What memory do the following words
inspire: mismatched sneakers, colorful bandanas, a rainbow colored
bedroom, and pig tails? For a child of the 80s, they should instantly
evoke images of Penelope “Punky” Brewster, the main character of the
popular family sitcom Punky Brewster.
Debuting on NBC in 1984, Punk Brewster was a funny light-hearted show
about a sassy and spirited young girl played by
Soleil Moon Frye who was
abandoned by her mother. Alone in Chicago with no one other than her
trustee dog Brandon, Punky moves into an abandoned apartment and is soon
discovered by the building manager Henry Warnimont. A grouchy old man
Warnimont takes Punky into his home on what is supposed be a temporary
basis. However, the colorful orphan has other plans. Punky quickly wins
Henry’s heart and changes his life around.
Although considered a comedy, the show featured serious issues such as
CPR, kidnapping, runaways, the space shuttle Challenger disaster, and even
drugs. In fact the show launched the Just Say No anti-drug campaign which
was so popular in the 80s.
While the show delighted families across the country, it was only carried
by NBC until 1986. When reruns of the show proved to be so popular it
entered First Run Syndication and new episodes continued to be made until
1988. Yet even then the show didn’t loose its “Punky Power” as evident by
the fact that the reruns continued to be aired until September of 1996,
more than ten years after its original debut.