Pee Wee Revisited

11 Jan

When I was a kid, I loved Pee Wee’s Playhouse. There’s no use in denying it, my mom has photo evidence. In the shot, I’m about 2 or 3 and entranced as Pee Wee smiles on the screen in front of me. So when the entire series became available on DVD last October, Santa took note and surprised me with it this Christmas.  Now as an adult, I’ve watched a couple episodes, and I‘ve decided that the Playhouse wasn’t such a bad place to spend some of my childhood. Sure, his eternal silliness and crazy voice and antics may not be your cup of tea, but I stand by Pee Wee and his playhouse and here are a few reasons why.

Zany Characters

Pee Wee’s world bursts with personality. Puppets, kids (named Opal, Elvis and Cher) and costumed adults continually bound onto the scene. Every new face brings a fun game or cartoon causing the show to move at a delightfully dizzying pace.  As a kid, my favorites were Pterri, the baby pterodactyl puppet, and the “beautiful” Miss Yvonne with her huge brown wig and 60s style dresses. Now I especially enjoy seeing Laurence Fishburne play Cowboy Curtis. I’ll never be able to see the ultra serious Morpheus quite the same again.

Colorful Setting

The playhouse looks like it came from a kid’s (or maybe a former drug addict’s) dream. For starters, the house features a mouse hole that houses a dinosaur family, a refrigerator with skating food and a sphinx with a dancing head. Each wall is splashed with different colors and textures and nearly every piece of furniture has eyes, a mouth and a personality. Beyond the actual playhouse, the show jumps from live action to classic cartoons to claymation to (my favorite) the “Connect The Dots! La La La La!” session where Pee Wee jumps into Magic Screen to interact with a cartoon connect-the-dots creation. Pee Wee offers a myriad of visuals for kids to take in. I especially appreciate his throwback clips of 60s dancing or surfing.

Dual Watching Potential

I think the best reason to watch, though, is the show’s dual watching potential. The show played to kids and adults without being dirty, making it an ultimate watching experience.

Good for Kids

Pee Wee encourages imagination, kindness and fun. Each episode features a “Secret Word” that kids can learn to recognize by getting to “scream real loud” whenever one of the characters slips up and says the word. Pee Wee often offers simple crafts and recipes for kids to tackle on their own. And finally kids can learn how to be a good friend, as Pee Wee is always eager to help any of the characters that come by his house.

Good for Adults

The actors don’t talk down to their kid audience.  Sure, the plots jump around like a hyperactive bunny, and the conflicts are trite (Who will Pee Wee invite to his Hawaiian dinner?), but some of the jokes, references and interactions are meant for adult watchers. For instance, after watching an out of date Hawaiian history video, Pee Wee exclaims, “Wow! Now I know everything there is to know about Hawaii!” He offers a simple overstatement that will cause kids to clap and adults to roll their eyes. It’s good clean fun if you ask me.

So if you have some extra time on a Saturday morning (or any morning for that matter), pull up a chair and visit (or revisit) Pee Wee’s Playhouse.

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