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Monday, December 21, 2009

Georgia's answer to 'The Simpsons'

By Shaun Walker in Moscow

Shorena Samsonadze, the Georgian version of Lisa Simpson

Shorena Samsonadze, the Georgian version of Lisa Simpson

They are a yellow-skinned cartoon family, consisting of a dopey husband and his lavishly coiffed wife, who live in a made-up city with their children. But this isn't The Simpsons – it's The Samsonadzes.

Brainchild of a celebrated local film-maker, The Samsonadzes burst onto Georgian television screens a few weeks ago, bearing more than a passing resemblance to their more famous American counterparts.

Gela Samsonadze, the Homer Simpson figure, works in a Georgian bank, and each week the programme covers his escapades at work and at home with the family.

Unlike Marge and Homer's three kids, the Samsonadzes have just two – Shorena and Gia. Their pet parrot, Koke, also stars.

Shalva Ramishvili, the producer and creator of The Samsonadzes, insisted the show was not a carbon copy of The Simpsons, but more of a tribute that used similar ideas but adapted them to the local context.

"There are some similarities to The Simpsons, but there are also a lot of differences," said Mr Ramishvili. "We have tried to make the programme relevant to Georgian reality and touch on social issues that will resonate with a Georgian audience."

The Samsonadzes will occasionally, like The Simpsons, feature real-life characters, although Mr Ramishvili said there were no plans to introduce the controversial Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili.

However, relations with Georgia's overbearing northern neighbour, Russia, do feature in some of the early episodes, and in one of them the Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, sends a secret agent into the Samsonadzes' town to study Georgian culture and glean intelligence.


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