El Chavo del Ocho
|Also known as||El Chavo del Ocho (1973–1975)|
|Created by||Roberto Gómez Bolaños|
|Written by||Roberto Gómez Bolaños|
Francisco Gómez Bolaños
|Directed by||Enrique Segoviano|
Roberto Gómez Bolaños
|Starring||Roberto Gómez Bolaños |
María Antonieta de las Nieves
Horacio Gómez Bolaños
Raúl 'Chato' Padilla
|Theme music composer||Jean-Jacques Perrey|
|Opening theme||"The Elephant Never Forgets"|
|Country of origin||Mexico|
|No. of seasons||7|
|No. of episodes||311 (353 segments) (51 are lost)|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Original network||XHTM-TV (1973–74)|
|Original release||February 26, 1973 –|
January 7, 1980
El Chavo (also known as El Chavo del Ocho during its earliest episodes) is a Mexican television sitcom created by Roberto Gómez Bolaños, produced by Televisa. It aired as an independent series on February 26, 1973 and finalized January 7, 1980. The series gained enormous popularity in Hispanic America, Brazil, Spain and other countries. The series theme song is "The Elephant Never Forgets" by Jean-Jacques Perrey, based on Ludwig van Beethoven's Turkish March Op. 113.
The show follows the adventures and tribulations of the title character—a poor orphan nicknamed "El Chavo" (which means "The Kid"), played by the show's creator, Roberto Gómez Bolaños "Chespirito"—and his friends, which often cause conflict, of a comedic nature, between the other inhabitants of a fictional low-income housing complex, or, as called in Mexico, vecindad. The idea for the show emerged from a sketch created by Gómez Bolaños where an 8-year-old boy competed with a balloon vendor in a park, said sketch aired for the first time on April 27, 1972. The show centered great importance into the development of the characters, which were each assigned a distinctive personality. Since the beginning, Gómez Bolaños decided that El Chavo would be directed toward an adult audience, even though the show itself was about adults interpreting kids. The main cast consisted of Gómez Bolaños, Ramón Valdés, Carlos Villagrán, María Antonieta de las Nieves, Florinda Meza, Rubén Aguirre, Angelines Fernández and Édgar Vivar, who interpreted El Chavo, Don Ramón, Quico, Chilindrina, Doña Florinda, Profesor Jirafales, Doña Clotilde and Señor Barriga. Direction and production of the series fell on Gómez Bolaños, Enrique Segoviano and Carmen Ochoa.
El Chavo first appeared in 1972 as a sketch in the Chespirito show which was produced by Televisión Independiente de México (TIM). In 1973, following the merger of TIM and Telesistema Mexicano, it was produced by Televisa and became a weekly half-hour series, which ran until 1980. After that year, shorts continued to be shown in Chespirito until 1992. At its peak of popularity during the mid-1970s, it had a Latin American audience of over 350 million viewers per episode. Given the popularity of the show, the cast went on a global tour to countries in which the show already aired and, in a series of presentations, the cast would dance and act in front of the public.
The Brazilian Portuguese dub, Chaves, has been inferred by Brazilian TV Network SBT since 1984, was also seen on the Brazilian versions of Cartoon Network and Boomerang, and currently is also seen on Multishow. Since 2 May 2011, it has aired in the United States on the UniMás network. It previously aired on sister network Univision and its predecessor, the Spanish International Network. It spawned an animated series titled El Chavo Animado.
El Chavo continues to be popular with syndicated episodes averaging 91 million daily viewers in all of the markets where it is distributed in the Americas. Since it ceased production in 1992, it has earned an estimated US$1.7 billion in syndication fees alone for Televisa.
Genre and setting
El Chavo del Ocho is a comedy sitcom set in a vecindad, a typical Mexican townhouse neighborhood that is owned by Señor Barriga and houses most of the main characters, where they interact with one another on a daily basis. Señor Barriga is almost always seen in the neighborhood and is usually there to collect the monthly rent from his residents. His best tenants are Doña Florinda and Doña Clotilde, who pay every month on time. His worst tenant is Don Ramón, who never pays his rent and either hides from Señor Barriga until he leaves or uses trickery to waive the payment for later. Not inhabitants of the vecindad are: Señor Barriga and his son Ñoño, Profesor Jirafales, Godínez, and Popis. The main character, El Chavo, is an orphan 8-year-old boy who gets into disagreements, usually with Don Ramón, Doña Clotilde, and Doña Florinda, due to misunderstandings, distractions or general mischief. He is usually accompanied by his friends: Quico and Chilindrina. Usually, you will find him in a wooden barrel, located in the 'patio de la vecindad', where he likes to hide, especially after getting into a disagreement where he ends up getting scolded.
Each episode uses comedic strategies, such as slapstick, irony, recurring jokes, and funny situations in which the neighbors are usually getting into. It includes the use of pre-recorded laughter tracks to emphasize comic scenes.
The sitcom explores, in a comical manner, the problems that many homeless children face on a daily basis, such as hunger, sadness, loneliness, and a lack of adult supervision and attention. On one episode, for example, Chavo was sitting on the stairsteps of the vecindad at night, dreaming of all the toys he wished that he could have and how he'd play with them. It ended with him returning to the present, sighing wistfully, then pulling out a balero (the only toy he'd ever had on a regular basis) made of a stick, a tin can, and a piece of string. He begins to play with it as the camera slowly fades out. Some episodes also have educational endings, teaching, for example, that it's good to take a shower and to not judge a book by its cover.
El Patio, the central courtyard, is the setting for most of the episodes. Surrounding the patio, are the homes of Jaimito "El Cartero" who lives up the stairs in #23 (from 1982 onwards), Doña Florinda and her son Quico in #14, Doña Clotilde in #71, and Don Ramón and his daughter Chilindrina in #72. The hallway on the right between #71 and #72 leads to "el otro patio", the other courtyard, which at times has a fountain in the middle. On the street facade at the left, la tienda de la esquina (corner store) and a barber shop are shown adjacent to the neighborhood's entry.
El Chavo was filmed in a fictitious neighborhood set at studios 2, 5 and 8 of Televisa San Angel in Mexico City. In the later seasons, sometimes an unnamed park was shown. Several episodes are set in Professor Jirafales's classroom, where he teaches; all the child characters in the sitcom attend the same classroom, sometimes with their parents. Others are set inside Doña Florinda's restaurant, a barber shop (where Don Ramón worked at one point), and the sidewalk located at the entrance of the vecindad. Three episodes were filmed in Acapulco, which also served as a vacation for the entire cast. In 1992, the last El Chavo sketches were filmed in Professor Jirafales' classroom. The last sketch for El Chavo was a 1992 remake of Clases de Inglés.
Characters and cast
- Roberto Gómez Bolaños as El Chavo del Ocho
- Main character, an 8-year-old boy, who arrives at the vecindad after running away from an orphanage where his mom abandoned him. He accustoms hiding in a barrel located at the entrance of the vecindad, but he lives in #8 where a nice lady let him sleep. His real name does not come up in any of the episodes. One of his main traits is the Garrotera, in which his body tenses and 'shrinks' to become paralyzed after being frightened. The cure is being splashed with cold water.
- Carlos Villagrán as Quico
- A 9-year-old boy whose real name is Federico. In one of the episodes, it is mentioned that his father was a naval officer, which is why he is usually dressed in a sailor suit. He lives in #14 with his mother Doña Florinda. He is arrogant and envious at the same time, which is why he usually gets into disagreements with other children in the vecindad.
- María Antonieta de las Nieves as La Chilindrina and Doña Nieves
- An 8-year-old freckled girl, daughter of Don Ramón. She is mischievous and intelligent. She is friends with El Chavo and Quico. She is in love with El Chavo, which is why she dislikes Paty, his love interest in one of the episodes.
- Doña Nieves is Don Ramón's grandmother and Chilindrina's great-grandmother.
- Ramón Valdés as Don Ramón
- Lives in #72 with his daughter Chilindrina. He is unemployed and over 14 months behind on rent, indebted to Señor Barriga, which is why he always tries to avoid him as soon as Señor Barriga enters the vecindad.
- Florinda Meza as Doña Florinda and Popis
- Lives in #14 with her son Quico. She is prideful, cocky, and haughty. She belittles her neighbors due to financial situations, referencing to them as 'chusma'. She is in love with Profesor Jirafales.
- Popis is niece of Doña Florinda and generally stays with her in the apartment when she visits. She also attends the same class Profesor Jirafales teaches. She is always carrying a doll, Serafina. Popis is as her nickname is: stuck-up.
- Rubén Aguirre as Profesor Jirafales
- Elementary teacher where the vecindad children attend. Has a romantic relationship with Doña Florinda. One of his most expressive characteristics is "Ta, ta, ta, taaaa, ta!" when he gets angry. His large stature is target for many jokes amongst El Chavo and his friends.
- Édgar Vivar as Señor Barriga and Ñoño
- Owner of La Vecindad. In most episodes, he is greeted by being hit by El Chavo when he is out playing on the patio. Due to his obesity, he is a constant target as a joke for everyone else.
- Ñoño is son of Señor Barriga. He is obese, and like his father, is target to ridicule by the other children. He also attends the same class Profesor Jirafales teaches.
- Angelines Fernández as Doña Clotilde "La bruja del 71" (The Witch of 71)
- Single woman lives in #71. Her appearance and strange mannerisms dubbed her "The Witch of 71" by the vecindad children. Having a dog named "Satanás" and conducting a spiritual session only confirmed the children's beliefs. She is in love with Don Ramón.
- Horacio Gómez Bolaños as Godínez
- Attends the class Profesor Jirafales teaches. Normally ignores any questions directed at him.
- Raúl Padilla as Jaimito "El Cartero" (The Mailman)
- Old, gentle man in charge of the mail in the vecindad. He lives alone. He is always walking by his bike because to get the mail delivery job, he was required to know how to bike; he lied.
By 1972, Roberto Gómez Bolaños was already well known in Mexico for his self-titled sketch comedy show, Chespirito, which was produced by Televisión Independiente de México and aired on XHTIM-TV, channel 8 (now XEQ-TV channel 9, Gala TV). He had already introduced El Chapulín Colorado and other characters.
Roberto Gómez Bolaños was the show's main creator and star. He called Florinda Meza to act in the show first; Chespirito and Meza later married. Édgar Vivar was the second actor chosen for the show. A mutual friend recommended Vivar to Gómez Bolaños when he started casting. Gómez Bolaños cited Vivar at Forum 8 at Telesistema Mexicano – where shooting was taking place. Vivar showed up as a scene was shooting; he laughed and the scene had to 'cut'. Gómez Bolaños approached him, asked him if he was Vivar, and told him that they would not be using an earpiece, to which Vivar responded that he didn't know what he was talking about. He hired him on the spot. Roberto Gómez Bolaños recruited Ramón Valdés because he had known Valdés for years and had seen multiple movies Valdés had made. Then, Rubén Aguirre was cast in the show as the character of "Profesor Jirafales". Aguirre and Roberto Gómez Bolaños had been working on scripts together for years, and Aguirre had already been playing the character of Professor Jirafales on another Chespirito show, Supergenios de la Mesa Cuadrada, which spoofed current events panel discussion. Carlos Villagrán just happened to be a friend of Aguirre who was a newspaper reporter, and he went to a party hosted by Aguirre. Villagrán did a comedy step where he blew his cheeks out of proportion, and Aguirre told Roberto Gómez Bolaños about his friend's hidden talent. Villagrán was promptly hired for the show. María Antonieta de las Nieves was a voice-over only actress who used to go to Televisa to make announcements. Upon hearing her voice, Roberto Gómez Bolaños thought she was perfect for the show. At first, she refused by telling him she was not a comedy actress, but Roberto Gómez Bolaños's retort challenged her: "Then you're not a good actress: there are no dramatic or comic actors—there are only actors." The last additions to the show were Angelines Fernández, a former film actress and Horacio Gómez Bolaños, Roberto's younger brother who had never considered acting before; he was originally to oversee the show's marketing.
The first El Chavo sketch was broadcast on 1972 and there is little information about that time, but possibly premiered on April 27, since El Chavo was created to replace sketch Los Chifladitos, Sketch in which Chespirito and Ruben Aguirre they played two madmen, Chaparrón Bonaparte and Lucas Tañeda. As Ruben Aguirre had left the program, the sketch needed to be replaced and that was when Chespirito created El Chavo Del Ocho. Several "Chavo" sketches produced before the start of the half-hour series were grouped into half-hour segments and are shown before the "official" half-hour episodes in syndication. Many of these were also re-written and re-shot as half-hour-long shows later in the show's life.
On January 8, 1973, Telesistema Mexicano and Televisión Independiente de México merged to become Televisa. After the merger, on February 26, 1973, El Chavo del Ocho premiered as a half-hour weekly television series.
The early shows were composed of a sketch at the beginning, featuring Dr. Chapatín, El Chómpiras, or one of Roberto Gómez Bolaños' other characters, and two short episodes of the main character. Those episodes were actually sketches filmed in 1972–73 which probably were supposed to be shown on "Chespirito," which was cancelled. After some of those episodes which introduced the first years of the show, the show began to consist of an almost half-hour episode preceded by one sketch starring Roberto Gómez Bolaños himself and his characters, as in the first show structure.
At the end of the first season, María Antonieta de las Nieves left the show because of her pregnancy. During the episodes of the first season, including those filmed in 1972–73, it was noted De Las Nieves generally played the female leads and was the first actor credited after Chespirito. In her absence, Florinda Meza took over the female roles for the non-Chavo del 8 sketches, and El Chavo and Quico became a great comic couple. During the period when de las Nieves was out of the series, the argument was made that Chilindrina was living with her aunts in Celaya, Guanajuato. In March 1975, the character made a comeback in an episode dedicated to her: El Regreso de la Chilindrina. During this absence, Bolaños introduced new characters: Ñoño, la Pópis, Malicha, and Godínez.
The second season began with El Chavo and Quico as the comic child characters, including Don Ramón as the charismatic adult character. During that season, the classroom scenes began to appear, alongside other child characters like Ñoño (the son of Señor Barriga, both characters played by Edgar Vivar), Popis (one of Florinda Meza's other characters), and the relaxed Godínez (played by Horacio Gómez Bolaños, brother of Roberto Gómez Bolaños).
De las Nieves was given "distinctive" last billing when she returned in 1975. After Villagrán and Valdés left in 1978 and 1979 respectively, she was moved to top billing after Chespirito again. On the hour-long "Chespirito", De las Nieves was often given third billing behind Chespirito and Florinda Meza if playing another character besides Chilindrina, otherwise she always got the special final credit.
When Carlos Villagrán left the show, it was explained that Quico had gone to live with his rich grandmother. "He couldn't stand the riffraff anymore", Doña Florinda explained. Not long after, Ramón Valdés also left the series. Chilindrina explained that Don Ramón left the city to look for a job and that he wouldn't return until he was a millionaire. With the loss of two of its major supporting characters, the ratings for the show slid and Televisa cancelled El Chavo on January 7, 1980.
On August 1, 2020, all broadcasters showing El Chavo and other shows by Chespirito in several countries had to suspend the broadcast of the series in their services due to deadlocks between Televisa and the Grupo Chespirito, which owns the characters and the scripts for the episodes. Grupo Televisa is currently in talks with several studios to distribuite past and future projects, including El Chavo.
Later in 1980, Gomez Bolaños returned with a revived version of Chespirito featuring El Chavo, El Chapulín Colorado and other characters. The debut of El Chavo in this program was auspicious, with a wealth of new episodes being produced. Moreover, in 1981, Valdés joined Chespirito after starring in some unsuccessful shows alongside Villagrán. However, he left again at the end of the year. The number of new episodes started to decline in the late 1980s and early 1990s, so once again, many early episodes were remade.
Eventually, Chespirito's age began to catch up with him and it became harder for him to adequately portray some of his characters, especially El Chavo and El Chapulin Colorado. In 1992, at the age of 63, Chespirito retired the El Chavo character from his show (he did the same thing to El Chapulin Colorado one year later).
Conflict with Villagrán and death of Valdés
In 1978, Villagrán left the show to start his own with Quico, with the permission of Gómez Bolaños. Within some time, he felt that the character's rights were his and sued Gómez Bolaños. The results of the lawsuit were favorable to the show's creator. Later on, Villagrán admitted that his exit was due to jealousy and envy between his character's and El Chavo. According to Vivar, Chespirito accustomed to write all the best jokes in the show for Quico, whom he knew was very popular with the audience. Regardless of his conflict with Chespirito, Villagrán recorded his last episodes with his cast mates in 1978 with what seemed typical normalcy. Once he abandoned El Chavo del Ocho, Villagrán wanted to use the character in another Televisa show, which to Gómez Bolaños denied his consent due to Villagrán denying his authorship to create Quico. Due to this, Azcárraga Milmo opted to cancel the independent project for Quico. Regardless, Villagrán continued to use Quico's character in Venezuela in 1981.
In that time, producers Valentín Pimstein and Fabián Arnaud asked Gómez Bolaños to write a script for an adapted film of El Chapulin Colorado or El Chavo del Ocho. Gómez Bolaños denied this request due to his belief that El Chavo was uniquely developed in the vecindad and therefore would find it difficult to provide a new storyline that would be relevant with what has already been shown in the series. In its place, they coincided in producing El Chanfle, which counted with the same cast as El Chavo del Ocho. In this movie, Villagrán also debuted, even though he was distanced from his fellow cast mates.
Later, in 1979, Valdés abandoned El Chavo due to personal reasons. Because of this, Chespirito hired Raúl Chato Padilla to integrate into the vecindad in 1980, but Chespirito did not want to replace Don Ramón. In his place, Raúl Chato Padilla would become a new character, Jaimito el Cartero, which in one way or another, became the replacement for Don Ramón. In 1981, Valdés reincorporated with the cast, but in 1982 he debuted alongside Villagrán in the series Federrico. Six years later, in 1988, he worked with him once more in ¡Ah, qué Kiko!. Valdés's health was delicate during this time due to being diagnosed with stomach cancer. On August 9 of that same year, he passed away.
Conflict with De las Nieves
In 2002, Gómez Bolaños sued De las Nieves due to disagreements over rights to La Chilindrina. In 1995, De las Nieves recorded herself as the owner of the author's rights, which to Gómez Bolaños responded that he was the owner of the character being the creator. De las Nieves was not involved in the recording of the animated series El Chavo del Ocho, and was replaced by Ñoño and Popis.
In 2013, De las Nieves won the lawsuit and kept author rights over La Chilindrina.
Due to this dispute, Gómez Bolaños and De las Nieves's friendship took a toll and they stopped communicating.
|Season||Episodes||Season premiere||Season finale|
|Sketches||44||April 27, 1972||February 20, 1973|
|1||52 (83 segments)||February 26, 1973||February 18, 1974|
|2||43 (52 segments)||February 25, 1974||February 17, 1975|
|3||40 (42 segments)||February 24, 1975||February 16, 1976|
|4||43||February 23, 1976||February 14, 1977|
|5||42||February 21, 1977||December 5, 1977|
|6||44||March 6, 1978||February 12, 1979|
|7||47||February 19, 1979||January 7, 1980|
El Chavo is a farcical sitcom: it relied heavily upon physical comedy, running gags, literal interpretations, double entendres, misinterpretation (and even, sometimes, elements from the comedy of errors) in order to amuse the audience, and the characters and situations were mostly persistent.
Some of the best-known examples of recurring humor are:
- El Chavo hits Señor Barriga: Whenever Señor Barriga entered the vecindad, El Chavo would hit him one way or another. Señor Barriga even congratulated El Chavo when he didn't hit him, to which El Chavo would say "You hear that, Quico? This is the first time that I didn't hit Señor Barriga..." and then would turn around, or drop whatever he was holding, ironically hitting Señor Barriga. This was used as a plot device in "La muerte del Señor Barriga", where Señor Barriga faked his death after being hit by El Chavo, in order to punish him for always hitting him when he comes to the vecindad.
- Mysteries surrounding Chavo: Characters occasionally ask what Chavo's real name is, where he lives, and who he lives with. Every time he is about to answer, he is interrupted and the subject is never brought up again. He mentioned he lived in the apartment No. 8 of the neighborhood (which was never seen in the series) and being called "del Ocho" ("from the eight") for that same reason (note that this explanation was only necessary after El Chavo moved from channel 8, where the series was born).
- Example: When La Chilindrina asks the Chavo if he lives in his barrel, Chavo says: "But I don't live in the barrel, I live in the house no. 8". And Chilindrina asks him again: "And along with who?"; and when he's about to answer, Quico interrupts him and changes the subject: "Listen, Chavo...".
- Another example: when someone asks El Chavo what his real name is, whenever the orphan is next to divulge it, someone with another chat or something unexpected interrupts the conversation and it's not brought up again.
- Crying: Almost all the characters have their own way of crying, their body language a comedic coda of their general mannerisms:
- El Chavo: He would cry in a high-pitched "pipipipipipipipipipi", usually after being smacked on the head by Don Ramón. In the first ever El Chavo episode, he had a normal human cry but then performed the high pitched cry which would be his official cry throughout the series run.
- Quico: He would cry in a gargling "Aaaarrgghhh" while leaning on the wall near the entrance of the vecindad. Since Quico always cries on that wall, it has been occasionally referred to as "La pared de Quico" (in English: "Quico's Wall").
- Don Ramon: He sometimes cries, but whenever so, he would provide a nearly high-pitched "Aaaaaaay" while wiping eye to eye in a "screwing a screwdriver" kind of fashion.
- La Chilindrina: She would pump her fists inward while wailing "Waaaaaaaaah! Waah! Waah! Waaaaaaah! Waah! Wah, Wah, Wah, Wah, Wah, Wah, Wah, Waaaaaah!" She would sometimes scratch her back or massage her buttocks as if someone hit her around that area while crying and menacing her aggressor to accuse him/her of hitting, slapping, screaming, etc. (though some of the accusations could be false).
- Ñoño: His almost resembles a bird's chirp. He would wail in an extremely high pitched "Ehi-AH! Ehi-AH! Ehi-AH! Ehi-AH! Ehi-AH! Ehi-AH!"
- Doña Florinda: She barely cries, but when this happens she does the same as Quico to lean on a wall. Sometimes Quico's cry is heard as Florinda is lip-synching it and in other times an open scream ("Aaaaaaaahhhh!!!") is heard.
- Doña Clotilde: She rarely cries, but when she does, she sits down with her hands covering her mouth and her cry resembles an owl, "Hoo, Hoo, Hoo, Hoo!".
- El Chavo getting scared: Whenever something spooks El Chavo out, instead of running, screaming or fainting like the others from the vecindad, he suffers a Garrotera ("the stiffs" or "piripaque" in Portuguese): he freezes into an awkward stance with his knees bent, back slouched, left arm dropping down and right arm hanging out with only his hand dropping downward. The only way to return him back to normal is a splash of cold water on his face.
- Quico one-ups Chavo: Every time Chavo plays with a toy that he makes himself or has something small, Quico goes into his house and gets a better, bigger and more modern toy that his mom gave to him, trying to outshine Chavo's toys.
- Quico's unrealistic ambitions: One of the most notorious traits of Quico is the rather typical desire for impossible things which is common in many pampered children. One classic example of this is Quico's dream of owning a square ball (pelota cuadrada) which is something he constantly asks his mother for but can never attain. He stays stubborn to his goal even in such circumstances as when he jeopardizes Profesor Jirafales's chances of making up with Doña Florinda as he demands the ball before going to speak to his mother. Other rather silly things he requests are the Pacific Ocean to play with his toy boats, money for a million ham sandwiches and the sale of his house's furniture in order to buy collectible stamps.
- Quico's 'just desert': Whenever Don Ramón gets mad at Quico for calling him names, trying to get money by doing the same way El Chavo did to him, or by messing around with his face, he sometimes pinches Quico's arm which gets him upset by crying at the wall or by calling his mom.
- Don Ramón takes the blame: The kids are notoriously mischievous and their games often end in tears (or, more accurately, slapstick). Don Ramón tends to intervene and confiscate the offending "toy" (be it a brick, a steaming iron, a hammer or something else with potential harm risk), invariably at the wrong time: if Quico was at the receiving end, the tearful kid produces a short account (omitting the culprit) for his enraged mother, Doña Florinda. Don Ramón, still holding the main body of evidence, realizes his situation; he tries to explain what really happened to Doña Florinda, but she, with very rare exceptions, doesn't care for his version of the story, soundly slapping Don Ramón. In addition, Quico rarely tell his mom Don Ramón is innocent. The routine includes Doña Florinda's advice to Quico not to mingle with riffraff ("no te juntes con esta chusma"), Quico's victory dance (a comical imitation of a boxer's movements, accompanied by "chusma, chusma", and ending with a mock punch to the man's chest as he blows a raspberry), their dignified stage exit, and Don Ramón's trademark tantrum (throwing his hat onto the ground and jumping repeatedly onto it, regardless of where it lands). Usually, Doña Florinda also tells or advises Don Ramón to commit the same action on his grandma. After this, El Chavo ALWAYS comes and asks him about his grandma, related with the previous event, resulting in Don Ramon feeling offended and answering back by hitting him on his head while saying "Toma!" (Take this!) (producing a bell sound effect), commonly known as a coscorrón (a word similar to the English word "noogie"). Also when El Chavo cries his PIPIPIPIPI sound after being hit on the head by Don Ramon, Don Ramon would mock him by repeating the crying of El Chavo, adding " I don't give you another [hit] just because".
- Example: after blaming Don Ramón and slapping him because Quico slipped on a banana peel, Doña Florinda says to Don Ramón: "Next time just throw banana peels for your grandma to slip!"; after this, Chavo asks the following: "Don Ramón, is your grandma so slippy?"; the enraged man proceeds to noogie El Chavo in the head, the slammed boy cries and goes to hide inside his barrel, while Don Ramón mocks El Chavo's crying and threatens to hit him again while saying "I don't give you another one only because my grandma was nicknamed Pitty-Butter!".
- Note: In one chapter, when El Chavo has mud in his hands for the entire chapter, he hits Quico with a watering can; when Doña Florinda comes to see what happens and blames Don Ramón for hitting Quico, for once, Don Ramón can prove he has not hurt Quico and the guilty one was El Chavo, showing the watering can with a mud hand print to Doña Florinda saying "The mark of El Chavo". It is noteworthy that this watering can prop remains printed with the Chavo's hand for the remaining episodes of the show.
- Doña Florinda and Professor Jirafales' relationship: Whenever Professor Jirafales appears in the vecindad (always carrying a bouquet of roses) and his eyes meet Doña Florinda's, the rest of the world seems to vanish for them, regardless of how conflictive the previous situation: they regard each other in a breathless, stupefied reverie as a fragment from "Gone With the Wind" plays in the background. Jirafales approaches her on impulse (in ballet-like steps) and initiates a dialogue routine, which always ends with him taking her arm and stepping into her house for "una tacita de café" (a cup of coffee). The entire routine is purposefully cliché and overdone, and despite her obvious interest, Jirafales has not gathered the courage to confess. The most Professor Jirafales wants, and struggles with, is to confess he is in love with Doña Florinda, although it is never officially stated. Doña Florinda's son, Quico, always says: "Some more 38 (or whatever number) cups of coffee, and I have a new daddy". In Spanish Doña Florinda talks to Professor Jirafales (and vice versa) in the form of "usted", which in Spanish is the usual way to talk to a person older than you, or a random person you don't have the confidence to talk as a known one, or simply for respect to that person. Professor Jirafales also does some very personal attitudes that simple friends don't. For example, he asks Doña Florinda to bake a special cake for him. Once, Quico noticed that Jirafales only ever brought flowers to Doña Florinda, and questioned him about this. After several fruitless arguments, Florinda ended the discussion with her traditional cup of coffee (Quico concludes that Jirafales only gives flowers to Doña Florinda because she only gives coffee to Jirafales). Sometimes, after a conversation or something else that distracted him and Doña Florinda appears, he would accidentally scramble a keyword from the conversation/distraction with her name. Analyzing that kind of behavior, it can assume that this is due to reasons of typical nerves of a person in love.
- El Chavo's ill-timed last words: when the kids all talk at the same time and an impatient adult (commonly Professor Jirafales) finally demands silence, El Chavo never notices on time, and his last words (often derisive to the adult in question and mostly referring to that adult by a nickname such as Professor Jirafales being "Maestro Longaniza" [Mr. long-sausage]) resound in a suddenly silent room.
- Example: As a loud chatter takes place, Professor Jirafales says: "Silence... Silence... SILENCE!!!"; and right after the chatter ends, El Chavo talks alone saying such things: "...it all happens just because the teacher has this stupid face!"
- El Chavo's yes & no response: whenever given a question and it needed either a yes or no, El Chavo would sometimes confuse the others by mixing up the word with the head motions: either shaking his head while saying yes or nodding while saying no.
- Don Ramon's slipping up words: whenever Don Ramón engages in a conversation with an adult, he would often let words come out of his mouth before he would think about what to say, often resulting as an accidental insult. This mostly happens when he is conversing with Señor Barriga, which he would scramble his name with another adjective.
- Adults demanding the kids to leave: several times, as the adults feel offended by some of the kids' actions (mostly Dón Ramón and rarely Doña Florinda and Professor Jirafales), they commonly say the kids to leave the place where they all are (or do something different) by a very comic way.
- Example: Dón Ramón says: Enough, Chavo! GET OUT OF HERE! Chavo says: But, I didn't do anything! Don Ramon insists: GET OUT OF HERE! Chavo: But I didn't do... [and as the dialogue continues, their phrases get shorter and faster and the talk ends when the kids run out of words] GET OUT! But I didn't... GET OUT! But I... GET OUT! But... GET OUT!; resulting in the kids' giving up and leaving the place – El Chavo always does it kicking the floor in anger (and sometimes someone's knees) and Chilindrina always cries while fakingly massaging her own buttocks as if someone has truly hit her there (for Chilindrina, Don Ramón usually says "GO HOME!" instead of "Get Out!"). When this is done to Quico, he does not complain and accepts it silently.
- Laugh track – From the beginning to the series's golden period, a laugh track was played to indicate the series' humorous moments. At times, real laughter could be heard from cast members and others present at the set, which made it more natural in comparison. Since the series' eighth season, such track was removed as it was later considered disrespectful to the audience and rather unnecessary.
Symbols in the series
In the series many objects are used as symbols of either the characters of the neighborhood itself. The most iconic of these was the wooden barrel near the entrance of the neighborhood. This was El Chavo "secret hiding place", and most of the characters were unaware that he had an apartment where he lived. A running gag about this is that they believed this was El Chavo's actual residence, which El Chavo was quick to clarify. Other symbols in the series include Quico's ball and other toys, lollipops and balloons which represented the children, Don Ramón's cap, Doña Florinda's curls, Profesor Jirafales's cigar, the flowers of the budding romance of the latter two, Doña Clotilde's broom, etc.
Direction and production fell into the hands of Carmen Ochoa and Enrique Segoviano, whom had previously worked with Gómez Bolaños on the series Chespirito. In some episodes, Gómez Bolaños appears listed in the credits as the scene director, alongside Segoviano. Mary Cabañas, Tere de la Cueva, Ersilia Anderlini and Norma Gutiérrez were Ochoa's and the production team's assistants. Luis Felipe Macías was in charge of production, Saltiel Peláez was responsible for the forum where episodes were filmed, and Gabriel Vázquez was the camera director. At once, there were up to three cameramen to record a single episode; among them, were Andrés H. Salinas, José M. Carrillo, Jaime Sánchez and Armando Soto. The scenography was the responsibility of Julio Lattuf (in episodes from 1976 and 1977), of Gabriel Bernal (in 1977 and 1978) and of Alicia Cázares (in 1979), while Leopoldo Sánchez and Alberto García were in charge. Episodes were recorded in Forum 8 and 5 of Televisa San Ángel, although there were some exceptions where they were filmed outside, such as when the vecindad visits Acapulco. Some sources state that this episode was the only one where the whole cast was filmed together. Costumes were provided by Casa Tostado, located in Mexico City, which specializes in customized designs.
A unique aspect of most of the episodes is the recorded laughter tracks heard when a character does or says something funny or a comedic situation occurs. Villagrán commented «Americans made a study that demonstrated that hearing real recorded laughter caused the viewer to laugh. Since then, we use it[...] people are used to that».
Some episodes are set up in synchronized order; for example, to record Doña Florinda's slaps towards Don Ramón, the camera took an important role in the take, because it made the interaction between the two character seem more realistic. For example, a clap was used for the sound of the slap. These types of audio effects were realized under the supervision of Carlos Inzunza, Javier Torres and José Guzmán in the 1976 episodes. Editing was realized in the center of postproduction of Televisa, by Manuel Hong and Martín Santillana, special effects were produced by Raúl Gutiérrez, Víctor G. Ávila and René Tirado in the first seasons emitted in the 1970s.
Opening and closing sequence
The song used in the opening sequence of El Chavo del Ocho is "The elephant never forgets" composed by Jean-Jacques Perrey in 1970. This melody is based on Ludwig van Beethoven's Turkish March Op. 113.
In the opening sequence, De las Nieves was the first in charge of the presentation during the first two seasons (1972 and 1973), then Meza was left in charge when De las Nieves left, since the end of 1973 into beginning of 1974. Previously, in 1974, Jorge Gutiérrez Zamora becomes the one in charge of the presentation. His first presentation was in the episode "El billete de lotería" [The lottery ticket]. Gutiérrez was in charge until 1979, who was preceded in that same year by Aguirre until the last episode as an independent series in 1980, including in the first years of the series Chespirito (between 1980 and 1981). In 1983, Gabriel Fernández, De las Nieves's husband, acted as the narrator who presents the stelar cast. His first presentation was the episode in which Valdés returns to the show. Regarding the closing sequence, the credits only feature the production team responsible for the respective episode, with the last scene being of them or a related image, along with the musical theme used in the opening.
In its first moment, music in El Chavo del Ocho was conducted by Ángel Álvarez, Luis A. Diazayas, René Tirado, and later, by Alejandro García. In some episodes, melodies were used to emphasize certain scenes. Among these are «The Second Star to the Right», originally composed for the animated movie Peter Pan, «Funeral March», written by Frédéric Chopin, «Miss Lilly Higgins Sings Shimmy In Mississippi's Spring» by Argentinian band Les Luthiers, «Minnie's Yoo Hoo» from Disney, «Gonna Fly Now» from Rocky, among others.
In 1977, Polydor Records, subsidiary of Universal Music, distributed the LP record "Así cantamos y vacilamos en la vecindad del Chavo" [Like this we sing and play in El Chavo's neighborhood], with songs that were incorporated in some episodes of the series. The record has 10 tracks in total, with a duration of little over a half hour. Among them is the song «La vecindad del Chavo» [El Chavo's neighborhood] (also known as «Qué bonita vecindad» [What a lovely neighborhood]), which went on to be one of the musical themes which the series would be associated with, after the melody was used as the opening sequence. Three years later, in 1980, another 3 records named "Síganme los buenos a la vecindad del Chavo", were distributed, also in LP format, with songs from El Chapulín Colorado and El Chavo. In 1981, the LP record "El Chavo canta Eso, eso, eso...!" came out, with 10 tracks in total, distributed by PolyGram. Over a decade later, in 1992, the first CD with the series music was commercialized in following sequence, such as "Así cantamos y vacilamos en la vecindad del Chavo" (2000) and "Así cantamos y vacilamos en la vecindad del Chavo volumen 2" (2007), in the same format.
Some of the songs reference a specific theme, according to whichever episode they will be debuted in. For example, the song «Gracias Cri-Cri» [Thank you, Cri-Cri] is dedicated to Francisco Gabilondo Soler, Mexican singer/songwriter known as 'cri-cri', dubbed as "the most important creator of child music in Mexico", or the song, «Eso, eso, eso» which, apart from being one of the phrases most repeated by El Chavo, is about love and joy. In a similar manner, «Óyelo, escúchalo» [Hear him, Listen] has a theme associated to religion in mentioning Jesus Christ.
The show is the most translated Latin American show in history – translated to more than 50 languages, after being shown in several countries. It is the most popular sitcom in the history of Mexican television and lasted for 324 episodes and 316 sketches in the Chespirito show in the 1980s (the 1,300 episode count frequently cited is wrong as it includes all the episodes of El Chavo, El Chapulín, Los Caquitos, Los Chifladitos and other series of Chespirito). It has been rerun on several TV stations since the 1970s. El Chavo is also highly popular in Brazil, where it has been dubbed into Portuguese with the name of Chaves, broadcast by SBT; historically, since its premiere, the show has repeatedly recorded the first audience place at all time-slots in which it was broadcast. The main reasons for the immediate success of the program is the similarity between the social realities and the culture of Brazil and Mexico, which added to the ease of adaptation of the dialogue and jokes between Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese. In the United States, the show is still shown on UniMás and Galavisión as of 2012. The show in the United States is consistently the No. 1-rated Spanish-language cable program.
The show was so popular in Latin America and among the Spanish speaking community of the United States that many of the phrases El Chavo and his friends used have become part of the vernacular of countries like Peru, Uruguay, and Argentina. "Chespirito" has established legal battles with former El Chavo del Ocho actors out of a desire to prevent them from using the show's characters in Mexico without his permission. Villagrán moved to Argentina in order to use his character's name on his shows (Chespirito is not copyrighted in Argentina). María Antonieta de las Nieves, however, won a court battle against Gómez Bolaños for the right to appear in Mexico as la Chilindrina. Nonetheless, in 2012, after a long judicial battle, de las Nieves retired her character. She declared that a long judicial battle against Bolaños ruined her career and that her public image was tarnished, which "burned" her name in the market. Currently, the only cast members who did not sue Bolaños were Édgar Vivar, who retired his character after bariatric surgery, and Bolaños' wife, Florinda Meza.
El Chavo rapidly became the most successful show on Channel 8, being one of the few to best the viewing quota from Channel 2 in its time. In the beginning, the series was considered "vulgar", even though it counted with a "good dramatic structure". Aguirre mentioned that it was qualified as "trash, stupid content". In Colombia, the government sought to forbid the distribution of the series due to their belief of it being "dehumanizing", while in Brazil some executives from the SBT chain qualified it as "not recommendable" for distribution.
Even though Gómez Bolaños declared that the show was not intended for children as an audience, there are studies that children prefer to view shows that allow "them to relax through laughter", and El Chavo del Ocho was one of those shows that allowed them to do so. For Valerio Fuenzalida Fernández, from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, many adults "have in general enormous difficulty to value humor television programs for children, under the prejudice that humor would be a useless and irrelevant distraction, therefore a waste of time" and would therefore prefer kids to be invested in watching educative shows, which he believed was an incorrect prejudice on their part.
One of the themes that the show has been criticized for is violence. In a survey conducted in Ecuador, in 2008, to more than 1400 parents and kids, it was concluded that the blows that Don Ramón gives the kids of the vecindad, and the slaps that Doña Florinda gives him, represent a bad influence for the young audience. Patricia Ávila Muñoz, in the Spaniard magazine Sphera Pública, determined that it uses blank humor, and it is apart from the familiar aspect by showing "isolated characters, and adults who are frequently made fun of by the kids". She added that the dialogue was "lazy and tasteless". She compared the series to The Simpsons, by "presenting one of the possible reflections of society... but minimizes social issues".The Mexican writer Fernando Buen Abad considered that the content was via for media terrorism, by focusing on the entertainment concept that brings the audience the orphan status of a minor, and the violence he is exposed to in the vecindad. In addition, other authors have included discrimination and the aggressions against physical stereotypes of some of the characters, such as an object of criticism. In this sense, Señor Barriga is always hit by El Chavo. Also, his obesity is cause of him being a constant target of mockery by the other characters. Popis, whose predominant characteristic is her nasally voice, in one moment produced the nonconformity by one parent whom, in one of the tours by the cast, expressed that her form of speaking was a jab at kids who had the same problem.
In spite of the previous critics, there were those who praised the content of the show. For Chilean editor of the diary El Mercurio, Paulo Ramírez: "El Chavo is one of the characters and one of those series that is eternal"; in his analysis, he made emphasis that, in spite of being a Mexican series, it contained "universal situations", and recognized the popularity due to that whichever spectator could identity "with a really impressive harmony" with the characters and their situations, especially those relating to friendship and betrayal. In 2010, Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa expressed that El Chavo is "the best TV show" and praised the script, the characters, and the actor's abilities, especially Villagrán's as Quico. Due to the type of humor, it is considered the preceding show of double meaning in Latin America.
The Brazilian writer, Ruth Rocha highlighted, like Ramírez, the universal theme from a perspective "incredibly childlike". Also, pointed out that one of the reasons for the radical success was in "what we see in the kids, animated, but real children in the manner of their relationships, reactions and expressions [...] we can not only see a Mexican kid, but a kid who could be Brazilian, Argentinian, or Chinese, what we see is a child who reminds us we once were too". In a similar manner, Joaquín Bode noted in his review published on the website Veintemundos.com, that the show became popular with the audience of various countries because it "reflects the way of being and living of the Latinos very well; but also the unforgettable and loved characters, where they live, and their moral and religious aspects were part of a common identity [...] it's a loyal reflection of the social reality of Latin America: people of low social class, unemployed, single parents, that in spite of all the problems, manage to move on with hope, good humor, loyalty, and friendship".
Brendan Koerner, from the American online magazine Slate, compared the series style, practically staged on one set (the vecindad), with the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown (1967). He also commented that the Hispanic population in the United States watches El Chavo del Ocho mainly due to "nostalgia" which entails watching Mexican productions in a country different from their own. He noted in his reporting that the show keeps being successful due to being transmitted generation after generation. Similar to his opinion, Carolina Sanín, from the electronic magazine Revista Arcadia, mentioned that thanks to the "structure and aesthetics of comedy, and its juxtapositions", the show became one of the most memorable to her. She reflected the possibility that its content constituted a metaphor regarding education and the nonexistent "inner child".
Awards and distinctions
In 1974, El Chavo was awarded, along with El Chapulín Colorado, with the Heraldo de México by the newspaper of the same name, as "the best comedy show of Mexican television". In 2004, the Mexican association, A Favor de lo Mejor, gave the award "Qualitas" to El Chavo as "best entertainment show on Mexican television" and in 2011, Televisa recognized the franchise as one of the most "productive brands in the company" in that year. In the award ceremony, of the respective award, Roberto Gómez Fernández emphasized: "It passed the test of time, without doubt is, a timeless work which will continue for a long time". Regarding distinctions, the Chilean magazine Qué Pasa classified El Chavo del Ocho as one of the "shows most featured on Chilean television", and Google distinguished it in 2016 as a "golden button" for being "the first show on Mexican television to obtain a million subscribers" on YouTube.
The popularity the series generated allowed some of actors to present in their own circuses, on the national level as well as international. Such is the case with the circuses for Profesor Jirafales between the years of 1970 and 2000, Quico in the 1990s, La Chilindrina in the 2000s and 2010s, and Señor Barriga. At the same time, the show's creator, Chespirito, has gone on to be an icon in entertainment due to the success of El Chapulin Colorado and El Chavo del 8.
After the ending of the series, Gómez Bolaños continued as a writer and screenwriter, and, in 2004, married his co-star, Florinda Meza, while De las Nieves and Villagrán continued their interpretations of Chilindrina and Quico, with whom they presented in other countries and recorded discs. Both had legal issues with Gómez Bolaños due to the author rights for their respective characters, for which they have been distanced from him and other members of the cast. Vivar participated in the movie, El Orfanato (2007) and in the telenovela Para Volver a Amar (2010). Regarding his participation in El Chavo del 8, Vivar mentioned it caused "nostalgia and good feelings [..] knowing so many people, traveled to many places" referencing the show's transmission, he mentioned that "it is a luxury that not everybody has the opportunity to experience".
El Chavo del Ocho has been transmitted in televised chains in various countries of Latin America and the United States; until 2011, it continued to distribute to at least 20 different countries, among them Mexico. According to writer Julia Burg, the series' success was such that "episodes can still be seen in various channels across the world and children will keep growing up with El Chavo", even though "society changes, different from the preceding one where actions such as hitting kids was a disciplinary action" for their mischief, which in the contemporary era is not seen as appropriate. The rebroadcasts have made him one of the most successful shows in the history of television, according to Forbes. In Brazil, for example, in 2003 various people protested on the street to request SBT to continue the broadcast of El Chavo on its channel. Their petitions acquired the continued broadcast by executives.
El Chavo was recognized as "the Mickey Mouse of Mexican television", due to its success on the international level and its adaptation of the hit animated series in 2006, the first animated production created by Televisa. At the same time, the show incorporated various idioms and phrases into the popular dialect, which include:
- By El Chavo:
- «fue sin querer queriendo»
- «bueno pero no te enojes»
- «es que no me tienes paciencia»
- «se me chispoteó»
- By Quico:
- ¡ya cállate, cállate, cállate, que me desesperas!»
- By Doña Florinda:
- «no te juntes con esta chusma»
- By Señor Barriga:
- «tenía que ser el Chavo del 8»
- By Don Ramón:
- «Que pasó que pasó que pasó vamos ahi»
These, along with others and full dialogues, were characterized as signs of identity of their respective characters in most of the episodes. An example of a repetitive full dialogue would be the greeting between Doña Florinda and Profesor Jirafales, who would always arrive with a bouquet of flower to give her, or the words that Doña Florinda said every time she was about to slap Don Ramón.
Over the course of the years, homages have been realized by other shows in commemoration to El Chavo, such as in Mexican productions Código F.A.M.A and Big Brother, or the Chilean Teletón 2007, where a sketch was featured, in which De las Nieves participated. It has served as inspiration for other programs, such as Vila Maluca, transmitted in Brazil. Regarding the popularity of the characters, an Argentinian survey in 2010 showed that La Chilindrina was the only feminine character that was an audience favorite, while Don Ramón celebrated with a considerable following by the Brazilian audience (where he is known as Seu Madruga), country which in video games and clothing have been created in the character's image, apart from being inspiration for some rock bands. In El Salvador, the same character served as an image for a civil campaign in 2010, which promoted Salvadorians to not pay extortions to gangsters for guarantee regarding their safety. In mid-2012, the character Jaimito el Cartero, was recognized with a bronze statue located on the Mexican municipality of Tangamandapio, Michoacán, which was where the character was from in El Chavo del 8. Costumes have also been used by personalities such as soccer players Sebastián González, who, in 2004, used El Chavo's distinctive hat to celebrate a goal, and Lionel Messi, who wore Quico's suit during a costume party in 2012.
In 2012, with the 40th anniversary of his debut as motive, an homage América Celebra a Chespirito realized in Auditorio Nacional in which almost 10,000 people attended, among them, artists such as Juan Gabriel, Xavier Chabelo López and Thalía, and was organized by 17 countries, among them Mexico. As part of the festivities, a choreography of the song «Qué bonita vecindad» occurred in the Monumento a la Revolución. The program was transmitted in simultaneous manner in more than 9 countries of Latin America, including, other choreographies were done in other countries, apart from the one in Mexico. In similar fashion, Correos de México launched a series of five stamps printed with the images of El Chavo and El Chapulín Colorado.
First series (2006–14)
After several years of successful reruns, Televisa launched an animated spin-off of the program in October 2006. El Chavo Animado was produced by Ánima Estudios using 2D and 3D computer graphics. They animated the characters with Adobe Flash. Televisa distributed the cartoon throughout Latin America.
The cartoon also allowed depicting the children to the right scale. Previously, since the children were played by adults in the show, the feel was given to the character through their way of dressing, speaking, and mainly through giving them oversized toys. However, this was not the first attempt to animate it. Previous credits sequences featured a claymation animation.
In this animated series, Chilindrina doesn't appear due to on-going disputes between María Antonieta de las Nieves and Roberto Gómez Bolaños on the rights of "La Chilindrina". De las Nieves feels that she should be entitled to monetary compensation if "La Chilindrina", the character she brought to life in the television series, appears in the animated series. Roberto Gómez Bolaños claims that since he created the character, only he owns the rights to such character. This dispute still hasn't been resolved and so, the characters Ñoño and Popis has since taken over the role that once belonged to La Chilindrina in the first session where the chapters were basically animated adaptations of classic Chavo episodes.
The show was dubbed into English by the Dubbing House, a Mexican post-production company, making it the first Chespirito program to be dubbed in English. The English soundtrack was recorded at Henckahontas Studio in Burbank, California.
The animated series achieved enough fame to have its own videogames, such as a self-titled board/party game for the Nintendo Wii, the racing game El Chavo Kart for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and a social game that could be played through Facebook called La Vecindad del Chavo.
Second series (TBA)
A second El Chavo animated series, which will take place in the "Chespirito Media Universe", is in development.
In December 2020, Roberto Gomez Fernandez revealed that Grupo Chespirito is currently considering an El Chavo spin-off centered on one of its secondary characters.
Denied series finale
During a visit to Peru in 2008, Roberto Gómez Bolaños told the media that he originally planned to make a proper finale to El Chavo del Ocho: in this finale, El Chavo would die run over by a car, trying to save another kid. However, one of Bolaños' daughters, who is a psychologist, convinced her father to drop the idea, since according to her, it could depress many children and even lead them to commit suicide.
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