DVDs: Part 3

Gift guide

DVDs: Part 3

Pee-wee's Playhouse #1 (seasons 1 & 2) and #2 (seasons 3-5)

Image Entertainment, $49.99 each

Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special

Image Entertainment, $14.99

Before the indecent exposure, Blow, and that Elton John video, there was no Paul Reubens – there was only Pee-wee Herman. That man-child who had every kid's dream house: no parents, toys everywhere, friends streaming in, talking furniture, and a genie for good measure. Let's not forget the myriad future stars (Phil Hartman, Natasha Lyonne, and Larry Fishburne, to name the most famous). Ten discs and all 45 episodes make for pricey nostalgia, but young ones will still enjoy the fast-paced insanity that earned Pee-wee 22 Emmys. Luckily for parents, a moral usually wraps things up nicely. (Anyone else remember Randy the marionette taking up smoking until being set straight? Troubling.) Looking for a more concentrated Pee-wee fix or unwilling to drop a c-note? Perhaps the 48-minute Christmas special might satisfy. How can you not laugh at Oprah Winfrey getting hurried off the picture phone so Pee-wee can listen to Dinah Shore's extended remix of "The 12 Days of Christmas"? And who knew Magic Johnson is Magic Screen's cousin? And what is Grace Jones doing on a kids' special? Like Tim Burton's movie, the Christmas special appeals to both young and old. Long before SpongeBob SquarePants ripped off his style, disposition, and ponderous mixture of cult status and popularity, there was Pee-wee.

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