Question: I seem to remember that when I was younger I watched a show that starred Stephen Dorff (though I'm not completely sure about that). He had a dummy that kind of looked like Howdy Dowdy. Am I making this up or did it really exist? — June, Seattle, Wash.
Televisionary: What a dummy. (Not you, June — the show.)The syndicated sitcom What a Dummy, 24 episodes of which were produced from 1990-91, did indeed include young Mr. Dorff as 16-year-old Tucker Brannigan. Tucker's dad, Ed (David Doty), inherited a trunk from his late uncle, who'd been a ventriloquist, and in the trunk was Jackie, his uncle's living, talking dummy.
The set-up didn't wander very far from the standard situation involving a wise-acre robot, alien or what-have-you hidden in a household. Tucker, Ed and the rest of the Brannigan family — 11-year-old Cory (Joshua Rudoy), six-year-old Maggie (Janna Michaels) and momma Polly (Annabel Armour) — spent their time trying to keep secret the fact that they were harboring a sentient puppet. When said dummy's inability to shut up and the frequent presence of nosy neighbor Mrs. Travalony (The Mothers-In-Law's Kaye Ballard) were thrown in, maintaining that secrecy was a laugh-a-minute challenge indeed.