Punky Brewster—Season 1

punky brewster season 1 dvd cover review episode guide
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Fun '80s nostalgia

Typical goofy kid-friendly sitcom...with very special episodes

punky brewster season 1 episode title card

All the colors in the world can’t make 1980s Chicago look shiny

Punky Brewster (Soleil Moon Frye) feels unwanted when her mother abandons her at a grocery store.  When she is discovered by widowed Henry Warnimont (George Gaynes) hiding in an apartment, both their lives change.  Now Henry is a foster father and Punky has a home, but both are going to have to learn a lot as Punky grows up.

Punky Brewster—Season 1 is a NBC family comedy series.  The series was created to fill the newly created family hour 7:00PM slot on Sunday nights and multiple episodes in Season 1 were split in fifteen minute segments to accommodate football games that potentially could run over.  The series received Primetime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Children’s Program and Outstanding Technical Direction/Electronic Camerawork/Video Control for a Series (“Henry Falls in Love”—Part 1 & Part 2).

punky brewster season 1 episode 3 puny finds a home part 3 george gaynes soleil moon frye

Well I just met you a couple days ago and never raised a kid…but sure we’ll wing it

To be blunt, Punky Brewster is not that good, but I could sit and watch it all day meaning it is entertaining.  The nostalgia factor is heavy for ’80s kids who were around the age of “Punky” and remember not only the pop culture events she desperately wants to be part of but the memories of watching the show.

The plot ranges from typical sitcom to “very special episode”.  The show is loaded with rather juvenile jokes (because it is for kids), but they mix it with some very heavy plots that generally just end up working out ok which probably isn’t very realistic.  The basic premise is flawed in that sense in that (as argued in the court episode), Henry and Punky probably would never be placed together simply from a legal standpoint.  It of course works out and happiness ensues.

punky brewster season 1 episode 18 i love you brandon angu soliel moon frye

Hate to break this to you, lady. It’s my show…you’re dog Angus is toast

There are dark episodes in Punky Brewster however.  The basic concept of a father who walked out and a mother who dumped her kid (and her dog) at a grocery store is pretty awful.  This is followed by threats of being an orphan, growing up in the foster system, Punky running away a few times because she feels she isn’t wanted, and the idea that Henry’s love is conditional instead of real.  The topper this season has to be the “I Love You, Brandon” episode where Brandon (who always is in danger because of how he is treated) finally gets hit by a car saving Punky.  Punky learns that Brandon isn’t going to recover, but Brandon pulls through…only to have the woman also waiting for her dog to lose her dog…it is rough.

The season also features a backdoor pilot for Fenster Hall in the two part season finale.  It introduces the crew at Fenster Hall (where Punky previously stayed) and adds T.K. Carter to the cast, but the series wasn’t picked up.  T.K. ends up sticking around for much of the series in a supporting role.

punky brewster season 1 episode 9 miss adorable andy gibb

It’s Andy Gibb! …and he’ll appear a few episodes later as another singing person?

The series mostly works because of Soleil Moon Frye.  It isn’t necessarily her acting that gets her through, but she is very good at emoting and having a joyous kid perspective on life.  This combines with a great relationship with George Gaynes as the best foster father you can find (he meets a kid, gives up half his apartment, and starts paying bills).  Cherie Johnson, Casey Ellison, and Ami Foster round out the Punky friends squad (a fourth friend played by R.J. Williams only appears a few times).  Other guest stars include Eddie Deezen (who disappears after a few episodes), Susan Garrett, George Gaynes’ wife Allyn Ann McLerie, Chad Allen, and Punky Brewster’s half-brother (and another former child star) Meeno Peluce.  The season also features two appearances by Andy Gibb…once as himself and once as the piano teacher Tony.

Punky Brewster is rich in 1980s flare but like a lot of sitcoms from the period, it is rather thin.  This can be a good thing or a bad thing (depending on how you view it).  It is escapism and it is a show you can pick-up and put down without having to “binge” to keep plotlines and characters in line.  It’s simple and kids will still probably enjoy it (despite having a lot of questions).  Don’t give up on Punky Power!

Punky Brewster—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

punky brewster season 1 episode 1 punky finds a home george gaynes soleil moon frye meet

“Punky Finds a Home—Part 1”

1.1       Punky Finds a Home—Part 1 Airdate:  09/16/84

Left at a Chicago grocery store with her dog Brandon, Penelope “Punky” Brewster (Soleil Moon Frye) befriends Cherie Johnson (Cherie Johnson) and hides in a vacant apartment in her building.  When the apartment manager Henry Warnimont (George Gaynes) discovers Punky there, Punky could change Henry’s world.

punky brewster season 1 episode 2 punky finds a home part 2 fenster hall soleil moon frye

“Punky Finds a Home—Part 2”

1.2       Punky Finds a Home—Part 2 Airdate:  09/23/84

Punky is taken to Fenster Hall while awaiting being placed in a foster home, but her case worker Randi Mitchell (Talia Balsam) feels Henry wouldn’t be a good match for a foster parent.  Punky doesn’t intend to stay at Fenster Hall and plots her escape.

punky brewster season 1 episode 3 punky finds a home part 3 henry foster court soleil moon frye george gaynes

“Punky Finds a Home—Part 3”

1.3       Punky Finds a Home—Part 3 Airdate:  09/30/84

Henry begins to doubt if he is the best solution for Punky as the custody hearing approaches.  With precedence against them, Henry and Punky could be separated.

punky brewster season 1 episode 4 lost and found grocery

“Lost and Found”

punky brewster season 1 episode 4 gets her own room

“Punky Gets Her Own Room”

1.4       Lost and Found/Punky Gets Her Own Room Airdate:  10/07/84

Lost and Found—A trip to the grocery with Henry leads to a traumatic flashback for Punky.  Punky Gets Her Own Room—Punky decides to convert Henry’s study to her bedroom with Cherie and Eddie Malvin (Eddie Deezen), but Henry is less than enthusiastic when he sees it.

punky brewster season 1 episode 5 walk pool cast

“Walk Pool”

punky brewster gone fishing cast

“Gone Fishing”

1.5       Walk Pool/Gone Fishing Airdate:  10/14/84

Walk Pool—Henry tells Betty (Susie Garrett) that he would be better at controlling Punky, Cherie, Margaux (Ami Foster), Allen (Casey Ellison), and class troublemaker Scotty Lotabucci (R.J. Williams) on the daily school walk.  Gone Fishing—Henry tries to interest Punky and her friends in fishing but learns that it might not be for everyone.

punky brewster season 1 episode 6 take me out to the ballgame cubs 84 playoffs george gaynes soleil moon fry

“Take Me Out to the Ballgame”

1.6       Take Me Out to the Ballgame Airdate:  10/21/84

The Cubs and Padres are battling it out to head to the World Series, but Henry gave up his season passes the year before.  Now, he’s on a quest to get two tickets to the playoff game.

punky brewster season 1 episode 7 parents night george gaynes soleil moon frye

“Parents Night”

1.7       Parents Night Airdate:  10/28/84

Henry working on a big dog food project and decides he has to skip Parents Night…just as Margaux predicted since he’s a foster father.

punky brewster season 1 episode 8 go to sleep opera george gaynes soleil moon frye

“Go to Sleep”

punky brewster season 1 episode 8 a visit to the doctor george gayne magic nickel

“A Visit to the Doctor”

1.8       Go to Sleep/A Visit to the Doctor Airdate:  11/04/84

Go to Sleep—Punky finds Henry trying to get her to bed to watch a performance of Die Fledermaus.  A Visit to the Doctor—Punky doesn’t want a booster shot, but Henry’s lucky nickel could be the key to saving her.

punky brewster season 1 episode 9 miss adorable andy gibb soliel moon frye

“Miss Adorable”

1.9       Miss Adorable Airdate:  11/25/84

Margaux tells Cherie and Punky about the Miss Adorable pageant hosted by Andy Gibb, and Punky decides it could be her chance to prove that she’s valuable to Henry.

punky brewster season 1 episode 10 dog dough afternoon grooming

“Dog Dough Afternoon”

1.10     Dog Dough Afternoon Airdate:  12/02/84

When Punky and Cherie hear Henry and Betty talking about the cost of raising kids, Punky decides she needs to find a source of income.

punky brewster season 1 episode 11 bye bye my doll george gaynes

“Bye, Bye My”

1.11     Bye Bye, My Airdate:  12/09/84

Punky’s broken doll My keeps falling into more and more disrepair.  Henry decides to replace Punky’s doll with a new one much to Punky’s dismay.

punky brewster season 1 episode 12 yes punky there is a santa claus part 1 george gaynes soleil moon frye christmas

“Yes, Punky, There Is a Santa Claus—Part 1”

1.12     Yes, Punky, There Is a Santa Claus—Part 1 Airdate:  12/16/84

When Punky, Cherie, Alan, and Margaux learn there might not be a Santa Claus, Henry sets out to prove there is one…but Punky’s Christmas wish could cause a problem.

punky brewster season 1 episode 13 yes punky there is a santa claus george gaynes soleil moon frye christmas

“Yes, Punky, There Is a Santa Claus—Part 2”

1.13     Yes, Punky, There Is a Santa Claus—Part 2 Airdate:  12/16/84

Henry must find Punky’s mother if he hopes to prove that Santa Claus is real, but the Christmas spirit could be bigger than Henry thought.

punky brewster season 1 episode 14 play it again punky andy gibb soleil moon frye

“Play It Again, Punky”

1.14     Play It Again, Punky Airdate:  01/20/85

Henry has Punky taking piano lessons from Tony (Andy Gibb), but when Punky and Tony try to get Tony signed to a record deal, Tony could be falling into a trap.

punky brewster season 1 episode 15 henry falls in love part 1 proposal george gaynes allyn ann mclerie

“Henry Falls in Love

1.15     Henry Falls in Love—Part 1 Airdate:  01/27/85

Maggie McLerie (Allyn Ann McLerie) stops by Henry’s studio for passport photos only to realize that Henry is her childhood love.  With a whirlwind romance, Punky tries to get Henry to pop the question…but Punky herself could pose a problem.

punky brewster season 1 episode 16 henry falls in love part 2 meeno peluce soleil moon frye

“Henry Falls in Love—Part 2”

1.16     Henry Falls in Love—Part 2 Airdate:  02/03/85

Punky has run away so Henry and Maggie can be together without the problems of raising her.  When she finds a homeless teen named Zack (Meeno Peluce), she learns that things could be worse.

punky brewster season 1 episode 17 my aged valentine soleil moon frye

“My Aged Valentine”

1.17     My Aged Valentine Airdate:  02/10/85

Margaux tells Punky that if she rejects her classmate Conrad (Chad Allen) on Valentine’s Day, that she will never be married and end up a spinster…leading to a horrible nightmare.

punky brewster season 1 episode 18 i love you brandon soleil moon frye dead dog

“I Love You, Brandon”

1.18     I Love You, Brandon Airdate:  02/17/85

When Brandon eats Henry’s prized stamps and struck by a car, Henry and Punky learn Brandon’s recovery might not be possible.

punky brewster season 1 episode 19 punky brewsters workout cherie johnson ami foster soleil moon frye

“Punky Brewster’s Workout”

1.19     Punky Brewster’s Workout Airdate:  02/24/85

Henry has a new VCR and video camera for work, but when Punky, Cherie, Margaux, and Allen accidentally break it, Punky must find a way to tell him.

punky brewster season 1 episode 20 gals and dolls butter lettuce baby

“Gals and Dolls”

1.20     Gals and Dolls Airdate:  03/03/85

Henry is only able to get one coveted Butter Lettuce Baby at a sale which causes a rift between Punky, Cherie, and Margaux that could destroy their friendship.

punky brewster season 1 episode 21 fenster hall part 1 billy lombardo james le gros

“Fenster Hall—Part 1”

1.21     Fenster Hall—Part 1 Airdate:  03/31/85

Punky catches a boy named T.C. (Billy Lombardo) robbing her and learns he is homeless.  Forced by Henry to go to Fenster Hall, T.C. learns that Mike Fulton (T.K. Carter) wants to help him…but T.C.’s “guardian” Blade (James Le Gros) has other plans.

punky brewster season 1 episode 21 fenster hall part 2 tk carter billy lombardo

“Fenster Hall—Part 2”

1.22     Fenster Hall—Part 2 Airdate:  03/31/85

T.C. s forced to return to Fenster Hall under Blade’s orders to steal the money for the charity auction.  When T.C. realizes Fenster could be the place for him, he must make a decision.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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