Slniečko (partially found Slovak children's TV series; 1979-1989)
Slniečko was a Slovak TV series that aired in Czechoslovakia from 1979-1989, the episode count ranging from 100 to 500 episodes.Slniečko has gained something of a cult status in Slovakia. However, despite people's ongoing interest in the series, it has not resurfaced in its entirety.
Slniečko originated on the Slovak version of Czechoslovak Television, the nation's public broadcaster at the time. There were four primary segments within the series:
- A segment featuring Slniečko (Sunny) herself. At the beginning of each episode, she would introduce the topic of the episode. She would also sometimes drop in from time to time to transition from one segment to another. Slniečko was a hand puppet whose fingers (as well as additional pieces) represented the sun’s rays.
- A segment featuring Raťafák Plachta (Big Nose Blanket). He was created as a parody of the elderly and politicians. He would often interact with the children on set, but would sometimes appear by himself as well. When with the children, he would attempt to engage in the activities the children were being taught, but fail each time. Sometimes, he would try to mislead the audience with false information, only to be rebuked by the kids. Plachta is arguably the most well-known character in the series, possibly due to his unusual appearance.
- A segment featuring a class of young children, often combined with the Raťafák segment. The main part of the show was a group of children who were taught an activity they would try to emulate or a moral they would try to demonstrate. Their teacher and sometimes a well-known personality would also be part of the segment.
- A puppetry segment, featuring more hand puppets. A very interesting segment, as the puppeteers would use their fingers to maneuver the puppets on a set. Some of the puppets also used a finger for the nose, as most notable with a mouse puppet seen in one episode.
In America, Slniečko is most well-known for the character Raťafák Plachta, who was played by Marta Žuchová and Dušan Štauder, who both hid under the Plachta costume and shared operating the puppet. Americans tend to think of Raťafák Plachta as creepy or horrifying.
A recent video by YouTuber Blameitonjorge described the character as "a horrifying puppet that moves in such a bizarre way". When he collaborated with fellow YouTuber PhantomStrider on a similar video, Strider described Plachta as "a foreign, Satanic entity of pure evil and horror". Another YouTuber, MrDachshund99, called the character "a corpse wrapped in a duvet", describing it as "absolutely horrendous". Raťafák Plachta is often confused as the main character of the series, as his notoriety far outshines those of the other characters in America. This is primarily due to this video which was not actually part of the series (it is a parody video by an unknown person using the disposed Raťafák puppet long after the show ended, with the audio of an infamous singing performance by TV host Mariana Ďurianová), but is often assumed to be.
In Slovakia, Slniečko is remembered as a half-forgotten edutainment show for small children, Raťafák Plachta is also one of the most famous characters from the series in Slovakia, but the country seems more divided as to whether the character is creepy or cute. Children found him unsettling and creepy because of his gigantism and baldness. He can occasionally be seen at random around the country, greeting fans, occasionally scaring people, and even boycotting the Olympics.
Several episodes of Slniečko are currently available on YouTube, most of which seem to be ripped from the series’ repeat run on Dvojka (the second channel of Radio and Television of Slovakia, one of the two successors of ČST) in 2013 and 2014. However, no VHS or DVD releases of Slniečko are available and RTVS is unable to release the entire series.
- Article explaining how Slovak TV shows were produced. Retrieved 11 Mar '21
- The builder of the Raťafák puppet's portfolio. Retrieved 15 Jun '21
- Some info on the Slniečko series (in Slovak). Retrieved 10 Jan '18
- A blog post compiled by testimonies of Slovakian viewers. Retrieved 10 Jan '18
- A video describing how the Raťafák Plachta puppet worked. Retrieved 10 Jan '18
- More info on the Slniečko series (in Slovak). Retrieved 10 Jan '18