|Created by||Paul Reubens|
|Presented by||Pee-wee Herman|
|Theme music composer||George McGrath, Mark Mothersbaugh, & Paul Reubens|
|Opening theme||Mark Mothersbaugh|
|Ending theme||Mark Mothersbaugh|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||45 + Christmas Special (list of episodes)|
|Running time||23–24 minutes|
|Picture format||NTSC (480i)|
|Original release||September 13, 1986 –|
November 17, 1990
|Related shows||The Pee-wee Herman Show|
Pee-wee's Playhouse was an American children's television program starring Paul Reubens as the childlike Pee-wee Herman which ran from 1986 to 1990 on Saturday mornings on CBS, and airing in reruns until July 1991. The show was developed from Reubens' popular stage show and the TV special The Pee-wee Herman Show, produced for HBO, which was similar in style but featured much more adult humor.
A special one-hour primetime airing occurred on CBS on Wednesday, November 11, 1987. "Pee-wee's Store" and "Pee-wee Catches a Cold" were the two episodes shown that night.
Show creation and format
The Pee-wee Herman character was developed by Reubens into a live stage show entitled The Pee-wee Herman Show in 1980. It featured many characters that would go on to appear in Playhouse, including Captain Carl, Jambi the Genie, Miss Yvonne, Pterri the Pterodactyl and Clocky. While enjoying continuous popularity with the show, Reubens teamed with young director Tim Burton in 1985 to make the comedy film Pee-wee's Big Adventure. It became one of the year's surprise hits, costing a relatively modest $6 million to make but taking in $45 million at the box office.
After seeing the success of Pee-wee's Big Adventure, the CBS network approached Reubens with an ill-received cartoon series proposal. In 1986, CBS agreed to sign Reubens to act, produce, and direct his own live-action Saturday morning children's program, Pee-wee's Playhouse, with a budget of $325,000 per episode (comparable to that of a half-hour prime-time sitcom), and full creative control (although CBS did request a few minor changes over the years).
Reubens assembled a supporting troupe that included ex-Groundlings and cast members from The Pee-wee Herman Show, including Phil Hartman, John Paragon, Lynne Marie Stewart, Laurence Fishburne and S. Epatha Merkerson. Production began in New York City in the summer of 1986 in a converted loft on Broadway, which one of the show's writers, George McGrath, described as a "sweatshop". Reubens moved the production to Los Angeles for season two in 1987, resulting in a new set and a more relaxed work atmosphere.
Playhouse was designed as an educational yet entertaining and artistic show for children, and its conception was greatly influenced by 1950s shows Reubens had watched as a child, like The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, The Mickey Mouse Club, Captain Kangaroo, and Howdy Doody. The show quickly acquired a dual audience of kids and grownups. Reubens, always trying to make of Pee-wee a positive role model, sought to make a significantly moral show that would teach children the ethics of reciprocity. Reubens believed that children liked the Playhouse because it was fast-paced, colorful and "never talked down to them", while parents liked the Playhouse because it reminded them of the past.
The premise of the show was that host Pee-wee Herman went to play in a fantastic house (situated in Puppetland) known as the Playhouse, which was filled with toys, gadgets, talking furniture and appliances (e.g., Magic Screen and Chairy), puppet characters (e.g., Conky the Robot, Pterri the baby Pteranodon) and Jambi (John Paragon), a disembodied genie's head who lives in a jeweled box. The Playhouse was also visited by a regular cast of human characters, including Miss Yvonne (Lynne Marie Stewart), Reba The Mail Lady (S. Epatha Merkerson), Captain Carl (Phil Hartman), Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne) and a small group of children, The Playhouse Gang.
Although primarily a live-action comedy, each episode included segments featuring puppetry, video animation and prepared sequences using Chroma-key and stock footage, e.g., when Pee-wee jumps into the Magic Screen, as well as inserted clay animation sequences (some made by Aardman Animations, who would later make Wallace & Gromit) and excerpts from cartoons from the Golden Age of American animation, usually presented by the character "The King of Cartoons". Each episode also featured specially written soundtrack music by noted rock/pop musicians such as Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo), Todd Rundgren, Mitchell Froom and The Residents. The show's theme song performance was credited to "Ellen Shaw", though in her autobiography, Cyndi Lauper admits to being the actual singer.
Each episode usually contained a running gag particular to that episode, and/or a specific event or dilemma that would send Pee-wee into an emotional frenzy. The show had many recurring gags, themes, and devices. For example, at the beginning of each episode, viewers were told the day's "secret word" (often issued by Conky the Robot) and were instructed to "scream real loud" every time a character on the show said the word. Pee-wee would often say the word himself at the end of the episode, just before launching himself and his little scooter out of the playhouse through a hidden exit. During the closing credits, images of him were chroma-keyed together with footage of various roads and highways to make it appear that he was traveling along them.
CBS and Reubens mutually agreed to end the show at the end of the 1990–91 season after 5 seasons and 45 episodes. The last original episode aired on November 17, 1990. In July 1991, Reubens was arrested for exposing himself in a Sarasota, Florida, adult movie theater, prompting CBS to immediately stop airing its Playhouse re-runs, which were originally intended to air until fall of that year. The show was replaced by reruns of The Adventures of Raggedy Ann and Andy.
The art of the playhouse
The creative design of the show was concocted by a troupe of artists including Wayne White, Gary Panter, Craig Bartlett, Richard Goleszowski, Gregory Harrison, Ric Heitzman, and Phil Trumbo. The first day of production, right as Panter began reading the scripts to find out where everything would be situated, set workers hurriedly asked him, "Where's the plans? All the carpenters are standing here ready to build everything." Panter responded, "You just have to give us 15 minutes to design this thing!" When asked about the styles that went into the set design, Panter said, "This was like the hippie dream ... It was a show made by artists ... We put art history all over the show. It's really like ... I think Mike Kelley said, and it's right, that it's kind of like the Googie style – it's like those LA types of coffee shops and stuff but kind of psychedelic, over-the-top." Several artistic filmmaking techniques were featured on the program including chroma key, stop-motion animation, and clay animation.
The music for the show was provided by a diverse set of musicians, including Mark Mothersbaugh, The Residents, Todd Rundgren, Danny Elfman (who provided the score for both of the Pee-wee movies), Mitchell Froom, Van Dyke Parks, George S. Clinton and Dweezil Zappa with Scott Thunes (spelled 'Tunis' in the credits).
|“||Paul Reubens asked me to do Pee-wee's Playhouse, and I had some time, so I was like, yeah, let's do it.
Pee-wee's Playhouse was really chaotic. They'd send me the tape from New York on Tuesday. I'd watch it Tuesday night; Wednesday I'd write the music. Thursday I'd record the music, it'd go out Thursday night to them, they'd have Friday to cut it into the picture, and then Saturday we'd watch it on TV. And it was like really fast, and instead of writing an album once a year I was writing an album's worth of music once a week, and it was really exciting. It was a new experience and it was a different creative process.
The opening prelude theme is an interpretation of Les Baxter's "Quiet Village". The theme song, which originally followed the prelude, was performed by Cyndi Lauper (credited as "Ellen Shaw"), imitating Betty Boop.
For the final season in 1990, a new version of the prelude theme was recorded, and the opening theme was slightly edited. This plastered the season 2 opening on the season 4 episodes in all post-1990 airings and video releases.
Cast and crew
Many now-well-known TV and film actors appeared on the show, including Sandra Bernhard, Laurence Fishburne, Phil Hartman, Natasha Lyonne, S. Epatha Merkerson, Jimmy Smits and Lynne Stewart. Future heavy metal musician and filmmaker Rob Zombie was also a production assistant, and future filmmaker John Singleton was a security guard.
Season 3 (which consisted of only three episodes) included an all-star Christmas special featuring the regular cast, with appearances by Annette Funicello, Frankie Avalon, Magic Screen's Cousin played by Magic Johnson, Dinah Shore, Joan Rivers, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Little Richard, Cher, Charo, k.d. lang, the Del Rubio triplets and Grace Jones.
|Pee-wee Herman||Paul Reubens||The childlike "Host". Pee-wee is portrayed as an impatient and fun-loving child with dainty mannerisms and quirky facial expressions. While the character is typically cheerful and flamboyant, he occasionally threw childish temper tantrums.|
|Cowboy Curtis||Laurence Fishburne||A "cowboy" in the 1950s pop culture sense with a jheri curl mullet.|
|Captain Carl (first season)||Phil Hartman||A gritty, unshaven sea captain with a gruff voice, but a somewhat shy demeanor, he came by the playhouse to show Pee-wee interesting things from the ocean. His tolerance for Pee-wee's antics was often tested whenever he stopped by. Captain Carl was more adult-oriented in the HBO special and Miss Yvonne appeared to have deep feelings for him.|
|Miss Yvonne||Lynne Marie Stewart||A woman obsessed with beauty and cosmetics, who often flirted with Pee-wee and many of the other male characters on the show, she was given the title "the most beautiful woman in Puppetland" by the puppet characters (especially Mr. Window who would usually introduce her). Yvonne wore a large brown bouffant-style wig that she doesn't like getting wet, gaudy dresses and heels, and her appearance was always accompanied by some sort of theme music. She, like Ricardo, also has a medical background, as evidenced by her nurse get-up and actions in "Pee-wee Catches a Cold". Unlike many regulars, Yvonne appeared in almost every Playhouse episode, and in a few episodes, she even danced with Pee-wee herself. As a recurring gag, she flirted with many of the male visitors to the Playhouse, including a fireman ("I've got a smoke detector in my bedroom") and a robot repairman ("Is that a wrench in your pocket?").|
|Reba the Mail Lady||S. Epatha Merkerson||A mail carrier who was often confused by the rules of the playhouse, over time, she gets really annoyed at having to be screamed at in her ears. She also had a pet dog which Pee-wee recovered when she lost him. She rarely acknowledged the viewing audience.|
|The King of Cartoons||Gilbert Lewis (first season);
William H. Marshall (subsequent seasons)
|He showed a brief cartoon clip during his segment. His catch phrase was "Let the cartoon begin!" The original King of Cartoons used a film projector to show the cartoons (which he would aim at the lens of the camera shooting the actual show). On later seasons, the King would turn on a television set with a remote control. The king sometimes appeared unsure of what to do, and people like Pee-wee would have to remind him it was time to show a cartoon.|
(first season only)
|Roland Rodriguez||The playhouse lifeguard, he usually came into the house during snack time or during a gathering.|
|Ricardo||Vic Trevino||A soccer star with an apparent medical background. He replaced Tito after the first season.|
|Mrs. Steve (first season only; mentioned in "Fire in the Playhouse" of season 4)||Shirley Stoler||A frequent visitor to the playhouse during the first season, she enjoyed eating and "snooping around" when Pee-wee was not seen.|
|Ms. Rene||Suzanne Kent||A neighbor of Pee-wee's, she replaced Mrs. Steve after the first season. She is the polar opposite of Mrs. Steve, being much more tolerant and fun-loving.|
|Dixie (first season only)||Johann Carlo||A no-nonsense taxi driver, she introduced the King of Cartoons in the first season by playing her trumpet (frequently referring to him as "King Cartoon"). The character was dropped in later seasons and the King of Cartoons' introduction was done by the flowers.|
|The Playhouse Gang (first season)||Natasha Lyonne (Opal);
Shawn Weiss (Elvis);
Diane Yang (Cher)
|Three children who interacted with Pee-wee during the first season, they were replaced by three other children for the subsequent second season.|
|The Playhouse Gang (second season)||Vaughn Tyree Jelks (Fabian);
Alisan Porter (Li'l Punkin);
Stephanie Walski (Rapunzel)
|Three children who interacted with Pee-wee, but only in two episodes of the second season, their only notable personality trait is that Li'l Punkin never spoke out loud by herself, instead whispering in Pee-wee's or other characters' ears. She spoke occasionally, but only in unison with the other two, and once she sang "Broadway Baby".|
|Roosevelt||Unknown||A dog who often visits the playhouse. Pee-wee can understand what he says.|
Puppet and object characters
|Jambi||John Paragon||A blue-faced (later green) genie who lived in a jeweled box, he usually appeared once per show to grant Pee-wee a wish, often with unexpected results. Sometimes, he appeared more than once per show or not at all. His head was the only feature that always showed. His catchphrases included "Wish? Did somebody say 'Wish'?" (when somebody makes a wish), and the magic words "Mecca lecca hi, mecca hiney ho" (which grew more complicated as the show progressed).|
|Chairry||Alison Mork||A bluish-green armchair with eyes on the chair back, a mouth between the seat cushions, and armrests that flapped around, she occasionally hugged Pee-wee when he sat on her.|
|Magic Screen||Alison Mork||A screen on wheels that slightly resembled an Etch-A-Sketch, it flashed in an array of colors when not in use; it also showed films, and Pee-wee would frequently jump into the screen itself to interact with a fantasy land inside, usually to "connect the dots" (see below). Magic Screen once mentioned having a relative, Movie Screen. In the Christmas Special, Magic Johnson stated that Magic Screen and he were cousins. Magic Screen is addressed as "she" and "her" in the puppeteers' commentary, indicating that Magic Screen is actually female.|
|Pterri||John Paragon (seasons 1, 3–5);
George McGrath (season 2)
|A green Pteranodon and one of Pee-wee's closest friends, he usually acted like a young child. Pterri was afraid of thunderstorms (as revealed in "Rainy Day") and was very sensitive. He was often picked on by Randy and sometimes hung out with Globey. In the HBO special, The Pee-wee Herman Show, he worked for Captain Carl as a sort of "talking parrot" element.|
|Mr. Window||Ric Heitzman||The window to the left of the playhouse door when inside the playhouse, he had googly eyes and talked by moving his yellow window pane up and down. His role on the show was to introduce other characters (usually Miss Yvonne, Ricardo, and Cowboy Curtis), and occasionally serve as a means for Pterri to enter and exit the playhouse (though Mr. Window would only open up his "mouth" about half to two-thirds of the time).|
|Clockey||Kevin Carlson||A yellow and red clock shaped like a map of the United States, he often introduced "Penny" cartoons and the like by asking Pee-wee, "Do you know what time it is?... Time for a Penny cartoon (etc.)!." He originated in the HBO special acting in a similar manner.|
|Conky 2000||Gregory Harrison (season 1);
Kevin Carlson (subsequent seasons)
|The playhouse robot, he gave Pee-wee the "secret word" each week and served as a "brain" element in the show. He spoke with a stutter, and was made from various parts of old electronics, including old camera attachments (eyes), a boombox (chest), phonograph (torso), and a cash register with no keys (head), and a vacuum cleaner hood as the top skull. The robot referred to himself as "Conky 2000" (after the first season, though he used this in episode #3 in the first season) when Pee-wee turned him on. According to evidence suggested in the episode "Conky's Breakdown", there may be more than one Conky robot. Further evidence of this is that Pee-Wee has a different model of Conky in the 2010 Broadway show based on the series, which has an updated design and refers to himself this time as "Conky 3000".|
|Globey||George McGrath||A spinning globe with a pair of arms at the base and a large face in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Globey spoke with a French-sounding accent and often helped Pee-wee out with geography, language, astronomy or history questions. He sometimes hung out with Pterri, and, like Pterri, acted in the manner typical of a young child. He was redesigned after the first season.|
|Puppet Band||Wayne White (Dirty Dog)
Ric Heitzman (Cool Cat)
Alison Mork (Chicky Baby)
|Three animal puppets who comprise a 1950s'-style jazz combo, they live in a corridor of the Playhouse designed to resemble an alley. They normally spoke in rhyme, parodying Beat generation poetry. Dirty Dog's appearance was slightly modified after the first season.|
|Mr. Kite||Wayne White||A pink kite, he occasionally appeared in one of the playhouse windows. Pee-wee would ask for weather reports and Mr. Kite would tell Pee-wee what the weather was going to be like. Sometimes, Mr. Kite would assist Mr. Window into introducing who was approaching the playhouse.|
|Randy||Wayne White||A red-headed marionette who served as the playhouse bully, usually making life miserable for Pee-wee and the playhouse characters. He once talked Pee-wee into prank-calling a woman (Alison Mork) who was the wife of the police officer Daryl (George McGrath) on the Picturephone, suggesting that he might be a juvenile delinquent.|
|Billy Baloney||Paul Reubens||A ventriloquist dummy, he slightly resembled Randy in appearance (but blonde), which Pee-wee himself operated on occasion.|
|Dog Chair||George McGrath||A white chaise longue, which was similar to Chairry but resembling the face of a dog, he sat next to Chairry, but was used and referred to much less often.|
|The Ants||Miscellaneous||Occasionally, Pee-wee would check to see what the ants were up to; a short close-up animated sequence would follow depicting the ants engaged in some "human" activity. On one occasion, they actually managed to get out of the farm causing them to be put back in thanks to a wish that Jambi granted.|
|The Dinosaur Family||George McGrath (Red)
Alison Mork (Light Blue)
Ric Heitzman (Blue)
Kevin Carlson (Pink)
|A den of miniature, clay-animation dinosaurs, they lived in a mouse hole in the playhouse. The camera view frequently zoomed in on the dinosaurs to see what they were doing. In the Christmas special, they are revealed to be Jewish, as they are shown celebrating Hanukkah.|
|Food||Miscellaneous||The contents of Pee-wee's refrigerator, these clay-animation food items included pizzas, vegetables, French fries and others that would dance and juggle to Pee-wee and friends' amusement.|
|These were three flowers living in a flowerbed in the window to the right of the playhouse door. After Dixie was dropped from the show, they introduced the King of Cartoons and then sing his theme song. The Flowers originally had distorted and robotic voices, but they were replaced with normal-sounding falsetto voices, beginning with season 2. In one episode from season 4, though, they sing in chipmunked voices. Casting rotated for each of the flowers.|
|Fish||Ric Heitzman (Purple);
George McGrath (Yellow)
|The fish lived in the playhouse aquarium. Their trademark was that often when something happened, the purple fish would make a snide remark regarding the situation which the yellow fish would follow up with a witty comment. Both fish would then cackle, an act reminiscent of Statler and Waldorf. As with a few other puppets/objects, they were redesigned after the first season.|
|Penny||Avriel Hillman||A clay animation short featuring a blonde girl with pennies for eyes, who described some situations in her life and daily activities. She reappeared later outside the show on public service commercials. About 37 different clay-animation shorts were featured on this show.|
|Knucklehead||Gregory Harrison (season 1)
Kevin Carlson (season 2)
|A large image of a side view of a fist, with "googly eyes" and lipstick who told bad knock-knock jokes, and then would cackle, reminiscent Statler and Waldorf. He had a bit part in the HBO special The Pee-wee Herman Show, but as a sock puppet who acted and sounded differently.|
|Cowntess||George McGrath||A life-sized, talking cow that spoke in an elegant accent. In one episode, she shows "home movies" of her visit to Venice, and a long shot of her riding in a gondola shows her to actually be a bull.|
|Salesman||Ric Heitzman||A full-bodied calcurated salesman, dressed in a tacky suit and a humongous head, he rang the doorbell and shouted "I'm going door to door to make you this incredible offer!" (occasionally, he could be heard starting another sentence, "I'm sure by now you have realized-") while a horror movie-style effect played in the background. This caused Pee-wee to slam the door and scream occasionally frustratedly saying, "Salesman!" This character was retired after season 1. In his final appearance, Pee-wee let him in during his party saying "What's the incredible offer?" to which the salesman replied "Today's incredible offer is free foil!" which Pee-wee gladly accepted for his foil ball.|
|Floory||Kevin Carlson||A section of the playhouse floor that stood up and talked. For the first season, he was covered by Pee-wee's tepee. After Pee-wee and his friends remodeled the playhouse, he emerged where Pee-wee officially met him and the tepee was placed in a different part of the playhouse so that Pee-wee and the others can interact with him.|
|Chandelier||Alison Mork||A talking chandelier with a French accent. She appeared in later seasons. In one episode, Chandelier wanted Pee-wee to take her to France which couldn't happen because Jambi was sick with the genie flu.|
|Magic Glasses||N/A||A pair of glasses attached to a hat that has a monkey's head and arms on them. Pee-wee would put them on him on occasion where he would see various things through them. The Magic Glasses usually would quote "put me on" before Pee-wee puts it on.|
|Exercise Belt||Ric Hetizman||A vintage vibrating belt exercise machine, Pee-wee would sometimes get on it, turn it on, then get stuck on it. Conky would usually have to get him out.|
|Toys||Miscellaneous||These are Pee-wee's strange toys he keeps in a smiley face-shaped window, with movable shelves inside. For the season two redecorating of the playhouse, their space on the wall was taken over by Clocky, and they were relocated to the back wall of the playhouse behind a door that looked like a tire.|
|El Hombre||Tito Larriva||A Spanish language cartoon, it was shown toward the later run of the series; it is about a superhero who stops crime, thwarts strangers, saves people's lives and rights any other wrongs. Six different clay animation shorts were featured on this show, and were usually used as a substitute for the Penny cartoon, but two episodes ("Miss Yvonne's Visit" and "Mystery") featured both.|
|Roger||Wayne White||A large, green monster that invaded the playhouse, he resembled a giant eyeball, had two mouths and one leg, and spoke in a language incomprehensible to Pee-wee until he wished he could understand the monster. Thanks to Jambi, Pee-wee learned his name in English. Afterwards, Roger talked to his mother on the Picturephone. During the conversation, Roger's mother said the Secret Word in their language at which point they both screamed while a bunch of symbols appeared on the screen. At the end of the episode, Roger left the playhouse with Pee-wee on the back of Pee-wee's scooter as Mrs. Steve got a glimpse at Roger. Roger made his second appearance in the "Pajama Party" episode as one of the guests invited to Pee-wee's pajama party.|
|Rusty||Calvert DeForest||A strange old man, he hung out with the Playhouse Gang in the first season – and acted exactly like them, if not more childish. Oddly enough, he wears a "Playboy" pin on his hat, among others.|
|Yvona||Lynne Marie Stewart||An alien, she was captured by Zyzzybalubah and locked in a cage as his personal slave. She bears a striking facial and bodily resemblance to Miss Yvonne and has similar theme music. It is implied by her in "Playhouse in Outer Space" that Zyzzy has kept Yvona as his slave for years (when she says "It's always been like this."). Pee-wee seems to develop feelings for her, probably due to her similarities to Miss Yvonne, for whom he also had apparent feelings.|
|Zyzzybalubah||George McGrath||A malevolent alien, he hypnotized Conky into making his own name the secret word and launched the playhouse into space. He calls anyone he captures his "friend", but Pee-wee sets him straight. When he was on Earth afterwards, he did meet the King of Cartoons during a picturephone conversation.|
|Dr. Jinga Janga||Bernard Fox||The genie doctor whom Pee-wee called when Jambi fell ill, he helped Pee-wee learn to appreciate Jambi and others.|
|Authorized Conky Repairman Johnny Wilson||Jimmy Smits||He fixed problems with Conky when he started to have a glitch.|
|Rhonda||Sandra Bernhard||The Picturephone operator who has a crush on Pee-wee.|
|Derek||Steve James||A firefighter who is Reba's boyfriend. He was going to take Reba to the firemen's ball, but it got canceled because of a fire at the ballroom itself. Left with nowhere to go, Pee-wee allows Derek and Reba to have their date right there at the playhouse. They played "drive-in", with Magic Screen as the screen and Pee-wee and Miss Yvonne as Derek and Reba's chaperones (possibly for a double date).|
At the start of season two, the show moved from its New York City warehouse studio to facilities at the Hollywood Center Studios, creating changes in personnel and a change to the set that allowed the show to take advantage of the additional space. The show changed production facilities again in 1989 during its fourth season, this time at the Culver Studios, also in Los Angeles.
As soon as it first aired, Pee-wee's Playhouse fascinated media theorists and commentators, many of whom championed the show as a postmodernist hodgepodge of characters and situations which appeared to soar in the face of domineering racist and sexist presumptions. For example, Pee-wee's friends, both human and not, were of diverse cultural and racial origins. In its entire run, Pee-wee's Playhouse won 15 Emmys, as well as other awards. Captain Kangaroo's Bob Keeshan hailed the show's "awesome production values". Adding, "with the possible exception of the Muppets, you can't find such creativity anywhere on TV."
"I'm just trying to illustrate that it's okay to be different — not that it's good, not that it's bad, but that it's all right. I'm trying to tell kids to have a good time and to encourage them to be creative and to question things," Reubens told an interviewer in Rolling Stone.
On November 1, 2011, in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the show, a book by Caseen Gaines called Inside Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Untold, Unauthorized, and Unpredictable Story of a Pop Phenomenon, was released by ECW Press.
Awards and nominations
- 14th Daytime Emmy Awards – 1987
- Outstanding Makeup – Sharon Ilson (won)
- Outstanding Hairstyling – Sally Hershberger and Eric Gregg (won)
- Outstanding Art Direction/Set Decoration/Scenic Design – Gary Panter, Sydney J. Bartholomew Jr., Nancy Deren, Wayne White, and Ric Heitzman (won)
- Outstanding Film Sound Mixing – Rolf Pardula and Ken Hahn
- Outstanding Videotape Editing – Paul Dougherty, Doug Jines, Joe Castellano, Les Kaye, and Howard Silver
- Outstanding Graphics and Title Design – Prudence Fenton and Phil Trumbo (won)
- 15th Daytime Emmy Awards – 1988
- 16th Daytime Emmy Awards – 1989
- Outstanding Hairstyling – Yolanda Toussieng Jerry Masone for "To Tell The Tooth" (won, tied with The Oprah Winfrey Show)
- Outstanding Videotape Editing – Charles Randazzo, Peter W. Moyer, David Pincus, and Steve Purcell for "To Tell The Tooth" (won)
- Outstanding Film Sound Editing – Steve Kirklys, Steve Michael, Peter Cole, Ken Dahlinger, Greg Teall, and John Walker for "To Tell The Tooth" (won, tied with Muppet Babies)
- 18th Daytime Emmy Awards – 1991
- Outstanding Graphics and Title Design – Paul Reubens, Prudence Fenton, and Dorne Huebler (won)
- Outstanding Film Sound Editing – Peter Cole, Chris Trent, Glenn A. Jordan, Steve Kirklys, Ken Dahlinger, and John Walker (won)
- Outstanding Film Sound Mixing – Bo Harwood, Peter Cole, Chris Trent, and Troy Smith (won)
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||13||September 13, 1986||December 6, 1986|
|2||10||September 19, 1987||November 21, 1987|
|3||2 + Special||December 21, 1988||1989|
|4||10||September 16, 1989||November 18, 1989|
|5||10||September 15, 1990||November 17, 1990|
Golden Age cartoons
During the show's run, many cartoons were shown from the "Golden Age" of animation, usually courtesy of the King of Cartoons. However, they were not featured with their respective titles, nor credited, and generally only brief clips were shown. As Reubens stated in a 2004 radio interview, almost all of the cartoons they obtained were in the public domain.
|First Season: 1986||Title||Year||Director|
|1||Fresh Vegetable Mystery||1939||Dave Fleischer|
|2||Ants in the Plants||1940||Dave Fleischer|
|4||Smile, Darn Ya, Smile!||1931||Rudolf Ising|
|5||Old Mother Hubbard||1935||Ub Iwerks|
|6||The Three Bears||1935||Ub Iwerks|
|7||Molly Moo-Cow and the Butterflies||1935||Burt Gillett, Tom Palmer|
|8||Flip the Frog: Puddle Pranks||1931||Ub Iwerks|
|9||Jack Frost||1934||Ub Iwerks|
|10||Mary's Little Lamb||1935||Ub Iwerks|
|11||Somewhere in Dreamland||1936||Dave Fleischer|
|12||Smile, Darn Ya, Smile!||1931||Rudolf Ising|
|13||Bunny Mooning||1937||Dave Fleischer|
|Second Season: 1987||Title||Year||Director|
|1 / 14||Philips Broadcast of 1938||1938||George Pal|
|2 / 15||To Spring||1936||Bill Hanna|
|3 / 16||Making 'Em Move||1931||Harry Bailey, John Foster|
|4 / 17||The Sunshine Makers (44 sec)||1935||Ted Eshbaugh|
|5 / 18||Piano Tooners||1932||John Foster, George Rufle|
|6 / 19||Philips Broadcast of 1938||1938||George Pal|
|7 / 20||Pagan Moon||1932||Rudolf Ising|
|8 / 21||Svatba v korálovém moři||1943||Horst von Möllendorff|
|9 / 22||Ship of the Ether||1934||George Pal|
|10 / 23||Musical Memories||1935||Dave Fleischer|
|Third Season: 1988||Title||Year||Director|
|1 / Special||Christmas Comes But Once a Year||1936||Dave Fleischer|
|2 / 24||Farm Foolery||1949||Seymour Kneitel|
|3 / 25||An Elephant Never Forgets||1935||Dave Fleischer|
|Fourth Season: 1989||Title||Year||Director|
|1 / 26||Hunky and Spunky||1938||Dave Fleischer|
|2 / 27||The Stork Market||1949||Seymour Kneitel|
|3 / 28||Spring Song||1949||Isadore Sparber|
|4 / 29||To Spring||1936||Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising|
|5 / 30||None|
|6 / 31||The Kids In the Shoe||1935||Dave Fleischer|
|7 / 32||The Song of the Birds||1935||Dave Fleischer|
|8 / 33||None|
|9 / 34||Little Lambkins||1940||Dave Fleischer|
|10 / 35||None|
|Fifth Season: 1990||Title||Year||Director|
|1 / 36||One More Time||1931||Rudolf Ising|
|2 / 37||Farm Frolics||1941||Bob Clampett|
|3 / 38||The Little Red Hen||1934||Ub Iwerks|
|4 / 39a*||Freddy the Freshman||1932||Rudolf Ising|
|4 / 39b*||Humpty Dumpty||1935||Ub Iwerks|
|5 / 40||Fin'n Catty||1943||Chuck Jones|
|6 / 41||Sinkin' in the Bathtub||1930||Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising|
|7 / 42||Freddy the Freshman||1932||Rudolf Ising|
|8 / 43a*||Allegretto||1936||Oskar Fischinger|
|8 / 43b*||Balloon Land||1935||Ub Iwerks|
|9 / 44||None|
|10 / 45||None|
* These episodes had more than one classic cartoon each
Later airings and home media
- The show currently airs on weekend mornings on IFC.
- On August 15, 1998, the show returned in reruns on Fox Family, but was discontinued in May 1999.
- Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block began airing the show Monday through Thursday on July 10, 2006. Adult Swim originally slated to end airings on the weekdays on October 19, 2006 and move the show to Sundays at 10 PM. In late December 2006, Adult Swim moved the show to Sunday nights, returning it to the schedule at 1:30 AM. It stopped airing on Adult Swim on February 13, 2009.
- Several episodes were initially released by Hi-Tops Video, the "children's imprint" of Media/Heron Communications, from 1988 to 1990. The first 8 tapes were released in 1988, followed by 7 more in 1989, and 2 more in 1990. They were then reissued on video by MGM/UA Home Entertainment in 1996, along with several episodes that were not released on video for the first time. Finally, all 45 episodes were released on DVD by Image Entertainment in 2004. It should also be noted that the Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special was released during each of these three times.
VHS, Betamax, and LaserDisc releases
Hi-Tops Video releases
- Vol. 1: "Ice Cream Soup"
- Vol. 2: "Luau for Two"
- Vol. 3: "Rainy Day" / "Now You See Me, Now You Don't" / "Cowboy Fun (Just Another Day)"
- Vol. 4: "Beauty Makeover"
- Vol. 5: "Restaurant"
- Vol. 6: "Ants in Your Pants"
- Vol. 7: "Monster in the Playhouse"
- Festival of Fun: "The Gang's All Here" / "Stolen Apples" / "Party" / "The Cowboy and the Cowntess" / "Monster in the Playhouse"
- Vol. 8: "Open House"
- Vol. 9: "Puppy in the Playhouse"
- Vol. 10: "Pajama Party"
- Vol. 11: "Pee-wee's Store"
- Vol. 12: "Pee-wee Catches a Cold"
- Vol. 13: "Tons of Fun"
- "Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special"
- Vol. 14: "School"
- Vol. 15: "Why Wasn't I Invited?"
Hi-Tops Video LaserDisc releases
- Fun-o-Rama: "Ice Cream Soup" / "Luau for Two" / "Rainy Day" / "Now You See Me, Now You Don't"
- Potpourri: "Just Another Day" / "Beauty Makeover" / "The Restaurant" / "Ants in Your Pants"
- "Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special" (also released by MGM/UA Home Video in 1996)
MGM/UA Home Video Releases
- Vol. 1: "Open House" / "Pee-wee Catches a Cold"
- Vol. 2: "I Remember Curtis" / "Conky's Breakdown"
- Vol. 3: "Pee-wee's Store" / "Playhouse in Outer Space"
- Vol. 4: "Pajama Party" / "To Tell the Tooth"
- Vol. 5: "The Gang's All Here" / "Party"
- Vol. 6: "Luau for Two" / "Now You See Me, Now You Don't"
- Vol. 7: "Fire in the Playhouse" / "Love That Story"
- Vol. 8: "Sick? Did Somebody Say Sick?" / "Miss Yvonne's Visit"
- "Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special"
- Vol. 9: "Dr. Pee-wee and the Del Rubios" / "Rebarella"
- Vol. 10: "Let's Play Office" / "Mystery"
- Vol. 11: "Front Page Pee-wee" / "Tango Time"
- Vol. 12: "Playhouse Day" / "Accidental Playhouse"
- Vol. 13: "Ice Cream Soup" / "Puppy in the Playhouse"
- Vol. 14: "The Cowboy and the Cowntess" / "Reba Eats and Pterri Runs"
- Vol. 15: "Tons of Fun" / "School"
- Vol. 16: "Why Wasn't I Invited?" / "Ants in Your Pants"
|DVD name||Ep #||Release Date||Notes|
|Pee-wee's Playhouse #1||23||November 16, 2004||Includes all episodes from Seasons 1 and 2|
|Pee-wee's Playhouse #2||22||November 16, 2004||Includes all episodes from Seasons 3 to 5|
|Pee Wee's Playhouse: Christmas Special||1||October 19, 2004|
|Pee Wee's Playhouse: The Complete Collection||45 + 1||October 19, 2010||Includes all episodes from Seasons 1 to 5 plus the Christmas Special|
|Pee-wee's Playhouse: Seasons 1 and 2 (Special Edition)||23||October 21, 2014||Includes all episodes from Seasons 1 and 2 (Remastered)|
|Pee-wee's Playhouse: Seasons 3 to 5||23||March 10, 2015||Includes all episodes from Seasons 3 to 5 plus the Christmas Special (Remastered)|
On July 3, 2013, Shout! Factory announced that they had acquired the rights to the entire series from Paul Reubens, which was released on Blu-ray on October 21, 2014. In addition, the entire series was digitally remastered from the original 35 mm film elements and original audio tracks.
|Blu-ray name||Ep #||Release Date||Notes|
|Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Complete Series||45 + Special||October 21, 2014||Includes all 45 episodes plus the Christmas Special (Remastered)|
- "Pee-wee's Playhouse". September 13, 1986 – via IMDb.
- TV Guide's 25 Top Cult Shows - TannerWorld Junction Archived January 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine TannerWorld Junction: May 26, 2004
- TV Guide Names the Top Cult Shows Ever - Today's News: Our Take TV Guide: June 29, 2007
- "TV Listings". The Blade. Toledo, Ohio. November 11, 1987.
- Lloyd, Robert (July 10, 2006). "Inside Pee Wee's Playhouse". Media World. Retrieved October 11, 2008.
- Phillips, Stone (April 5, 2004). "Pee-wee Herman creator speaks out". NBC News. Retrieved October 10, 2008.
- Robinson, Tasha (July 26, 2006). "Paul Reubens". A.V. Club. Retrieved October 12, 2008.
- Raftery, Brian M. (September 1, 2006). "Pee-wee Turns 20". Entertainment Weekly. p. 1. Retrieved October 6, 2008.
- La Ferla, Ruth (May 20, 2007). "The once and future Pee-wee". The New York Times. Retrieved October 6, 2008.
- Fear, David (October 20, 2014). "Pee-wee Herman Returns: Paul Reubens on Rescuing 'Pee-wee's Playhouse'". RollingStone. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
- "Pee-wee's Small Adventure". Time. July 13, 2006. Retrieved October 6, 2008.
- Lauper, Cyndi (2012). Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir. Atria Books. p. 129. ISBN 978-1-4391-4785-6. Retrieved July 22, 2012.
- Christopher Short (July 20, 2006). ""Pee-wee's Playhouse" comeback aimed at adults". The Gazette (Colorado Springs).
- Jill Vejnoska (July 10, 2006). "Pee-wee back with bizarre appeal intact". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. p. 1D.
- https://web.archive.org/web/20041213192022/http://www.rugratonline.com/1991tv.htm (Citation incorrectly states that this took place at a local Sarasota, FL bookstore; other points in citation are accurate, though.)
- ART TALK! – GARY PANTER – Part 2 of 4 (documentary). VBS.tv. Event occurs at 01:07–01:30.
- ART TALK! - GARY PANTER – Part 2 of 4 (documentary). VBS.tv. Event occurs at 02:29–03:00.
- "Interview: Mark Mothersbaugh", Cinematical, July 7, 2006
- "The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy and the Great Campaign". September 6, 1991.
- "Pee-wee's Bad Trip". The Nation. August 26, 1991. p. 213.
- P. Wilkinson (October 3, 1991). "Who killed Pee-wee?". Rolling Stone. p. 36.
- ""Pee-wee's Playhouse" (1986) – Awards". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 4, 2010.
- Keeshan, Bob (November 22, 1996). "Pee-wee's Playhouse". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 29, 2010.
- T. Gertler (February 12, 1987). "The Pee-wee perplex". Rolling Stone. p. 36.
- Gaines, Caseen (November 1, 2011). Inside Pee-Wee's Playhouse: The Untold, Unauthorized, and Unpredictable Story of a Pop Phenomenon. ECW Press. ISBN 978-1-55022-998-1.
- Inside Pee-wee's Playhouse – Book Website Retrieved July 29, 2011
- "adult swim schedule". adult swim. Retrieved January 31, 2007.
- "Pee-wee's Playhouse DVD news: Re-Release for Pee-wee's Playhouse – Christmas Special – TVShowsOnDVD.com". Archived from the original on November 12, 2013.
- "Pee-wee's Playhouse DVD news: DVD and Blu-ray Plans for Pee-wee's Playhouse – TVShowsOnDVD.com". Archived from the original on October 22, 2013.
- "Shout! Factory Nabs 'Pee-wee's Playhouse' Distribution Rights".
- "Pee-wee's Playhouse DVD news: Press Release about Pee-wee's Playhouse on Blu-ray Disc – TVShowsOnDVD.com". Archived from the original on November 4, 2013.
- Official site for Pee-wee's Playhouse
- Pee-wee's Playhouse on IMDb
- Pee-wee's Playhouse at TV.com
- Inside Pee-wee's Playhouse - Book Website
- ProgressiveBoink.com: "The 25 Best Pee-wee's Playhouse Moments"
- The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway
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