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Vila Sésamo is the Brazilian version of the popular American educational children’s show, Sesame Street. Originally airing in Brazil to critical acclaim from 1972-1977, São Paulo based Brazilian broadcaster TV Cultura and Sesame Workshop (the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, formerly known as the Children’s Television Workshop) returned the show to Brazilian airwaves with a new Vila Sésamo branded block of programming in October 2007.
The show premiered in 1972, broadcast by TV Cultura and TV Globo. In this phase, they fulfilled all the norms of the American Sesame Street. Also most of the material was dubbed, and the presentation of thematic charts in repetitive order. The puppet characters in the series, created within Brazil, included the following: Garibaldo, a seven-foot tall blue bird equivalent to Big Bird; Gugu, a hairy green, yellow(plus other colors) Grouch. They lived in the street with Gabriela, Juca, Ana Maria and Seu Almeida. At the time, there was no color television in Brazil, so the show was broadcast in black and white. It was the first international version of the show.
But it was in 1973 that the two channels started the second phase. Vila Sésamo became entirely nationalized; with new cast members, new music and new scripts. Two new Muppet characters were introduced - Funga Funga, a giant, red elephant, and Zé Das Latas, the street's resident robot. In 1974, TV Cultura decided to stop financing the project. Now it was up to TV Globo, who changed the format to make it more national. A larger set was built for the renewed Vila Sésamo, and more children took part in the show.
The final phase started in 1975, but lasted only until 1977. More characters and actors were added during the show's final seasons. All of the puppets were created by local Brazilian designers, with no known involvement from the Muppet Workshop. All original Sesame Street material whas dropped, except for the Bert and Ernie sketches.
The series was successful, but was canceled due to overwhelming financial costs.
On October 29, 2007, TV Cultura launched a new Vila Sésamo. Rather than a full co-production, the series featured new host segments featuring Garibaldo (Big Bird) and a new Muppet girl named Bel. The package consists of Portuguese-dubbed episodes of Elmo's World, Play With Me Sesame, and Global Grover, plus selections from the US Sesame Street and Sesame English. Seventy-eight new Brazilian live-action and animated inserts fill out the block.
Despite having been off the air for over three decades, nostalgia for Vila Sésamo amongst adults who grew up with the show is high. Eighteen years after the show went off the air, the Hopi Hari theme park in Brazil opened a Vila Sésamo themed area in 1998, however the themed area has now been closed and the original series was released on DVD in 2004. Parents who grew up watching the show when they were young look forward to sharing the experience with their children.
- Garibaldo (Laerte Morrone), a giant, shy bird; similar to Big Bird. Is blue in this version.
- Gugu, a green Muppet monster with a blue nose and orange cheeks. Similar to Oscar the Grouch.
- Beto and Ênio, Bert and Ernie's names in the Portuguese-dubbed version.
- Juca (Armando Bógus), a toy maker who taught children about his craft.
- Ana Maria (Sônia Braga), a teacher and Juca's cousin.
- Gabriela (Aracy Balabanian), wife of Juca
- Funga-funga, a red Muppet elephant who didn't like how others looked at him.
- Garibaldo (Fernando Gomes), a Big Bird like character who is especially friendly and likes to meet new people.
- Bel (Magda Crudelli), imaginative, outgoing, pink three-year-old monster
- Beto and Ênio (Marcelo Torreão), Bert and Ernie's names in the Portuguese-dubbed version.
- Elmo (Alexandre Moreno), the ultra-popular red monster from the original American skits, at Bel's same age.
- Come-Come (Luiz Carlos Persy), Cookie Monster's name in the Portuguese-dubbed version.
- Grover (Mauro Ramos), the cute furry blue monster friend also from the domestic Sesame Street segments.