Punky Brewster (Season 2, Ep 26): Baby Buddies, Inc.

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.

[NOTE: This episode is one of the episodes that was not included on the NBC App. It *is* on the Peacock app, which I now have. I’ll review this episode and the other episodes I missed and re-number my episode guide.]

THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:

After their initial idea of sewing a dress for Mrs. Johnson goes poorly, Punky and Cherie start a babysitting business in order to earn money to buy Mrs. Johnson a birthday present. The girls eventually enlist Mrs. Johnson’s help in assuring Henry and client mothers that the babies will be well cared for.

The girls’ first ever customer has a baby son named Maxwell. After his mother leaves, Maxwell is so fussy that Mrs. Johnson takes him on a walk to the local park for some fresh air. When she and the girls return later, they realize that they have accidentally switched strollers with someone else. Mrs. Rayford calls them to let them know she grabbed the wrong stroller and she says she will be right over. In the interim, Maxwell’s mother comes to pick him up. The girls, Mrs. Johnson, and Henry distract her until they are able to make the baby exchange with Mrs. Rayford. After the exchange, the girls decide not to babysit anymore. They also give Mrs. Johnson their badly sewn dress as a birthday present. She tells them that she loves it.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

Punky and Cherie are making a dress for Mrs. Johnson. Cherie has tied three pillows to her body to mimic the body-type of her grandmother for the “dress fitting” that the two girls have planned. She asks Punky if three is enough and Punky tells her that her grandmother is a three pillow lady.

Punky: Four would be insulting.

We learn that Punky sewed the front of the dress and Cherie sewed the back of it. The girls compliment each other on that time-saving strategy. When they place the dress over and onto pillow-wearing Cherie, they learn that the sleeves are far too long. The girls believe that the dress is ruined and Punky says that they will have to start over. Cherie argues that they do not have enough time to start over noting that her grandma’s birthday is the following week.

Punky suggests that they buy Mrs. Johnson a dress but Cherie points out that they spent all of their money on the material they have now for their failed dress attempt. The two girls decide think of a way to make money quickly. Cherie says that she thinks better with cookies in her stomach. Punky pats the pillows there and points out that she must have been thinking a lot lately.

In Henry’s living room, we see Henry arguing with Mrs. Johnson about a broken pipe in her kitchen. She suggests that he call a plumber but he argues saying that the plumber would be too expensive. He points out that the pipes are old and that you cannot just put anything down them.

Mrs. Johnson: How about water? Is that too much to ask?

A few moments later, Brandon enters the living room through the still open door wearing a sign that says “Ask Me About Baby Buddies, Inc.” Punky and Cherie follow Brandon in a few seconds later. Both of them are holding baby dolls.

Henry: Where have you two been?
Cherie: At the park, looking for customers.
Punky: Yeah, we’re gonna be business typhoons.

Punky hands Henry one of their business cards.

Henry: Baby Buddies, Incorporated?
Punky: Let us watch your kid, you’ll be glad you did! [she winks]

Henry tells Punky that a nine year old is not qualified to look after a small baby. When he seeks backup from Mrs. Johnson, she disagrees with him.

Mrs. Johnson: Well, I think babysitting would be a very good learning experience for them.
Henry: Well… this is an experience they can experience… when they’ve had a little more experience.
Punky: But Henry, how can we experience this experience if you won’t let us experience this experience?

Henry begins to get angry but Mrs. Johnson intervenes and says that she will personally supervise the two girls. Henry asks if she really believes that they can handle it and she tells him that she knows they can. Henry asks the girls if they will be responsible. Punky says that they will treat the babies as if they are their very own. Henry reluctantly agrees. The girls celebrate by throwing into the air and then dropping the baby dolls they have been holding.

Sometime later, in Henry’s apartment, a woman rings the bell. Punky and Cherie answer. The woman sees how young the two girls are and prepares to leave before Mrs. Johnson intervenes and says that she is there to help, too. The woman is relieved. She wheels her less than one year old son Maxwell into the room in his stroller. She tells the group that she should only be gone for an hour or two and predicts that he will likely sleep the entire time. She then gives a detailed list of instructions in the event that he does not sleep the entire time. After she is done, Punky begins making phases at Baby Maxwell, causing him to laugh. Maxwell’s mom pulls Mrs. Johnson aside and confesses that this is the first time she has ever left her son with strangers.

Mrs. Johnson assures her that Maxwell is in good hands. Punky adds that they want to do an extra good job with their first customer. Maxwell’s mom then begins to panic before Mrs. Johnson assures her that Maxwell will not the first baby that *she* has cared for. She also points out to her that she is a registered nurse. The new mom is convinced as Mrs. Johnson walks her to the door. She gives Mrs. Johnson five different emergency contact numbers before finally leaving. Mrs. Johnson tells the two girls that the hardest part of babysitting is the mother. She then goes to see Maxwell and plays with his toes.

Mrs. Johnson: This little piggy goes to the market, this little piggy stayed home…
Punky: Mrs. Johnson, did you used to take Cherie’s toes to the market when she was a baby?
Mrs. Johnson: I still do!
Cherie: [embarrassed] Grandma! You promised not to tell!

Mrs. Johnson asks the girls if either of them want to hold the baby. They both say yes so she instructs them to sit down on the couch. She places the baby in Punky’s arms. When she takes the baby from Punky and hands him to Cherie, Maxwell starts crying. Cherie says that the baby has a dent in his head and she asks her grandma to take him. Mrs. Johnson takes Maxwell and places him in his stroller/crib in order for him to nap. Punky brags that watching a baby is easy. Just then, Maxwell begins to cry.

The crying goes on for a while. We see Brandon the GOOD BOY putting his paws over his ears. Cherie asks Mrs. Johnson if the bottle is heated yet. Mrs. Johnson says that it is not and instructs Cherie to check the baby’s diaper. Cherie returns to the stroller and tells Punky to check the diaper. The two girls then argue about who is to check the diaper. Finally Punky gives in and checks the diaper. She makes a face while doing it but says the diaper is fine.

Mrs. Johnson runs into the living room from the kitchen and says that she has a bottle guaranteed to put a smile on Maxwell’s face. She gives it to the baby… and he throws it back at her a few seconds later.

Mrs. Johnson: This kid is killing my reputation.

Cherie offers the baby one of the toys his mother left with them but Max throws that one across the room. Punky tries the other toy – one that plays music. It seems to work for about five seconds until that toy is also thrown across the room. Mrs. Johnson tells the girls that she is going to wheel Maxwell down to the park for some fresh air. The girls ask if she thinks fresh air will help the baby. She tells them that the fresh air is for herself.

[Prediction: Leaving the apartment with the baby is a bad idea.]

When the girls return, Maxwell is quiet. Cherie and Punky are pleased that they were able, on their walk, to pass out their business cards to a lot of mothers who were also out with their babies. Punky and Cherie speculate that if business continues going this well that they will be able to buy Mrs. Johnson a designer dress.

Mrs. Johnson walks over to the stroller and says that she hopes that little Max did not get too much sun outside. When she pulls the cover back, we find out that Mrs. Johnson now has in her possession an African-American baby. Maxwell is gone!

Mrs. Johnson: Oh Lord! Oh Lord!
Cherie: What is it?
Punky: [looking] He couldn’t have gotten that much sun!

[Note: I told you so.]

Everyone panics. Mrs. Johnson repeatedly asks the baby who he is. Suddenly the phone rings. Mrs. Rayford is on the other end of the line and she tells Mrs. Johnson that she is bringing the other baby (presumably Maxwell) right over. The girls ask how Mrs. Rayford knew to call them and Mrs. Johnson says that their number is on the business cards the girls were handing out.

Mrs. Johnson: Our worries are over. We’ll exchange babies and no one will be the wiser.

Just then Henry arrives and asks how the babysitting is going. Mrs. Johnson tells him that it’s going fine. Henry looks in on the baby, comments on how cute it is, and then asks if the baby is a boy or a girl. Everyone gives a different answer. Punky then speaks up and says that the silliest thing has just happened and that they are going to laugh about it later, for years. Henry tells the three of them to explain what happened, now, and adds that they can laugh later. Punky tells him that they took the wrong baby home from the park.

Henry: So this is the wrong baby? Where is the right baby?
Mrs. Johnson: He’s on his way over.
Henry: Is he hailing a cab?

Henry goes on an angry tirade. Just then, the doorbell rings. Mrs. Johnson calls Henry and tells him that there is the right baby now. When she opens the door, though, it is not Mrs. Raymond and Maxwell. It is Maxwell’s mother. Mrs. Johnson closes the door in her face and tells the rest of them that she guesses it is too late to pretend that they are not home. The doorbell buzzes again. Mrs. Johnson opens the door again and asks if she can help her. Maxwell’s mother says that she is here for Maxwell. As she comes inside, everyone attempts to distract her. Mrs. Johnson turns her to introduce her to Henry. The girl then tell her that Henry is a great photographer. Punky pulls her over to a wall to show her pictures that Henry has taken. Maxwell’s mother asks her what she owes and Punky tells her that they will not charge her for the babysitting. When she insists on paying, Punky tells her that Max was so good that they barely could tell he was even there. They drag her into Henry’s kitchen to offer her tea, over her statements that she does not want tea, and Henry insists that tea is part of the Baby Buddies service. Finally Mrs. Rayford buzzes the doorbell. Mrs. Johnson opens the door. Mrs. Rayford insists that all of this was her fault. Mrs. Johnson wheels Maxwell inside and tells her that no harm was done before closing the door in her face. The door buzzes again. Mrs. Rayford reminds Mrs. Johnson that she needs her own child. Mrs. Johnson rapidly wheels Mrs. Rayford’s baby out the front door.

Just then, Maxwell’s mother bursts out of the kitchen saying that they must be going now. Henry is insisting that she needs Spaghetti O’s with her tea. Punky tells Henry that it’s okay. Henry then changes his tune and tells Max’s mom that she has been ignoring her baby. She smiles at Maxwell and tells the girls that she will let her friends know about Baby Buddies. Cherie tells her thanks but says that they have gone out of business.

Punky: Believe me we’ve buddied our last baby.

Surprised, she looks at Maxwell, who is smiling widely, and wheels him out of the apartment.

Sometime later, we see Brandon, Henry, and Mrs. Johnson wearing pointy party hats. Henry turns off the light in the living room. Cherie and Punky come from the kitchen carrying two birthday cakes – each of them with a lot of birthday candles on them. Everyone sings “Happy Birthday” to Mrs. Johnson. After the song is over, she asks about the fact she has two cakes. Cherie tells her that they could not fit all of the candles on just one.

Mrs. Johnson begins to open presents. Her first present is from Henry. When she gets the wrapping paper off, we find that Henry has given her a toilet plunger. Cherie hands her a large box and says that it is from Punky and herself. As her grandma is about to take the box, she pulls it back and tells her grandma that she is going to hate it. Mrs. Johnson insists that she will not.

Cherie: Even if you have to wear it?
Mrs. Johnson: Yes. As a matter of fact, I’m going to change into it right now and we’re all going to dinner.

A little while later, Mrs. Johnson emerges from the other room in her new dress. It’s un, colorful, and the sleeves are particularly long. She tells the girls that it is beautiful and that she loves it. They are surprised. Mrs. Johnson says they should go. The girls walk out the front door to go to dinner.

Henry: Betty… about your outfit…
Mrs. Johnson: One more word and ya die!

REACTION:

Do people think “oh no, we accidentally took home the wrong stroller and we lost the baby!” stories are funny? I guess so. I feel like I have seen some version of this story on television a lot of times. Personally I find it stressful. That said, from the moment Mrs. Johnson walked out the front door with Maxwell in that stroller I knew that nothing good was about to follow.

I will admit though that I did laugh in surprise at Punky’s line that Maxwell could not have gotten *that* much sun. Could you tell a joke like that today? I’m not sure.

It was a clever bit of writing that the girls’ business cards enabled everyone to reconnect with the correct baby. Otherwise… how does something like that get resolved? Everyone goes home, realizes the mistake, and then goes back to the park to wait for the other parents / baby to show back up? Eventually call the police? What a nightmare. I feel like in the present day you’d alert the park’s social media page somehow.

I wonder if I am unduly impressed that a pair of nine year olds are able to sews together a dress, without a pattern, even if it is a bit on the unattractive side. I mean… it fit. It just looked goofy. I’m still impressed.

My favorite part of this episode was the following exchange:

Mrs. Johnson: This little piggy goes to the market, this little piggy stayed home…
Punky: Mrs. Johnson, did you used to take Cherie’s toes to the market when she was a baby?
Mrs. Johnson: I still do!
Cherie: [embarrassed] Grandma! You promised not to tell!

Cherie Johnson was an extremely cute kid.

5 thoughts on “Punky Brewster (Season 2, Ep 26): Baby Buddies, Inc.

      1. I didn’t notice until you pointed it out! My posts are so filled with typos that I will never judge anyone else for them (nor will I likely notice.)

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