An Unfortunate Episode – Punky Brewster Season 2 Episode 16: Cherie Lifesaver

Cut to the classroom, where Punky, Cherie and their classmates are about to learn CPR from their teacher Mike. That’s right, Mike. First name basis. ‘Cause that’s a normal way to address your teacher. Nothing to do with emasculating an African American male actor. What racism? You’re the real racist! The kids are really weirded out by the process. Children of the Corn blond kid Allen, who already gives off a smarmy cokehead vibe at age eight, makes no apologies for skipping his pre reading. “I just figured this is stuff for grown-ups.” Cherie thinks CPR looks fun and Punky says it could be a cool party trick. Mike assures them they are all capable of saving a life but must also be careful. Allen keeps cracking dumb jokes and even the audience stops laughing. Mike looks like he’s gonna murder this kid. I’d do it just on the basis of his haircut. Instead, the harried teacher shows restraint and sends Allen to the principal’s office.

When it’s time for the kids to practice CPR on Resusci-Annie the mannequin, Mike calls on Punky and the ever-annoying, unjustly confident Margaux (we assume she’s a stuck-up rich kid because she dresses preppy and is named “Margaux” with an x, but she lives in the same building as Punky, who sleeps in a wheelbarrow, so who knows?). What follows is two solid minutes of CPR training. It’s even more boring than real-life training, and certainly not Red Cross certified. In other words, don’t try this at home, kids. But do take it very, VERY seriously.

In the end, Punky the breather and Margaux the pumper successfully revive Resusci-Annie. Mike congratulates them, then everyone hoots, hollers, and has a spaz attack. Annie ain’t real, y’all.

In the next scene, we enter Cheap-O Chester Discount Store, home of the creep who’s going to sell Henry his next refrigerator. The camera pans over his cheap-o goods, including an incongruous, acrobatic S&M clown spinning on top of a drum. Why?

Henry walks in and is shortly greeted by Chester – hey, it’s Herb Tarlek (Frank Bonner) from WKRP in Cincinnati (second appearance by a WKRP alum in An Unfortunate Episode, poor guys). This bit of casting is no stretch. They probably reused one of Herb’s polyester suits. His schtick is typical – fresh out of the too-good-to-be-true model advertised in the newspaper, he offers Henry a costlier, not-so-nice model, plus a bunch of dumb freebies. As soon as Henry balks at the price, some hick in a cowboy hat marches in and tries to buy that very model. Chester says it’s the last one in stock. Henry gets jealous and impulsively purchases the refrigerator he doesn’t want. Haha, what a maroon! And in case there’s any doubt he got scammed, the exact same thing happens to another shopper two minutes later. Because that’s an efficient use of narrative space in a 23 minute episode.

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Tara Rose
About Tara Rose 106 Articles
Since 2009, Tara has been writing snarky essays about pop culture, motherhood and her various neuroses at Rare Oats. She spends most of her other time selling cheese, raising a small human and goofing off with her husband Dan. E-mail:
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