Batatoon (partially found Portuguese children's programming block; 1998-2006)

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BatatoonLogo.jpg

The show's logo and its main hosts, Batatinha and Companhia.

Status: Partially Found

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)[edit | edit source]

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.[1]

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[edit | edit source]

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 final 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, leading to low audience numbers and eventual cancellation.[2]

Availability[edit | edit source]

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.[3]

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.[4][5]

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.[6][7][8]

In 2017, a show called Tudo Incluído aired on SIC, regarding the channel's 25th birthday. The show remembered several shows that aired throughout SIC's 25 years of existence, one of them being Herman SIC, a late-night show starring comedian Herman José, that ran from 2000 to 2006. In one of the clips shown, during the studio segments of Herman SIC, where Herman is simply the host and not portraying any characters, he mentions the alleged fight between "Batatinha" and "Companhia".[9]

On June 2020, Henrique Oliveira, TV director and owner of Miragem, the production company behind Batatoon, made an Ask Me Anything on /r/Portugal, on Reddit. At the end of the AMA, Henrique, who was often behind the scenes, said that he didn't see anything and, since "it was a live show that aired every day (...) we [Miragem] didn't tape the show. And I don't think TVI did it either, so I don't know if there's a video of the fight. Maybe someone taped it, back then." Henrique also adds that "I was there, the day it happened, but I didn't see it. I was backstage. I do remember Companhia coming to me complaining that Batatinha had kicked him harder than usual (every day Batatinha "fired" Companhia with a kick in the butt). We talked for quite some time about the case. And this is the truth of what I know about the case." [10]

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.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Batatoon (1998-2002)[edit | edit source]

Opening of Batatoon, circa 2000.
Ditto.
Clip from a Christmas special from 1998.
A sketch from an episode from 1999, featuring singer Dulce Pontes.
A clip from an episode, c. 2000/2001.
Ditto.

Super Batatoon (2002-2003)[edit | edit source]

The opening to Super Batatoon.
Alternate opening, featuring Batatá and Professor Eugénio.
An episode from the then-titled Batatoon, from 2003.

References[edit | edit source]