Les Minikeums (partially lost French puppet TV kid block; 1993-2002)
Les Minikeums was a puppet kid show block that aired on French channel France 3 from 1993 until 2002. It was rebooted in 2017. However, this article will focus on the original show.
History[edit | edit source]
It featured a wide cast of puppet characters (the "MiniKeums") who were caricatures of French celebrities but shown as young operatives at a TV station.
Characters included Coco (based on comedian Antoine De Caunes) the main character who is conceited, neurotic and unlucky, Nag (based on comedian Nagui) who is jokey and lazy, M'sé (based on MC Solaar) who is cheerful and relaxed, Vaness' (based on Vanessa Paradis) who is coquettish and romantic, Josy (basedon Josiane Balasko) who is grumpy and bossy, Zaza (based on Zazie) who is innocent and cutesy, Jojo (based on Johnny Hallyday) who is cool and confident and Diva (based on nobody), the vain boss. Later characters would appear, including Gégé (based on Gérard Depardieu) who is mellow and enthusiastic and Léon, a mischievous pet koala.
The show was very popular during their airtime; along with screening many cartoons and children's TV series, the Minikeums themselves would have a large variety of skits, centering on some character storylines, movie/TV-series/gameshow parodies or music videos.
Their original songs were famously catchy, such as the main theme but especially their boy band parody song Ma Mélissa.
Les Minikeums remains a solid part of 90s French popular culture and is a common talking point of French nostalgia communities.
In its later years, however, production decided to stop because of its cost, although it claimed the children audience was getting tired of it. Les Minikeums was retooled into MNK and given much less original footage and a more restricted/simplistic set until it disappeared in 2002. In 2003, a new all-CGI block replaced it, called TO3, but completely failed to gain the same appeal as Les Minikeums, lasting barely a year.
Because of its popularity, taped footage of Les Minikeums keeps on circulating on video-sharing websites. However, the list of found videos and of what is still yet to find is far from exhaustive.
Adding to their original skits and parodies, the show also had a lot of different redubbed/retouched footage used to introduce a cartoon/TV show they were going to air, lasting less than half a minute. These tend to be the rarest.
In 2017, a reboot was announced. While it was announced some of the classic Minikeums would remain, all of them turned out to be new ones based on modern celebrities. The vast majority of fans of the original show immediately panned this reboot, decrying the new style of the puppets, using celebrities such as YouTubers as caricatures and inserting dated trends such as "dabbing" in an attempt to reach a young modern audience.
Some of the Minikeums puppets would be sometimes used in the satirical puppet news program Les Guignols de l'Info (with similar creators) for different children roles. This show would itself be cancelled in 2018.
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Parody Skits[edit | edit source]
- "Jojo Vador tousse": In this skit, Coco Skywalker (Coco as Luke) is in a lightsaber fight with Jojo Vador (Jojo as Darth Vader). Jojo tries to tempt Coco into joining the dark side. Because of his raspy voice, Coco tells him he must be smoking at least one pack of cigarettes per day. Jojo replies he actually smokes two, that he is still powerful with it, but he has a huge coughing fit that prevents him from attacking Jojo. He offers "Death Star" cigarettes to Jojo, but he refuses. Jojo remarks that the Force is true with him, and he has a coughing fit again. Jojo remarks "Say hello to the Dark Side of the lungs!"
- Parody of Alien: Coco has to go down an old underground car park so he can fix some power lines. He is assisted through radio by M'sé and Nag. However, a dangerous creature is running after him.
- Parody of The Weakest Link with Zaza as the host.
- Complete footage of the Questions pour un champion parody.
- Parody of Fa si la chanter (old French gameshow about recognizing songs): Fa si la do do. Animator Gégé has the "Bogoss Five" as contestants who fail to recognize their own hit song.
Intermission Skits[edit | edit source]
- The intro has the puppets pass each other a lit bomb, until it ends up exploding in Coco's hands.
- M'sé does a short rap song about Casper The Friendly Ghost, while an animated Casper is moving in the background. In the end, M'sé looks embarrassed, takes off his cap and asks if Casper wants it.
- Bernard introduces the Denver the Last Dinosaur cartoon. He has climbed up a mountain and takes off his glasses in exhaustion, while giant letters forming the word "DENVER" circle around a mountain peak.
- Nag arrives dressed up in Japanese clothing to announce commercials.
- Léon presents the Mot cartoon.
- Jojo talks about how Dennis The Menace is his favorite series.
- Vaness sings about the Sandokan animated series.
- Vaness sings about the Prince of Atlantis animated series.
- Gégé asks Diva on a date. She says she needs to make herself beautiful. Gégé tells her she doesn't need to, as flowers don't. She finds him romantic, and asks "Do you always speak to women this way?" "Only when I don't want to watch Flash Gordon on my own!" She slaps him, finding him rude. "Oh, Diva! It was a joke! A joke! Can't you take a joke? Diva, wait for me!" (this is for the 1996 Flash Gordon animated series)
- Nag in blue face paint and twirling an umbrella introduces Fish Police.
- Josy and "Chewbakeum" (a parody of Chewbacca from Star Wars) present the newest cartoons that will be shown next month.
- The whole cast sings about how they'll return tomorrow after Bonjour Babar.
Story/Comedy Skits[edit | edit source]
- Jojo and Vaness are having a romantic moment in the outdoors. In the sky, a love message to Vaness is written in smoke by a plane. The plane is piloted by Coco, but he is having engine problems.
- Diva sings a song about herself, while her reflection at one moment stares at her independently.
- Coco and Nag go on a hot-air balloon adventure. When it is shown from a distance, the two muppets are obviously played by plastic figures.
- Coco is in a boxing match, with Nag as his coach. He is constantly pummeled by his opponent, who is too strong, and he keeps failing, despite Nag's advice. In the end, it turns out the opponent is Zaza.
- Coco fantasizes about which girl he is going to marry. He first imagines marrying Vaness, but she turns out to still be obsessed with Jojo (her "real" boyfriend). He then imagines marrying Zaza, but she is too shy and nervously laughing to proceed the ceremony. He then imagines marrying Josy, but she grumpily makes a scene and is more concerned about the rice being thrown on the floor. Coco finally imagines marrying a girl who is "funny", but it is revealed that "she" is Nag in disguise, playing a trick. It ends with a black and white photograph of them "To Coco and Nag, forever".
- Gégé is introduced as a delivery man. When he reads the lines of a script in a recording studio, everyone is impressed by his romantic speech, except Coco who sees him as a rival.