Courtesy: Shout! Factory
When Pee-wee’s Playhouse first debuted on CBS’ Saturday morning children’s programming lineup way back in 1986, there was nothing like it on television at the time. Fast forward nearly three decades since its premiere and roughly twenty-five years since it ended its original run and still there has been nothing like it since. In the years since it ended its run the zany, one-of-a-kind children’s series has seen various VHS releases. But it had never received a proper DVD or even Blu-ray release. That is until 2014 when its complete five-season run was released on Blu-ray via Shout! Factory. Shout! Factory also released the series’ first two seasons in their own stand-alone DVD box set alongside the full series Blu-ray box set. And last Tuesday, Shout! Factory finished off it’s release of this modern classic when it released on a separate stand-alone box set, the series’ third through fifth season. Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Seasons 3, 4, & 5–Special Edition is another great addition to the collection of anyone that grew up with this series. Much as with the series’ first two seasons, the show’s writing continues here to make it stand out among other children’s offerings of the day. The writers continue here to exhibit such talent, crafting stories that both teach important lessons and concepts and entertain all at the same time. On a more subtle note, the continued inclusion of classic cartoons in various episodes adds to the enjoyment. the cartoons include more well-known pieces pulled from the Warner Brothers vaults and lesser known pieces, which is in itself important to the whole. that will be discussed later. Moving on for now, the bonus cast and crew interviews coupled with the audio commentary on the series’ special Christmas episode rounds out the reasons for audiences to pick up this box set. The interviews offer an extensive look behind the scenes of the show and its production. In its own right, the audio commentary included in the series’ Christmas episode offers its own insight into the show even if only on that one episode. But that commentary plays its own important role in the presentation’s whole when partnered with the set’s aforementioned positives. All three elements together show exactly why any kid and kid at heart will appreciate this final release from what is the most intriguing children’s series in television’s history. So many positives along with the fact that Shout! Factory would take on the series once more shows yet again, too why Shout! Factory remains the leading name in home entertainment to this day.
Shout! Factory has over the years gone slowly and quietly gone from being a little indie-home entertainment company that could to being the leading name in home entertainment. Partnerships with Nickelodeon, CBS, and other major companies have led to the release of some of the greatest movies and TV shows in the modern history of both mediums. Not only that but the releases themselves have proven far more worth the watch than releases from a bigger name such as Warner Home Video. Its latest release, Pee-wee’s Playhouse Seasons 3, 4, and 5–Special Edition is even more proof of both arguments. The arguments are supported mainly through the show’s writing. Just as with the show’s first two seasons, its writers have once again managed to balance its zany, one-of-a-kind look and feel with content that educates in its own original way. “Fire in the Playhouse” is just one example of the writers’ ability to balance both elements as it subtly teaches about fire safety when Ms. Yvonne brings over some bread to bake. “Front Page Pee-wee” teaches both a simplistic lesson about journalistic integrity and telling the truth alongside a subtle lesson about healthy eating. And “Playhouse For Sale” teaches its own lesson about spreading rumors and jumping to conclusions. The lessons and entertainment offered in these episodes each show in their own way the ability of the show’s writers to balance its educational and one-of-a-kind entertainment content. There are plenty of other episodes that exemplify that ability of the writers to craft such balanced stories. Audiences will see that for themselves when they add this box set to their own DVD library. It is not all that audiences will note that makes the set so entertaining, either. The classic cartoons that are used in various episodes actually play an important role of their own to Seasons 3, 4, and 5. That’s especially the case in an era when real cartoons are extinct for all intents and purposes.
The continued ability of the writers to balance the educational and entertainment content in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th season of Pee-wee’s Playhouse is its own important part of the whole that the show’s original audiences will all appreciate. Said audiences will appreciate that ability and talent in that in its own way, it manages to keep viewers fully engaged. It may even keep today’s younger viewers engaged. While it is obviously an important part of the whole, the cartoons incorporated into the show’s weekly broadcasts were also collectively just as important. The cartoons incorporated into the show’s last three seasons included both the more well-known Looney Tunes cartoons and a number of far more obscure pieces. The cartoons themselves serve as their own lesson on the history of both cartoons and television in general. When viewed as part of the whole of Seasons 3, 4, and 5, the cartoons included in each episode add to the series’ entertainment value, thus making it even more worth the watch. This is especially the case considering the fact that real cartoons have become extinct for all intents and purposes. Taking that into account, it makes the cartoons incorporated into each show all the more important an element of the whole and in turn shows once more why this box set is well worth the purchase by anyone that grew up with Pee-wee’s Playhouse.
The balance of educational and entertainment content within each episode of Pee-wee’s Playhouse in its final three seasons by itself makes for plenty of reason for the show’s now grown up original audiences to add this new set to their own DVD library. The entertainment and historical value of the cartoons incorporated into the show makes Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Seasons 3, 4, & 5–Special Edition all the more worth the addition to the library of any of the show’s now grown up audiences. Both noted elements play an integral part in the enjoyment of the set in whole. But they are not all that is worth noting in this set. The bonus interviews with the cast and crew along with the bonus commentary in “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special” collectively round out the reasons that audiences will appreciate the second and last set of episodes from the modern classic series. the bonus interviews with the cast and crew offer quite the insight into the show and its creation. Audiences learn how the show’s main characters were created and some of the cast and crew’s favorite moments in the interviews. The bonus commentary included in the series’ Christmas special is just as enlightening. Audiences will be surprised to learn right from the episode’s outset that the men’s chorus wearing the Marine outfits were not in fact Marines. The reasoning for the show’s heads to proceed with having a “Marine chorus” is just as intriguing to say the least. There is much more that could be noted. That would take far more time and space than is available to this critic. Along with the extensive amount of information shared through the episode’s commentary, audiences actually get two different commentaries. The first of the commentaries comes from Pee-Wee himself, Paul Reubens, and his . The other comes from those behind the cameras. And it is just as in-depth. Both commentaries coupled with the set’s bonus interviews shows just as much in its own right why these elements are just as important to the whole of Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Seasons 3, 4, & 5 as the work of the show’s writers and the cartoons included as part of each season’s episodes. Whether for those cartoons, the writing, or for the bonus material included in the set, all three elements prove key in their own way. Collectively, they show exactly why this final set of episodes from one of television’s most intriguing series is one that any of the series’ original fans should have in his or her own personal library.
Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Seasons 3, 4, & 5 is available in stores and online now at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-comedy/pee-wee-s-playhouse-seasons-three-four-five-special-edition via Shout! Factory’s online store. More information on this and other titles available from Shout! Factory is available online now at:
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