Punky Brewster Review: Pilot Episode Full of Fun, Feels & Potential

Punky Brewster (2021) - Pilot
8/10
Soleil Moon Frye and Cherie Johnson return in Peacock's Punky Brewster proving once again what was once old is made new again. Everything from the series' stars to writing recreated the magic and charm of the original 80s version.

Any doubts the new sequel series Punky Brewster will be anything like its 80s predecessor goes out the window. In fact, the modernized update allows star Soleil Moon Frye as the title character to shine like never before. Sure, Punky's a middle-aged single mother of three, but not once did she ever lost sight of who she is even when the new adventures come in the form of trying to survive the burnout from adulting. Frye's still very much as lovable as she was over 30 years ago when we last saw the character.

Punky Brewster: Pilot Review - Peacock Series Full of Fun and Feels
Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Peacock

Punky Brewster in 2021 – Perfect Balance of Old and New

The new series introduces several new elements in Punky's life from her ex Travis (Freddie Prinze Jr) and kids in Hannah (Lauren Lindsey Donzis), Daniel (Oliver De Los Santos), and Diego (Noah Cottrell). She decides to take in one more in Izzy (Quinn Copeland), who much like Punky herself, has her own set of abandonment issues matched with her sharp wit and cynicism from being in the foster system. We find Punky, like her foster father Henry (George Gaynes), became a photographer. There is a touching tribute as he still acts as her north star in his passing.

Punky Brewster: Pilot Review - Peacock Series Full of Fun and Feels
Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Peacock

Cherie Johnson remains the other lone holdover from the original David W. Duclon series reprising her role as Cherie, who is the social worker trying to find Izzy a new home while Punky looks after her in the pilot. Frye and Johnson picked up where they left off in the series even as adults, not that their chemistry ever needed working on. With the child actors also pull their own weight, everyone has a chance to shine even not to mention another golden retriever that was a staple in the original series. The difference between Punky and Izzy at their young ages is while Punky had her signature pigtails in the 80s, but 2021's Izzy adopted a knit cap. The new dynamic between Frye and Copeland makes this series work for all ages. Directed by Jonathan Judge and written by Jim and Steve Armogida and Jimmy Fox, the pilot recaptures the magic of the original every which way. Punky Brewster premieres on February 25 on Peacock.

About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.

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