Review of "Punky Brewster" From The TV MegaSite
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DVD TV Show Reviews

Punky Brewster Season 1

Punky Brewster DVD photo


Punky Brewster - First Season (DVD)

Review by Suzanne 6/28/04

Fans of the musical “Annie”, and children under 12, should like “Punky Brewster”. I have to admit I had never seen this show before. I expected it to be kinda stupid, like “Family Matters”, or too-cute-for-words, like “Full House”. While it’s true that the little girl who played Punky (Soleil Moon Frye) is just adorable, she comes over as genuine and not Hollywood-manufactured, for the most part. I have to admit, I love that puppy!! I would watch the show just for him.

Punky is a lot like the spunky orphan star of the musical (except for the bursting into song part). She keeps a positive attitude and a stiff upper lip. She makes every adult love her. She gets along great with other children, whether they are orphans or not. She wins everyone over with her charm and personality. She also isn't afraid to stick up for herself, even win her opponent is bigger. She doesn't get adopted by a millionaire, but he is her "Daddy Warbucks" anyway.

You have to keep your mind out of reality while watching this show and just take it for what it is: a cute kid’s show. Punky is a homeless waif whose father left her and her mom, and then her mom ditched her in the shopping center. It’s hard to believe anyone would ditch a little girl as cute as Punky, especially her own mom. If nothing else, the mom would have taken her to the nearest kid’s modeling agency and tried to make them both rich and famous. A girl as cute and as smart as Punky, who also seems very wise, had to be brought up by a good mom. So that is the first part that makes no sense.

We’re supposed to buy that DCFS in Chicago would allow her to live with a virtual stranger, one who has never had kids. They did address this for a short time in the early part of the series, but this is not a show that is going to allow us to see the depressing reality of the foster care system. No, “Punky Brewster” is all about the special relationship between Punky and her gruff companion, Henry (George Gaynes, most well-known for the Police Academy movies). She teaches him how to feel love again, and he teaches her about the world and things that we all wish our grandfather would have taught us.

Yes, it’s an “Awwwww” show. Unless you are a very cynical person, you can’t help but feel your heartstrings tugged at by the show. Just like “Annie”, Punky helps others, gets into little scrapes, and always has a cute thing to say. When the court tries to take her away from Henry, even the dog mopes and whimpers, and it’s all very sad. But we feel so good again when she returns home!

There are the usual assortment of sitcom characters in the show, including some other children, but Punky is definitely the star of this show. She was an amazing actress for such a little girl, and she had those adorable little freckles across her nose. You can’t let yourself feel cynical or manipulated when watching the show. You have to just sit back and enjoy it for what it is.

The DVD includes some extras, such as some episodes of the Punky Brewster cartoon (I couldn’t bring myself to watch it), and some interviews with cast members and the executive producers. Notably missing are Soleil Moon Frye and George Gaynes. I hope they are able to get their commentary on the subsequent season’s DVD’s because it will be very disappointing otherwise.

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Updated 7/6/05  


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