El Chapulín Colorado
|El Chapulín Colorado|
|Created by||Roberto Gómez Bolaños (1929-2014)|
|Starring||Roberto Gómez Bolaños
Carlos Villagrán (1972–1979)
Ramón Valdés (1972–1979)
María Antonieta de las Nieves
Horácio Gómez Bolaños
|Opening theme||Freedom March (1973-1975)
|Country of origin||Mexico|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||155|
|Running time||25 minutes (22 minutes for syndication)|
|Original channel||Canal de las Estrellas|
|Original run||March 1973 – September 1979|
|Followed by||La Chicharra|
El Chapulín Colorado (English: The Red Grasshopper or as Captain Hopper in the English version of El Chavo: animated series) is a Mexican television comedy series that ran from 1972 to 1981 and parodied superhero shows. It was created by Roberto Gómez Bolaños (Chespirito), a Mexican comedian and TV producer. It was first aired by Canal de las Estrellas in 1970 in Mexico, and then was aired across Latin America and Spain until 1981, alongside El Chavo, which shared the same cast of actors. Both shows have endured in re-runs and have won back some of their popularity in several countries such as Colombia, where it has aired in competition with The Simpsons (which has a character based on him), or Peru. The name translates literally in English as "The Crimson Grasshopper" (the word chapulín is of Nahuatl or Aztec origin, and a current part of Mexican Spanish). It is also known in Brazil as "Chapolin", "Vermelhinho" ("Little Red One") and "Polegar Vermelho" ("Red Thumb") in allusion to the famous fairy tale character Tom Thumb.
The show embodied many aspects of Latin and Mexican culture while making a critique on the unrealistic image of superheroes. In each episode, people recognized Chapulín wherever he appeared (one episode took place in the planet Venus), believing him to be a great superhero. Recognition caused him to boast, only to stumble and fall right away, proving himself to be puny and timid, and disappointing his fans. Despite this, Chapulín tried his best to help, and all his adventures ended well (though sometimes by sheer good luck or outside help.)
Seemingly parodying Superman's "Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive" introduction, Chapulín was introduced as follows in the show's opening, reinforcing the idea of a barely powered hero:
- Más ágil que una tortuga, más fuerte que un ratón, más noble que una lechuga, su escudo es un corazón... ¡Es el Chapulín Colorado!
- (More agile than a turtle, stronger than a mouse, nobler than a lettuce, his coat of arms is a heart... It's the Crimson Grasshopper!)
Equipment and weapons
- Fighting Skills: La Yegua Voladora, that is some kind of superman fly ramming his opponents as in Mexican wrestling.
- Chipote Chillón (Squeaky Mallet), is Chapulín's primary weapon. It is a red and yellow hammer which not only pulverizes his enemies, but also faithfully returns to his hands with a simple whistle, like a boomerang or Thor's Mjolnir.
- Antenitas de Vinil (Little Vinyl Antennae) are two red and yellow antennae on the top of the hero's hood. The antennae are connected directly to his body's nervous system, allowing him to have direct control of its powers, including: detect presence of criminals and dangerous situations in general, decode and translate various languages and secret codes, capture readings of toxic or hazardous materials, receive requests for help and activate special electronic bio-resources in the Chapulín's body. The latter allows Chapulín to activate his Antenitas de Alta Velocidad (High-Speed Antennae), dramatically increasing his speed and allowing him to fight on equal terms with fast foes (to the point of casually deflecting bullets).
- Pastillas de Chiquitolina (Tinyish Pills) are special pills that, when swallowed by Chapulín, reduce him to a size of about 8 inches tall to put enemies off guard or to access hard-to-reach locations. The effects of the pill last an average of 10 minutes, and at the end of that time Chapolin returns to his normal size. A common joke on the show is that Chapulín's enemies often insinuate that the use of this equipment makes no difference at all, in allusion to the hero's short stature in his normal size. (When he explained the use of the pills to his nemesis Tripaseca before using it, he sarcastically remarked: "Well, then you should already have taken one of those, Chapulin!").
- La Chicharra Paralizadora (The Paralyzing Horn) is a bicycle horn that, when aimed at a person or object and sounded once, would freeze it immediately in mid-air. Sounding the horn twice makes the frozen person or object free again. Another running joke on the show is the lack of mastery of Chapulín with this weapon, which is usually activated in the worst possible time and embarrasses both the hero and his allies.
- In one episode, it's revealed that Chapulín needs to use glasses, but he usually doesn't put them on during his adventures because The Superhero Union forbids the use of glasses in service.
- Súper Sam (Super Sam): Played by Ramón Valdés. He is an American superhero whose appearance is very similar to that of Uncle Sam (including the famous top hat with American colors), but his suit is similar to Superman's. Half of the things Súper Sam says are in English, considering his inadequate skills with Spanish (he is known for having to carry an English-Spanish dictionary in his pocket whenever he needs to save someone in Mexico). Súper Sam's primary weapon is a bag full of dollars that he says were "few, but very powerful"; it is usually used to beat on the head of the wrongdoers or Chapulín, as both don't get along very well. Every time he uses his weapon, the ringing of a cash register chimes in the show's audio. His catchphrase is "Time is Money, oh yeah!" and when present, most people say that "they don't want imported superheroes", much to Súper Sam's annoyance. According to Florinda Meza's character, Super Sam is "just like Chapulín, but with a bank account."
- Tripaseca (Dry-Gut): Played by Ramón Valdés and one of the most frequently recurring villains on the show. He is a very dangerous gangster who is part of a mafia gang composed of Cuajináis, Shory, Botija and Minina. He is considered the archenemy of Chapulín, always scheming along with the rest of his gang to kill the hero in order to commit all the robberies he wants. In an episode in which he pretends to be dead to fool the local police force, Chapulín states that he had known Tripaseca since the two of them were children.
- Cuajináis (Almost-Nothing): Played by Carlos Villagrán. He is a deadly gangster characterized by the huge scar on his right cheek. Although he is an ally of Tripaseca, sometimes he attempts to score certain crimes on his own.
- Shory (the Spanish pronunciation of the word "Shorty", a sarcasm on Rubén Aguirre's height): Played by Rubén Aguirre. He is a vicious mobster characterized by his high stature and coldness. El Shory often gives trouble to Chapulín in combat because of his superior strength and endurance. In some chapters, this character is nicknamed "El Nene (The Kid)".
- Minina (Girl): Played by Florinda Meza. A woman who accompanies the mafia in their schemes and is characterized by constant smoking and her low intellectual capacity.
- Pocas Trancas (Few-Lock): Interpreted by Rubén Aguirre. He is a madman who escaped from the asylum. People believe that Pocas Trancas was deaf but a detective clarified that he couldn't speak because he didn't wash his tongue and that he couldn't listen because he didn't wash his ears. What he lacked in intelligence he made up for in raw strength, according to the same detective. Súper Sam and Chapulín usually have to team up to fight him.
- Rascabuches (Tear-Maw): Played by Ramón Valdés. He is a fiery gunslinger whose mere presence makes all the inhabitants of any village flee in terror. He faced Chapulín many times and was always defeated by him (although once he was trapped by a giant mousetrap that had a bag of money as bait). The Rascabuches has a young daughter named Rosa.
- Mantonsísimo Kid (Speedy Guslinger): Interpreted by Carlos Villagrán or Rubén Aguirre. A dangerous gunman who constantly plagues small towns of the old American West, he is an ally of Rascabuches and Rosa la Rumorosa. Although claimed to be the fastest gunman of the Old West, Chapulín always managed to overcome him.
- Rosa la Rumorosa (Rose the Rumor Girl): Performed by Florinda Meza. She is the only daughter of Rascabuches, one of the most feared gunmen of the Old West. Despite being an accomplice to her father, she sometimes laments the fact that no one proposes marriage to her because of the notoriety of her father.
- Alma Negra (Black Soul): Played by Ramón Valdés. He is the captain of the pirates, and as he said, the chief of all the pirates of the seven seas. Captain Alma Negra is evil but sometimes clumsy as well (once being hurt with his own dagger while trying intimidate Chapulín). He is haracterized by his malevolent laughter and his tendency to endanger the life of his own crew and of Chapulín or or any girl that doesn't want to marry him. According to himself, he killed the Dead Sea and therefore there are no longer seven seas, only six. At some point, he died but his ghost continued to curse the seas.
- Matalote (Slaughter): Interpreted by Rubén Aguirre. He is Alma Negra's right-hand man, the tallest of the pirates, and surely the most cruel after Alma Negra. El Matalote is known for being quite strong and ruthless.
- Sabandija (Gecko/Louse): Played by Carlos Villagrán. He is a clumsy pirate that has a left wooden leg and a right glass eye, both lost in one of the many battles fought under Alma Negra's command. He and Panza Loca are the only ones in the crew who rebel against the master pirate alongside Chapulín.
- Panza Loca (Crazy Belly): Played by Edgar Vivar. He is the fattest of the pirates, has a little intimidating voice and apparently was not a very good pirate. He is as cowardly as Sabandija and often suffers through life-threatening situations because of the whims of Captain Alma Negra.
Pioneer in visual effects
With Chapulín, Chespirito and along his production team made extensive use of the chroma key device and bluescreen to produce visual effects which made the adventures of this superhero more interesting. Though somewhat unrefined by modern standards, the show achieved surprising effects like floating in the air or flying, performing impossible acrobatics, fighting against Martians, strange creatures, witches and all kinds of monsters, and, most often, to get the physical reduction effect thanks to his famous "pastillas de chiquitolina", which Chapulín frequently used to pass under doors, reach dangerous areas without attracting attention, or solve problems.
This innovation, which was already known in Mexican television but not widely used, gave Chapulín the distinction of being virtually the only adventure-comedy broadcast in Mexico.
Chapulín has enjoyed popularity all over Latin America, the United States, Spain and other countries, albeit somewhat less than its sister production of El Chavo. Like El Chavo del Ocho, it is still shown in reruns in various countries. The cast of Chapulín was the same as that of El Chavo, although only actors Florinda Meza, Carlos Villagrán and Ramón Valdés were usually in every episode; however, the characters usually were different. Some of the regular (albeit infrequent) characters who appeared, usually Chapulín foes, were El Tripaseca (Valdés) and El Cuajinais (Villagrán), a pair of Mafiosi who liked to make heists, as well as concurrent superhero Super Sam (played by Valdés too; see below). One-off villains, mostly those played by Valdés, like Wild West outlaw El Rascabuche, are also fondly remembered by fans.
Shorter Chapulín adventures were preceded by a skit, usually featuring Chespirito's other characters, like Dr. Chapatín, a tactless, impatient old physician, or El Chómpiras, an incompetent thief in the skit called Los Caquitos, along with El Peterete, played by Ramón Valdés. Chompiras and his new partner in crime, El Botija, played by Edgar Vivar, came to dominate the later years of Chespirito, an hour-long showcase featuring all the characters of the show.
The physical diversity of Chespirito actors permitted the richness of characters in the adventures, each week a new one. Chapulín was a hero of undetermined geographic and temporal location: his adventures could unfold in the American Old West, in ancient China, in London, in the Swiss Alps, during the Spanish Inquisition, in pirate ships, in Nazi Germany (an episode in which Chespirito played a double role as Chapulín and as Adolf Hitler himself, in the style of Charles Chaplin's The Great Dictator) or outer space, and his enemies range from the Yeti to Egyptian mummies, including his interaction, in some occasions, with literary characters such as Romeo and Juliet ("Juleo y Rumieta", or literally "Juleo and Rumiet").
El Chapulín Colorado is also popular in Brazil. The company, Tec Toy, responsible for distributing the Sega consoles in Brazil, published a video game for the Sega Master System called Chapolim x Drácula: Um duelo assustador (Chapulín vs. Dracula: A Frightening Duel). It was a localization of another existing SMS title, Ghost House, with the hero's graphics changed to Chapulín's.
The Simpsons' creator Matt Groening has declared that he created the Bumblebee Man character after watching El Chapulín Colorado on television at a motel on the U.S.-Mexico border. (This notwithstanding, the Bumblebee Man character also bears resemblances to an early Saturday Night Live recurring sketch with "Mexican killer bees", although the Chapulín character predated the SNL character.) Simpsons fans sometimes call the character Chespirito, even though Bumblebee Man is only based on his character. It should also be mentioned that many Simpsons characters enjoy Chespirito/Bumblebee Man's show; competing comedian Krusty the Klown watches one gag and remarks in admiration, "I gotta steal that bit." Bumblebee Man's show also features characters similar to Doña Florinda and Quico (with the inevitable stereotyping mustache), as well as Chómpiras. However, there is no real similarity between the character of Bumbleblee Man and El Chapulín Colorado.
- Koerner, Brendan (November 4, 2005). "El Chavo- The enduring popularity of a Mexican sitcom about a street kid who lives in a barrel.". Slate. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
- Díaz Moreno, Eva (28 April 2014). "Preparan serie de televisión sobre El Chapulín Colorado (in Spanish)". Excelsior. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
- El Chapulín Colorado at the Internet Movie Database
- A profile of El Chapulín Colorado
- About the movie of El Chapulín Colorado
- CHAPULIN IN SPACE Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch APP with music.