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 am watching this show on the NBC App. For some reason, not all of the original run episodes are on the NBC app. As a result, I will only review the ones I can see. If I find the missing episodes later, I will blog about them, re-number my episodes, etc.
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:
Henry’s fridge breaks and he leaves it in the backyard while he installs a new one. Punky’s class is learning about CPR at school. When Punky, Margaux, Cherie, and Allen are playing hide and seek in the back yard, Cherie hides inside of Henry’s old fridge, gets stuck inside, and nearly dies. Punky and Margaux – who paid attention during their CPR lesson – are able to revive Cherie while Henry and Allen watch them do it.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP AND REACTION:
The episode begins with Punky eating a cereal called Sugar Beasties. Henry hears a strange (and to be quite honest, evil-sounding) noise from the refrigerator. Punky suggests that he get a new one and he says that he loves it and that it was built in the days when they made things to last. However, after Henry says this, the fridge makes more of the terrible sound, it emits some black smoke from its top, and moves on its own. After witnessing his fridge act as though it is demon-possessed, Henry suggests to Punky that maybe they should get a new refrigerator.
Mrs. Johnson comes into the kitchen and asks Henry about the smell. He explains that the fridge just blew up. She tells him that she is not surprised given that it is almost as old as he is. Punky says that it’s too bad the fridge is not a person or else she and Cherie could give it first aid. Punky says that Mike is going to be teaching them CPR today.
At school, Mike asks his class about cardio pulmonary resuscitation. Allen offers that he cannot even say it. Mike says he suspects Allen did not read his CPR chapter the night before and Allen replies that he thought this stuff is probably for grown ups.
Cherie: From the pictures in the health book, it looks like fun.
Punky: Yeah! I bet it would make a great party game.
[We here at DustyReviews do not approve of Punky Brewster or Cherie Johnson playing party games of this nature until they are married.]
Mike tells her that CPR is not a game and that you can break someone’s ribs by doing it. Punky asks if when someone’s heart is not beating, and they are not breathing if it means they are already dead. Mike tells her not for four to six minutes. He tells her that CPR helps a person’s heart to beat and their lungs to breath until their body can do it on its own again. Allen asks if they can do something else, that is not so gross, right before lunch time. Mike says they are not only going to study CPR, they are going to learn how to do it.
Allen makes jokes about the practice dummy as they get started. Even after being admonished by Mike to stop making jokes, he continues, and eventually gets himself sent to the principal’s office. Mike calls for two volunteers after Allen leaves. Margaux pleads to be one of the volunteers and she is chosen along with Punky.
Mike explains that the first thing to do when someone is in trouble is to ask someone else to call the paramedics. Then the girls get down by the CPR dummy and ask if she is alright. When the doll does not answer, Mike teaches them to 1) Look, 2) Listen, and 3) Feel.
- Look – her chest isn’t moving.
- Listen – can’t hear her breathing.
- Feel – can’t feel her breath.
Margaux asks what they do now. Mike says that the dummy “Annie” is not conscious and she is not breathing. Mike tells the girls to tilt Annie’s head back to open up her airways. If she is still not breathing, Mike says that you give her four quick breaths. A suddenly shy Punky tells Margaux to go ahead and Margaux says no thanks. They go back and forth until Mike chides them that they do not have much time. Punky finally decides to do it. She gives four quick breaths. Mike tells them to check for pulse and breathing. Punky reports that she still is not breathing.
Punky: Of course, she is a dummy, if she were I’d be really freaked out.
Mike tells Margaux where and how to do heart pumping. After four pumps, Punky’s job is to do breathing again. They do the heart pump and the breathing. A yellow light attached to the dummy comes on indicating that the girls did the procedure correctly.
Mike: CONGRATULATIONS GIRLS CAUSE YOU JUST SAVED A LIFE!
[raucous classroom celebration erupts]
Henry is at the store shopping for refrigerators as he is approached by a salesperson named Chester.
Chester: What can I say to get you to take this little baby home… today?
Henry: It’s free.
Henry haggles with Chester when another man walks up and says he will take the fridge. Of course, Henry protests. As the fridge is just about to walk out with the other man, who is holding a wad of cash, Henry says he wants to buy it. The other man says “shoot” and walks away.
When Henry goes to another room to sign his credit agreement, a woman enters the store and begins haggling with Chester over the price of the fridge. Just as with Henry, the same man holding a wad of cash walks up and says he will buy it. As with Henry, the woman protests. As with Henry, when the fridge is about to walk out with the man with the cash, the woman says she will take it.
Punky and her friends are playing hide and seek in the backyard. Henry’s dead demon-possessed fridge is now out back, too. Allen is covering his eyes while the girls hide. Henry walks through the yard and Cherie tells him they are playing hid and seek. She goes inside searching for a place to hide. Henry exits the yard and Cherie goes back outside and decides to hide *inside* that old evil fridge.
Allen finds Punky and Margaux but not before they are “home free” at the treehouse ladder. Henry walks through the yard and tells the girls that he is going to take the door off the old refrigerator because the Salvation Army is set to pick it up in a few hours. He warns the kids (other than Cherie who is already inside the fridge) that he does not want any of them playing near it.
Suddenly it begins snowing. Margaux says she is going inside before her hair frizzes. Henry says that they should all go inside. Henry says he will take the door off after it stops snowing. When Punky suggests that they have to stay outside until they find Cherie, Henry tells her that he saw Cherie go inside on his way through the year a few moments ago and he suggests that they will find her inside.
After everyone is inside, the camera pans slowly toward the fridge. We hear Cherie banging on the door, from the inside, saying that she cannot get out.
Cherie: Guys, open the door! It’s dark in here!
She bangs on the door some more, asking if anyone can hear her, and yelling that she needs help. We cut to a commercial break as Cherie screams “help me!” and then calls out in a whimper for her grandma.
Inside, Henry is enjoying his new ice-maker. He asks Mrs. Johnson if she would like some ice and she reminds him that she is drinking hot chocolate. She tells him that he is acting like a kid with a new toy.
When Henry tells her he bought it from Cheapo Chester, Mrs. Johnson says that she does not trust that man. Henry asks how. Mrs. Johnson describes a sales technique exactly the same as the one that worked on Henry.
In the living room, all the kids are yelling for Cherie. Henry and Mrs. Johnson come out of the kitchen and are surprised that they still have not found her. Henry again says that he saw her come into the building.
Mrs. Johnson: I hope she’s not out in that snow. She only had on a light jacket.
Henry: Relax, Betty, I saw her a couple of minutes ago. She probably just found a good hiding place.
Punky: That doesn’t sound like Cherie.
Margaux: Yeah, unlike me, Cherie is the worst hider on the North American continent.
Henry suggests that they all go to look again. Henry and Allen are in the backyard. Cherie is no longer making any noise from the fridge. After a moment of looking around, Henry opens the fridge door and finds Cherie in a heap inside. Henry asks Allen if he learned CRP in school and tells him to give it to her. Allen tells him that he cannot. Henry sends Allen inside to call the paramedics and then after that to find Mrs. Johnson. On his way inside, Allen runs into Punky and Margaux and tells them that Cherie got trapped in the refrigerator and that she is not breathing. The two girls run to Cherie as Allen runs inside.
Punky remembers to 1) look, 2) listen, and the 3) feel. They note that her chest is not moving, that they cannot hear her breathing, and that they cannot feel her breathing. Margaux tells Punky to open the airway. Punky does and reports that Cherie is still not breathing. Then Punky gives her four quick breaths. Cherie is still not breathing. Punky says that they have to do the heart thing. Henry asks them if they know what they are doing.
Punky: I sure hope so Henry!
Margaux does chest compressions and Punky breaths for Cherrie again. Nothing happens so they try it again. After the second chest compression attempt, Cherie has a pulse. A moment later, Cherie coughs and begins to breath. Cherie asks what happened.
Punky: You passed out but we revived you.
Margaux: We did CPR.
Mrs. Johnson comes outside. Henry tells her that the girls saved Cherie by doing CPR. She thanks the girls. Allen is standing some distance away looking dejected. He walks up to her.
Allen: [with a quivering voice] Cherie, I’m really sorry. I blew it. You could have died and it would have been all my fault.
As Allen starts to leave, Henry goes to him and tells him not to be so hard on himself. He reminds Allen that he did not know CPR, either. As Allen is crying, Henry suggests that the two of them should go learn CPR together. He also tells Allen that he should have taken the door off the refrigerator, snow or no snow.
As the ambulance siren sounds in the background, Allen asks Mrs. Johnson if Cherie is going to be okay. Mrs. Johnson asks Cherie how she feels and Cherie says she is hungry. Punky says that something tells her Cherie will be just fine. Punky hugs Cherie.
I remembered what this episode was about before it started. There is a whole generation of kids who were traumatized by this one (for some reason, everyone remembers this episode and not the cave demon or serial killer episodes.) I was steeled and ready for it. But that little cry from Cherie for her grandma just broke me.
I retract anything bad I’ve ever said about Margaux. She was a champ when it mattered and she stayed believably in character, too. Punky was, well, Punky. She’s Princess Moon. If she’d needed to, she would have used Punky Power to bring her friend back. She’s literally done that type of thing on the show once before. I’m glad she was able to do it with CPR, too.
Allen is a good kid. The writers on this show are doing a painfully realistic portrayal, with him, of how a good little kid makes increasingly worse decisions for realistic reasons. He gets picked on a lot so he has learned to get positive affirmation by being funny. Being funny leads to him being in trouble. Being in trouble leads to a negative self-perception. He addresses his negative self-perception with humor. It’s a spiral. I can already picture a teenage Allen who is not such a sweet kid anymore and it makes me sad (fictional character or not.) I hope that turns around for him soon. Henry putting an arm around Allen and taking the burden of blame from his shoulders was probably one of my favorite Henry moments in the entire run of the show.
I think we should assume that Mike is a Guardian Angel figure for this show. Or a time-traveler. Was it important for Mike Fulton to teach these 9 year old CPR because Dr. Sam Beckett had Quantum Leaped into Mike’s body and knew of the disaster that needed to be averted? He was deadly serious for that 4th grade CPR lesson – almost as if he knew what was about to happen. The timing is a bit too coincidental, too.