How Much ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Can We Take?

Osmel Almaguer

Little House on the Prarie

HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban television network “Tele Rebelde” has again started showing prime time reruns of the legendary American series “Little House on the Prairie.”

Successful on several continents in the 1970s and ‘80s, with talented and multi-award winning actors as well as an occasionally interesting plot, the length of the series conspired against its own continuation (208 episodes of about one hour each).

For the Cuban people, rather than a soap opera deserving to be reshown twice in a span of less than three years, it exists more like a museum fossil.

Due to the passing of time, its image quality is no longer the same. Similarly, the expectations of the public are not the same, given the technological advances over the past three decades. Even the voices, presumably dubbed in studios in Spain, sound a bit distorted.

And even if we think about the economic limitations — because “we don’t have the budget” for buying any better material — it’s still hard to believe that this series is the only alternative existing in the archives of ICRT [Cuba’s public broadcasting umbrella].

The fact is that other channels (such a Multi-vision, despite its insistence on dogs and cats, and its spending so much on documentaries that never lead to anything) have better programming at any time of day.

During my childhood, the TV time-slot between 6:00 and 8:00 in the evening was sacred. They would show Russian or American cartoons (either of the two was infinitely superior to what is put on today), followed by an intermediate-level educational program and then some action-adventure series.

For a long time, maybe 20 years, those time-slots haven’t been important for children – at least not the children I know. It’s true that the world has changed and people with it, but what has also happened is that the time slots between 6:00 and 8:00 have declined in quality thanks to ideas such as televising the marathonic Little House on the Prairie with such insistency.

But returning to the issue of the budget, and to conclude, I also have to question the quality of the adventure programs, which still continue to be produced for domestic consumption. An evident disinterest on the part of foreign viewers for watching these types of Cuban productions shows that we’re spending money on something that’s a waste.

These sums could better serve for acquiring transmission rights to one or another series that’s actually interesting. However, these would have to be “carefully selected” of course, meaning without “potentially harmful” ideological content or scenes that are “morally reprehensible” – except for violence, which is something the censors see no problem with and give us more than our fill.


Osmel Almaguer:Until recently I would to identify myself as a poet, a cultural promoter and a university student. Now that my notions on poetry have changed slightly, that I got a new job, and that I have finished my studies, I’m forced to ask myself: Am I a different person? In our introductions, we usually mention our social status instead of looking within ourselves for those characteristics that define us as unique and special. The fact that I’m scared of spiders, that I’ve never learned to dance, that I get upset over the simplest things, that culminating moments excite me, that I’m a perfectionist, composed but impulsive, childish but antiquated: these are clues that lead to who I truly am.

osmel has 229 posts and counting. See all posts by osmel

2 thoughts on “How Much ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Can We Take?

  • Cuba’s lack of quality programming is the result of the top-down mind control exercised at the highest ministerial levels. There are ample foregin investors ready and willing to fund the production of high quality content. The stumbling block continues to be Cuba’s need to control production details. Under the false guise of protecting against the overly violent and gratuitously sexual content so popular elsewhere in Latin America and Europe, Cuban authorities vise grip-like scrutiny generates a chilling effect on creativity. Whether organized as worker associate-owned coops or as Barnum and Bailey circus production, the problem lies with the information/entertainment minders and not with the talent or financial resources available.

  • Perhaps, under the new law permitting non-agricultural, working associate-owned cooperatives, Cuban writers, artists, technicians and producers might form television production cooperatives, and generate high-quality programming for both Cuba and international export.

    If such programming could, in general, steer an “appropriate” course regarding content, foreign broadcasters might be eager to purchase it, possible even to provide production funding.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.