Téléchat is a French-Belgian puppet show created by the Belgian director Henri Xhonneux, the French surrealist artist Roland Topor, and the Belgian producer Éric Van Beuren. It ran for three seasons between 1983 and 1985, with a total of 234 episodes of five minutes each.
A parody of news shows, it was hosted by two funny animals, a tomcat named Groucha and an ostrich named Lola. It featured a variety of sentient objects and revolved around the idea that the real-life elementary particles known as gluons were "the souls of objects."
With its surreal and sometimes a little dark humor, the series enjoys cult status in France and Belgium. It has been dubbed in several langages, including Spanish and German. According to its producer Eric Van Beuren, a number of episodes were even dubbed in the UK for diffusion on Disney Channel. (Although apparently, many episodes were rejected by Disney on the grounds that Lola showed too much cleavage.)
The names listed come from the original French version.
Téléchat provides example of:
- Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: The ape Pub-Pub has green fur.
- Blue Blood: Juding by the presence of a nobiliary particle in their overly long names, Grégoire de la Tour d'Ivoire (GTI) and Raymonde du Tiroir de la Salle à Manger are probably aristocrats. In the former's case, it's confirmed that he grew up in a castle.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Léguman never have any trouble defeating his ennemies.
- Drunk on Milk: In the show, milk appears to be a substitute for alcohol. At one point, the Milkbar is described as a licensed beverage establishment. Later in the series, Groucha gets literally drunk on milk on screen.
- Everything Talks: One of the core elements of the show.
- Flowers of Romance: In one episode, Groucha buys Lola a bouquet made of thirteen bright red roses. Although he claims not to know anything about the langage of flowers ("It's Greek to me."), this particular composition means "I'm your secret admirer."
- Funny Animal: Groucha, Lola, GTI, Hortense, Léon Minoux, Adélaïde, and Pub-Pub (in the third season) are this.
- Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have!: Basically how Groucha reacts when he sees Adélaïde's one-woman show in Las Vegas.
- Jerkass: GTI who treats sentient objects poorly and even threw away Micmac.
- Last Minute Hookup: Groucha and Lola in the very last episode, after three seasons of Will They or Won't They?
- Local Hangout: Groucha and Lola spend a lot of their free time at the Milkbar, which is located a stone's throw from their first studios.
- Look-Alike Lovers: GTI and Hortense are this, because the latter's puppet is just a redress of the former's, with a wig, glasses, and a dress.
- Love Confession: That's how the series ends. In the post-credits scene of the last episode, Groucha confesses that, while he was aboard a plane about to leave for America, he realized he was in love with Lola.
- Man of a Thousand Voices: Actor Philippe Dumat voiced three main characters on the show, namely Brossedur, Duramou, and Durallo. He also did additional voices, including that of Albert the Dictionary.
- Misplaced Wildlife: Lola and her mother Adélaïde come from Australia, but ostriches really are from Africa.
- Mysterious Past: Throughout the series, Groucha reveals very little about his backstory. He describes himself as a foundling born in the street, and received a vast array of medals and awards in undetermined circumstances.
- Nepotism: GTI is a very blatant example. The only reason he got on TV in the first place is because his father is an electricity mogul, his uncle the CEO of Worse Products, and his cousin the proprietor of the studios that host Téléchat. He doesn't even realize it's something he should try to hide.
- Only One Name: Most of the main characters have no last name, or at least it's never revealed to the audience. The only exceptions are GTI (Grégoire de la Tour d'Ivoire) and his wife, Sophie Dure-à-avaler, Raymonde du Tiroir de la Salle à Manger, and Léon Minoux.
- Ostrich Head Hiding: Whenever she's afraid or ashamed, Lola puts her head in a hole. That's how she discovered the existence of gluons in the first place.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: In an attempt to avoid a severe beating from a disgruntled viewer, GTI dons a turban and a fake beard. It doesn't work.
- Pumpkin Person: Léguman is made of several vegetables including a pumpkin for his head.
- Shout-Out: In an attempt to capture Lola's attention, GTI claims to have had a close encounter of the third kind. Both the physical description of the extra-terrestrial entity and its desire to phone home are obvious references to Steven Spielberg's E.-T.
- Show Within a Show: Léguman, a parody of Sentai with a main character made of vegetables.
- The Speechless: The ape Pub-Pub never speaks in the first two seasons. At the beginning of the first season, however, he comes back from Australia, where he attended the University of Melbourne and earned a PhD.
- The Stinger: Every episode has a short sequence after the credits. It typically takes place in the unlit studio (especially in the first season), at the Milkbar, or in Groucha's house.
- Uncanny Family Resemblance: The only differences between Lola and her mother Adélaïde is that the latter has hair and wears glasses. Both characters are also voiced by the same actress.
- Unexplained Accent: Characters voiced by François Jerosme often fall into this. Most notably, the ape Pub-Pub has an accent from Southern France, even though he presumably comes from Africa and attended university in Australia.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Groucha and Lola spend the whole series being obviously attracted to each other and believing like a couple, but nothing official.
- Wham Shot: In the last episode, Groucha waltzes onto the set when he's supposed to be on a plane to the United States. Upon seeing him, Lola faints.