Hey, I can see my Pee Wee again!

Pee Wee Herman is back on TV and all is right with the world.

Ok, fine, there are still people getting killed/maimed/decapitated/raped/etc. in Iraq. Everybody still shits in their pants when there's a loud noise in the subway. Guys are still hitting on 13 year old girls on My Space even though they KNOW it's probably a fat cop on the other end (and maybe they want that).

But Pee Wee's back on the air and for some reason that comforts me.

Cartoon Network's Adult Swim bloc was smart enough to put him back on the air at 10 p.m., unfortunately opposite "The Daily Show", but that's why God made the "Last" button on remote controls. Ever since "the incident" (involving a movie theater, his hand and his penis, among other things), Paul Rubens' appearances on television have been few and far between. A few guest shots on shows like Everybody Loves Raymond, but that was about it.

But for about four or five years, Pee Wee was my Saturday morning ease-into-the-day TV show, part of my hangover remedy. The staccato bursts of morning news only made my hangover worse (bombings, murder, corruption... forget it). But as I laid around there trying to find a comfortable position where my head didn't hurt as much, listening to the light chatter of Chairy, Globy, Konky (I sense a pattern here), Magic Screen, etc., helped a lot.

Of course, I know I’m too old for Pee Wee now. Hell, I was too old then. But I’m a sucker for a kids’ show that’s goofy enough for kids but smart enough to have an “edge” that an adult can appreciate, which hardly any of them have. I mean, you can be a dish of warm beef broth and “get” The Power Ranger or any of those Disney animated movie TV cartoon spinoffs.

But those little semi-mature jabs that they sneak into shows like Spongebob (OK, I used to watch that too, so fucking what?)? Thats' what makes it worth it. When Patrick and Spongebob find an abandoned baby clamshell or whatever the hell it was, and decided to raise it themselves, they automatically assume male and female parenting roles (Spongebob becomes the mom), which leads to a mildly amusing line at the end, as the now mature clamshell flies off and the two very close friends shed a tear over their little one flying the coop, Patrick gets all moon-y eyed and turns to Spongebob and says, “Let’s have another.”

(You may sound the nerd alarm now if you like.)

But Pee Wee was the king of the kid-show-for-adult approach to Saturday morning TV. Rubens toned it down a hell of a lot from the origins of Pee Wee, when the character was part of a late night stage show in L.A. intended for adults. ThereÂ’re a couple of videos out there somewhere of the show, which even then had some of the same goofy situations and
characters (Phil Hartman was Captain Carl from beginning to end), but it was a little more risque. He did stuff like "hypnotize" a woman and then have a puppet look up her dress while she was under the spell. Or the floating head Jambi receiving a packing containing the pair of hands he orders and saying, "There's been something I've been wanting to do with these for a long time.")

But on TV you had to wait for the little subtle jokes, the double entendres. (Like Jimmy Smits playing the Conky 2000 repair man and being asked seductively by Miss Yvonne to stop by her place afterwards and "fix a few things." Smits leered and replied, "Well, I always carry the right tool for the job...")

But Rubens just HAD to go and pound one out in a movie theater. That pretty much killed the show and I was left to watch the reruns on the 10-tape VHS collection I bought. Yeah, I was a fan.

But now I get to watch him again on television. There's something different about not having to pull a tape out, turn on the VCR, pop it in, wait for it to start up, watch the show, rewind the tape when it's done... no, Pee Wee is best just appearing on television on his own. Sure, I'm watching on a Wednesday night 10 p.m., but for that half hour, it's Saturday morning all over again.


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