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The Pee-Wee Herman Show On Broadway Blu-ray Review

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#1 of 1 Timothy E

Timothy E

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Posted October 04 2011 - 01:06 PM

The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway is the filmed version of the stage presentation that began with a limited run at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles in 2010 prior to moving to the Great White Way that same year for its engagement at the Steven Sondheim Theatre. This filmed version has aired previously on HBO, which is appropriate since HBO aired the original Pee-Wee Herman Show in 1981.


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THE PEE-WEE HERMAN SHOW

ON BROADWAY BLU-RAY


Studio: Image

Year: 2010

Rated: Not Rated

Film Length: 1 hour, 28 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1080i High Definition Widescreen(1.78:1)

Audio: English Uncompressed PCM Stereo


Release Date: October 4, 2011


The Film


Pee-Wee Herman is an alter ego of comedian Paul Reubens, who developed the character in the late 1970s during his stint with the Groundlings improv group. Reubens appeared as the character in 1980 in Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie. In 1981, The Pee-Wee Herman Show aired as an HBO special. In 1985, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure was released theatrically with direction by Tim Burton. In 1986, a Saturday morning TV series premiered on CBS-TV entitled Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. The series included several supporting characters from the HBO special and many new characters as well. The original HBO special was directed primarily toward adults, and the same may be said of the TV series, even though the tone was less adult and the series had many child fans as well. A second theatrical film, Big Top Pee-Wee, was released in 1988 to lesser acclaim than the original film. Pee-wee’s Playhouse was canceled in 1991, the same year as Paul Reubens’ notorious arrest for public indecency in an adult movie theater in Florida.


The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway has much more in common with the Pee-Wee’s Playhouse TV series than the original HBO special. The set design and characters of the stage show are based specifically on the TV series, which had many characters that were not part of the original HBO special. Returning actors from the TV series include John Paragon and Lynne Marie Stewart, in addition to Paul Reubens as Pee-Wee. Cowboy Curtis was played originally in the TV series by Lawrence Fishburne(The Matrix, C.S.I.) and is given a lively performance here by Phil Lamarr(Pulp Fiction, MAD TV).


It is a tricky proposition to do justice on film to a stage show. The live audience member has the freedom to let the eye wander in a stage show, whereas film is more restrictive as closeup images are selected by the director, not the viewer. Thankfully, The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway is adroitly directed and edited for film. The result must be more or less what Reubens intended, which is a stage show version of his celebrated TV show, with closeups used by the director much as they would have been on an episode of the Saturday morning series.


Video


The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway appears on Blu-Ray in 1080i. The result is that the image appears very much as it did in its broadcast on HBO HD. Colors are appropriately vibrant and contrast is excellent, which is particularly noticeable on the fine lines of Pee-Wee’s suit.


Audio


The uncompressed PCM stereo track is excellent. Dialogue is always audible and the mix is appropriate such that music and sound effects do not overwhelm as they often will in live performances. The surround effects are employed well for audience laughter to make one feel that they are sitting in the actual theater, except with probably better audibility than the actual theater.


Special Features


The special features are limited to a feature length commentary by Paul Reubens, Lynne Marie Stewart, and the other cast members. This is a very engaging commentary as the cast members have some interesting recollections which makes this feature recommended to fans who enjoy the main feature sans commentary.


Conclusion


The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway on Blu-ray is the next best thing to being there in the audience at the Steven Sondheim Theatre in New York City. If you ever enjoyed Pee-Wee’s Playhouse on Saturday morning television, then you are sure to enjoy this stage presentation that hews closely to the characters and concepts of the TV series. The video presentation, even though interlaced rather than progressive, is first rate, and the uncompressed PCM stereo audio is excellent. Although the only special feature is the cast commentary, it is a terrific feature and definitely recommended to anyone who wants to know more about the show. There are rumors at present of a new feature film being prepared by Paul Reubens and Judd Apatow(Knocked Up, The 40-Year Old Virgin). Until that project comes to fruition, however, one could do a lot worse than to have "fun" with the word of the day and enjoy The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway.







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