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La Cometa Blanca

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La Cometa Blanca (literally meaning "The White Kite") was a Spanish TV program featuring sketches from Sesame Street. The series was neither a Children's Television Workshop co-production, nor an "Open Sesame" dub. Instead, it included licensed dubbed footage from the series, along with other imported children's shorts, within the context of a larger variety show.

La Cometa aired from 1981 to 1983, just after the first run of Barrio Sésamo, the Spanish production of Sesame Street. On its first run (1979-1980), Barrio Sésamo had not been particularly successful and was canceled. La Cometa took its place from 18:30 to 19:30 (including 15 minutes of advertising), Monday to Friday. It was a completly Spanish-made production intended for a child audience, including sketches, cartoons and music numbers (including songs by Rosa León). Puppeteer Herta Frankel gave life to different Spanish-made puppets who interacted with human characters from the second season of the program onward.

The show also featured some sketches from the American Sesame Street, although only sketches without human actors featured. These sketches were very popular with a child audience -- more popular than producers believed, after the failure of Barrio Sésamo. This fact encouraged producers to think about a possible second run for Barrio Sésamo.

The program also had guest stars, who were always easily recognized by children. Los Chiripitifláuticos or La Familia Telerín were a reference to children when they appeared on La Cometa.

During the second and third season of the program, La Cometa was directed by Lolo Rico. Rico had been very interested in directing an intelligent program for a young audience, encouraging children to learn and become better people (Sesame Street being one of her greatest influences for the idea). However, when Rico came to La Cometa, she found that the program had a rigid structure and team, and that there was no need to change it. She understood she wanted a different program, but she could not do what she wanted with La Cometa.

La Cometa was cancelled in 1983, and replaced, ironically, with Barrio Sésamo in its second and most successful run. Some of the actors on La Cometa appeared in different roles in its replacement Barrio Sésamo (mainly Ruth Abellán, Mari Luz Olier and Alfonso Vallejo, but not puppeteer Herta Frankel).

Lolo Rico continued her career with the program she really wanted to make, La Bola de Cristal ("The Crystal Ball"), a 90-minute feature for Saturday mornings that ran from 1984 to 1988. This program included puppets, Los Electroduendes ("The electro-goblins"), whose animation was clearly limited (black wires holding their arms were clearly visible, even by children), but scripts were so carefully written that they became a reference for a generation of Spaniards (and, in some cases, also for their parents). La Bola is considered the peak of Rico's career and sometimes the peak of Spanish TV for children.

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