Series / Punky Brewster
is a 1984-88 Dom Com
and later in Syndication
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 Maxine 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). During the NBC run, Punky's teachers were frequently seen. In the first season, Punky's teacher was cheerful Mrs. Morton (Dody Goodman), while in the second season, it was hip Mike Fulton (T.K. Carter). Also seen briefly in Henry and Punky's apartment building was kooky maintenance man Eddie Malvin (Eddie Deezen
Well-loved Kid Com
of The '80s
(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.Not to be confused with
the early Devin Townsend
The sitcom contains examples of:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Spud in season 3. An entire episode focuses on this.
- Adult Fear: the episodes in which Child Protective Services has taken Punky away from Henry due to his failing health. Being unable to care for their child (adoptive or biological) is one of every parent's worst fears.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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 gets a dose of it too, when she visits her parents' graves ("The Visit").
- Brotherhood of Funny Hats: Henry belongs to one.
- Butt-Monkey: Allen. 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.
- Margaux had her own..."Peasants!"
- 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 Malvin, 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.
- 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.
- First-Name Basis: Punky and her friends have this with Mike Fulton.
- Genki Girl: Punky.
- Girlish Pigtails: Provides the trope image.
- Halloween Episode / Valentine's Day Episode: Had episode of both holidays.
- Happily Adopted: Punky.
- Heartwarming Orphan: Punky
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Margaux.
- Little Miss Snarker: Cherie in seasons 3 and 4.
- Lovable Alpha Bitch : Margaux (Who else?).
- 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.
- 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. Also, among the rgular kids, Allen in the first three seasons.
- 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, already has a girlfriend named Gina. Thankfully, Kevin quickly realizes this and calmly tells Punky that he only likes her as a friend, but also adds that someday, Punky will find a love of her own who's her own age. Henry, of course, is initially horrified that Punky thinks Kevin is in love with her, but becomes very relieved when Kevin explains to her that he only likes her as a friend.
- Promotion to Parent: When Henry officially adopts Punky.
- Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Punky rarely wears a dress. The only times she did was when she dressed as a 50s doo-wop girl for Halloween and when she dressed as Margaux to sneak out of Fenster Hall to see Henry at the hospital.
- 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: Punky disguising herself as Margaux in the five-part story arc "Changes."
- Talking Animal: Pretty much averted, but zig-zagged 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.
- Town Girls: Tomboy Punky (Butch) and Girly Girl Margaux (Femme), with Cherie in-between (Neither).
- Unexpectedly Dark Episode: The two-parter "The Perils of Punky" in which the gang goes in vacation in a lake and Punky tells her friends a ghost story about an evil spirit haunting the lake. Which includes all her friends being killed and their image used to taunt Punky, à la The Thing (1982). In a children's show.
- The Unseen: Punky's mother never appears on the show, but the two-part Christmas episode strongly hints that Punky has received a gift from her. Punky believes it, anyway.
- 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!"
- What Happened to the Mouse?: We never do find out what happened to either of Punky's parents, beyond them leaving their daughter.
- 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.
- 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.
The cartoon contains examples of: