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 will 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.
THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:
Punky and Cherie overhear Henry and Mrs. Johnson complaining about how expensive they are. In order to pull her own weight, Punky goes alone to the local bank, sneaks into the Vice President’s office, and asks for a loan. He tells her no, but in the course of her time in his office, she overhears that he needs for his dog to be bathed. Punky offers to do it and is surprised as how much she can be paid for this.
Punky expands her dog-washing operation to include help from Cherie and Allen. After an afternoon of grooming dogs and making money, Henry finally returns to the apartment and catches them at work. He assures Punky that she is not expensive, but he nevertheless seems very pleased with the money she has made.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:
Are we finally getting a Brandon-centered episode? Maybe? It’s time. Past time, really.
The episode begins with Henry sitting at the kitchen table. He is looking over his bills. Guess who is sitting with him? Brandon. Henry, after adding in a vet bill, tells Brandon that it would be nice if he started earning his keep. So Brandon hops down off the kitchen chair, goes through the dog door, and brings Henry the newspaper.
Just then, a vibrant Mrs. Johnson comes into Henry’s kitchen. After some bantering, she sprays some mist into the air. Punky and Cherie then enter the kitchen in their new rain gear. Add one line item to the Henry-can’t-afford-to-be-a-foster-dad list. Punky and Cherie are hoping for rain. Maybe even a hurricane. They both exit the kitchen doing a “rain dance.”
Henry and Mrs. Johnson begin talking about money. Henry confesses to her that he had no idea raising a child would be so expensive. (Remember a few episodes back when Punky assumed Henry abandoned her in a grocery store because of how expensive she is? Are we doing that again. Oh no. I can’t handle that.) Anyway… guess what? Henry and Mrs. Johnson do not see that Punky and Cherie have returned and overheard their poverty confessions. What will the girls do with the knowledge that they are so expensive? Since this is Punky Brewster, the girls will probably do something that grinds my soul into a melancholy powder.
As they go to Punky’s room to sit and mope about the burden they both are to their aged caretakers, Punky’s friend Allen sneaks through her open window wearing a scary mask. The girls are unimpressed.
In case you didn’t know, Allen is the only unclouded sunshine in this world of gray. He came over to report to the girls that “Irvin’s Unusual Ice Create just got a new flavor… pork sausage!” (He’s the best.) He suggests they both borrow $1 so that the three of them can split $2 of ice cream.
P: “Allen, we are never asking for money again. We just overheard Henry and Mrs. Johnson saying how expensive kids are.”
C: “Yeah, we cost $80,000!”
A: “What?! My parents can’t afford that much. Must have gotten me on sale.”
Punky decides that she wants to start pulling her own weight. In the very next scene, we see her stroll into a bank Vice President’s office asking to borrow $80,000. (Nice job parenting, Henry. You let your 8 year old girl leave the apartment to travel the mean streets of Chicago alone.) Well, now that we’re here, let’s see if the “Punky is superhuman” hypothesis holds up again.
When the VP calls the receptionist to escort Punky from his office, Punky lets him know that she sent the receptionist to lunch. Their negotiation begins.
She starts by handing him her business card. The front of the card says “Pun Brew” because she accidentally wrote the letters too large to fit her whole name on the front. But the back of the card says “kyster.” The unimpressed Mr. Oliver Green not-too-gently guides her out the door and closes it behind her.
Undeterred, Punky comes back inside. Apparently this bank advertises itself as being friendly. “Well, you’re not being very friendly to me.”
The negotiation begins anew. Punky proposes paying the bank back at $0.10 per week. Mr. Green points out that this would mean she does not pay the loan back for 15,000 years.
Punky counters by saying that “maybe by then I’ll be a rodeo rider or an astronaut. I can pay you back $1.00 per week.”
Mr. Green counters again, saying that they only lend money to people who are already financially stable. They don’t want to worry about whether people pay back their loan.
“I thought this was Midville Bank and Trust… not Midville Bank and Worry.”
He finally finds out why she wants the money and is very impressed with her. But he still cannot give her the money. But he suggests that she could get a job.
VP: You could open a lemonade stand?
P: Too seasonal, I need a steady income.
VP: You could sell cookies?
P: I think there’s a law that only girl scouts can do that.
Just then our bank VP’s wife calls and informs him that he needs to take their dog, Poopsie, to the groomers. Punky seizes the opportunity and offers to groom the dog for much cheaper than his usual groomer. He takes her up on it given her prior experience grooming Brandon herself. Off they go together to get Poopsie.
So… once again, a grown adult man is going to spend time alone with an 8 year old girl with whom he has no prior relationship. Henry appears to have no idea that people come and go through Punky’s window, that she is gone, that she is out trying to secure a bank loan, etc. Bang up job there Henry Warnimont.
In our next scene, Punky is back at home and fielding a phone call from what appears to be a pet grooming customer. After a knock on the door, Punky lets Cherie and Allen into the apartment. Allen is submitting a job application. Cherie appears to be worried about their lack of qualifications. But since it’s the 1980s, the show gives us a montage of the kids washing what appears to be about 10 different dogs. We even see the puppers getting their nails painted.
When Henry is on his way home, Punky and her friends quickly stash the dog customers. Henry leaves the apartment’s front door open, when he comes in, and a St. Bernard exits. A minute later, Henry sits on a spiked dog collar left on the couch. Punky plays it off as a bracelet.
Just then, one of Punky’s “customers” comes into the living room and barks at Henry. Another dog comes out of Punky’s room and barks at him. Henry finds Allen and Cherie are at his apartment now, too. He loudly demands that he wants all the dogs OUT.
Adorably, Punky says “abandon ship” and holds open the dog door between the kitchen and living room. One by one the dogs jump through and exit through the apartment’s front door. Cherie and Allen leave the apartment – hopefully to prevent all the dogs from escaping the building and getting run over by busses. Henry tells Punky she is in big trouble. Punky says that she knows and that she thinks the best thing would be for her to pack up her things because she does not want to be a burden. Then she gives Henry the $80 she has made so far.
Henry finally understand the bigger picture of what is going on. “You’re not expensive, you’re priceless.”
Then Henry suggests that they take the money Punky has made and open a savings account. Henry further suggests, even before doing that, that they go to the kitchen to make a nice steak dinner. Brandon then jumps through the dog door, from the kitchen, with what appears to be a packaged steak in his mouth.
Well, no luck on that Brandon-centered episode. I really want one of those before this show decides to have him run over by a bus. It’s coming. You know it is.
From a dialogue standpoint, this was one of the funnier episodes we have had to this point. Punky’s scene with the bank VP was particularly great in that respect.
Henry was happier with that $80 than he has been at any point in the entire run of this show. There’s no way that Punky did not notice that his actions were not matching his words.
I have resigned myself to 3rd graders on this show having adult friends, windows that open to let people in, and freedom to roam Chicago with no supervision. I do not like it. But I have resigned myself to it.
Did the “Punky is superhuman” hypothesis continue with this episode? Yes! In a single afternoon, she set a $20,000 per year salary pace. I also hope it did not pass notice that her two career preferences are 1) rodeo, and 2) astronaut. We already knew our girl was interested in space. But the rodeo thing is interesting. She knew that Great Falls, Montana was the windiest city in the country a couple episodes back. Is she from the western U.S. originally, where rodeo is more popular? Perhaps. Let’s keep an eye on that, too.
“Didn’t my mask scare you?”
“Young lady, you are in the Vice President’s office. The friendly people are downstairs. You go talk to them and you may go home with a toaster.”
“Are there any jobs here? I could sit behind a desk and not give people money.”
“Allen Anderson, age 8, salary requirements… yes.”
“For every dog you wash, I’ll give you $0.50.”
“No way, for every three dogs I wash, I want $1.00”