Nov 85 The Adoption
11. 1-11 16 Nov 85 Child Genius
12. 1-12 23 Nov 85 Ted's New Boss
13. 1-13 30 Nov 85 Brainwashed
14. 1-14 4 Jan 86 The Burrito Story
15. 1-15 11 Jan 86 The Camping Trip
16. 1-16 18 Jan 86 Love Story
17. 1-17 25 Jan 86 Substitute Father
18. 1-18 8 Feb 86 The Robot
19. 1-19 15 Feb 86 The Company Takeover
20. 1-20 22 Feb 86 Good Ol' Lou
21. 1-21 1 Mar 86 Like Father, Like Son
22. 1-22 3 May 86 Vaudeville Vicki
23. 1-23 10 May 86 The Real Facts of Life
24. 1-24 17 May 86 The Grandparents
VIDEO: "Small Wonder" is presented by Shout Factory in 1.33:1 full-frame. As with most classic (or "classic") shows presented by the studio, the presentation is about as good as one might expect. The series is about 25 years old at this point, but while the sets and other visual elements of the series do reflect that, the presentation actually seems fresher than the age of the series would suggest - the picture looked relatively clean, with only a few minor instances of wear on the elements. Sharpness and detail are certainly unremarkable, but the picture doesn't look much softer than it did when the show was originally aired in the '80's. Colors looked a little fuzzy, but otherwise appeared fine.
SOUND: The show's stereo soundtrack remains understandably basic and sounds a little dated, but dialogue and music sounded clear and no distortion or other faults were heard.
EXTRAS: Commentary with cast and crew on "The Robot Nappers", "The Grandparents", "Vicki's Homecoming", "The Suitor", "Ted's New Boss" and promos, as well as a fan art gallery.
Final Thoughts: Taking "so bad it's good" to new and delightful heights, "Small Wonder" is definitely a kick to watch again after all these years. The DVD presentation offers fine audio/video quality, as well as a nice selection of supplements. Recommended for fans.