ON AIR STAR
00:00:00 | 3:02:50

DONATE!

close

FROM THIS EPISODE

Pee-wee's Playhouse Replay

This is Associated Press TV writer Frazier Moore Watching Television for KCRW, and getting wacky at Pee-wee's Playhouse.

For some of you, references to Miss Yvonne or the King of Cartoons or Jambi the Genie chanting "Meka leka hi, meka hiney ho!" just might draw a blank. But anyone who a couple of decades ago was a kid -- or was an adult drawn to really trippy kids TV -- should recall Pee-wee's Playhouse with fondness.

Well, it's back. None other than Adult Swim, Cartoon Network's late-night program block for the over-18 set, is rerunning Pee-wee's Playhouse Mondays through Thursdays at 11pm.

As you'll be reminded starting tonight, Pee-wee is a brassy, somewhat hyperactive lad with a snug gray suit, red bow-tie, and a stuttering giggle that, come to think of it, President Bush sometimes seems to be channeling.

His Playhouse? Ah, it's a candy-colored pleasure dome, like the world's coolest tree house, without even having to bother with a tree.

Viewers watching Adult Swim will be happy to find that, after two decades, Chez Pee-wee has lost none of its hallucinogenic, campy charm, and its characters are as loopy and diverse as you remember.

An oversize armchair named Chairy can give its occupant a hug. Conky is a robot engineered from boom boxes. Food in the refrigerator can sing and dance. Even the Playhouse's window frame can carry on a conversation.

Pee-wee's many human friends include Cowboy Curtis, an African-American cowpoke played by pre-stardom Laurence Fishburne. S. Epatha Merkerson, later to become a regular on Law & Order, plays Reba the Mail Lady.

But none of this adequately conveys the helter-skelter pace of the series. On being introduced to it the past few days, my 11-year-old son called it "the most random show I ever saw," which from him I took to be high praise.

Created by and starring Paul Reubens, Pee-wee's Playhouse premiered on CBS' Saturday kids' lineup in September, 1986. But five years and 22 Emmys later, when Reubens was arrested inside an adult movie theater, CBS padlocked Pee-wee's Playhouse door.

Now it's open again, and visiting is as much fun as ever. Plus, the hours are more convenient. Maybe late-night is where the show always belonged.

Meanwhile, I find life experiences have added to my appreciation of the show, beyond its original run all those Saturday mornings ago. Since then I have passed from my former state -- call it arrested adolescence -- to my current status as a would-be adult and, as I mentioned before, a father.

And watching now I am struck by how right, how dead-on, Paul Reubens got his portrayal of a little boy. Never mind the, um, lipstick and those white bucks -- Pee-wee embodies universal traits of boyhood: He is irrepressible, silly, bratty, sweet, imaginative, always ready for fun, and always ready to be pleased with himself. Much like the little boy I've lived with since 1994.

And like him, Pee-wee is outspoken, passionate to put across important sentiments: "I love my toys," he declares. "But I'm not gonna marry 'em!" Understood.

As a father, I find Pee-wee's Playhouse isn't just funny and trippy, but also strikes pretty close to home. Long after I first met him, Pee-wee has been authenticated in a way I never could have dreamed.

This is Associated Press TV writer Frazier Moore Watching Television, sometimes with my son, for KCRW.

Upcoming

View Schedule

New Episodes

Events

View All Events

iTUNES SPOTIFY
AMAZON RDIO
FACEBOOK EMAIL
TWITTER COPY LINK
FACEBOOK TWITTER

Player Embed Code

COPY EMBED