Small Wonder robot girl TV show

Small Wonder was a TV show in the 1980s that I had (fortunately?) forgotten about. It stars Tiffany Brissette as a robot girl named Vicki (VICI, or Voice Input Child Identicant). Discuss. Small Wonder (YouTube), Small Wonder Home Page (Semi-official) (Thanks, Richard Metzger!)


  1. I was always much disturbed by the androgynous brother Jamie. I watched this as a kid really early in the morning before school, and it always made me feel sort of weird.

  2. I had a friend in high school who refused to call this the worst TV show ever only because it would give the show some sort of distinction.

  3. Terrible show. Kid couldn’t play a robot worth a damn.

    Was the dad also the principle on saved by the bell?

  4. My parents wouldn’t let me watch this because she sassed her dad.

    The Simpsons were okay, though. Homer strangled Bart when the boy talked back.

  5. I didn’t have very high standards for TV entertainment back in those years, but even I wouldn’t watch that piece of offal. A-List celebrities acting horribly, terrible attempts at humor, ridiculous scenarios – it’s the “Showgirls” of the sit-com world.

  6. There is only one episode worth watching: the one where the family gets one of those eighties-style robot cats and Vicki heralds it with a dose of murderous sibling rivalry. I like that her only real emotion in the whole show was this one, displaying obvious latent robot evil.

  7. Wow. I was actually thinking about this TV show just the other day…vague memories.

    Speaking of 1980’s robot kids, I also remember liking the movie “D.A.R.Y.L.” as a kid. For those who might not remember, it was a film about a robot boy who could

    1) play “Pole Position” at super-human speed, and
    2) somehow invoke the ire of seedy G-men

    wikipedia reminds me that the movie also involved an SR-71. All in all, essential 80’s fare.

    A real trip down memory lane, eh? Thanks, Pescovitz! =)

  8. Oh, Gawd, you’re giving my flashbacks.

    The 70s and 80s produced great heaps of marginal low-budget TV shows. Sitcoms about robots and aliens and kids who swap bodies with parents.

    I’m just barely remembering this show about a blonde, big-glasses kid who has a stuffed horse that comes to life. In one episode they visit a land of inflatable people who collapse when their air compressor goes on the fritz.

  9. * Small Wonder actress Tiffany Brissette was nominated for the 1989 and 1990 “Best Young Actress in an Off-Primetime Family Series” Young Artist Awards.

    * The show was nominated for the 1990 “Best Syndicated Family Drama or Comedy Series” Young Artist Award.

    * Paul Scott was nominated for the 1990 “Best Young Actor in a Family Syndicated Show” Young Artist Award.

  10. Little known fact: the boy who played Jamie ended up changing his name to Billy Corgan and became the lead singer of Smashing Pumkins.

  11. #8

    Good guess, but the principal on SBtB (i.e., Mr. Belding) was played by Dennis Haskins, who had a minor role on FX’s It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia a couple years back. I understand he’s the only actor from SBtB who still has a good, healthy relationship with Dustin Diamond, aka Screech Powers.

  12. I went to a taping of this show back in the day. Funniest part was when we had to wait 30 minutes so they could find a 9 volt battery to replace the one that died on the robot’s “electronics”

  13. I absolutely remember this show, enough to remember that it was the absolute nadir of daytime time-filler sitcoms. I pretty much lump it together with “My Secret Identity” and “Out Of This World”.

    Also: is there a 1980’s TV series that Edie McClurg *didn’t* appear in?

  14. I was going to make some snarky remarks about the human son on the show and his justified lack of post-Small Wonder work, but a quick wikipedia turns up that he died a few years after the show ended due to heart murmur.

    The show would have been horrible with or without him, so RIP, buddy!

  15. OMG, I watched in the early 90’s. IIRC, it was called “Vicky, a menina robô” or something like that in Brazil. Boy, her voice was just horrible.

  16. Wow. I remember this show, and the annoying intro song. Mostly I remember how really annoying that neighbor girl was. I kind of think the one girl was not bad at being a robot, but that doesn’t mean she was a good actress either.

    Speaking of shoes like this, anyone remember “out of this world” (The TV show, not the unrelated video game)?

    Noots, #17: No, he didn’t. He died in 1994. Corgan is still alive.

  17. The human son was in a parade in LA back in the 80s and I remember getting really excited when I saw him on a float. We totally made eye contact. I’ve always been attracted to plump men – maybe that’s where it came from. Weird!

  18. This show used to be on TV in India too, where I grew up and used to play at about 5:00 pm right after kids got back home after school along with transformers and spiderman…..oh what fun days those were …

    I remember my grandmom used to watch this show with me and she thought it was pretty funny too

    thanks for triggering that long lost memory.

  19. That link has a way for us to “Start a blog about Jerry Supiran.” I’m tempted to, and just have one post linking here. Fortunately, my powers of crap-detection were astute back then, so I never had the show burn my retinas, not once.

  20. I never heard of that show. Now I am damaged, pierced to the brobe.

    Now I’m going to have to watch an episode of LOOK AROUND YOU, as therapy.

  21. In the late 90s, Star World (the Rupert Murdoch satellite network in Asia) carried reruns of Small Wonder every day right after reruns of the Simpsons.

    I often wondered if there was somebody in Asia who actually liked Small Wonder, or if it was just really cheap to syndicate.

  22. I remember very specifically having a very negative, almost visceral reaction to that show. ON top of being really bad it was preachy.

  23. Even as a lad, I remember seeing this show and thinking, “here, son, I made you a pretty-but-mindless girl who has no identity of her own and will do everything you tell her. Oh, and she’s going to sleep in a box in your room.” You can’t tell me that kid didn’t grow up warped.

    I know I did.

  24. I used to watch that show regularly as a kid, and I remember not hating it. Of course, I also used to think Knight Rider was the coolest thing on earth.

  25. I hated that neighbor girl with a passion, and she still haunts my nightmares by spying on whatever’s happening in my dream and making awful shocked faces.

    And someone’s taken it upon themselves to put an entire episode of Out of This World up on youtube!

  26. So, an interesting note about Tiffany Brissette – several years later, she was a semi-regular singing on the 700 Club which, as you know, is one of those televangical shows hosted by, I believe, Pat Roberts. What struck me about this is I always interpreted “Small Wonder” as being, essentially, about man’s desire to play God and the consequences, both good and bad, of such hubris.

    Perhaps she was atoning?

  27. I just remember this one episode, where the dad tells Vici to “forget everything”, and she wipes her entire memory…

    She’s a smaaaall wonder!..

  28. About 5 years ago my roommate came home from work, looked at me and said, “you’ll never guess what I was just thinking about on my way home.”

    I looked at him and said, “That old 80’s tv show, Small Wonder.”

    With a look of absolute astonishment, he looked at me and said, “yes. That IS what I was just thinking about!”

    Neither of us have ever been able to explain that event. It was pretty freaky and amazing.

  29. WORST.

    i demand a unicorn chaser for yanking that show back into our consciousness. some things are better left forgotten.

  30. I’m really surprised how negative everyone is being about this show. It was half serious (for kids) and half camp. And surely Boing Boing is one site that celebrates camp.

    I watched the show when it was on and yes it was bad, but that’s what made it so good! It’s kind of like Mama’s Family and Saved by the Bell in that regard. And surely Emily Schulman was as bad as Beverly Archer?!

  31. Seeing as how I was between the ages of 6 and 8 when these shows were first on, I defend my taste as “undeveloped.”

    That said, I freaking LOVED Small Wonder. For that matter, I loved Out of This World and My Secret Identity as well. The fact anyone on this site remembers My Secret Identity is pretty tremendous, since there were several years of my life where I thought I might have dreamt up the show and that it never actually existed.

  32. This is one of my wife’s fave shows from the past and she knows it sucks compared to todays shows but she was younger then of course. I have had to suffer through episodes although I could leave the room if I wanted to a flickering box of light is a flickering box of light.

    @#12 kirakira:

    if Vicki was acting kinda nuts maybe it was her evil twin Vanessa.. what was it with robot twins in cheesey scifi! Data off of ‘next gen’ had Lore and K.i.t.t. had K.a.r.r on knight rider.. did anyone think that was clever at all?

    the new Knight Rider has added Karr again but this time he looks like Johny Five – Wtf?

    @#34 Micah:

    although syndicated, it was owned by Murdoch so it was free to him in a way. thats why it got everywhere kinda like dust or mold.

    @#41 efergus3:

    “Don’t remember this. I do remember Julie Newmar in My Living Doll about 15 years earlier. Yesssss.”

    OMG watched a clip on youtube of ‘My Living Doll’ and it is SO small wonder, just a little more suggestive since she looks like an adult supermodel.

    then wife read the wikipedia entry and IMDB and saw it was the same writer/producer Howard Leeds!!
    at least he did diffrent strokes and gave the tv watching public Dana Plato. ahem.

    @#46 rijrunner1:
    my wife thinks you deserve an FTW for that ;)

  33. @#51 posted by dzynz:

    channel in southern ontario (canada) been rerunning ‘My secret Identity’ and the wife makes me watch that too. *sigh*

  34. *wow* and i mean, wow. i think you had to be around 8 or 9 to appreciate how glorious this show was. they key here is to never, ever, attempt to reconjure the magic of the 80s as an adult. it might work (kind of) for labyrinth, but that’s only because of david bowie’s tights. i can’t tell you how it rocked my world when the schulmans moved to town & my friend ben told me that, back in the day, his sister played the part of that annoying red-headed neighbor, harriet! no effing way. but that doesn’t mean i made the mistake of busting out the old VCR recordings as a high schooler! gotta keep the dream alive.

  35. Now that I’ve seen this, I remember having seen the show… And remember absolutely nothing about it other than that I’ve seen that.

    Merely unmemorable, or defense mechanism? You be the judge.

  36. Oh. I remember really liking it – now that you bring it up! I also remember feeling a little creeped out too. Like – wow – they can just turn off their kid. I was really little though.
    How about Astroboy? Now he was cool ;)

  37. emily shulman, the nosey girl next door, used to work at acme talent and lit in la, i seem to remember hearing that her parents stole all of her acting money.

  38. Ha ha, a friend of mine was vicki for halloween. I couldn’t remember her name, only the name of the show. As an aside, apparently it was also shown in Columbia as a Columbian friend knew the show too.

  39. I don’t remember this.

    I’m inclined to believe this is a cruel joke the interwebs are playing on me.

    I’m scared.

  40. Vicki and Chip Carson needed to get together at some point:

    The first time I ever saw Robin Lively. I think my voice deepened a few octaves the first time I saw her.

    She recently played the victim of Wil Wheaton himself, as a serial killer on an episode of “Criminal Minds,” just to complete the ’80s trifecta.

  41. I remember seen it recently in some low budget TV station here in Chile. It was like a saturday morning or something.

    Off course, is one of those “so bad that is good” things. It was very boring, but had its moments.

    I remember the episode when the kid brought a homeless guy to the house.

    Whatever. It doesn’t hurt to remember, but it’s certainly not the best of series.

  42. It really looks as though the kid’s dad works in the same industrial estate as Initech, or was that Innertrobe? Anyway, back to those TPS reports.

  43. Oddly, this was in my mind too, the past week, for no reason. Maybe it’s part of some cosmic consciousness we all live under.

    Who produced the show? Was it a church group? I recall something vague about this detail.

    Also, I’m sure Omni television up here in Canada was running it within the past few years, so maybe it’s promos refreshed old memories.

    In any case, I would have made it 18 and kept her in the shed. That dad was such an idiot.

  44. Johnny Cat, I was thinking of clicking that link, creating a blog about Jerry Supiran, and just have blog updates that consist of, “He’s still dead.”

  45. As a wee tyke, I recall loving this show. Also, Short Circuit. Also, The Terminator, and Terminator 2. And Star Trek and Star Wars, of course.

    Surprise surprise, I’ve grown up to specialize in Biological Cybernetics.

    She’s fantastic, made of plastic…. and awesome.

  46. Sweet Boneless Christ!
    It saddens me that people always mention this horrible show whenever the topic of AI comes up, but nobody remembers Yancy Butler’s wonderful performance in Mann & Machine.

    Mann & Machine: Prototype (episode 1) 1/5

    Mann & Machine: Dating Game (episode 2) 1/5

    Mann & Machine: No Pain, No Gain (episode 3) 1/5

    Mann & Machine: Mann’s Fate (episode 6) 1/5

    Mann & Machine: Truth Or Consequences (episode 7) 1/5

    Mann & Machine: Billion Dollar Baby (episode 8) 1/5

  47. This show did produce 96 episodes. Can’t say I remember what happened in ANY episode, but as a kid I absolutely LOVED Small Wonder. I think reruns were on my local FOX affiliate out of Fargo, early mornings before school. That and Denver, The Last Dinosaur.

  48. #56 posted by Tavi

    That guy’s not dead.

    That guy in the Funny or Die video isn’t Jerry Supiran. That guy is a stand-up comic named Dean Carlson.

    Still, AFAIK that guy is not dead.

  49. United Robotronics looks a cool company to work for. They let you eat your packed lunch on the grass.

  50. Super Martian Robot Girl would totally kick VICI’s ass.

    Either that or else figure out that her real problem is taking orders from a bunch of manipulative humans and introduce the concept of free will to her programming. (Cue the Terminator theme at this point.)

    Because Super Martian Robot Girl is just helpful like that.

  51. She takes off her hand and attaches a vacuum nozzle onto the stump where her hand was… this is all I remember from the show.

    Oh! And Harriet is a bitch.

  52. Creepy… almost exactly a month ago, I posted in my blog comparing Sarah Palin to Vicki.

    “From wikipedia: ‘Vicki’s artificial intelligence is not perfect. She is incapable of emotion, speaks in a monotone voice, and interprets most commands literally. She does manage to blend in to the real world to a point. Vicki attends school, and no one but her family members and a few trusted friends know her secret.'”

  53. I remember the show, but don’t remember ever watching it.

    But that Harriett seems like a nosy pain in the robo-ass.

  54. what’s great about shows like small wonder, is that it takes you back to your perceptions as a kid in the 80’s. i can understand how younger kids who weren’t old enough to remember it wouldn’t understand. 87 holler.

    also, mrs. lawson was totally hot.

  55. @David Pescovitz #52 Okay. So Jamie isn’t Billy Corgan. However, I can say with certainty that Paul from “The Wonder Years” became Marylin Manson.

  56. For some of us this show never went off the air. It’s pretty much been in late late late night re-runs for ever. BUT it only magically appears on nights when you’re stoned, drunk, and haven’t had sex.

  57. I finally get the theme songs out of my head, and someone goes and brings up another delightfully kitschy sitcom from my underoo days.


  58. @#93 anon:

    except the ages being totally off unless cryogenics was used I thought she was a dead ringer for the lead on veronica mars, who is now El on Heroes

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