Friday, September 06, 2019

Gyrbynerjk #3

“What are you watching?” Barry asked, coming into Brian’s small sleeping quarters. There was a small bed, a sink and toilet, and a TV. Brian was watching TV; it was a bulky 1980s style Emerson television with dials and a faux wood cabinet. Dr. Anderson had modified it to get every streaming service so Brian had access to nearly every TV show ever made.

“The Jetsons.”

“Really? The Jetsons? You strike me as more of a Flintstones man,” Barry sat with Brian on the bed and watch a couple minutes of the show. “So why The Jetsons?”

“Flintstones is clearly the superior show but I like George Jetson as a character better. Fred and Barney could handle themselves what with work, family, their wives, the Water Buffalo Lodge but George had no control over anything. He is constantly at odds with everything. He’s trapped in a world he can’t control or understand.”

“Who’s that?” Barry exclaimed, leaning closer to the TV.

“Rosie the Robot—she’s the Jetsons maid.”

“Hello,” Barry said to the TV. “Look at the rear on her.”

“Yeah, I don’t know why they made her so thicc but whatever.”

“Oh, by the way, Mr. Spacely is calling.”

“Hey, Dr. Anderson, how’s it going?” Brian asked.

“I am better than you ever will be, Brian. Being evil just gets more popular every day,” Dr. Anderson bragged. “Your review today is the pilot episode of the 1984 to 1989 syndicated television series Small Wonder. You’re going to hate it.”

The theme song started up, a man walks out of his office building and sits down on a curb in the parking lot to eat his lunch. “Why is he eating lunch outside?” Barry asked.

“They don’t allow food inside the building,” Brian remarked.

The theme song continued, a syrupy concoction of everything wrong with theme songs. The cast names flashed by and the screen went dark. “Oh, good. Is it over?” Barry asked.

“No, that was just the theme song,” Brian answered.

“Really? Are you sure?”



The series starts with a mother—Joan—working in the kitchen when her son comes home, slamming the back door as kids are known to do in the television situation comedies. His name was Jamie and he is lamenting not having anybody to play with—specifically not having a brother. He’d even settle for a sister. He then makes a crack about his parents not trying hard enough to conceive another child. There’s a knock on the door and Jamie gets up to answer it and immediately slams it in the girl’s face.

“He just performed a soliloquy about not having anybody to play with and when someone comes over to play, he slams the door in their face?” Barry asked.

“Harriet deserves it,” Jamie begins explaining. “She's a pill and she's nosy. What a waste of womanhood."

“Alright, we can check all the boxes on the sitcom young male character personality sheet,” Brian said. “He hates school, talks about sex, complains about women, whiny about everything."

“At least he’s eating his vegetables,” Barry said, pointing out that Jamie was eating a carrot in this scene. Brian shrugged in agreement.

Almost immediately, the father—Ted—comes home. “Hey, where did Harriet go?” Brian asked.

“Maybe she was never there,” Barry answered.

The family goes into the living room and Ted discusses what’s been going on at work and shows his family that he is working on a V.I.C.I—a voice input child identicant—and that it could revolutionize robotics. “Gee, Dad, a grown man playing with a doll at work?” Jamie asked with an eyebrow raised and confusion in his voice.

“Ooh, we can add ‘angered by things outside of gender normality’ to the list,” Barry said.

Joan gives Ted permission to continue his work on the V.I.C.I. and he is next seen programming the little girl bot in the master bedroom to do things such as “blink eyes”, “wiggle nose” and “respond to voice command.”

“There’s just something a little unsettling about a grown man giving orders to a child while she’s lying on a bed,” Brian said.

“It’s made worse by the laugh track,” Barry replied. “They’re all complicit.”

Vicki, as the little robot girl is now known to be, is introduced to the family. Joan drops tonight’s dinner. “You’re putting us on. That’s a real kid, right?” she asked.

“No, no it’s a robot,” Ted answered.

“’So, it’s not technically illegal’ says some pervert in the YouTube comments,” Brian said.

The next morning, Jamie and Vicki are making breakfast for Ted and Joan, who are celebrating their anniversary. Jamie is trying to show Vicki how to do things. She ends up crushing an egg in her hand and the audience groans in the disgust.

“The laugh track is way too into this,” Barry chuckled.

Jamie gets everything set out on a tray and gives the task of delivering the breakfast to Vicki. “It’s the first door in the hall on the left,” Jaime directs.

“’Yes. I. Know. I. Was. Built. There,’” Brian mocked in Vicki’s voice.

Vicki brings the breakfast to Ted and Joan but throws it at them instead. Brian and Barry actually laugh at this. The scene cuts to Jamie and Vicki in Jamie’s room, in trouble. “Wait. Jamie got in trouble because Vicki thought ‘give it to them’ meant throw it at them? That’s on you, Ted. That’s on you,” Barry said.

Jamie then decides to sneak out and get his parents an anniversary present to smooth things over. “My Dad sleeps late on Saturday. I’ll be back before they wake up.”

“They were just awake. Vicki threw breakfast on them,” Brian exclaimed.

For some reason, Vicki follows Jamie to the store, is believed to be one of the store’s displays and locked in a closet. She escapes by ripping the door off its hinges. When Jamie and Vicki return home, they are caught by Ted and Joan. They get in trouble once again and Jamie chastises her. Feeling bad, Jamie apologizes and Vicki rips the door off his toy cabinet. “I can see I’m going to have nothing but trouble with you.”

“Trouble,” Vicki repeated and smiled.

“Yep, she’s going to kill us all,” Barry said.

“Well, that was certainly an episode of a show. A show that lasted a fairly long time. It ran in syndication, not on a network, which may have helped its renewal chances each year especially if it aired weekdays after school when kids got home,” Brian explained. “I never watched it but I knew it existed. I was more of a cartoon kid.”

“This show would probably work better as a cartoon,” Barry said.

“Possibly. Brian out.”

Brian was sitting in bed reading when Barry robotically came into the room, carrying a tray of food. He was wearing a red dress with a white apron. “Good. Morning,” Barry said, mimicking Vicki’s voice.

“What’s going on? What are you doing? Where did you get that dress and apron?” Brian asked.

“Happy. Anniversary. From. Doctor. Anderson. And. Me. And. To. Give. This. To. You,” Barry said and threw the tray of food onto Brian.

Brian could hear Dr. Anderson’s laughter echoing through the ship. “What the hell, Barry?”

“Sorry, Brian. Dr. Anderson wanted me to do that and even though I think you’re a great guy, Dr. Anderson still built me and I thought it would be pretty funny as well. I was right,” Barry explained.

Suddenly, music started playing on the ship PA system. “She’s a small wonder, lovely and bright with soft curls. She’s a small wonder, a child unlike other girls. She’s a miracle, and I grant you, she’ll enchant you at first sight…”