Mõmmi ja Aabits (partially found Estonian children's television series; 1973-1979)

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The title screen of the series

Status: Partially Found

Mõmmi ja Aabits (Teddy’s ABC’s) is an Estonian children’s television series that aired from 1973-1976 in black and white, and from 1976-1979 in color. Despite the series' ongoing popularity in its home country, the series has not resurfaced in its entirety.

Background

Mõmmi ja Aabits debuted on Eesti Television (ETV) in 1973. It was based on a children’s book called Karu-Aabits (The Bear’s ABC’s) written by Heljo Mänd in 1971.[1] At the time, Estonia was a part of the Soviet Union and, while it had color television, many programs at the time were still broadcast in black and white as a budgetary measure. The series features a bear couple as they teach their child, Teddy (“played” by a stuffed teddy bear), the Estonian alphabet.[2]

Not much is known about the black and white version, as it is completely lost. However, it is known that 17 episodes were produced in black and white. The story from 1976-1977 features Teddy on a journey to collect stars based on the letters of the Estonian alphabet. Sixteen episodes were produced in this version. Another seven episodes were produced in 1979, featuring Teddy in primary school, but these episodes are also lost.[3]

Notoriety

The series is known in the Western world for its strange-looking characters, created by having the actors wear large animal-themed masks, which leave the mouth visible so the actors can be seen speaking. The appearance and movements of the characters can be seen as off-putting or even outright disturbing to Western audiences.

The series is also incredibly low budget, featuring random errors. One error of note is in the intro to Episode 15, when the Papa Bear character shows the back of the very large Karu-Aabits book, instead of the front, before quickly flipping the book over during a pause in the song.[4]

A recent video by YouTuber blameitonjorge [5]featured the series. He described the characters as "taking everything fun and endearing about mascots, spraying it with chicken blood under a new moon, then setting it on fire". When he collaborated with fellow YouTuber PhantomStrider [6]on a similar video, Strider described the characters as "making Five Nights at Freddy's look like preschool daycare".

However, in Estonia, the series is considered a classic TV series. A continuation of the series was produced from 1998-1999, called “Mõmmi ja Aabits: 20 Years Later”, featuring much higher production values, better costumes, and less frightening characters (but still featuring a teddy bear as the Baby Bear character).[7] The characters from the series have maintained popularity in Estonia, continuing to make the occasional appearance in various media in the country, including a stage play produced in 2016.[8]

Availability

The sixteen episodes from 1977 and 1978 are available on ETV’s archive.[9] and on DVD (split into two volumes) [10] However, every episode of the black and white series is lost, as are the seven episodes produced in 1979.

Gallery

The intro of Mõmmi ja Aabits
Episode 2 of Mõmmi ja Aabits, with English subtitles

References