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5.0 out of 5 stars The Secret Word Really Is "Fun"!, 5 Feb 2012
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This review is from: Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway [DVD] [2011] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Paul Reubens Pee-Wee Herman character goes back to the late 1970s when he was part of The Groundlings comedy troupe (which included John Paragon and Phil Hartman), with possibly the first public appearance being in the 1980 movie "Cheech and Chong's Next Movie" (a role with more than a touch of "Mr Bungle" about it!), followed that year by his popular stage show "The Pee Wee Herman Show" which proved so successful he was eventually given his own movie, "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" and followed by his own Saturday morning TV series "Pee Wee's Playhouse" that toned down the more adult side of "The Pee Wee Herman Show" and introduced a whole bunch of mostly puppet characters to the mix. A hugely successful enterprise, it drew on vintage American kids' TV such as Captain Kangaroo and Howdy Doody but giving it a modern twist, with design coming from a mix of avant garde comic book artists and animators. Pee-Wee seemed to be able to do no wrong until in 1991 five seasons in he (or rather Paul Reubens) was arrested in an adult movie theatre, trial by media followed and Pee-Wee and to a large extent Paul Reubens dropped out of public sight, seemingly for good.

So in 2009 when Pee-Wee's return to the stage was touted, our "boy" was getting close to his 60s, a forgotten loner and rebel, could he really give us something of the calibre which we had been used to, or would we see a cheap, sordid cash-in on faded glory? This DVD shows you get neither, this takes the original Pee-Wee and takes it up a notch. Sure Pee-Wee is looking a little older, and there is a split second when Miss Yvonne (the most beautiful woman in Puppetland) comes on, a little plump and comfortably into her 60s, but this is immediately shattered with her glamourous style and flirtatious spiel. Cowboy Curtis has kept his youth thanks to a new actor taking the reins left vacant by the Larry Fishburne and Phil LaMarr plays the role seamlessly. Jambi does not appear to have aged at all as you would probably expect from a genie. Despite his age, Pee-Wee has never shown more energy, and the show has a frenetic pace that leaves younger and fitter members of the audience struggling to keep up.

The plot is the same as the original "The Pee-Wee Herman Show" - Pee-Wee wishes to fly, but gives the wish he is granted away so that Miss Yvonne can get Cowboy Curtis to "really like her" (in the original it was Captain Carl played by the late Phil Hartman who was the object of Miss Yvonne's affections, and there are some moments when Cowboy Curtis seems to be channeling Captain Carl, watch out for them ;) ). But this has been merged with the full array of puppet (and human) characters from the Playhouse (as well as a few new ones) fleshing out the action and adding some real substance. What you get is "The Pee-Wee Herman Show" and "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" all in one. The puppetry is particularly slick (at the end you see the cast come back including the puppeteers who outnumber the humans!) especially if you know that most of the voices are played by the human characters who once off set are immediately watching on monitors and providing voiceovers, and there is a new very clever scene when the Playhouse is plunged into darkness and there is plenty of suggestive humour as the characters grope (an aptly chosen word!) around in the darkness! There is so much attention to detail and not a moment goes by where you are not grinning, even on repeated viewings.

I can't recommend this highly enough, it is the most entertaining and funny DVD I own and I love it so much I'm thinking of marrying it. If there is one thing I am disappointed about it is the fact that this is a region 1 DVD - if HBO only intend to release it in the US surely it would have been more sensible to make it a region-free DVD?
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