Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Pee Wee Herman Show (1981)

I once referred to Pee-Wee’s Playhouse as a kid-friendly show.  My mother disagreed.  I had remembered the TV show as being more silly than anything else.  It may have been that I was missing stuff that was intended for adults.  It may also have been that my mother had come across The Pee-Wee Herman Show, which is a different beast altogether.

Before Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Paul Reubens had a stage show called The Pee-Wee Herman Show.  In 1981, HBO recorded and aired one of the performances, which was very similar in appearance and style to the playhouse, except that the humor was more adult oriented.  I had never heard of this, hence my confusion.

The entire show takes place in his playhouse with Pee-Wee interacting with various human and puppet characters.  Captain Carl and Miss Yvonne are two such characters that stop by.  (She has a thing for him, yet he doesn’t seem to reciprocate.)  Also visiting from time to time is Mailman Mike, who doesn’t seem to take his job seriously.  There are even the singing neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Jelly Do-nut.  When Pee-Wee gets a wish from Jambi the Genie, he really wants to wish for the ability to fly.  However, he feels compelled to use it to make Captain Carl fall for Miss Yvonne.

If you’re wondering about the humor, a lot of it would be safe for teenagers and above.  There’s one scene where Pee-Wee and another character use show mirrors to look up a skirt.  In another, Jambi receives a pair of hands he had ordered.  (He’s portrayed as a disembodied head.)  That’s probably on par with the worst of it.  If you’re old enough to watch Beavis and Butt-Head, you’re old enough to watch this.

I got this on DVD from Netflix, but I probably would have gotten it streaming had I been given the option.  The disc had no special features, nor did I see another disc.  I don’t know that this is the kind of thing that would have necessarily supported features.  Those that are watching it are probably more familiar with the other movie and TV show.  I had only gotten this to see what it was like.  I’m not sure what kind of features I would have wanted.  (This isn’t the kind of thing that would lend itself to a director’s cut or anything.)

From what I’ve read, this was supposed to parody kids’ shows of the 1950s and 1960s.  I’m not sure most people would necessarily get the humor.  I found it amusing, but I suspect that there was a lot of stuff that went over my head.  I think part of why I remember liking the TV show was that I was a child and the show was aimed at that age group.  This is probably aimed more ad adults that grew up in the 1950s.  I don’t think kids that were born 50 years later would really like it.  Honestly, I’m not even sure how many of the target audience would like it, as Pee-Wee Herman is one of those hit-or-miss characters.  Either you love it or you’ll never understand how someone else could.

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