I caught an interesting piece on the radio recently about how Russian television adapted Sesame Street, an American kids' educational program, back in the early 90s. An American producer, already living and working in Russia, worked with Russian state TV to help put Sesame Street on air. The path to muppets in Russia wasn't a straightforward one, unfortunately. The Russians in charge of the adaptation needed to be persuaded to use Henson's creations as his puppets (Muppets) did not fit the puppet aesthetic already long since established in Russia. When it was finally agreed that Henson's muppets were to be used, not all characters from the American show made the grade.
For instance, Oscar the Grouch, a slightly unkempt misanthrope who lives in a trash can, was a strict 'no' for the Russians as it was thought that kids might get the wrong idea and want to jump into garbage bins like Oscar. Life in Russia in the immediate years following the fall of the Iron Curtain was most certainly chaotic, but would children have actually gone bin diving? Maybe...?
Standing around 8' tall with yellow plumage, Big Bird, on the other hand, was not axed but remade into an image that would more align with Russian folklore. The creature Big Bird became is mostly blue and covered in bits of moss and twigs. His name is Zeliboba and he is a spirit about 7-8 feet tall who can smell sounds. If you ask me, Z. sounds less like a children's muppet and more like some scraggly dude selling 'schrooms at a Dead show.
Here is the spirit, Zeliboba:
|Zeliboba, like our Big Bird, is meant to be a child.|
|One ringy-dingy, two ringy-dingy.|