Paul Reubens was the most forcefully innovative and original television personality since Ernie Kovacs, period.
“Pee Wee’s Playhouse” lasted five seasons, ending in 1990. It was a show created by artists, and television has not been as bright since. Of course, TV still has clever programs occasionally, but it lacks the pronounced aesthetic that Reubens and company brought to a medium, which has traditionally been artistically undemanding .
A Wikipedia editor says:
The creative design of the show was concocted by a troupe of artists including Gary Panter (the art director), Craig Bartlett, Richard Goleszowski, Gregory Harrison, Ric Heitzman, Phil Trumbo, and Wayne White. The first day of production, right as Panter began reading the scripts to find out where everything would be situated, set workers hurriedly asked him, “Where’s the plans? All the carpenters are standing here ready to build everything.” Panter responded, “You just have to give us 15 minutes to design this thing!” When asked about the styles that went into the set design, Panter said, “This was like the hippie dream…It was a show made by artists … We put art history all over the show. It’s really like … I think Mike Kelly said, and it’s right, that it’s kind of like the Googie style – it’s like those LA types of coffee shops and stuff but kind of psychedelic, over-the-top.” Several artistic filmmaking techniques were featured on the program including chroma key, stop-motion animation, and clay animation.
An erroneous explanation for the show’s demise has entered the ranks of urban legend, as has Reuben’s fall from grace. Feeling burnt-out, Reubens had declined the option to produce a sixth season and wanted to take a sabbatical. His arrest for indecent exposure in 1991 happened after “Playhouse” had already been canceled.