Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Complete Series!

by Al Kessel

Meka Leka Hi Meka Hiney Ho!!
Ok, so I admit it. I'm a kid at heart. And yes...some would say at mind as well! But, I like Pee-wee Herman. I may not have been a CHILD when Pee-wee's Playhouse debuted in 1986, but I still watched it every Saturday morning. And LOVED it! I mean, what's not to love? Fun, lovable and at most times silly characters; cartoons; interesting plot situations; talking fish; talking chairs; talking windows; talking...well, you get the picture. 

Pee-wee and Miss Yvonne

I've got to say, when we were asked to review Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Complete Series (actually, we only got seasons 1 and 2 so far), I JUMPED at the chance! Like I said earlier, I loved Pee-wee's Playhouse when it first ran on CBS (1986-1990), and was curious if I'd still feel the same way now that I'm (gulp) 50! I do. Yep. I most certainly do. Well, actually, that's not accurate. Add a great deal of nostalgia to that love. Our lives are in such a rush these days, so many frustrations, so many tragedies, so many sad things, that a show like this, even for just 23-25 minutes, helps you forget and just brings some silly joy in to your day! you can enjoy this fun series in high-def! Whether reliving childhood memories or introducing this beloved series to a new generation, the newly re-mastered Pee-wee’s Playhouse will take you back to being a kid. Now you can actually SEE all the awesome details in the Playhouse like never before. Winner of an amazing 22 Emmy® Awards, Pee-wee’s Playhouse is a cultural touchstone for a generation, and its visually dynamic design and offbeat sense of humor were a genuine phenomenon.  And if THAT'S not enough, TV Guide actually named Pee-wee's Playhouse #10 on their list of the Top 25 Cult Television Shows....EVER! EVER!!!

No matter what reason you watch/watched it, Pee-wee's Playhouse really is an educational, artistic and very entertaining show that teaches kids strong life lessons. With it's innovative production design and Paul Ruben's (Pee-wee Herman) rich original characters and humor, Pee-wee's Playhouse is a magical place that sparks creativity an imagination. 

And, like many kids shows, Pee-wee's Playhouse launched a LOT of stars:

  • Phil Hartman (Captain Carl) 
  • S. Epatha Merkerson (Reba The Mail Lady)
  • Natasha Lyonne (Opal) - LONG before her gig on Orange Is The New Black!
  • Jimmy Smits (Conky's Repairman)
  • Sandra Bernhard (Rhonda the Picturephone Operator)
  • Bernard Fox - Col. Crittendon from Hogan's Heroes (Dr. Jinga Janga)
  • And.....Laurence Fishburne - Morpheus HIMSELF (Cowboy Curtis With The Jheri Curl Mullet!)

OH MY! It's Morpheus!! Laurence Fishburne

Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Complete Series Blu-ray box set contains OVER 4 HOURS of brand-new interviews with the cast and crew, plus never-seen, behind-the-scenes footage—all part of TEN FEATURETTES, including: 

  • Building the Playhouse
  • Opening the Playhouse
  • Writing for the Playhouse
  • The Look of the Playhouse 
  • Music of the Playhouse
  • The Cast of the Playhouse
  • Puppets of the Playhouse
  • Animating the Playhouse
  • A Very Merry Christmas Special
  • Fans and Memorabilia of the Playhouse
These featurettes include interviews with actors Laurence Fishburne (Cowboy Curtis), S. Epatha Merkerson (Reba the mail lady), Lynne Marie Stewart (Miss Yvonne) and John Paragon (Jambi the genie). Mark Mothersbaugh and Danny Elfman explain the music of the show and the Emmy® award-winning production design team of Gary Panter, Wayne White and Ric Heitzman explain how the sets and puppets were imagined and produced. Animation Supervisor of all 5 seasons of Pee-wee’s Playhouse, Prudence Fenton (Liquid Television) talks about all the types of animation used in the program and animators Peter Lord and David Sproxton (Wallace & Gromit) discuss their contributions. Ve Neill, the multi-Oscar® winning make-up artist talks about designing the make-up ‘looks’. Two of the shows writers talk about how the scripts were created. Other cast and crew explain, in fascinating detail, stories from the production of Pee-wee’s Playhouse. If that weren’t enough, many of the shows puppeteers and voice artists are interviewed about how the puppet characters were brought to life. 
You know what to do when the Secret Word is said!!
So, yeah. I'm a fan of Pee-wee's Playhouse. I seriously watch an episode every day. Before I get started with my work day, I spend 23-25 minutes with the gang at the Playhouse, put a HUGE smile on my face and laugh along with the jokes, corny as they may be. If you're a collector of cult shows, or, just like to enjoy honest to goodness fun, get your own copy of this all time classic - today. Now. Hurry. And, don't forget to YELL when the Word Of The Day is said!! Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Complete Series is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray Box Sets. 

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