Prostokvashino (Простоквашино) is a series of three animated children’s cartoons from the Soviet Union. The episodes are “Three from Prostokvashino” (“Трое из Простоквашино,” 1978), “Vacations in Prostokvashino” (“Каникулы в Простоквашино,” 1980), and “Winter in Prostokvashino” (“Зима в Простоквашино,” 1984). Each is a little less than 20 minutes. They are based on the story “Uncle Fyodor, Dog, and Cat” (“Дядя Фёдор, пёс и кот”; note that this word for “dog” is usually used for “mutt” or to describe a homeless dog), by Edward Uspenskiy (Эдуард Успенский), who also wrote the source material for everyone’s favorite Cheburashka and the contemporary cartoon Fixiki.
The series takes place in the village of Prostokvashino and tells the stories of the characters Uncle Fyodor (Дядя Фёдор), actually a young boy; the once-homeless cat Matroskin (Матроскин); the dog Sharik (Шарик); the postman Pechkin (Печкин); and a few others. (The village is made-up, though there is actually a real village with the same name in Nizhegorodskiy province; 17 people live there.) Fyodor has run away from his parents’ house, and the cat Matroskin move to Prostokvashino together. The first series is about the parents’ efforts to find Fyodor; the next two series include Fyodor’s triumphant returns to the village during his school vacations.
The show has plenty of its own merits, in addition to some delightful Communist moral upbringing: in the third episode, Matroskin and Sharik have a falling-out because Sharik buys Keds instead of regular Russian winter boots.
A fun fact about the show is that its name and the cat character have now lent themselves to a brand of milk and dairy popular in the former Soviet Union. Now, if you move here and buy it, you’ll get the joke (which I only discovered while writing this post!). There’s no real information about the connection between the milk and the show, though, oddly.
Director: Vladimir Popov
Voice actors: Oleg Tabakov (Олег Табаков), Maria Vinogradova (Мария Виноградова), Lev Durov (Лев Дуров), Boris Novikov (Борис Новиков), Valentina Talyzina (Валентина Талызина), German Kachin (Герман Качин)
Studio: Soyuzmultfilm (Союзмультфильм)
The first in the Prostokvashino series, 1978: