Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Christmas Special (aka Christmas at Pee-wee’s Playhouse) is a quick trip to the titular Pee-wee Herman’s (Paul Reubens, Blow) clubhouse where preparations for Christmas are underway.
Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Christmas Special is one of the most re-watchable of the holiday specials out there, quite possibly the most re-watchable live action one that exists. That is in no small part due to the number and quality of celebrity guests who appear on the special, paired with some catchy holiday tunes performed by some of those aforementioned guests. However it’s mainly due to the affection and goodwill that the character of Pee-wee Herman has engendered. The main theme of the special is discovering the true meaning of Christmas and understanding what the holiday time of year ideally would be in our world.
One of the best things about the special is that although they break new ground in that it’s the first time that any of the characters go outside of the playhouse for an adventure this special also encompasses every trademark of what made the Pee-wee’s Playhouse series so special. There’s the food in the freezer and refrigerator, there are the dinosaurs, there is the puppet band, there’s a secret word and visits from the mail lady and the king of cartoons to name but a few.
It’s hard to come down firmly on the side of a purchase of Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Christmas Special (Blu-ray) or not only because I feel as if holiday offerings sometimes come with their own set of caveats. In this instance the Christmas episode is part and parcel of Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Complete Series (Blu-ray) which was released on Blu-ray in 2014 and the special features found on that set relating to this special are also found here. However if you don’t have more than just a casual interest in Pee-wee then this might be the perfect little bit of the playhouse for you to own. It’s extremely re-watchable and the nostalgia factor will only continue to grow especially due to the passing of the celebrities who made appearances on the show, starting with Dinah Shore who passed away in 1994 and most recently Joan Rivers, who died in 2014.
In terms of technical specifications the video is preserved in its original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1. This is just one of those times when you’re going to have to accept that a remaster is not going to be something you get but honestly I don’t feel like it really detracts. It’s still a clean video track and any sort of muted nature of the palette or the aspect ratio only serve to heighten the nostalgia factor even more. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t love to see a full HD treatment given to the entire series in fact but I just don’t think it’s in the cards. And the audio is actually a track I’ve never encountered before, a DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track. It sounds clean and clear and there may not be a lot of depth to the soundspace but it is more than serviceable and especially considering the musical numbers it would be easy to find flaws if there were any. This is a well-produced episode and that’s that.
The special features include two audio commentary tracks along with a behind the scenes featurette.
If you like this Blu-ray so much why don’t you marry it?