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:
Punky is sent to live with her new foster parents, the Buckworths. They are ridiculously affluent. It is not clear, though, that they have fostered her for the best reasons. Mrs. Buckworth appears to want Punky for the sake of showing her friends how generous she is. Punky’s fit in her new home is not a great one, either, with her new parents frowning on doing things in a manner that Punky prefers (clothing, hairstyle, Brandon, etc.) Meanwhile, Henry recovers enough from his surgery to go home.
Punky rides her new horse to go visit Henry. They decide that Henry should try to get her back because that is Punky’s preference.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:
Parts 1-3: Henry’s photography studio burned down, he was underinsured, ran out of money, stressed over it so much that he developed a bleeding ulcer, Punky was removed from his custody, and now she is being placed with new foster parents. Punky thinks Henry’s health is all her fault.
As the episode begins, Henry suggests to Mrs. Johnson that Punky may be better off with other foster parents. Mrs. Johnson is not having any of it, though. She hands Henry the telephone.
Mrs. Johnson: Now you get on that phone with Chillings and you tell him who’s who, and what’s what, and who’s gonna do what to who, if he doesn’t stop all this foolishness.
Henry tells Betty she is right and says it is time Warnimont got into gear. He calls… and the line is busy. We see Chillings on the phone, while Punky sits with him, discussing with someone the procedures involved in becoming a foster parent. He schedules a visit from someone, Mrs. Barnes, for the following day at 3:30 p.m. When his conversation ends, he starts talkin to Punky about Mr. and Mrs. Buckworth. Chillings tells her that Mrs. Buckworth is from a very old respectable family.
Chillings: And Mr. Buckworth is, well, he’s nice too.
He says that they would make wonderful foster parents for her. Punky asks him if she is being a traitor.
Chillings: A traitor? To whom?
Punky: To Henry.
Chllings reminds her that they have agreed that Henry is unable to take care of her at this time. Punky begins to interject about waiting for Henry to recover, but Chillings tells her that waiting will potentially cost her a golden opportunity to obtain every advantage in life, via the affluent Buckworths. He tells her that she must believe she is doing the right thing and she replies that the right thing sure feels wrong.
Henry’s doctor enters the hospital room and hangs up the phone for him. He says that he is sending Henry down to get x-rays. Henry asks why he needs x-rays and the doctor jokes that he is missing some of his tennis balls and is wondering if he left them inside Henry. Henry looks bewildered and the doctor says he is joking. He tells Henry that x-rays are standard and that he wants to make certain the ulcer is mending properly. He also informs Henry that he will be mending in the hospital for two more weeks. As the nurses load Henry onto a gurney, he continues attempting to make the call. The phone cord stretches as they wheel him down the hallway.
Punky is alone in Chillings’ office. She unties a bandana from her leg to wipe tears away from her eyes. As she reties her bandana, Mr. and Mrs. Buckworth enter the room – looking very much like Margaux’s hypothetical wealthier and fancier relatives. Mrs. Buckworth is wearing a floor length fur coat and a large black wide-brimmed hat. Mr. Chillings tries to mime to Punky that she should curtsy but he is seen by the Buckworths and Punky and he pretends that he has leg stiffness.
The two adults, who have a vaguely British accent, sit down and ask her to tell them about herself. She tells them that when her mother left her, Henry took her in. She then says Henry is now sick and jobless because his business burned down. Mrs. Buckworth interjects to her husband that perhaps they should not be forcing Punky to recall all of the terrible things that have happened to her.
Mrs. Buckworth suggests that Punky must love to swim and Punky replies, to her astonishment, that she does not know how to swim. Mrs. Buckworth says that they can arrange for an instructor to come to their house for lessons every morning.
Punky: You have a swimming pool at your house?
Mrs. Buckworth: Yes. Right under the dance floor.
Mr. Buckworth: We also have a stable where you can keep your own horse.
Punky lets them know that she does not have a horse and she suggest that they probably want another kid. Mr. Buckworth tells her that they will buy her a horse and she seems disappointed to hear it. She asks if she can bring her dog Brandon. Mrs. Buckworth is not eager but Punky talks over her and says she cannot go anywhere without Brandon.
Punky: We’re thicker than fleas.
This causes Mr. Buckworth to laugh. He tells Mrs. Buckworth, Tiffany, that Punky is adorable. She agrees. Tiffany tells her husband to get Chillings. When Chillings enters, he notes that the interview was short and asks if anything is wrong. Mr. Buckworth replies not at all and says that Punky is truly charming.
Mrs. Buckworth: We’ll take her.
Chillings is elated at the news while Punky is less enthusiastic. Chillings then says that he will get the paperwork together while Punky gets her things.
Mrs. Buckworth: Oh she won’t be needing her things. We’re going to have to start… from scratch.
Mr. Buckworth asks when Punky will be ready and Mrs. Buckworth asks if Chillings delivers. Before he can answer, she says that of course he does not. She tells Chillings that they will have Morgan pick her up later, in the Towncar, and she then tells her husband that they need to leave because she is running late. She gives Punky a kiss on the cheek and leaves.
Chillings: Oh, Punky, this is wonderful!
Chillings: I’m very happy for you!
Punky: I’m glad one of us is.
Chillings is temporarily set back by Punky’s mood but soon enough claps his hands together and begins putting the paperwork together. The phone rings. Henry is on the other end of the line. Henry tells Chillings that he does not want him to place Punky with anyone else. Chillings apologizes and tells Henry that he is too late. Henry is devestated and hangs up the phone.
The Buckworths home has a long dining room table, three chandeliers over said table, and a butler that serves them. Punky is not with them, yet. We hear Mrs. Buckworth speaking with her husband about how her friends brag about contributions to the homeless. She says that she cannot wait to see their faces when they hear about their real, live, foster child.
Mr. Buckeworth: Now, pidgeon, we didn’t take Punky for purposes of one-upmanship. I mean, we’ve always wanted a child. And I think…
Mrs. Buckworth: Well stop thinking! If you’d acted more and thought less we would have had a child.
A moment later, a butler announces “Miss Punky Brewster” to the Buckworths. She is wearing a fancy black dress with her hair pulled back insted of in her trademark pig tails. Brandon the GOOD BOY is wearing an elaborate and golden collar with two ornate bows in the fur next to his ears. Mr. Buckworth asks Punky if her new clothes are satisfactory. She says that they fit but also says she is used to wearing clothes with more colors.
Punky: Black is such a downer.
Mrs. Buckworth: Oh, no, no, my dear, it’s very elegant and it shows off your pearls beautifully.
Punky asks if they are real pearls, and Tiffany tells her yes. Punky turns to the butler and tells him that he was right and that she owes him a dollar. Punky sits and calls Brandon over to her at the table. Mrs. Buckworth tells her that Brandon’s food is in the kitchen and that unlike at Henry’s home, animals do not dine with human beings, they dine instead with the help. The butler then formally calls for Brandon to leave and the good boy exits.
Next, Punky attempts her first high class eating attempt. She mistakes a cloth napkin for a party hat. She does not know what the food on her plate is (raw oysters.)
Punky: Raw? Didn’t the chef have time to cook them?
The Buckworths begin eating while Punky is grossed out. She finally gathers the courage to try one and it accidentally falls into the front of her dress. While they eat, she tries to wiggle it out.
Mrs. Buckworth: is something wrong dear?
Punky: No, it just feels a little clammy in here. [She stands up from her chair and begins wiggling in earnest to get the oyster to fall the rest of the way through her dress.]
She finally gets it out while Mrs. Buckworth gives her a very disapproving stare. Sometime later, we see that Tiffany has had the chef prepare a special dessert to celebrate her arrival at Buckworth Manor – Cherries Jubilee.
The dish comes out while on fire. Punky yells fire and throws water on it. Mrs. Buckworth is shocked while Mr. Buckworth is delighted. She tells her husband that this is not funny. Then she tells Punky that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. She sends Punky to her suite. On her way out, Punky apologizes and says she does not know how to act.
Mr. Buckworth: Tiffany, don’t you think you were a little hard on her?
Mr. B: Just asking.
Sometime later, the phone rings. Mr. Buckworth answers. We learn that Punky is lost inside the Manor House. He goes to retrieve her.
Two weeks later…
Henry is back at home and in Punky’s now vacant bedroom. Her doll is on the bed. He picks up the doll and holds it with watery eyes. He says aloud to a not present Punky that he misses her.
A moment later, Punky walks through Henry’s door wearing a polo outfit. She finds Henry’s hat and coat on the chair. She picks up the hat and says to a not-present Henry that she misses him. She then hugs his hat. Henry comes out from Punky’s room, sees her, and is over-joyed to see her. She tells Henry that she rode her horse to see him. Henry laughs and says that it is wonderful that she came on her horse. He asks if she is happy and she somberly says she is very happy. She then perks up and talks about how many new clothes the Buckworths buy for her. She says she has to run because she is late for her flying lessons.
Henry: Punky, I am very glad you came by. You’re the best medicine I could have.
Punky: I’m happy you’re feeling better.
They have a formal, distant, and hug free goodbye. Just kidding. She comes back inside and gives him a very large hug. She tells him the Buckworths are okay. She also says that they keep giving her everything she never even wanted. Henry tells her that he does not have what he wants, either.
Punky: All I want is to come back home with you.
Henry asks her if she is sure and she says she is. He says he will go to the Supreme Court if necessary to get her back.
A moment later, Punky’s horse wanders into Henry’s apartment.
To be continued…
You know, if Punky had landed with the Buckworths two years ago, she would be well adjusted by now and in a very stable environment. As loving as her home with Henry? Well, we will never know. Punky has not had enough time to work her charms on them, yet. Mr. Buckworth really seems to enjoy her at any rate.
This was a relatively funny “fish out of water” episode with Punky trying to fit into an environment where Margaux would be thriving. It does strain a bit of credulity, IMO, that anyone would offer a nine year old raw oyster. The Buckworths are rich but they are also human beings who were children themselves once.
How exactly did Chillings manage to set Punky up in a foster setting like this one and so quickly? Something about all of that feels… off. It’s not like the uber-rich are lined up to take kids in from Fenster Hall. We’ll probably never find out.
Interestingly, that little scene at the end of the episode demonstrates that Punky is adjusting to her new environment. She is not happy, yet, but she is adjusting. Nevertheless, I assume that we will see her and Henry reunited for good in Part 5 (the next episode.)