Pot-Smoking Parody Of Beloved TV Character Draws Legal Threat

By Paul Gaita 11/02/18

The parody mascot maker sees Tokaroo as a learning tool for adolescents and adults alike about responsible use of marijuana. 

Tokaroo Photo via YouTube

A Canadian public broadcasting channel has issued a cease and desist letter to a mascot performer who has made public appearances at cannabis-related events in a costume that bears a resemblance to that of a beloved character from a children's series.  

Actor Mark Scott has appeared in costume as Polkaroo, a recurring character on the long-running Polka Dot Door program, at promotional events for more than 20 years, but more recently, has been spotted as "Tokaroo," a red-eyed lookalike with a colossal faux joint, at events celebrating Canada's recent legalization of marijuana.

TVOntario (TVO), which broadcast Polka Dot Door between 1971 and 1993, was not amused by Scott's creation and gave him until October 26 to halt appearances as Tokaroo or face legal action.

But Scott dismissed the broadcaster's claims that the character could be seen as promoting marijuana to children. "I think TVO is being a little bully-ish about this," he told CBC Canada. "Their slogan is, 'Never stop learning,' and they're doing a lot of 'never' and stopping."

Scott sees Tokaroo as a learning tool for adolescents and adults alike about using marijuana responsibly.

Scott has, in fact, planned a whole online educational series built around "Candaroos"—Polkaroo lookalikes who will serve as teaching tools to build and guide conversations around a variety of social issues.

These include Rainbowroo, who talks about LGBT issues; Signaroo, who is hearing impaired and uses sign language; and Reddyroo, who has special needs.

"There will be a clear, no-nonsense discussion about [adolescent identity and social issues] using whatever language needs to be used, even if it's foul language or street language," said Scott, who wants to aim his series at adolescent viewers. "It will be appropriate for the people we're talking to. To get past an issue, we have to talk about it. You know, it's okay to be you."

In a statement to the Canadian Press, TVO appeared to find little humor or value in Scott's efforts. The broadcaster claimed that Tokaroo constitutes "unauthorized use" of its character that could pose "a very real threat of tarnishing Polkaroo's reputation" through association with "an activity that is neither legal for children nor recommended for use by children."

Scott was reportedly considering the options levied by TVO's letter, but as of October 25, continued to insist that any similarities between Tokaroo and Polkaroo are "purely coincidental."

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.