Zuzubalândia (1998 series)
Zuzubalândia was a Brazilian live-action/puppet comedy series that aired on SBT. It was created by the animator/puppeteer/author Mariana Caltabiano, this being her first work of great recognition to the public. The program revolves around a world called Zuzubalândia (in the original book, was called Jujubalândia), a world where residents and homes are based on food and has as main character Zuzu, a arrogant bee who aspires to be a great singer. It was aired from April 13, 1998 to 2000.
- The show can feel like a rip-off of both Candy Land and Strawberry Shortcake.
- While the voice acting was great, Zuzu's voice was almost masculine, and her singing voice was extremely abusive.
- Zuzu can sometimes be very arrogant and unlikeable.
- Poor grasp on the source material: The designs of most characters are very different from the book Jujubalândia, the most exaggerated examples being: Suspiro, Pipoca, Brigadeiro, Maria-Mole and the King who seem to be practically other characters. Their designs can also be considered ugly or even hideous.
- Speaking of Brigadeiro, he resembles more a monster as a puppet than a kid.
- The design of Sushiroco (one of the new characters) can be considered racist, since he is a toothy Asian boy with yellow skin and closed eyes.
- Depending on your point of view Brigadeiro and Rei Apetite are also racist stereotypes, since the first is basically a dark-skinned chocolate boy and the second is a generic stereotype about Italian people being fat for eating pasta, often speaking with an accent and having a Mario-esque face.
- The script for the episodes is pretty dumb sometimes and can get boring often.
- Some ideas are very stupid, like for example: Brigadeiro transforming into Michael Jaca (a parody of Michael Jackson) whenever he hears someone say Jaca (jackfruit).
- Some of the new characters introduced in the show like Batata Fritz and Jujubo are quite forgettable, so much so that they did not return in the reboot.
- The show was briefly aired on SBT and quickly became forgotten. The only channels on which the show had reruns were RedeTV! and TV Rá-Tim-Bum, which are low-rated channels.
- The show also makes excessive use of pop culture references usually from artists such as Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, sportsmen like Guga and even the Brazilian talk show host Jô Soares. Many of these references can even be considered outdated today.
- Due of budget not being the best, suffers some problems:
- In some episodes the camera shakes a lot, especially when a character is in focus.
- As mentioned above the puppet designs looks a bit flat, the only exception being Zuzu which has a better worked design.
- Most backgrounds are very cheap and poorly crafted.
- Most of the show's jokes are just bland and funny.
- The show makes excessive use of a annoying laugh stock sound in a attempt to make the show funnier.
- Brigadeiro is sometimes portrayed as the main butt-monkey of the show, mainly because of Zuzu who is rude to him.
- The series was responsible for starting the career of Mariana Caltabiano on TV, who would later work on other bad series like Eliana na Fábrica Maluca and also the movie Brasil Animado.
- The show was adapted from a children's book that was popular in some regions of southeastern Brazil in the late 90s.
- Talented puppeteering and voice acting for the characters.
- Has a decent soundtrack with some great songs including the opening song which is very catchy.
- Mariana Caltabiano appears and interacts with her own characters in some episodes.
- The series had the introduction of the character Zuzu (not present in the book Jujubalândia) as the main protagonist and was well accepted by the public.
- Zuzu's character design for this live-action program was perfectly made, very similar to the 1969 standards of Sesame Street.
- This can be considered the first original children's series of SBT (if not counting Colégio Brasil And the 1997 version of the telenovela Chiquititas).
- It has some educational moments sometimes.
- After the show ended, the legacy was maintained through a website created by Mariana Caltabiano in the 2000s. This site contained several games and comics made in flash as well some new stories with the characters.
- It received an animated reboot, which has more faithful to the book's character designs and has better written stories.
The series had only one season done in 1997, since Mariana Caltabiano left SBT to work in Turma da Garrafinha for Globo in 1998. The series had few reruns on the channel and was forgotten after 2000.