Erich Asperschlager, DVD Verdict --The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway is a brisk 89-minute love letter to fans, reuniting Pee-wee with the characters and puppets from his stage and TV show. After an opening song and Herman-led Pledge of Allegiance, the curtain parts to reveal an exact replica of the Playhouse. I haven't seen Pee-wee's Playhouse since I was a kid, but when the lights went up on that set, I couldn't help but grin. If I was the kind of person who cheers at my TV, I would have joined the audience in raucous applause.
That infectious joy is the reason Ruebens' TV show became a hit. Like pure id with a red bowtie, Pee-wee Herman's childlike enthusiasm for the world makes everything, from a scrap of foil to a postcard from a pen pal, fun. AAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!! Yes, The Pee-wee Herman Show even has a "secret word" of the day: "Fun."
Although the show breezes through from beginning to end, it's an amazing juggling act of puppets, performers, props, and sound cues. The filmed performance has the benefit of second takes and reshoots, but the edits only polish an already sparkling gem. Under the direction of Marty Callner, the HBO special adds dynamic camerawork and close-ups to focus attention and punch up the jokes. The combination of stagecraft and TV wizardry makes The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway the definitive version of Paul Reubens' triumphant return, and Blu-ray is the definitive way to watch it.
The 1.78:1/1080i AVC-encoded image is packed with detail, from the glittery jewels of Jambi's turban to the fine weave of Pee-wee's signature grey suit. The hi-def presentation is saturated with color, and bright. At times, the image is too bright, with whites that threaten to blow out under the harsh stage lights. The quick camera movements and interlaced picture also result in some motion blur. Still, unless you were at one of these performances or somehow toured the TV set as a kid, you've never seen the Playhouse look better. Instead of surround sound, The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway (Blu-ray) audio is in uncompressed PCM stereo--but don't worry. It's a powerhouse mix, creating an open soundscape that feels like it was recorded live, while making sure everything from dialogue to musical numbers to the thousand live sound cues come through with clarity and kick.
The disc's lone bonus feature is a cast commentary with Reubens, Lynne Marie Stewart, Drew Powell, John Moody (who plays Mailman Mike), John Paragon (Jambi, and the voice of Pteri), Josh Meyers (Fireman Phineas, and several puppet voices), Phil LaMarr, Lexy Fridell (the voice of Chairy and Magic Screen), and Lance Roberts (The King of Cartoons, as well as the voice of Globey and one of the flowers). After a quick, standard def intro video for each of the players, the group rockets through the feature with a commentary that's every bit as energetic as the show itself. Reubens is funny, sweet, and genuine in his appreciation for this opportunity. He leads the roundtable discussion, which is full of behind-the-scenes information, comparisons between the old and new stage shows, and general camaraderie--extending beyond the end of the special for three bonus minutes of chat.
-Full review at dvdverdict.com