Batatoon (partially found Portuguese children's programming block; 1998-2006)
Batatoon was a kids programming block from Portugal, which aired on the television channel TVI (Televisão Independente) from November 1998 to March 2002, with a followup block airing shortly after and a short-lived revival in 2006. The show starred two clowns, Batatinha, performed by António Branco, and his sidekick Companhia, performed by Paulo Guilherme.
The block aired several animated series, such as Digimon Adventures, Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds, Men in Black: The Series, Godzilla: The Series, Sailor Moon, Cartoon Network shows such as Cow & Chicken and The Powerpuff Girls, among others. The program is perhaps best known for Batatinha’s catchphrase "Comando na mão, e carrega no botão!", which translates to "Grab the remote control and press the button," a quote that Branco would say whenever an animated series was about to begin, whilst holding an oversized cartoon remote control.
The interstitials were shot at a live audience, with Batatinha and Companhia providing a variety of segments such as slapstick comedy sketches, game shows, phone calls, and on some occasions, guest appearances of celebrities or mascots of the show’s sponsors.
Aired on weekdays in the evening, Batatoon's success led to the creation of merchandise, which includes studio albums, direct-to-video specials and its official magazine, which lasted until the programming block's third and final iteration, in 2006.
March 15th, 2002 Incident (Existence Unconfirmed)
On March 15th, 2002, the show was abruptly cancelled due to disagreements between António Branco and Paulo Guilherme, prompting the latter to leave the program. Rumour has it that the episode that was meant to air on that day was, in fact, broadcast. Several users online have claimed to have seen the episode on that day, stating that the heated arguments between Branco and Guilherme leaked into the show, culminating in both hosts insulting and beating each other live, causing panic in the audience, with the kids crying and/or covering their eyes. TVI then cut off the transmission as the situation worsened.
Despite Paulo Guilherme exiting the show, his character, Companhia, would continue to appear in the show's merchandising, most namely the official magazine.
Super Batatoon and 2006 Revival
Following the sudden cancellation of the original program, a follow up was created shortly after, titled Super Batatoon. While the format was similar to its original block, Super Batatoon added two new characters which replaced Companhia: a robotic doll named Batatá, and her inventor, Professor Eugénio; however, these two characters were quickly discarded and replaced by a purple monster named Max, changing the title back to just Batatoon. The end air date of this block is unknown.
A revival of the block began airing on July 23rd, 2006; however, unlike the original block, the revival only aired on Sunday mornings from 7 am until 10 am, a time period when most children were still asleep, which led to its cancellation due to low audience numbers.
Due to the nature of programming blocks, only a handful of interstitials and full episodes have surfaced online, with clips of the original block featuring Companhia being, in general, the most commonly available due to its popularity back in the day. The ‘’Super Batatoon’’ block has noticeably fewer uploads available, with the two versions of the block’s opening available on the production studio’s Vimeo channel and a couple of clips available on YouTube. Footage of the 2006 revival is seemingly lost.
The existence of the March 15th, 2002 episode is heavily debated among fans of the show, with several people claiming that they have seen the episode in question back in the day. However, many believe that the fight between Batatinha and Companhia live is nothing but a made-up story from fan speculation after the cancellation of the show and Companhia’s departure.
António Branco and Paulo Guilherme have addressed the alleged dispute on several occasions, albeit always in-character as Batatinha and Companhia, respectively. The hosts did admit in one interview in 2011 that heated arguments between the two actors did happen, but never stated that it happened live; further replies regarding the alleged episode were done in a humorous fashion, with statements such as “a lot of blood, tears and children flying happened that day” or “violence has always been a staple of Batatoon’s brand,” although admitting that they have cussed live by accident in some instances.
With the ambiguity coming from the actors whenever the topic is mentioned, and the persistence from the viewers who claim that the episode aired, the March 15th, 2002 episode reached the status of urban legend, being the subject of mockery and parodies, such as being always asked about the existence of the incident when both Batatinha and Companhia made guest appearances in episodes from the talk show Cinco Para a Meia-Noite (Five Minutes Before Midnight), as well as the short movie "Batatinha," which lampoons both the 2019 movie Joker and the incident.
As of 2020, TVI has not made any official statement regarding its sudden cancellation nor the alleged episode that aired or was meant to air on that day.
Super Batatoon (2002-2003)
- A blog post which describes the incident in detail. Retrieved 08 Jul '20
- News article announcing the 2006 revival. Retrieved 08 Jul '20
- A blog post which talks about the incident and its validity. Retrieved 08 Jul '20
- Video from Sábado where Batatinha and Companhia make peace (2011). Retrieved 08 Jul '20
- Interview with Batatinha in 5 Para a Meia-Noite (2010). Retrieved 08 Jul '20
- Clip from 5 Para a Meia-Noite’s sketch “I Never...”, where Companhia admits that he cussed on stage once (2018). Retrieved 08 Jul '20
- Clip from 5 Para a Meia Noite’s sketch “Pressure On Air,” where the host asks Batatinha and Companhia if the beating did happen (2018). Retrieved 08 Jul '20
- The short movie "Batatinha," which spoofs the movie Joker and the 2002 incident. Retrieved 08 Jul '20