Rating: Not Rated
George Gaynes as Henry Warnimont
Soleil Moon Frye as Penelope ‘Punky’ Brewster
Cherie Johnson as Cherie Johnson
Ami Foster as Margeaux Kramer
Casey Ellison as Allen Anderson
Susie Garrett as Betty Johnson
20 episodes on four discs
Interviews with cast and crew
Two hours of the Saturday morning cartoon “It’s Punky Brewster”
Running Time: 11 Hours
This is the first season of the Punky Brewster TV series from 1984.
From the DVD cover: “Punky Power lives on in the very first collection of episodes from the hit TV show, Punky Brewster. Soleil Moon Frye stars as the abandoned little girl with an indomitable spirit who, with her faithful dog Brandon, brings light and laughter into the life of a grumpy, old photographer (George Gaynes). Both a touching portrait of her makeshift family and a joyful ride through her childhood adventures, Punky Brewster was a 1980’s benchmark in fun, innocent television for kids. So take a trip down memory lane, or see it again through the eyes of your own children.”
Also included on this DVD are episodes from the Punky Brewster animated series. Featuring the stars of the live action TV show, it also includes the furry, magical creature Glomer who helps get the kids in and out of trouble.
Punky Brewster is not rated.
I was a little old to enjoy Punky Brewster when it first aired in 1984, and I’m a little old to enjoy it now. However, I do appreciate what they were trying to accomplish with the show. It’s kind of a different take on the old Little Orphan Annie formula and it provided some decent primetime programming for little kids. For that, it is admirable.
I tried to get my kids to watch it, but my 5 year old daughter refused let me put it on TV. (I had to watch it on my own later.) My 2 year old son did enjoy the cartoon, though, and I have to admit that I liked it better than the live action series, too. (The old cartoons are presented here complete with Kasey Kasem intros.)
While most of the series is cutesy humor for the kiddies, there are occasional moments where it does venture into biting humor. However, those moments are brief and the cute moments quickly return.
Soleil Moon Frye really carried the show well as Penelope ‘Punky’ Brewster. At 6 years old, she showed acting capability well beyond her years. If she hadn’t been as charming as she was, the show never would have worked. You also have to give credit to George Gaynes who played Henry Warnimont. You’re not supposed to work with kids or animals in Hollywood, and he did both successfully.
Besides the 20 episodes and the 8 animated series episodes, there are a few interviews with the cast and crew. They feature Cherie Johnson (“Cherie Johnson”), Ami Foster (“Margaux Kramer”), executive producer David W. Duclon, and writer Barry Vigon. Unfortunately there are no interviews with Soleil Moon Frye or George Gaynes, and I have to admit that it is quite baffling. Anyway, the others give a nice retrospective on the series on their own. It’s fun to see the two young girls all grown up and they talk about their experiences on the set (and terrorizing Johnny Carson and other NBC shows on the studio lot with golf carts). Duclon talks about how the Punky Brewster idea was inspired by Brandon Tartikoff and how they searched high and low for the right actress to be the star. He also talks about the amazing reaction to the series after it aired. If you’re a Punky fan, you’ll enjoy this.
The Bottom Line:
Like the original show, this DVD is for kids only. Modern television may or may not have jaded them to this series, but it might be worth seeing if your kids enjoy it.