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10Feb/103

Tom and Jerry via Marx and Engels

If there is one thing nearly every Soviet child grew up watching, it is a cartoon by the name Nu Pogodi!/Ну, погоди! The title translates, roughly, to “Well, Just You Wait!” and the plot of the individual episodes is, for all intents and purposes, a prolonged chase scene. In fact if you ask anyone who grew up watching this show to describe it in a phrase, “the Russian Tom and Jerry” is what you'll hear most frequently.


Image co. Wikipedia.

There are two main characters: Wolf (Volk/Волк) and Hare (Zajats/Заяц). As the show falls along the lines of a funny animal cartoon, the animals walk upright, speak and have distinct personalities. Wolf is a social undesirable: he's a smoker, a vandal, a minor criminal, an awful guitar player, &c &c. A friend of has made the case that Wolf is a unflattering caricature of an urban Soviet gypsy/Roma; personally, I don't really see it – he seems more of a slacker/bohemian type to me – but it is something to keep in mind. The Hare, on the other hand, is a model Soviet. Socially conscious and morally upright, he participates positively in society and causes harm to no one. Well, no one except Wolf, who is constantly and unsuccessfully trying to capture and eat him.


Image co. English Russia.

Some of my most fond memories involve watching show. I was practically weaned on it. My paternal grandfather had a reel-to-reel and he would set it up in his bedroom and project the show onto a sheet, while a record of the sound effects played in the background. My maternal grandmother had a smuggled black-and-white VCR on which I would watch bootlegged Mickey Mouse and Tom and Jerry cartoons, but somehow I always appreciated the projector more.

Here are two of my favorite episodes. Pretty much every single episode may be found on YouTube by searching for "Nu Pogodi". You don't actually have to know Russian to enjoy watching; like the old Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons, almost everything can be gleaned from context. Wolf usually shouts a single phrase per episode, which is a variation on the title. Oh, and don't bother with the 1990s episodes.

Episode 4: Stadium (1971)

Episode 7: Sea Voyage (1973)

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  1. Ah, I have seen that wolf on the internet before and had wondered where it was from! I wish people wouldn’t compare these cartoons with Tom and Jerry, though. In those two episodes, at least, only the wolf is a main character, and he truly deserves what he gets, because the hare shows up late, doesn’t pick fights with the predator nor smugly glance at the viewer like I’m on his side, the scoundrel. The wolf is an audacious fool, but poor old Tom doesn’t need to be, for the world itself plots against him.

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