The first I knew of the impending return of Punky Brewster was a selfie video posted by Soleil Moon Frye, the former child star, tearfully giving thanks for all those who’d worked to bring her famous character (her second most famous character being Joey’s girlfriend who keeps punching him on Friends) back to life.
It’s understandable that Frye would be overcome with emotion that we’re going to see the adult adventures of the loveable Eighties ragamuffin: for her it means gainful employment, and she must find that a novelty these days. But I expect, and I hope, that the reaction of the rest of the world is a kind of collective global “huh?”
I mean, when I was a kid, I loved Punky Brewster, and the shenanigans she got up to with her dog Brandon and her grumpy foster dad Henry – both of whom are dead now, so the revival is already feeling a bit depressing. But it wasn’t exactly epochal TV, was it? Nobody’s childhood was defined by Punky Brewster, nobody is putting her on lists of TV Moments That Changed the World. It was just a reasonably successful show, with a reasonably cute kid, written by reasonably terrible comedy writers. It didn’t break new ground, pioneer any movements, or usher in any golden ages. But they’ve decided it must be brought back to life, because we are now officially in the age of If You Remember A Thing, We Are Going To Dig It Up And Throw It At You Again.
Reviving, rebooting or remaking some shows is an obvious move in many cases. The new series of Twin Peaks was a great call given the clearly unfinished business that the baffling old show had. Arrested Development was cut off well before its time, so however awkwardly the revival was executed, its existence was easily justifiable. Even Roseanne, you could argue, was a show whose themes and perspectives were such that bringing them to bear on the Trump era would be an interesting exercise.
But many of them are basically born of laziness, of the comparative ease of making a new show without the requirement for a new idea, of the eagerness of out-of-work actors to get back in the game, of the predilection of producers to decide their next project by sticking a pin in the Encyclopaedia of Classic TV.
We’ve had the new Will and Grace. We’ve had Fuller House. And now that we’ve got Punky Brewster all grown up there can be no limit whatsoever on what can be revived. If they can bring back Punky, they can bring back Growing Pains. They can bring back Small Wonder. They can bring back – whisper it – Hey Dad! (I know, I know, but that guy wasn’t even in it by the end)
The point is, all bets are off. Every single show you ever remember watching is up for a return, and the only thing we can do is grit our teeth and watch it. I’m sure it’ll be great.