Wednesday, February 29, 2012

First Impressions: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012 TV show)

Hey everyone, welcome to another installment of First Impressions. Today’s first impression will be of another remake based off a classic animated TV show from the 80’s,Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. However, it will not be done by me, but will be discussed by my friend/second co-founder of Old School Lane, Kevin. Aside from the interview I did with him about his upcoming movie, Collector, and the collaborative interview that we did with Caseen Gaines, author of Inside Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Untold, Unauthorized, and Unpredictable Story of a Pop Phenomenon, this will be his first post at Old School Lane. Please make him feel welcome and enjoy.

When I first heard that Peter Laird had sold the rights to theTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise to Nickelodeon, I was very skeptical to say the least. Nickelodeon, once a proud network that released classic animated shows such as Rugrats, Doug, Aaahh!! Real Monsters, Hey Arnold, and so much more is now known for taking other creations such as Dragon Ball Z, Power Rangers, Voltron, and even the Winx Club and putting it under their banner. This just proves to me that Nickelodeon needs to rely on other creations to stay on TV just to survive. After all, Nickelodeon hasn’t had a huge hit in a while. But like most people, I was judging a book by its cover. I wasn’t patient enough to find out what Nickelodeon was going to do with the franchise and I came to find out that they were taking the franchise to a whole new level, which is a good thing. Similar to what Disney is doing with the Muppets and Marvel Comics, Nickelodeon is not keeping the Turtles at bay. They’re giving the turtles a fresh clean slate that will please new and old fans of the show by having elements from the 1984 comic books, the 1987 and 2003 TV series, as well as a fresh new take. It will be a CGI series simply titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The show, from what I’ve seen and heard would be similar to the 2003 series in which the voice actors from the series will be new. Jason Biggs will be voicing Leonardo, Greg Cipes will be voicing Michelangelo, Rob Paulsen, surprisingly, will be voicing Donatello, when he voiced Raphael in the 1987 cartoon. Sean Astin will be the new voice for Raphael. Hoon Lee will be voicing Splinter, Mae Whitman will voice April O’ Neil, and lastly, Kevin Michael Richardson will be voicing Shredder.

I have to say that the voice casting is an excellent and interesting choice for the show. I’m glad that they were able to bring back one of the original voice actors from the original 1988 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show. Rob Paulsen has a extensive resume of voicing popular cartoons. To me, he will always be known for voicing Raphael and Mutagent Man in the original show. Mae Whitman is a talented voice actress. After voicing Katara on the popular Nickelodeon show, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Whitman can definitely bring the kind, sweet, and kickass role in April O’Neal. Also, it’s interesting to note that her mother Pat Musick was the voice of Irma from the original 1988 TV show. Richardson, who has provided the voice of the Joker of The Batman, has a knack for playing villains and I feel will bring justice to Shredder.  Also for Jason Biggs and Sean Astin, I feel that they will do a great job for voicing Leonardo and Raphael.

Playmates, who have been releasing Turtles toys in 1988, will be releasing two new series of TMNT toys. The first will be releasing from the new series, while the second will be devoted to the TMNT Universe and will be aimed for adult collectors. Very similar to what Mattel did to the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe releasing the He-Man Classics, the figures will have a style of the original 1988 show, but with a modern take. Each figure will come with a sewer base that will have the TMNT logo. Unlike the original Playmates figures, these figures will have several points of articulation. I look forward to these the most and will purchase them the first day. The toys are a must for any TMNT fan and I’m debating whether I should buy two: one for display and one to take out of the box.

Well, overall I’m very excited about this new installment of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and can’t wait to check it out when it comes out on Nickelodeon this fall. This is definitely a great comeback to one of my favorite cartoons of all time and I’m hoping that I won’t be let down from Nickelodeon. It hasn’t been easy being a Nickelodeon fan in recent years since most of their animated programs nowadays are either spinoff series based on their movies such as Kung Fu Panda, Back at the Barnyard, and Madagascar or really dumb cartoons like Adventure Time. But thanks to shows like this and Avatar: The Legend of Korra, I still haven’t lost hope.

That’s all for now. Thanks for hanging out with us at Old School Lane. Hope to see you soon.


Monday, February 27, 2012

First Impressions: Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23

Hey everyone, welcome to another installment of First Impressions. Today we’re doing our first TV trailer for an upcoming show on ABC called Don’t Trust the B—— in Apartment 23. While watching the Oscars last night, I happened to have caught the trailer and found myself intrigued by it, especially with one part in particular, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Here’s a vid of the synopsis of the show.
So yeah, pretty basic concept. A naive small town girl name June moves to New York and has this crazy, mean roommate named Chloe and causes nothing but trouble with her. It definitely reminds me of shows like 2 Broke Girls and New Girl, so this is nothing new based on the premise. Also in the cast is James Van Der Beek from Dawson’s Creek, Varsity Blues, and One Tree Hill as himself, which would be kinda interesting. But the icing on the cake is the trailer that I saw last night containing Chloe’s former roommates, which was hilarious, especially when I saw who Roommate #9 was. Here it is if you missed it.
Yeah, you know that Chloe’s a bitch when she messes with Miss Yvonne from Pee-wee’s Playhouse. Hysterical! 
Well, that’s it for now. Overall, really not much to say, but that it’s similar to the shows like the ones that I mentioned so I might check it out from time to time. Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon.

Video Game Review: Uncharted: Golden Abyss

Hey everyone, welcome to another video game review done by yours truly at Old School Lane. After going through a busy schedule with school and homework, I finally finished Uncharted: Golden Abyss for the PS Vita. This is the first Uncharted game not done by Naughty Dog, but instead done by Bend Studio, the same studio who made the Syphon Filter series and the surprisingly good PSP game, Resistance: Retribution. The Unchartedseries has been known for memorable characters, beautiful graphics, epic story, fun platforming, interesting puzzles, and unexpected plot twists. Can Bend Studio follow Naughty Dog’s footsteps of everything that we love in this series? Is this game worth getting a PS Vita or does it fall short of being an adventurous journey?
For a PS Vita game, the graphics look absolutely incredible. The jungles look lush and green, the water mechanics looks fluid, and the characters look quite realistic. Everything that you can expect from the visuals of the Uncharted series is there, which is quite an accomplishment for a handheld.
The gameplay mixes platforming, puzzle solving, and third person shooting, just like the other Uncharted games. It works quite well here with Golden Abyss. Also, you get to use a camera in the game to identify a few locales, which is a pretty neat feature. The only minor complaint is that shooting your enemies controls a tad bit different than the other games, but you kind of get use to it after a while. Plus, you don’t really shoot as much as the other series since it focuses more on platforming and puzzles, so not a lot of complaining here.
However because Golden Abyss is integrating with the features of the PS Vita, the game includes tapping on the screen for platforming certain obstacles and running your finger on the screen to slash at bamboo and other things. This feels very gimmicky at times, similar to using the Sixaxis in the first game, but it doesn’t happen very often, so it’s okay.
The game takes place before Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, so that means that there’s no Elena Fisher,  or Chloe Frazier which is a huge disappointment. Even Sully isn't the game for too long. We have some new characters named Jason Dante and Marisa Chase, who are interesting and funny, but not quite as memorable as Elena or Sully. It takes place around Central America where Nathan, Jason, and Marisa are looking for the an ancient lost city where an encounter of a golden abyss has been told, according to legend. The plot sounds somewhat similar to Drake’s Fortune, so it’s fitting. But, the story for me falls a little short of being an instant classic compared to the other games, but it’s still pretty good.
Extra Features
One of the most disappointing things about Golden Abyss is that there is no online multiplayer. With the other series, everytime I’m done with the main game, I go straight to the multiplayer and shoot the crap out of noobs as a warm-up, then play the co-op game of Uncharted 3 with my friend. With Golden Abyss, I played the game and then moved on with something else. You can play previous levels and find hidden treasures, which are a lot easier to find than the previous games. Other than that, there’s not much to it.
Overall, Uncharted: Golden Abyss is a great game to buy for the PS Vita, but falls a bit short compared to the other games in the series. But considering the fact that this wasn’t done by Naughty Dog, this game does the series justice, which is great. It seems that we have come a long way of other developers taken games that isn’t theirs and making it good. If only High Impact Games could have done the same for Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier, oh well. If you have a PS Vita, this is definetely worth a buy. Check it out.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Old School Lane celebrates the 25th anniversary of Contra

On September 26, 2011, Konami 's adventure game Castlevania celebrated its 25th anniversary. The stories involving Simon Belmont taking down the vampire Dracula has captivated many hours of dedication of my childhood and teen hood going through many hours trying to go through the frustrating levels and bosses. However, everytime I passed a stage, I had a moment of satisfaction and kept playing. On that day, I played a couple of levels of the Castlevania, as well as Super Castlevania IV on the SNES, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on the PS1, and the recent Castlevania: Lords of Shadow on the PS3. I'm sure that everyone did the same thing when they celebrated its anniversary. Oh wait, another important video game was celebrating its 25th anniversary last year that everyone paid attention more than Castlevania, didn't they? What game was it again?

Oh yeah, Zelda. Don't get me wrong, I love Zelda, but it overshadowed a bunch of other games that were celebrating their anniversary that deserved as much attention. But not today, Old School Lane is going to celebrate a game that is still loved by retro gamers, massicists, and shoot-em-up fans.

On February 20, 1987, Konami released Contra on the arcades in Japan. The basic story of the futuristic year of 2633 in which two commandos named Bill "Mad Dog" Rizer and Lance "Scorpion" Bean are sent on a mission to neutralize a terrorist group called the Red Falcon Organization that is planning to take over the Earth. With over 4 different gun power-ups to pick up along the way, over 10 levels of run and gun shooting action, and co-op play, this arcade game was very popular. So Konami decided to release the game in other video game consoles and home PC computers, but the one that people know about the most is the NES port of Contra that was released on February 2, 1988 in America. Japan would receive it a week later and Europe wouldn't get it until almost 2 years later.

The story is pretty much the same as compared to the arcade, with only a few slight differences. Instead of the game taking place near an archipelago in New Zealand, it takes place in an unknown island near South America. Also, instead of the Red Falcon being a terrorist group, they were the name of an alien entity. The aliens were reminising of the ones designed by H.R. Giger for the Alien movies. In this picture, you can see that they kind of look like the Facehuggers from Alien.

But what everyone remembers about Contra the most is the Konami code. For those who don't know it, you're either not a retro gamer, a Konami fan, or a hardcore gamer. Here's the code right here:

Most people think that the code originated in Contra, but it actually came from Gradius, a scrolling shooter game that was also made by Konami. The code gives you 30 lives instead of 3 lives and trust me, you're going to need it when playing this game. It's one of the most difficult games that ever came out on the NES, but not as hard as Ninja Gaiden or Battletoads. At least I beat Contra, which was not easy, even with the code. Remember this boss? Yeah, frustrating as hell, wasn't it?

Another thing that makes this game memorable are the weapons. All 4 gun power-ups from the arcade were brought to the home ports. You have the machine gun, the laser gun, the fire gun, and of course, the spread gun.

The spread gun is the stuff of legends. It's the most powerful gun in the game as it spreads the bullets everywhere and makes killing enemies easier and faster. It has been called one of the best power-ups in video game history and has been in every Contra game ever since. The spread gun is so popular to gamers that the logo has been put on t-shirts, tattoos, and other merchandise.

But what has made this game so great is its co-op play. During the time when NES games were limited to one player or the second player had to play after the first player dies. Playing this game makes it more easier and fun with a friend, unless that person sucks.

Critics and gamers loved Contra, calling it one of the best multiplayer games on the NES and the #7 greatest game on the NES by Nintendo Power. Still to this day, Contra has been loved and remembered as one of the greatest games to ever came out on the NES. The Contra series has had many sequels and spinoffs over the years, some better than others. My favorites in the series are Contra, Super C, Contra III, Contra: Shattered Soldier, and Contra 4. What are your favorite games in the series? Post it in the comments below and talk about your favorite memories of playing Contra.


Until then, celebrate Presidents Day with two shirtless commandoes taking down terrorists or aliens with awesome, overpowered guns. Happy 25th anniversary, Contra. May you have many more difficult, yet fun games in the future

Thanks for hanging out with us at Old School Lane. Catch you guys later.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Old School Lane interview with Caseen Gaines, author of Inside Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Untold, Unauthorized, and Unpredictable Story of a Pop Phenomenon

Around August 2009, Paul Reubens announced his comeback as his beloved character Pee-wee Herman. To start it off, a stage show based of his original 1981 stage show mixed with his hit CBS TV show Pee-wee’s Playhouse was going to be shown at the Club Nokia Theater in L.A. When hearing about this comeback, a high school English teacher from Hackensack, New Jersey named Caseen Gaines jumped at the chance to see the show starring his childhood hero. Along the way, he wanted to do some research about Pee-wee’s Playhouse and any behind-the-stories of this classic show. He was shocked to hear that there were no books containing that information and very little on the Internet. He dedicated two years of his life, interviewing over 200 people involved with the stage shows, the movies, and the TV show. On September 13, 2011, Pee-wee’s Playhouse celebrated its 25th anniversary.
I celebrated it with a couple of college friends who were also Pee-wee fans and we had a Pee-wee themed party. There was a buffet of 20 different cereals, we sat down and watched our favorite episodes, we watched Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, and we ended it dancing the “Tequila” dance. Less than 2 months later, on November 1, Caseen’s hardwork paid off as his first book, Inside Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Untold, Unauthorized, and Unpredictable Story of a Pop Phenomenon, was released in stores. To know more information about this book or if you want to purchase it, check out the website listed here:
Containing stories from actors, producers, artists, agents, and anyone else associated with Paul Reubens and his works and over 200 pictures never seen before, it chronicles the story of Paul Reubens from his early years at the Groundlings to the last day of his hit Broadway show on January 2, 2011. I already posted my review on this amazing book that you can check out here in the blog. Currently, his books are selling really well and he’s now traveling to different book stores and events doing book signings and interviews. Starting next week, February 24th, he will be at Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago, Illinois. For more information, check out this website:
Kevin and I had a chance to interview Caseen Gaines so I hope you will enjoy.
Patricia- Caseen, welcome to Old School Lane. Thanks a lot for taking the time to interview us.
Caseen- Thank you so much for having me!
Patricia- We have a lot of questions for you so I hope that you will be patient with us. (laughs) For those who don’t know about your book, can you please tell everyone a little bit about it?
Caseen- Surely.  Inside Pee-wee’s Playhouse is the one and only book that covers the entire Pee-wee phenomenon.  It starts off before Paul Reubens created the character and concludes with some speculation about future Pee-wee Herman projects that may be coming down the pike.  Did I mention it’s filled with over 250 color photos that are all rare or never-before-seen?
Patricia- As you know, I posted your book as one of my favorite top 10 Pee-wee Herman moments of 2011. (For those who haven’t read it yet, check it out right over here).

My Top 10 Favorite Pee-wee Herman moments of 2011

It was an amazing read and Kevin and I enjoyed it very much. What was the process of getting this book accomplished?
Caseen- First of all, I just wanted to say I was amazingly honored to have made your top 10.  I shared the link with everyone I knew!  Getting the book published was a life-changing experience.  It was a lot of work, but it was also very rewarding finishing the book and, more importantly, getting feedback from Pee-wee fans around the world.
Patricia- From what I understand, you’ve interviewed over 200 people who were associated with Paul Reubens from the stage shows to the movies and TV show. However, only 100 allowed their words to be in the book. You even interviewed Reubens himself, but he chose to save his memories and stories for a future memoir. Who else did you interview that you found their stories to be just as fascinating, but never made it to the book?
Caseen- Just to clarify, I actually didn’t speak directly with Paul Reubens.  I spoke with a lot of “his people,” but not actually him.  In terms of people I interviewed that didn’t make the book, a lot of them were animators and backstage crew.  There were so many people that worked on the show that I couldn’t fit them all in the book, unfortunately.
Patricia- A follow up to that question, the people who were also associate with Paul Reubens that you couldn’t get a hold of for some reason, who would you liked to have interviewed? Maybe E.G. Daily who played Dottie from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Rob Zombie who was a production assistant to Pee-wee’s Playhouse, Cyndi Lauper who sang the opening song, or anyone else?
Caseen- There’s a very long list of people that I had hoped to speak to that, for one reason or another, didn’t work out.  I won’t go through the whole list, but I can say that we came very close to having a foreword to the book written by Little Richard.  When that fell through, it was a little bit of a bummer.

Patricia- Wow, you almost got Little Richard? That’s awesome. Too bad he didn’t make it to the book. Anyway, Kevin’s ready for his first questions.
Kevin- Hi Caseen, I just want to let you know that I loved your book as well. For as long as I can remember, I always watched Pee-wee’s Playhouse in my playpen and had my Pee-wee doll with me. Now I’m a filmmaker working on my first movie and I partially credit Paul Reubens and his Pee-wee character for inspiring me to follow my passion in making movies. Reading your book has brought me back so many happy memories of me watching the show and the movies.
Anyway, I digressed. Here’s my first question: Phil Hartman worked with Paul Reubens for many years co-writing Big Adventure as well as playing Captain Carl in the stage show and the TV show. If he was still alive, what questions would you have asked him?
Caseen- Kevin, thanks so much for the compliment.  There are a million things I would ask Phil.  You know, Dawna Kaufmann, a woman who was a co-creator and the producer of the original The Pee-wee Herman Show in 1981 spoke so fondly about Phil that I really feel as if I’ve met him.  He really was the secret backbone to a lot of Pee-wee Herman projects and a true comedic genius.  It’s a real shame that he’s gone.
Kevin- Who was the most exciting and interesting person or people that you interviewed when doing this book?
Caseen- I think I had the largest freak out when I spoke to Suzanne Kent, who played Mrs. Rene, mostly because she sounds a lot like her character and kept slipping in to her Mrs. Rene voice!  Also, a lot of the puppeteers slip in to their characters’ voices a lot, too.  The very first person I interviewed was Kevin Carlson, who was Clockey, Conky, and Floorey from the second season until the fifth season.  He did a portion of the interview as both Clockey and Floorey and it was amazing.  I felt like I was really in the playhouse!
Kevin- If you have to pick another icon to write a book about, who would it be and why? Freddy Kruger, Ernest, Elvira, Steve Urkel, Ed Grimley to name a few.
Caseen- You know, that’s a great question.  There isn’t really an individual pop icon that interests me as much as Pee-wee Herman, but there are a number of films and TV shows I’d love to write about.  By the way, I’m not sure if you know, but Elvira was interviewed for the book.  She was an usherette during the original The Pee-wee Herman Show.  I had a great conversation with her about her character and the similarities between what she does and what Paul Reubens does with Pee-wee.  It was by far one of my favorite and interested interviews, even though very little of it made it into the book.  It was filled with wonderful tangents and digressions, much like the one I’m on right now.
Patricia- Back to me. Now Pee-wee Herman wasn’t the only alter ego that Paul Reubens created while he was at the Groundlings. He portrayed many characters such as Jay Longtoe, the Native American who danced on his toes. If Pee-wee never existed, which of these other alter-egos do you think would have been his magnum opus?
Caseen- I don’t really know if any of those other characters would have stuck like Pee-wee did, at least in the way that they were being presented.  Pee-wee really stuck because that character had a full-length show based around it, which was really the brainchild of Dawna Kaufmann, the woman I alluded to earlier.
Patricia- Speaking of Dawna Kaufmann, after reading the first chapter of your book, I was a little bit surprised and shocked reading her story. What was your experience interviewing her?
Caseen- When I interviewed Dawna, the first chapter of the book had already been written.  I was reaching out to her for some more background information and, after I spoke with her, I realized I had to do a major rewrite.  She’s really a remarkable person who changed pop culture history and, unfortunately, has never received the credit she deserves.  I think the most amazing thing from her interviews how she had long since made her peace with the whole Pee-wee Herman stuff.  She’s an amazingly accomplished television writer, producer, and she’s since transitioned into writing true crime books.
Patricia- Now, when looking at the original show again, there were a lot of characters that didn’t make it to Pee-wee’s Playhouse. Hermit Hattie, Mailman Mike, Mr. and Mrs. Jelly Donut, and Monsieur Lecroc. Who did you think would have made an awesome entry into the Playhouse?
Caseen- I always loved the Jelly Donuts, even though they were in the show really briefly.  I think they would have been a great addition to the children’s show.  A character like Hermit Hattie would have also worked, I think.  Miss Yvonne could have used a female suitor!
Patricia- Well, a lot better than the Del Rubio Triplets, in my opinion. Anyway, I recently saw Pee-wee’s Big Adventure with a bunch of other Pee-wee fans at the library. Some of them even brought their kids who had never seen the movie before at this event. At the end, the kids were smiling and laughing while quoting their favorite lines while the parents were smiling and talking about fond memories on when they first saw it. Compared to other movies in the 80’s or even now, in your opinion, what makes Pee-wee’s Big Adventure hold up so well?
Caseen- Pee-wee’s Big Adventure is still one of my favorite films.  It sounds silly, but I think the movie has an honesty to it that makes it hold up.  It’s a super-simple premise with an outrageous main character, but it still feels like everything in that film could really happen.  The characters feel like real people — even Pee-wee!  I think that’s a real testament to the writers, Paul Reubens, and Tim Burton, of course.
Patricia- Regarding about Pee-wee’s Playhouse, there were so many people and characters that we came to know and love. However, for some, there were some characters that just seemed out of place and didn’t really get a lot of recognition or love. For me, it’s a tie between Mrs. Steve and Floory. What about you?
Caseen- I’m a big fan of Jambi, but I suppose he’s a bit of a favorite.  I like Dixie a lot.  She sometimes gets forgotten about.  I’m also pretty partial to the Playhouse Gang, since I interviewed a lot of them!
Kevin- My turn. For people who grew up with the show, what do you think that people have gained over it as compared to today’s generation with their kids’ shows?
Caseen- I think Pee-wee’s Playhouse appeals to kids and adults, which isn’t something I can say for a lot of kids shows nowadays.  I was flipping the channels the other day and saw this show called Doodlebops or something like that.  I couldn’t watch more than 45 seconds before changing the channel.

Patricia- Trust me, I don’t blame you. Sorry, Kev. Continue with your questions.
Kevin- If you could take any Playhouse memorabilia, what or who would it be and why?
Caseen-  I would have to take the red door.  It’s iconic!  Who wouldn’t want that?
Kevin- Besides Pee-wee’s Playhouse, what was your favorite show from the 80’s? Also aside from Pee-wee’s Playhouse, what show did you think was the most successful?
Caseen- I liked Muppet BabiesGarfield and FriendsAlvin and the Chipmunks, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I loved almost everything on Nickelodeon.  I’m not sure what was the most successful, but shows likeFull HouseSaved by the Bell, and Family Matters were huge when I was growing up — and also really popular with a wide audience.
Kevin- Do you think that Pee-wee had a crush of Ms. Yvonne?
Caseen- I think he did for sure, but I’m not sure if he knew it.
Kevin- I know that you own a Pee-wee Herman doll, just like me. Do you have your doll displayed or on its original box?
Caseen- I have a lot of Pee-wee Herman merchandise, including my doll, around the house.  I have a 40 inch Pee-wee Herman doll sitting on a child’s size Chairry in my basement.  It makes for a great conversation piece. Usually when I have guests sleep over, they request that I put Pee-wee in another room.  I have to remind them that Pee-wee lives there, the guest is just visiting!  I love that story, don’t you?
Patricia- I do. But here’s a story that I wasn’t too crazy about. Now when talking about Big Top Pee-wee, I admit that there are a lot of things about it that don’t make it as good as Big Adventure. The kiss, some of the characters, the love triangle, and Pee-wee being a farmer didn’t work for me. But when hearing the NPR interview from Paul Reubens in 2010 about his childhood growing up near a circus community and going to circus camp, I thought that was awesome. In my opinion, that would have been an awesome concept for Big Top Pee-wee if they would have focused on that a lot more. What changes do you think should have been done that would have made this movie as good as Big Adventure?
Caseen- I think Big Top Pee-wee focused too little on Pee-wee as a character.  The circus folks and the romantic interests really commanded a lot of attention and drove the plot.  Big Adventure is really all about Pee-wee and his quest for his prized possession.  Almost 20 years later, I’m still not sure how to sum up Big Top Pee-wee in one sentence.
Kevin- I do. It sucks! It blows!
Patricia- Kevin, those are two sentences.
Kevin- Alright then; it sucks and blows.
Patricia- That’s better. Although it sounds like you’re describing a vacuum cleaner than a movie, but I’m digressing. Back to the questions. One of the most memorable moments in Pee-wee’s Playhouse was snack time. I can remember making the frozen juice pops after I saw that episode at 4 years old. What was your favorite moment in snack time? Have you actually tried to make something from snack time after you saw it? If so, what?
Caseen- I also made frozen juice pops and ice cream soup.  Snack time was a great segment.
Patricia- Another one for me were the cartoons ranging from the old cartoons from the 30’s and 40’s to the Penny cartoons and El Hombre. Which were your favorites?
Caseen- I always loved the Penny cartoons.  I thought they were brilliantly animated and hilarious.  I still watch them on YouTube from time to time.

Kevin- Back to me, again. In the 80’s, there was another icon who portrayed himself as a man-child who became very popular with his movies and TV show, Ernest P. Worrell played by the late Jim Varney. Was there a comparison between Pee-wee and Ernest among fans?
Caseen- I think so.  I also liked Ernest a lot, although he was always very different to me.  Pee-wee was a smart, almost nerdy child.  Ernest, in my opinion, was a very dumb adult.  They were always opposite sides of the coin to me.
Kevin- In discussing the Christmas special, Patricia had mentioned that if there would have been a balance of celebrities between what Paul Reubens and the producers wanted and that kids would have wanted at the time, it would have been a bit better. I definitely agree since more than half of them only showed up for less than a minute. Here are some of the celebrities I would have loved to see at the Christmas Special:
Kermit the Frog and the Muppets
Big Bird and the cast of Sesame Street
Roger Corman
Rocky Balboa
Hulk Hogan
Michael Jackson
R2D2 and C3P0
Who would you have loved to see on the Christmas Special?

Caseen- I was a massive Sesame Street kid, so seeing Big Bird on Pee-wee’s Playhouse would have been awesome.  I would have loved to have seen some Sesame Street characters, maybe Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, and could we have gotten Howard the Duck, just for the sheer weirdness factor?
Kevin- I am a huge Muppet fan as well. Are you one? If so, do you have any Muppet memorabilia? How did you feel about the new Muppet movie?
Caseen- I do love the Muppets.  I don’t have any Muppet memorabilia really, but I did meet Carroll Spinney, who is the actor inside Big Bird, who is a proud owner of Inside Pee-wee’s Playhouse!  I thought the new Muppet movie was cute, but it fell a bit short of my expectations.
Kevin- I felt that way about the movie as well. Anyway, what was your reaction when you saw Pee-wee Herman at the Muppets magazine?
Caseen- I actually own that Muppet magazine!  I thought it was awesome.

Patricia- You know, Kev, Pee-wee was made into an Honorary Muppet.
Kevin- Yeah, I know. That was awesome! One more Muppet question: Do you think that the Muppets should host next year’s Oscars?
Caseen- The Muppets should have another late-night show.  Remember when they had that show in the late 90’s?
Kevin- Okay, Pat. Your turn.
Patricia- Thanks, Kevin. After Pee-wee’s Playhouse was off the air, Nickelodeon became gaining in popularity with the show Rugrats. However, most recently when doing research, I noticed something interesting. One of the writers for the show was Hey Arnold and Dinosaur Train creator Craig Bartlett, who did the animation for the Penny cartoons. The voice for one of the main characters, Tommy Pickles, was E.G. Daily, who played Dottie inPee-wee’s Big Adventure. The person who did the opening theme and some of the music was Mark Mothersbaugh, who also did the opening theme and some of the music for Pee-wee’s Playhouse. The woman who sung the opening theme for Pee-wee's Playhouse was Cyndi Lauper, who also sung a song called "I Want A Mom That'll Last Forever" for Rugrats in Paris. A few years later, Paul Reubens even voiced a character in one of the Rugrats Christmas specials. Big coincidence or subtle homage?
Caseen- Big coincidence, I think!  A lot of people who worked on Pee-wee’s Playhouse had no problem getting other work in the endless realm of children’s television.  I think your stats prove that to be true!
Patricia- Indeed. It’s time to discuss some major thinkers. I hope you’re ready.
Caseen- Go for it!
Patricia- Over the years, a lot of celebrities have been caught with huge scandals. Some more drastic and serious than others. Eddie Murphy was caught with a transvestite prostitute, yet when he was doing mostly family films in the 90’s and early 00’s, no parent forbade their kids from watching Dr. Doolittle or the Shrekmovies. Rob Lowe did a sex tape, yet no one complained or criticized him when he’s in Parks and Recreations. However, Paul Reubens did a lesser crime in the theater, yet to this day, he’s still criticized for it. Why do you think that after 20 years later, people will still not let that go in their minds?
Caseen- I think the fact that he was a kid show performer made a big difference.  Also, the fact that there was no line between Paul Reubens and Pee-wee Herman in the 1980’s made it very easy for people to go, “Oh my God, is THAT who you really are?”  I don’t think he’ll ever fully have redemption from that.
Patricia- Unfortunately, I think you’re right. Following up to that question, some of the greatest icons in history have had scandals or have had problems with a substanceof whatever sort. It seems that people seem to notice that than their great achievements.  They tend to make jokes about it. However, in recent years, that seems to change when great people such as Michael Jackson and more recently Whitney Houston have passed away and people finally focus on their great work. Let’s just say, heaven forbid, Paul Reubens passes away unexpectedly. Do you think that people would finally forget about his indiscretions and focus on his great achievements?
Caseen- I absolutely think so.  I mean, Paul Reubens has done an amazing service in this world as Pee-wee Herman.  Not only was the character entertaining, but it was inspiring to people like Kevin and a whole slew of other creative types.  He has achieved great things and I think a lot of people are being reminded of that with his recent Pee-wee appearances.
Patricia- He’s also an inspiration for me too. Right now, I’m working on writing two books that were influenced by Paul Reubens, his Pee-wee movies, Pee-wee’s Playhouse, and his recent comeback. One that I plan to make a series out of and the other one is a full on novel.
Anyway, I’m not sure about you, Caseen, but I feel that some things happen for a reason, no matter how bad it seems. I know that Paul Reubens had talked about taking a break as Pee-wee in 1990 after being exhausted doing all the work he did for starring, writing, producing, and co-directing Pee-wee’s Playhouse. However, I felt that he was going to go back to being as Pee-wee at some point, but “the incident” pretty much stopped that from happening for 15 years. When he came back as Pee-wee, from what I read in your book, dozens of interviews from fans, reviews from the stage shows, and the entertainment news, people had missed him terribly and were beyond happy to see him again, you, me and Kevin included. They needed a moment of happiness and laughter, especially with these trying times.
Now here’s my hypothetical question. If the incidents never happened and Paul Reubens made his comeback as Pee-wee without any changes, do you think that he would’ve gotten the same love, support, attention, and welcoming of open arms that he got?
Caseen- That’s a great question.  I never really thought about that.  For me, the separation anxiety of having Pee-wee disappear all of a sudden did add to my enthusiasm for his return, I believe.
A great example on people’s reactions to Pee-wee’s comeback can be seeing here in this Funny or Die video last October when Paul Reubens was promoting his upcoming Broadway show.

Kevin- Alright, Pat. Time to take a break from the serious stuff. My turn.
Patricia- Go right ahead.
Kevin- Paul Reubens has done a lot of other roles over the years, including voice work. I really didn’t like Batman: The Brave and the Bold, but I loved Paul playing as Bat-Mite. How did you feel about it?
Caseen- To be honest, I never actually saw his Batman: The Brave and the Bold stuff!  When it came out, I was deep in book promo, so I missed it entirely.  Shame on me!

Patricia- Speaking of which, Paul has done a lot of movie and TV roles over the years. What are your favorite non Pee-wee roles and why?
Caseen- I loved him in Todd Solondz’s Life During Wartime.  He’s fantastic. I think that’s my favorite non-Pee-wee role of his.
Patricia- Let’s talk about the new Pee-wee movie being produced by Judd Apatow. When I discussed it with people, I’ve gotten three different reactions: “Oh my God, I can’t wait”, “Oh, that movie has been talked about for years, it’ll never be done”, and “Really? Isn’t Paul Reubens a bit too old to play as Pee-wee? He’s way past his prime”. Let’s talk about the second statement: people that I know who play video games are calling it the Duke Nukem Forever of movies. If you don’t know about the game, it’s basically the sequel of a popular FPS game of the 90’s called Duke Nukem 3D. The character Duke Nukem was known for his one liners and over the top gameplay. The game was announced in 1997 but came out just last year after many delays. After it finally came out, critics hated it for being extremely dated, both the gameplay and Duke Nukem himself. Do you think that’ll be the case for the new movie?
Caseen- I totally remember Duke Nukem and didn’t realize a game had come out last year.  You know, I’m a big fan of Paul’s and hope the film comes out, but I think the longer he waits, the worse it will do.  I couldn’t imagine a Pee-wee Herman movie doing better in 2015 than it would have in 2005 or even 1995.  If it doesn’t get greenlit soon, I don’t even know if it’s worth doing, financially.
Patricia- Now, let’s bring up the third statement. I remember 6 years ago when Sylvester Stallone announced that he was doing Rocky Balboa and people criticized and talked about not seeing the movie just because Stallone at the time was 60 years old and they felt that he was too old to play Rocky. However, after I saw the movie at the theaters, people were cheering for him and chanting “Rocky”, “Rocky”! at the fight scene with Mason Dixon. They loved it. Now Stallone is going to turn 66 and he’s doing The Expendables 2.
When I saw the Broadway show on DVD, I loved it and didn’t think for one second that Paul Reubens shouldn’t be doing it. I saw Pee-wee and he still got it. Do you think that people will react the same way at first when they hear more about the movie? Do you think the same results will occur if the movie is a success?
Caseen- I think Pee-wee fans will go see it, but I don’t know how well a Pee-wee movie would do broadly.  I always thought the Apatow film would do really well if they took a cue from Pee-wee’s SNL digital short and added a bunch of cameos like the early Muppet movies.  That might get people interested in it.

Kevin- What would be your next project?
Caseen- I know, but I can’t tell you just yet!  It’s a good one though, trust me.
Kevin- One last question for me. When The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast was re-released in theaters, I saw that toy stores were carrying their toys and action figures again. Now that Pee-wee made a huge comeback and when the movie comes out, do you think that they should release new toys and merchandise at the toy stores?
Caseen- I’m a little surprised we didn’t see Pee-wee merchandise in stores with his recent Broadway run.  If he’s back on TV or on the big screen, I think we’ll see Pee-wee stuff for sure.
Kevin- Alright, that’s it for me. Thanks a lot, Caseen.
Caseen- Thank you for your awesome questions!
Patricia- I have a few more questions. Thanks for being patient with me. It can be established that Pee-wee Herman, his movies and shows has made a huge influence in pop culture. Movies, TV shows, music, art, and even commercials have paid homage to Pee-wee. What is your favorite homage? What was the last one you saw?
Caseen- I loved The Simpsons episode that you cited in your Top 10 favorite Pee-wee moments.  I nearly choked to death of laughter when I saw that!

Patricia- Nowadays, we see a lot of remakes based on popular cartoons and TV shows from the past. Most of them have not done as well as the originals and some of them have been downright awful. The best comeback I’ve seen in recent years is the Muppets. They went full force with their comeback; releasing hilarious YouTube videos, guest appearances on TV shows, and the movie. However, with Pee-wee’s comeback, it’s kind of the opposite. It’s a slower, but steady comeback. Whenever he appears on TV, such as the Spike TV Scream Awards last October and the guest appearance in Top Chef: Texas a few weeks ago, he becomes a huge trending topic on the Internet and people demand to see more. Which of these comebacks do you think is better: consistent appearances left and right all over the media or a slower, but steady comeback that has people craving for more?
Caseen- You know, it’s a great question, but I don’t know the answer yet. I think the comeback of Pee-wee Herman is sort of the first real slow roll out that we’ve seen of a major pop phenomenon like that.  Then again, if you think about it, The Muppets have had a slow roll out too.  Remember Bohemian Rhapsody a few years ago?

Patricia- In 2001, Paul Reubens had the opportunity to host a game show called You Don’t Know Jack, based off the PC game and the more recent one on the PS3 and XBOX 360. I’ve played both of them and see some similarities, while seeing some new stuff. I loved watching it, since it reminded me of those crazy 70’s game shows like Match Game in which the host interacts with the contestants and jokes around with them. I was very sad when it only lasted 6 episodes. Do you know if Paul had any involvement with the game show? Why do you think it didn’t last longer than it did?
Caseen- I enjoyed You Don’t Know Jack a lot, but I think the show was a little too wacky for primetime television.  Remember, game shows were, and still are, a bit out of style, so it’s hard for them to catch on.  For every Who Wants to be a Millionaire, there’s several more that lasted only a handful of episodes.  With that being said, I think a lot of people were turned off by Paul Reubens’ character.  He wasn’t Paul Reubens hosting the show, but Troy Stevens.  The show was obviously heavily scripted and, if you’re one of the few people who actually care about watching a game show to see people win money, You Don’t Know Jack wasn’t going to satisfy you.
Patricia- True, very true. Plus, as you said, other game shows at the time such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire,The Weakest Link, Survivor, and Fear Factor pretty much cemented that You Don’t Know Jack wasn’t going to catch on. However, it is a fun game show when you play it as a video game. It’s a lot of fun on game nights.
Here’s the first episode of You Don’t Know Jack for your enjoyment.

Patricia- One last question. Are you thinking about taking this book to the next level and probably make it into a documentary?
Caseen- I’d love it!  If anyone out there is a filmmaker and wants to talk, get a hold of me.  Kevin, I hope you heard that part!!!
Patricia- We were actually talking about that a week ago. We were thinking of  taking a huge road trip to all the places that were shown in the movies like the Alamo and the Cabazon dinosaurs. We could interview all the fans, the people who were behind it, get some rare clips and bloopers from the movies and show. You could definately join us, it’ll be fun. Anyway, Caseen Gaines, thank you so much for taking your time for this interview. Kevin and I really appreciate it. I hope that we get a chance to interview you again when you sell your 1 millionth copy of the book.
Caseen- You’ll be the first two people I’ll talk to!  Thanks for the fun time. You both had great questions.  By far this was the most thorough interview I’ve had about the book.  I appreciated it! :) KEEP IN TOUCH!!!
Patricia- We certainly will.
Caseen Gaines will be making an appearance next week, February 24th at Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago, Illinois. For all you Chicago or Illinois residents, head over to Quimby’s and check out the book signing. For more information about the book, check out
Hope that we catch you hanging out with us again at Old School Lane. Thanks so much for joining us.
-Patricia and Kevin