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Punky Brewster - Season Two



DVD Release Date: February 8, 2005 (SHOUT! Factory)
MSRP: $34.98
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: Approx. 690 minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: Approx. 186 minutes (including bonus “It's Punky Brewster” episodes)
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; No Subtitles or CC.
Special Features: Interview with George Gaynes; Eight episodes of “It's Punky Brewster”

My Thoughts:

It's time to get more PUNKY POWER on DVD! All 22 episodes from Season Two of the 80s sitcom is now available on a four disc DVD collection, complete with Punky and all of her friends... Cherie, Allen, Margaux, and of course, her faithful dog Brandon! And once again, just as they did with Season One, SHOUT! Factory has produced a DVD set that is a great compilation at an unbeatable price!

In Season Two of Punky Brewster, Punky learns to resist peer pressure in "Just Say No." Punky has a new friend (Candace Cameron) that she recognizes as a missing child in "Milk Does a Body Good." Punky (accidentally) frames Mike (her teacher) for shoplifting in "Christmas Shoplifting." Cherie gets stuck in a refrigerator in "Cherie Lifesaver," an episode that was inspired by a story written by an 8-year-old boy. The show deals with the tragedy of the Challenger explosion, with the help of astronaut Buzz Aldrin, in "Accidents Happen." And of course, who can forget "Changes," the five-part episode in which Henry's photography studio burns down and he loses custody of Punky? We also get to see Peter Billingsley (three years after he played Ralph on the Christmas movie classic "A Christmas Story") and boxer Marvelous Marvin Hagler in this season.

The packaging for this set is the type that TV-on-DVD fans have become accustomed too--the basic cardboard box with the digipak inside. The artwork on the cover looks exactly like the cover from Season One, except this time, the color scheme is orange. The digipak has four panels, and each one holds one of the four discs. Discs One and Three each have five episodes and Discs Two and Four each have six episodes. The special features (which will be described later) are found on all four discs. I was a bit disappointed that there weren't any episode descriptions with the set. Instead, however, there is a list of episodes on the panels in the digipak. The episodes are presented on the set in the order in which they originally aired.

When you place the disc into the DVD player, the first (significant) thing that comes up is the menu screen (well technically the first thing is a trailer for the Season One set on Disc One). The menu screen is very easy to navigate, but it takes a little while to load unfortunately. It is an intentional thing... the menu loads to make it appear that somebody is writing each and every letter on the screen. That is a bit slow, unfortunately. Also, the menu will not allow you to fast forward or skip past this. So basically, your only choice is to wait for the menu to load. Once it loads, however, you can go straight to the episode you want to watch from the main screen. There is no scene selection menu, so once you select an episode, it begins playing immediately. There is also a Play All option as well as an option to go to the Special Features menu screen.

The set presents every episode of the second season in the format that the episodes were intended to be in--unedited. Each episode on the set runs about 24 or more minutes (one even ran for 26 minutes!). There are chapter breaks between the commercial breaks, as well as right after the opening credits and right before the closing credits.

As far as the audio and video qualities are concerned, I would say that the quality is about average. The audio seems to be in mono, even though there are episodes that actually had the original NBC "in stereo" logo at the beginning of the opening credits! The box as well as the press release that I received with the set mentions nothing about the audio, but my television did not receive a stereo signal from the set, even though I have a feeling that it COULD be in stereo! So basically what we have here is a set that, regardless of how the audio is presented, sounds like an average mono track. The only audio flaw that I found in the set was the fact that the opening credits on several of the episodes seemed to have a "canned" sound. It sounded very unnatural, but fortunately, the problem ended after the opening credits ended. As for those that are hearing impaired, there is bad news with this set. There is no closed captioning or English subtitles available.

The video quality on the other hand was probably a bit above average. I didn't see any problems with the video on the set besides the fact that the show is a little bit dated. The animated “It's Punky Brewster” episodes, however, had video quality issues that I'll discuss a bit later.

When SHOUT! Factory released Season One of Punky Brewster in 2004, they included four half hour episodes of the animated cartoon series “It's Punky Brewster,” which, as the name suggests, is a cartoon version of the program. This time, however, SHOUT! Factory has done even better, by releasing twice as many episodes of “It's Punky Brewster” on the set! That's right, there are EIGHT half hour episodes of “It's Punky Brewster” included in this set. Any fan of Punky Brewster will love having the opportunity to see the animated program, perhaps for the very first time! Basically, the animated series is very similar to the live action series, except there is one extra character... a magical character named Glomer. So simply put, the cartoon is just Punky Brewster with the addition of magic. Even though I can't say that I thought that the “It's Punky Brewster” program was an excellent program, I did find the program very interesting to watch.

The episodes of the It's Punky Brewster series that are included are "The Gold Rush"/"Phar Out Pharaoh," "Switchin' Places"/"How the Midwest Was Won," "Little Orphan Punky"/"Punky's Millions," "Fair Feathered Friend"/"Be My Glomery," "All in Henry's Family"/"Bright Eyes," "Mississippi Mud"/"Punky P.I.," "Camp Confusion"/"Allen Who?," and "Punky's Half Acre"/"Mother Of The Year." Since I had never seen the animated show prior to reviewing the DVD set, I really can't compare them to other airings of the show, but each half hour episode of the program runs about 22 minutes, but there are no closing credits for the animated episodes in this set. There are two half hour episodes on each disc in the set. The audio quality on the animated series was about what I would expect for the program, but I was a little disappointed at the "glitches" in the video quality. From time to time, it almost looked as if the episodes had been copied from a VHS tape, as there were times where it seemed like there were tracking problems. The episodes are only included as a bonus, however, so the video quality doesn't detract from the set overall.

So there are eight episodes of the animated series in this set, the special features are great, so I'm done with the special features, right? WRONG! Although there are not as many interviews in this set as there were in the first season, there is one new interview in this set... a 10 minute interview with George Gaynes! He, of course, played the role of Punky's father, Henry, in the show. He obviously looks a bit older than he did when he was on the program... after all - he is nearly 90 years old. The interview was probably not the most interesting interview that could possibly be done, but Gaynes mainly talks about his career in general as well as basic stuff from the show. The interview can be found on Disc One.

Punky Brewster is one of those shows that either you remember very well or have barely even heard of it--probably because the show has often been shunned by those that are critical of how "childish" they believe the show is. The show may have themes that appeal to children, but what better way to get in touch with your inner child? Children of all ages ... 5, 10, 20, 30, 90 ... can enjoy Punky Brewster! Don't pay any attention to the stereotypes and don't be ashamed to own this set... you know that you want it!

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 4/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Video Clips from Season 2:

* Punky Celebrates Christmas
* Girls Will Be Boys
* Accidents Happen

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 01/29/2005.

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