September 01, 2004

Good Night! Sleep Well!

During recent parliamentary hearings on broadcasting, the leader of the LDPR, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, known for his scandalous behavior and not always successful humor, offered himself as a candidate for the host of Good Night, Sleep Well, Little Ones!, the entertaining and educational bedtime TV program for preschoolers. Zhirinovsky promised that, as host, he would “lull the whole country to sleep in just ten minutes.”

Good Night Sleep Well, Little Ones! (Spokoynoy Nochi, Malyshi!) was first broadcast forty years ago, on September 1, 1964 and has changed very little over four decades. As a result, many associate it with the Soviet past – few TV programs, except perhaps the much-changed news broadcast Vremya (“Time”) and the never-ending In the World of Animals have had comparable lasting power.

Good Night revolves around four characters: the bellicose dog Filya, the mischievous pig Khryusha (whose name comes from the Russian sound for “oink-oink” – khryu-khryu), the talkative crow Karkusha (from kar-kar) and the upbeat rabbit Stepashka. Typically, the show features a cartoon as well as some educational material, e.g. elementary math, physics, chemistry, or anything from traffic rules to civic morality. Some young parents who grew up with Good Night cherish nostalgic memories of it and see it as one of the few programs that teach kindness; others feel it is a silly, short (only about 10 minutes) program with awful puppets. And yet, in 1997, Good Night won the national TV TEFI Prize for “Best Children’s Program,” and Khryusha was voted the program’s best character.

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