A Je To! – And That’s It!

24 Sep 2017

A Je To! – And That’s It!

A Je To!, also known as Pat & Mat, is a very popular stop-motion animation series for children produced in the former Czechoslovakia and later in Czechia. The series shows the adventures of two neighbours, called Pat and Mat, and their struggles with the reality. Pat and Mat are not common Czech names. As a matter of fact, they are borrowed from chess terminology and mean “stalemate” and “checkmate”.

The series can be described as a slapstick comedy. Pat and Mat are extremely clumsy, but at the same time, they are incredibly innovative and even creative. At the beginning of each episode, they are faced with a problem or come up with some brilliant idea how to make their lives better.

As Pat and Mat are trying to solve the problem or implement their idea, more problems arise. Their clumsiness is a serious handicap. In the process of solving the problem many things may get broken. The losses and damage may be very severe, but that doesn’t discourage Pat and Mat. They just don’t give up. At the end of the episode, they would come up with some innovative and very unconventional use of an everyday object.

The series was created by Lubomír Beneš and Vladimír Jiránek and the first episode, titled Kuťáci (The Fitters), appeared in 1976. Over the years, the series was produced by several studios: Barrandov animation studios (Krátký Film), AIF Studio, Ateliery Bonton in Zlín and finally by Patmat Film from Prague. The most recent episodes were released in 2015. In 2016, a full-length cinema film was released, but it was based largely on the episodes from the TV series.

Since Bonton was involved in the production of some of the episodes and they posted them on YouTube, I assume there has been no copyright infringement (as often the case on YT), and therefore I decided to embed a few of them in this post.

The series is universal and timeless. Old episodes are still funny and the show enjoyed popularity also in many other countries. For what it’s worth, I find many classic or vintage episodes more funny than the new ones. Pat and Mat didn’t have so many devices at their disposal in the 1970s or 1980s, so they had to be more creative with what they had.

There are no dialogues in the original version of Pat & Mat (except the rare episode no. 50, titled Playing Cards, which has English dialogues) . However, the catchy tune written by Petr Skoumal which is used in the soundtrack in a way makes up for it. Interestingly, in the Netherlands it was decided to add dialogues in Dutch. The series is called Buurman en Burmann (Neighbour and Neighbour) in Dutch and below is one classic episode with Dutch dialogues. Note how they use the Czech phrase “A je to!” with a Dutch accent at the end:

Adding dialogues creates additional comic possibilities. If you search on YouTube, you will find many spoof videos, in which users added their own dialogues in various languages. Some of these spoof videos may contain words inappropriate for broadcasting, others are harmless. Some of them are funny, others not so much. But they all prove that A Je To! is a cultural phenomenon. But don’t try that at home 🙂
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