Nu, Pogodi! (Ну, погоди!; translates roughly as “Just hold on! or “Just you wait!”) is one of the most famous Soviet/Russian cartoons of all time. Begun in 1969, it ran until 2006. Several generations of Russians were raised on the antics of its two main characters. The show is often compared to a Russian version of Tom and Jerry, in terms of both content and cultural importance.
There are only about 20 episodes, each approximately 10 minutes long. The first 16 episodes are considered the “golden” era—they appeared under the aegis of Soyuzmultfilm (Союзмултфильм), the Soviet cartoon agency. After the death of the actor who voiced the wolf, Anatoliy Papanov (Анатолий Папанов), the series stopped for the most part, though it came back several times over the years.
The show features a wolf (Волк) and a rabbit (Заяц). The episodes basically all center around the wolf’s attempts to capture and eat the rabbit, and the rabbit’s escapes—carried out either with daring and skill, or by relying on the wolf’s stupidity. The wolf is depicted as a hooligan, constantly breaking things and committing small acts of destruction (and he’s a smoker!). The rabbit, in contrast, is a well-behaved role model. There are a few other recurring characters, including a hippopotamus and a bear-policeman. The end of every episode features the wolf yelling, “Nu, pogodi!”
The cartoon is short on speech, but the soundtrack is both popular and highly evocative of Soviet times. The theme music in particular, called “Water Skis” (“Водные лыжи”), is a classic of Soviet TV and music. Many other singers and groups who were popular while the show was being aired were featured at some point on the show. The first-ever episode actually featured the wolf whistling “Song About a Friend” (“Песня о друге”), by Vladimir Vysotsky—because the show’s creator had wanted Vysotsky to provide the voiceover for the wolf, but the authorities hadn’t permitted it. Nevertheless, the show became a surprising star vehicle for Papanov, as his voice became well-known throughout Russian households.
Creator: Feliks Kamov (Феликс Камов)
Voiceover actors: Anatoliy Papanov (Анатолий Папанов), Klara Rumyanova (Клара Румянова), Olga Zvereva (Ольга Зверева), Igor Khristenko (Игорь Христенко)
Production company: Soyuzmultfilm, Studio 13
TV channel: TsT USSR (ЦТ СССР), Karusel (Карусель), Perviy Kanal (Первый канал)
The first episode of Nu, pogodi!, from 1969: