Punky Brewster (Season 1, Ep 8b): A Visit to the Doctor

Hi. Welcome back to my re-watch of Punky Brewster. If you want to read my prior reviews, you can check them out HERE.

I provide a short episode summary here at the top, then a long and detailed summary just below that. There’s a sub-section near the bottom (scroll down) labeled “reaction” if you just want to get right to my thoughts about the episode.


Punky is nervous about getting a booster shot, so Henry gives her a treasured antique nickel – which he calls a magic nickel – explaining that it was given to him as a boy to help him with his fear of flying on an airplane.

At the doctor’s office, just before she is slated to get her shot, Puny accidentally loses the nickel. She gets her shot anyway, though, and tells Henry that if she can be brave without the nickel, he can, too.


This episode begins with Cherie and Punky attempting to forge notes to the doctor excusing the two of them from getting their booster shots. Henry and Mrs. Johnson walk into Henry’s apartment and catch them in the act.

Henry is unhappy that Punky was dishonest and he grounds her. He further lets her know that she is getting her booster shot the following day after school.

We cut to later that night. Punky wakes up with an abrupt yell. Henry rushes in and Punky tells him that she had a nightmare about getting a shot. Henry has a hard time believing that *anything* scares Punky.

But to help her deal with the fear, Henry gives Punky a “magic nickel.” He says that he was afraid of flying as a kid. He was given that nickel and it was fine. And ever since, whenever he was afraid, his magic nickel always helped him. Punky seems to feel better about her shot with that nickel in hand.

We find Henry and Punky at the doctor’s office in the next scene. Punky wants to show the receptionist her magic nickel but finds, in pulling it from her pocket, that it needs to be cleaned of sticky gummy bears. When she goes to the drinking fountain to wash it off… she accidentally drops Henry’s magic nickel down the drain.

This happened while Henry was in the bathroom cleaning his pants. When Henry and Punky arrived at the doctor’s office, Henry critique’s a kid for how he was eating his ice cream. The kid – at the first opportunity with Henry’s back turned – put the ice cream cone in Henry’s pants and ran away. As one does.

When Henry returns, he finds that Punky is off to get her shot already. And the receptionist informs him – to his horror – that the magic nickel is lost down the fountain’s drain.

Punky finally bounds out of the doctor’s office with a band aid on her arm. She confesses immediately that she lost his magic nickel. He is… handling it. But she is proud that she was able to be brave without it and she believes Henry can be brave, too.


Henry learns an important lesson in this episode. Is the lesson that he doesn’t need a nickel to be brave? No. He learns “don’t trust kids to manage your collectible antiques.” To be honest, he probably should have learned that lesson when Punky painted his antique wooden chest purple.

This episode was another example of Henry’s temper getting the best of him, too. If he doesn’t feel the need to critique the ice cream consumption of a child, he doesn’t end up with ice cream down his pants. No ice cream down his pants? Maybe that nickel doesn’t end up going down a water fountain drain.

How does Punky’s fear of getting shots (basically her only fear) play into my “Punky is an alien/lab experiment theory?” Plays into it perfectly. Interesting enough, we also do not actually see her get the shot.


“You? The Joan of Arc of the 3rd grade?”
“I know it’s hard to believe. Usually nothing scares me. The thought of getting a needle stuck in my arm gives me chicken skin.”


Cast Note:

The receptionist is played by Vernee Watson. You will recognize her face and her voice even if you do not recognize her name. She has an unbelievably accomplished career going back to the early 1970s. She played Vernajean Williams in “Welcome Back, Kotter.” She had a recurring role on “Fresh Price of Bel Air” playing Vy Smith. And she has seemingly guest starred on almost every show made over the last 50 years. She has also had multiple runs on different soap operas including most recently “General Hospital.”

She is also a very accomplished voice actress, including “Batman Beyond,’ “Superman: the Animated Series,” “Animaniacs,” and “Captain Planet and the Planeteers.”

Recently she has had a recurring role playing Althea on “The Big Bang Theory” and Nurse Robinson in “Young Sheldon.”



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