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Punky Brewster - Season Three



DVD Release Date: July 25, 2006 (Shout! Factory)
Color / 1987-1988
MSRP: $34.98
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: approx. 483 minutes
Running Time of Special Features: approx. 120 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: None
Special Features: Animated Punky Brewster episodes (5 episodes)


Once again, it's time to get more "PUNKY POWER" on DVD! The third season of the show that wasn't exactly television's biggest smash hit--well as a matter of fact, it is often looked at by some people that think they know everything as a bad show--is coming soon from Shout! Factory.

The third season is a bit different from the first two. After the second season, the series had finished its run on NBC. But, with it being the 1980s, and there being several independent television stations (I sure miss these!!!) that had nothing else to air, the show continued to live on for two more years in first run syndication, just like Mama's Family, Silver Spoons, Too Close for Comfort, and other great shows that the know-it-all television elitists call "inferior" television.

The change of network is not the only change that came with the third season though. The show itself underwent some changes, starting with Punky's hairstyle. The pigtails of season 1 and 2 are gone, and she looks much older! Henry's old photography studio (which burned down in the second season 5-parter "Changes") has been replaced by a new photography in the studio, and developing (such an appropriate word for a photography studio) from that is the fact that Henry even sells the photography studio later in THIS season and starts his own restaurant. But no matter what, you'll always see the girl who turns your world around: Punky!

Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

The syndicated years of the series kicks off with "Reading, Writing, and Rock & Roll," where Punky cheats on her book report and Henry punishes her by not letting her attend a DeBarge concert... but when Henry regrets his decision, he has to get DeBarge to do something VERY special to get Punky's respect back! Alice Ghostley plays Punky's teacher in "Punky's Big Story," where Punky becomes the gossip columnist in the 4th grade newspaper. Henry's overweight niece, Louise, comes to visit in "Tons of Fun," and the girls have to help her get down to a normal wait. Casey Ellison makes his final appearance as Allen when his parents decide to split in "Divorce Anderson Style."

Brandon is missing, and Punky has to find him, but will the boy that finds him first want to keep him? Find out in the two-part episode "Open Door, Broken Heart," where Alley Mills guest stars. It is time for Punky's first bra in "The Metamorphosis," but is Henry ready for Punky to grow up?

The girls talk Betty into going onto a game show to find a date in "The Matchmaker," but the bad news is that Betty is actually picked--by a man named Chuck, played by none other than Bookman from Good Times (Johnny Brown)! David Ruprecht (Supermarket Sweep) guest stars as the host of the game show. In "The Anniversary," Punky notices that on the same day every year, Cheri begins to act unusual and is determined to find out why--but she pushes too hard and later finds out that the day is the anniversary of the death of Cheri's parents.

Punky accidentally asks Spud, her annoying classmate, to a dance in "This Spud's For You," but when she tries to back out, he decides to walk out on the ledge of his sixth floor apartment, and Punky rushes out to save him. But what will they do when their only way back in is compromised?? Henry sells his photography studio (and quickly regrets it) in "So Long, Studio," and also starts a new business of his own. In "Unhooking Henry," Punky is concerned that she is going to lose Henry when she discovers that he has been taking sleeping pills for several months, and goes to great lengths to get him off of the pills. Look for Meshach Taylor (Designing Women) playing the delivery man!


The packaging is pretty much the same as seasons 1 and 2. In fact, the cover art is EXACTLY the same, except the background is pink this time. There is a digipak inside again, and the front of it (again) has the same picture as is shown on the cover art. When you open up the digipak, there is a list of episodes on the set and which disc they are contained on, and when you open it up even further, you'll find the discs... and behind the discs is artwork, which is (again) exactly the same as the first two seasons. I guess it is all good for consistency.

There really isn't any disc artwork, just the show logo on different colored backgrounds, but if you are interested, Disc 1 is purple, Disc 2 is blue, Disc 3 is pink, and Disc 4 is green. Episodes 1-5 are on Disc 1, 6-11 on Disc 2, 12-17 on Disc 3, and 18-22 on Disc 4.

Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus, much like the packaging, didn't change at all with this season. They are exactly the same as seasons 1 and 2, which is okay but not great. Basically, once you get past the FBI warning and Shout! logos (and on Disc 1, you have trailers for That Girl, The Electric Company, and America's Funniest Home Videos), you have to sit there and wait for the main menu to slowly load up. This isn't just my DVD player either; it is the way the DVD is designed, to slowly bring things up on the menu one-by-one, as if a child is writing out the menu items. To me, it is just outright annoying, because once I put the disc in, I want to go to the episode right away! You can hit menu to skip past all of that, but even that causes a slight delay of a few seconds. Maybe I'm just being too impatient.

Once you do get to the menu, you'll hear the theme song playing and you'll have choices of Play All, episodes (the list is on the main menu), or Special Features. Once you pick Play All or the episode of your choice, the episode starts. There aren't any other menus to go through. Special Features just takes you to a menu listing the episodes of the animated Punky Brewster, and once you select an episode there, it plays right away too. That menu plays the theme song from the animated series.

There is no scene selection menu obviously, but chapters are placed at all of the appropriate spots: just after the closing credits, between the first and second scene, and just after the second scene.

Video and Audio Quality:

For the most part, I'd say that the episodes look and sound fine. I didn't notice any particular problems that jumped out at me, but it is obvious that the video and audio could have stood a little bit of improvement. I have no clue where these prints came from, but they mysteriously have an NBC/Universal logo tacked on to the end of each episode. That made sense for the first two seasons, but I didn't think NBC had anything at all to do with seasons 3 and 4. Oh well.

The set is missing one very important element that is necessary for the hearing impaired: closed-captions. The set doesn't have English subtitles either. That seems rather ironic for this show, as there was an episode in the fourth season that dealt with Punky's new friend, who happened to be deaf. The show has an episode that handles this particular disability, yet the episodes themselves are missing a way for the hearing-impaired to WATCH the show. Although I'm not suggesting they should do this just because of that particular episode, this is an issue that Shout! should address, because it is very rare that I experience a set without closed-captions or English subtitles.

The episodes all run at roughly 21:55, but before anybody begins to panic, I believe that the episodes are okay. It is important to keep in mind that these episodes were originally syndicated, and it was not uncommon to find syndicated episodes of television shows running around that length in the late 80s. I have all of the episodes of Small Wonder (another syndicated treasure that the television elitists call "junk") on VHS from roughly the same time period, and they all run at approximately this length too. And if that isn't enough to give you confidence that these episodes are most likely okay, I have several episodes from syndication (though not the original syndication run), and compared two of those taped episodes to the exact same episodes on this set, and found no discrepancies. HOWEVER, with all of that said, I should make the disclaimer that I can't give 100% proof that the episodes are unedited, but in my opinion, the evidence seems to indicate that they are unedited. Normally I'd give exact runtimes for each episode, but since they ALL run in the exact range between 21:54 and 21:57, it would be rather pointless to do so.

Special Features:

Good news: they included more episodes of the animated Punky Brewster on this set. Bad news: they included more episodes of the animated Punky Brewster on this set.

I should explain: it is nice to see these episodes on the set, and I really hope that with season 4, all of the remaining episodes of the animated version of Punky Brewster will be on this set. But I think I speak for many Punky Brewster (though probably not all or even most, I'll probably hear from angry Punky Brewster fans about this) fans out there when I say--that show is REALLY stupid! I'd rather sit through hours and hours of Michelle whining on Full House (for those that don't know, I can't stand Full House) than watch these episodes. And although it is my usual practice to watch all of the special features on a DVD set before I write about them in the review, I have to admit, I can't take the torture of watching these things and as a result I only watched one of these episodes this time.

The episodes that are included this time are as follows:

"Punky, Snow White, & The Seven Dwarfs/Punky the Heiress" (Disc 1, 24:00)
"Punky to the Rescue/Quartersize Quarterback" (Disc 1, 24:00)
"Brandon, the Dialogue Dog/Winning Isn't Everything" (Disc 2, 23:58)
"Any Wish Way You Can/Bermuda Triangle" (Disc 3, 23:56)
"Unidentified Flying Glomer/Fish Story" (Disc 4, 23:52)

As much as I dislike this cartoon, I still think it would be nice for them to include the unreleased episodes of this on season 4 (I have a feeling they will). Interviews and commentaries would be nice too for the season 4 set.

Final Comments:

Great show, but stick with the REAL Punky Brewster! The animated show is a nice treat at first, but gets annoying very fast. But the episodes of the live-action show are great, and are nice to watch in comparison to most of the programming we have on television these days. I don't understand (well actually I do, the reason is that we need 2 stations to air Roseanne, 2 stations to air Full House, you get the picture) why nobody airs Punky Brewster anymore! It, along with some of these other underappreciated 80s sitcoms should air on television somewhere. But fortunately, with this show (unlike most of these other underappreciated 80s sitcoms), we actually have this on DVD and we are only one season away from completion. So turn around and pick up this set--and seasons 1 and 2 if you haven't already!

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 2/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 07/03/06

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