|Created by||David W. Duclon|
|Starring||Soleil Moon Frye
T. K. Carter
|Theme music composer||Gary Portnoy
Judy Hart Angelo
|Opening theme||"Every Time I Turn Around" performed by Gary Portnoy|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||88 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||David W. Duclon|
|Running time||24 mins.|
|Production company(s)||Lightkeeper Productions
NBC Productions (1984–1986)
Columbia Pictures Television (1987–1988)
|Distributor||Coca-Cola Telecommunications (1987-1988)
Columbia Pictures Television (1988-1996)
Columbia TriStar Television (1996-2002)
NBC Enterprises (2001-2004)
Sony Pictures Television (2002-present)
NBCUniversal Television Distribution (2004-present)
|Original channel||NBC (1984–1986)
|Original run||September 18, 1984– May 27, 1988|
|Related shows||It's Punky Brewster|
Punky Brewster is an American sitcom about a girl named Punky Brewster (Soleil Moon Frye) being raised by her foster parent (George Gaynes). The show ran on NBC from September 16, 1984 to March 9, 1986, and again in first-run syndication from October 30, 1987 to May 27, 1988.
Punky Brewster spawned an animated spin-off It's Punky Brewster. The series featured the original cast voicing their respective characters. The cartoon was produced by Ruby-Spears, and aired on NBC from September 14, 1985 to December 6, 1986.
Penelope "Punky" Brewster (Soleil Moon Frye) is a warm, funny and bright child. Her father walked out on her family, then her mother abandoned her at a Chicago shopping center, leaving Punky alone with her dog Brandon. Afterwards, Punky discovered a vacant apartment in a local building.
The building is managed by photographer Henry Warnimont (George Gaynes), an elderly widower who is something of a grouch. Punky quickly became friends with Cherie Johnson (played by Cherie Johnson, the niece of series creator David W. Duclon), a young girl who lived upstairs in Henry's building with her grandmother, Betty Johnson (Susie Garrett), who worked as an RN at the local Cook County Hospital. Henry discovers Punky in the empty apartment across from his, and hears her story.
The relationship between the two blossoms, despite red tape from social workers (who ultimately rally to Henry's side). As their day in court approaches, the state forces Punky to stay at Fenster Hall, a shelter for orphaned and abandoned children, which makes her realize how close she has grown to Henry. Finally, their day arrives, and the court approves Henry to become Punky's foster dad. Later on, Henry legally adopts her.
Punky's other friends are geeky Allen Anderson (Casey Ellison) and stuck-up rich girl Margaux Kramer (Ami Foster). During the NBC run, Punky's teachers were regularly seen; in the first season, cheerful Mrs. Morton (Dody Goodman) and in the second season, hip Mike Fulton (T.K. Carter). Mike formed a close relationship with Punky and her friends, and was also portrayed as a social crusader of sorts.
Also in the first season, Margaux's socialite mother, played by Loyita Chapel, appeared on a recurring basis, as did kooky maintenance man in the Warnimont building named Eddie Malvin (Eddie Deezen), who only showed up in the first several episodes.
Beginning in 1984, NBC aired the sitcom on Sundays. Because the show had many young viewers and was scheduled after football games (which tended to run overtime), six fifteen-minute episodes were produced. This was done rather than joining a full-length episode in progress, so as not to disappoint children watching the program.
The second season's February 2, 1986 episode, introduced the first installment of a five-part storyline. In the five-part episode "Changes", Henry's downtown photography studio was destroyed in a fire, and it seemed for a time that he would not be able to recover from its aftermath and resume his career. As a result of his stress, Henry ended up hospitalized for a bleeding ulcer.
During this time, Betty and Cherie made arrangements for Punky to stay with them until Henry recovered. Everyone's stability was halted when bureaucratic social worker Simon P. Chillings (guest star Timothy Stack) showed up, found out about Henry's condition and ultimately deemed the worst: not only did he find Betty unsuitable to care for Punky in the meantime (because she was a single woman with long working hours, already raising her granddaughter), but he felt that Henry was unfit to be her legal guardian in the long term, due to his health, age, and uncertain financial future. Chillings made Punky a ward of the state yet again, and she returned to Fenster Hall.
Despite Punky's efforts to escape from Fenster, a trick pulled by Margaux in which she dressed up and pretended to be Punky, and advocacy from Mike Fulton, Chillings ended up placing Punky with a new foster family, the fabulously wealthy Jules and Tiffany Buckworth (Robert Casper and Joan Welles), the latter of whom did not take to Punky's playful, more working-class ways well at all. Things gradually returned to normal though, as Henry was back on his feet following surgery, opened up a glitzy new studio at the local mall and therefore was able to reunite with Punky. At the conclusion of the story arc, Henry officially adopted Punky.
Andy Gibb guest-starred twice on Punky: once as himself, hosting a pre-teen beauty pageant; and once as a music instructor hired by Henry for Punky who persuades the young man to go out for a recording contract. They run afoul of a con artist instead; Henry, suspecting this man is up to no good, pretends to be trying to break into the music business. When the con man repeats the same words to Henry that he said to the music teacher, he is exposed as a fraud, and the teacher thanks Henry by giving Punky several free lessons.
The final episode of the second season was notable for centering around the very recent, real-life Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Punky and her classmates watched the live coverage of the shuttle launch in Mike Fulton's class. After the accident occurred, Punky is traumatized, and finds her dreams to become an astronaut are crushed. She writes a letter to NASA, and is visited by special guest star Buzz Aldrin. Although the episode received high ratings, NBC would, in the following weeks, decide to cancel the show.
After two seasons, NBC saw that Punky Brewster and its principal Sunday night stablemate, the four-year-old Silver Spoons, could not compete as strongly as they hoped against CBS' juggernaut 60 Minutes, and cancelled both programs. Like many cult-favorite sitcoms of the time, Punky Brewster was revived for first-run syndication (as was Silver Spoons). Production on Punky went undelayed, and its third season began shooting on schedule. While the show was in production throughout the 1986-87 season, it did not return to the air via first-run syndication until October 30, 1987. Beginning on that premiere date, Punky was packaged such that new episodes would air once every weekday (usually late in the afternoon on independent stations). The entire third season (1986–87) aired in the five-days-a-week format through December 7, 1987.
By the syndicated run, the storylines had clearly started to mature. Many more of Punky and Cherie's friends were seen (although most only made a handful of guest appearances each), with Margaux becoming their comic foil and source of friction. Early in the third season, Allen moved away to Kansas with his mother, following his parents' divorce. As Punky herself embarked on junior high, her avant-garde day-glo and multicolored outfits, along with her pigtails, segued into more traditional teenage styles, and her declaration of, and reliance on "Punky Power!" gave way to the realization that intelligence, common sense and a strong will can get one out of any problem. More of her dalliances with boys entered the stories, with the ones she chased and those that tried to pursue her. Punky's spunk and vivacious attitude toward life did remain though, thanks in part to the sunshine brought in by the most important man in her life, her adoptive dad.
Henry's photography studio at the mall continued to see much success, so much that by the end of the third season he received an offer from the magnate of Glossy's, a photo studio franchise, for a $100,000 buyout of Warnimont's, which also included the offer of Henry becoming manager of the Glossy's location. Henry accepted, but soon found that his creativity and business style was not being appreciated by his new employers. He quit Glossy's, but then decided to give into Punky's and Cherie's dream to run their own teen hangout/burger establishment, and invested into another mall property which ended up being splashed with as much color and originality as Punky's bedroom. All involved, which even included Betty and Margaux, unanimously decided on christening it "Punky's Place." Into season four, much of the action continued to take place at the mall, with Henry, Punky and her friends' efforts to keep their new restaurant afloat and the many teenage misadventures which passed through at Punky's Place.
From December 10, 1987 through April 24, 1988, reruns of third season aired in the weekday Punky Brewster first-run syndication package. On April 27, 1988, new episodes resumed for the fourth season, and ran every weekday for exactly a month until the series finale aired on May 27, 1988.
The final episode, "Wedding Bells for Brandon," features Brandon falling in love with Brenda, a golden retriever who belonged to one of Henry and Punky's neighbors. Their whirlwind romance culminated in a wedding ceremony in the courtyard, which was mostly attended by other neighborhood canines.
The show was produced by Lightkeeper Productions, and NBC Productions during the network run. NBC was not allowed to co-produce the series when it moved into first-run syndication, due to then-existing FCC regulations regarding network involvement in syndicated TV programming. Thus, they made a syndication deal with Coca-Cola Telecommunications to co-produce two more seasons of episodes, plus U.S. syndication rights to the NBC-era episodes. Although Coca-Cola held onto the deal during the next two seasons of Punky Brewster, production was moved over to Warner Bros. in the second syndicated season, whereupon they became a co-producer with Coca-Cola. Thus, Sony Pictures Television holds the domestic rights, while NBCUniversal holds international rights.
The theme song for Punky Brewster is "Every Time I Turn Around," written by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo and sung by Portnoy.
Origin of the name
NBC programming chief Brandon Tartikoff named the series after a girl he had a crush on in his own childhood: an older tomboy named Peyton "Punky" Brewster. Before the series aired, NBC tracked her down (by this time, she was married to a lawyer in Connecticut and named Peyton Rutledge) and secured her permission to use her name for the lead character. Rutledge was even hired to do a cameo in one episode as a teacher at Punky's school (in the opening scene of the episode titled "The Search", aired November 10, 1985) so that both the real and fictional Punky Brewster could be on screen at the same time (the teacher even comments "Punky Brewster? Strange name!"). She is credited at the end of the episode as Peyton B. Rutledge.
Punky's dog is named Brandon, after Tartikoff himself. The dog's real name was Sandy. Sandy originally shared the role with his brother, but Tartikoff decided that Sandy was better for the role.
- Soleil Moon Frye as Penelope "Punky" Brewster
- Sandy as Brandon "the Wonder Dog"
- George Gaynes as Henry Warnimont
- Susie Garrett as Betty Johnson
- Cherie Johnson as Cherie Johnson
- Ami Foster as Margaux Kramer
- Casey Ellison as Allen Anderson (1984–1987)
- Eddie Deezen as Eddie Malvin (1984)
- Dody Goodman as Mrs. Morton (1984–1985)
- Loyita Chapel as Mrs. Kramer (1984–1985)
- T. K. Carter as Michael 'Mike' Fulton (1985–1986)
The final episode in Season 1, titled "Fenster Hall" (aired March 31, 1985), was a failed attempt to create a spin-off of Punky Brewster. It was originally a one-hour episode, but was cut into two shows for syndication. This crossover episode marked the debut of Mike Fulton; T. K. Carter was the intended star of the Fenster Hall spin-off. Mike's history as a longtime resident of Fenster was explained, since he had been an orphan from birth and had been shuffled around to many foster homes before permanently staying at Fenster from the time he was seven. Now as the chief boys' counselor, Mike was saddled with helping new, tough street kid T.C. Finestra (Billy Lombardo) fit in with his group of regular charges, after an incident in which T.C. broke into and stole from the bedroom of Punky Brewster. Punky had a confrontation with T.C. after following him to a shady lair kept by street thug Blade (James LeGros), who had taken T.C. under his wing and was teaching him how to rob. It was there in which Punky learned of T.C.'s situation, and brought him home to Henry before it was decided that he would be better off at Fenster.
The primary focus of the episode was on Mike and T.C.'s learning to trust and look out for each other, while many other denizens of Fenster were introduced who would have also comprised the cast of the spin-off. Mike's boss was Rita J. Sanchez (Rosana DeSoto), and his other boys, who he treated as if they were his own sons, were aspiring heavyweight boxer Lester "Sugar" Thompson (Martin Davis), sweet little Dash (Benji Gregory), nerdy intellectual Lyle (Gabriel Damon), who supposedly did Mike's tax forms for him; and huge, hulking Conan (B.J. Barie). When Fenster Hall did not transpire as a regular series by the time of NBC's 1985-86 upfronts, T.K. Carter then continued his role as Mike Fulton on Punky Brewster the following season, now serving as Punky's fourth grade teacher in addition to his work at Fenster.
It's Punky Brewster
It's Punky Brewster!, an animated spin-off with the original cast appeared on NBC on Saturday mornings. The cartoon was produced by Ruby-Spears. It ran from September 14, 1985 to December 6, 1986, for a total of 26 episodes. However, through reruns, it remained in the regular Saturday-morning lineup through the 1988-89 season. The series was later syndicated by Claster Television as part of a package featuring the DIC series Maxie's World (the "lead" program), and Beverly Hills Teens.
All four seasons have been released on DVD in Region 1 by Shout! Factory, as well as separate discs that consist of six to eight episodes of the series. All season releases also contain episodes of the spin-off cartoon, It's Punky Brewster.
Mill Creek Entertainment also released three "Best-of" collections of the series.
|DVD Name||Ep#||Release Dates|
|Region 1||Region 4|
|Season One||22||June 1, 2004||April 13, 2011|
|Season Two||22||February 8, 2005||July 1, 2011|
|Season Three||22||July 25, 2006||N/A|
|Season Four||22||February 26, 2008||N/A|
- "YouTube - Punky Brewster's First Scenes". NBC. Retrieved July 15, 2008 September 16, 1984.
- "Truncated 'Punky' episodes". The Free Lance-Star. August 4, 1984. pp. TV–3. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
- Margulies, Lee (February 19, 1986). "'Punky' Deals With Shuttle Tragedy". LA Times. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- O'Hallaren, Bill (March 2, 1986). "Her show may be a flop but Soleil Moon Frye is riding high on the wave of popularity". New Straits Times. p. 2, 15. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
- Kelley, Bill (November 8, 1985). "NBC'S PROBLEM: WHERE TO PUT TWO NEW SHOWS". Sun Sentinel. p. 8E.
- Rothenberg, Fred (May 15, 1986). "NBC ADDS SITCOMS TO FALL LINEUP". The Boston Globe. p. 52.
- "SHOWS REVIVED FOR SYNDICATION". Wichita Eagle. August 24, 1986. p. 24.