Flashback Friday: Pee-wee Herman

Say what you will about Paul Reubens…but there was a “train wreck” brilliance to his man-child creation known the world over as Pee-wee Herman. Equal parts kitschy, creative, confusing, quirky, and deranged (dare we even say, perverse?), Pee-wee is undoubtedly one of the more, um, unique icons of our 80s childhoods.

Personally, I love Pee-wee Herman. Pee-wee’s Playhouse was a standard part of my Saturday morning cartoon ritual from the beginning to the end of its 5-season run, and I loved every minute. There was nothing on TV quite like Pee-wee and his cavalcade of insanity: the secret word ritual, the bizarre talking furniture, Jambi (WTF does “Mekka Lekka Hi-Mekka Hiney Ho” mean?), giant underpants!, the kooky neighbors and friends…Miss Yvonne, the King of Cartoons, Captain Carl (Phil Hartman?), Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne?!?). It was weekly weirdness injections in 30-minute doses.

See the little guy to the right of this entry? He’s mine. That was the scooter that Pee-wee would ride off on at the end of each show. The weird helmet came about toward the end, I guess in response to national bike helmet laws that had recently been passed. See? Pee-wee was always trying to teach us positive lessons.

And Pee-wee’s Big Adventure? Don’t even get me started. I watched that movie so regularly, it was like my own personal religion for a while. Why? I have no friggin’ clue. But it had loads of everything that used to make me laugh. Actually, after watching some clips now on YouTube, I realize that it still makes me laugh. Why I don’t own this movie is beyond me.

Know which part used to make me laugh the most? It’s this:

I think I may have just squeed a little while watching that clip again.

Reubens’s legal run-ins tarnished Pee-wee Herman, especially the mysterious 2002 child pornography charges that were somehow related to more explicit charges against Jeffrey “Ed Rooney” Jones. Reubens’s charges were expunged from his record; Jones is now a registered sex offender. Reubens had made an announcement the year prior to these charges that he intended to bring back Pee-wee. Obviously, those plans were curtailed.

Until now. A movie version of Pee-wee’s Playhouse is currently in production, starring a now nearly 60-year-old Paul Reubens. Talk about getting a “no” feeling. I’d much rather watch the original show than this. Netflix currently has the first two seasons for rent along with the more adult 1983 Pee-wee Herman Show. I also just discovered that they have Pee-wee’s Big Adventure for instant watching pleasure.

Hmm. Um, I’ve gotta go now. Very important meeting I forgot I had to attend. Yah. Now it’s time for a Penny cartoon!!