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Series: Punky Brewster
Punky Brewster was a 1984-88 Dom Com on NBC about abandoned child Penelope "Punky" Brewster (her father walked out on her and her mom left Punky and her pet dog, Brandon, at a grocery store), played by Soleil Moon Frye, and her adoptive father, Henry, played by George Gaynes (best known for his role as Cmdt. Lassard in the Police Academy movies). Also revolves around Punky's interactions with her best friend, Cherie Johnson, played by Cherie Johnson (who later went on to play Laura Winslow's friend on Family Matters), who lives with her grandmother, Betty, played by Susie Garrett. Punky's other friends include geeky Allen Anderson (Casey Ellison) and stuck-up rich girl Margaux Kramer (Ami Foster).Well-loved Kid Com of The Eighties (by kids, anyway—critics hated it), especially when it re-ran in syndication. Did a Very Special Episode after the Challenger space shuttle explosion. Its Animated Adaptation (featuring a magical furry creature named Glomer who was left in the real world after wandering out of his village, Chaundoon located within a rainbow) also was shown on NBC.

The prime time and cartoon shows' were produced by NBC, the former co-produced with Lightkeeper Productions (creator-executive producer David W. Duclon's production company), the latter co-produced with Ruby-Spears; Duclon later sold the prime time rights to Columbia Pictures Television (Sony Pictures Television) when it went into syndication, again co-produced with Lightkeeper Productions. Sony owns US rights, NBC owns international rights.

This sitcom contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Spud in season 3. An entire episode focuses on this.
  • An Aesop: Usually once per episode.
  • The Alcoholic: Frank, the central character of the season 3 episode "Beer And Buffaloes Don't Mix." He changes at the end of the episode.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: Brazilian's SBT dub used this, the whole opening the US originally used kept while original song were changed. And later, there's Rede Bandeirantes dub when the show itself were redubbed too.
  • And Starring: The second season intro had "and T.K. Carter as Mike".
  • Animated Adaptation: It's Punky Brewster
    • Bizarrely, it was called that everywhere but the title card (which read just "Punky Brewster"). It's also notable in that it shared a cast with the live show.
      • In fact, the last shot of the intro to the primetime show's second season features the Ruby/Spears-animated Punky, Henry, and Brandon on TV.
    • TV Guide also billed the cartoon as just "Punky Brewster." NBC dropped it after a two-year run then brought it back in repeats in October 1988 after the live-action pre-teen show 2 Hip 4 TV tanked. In 1989, selected episodes were run on a rotating basis in the syndicated series Maxie's World.
  • Animated Credits Opening: Three weeks into the first season, an alternate opening sequence mixing live-action footage and an animated sequence was used. This lasted a few weeks and was replaced by yet another sequence mixing the location footage shot in Chicago and clips from episodes, ending with the tail end of the animated sequence being watched by the lead characters on TV.
    • The animated sequence at the end stayed during the second season's intro, but was redone by Ruby-Spears in a cross-promotion for the animated series running on NBC at the time.
  • Art Shift: All of the cartoon's season one episodes were cel-on-film animation. Season two's new episodes, save for three, were composited by computer.
  • Artistic License Animal Care: Punky feeds her dog Brandon Oreos, ding-dongs, and all manner of other food that would wreak absolute havoc on a real dog's digestive system. Oreos and ding-dongs contain chocolate, which would kill a real live dog.
  • Badass Adorable: Punky, of course.
  • Battle Discretion Shot: Punky getting beat up by Moose the bully in the girls bathroom.
  • Blood Brothers: Punky, Cherie and Margaux felt disgusted at the notion of using blood so they instead became "ketchup sisters".
  • Body Double: In the five-part "Changes," Punky impersonates Margaux so she can sneak out of Fenster Hall and visit Henry, who is in the hospital after collapsing from exhaustion following the burning down of his photo studio. In turn, Margaux impersonates Punky. As a result, Margaux took Punky's personality test, causing Punky to be (temporarily) adopted by a wealthy couple.
    • Punky dresses up as Margaux again in the cartoon episode "Pretty Ugly"—but only because Glomer turned Margaux's face into a glomley face. It's a wonder that Avery Bigelow (a kid whose dad runs a fashion magazine) didn't catch on that Margaux doesn't have brown eyes, freckles and a smoky voice.
  • Boxing Lesson
  • Break the Cutie: Punky after the Space Shuttle tragedy ("Accidents Happen"), after Allen moves away ("Divorce Anderson Style") and when she is stricken with appendicitis ("Ouch"—her tearful lament: "I have an -itis! I'm worm food!"); Cherie when she visits her parents' graves ("The Visit").
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall / Wink Ding: Punky winks to us at the end of the animated episode "The Bermuda Tangle."
  • Brewster's Millions: The plot of the episode "Punky's Millions" at the animated adaptation. Trying to raise money for charity, Punky and Henry entered a game show. The final challenge was spending one million dollars within two days. Another restriction was that nothing can be bought for more than ten thousand dollars. They lose the game because Allen forgot to spend the ninety-eight cents he got as change from the candy bars he bought. Fortunately, the Lottery Ticket bought during the episode was a winner.
    • The task of spending the money fell on Punky and her pals after Henry came down with chicken pox.
  • Brotherhood of Funny Hats: Henry belongs to one.
  • Butt Monkey: Allen, usually in the cartoon. Probably because he's the only male of the four main kids in the show.
    • Henry is this in the very first episodes, which comically portray his difficulty adjusting to having a rambunctious child around.
  • The Cameo: Bee Gees sibling Andy Gibb, boxer Marvin Hagler, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, singer Marilyn McCoo and pop group DeBarge all appeared on the show.
  • Catch Phrase: "Holy Macanoly!"
    • Also "Gross-a-Roo" in early seasons when Punky is confronted with something disgusting.
  • Cheerful Child: Punky and Cherie in the first two seasons. It wears off as the girls grow up and start facing more mature issues.
  • Christmas Special: Three, the most iconic being the "Yes Punky, There is a Santa Claus" two-parter from Season One.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Scotty Lotabucci is never seen again after "Walk Pool" and "Gone Fishing." Also Eddie the building superintendent, Mike Fulton, and Linda, the school cleaning lady that Punky befriends.
  • Clip Show: "Remember When" (season three finale) and "Wedding Bells For Brandon" (season four and series finale).
  • CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable): The subject of one of many many Very Special Episodes.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Allen.
  • Clueless Aesop: The Chicklets!
  • Companion Cube: In early seasons, Punky's doll, My.
  • Contest Winner Story Pitch: The CPR episode ("Cherie Lifesaver").
  • Cute Bruiser: Punky. As quoted by Allen, "She can knock your block off!"
  • Department of Child Disservices: Recurring attempts by Child Services bureaucrats to take Punky away from Henry and put her in an orphanage.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Henry. He and Betty are known for Snark-to-Snark Combat.
  • Downer Ending: Season 3's "Divorce Anderson Style." It ends with Punky crying her eyes out after Allen leaves to move out of town with his now-divorced mother.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The episode "Just Say No." Ends with rallies being held in St. Louis (with Cherie Johnson) and Atlanta (with Soleil Moon Frye). Also with season 3 episode "Unhooking Henry."
  • '80s Hair: Punky in seasons 3 and 4.
  • Hair Decorations: The smiling sun clips in Punky's pigtails. Also in the cartoon, the little bows in Margaux's hair.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: This, from the animated episode "Punky To The Rescue," where Margaux is posed as bait for a so-called swamp monster which they hear coming:
    Punky: Smile! Look pretty!
    Margaux: Don't be redundant!
  • Fairy Companion / Sidekick Ex Machina: Glomer in the Animated Adaptation, infamously.
  • Genki Girl: Punky.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Provides the trope image.
  • Great Gazoo: Glomer. He's a little more...out there than most examples. The joke? He's from a Brigadoon Expy.
  • Halloween Episode / Valentine's Day Episode: The live action show and cartoon show each had an episode of both holidays.
  • Happily Adopted: Punky.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Punky
  • It's a Wonderful Life: Pastiched in the animated episode "Allen Who?"
  • Jerkass: The host of the show "Can You Spend It?" (animated episode Punky's Millions), who celebrated Punky losing the game.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Margaux.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Cherie in seasons 3 and 4.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch : Margaux (Who else?)
  • Magic Skirt: Averted but maintained in the animated episode "Punky To The Rescue." Margaux has one foot caught in a snare posing as bait for a so-called swamp monster, but since she's wearing a dress, she is shown standing upright against a tree with her trapped foot raised as opposed to hanging upside down.
    • In animated edition of "The Perils Of Punky," Margaux is held upside down as part of a human chain to retrieve a gem down a well. Her skirt and slip are draped over her rear end.
  • Malt Shop: In season 3, Henry sells his photography studio and opens up a restaurant he calls "Punky's Place."
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Though platonic.
  • Missing Mom: A few NBC episodes deal with Punky's desire to find her recalcitrant mother. In the animated episode "Punky The Heiress," she suddenly has an aunt and uncle—servants for the Chester Henderson estate—who use her to impersonate Chester's granddaughter and embezzle the kid's inheritance, all under the guise that they've located Punky's mother.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Soleil Moon Frye, for a while. By the show's third season (in syndication) the producers gave up on that, and finally acknowledged that Punky needed to buy her first bra (the episode "Metamorphosis"; November 12, 1987).
    • The Family Channel refused to screen this episode when they replayed the series in the mid 90s.
    • Soleil Moon Frye, as it turned out, suffered from a condition (known as either juvenile macromastia or juvenile gigantomastia) which caused her breasts to develop early and larger than usual. She had to have reduction surgery at 15 because of it.
  • The One Guy: Henry. Subverted in the second season when T.K. Carter joined the cast as Mike Fulton, Punky's teacher.
    • Of the regular kids, this would be Allen in the first two seasons and the cartoon.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Punky's real name is Penelope, but nobody can call her that because she hates it.
  • Parental Abandonment: How it all started. When Henry first discovers Punky in an empty apartment, she tells him she was abandoned. Three episodes later in "Lost And Found," Punky thinks she's been abandoned again after she and Henry get separated at a grocery store.
  • Plucky Girl: Punky.
  • Precocious Crush: Punky had been a tomboy, up until the syndicated episode "Crushed," where she falls for a boy named Kevin. The problem is Kevin is six years older than Punky, and to her devastation (and Henry's relief), already has a girlfriend.
  • Promotion to Parent: When Henry officially adopts Punky.
    • Could also apply to Punky with Glomer in the cartoon. The episode "Return To Chaundoon" has a scene where Punky plants a goodnight kiss on Glomer's forehead.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • The episode concerning the Challenger explosion.
    • When she had to buy a bra.
  • Rich Bitch: Margaux, especially in the later two seasons.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: Punky's wardrobe. Then again, it's what makes her so cool. In syndication, Punky's clothing style, while still unorthodox, was not as colorful and patchwork as it was on NBC.
  • Shout-Out: The title character is named after a childhood crush of NBC Entertainment president Brandon Tartikoff (although the actual Punky's first name was Peyton), even leading to the real Punky being cast in the 1985 episode "The Search".
    • Brandon was the name of Punky's dog. Since this show was Mr. Tartikoff's pet project, it's only fitting that the pet is named after him.
    • Also, in the Fenster Hall episode, T.C. Finestra is named after Carmen Finestra, the program's creative consultant.
    • In addition, in the episode "Yes, Punky, There is a Santa Claus", Henry mentions talking to a private investigator named Gene Doucette, which was also the name of the program's costume designer.
  • Sick Episode: In "Ouch," Punky comes down with appendicitis. The idea of being operated on frightens her to tears.
  • Spot the Imposter: The animated episode "Double Your Punky" had Glomer creating a clone of Punky from a photograph to keep him company at home while the real Punky was at a school picnic. The clone, however, was obnoxious, and in his confusion, Glomer zaps the sweet Punky back into the photograph and throws it away. Having retrieved it and getting her back, Glomer is unable to tell who the real Punky is. It's up to Brandon, who recognizes her scent.
    • Also, Punky disguising herself as Margaux in the five-part story arc "Changes" and the cartoon episode "Pretty Ugly."
  • Talking Animal: Pretty much averted, but subverted in an animated episode and zig-zagged in a live-action episode. In the animated episode "Brandon The Dialogue Dog," Glomer gives Punky's dog Brandon the gift of gab. In the third season episode "It's A Dog's Life," Punky dreams that she and Brandon switch bodies and we hear Punky's voice as thoughts coming from Brandon's head.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Tomboy Punky and Girly Girl Margaux, with Cherie in-between.
  • Unwilling Suspension: Happens to Punky twice in the cartoon ("Growing Pain" and "The Bermuda Tangle"), hung upside down by one foot each time.
  • Very Special Episode: Quite a few. The CPR/trapped in an old refrigerator episode is one of the more well remembered.
  • Wham Line: Punky's "it blew up" on the Space Shuttle episode.
    • Also when Cherie reveals that May 9th is "The day my parents died!"
  • Whole Plot Reference: The animated episode "Punky's Millions" is basically Brewster's Millions with the millions being a game show prize instead of an Unexpected Inheritance.
  • With Friends Like These...: Margaux. Despite being in their "best friend" group, she shows no aversion at all to belitting Punky and Cherie, from calling them "peasants" in the first two seasons to finding every way possible to slip in a mocking remark about their financial status and social class by seasons 3 and 4. And yet she's still their best friend!
    • Not to mention how she told Punky having an "adoptive" father wasn't the same as having a "real" one.
  • X Meets Y: The live action show is Little Orphan Annie meets Dennis the Menace (US) . The cartoon is the live action show meets My Favorite Martian.
  • You Go Girl: "PUNKY POWEEEER!!!"
  • Youkai: A few appear in "The Perils of Punky".
  • Zany Scheme: In the later two seasons, most episodes revolved around these. Though they are usually dreamed up by Punky, in season 3 Margaux comes up with a few as well.

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Project UFOCreator/NBCQuantum Leap

alternative title(s): Punky Brewster
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