Tag Archives: pee wee’s playhouse

From the Archives: The Pee Wee Herman Muppet Magazine edition…

It’s been awhile since I’ve waded into my personal archive of old magazine back issues and yesterday while moving something in the closet I saw a stack of them piled high and decided to scan through a few.  Next thing I knew I was organizing a hundred misc issues in stacks all around the office, flipping through every other one looking for fun stuff that I hadn’t seen in years.  I knew that if I completely gave into the urge I’d be sitting amongst them all night, so I decided to pick a stack and find something to write about.  At least then I’d feel like I did something productive with the time.  The stack I ended up choosing contained my entire collection of old Muppet Magazine issues, a publication that I’ve written about in the past (when they covered Weird Al, breakdancing, and Mr. T)  and one that I love dearly.

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While looking through the various issues, the one that kept going back to was the Winter 1987 issue that featured Pee Wee Herman.  Pee Wee’s been on my brain lately since he’s been filming his new Netflix film and I’ve been dying to see some footage cut together from it.  I’m really curious to see if he and the crew can recapture the magic of his 80s and 90s era flick.  I’ll probably love it regardless, I mean hell, I’m one of those fans that unironically loves Big Top Pee Wee, but it’s so rare for studios and performers to rekindle that magic when there are so many years between projects (for me Tron: Legacy and Mad Max Fury Road were some of the only ones that managed to do it successfully.)  I know that Rebuens has had a really great run with his Broadway revival of Pee Wee’s Playhouse, but I’ve yet to see it.

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Anyway, though I’m gonna take a deeper look at the Pee Wee interview in the Winter 1987 issue, it wasn’t the first time the magazine featured him, well kind of.  The previous Fall ’87issue had a pin-up of Kermit…er….Ker-Mee Herman…

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I love that they did these parody poster pin-ups in the latter issues of the publication (I have a Kermit as He-Man, with full mullet, that I adore.)  Is it weird that I can totally hear Kermit doing a Pee Wee impression while singing Tequila and laughing in my head?  Also, seconds before this Miss Piggy stepped up to him in biker leathers and said: “I say you give him to me first!”  Anyway, back to the issue at hand…

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Though I want to concentrate on the Pee Wee interview, there’s a lot of fun stuff in this issue (I mean holy heck, there’s a Johnathan “Weekend At Bernies” Silverman interview for crying out loud.)  Here’s a couple of ads that stood out for me….

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Before he won out hearts as the cocksure Buck in The Great Outdoors, Chris Young was a pitchman for Kool-Aid Koolers.  So it wasn’t just the Jetts pimping the Kool-Aid branded juice boxes back in the day.  Someone should have told him that only Cosby can pull off sweaters like that, and NO ONE can pull off Kool-Aid colored pants.  No one.  The other ad I wanted to highlight is awesome because of the great action-packed painted artwork for one of my favorite cartoons from the 80s, the Silverhawks…

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There were actually two variations of the same ad in the magazine, this one announcing the show coming to TV and another with the same art announcing the release of the first arc of episodes on VHS.  Guess this was one of those series that they had a marketing blitz ready to go!

Anyway, getting back to Pee Wee, the main feature in this issue is a 1987 interview by Kermit the Frog (or, um, Fred Newman)…

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I love that they chose to frame this article in a way where Pee Wee is living in the playhouse even when not filming, and very much in the spirit of the Muppets, the puppet characters from the show are all included in the interview.  I’m sure this can be cynically viewed as pandering to kids, but I see it as preserving the magic of the world these shows exist in.  Much in the same way that I don’t care for the hipster jokes about Muppets breaking the 4th wall to realize that they’re puppets (imagine the plethora of “art” pieces featuring x-ray images of Kermit with a human arm bone inside of him), I think there’s something to be respected about keeping the magic of a show like Pee Wee’s playhouse alive.

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Even though there’s nothing Earth-shattering in this interview, I love the thought of Kermit hanging out in the playhouse and talking about Christmas parties with Pee Wee.  Also, I imagine that the secret word of the day on Kermit’s visit was: “Yaaaayyyyyyy”.  So every time something said “Yaaaayyyyyy” everyone else would have to yell “Yaaaayyyyyy”.  It would be insane….

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The Essential TV Guide Fall Preview Issues of the 80s, Part 10: 1986!

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So last month during my blitzkrieg of Monster Squad shenanigans I had the opportunity to check out an (at the time) unreleased episode of Ken Reid’s awesome TV Guidance Counselor podcast where he sat down with special guest André Gower.  The episode is finally live and I highly suggest checking it out as it’s a great interview with Gower that sidesteps your typical questions as well as shedding some light on aspects of The Monster Squad that don’t get discussed a lot.  Ken has a real knack for conversational interviewing that keeps the banter interesting and strays from fanboy indulgences.  Listening to the episode got me in the mood to dig out my collection of 80s era TV Guides, so this past weekend I did just that and figured it’s been way too long (4 years!) since I took a look at a vintage Fall Preview issue here at Branded.  So I might as well pick up where I left off, which was the September 13-19 issue from 1986…

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1986 makes one of the first years where I actively started paying attention to prime-time TV, specifically first-run sitcoms.  I’d just turned 9 years-old and there were two new shows that debuted that felt like they were created especially for me (Perfect Strangers and ALF), so much so that for once I actually fought my father for control of the TV on certain nights…

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By this point I’d already become aware of Bronson Pinchot via Beverly Hills Cop and his role in After Hours (my mom used to expose me to some weird movies when I was a kid), and the bits and pieces I saw of him as Balki Bartokomous had 9 year-old me in tears.  This was the gateway drug that led to years of watching TGIF on ABC, way , way, way past when I was still enjoying it.  Regardless, to this day one of my immediate responses to good news is to initiate the Dance of Joy (usually with an imaginary partner that I “catch” at the end.)  As for ALF, that premise was just too insane not to watch.  I should also mention that I was still hip deep in my appreciation for pint-sized aliens (E.T. and Ewoks), and good ‘ol Gordon Shumway made that love a nice trifecta.

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This was also the year that I was introduced to the wonder that is Ernie Reyes Jr when I fell in love with a little show called Sidekicks!  What’s kind of weird for me is that at the time I had no idea who Gil Gerard was even though I was a huge fan of Buck Rogers.  Maybe I was too mesmerized by the tiny martial arts master to even pay much attention to the rest of the show…

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There were  a handful of other shows that I remembered watching at the time, stuff like Head of the Class, Valerie, Sledge Hammer, The Wizard, and even L.A. Law, but the other main show that really hit my radar that year was Starman (starring Robert Hays from the Airplane movies.)  I was a huge fan of the movie and followed along right into the series.  It was probably my first real bout of appointment television where I was really sucked into the story from week to week, and would freak out a little if I missed an episode…

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In the slew of new series that were released this year there were a couple that I missed at the time and never stumbled upon until I flipped through this issue.  Stuff like You Again?, the John Stamos/Jack Klugman series that is a weird mash-up between The Odd Couple and Silver Spoons.  Obviously the show didn’t make it as it would only be the next year before Stamos would finally hit it big in a little show called Full House.

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There was also a series that I’m super curious about called Together We Stand with Ke Huy Quan (Data from the Goonies), Dee Wallace (speaking of E.T.), and Elliott Gould.  It looks like a 80s modern take on the Brady Bunch, just with 100% more multi-ethnic adoption instead of merging two families.  I’m similarly curious about the dramatic series called Heart of the City which starred a young Christina Applegate and one of my favorite obscure child actors Johnathon Ward (first season of Charles in Charge and White Water Summer.)  Looks fun…

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There’s also Our House, though I both never watched it and never really cared to track it down, as well as a few other shows that I have zero interest in (like Easy Street with Jack Elam and Loni Anderson or My Sister Sam with Pam Dauber and David Naughton…)

1986 was not only a good year for sitcoms, but it was a great year for Saturday morning cartoons and shows seeing the debut of some of my favorite series like Galaxy High, Teen Wolf, and Pee Wee’s Playhouse!

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This issue also features some fun interior ads for new and returning shows…

Not to mention the debut of the insanity that is Zoobilee Zoo!

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Last, but not least I’m going to leave you with this advertisement for the ABC Afterschool Special, A Desperate Exit starring Malcom-Jamal Warner and Rob Stone (of Mr. Belvedere) which you can watch on youtube!

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A Super Fun Show…with Learning!

I recently stumbled across a pretty fun web series created by and staring Lexie Kahanovitz called Super Fun Show with Learning!  It’s a weird mix of animation, puppetry, and live action comedy that takes a dystopian, cartoon-addled look at the millennial generation’s experience.  Imagine Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by way of Kidd Video filtered through the lens of David Cronenberg.  After being downsized by a cyberpunk middle manager who only talks in corporate-speak, Sandy Childs, the heroine of the series, has to figure out how to survive with no money, mounting debt, and an addiction to personal electronics.

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There series homages Pee Wee’s Playhouse and Videodrome, with a little bit of Who Framed Roger Rabbit thrown in for good measure (specifically the tone of the shoe-melting scene.)  With an NES chiptunes soundtrack and the a color palette straight out of Windows 95 MS Paint, the first episode is a trippy look at modern problems with a playful injection of 80s/90s era nostalgia.  It reminds me a lot of another independent film project I had the opportunity to preview recently, Don Thacker’s Motivational Growth (which I’ll be talking about in more detail over at the Cult Film Club soon.)

The first episode is available for free on youtube, and Lexie and crew are hard at work on the second installment and have a kickstarter going to try and secure some funding.  I know I’m curious to see where the series goes, an she totally secured my dollars when she states in the KS video that the second episode will feature a sequence inside the TV that they need “…to make an amazing Tron suit…” for, so I backed the project.  If you dig what you see maybe you’ll be interested in helping to fund it too.  I will say, though it’s more or less pg-13, it’s more on the Videodrome side of things than say Kidd Video, so be warned ;)  If you decide back the project, leave a comment and tell ‘em Branded sent ya!