Thursday, September 18, 2014

An 11-Year-Old Turns 50

“Jonny Quest” was great. And still is.

I was seven years old when the show debuted 50 years ago tonight. I was not an action-adventure fan (and I’m still not), but I was a cartoon fan, so I tuned in. Each week, I was gripped by the suspenseful and intense stories, augmented and enhanced by beautiful layouts and designs, and the unmatched musical work of Hoyt Curtin. The Quest cues were his finest hour. He used a minimum of 22 pieces to play his short compositions and the film cutters did an incredible job matching them to the action. My sister, who was six, became terrified during the Anubis episode and ran out of the front room, yelling she would never watch the show again. That’s how good “Jonny Quest” was.

Just like the Fleischer studio artists went from animating the Stone Age cartoon series to Superman in the early ‘40s, Hanna-Barbera artists made a graphic left turn from “The Flintstones” to “Jonny Quest.” They certainly were capable; a number of them had worked on “Sleeping Beauty” and other features for Walt Disney, including the four animators credited on the debut episode. Here’s part of the Daily Variety review from September 21, 1964:

JONNY QUEST (Mystery of the Lizard Men) Fri., 7:30 p.m., ABC-TV, filmed by Hanna Barbera. Co-producer, directors, William Hanna, Joseph Barbera; teleplay, Hanna, Barbera, Douglas Wildey, Alex Lovy; film editor, Warner Leighton; animators, Edwin Aardal, Ed Parks, Hugh Fraser, Harvey Toombs. Cast: Voices of Tim Matthieson, John Stephenson, Mike Road, Vic Perrin, Nestor Paiva, Doug Young. [Don Messick was also credited; Variety missed it].
For the young uns who dream of high adventure when they're not turning up their transistors, this new item out of the Hanna-Barbera cartoonery should thrill their little hearts. It's not a cartoon, as such, but the kind of strip that runs in the funnies section, so-called. Joe Barbera describes it as “staged animation, illustrative rather than cartoon style and a brand new style for tv.” So be it and it should give H-B another perennial as companion piece to “The Flintstones.”
Jonny (of the title) is the son of an American scientist, who goes along on his hazardous missions. They run afoul of all manner of evil-doers but manage to survive their ordeals. In the opener they were beset by lizardmen, who wreck ships with a laser beam to thwart efforts of scientists to man a moonshot. Every week will be a different locale but with the same brand of derring-do.

As a side-note, the same issue of Variety noted Alex Lovy had his name on the credits of another series that made its debut the same week—“The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo.”

The trade paper trumpeted on September 29th that Joe Barbera was heading to Chicago and New York to promote the show. As a result, we find this review in the Dover Daily Reporter of October 24th:

Escapism In Cartoon Series
JONNY QUEST: It's Not Kid Show, Producer Says
By Harold Stern

NEW YORK - Joseph Barbara, who along with William Hanna created and produced "Jonny Quest" and myriad other TV animation series, has an argument that sounds plausible. I just don't buy it.
"We've never made a kid show," he insisted. "There is no such thing as a kid in television any more. After the age of 4, it's a critical audience. Don't forget, these children have been seeing reruns of 'Sergeant Bilko' and 'The Honeymooners.' They won't go for anything childish. They demand sharp, adult entertainment. Jonny Quest plays to an adult audience."
I've watched Jonny Quest and as an adult it doesn't appeal to me. I can understand why kids would watch it, but I see no relation between that series and anything close to adult television. Perhaps the confusion comes from the fact that Barbera is comparing his series to much of what is on nighttime TV. Most of that isn't adult either.
"I was reared on Zane Grey, 'Tom Swift' and the like," he said. "Then all of a sudden, it vanished. It was replaced by sick books and stories. What our series does is try to return to the true adventure story.
"Our shows don't involve fighting 2-headed monsters. Our stories are based on fact. People can identify with our adventures. The show travels all over the world and we put a lot of research into guaranteeing the authenticity of costume and locale. We don't go into space science. We're interested in romantic, escapist stories, not brutally violent shows. Brutality is the easy way out. We don't dispose of our villains that way.
"We try not to date our shows with weapons and equipment in our series on projects either barely in use or still on the drawing board. Our shows contain such things as one-man subs, snow skimmers, hovercraft, flying belts, hydrafoils, vertical takeoff planes, etc. The whole emphasis of our studio has become adventure."
That's a lot of adventure. Hanna-Barbera Productions has a total of 13 animated series currently seen on television, 9 of them repeats. There are 4 new series in the works, plus a cartoon feature based on their "Flintstones" series.
Though their success has been in the field of animation, Hanna-Barbera isn't stopping there. There are 3 live-action feature films planned, "Mr. Mysterious," "Park Avenue Indians" and "Father Was a Robot." In addition, the studio is working on 2 live-action series, an hour-long adventure series and a half-hour comedy.
Considering Hanna-Barbera's rate of growth in the some 7 years it has been in existence, there's no reason to assume that all the contemplated projects won't materialize. Prior to going out on their own, Hanna and Barbera turned out about 48 minutes of animation a year for MGM, with a staff of about 150.
Today, in their own studios, they have a staff of 320 turning out over 90 hours of animation a year.
"Our staff consists of 320 temperaments," Barbera said, "so we don't dare impose the usual restrictions on them. They don't punch time clocks, they can work at whatever hours they like. We're not a factory. We don't do piece work. We're a creative organization and we get our best results from letting our people work as they think best."

“Based on fact,” Joe? You mean like the walking, revenge-seeking mummy? And there weren’t violent deaths? Oh, right. They weren’t violent because they happened off camera.

Barbera had more to say. This was in the syndicated TV Key column. Take note, back-story fetishists. There was no Mrs. Quest because there wasn’t a need for one. Isn’t that good enough?

Escapism In Cartoon Series

HOLLYWOOD — Two of the finest noses in town for sniffing taste trends at the box office belong to those indefatigable cartoon makers, Hanna and Barbera who have added a touch of James Bond escapism to their new kids' show, "Jonny Quest," on Friday nights.
The men, pushing to keep cartoons on the air, are willing to change styles, increase animation or slow it down, anything to keep H & B in the TV business. Very little has been left out of the "Jonny Quest" storyline about an 11-year-old son of an American scientist; his best friend, a Hindu named Hadji, and Jonny's bodyguard and tutor, Roger "Race" Bannon, Bandit a dog and the Persian Peddler. Plots take the cast underwater where fish heartbeats may be listened to, or there can be chases in outer space, a fling down the Amazon or an expedition to freezing Tibet.
Joe Barbera says he won't be cramped in this escapism series.
He has taken a bold step though and eliminated Mom.
"We couldn't put Mother in the series," says Joe, "then we'd be domestic again and Mother would be in the kitchen making sandwiches. We decided to get completely away from those homey scenes where even the dogs are obedient. Life isn't like that."
Angles For Adults
Barbera won't pretend his shows have much connection with realism, particularly this year when escapism is the password. Neither will he write off the so-called adult audience when it comes to cartoons.
"I'm on a one-man crusade," says Joe, "to stop this misconception that cartoons are only for kids. We're writing for grownups, too. People are still loath to admit they look at cartoons. Take the Flintstones. I'll stack that cartoon show against any situation comedy."
Barbera likes the sense of balance given "Jonny Quest." "Do you realize we have by-passed mad scientists and two-headed monsters. Why you won't even see a moon missile on the show. We'll stick fairly close to the truth."

No mad scientists, Joe? Yeah, Doctor Zin was perfectly sane. Okay, maybe Mr. B. has us on a technicality because Dr. Zin may not have been a scientist; just a freelance power-hungry guy who was a little anti-social.

If you’re a fan of the show, you likely know today that Hanna-Barbera was developing a series around the old “Jack Armstrong, All-American Boy” radio programme but dropped the idea; footage drawn for it ended up being used in the “Quest” opening and closing. You can see the revised model sheet of Jonny by Doug Wildey is dated December 1, 1963. In digging through a few trade papers, the earliest reference I can find to the show is in Variety of December 11, 1963 which stated: “Joe Barbara [sic] (of Hanna-B) back from N.Y. where two webs want their contemporary cartoon series-adventure-action.” The sale was soon made. Weekly Variety of December 25, 1963 revealed Screen Gems’ John Mitchell had negotiated a 26-week deal with ABC-TV, mentioning the show by name.

Initially, the network wasn’t really quite sure where to put Jonny. Variety reported on January 29, 1964 the series had been moved back a half hour from a planned 7:30 p.m. slot on Sundays, but Broadcasting of February 3rd reported it would air at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays, opposite “Rawhide” on CBS and “International Showtime on NBC.” General Mills turned down a sponsorship (Variety, Jan. 29) but the series was eventually picked up by B.F. Goodrich, Pepsi-Cola and Proctor & Gamble (Broadcasting, Sept. 7). For what appears to have been a brief period in April 1964, the show was being called “Jonny Quest: File 037” but someone wisely thought better of it.

The 26-city Trendex numbers (Broadcasting, Sept. 28) show that Jonny won his time slot in the season opener, though it should be mentioned ABC was the only network that wasn’t broadcasting summer reruns and not all 26 markets may have been included. Things changed the following week. The Arbitron Report showed “Jonny Quest” wasn’t even in the top 50 and was last in its time slot. And the following week, it settled in second place, well behind “Rawhide.” However, TVQ’s second October report reported that Jonny was tied for ninth in viewers 6 to 11 years of age (my sister notwithstanding), while Fred, Barney and Dino were fifth.

“The Flintstones” had an even bigger ratings problem than “Jonny Quest.” Not only was its Stone Age butt being kicked by “The Munsters” on CBS, which was consistently in the Top 20, it was even behind “Daniel Boone” on NBC (one week, it was in third place behind an NBC “Favorite Songs Special”, Broadcasting, Nov. 30, 1964). ABC decided to do something. It decided to sacrifice Jonny for Fred. Variety reported on December 16th that it was flipping the time slots of the two shows to get “The Flintstones” away from “The Munsters” with the hope of renewing it for another season. The plan worked. “The Flintstones” was renewed. “Jonny Quest” was not. Variety listed it (March 12, 1965) as one of ten shows that had been given the “Goldenson guillotine” (Leonard Goldenson ran ABC). Iwao Takamoto wrote in his autobiography that Bill Hanna went to ABC, explained the production costs involved, the network crunched the money numbers it could get through sponsorship and passed on a second season.

And it was “three strikes, you’re out” at Hanna-Barbera. It whiffed with “Top Cat,” “The Jetsons” and now “Jonny Quest.” The studio didn’t get another shot at prime time until 1970 when it remade “The Flintstones” into “Where’s Huddles?”. CBS plunked it into the 7:30 p.m. Wednesday slot in July and August where it became the second highest-rated summer series (and went into summer repeats the following year before disappearing for good). In 1967, Jonny followed T.C. and George Jetson into the world of 6 to 11 year old viewers—Saturday mornings—and remained on the air for three seasons worth of reruns despite being named in a report that “CBS network prexy Tom Dawson asked for suggestions on modifying the grotesque and the violent in the web's cartoon spread” (Variety, July 24, 1968). And like “The Jetsons,” there was still so much demand for “Jonny Quest” that it was reworked and brought back with new episodes in the ‘80s.

There’s a wonderful site that every fan of the show should visit. Click here. Craig Fuqua and Lyle Blosser have done a wonderful job and it’s got more information about Jonny Quest than you may ever want to know. And you can watch a great labour of love below—a documentary on the show and how it was made.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Shadow of the Condor

Background, layout artists and cameramen played an important role in setting the right mood for “Jonny Quest.” The layout people came up with different angles to mimic adventure comic strips so it didn’t appear the characters were being filmed looking at them like on a stage. Drawing in perspective would have been expensive and time-consuming, so the camera swooped into (or out of) shots while panning at the same time to simulate additional movement of the action on screen. And the background people had to provide realistic-looking sets; stylised stuff like in the early Huck Hound cartoons just wouldn’t fit.

Fortunately, the studio had some quality background artists who were versatile enough to work in different styles. Bob Gentle was one; look at his settings in the 1940s Tom and Jerry cartoons. The great Paul Julian, a veteran of both Warner Bros. and UPA (“The Tell-Tale Heart”), picked up credits on a pair of episodes. And another was Richard H. Thomas, who came up with some solid backgrounds for Bob McKimson at Warners in the later ‘40s.

We’ve profiled Dick Thomas in this post. But with Jonny’s 50th birthday days away, I thought I’d post some of his background labour from that show. He handled “Shadow of the Condor” all on his own and was tasked with painting a backdrop featuring the top of the Andes, a stone castle and ancient biplanes.

Here are a couple of longer backgrounds that were snipped together. Unfortunately, two are not complete due to colour changes on the DVD frame as drawing is panned.

This particular cartoon also features fine effects animation of wisps of clouds by a presumably uncredited artist.

We’ll go into the show a bit, thanks to press clippings, on its 50th anniversary.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Quick Draw McGraw — Mine Your Manners

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Bob Bentley, Dick Lundy (uncredited); Layout – Tony Rivera; Backgrounds – Art Lozzi; Written by Mike Maltese; Story Director – John Freeman; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Quick Draw McGraw, Baba Looey, Snuffles, Jack Pott – Daws Butler; Narrator, skunk, miner, store owner – Don Messick.
First Aired: 1961-62 season.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-043, Production J-130.
Plot: Quick Draw employs Snuffles to get a skunk out of a mine.

This cartoon appears to have served two purposes. One was to make people laugh. The other was to kiss up to Kellogg’s and its ad agency, Leo Burnett.

Kellogg’s, of course, sponsored “The Quick Draw Show” in its original run in syndication (in the U.S.) and Kellogg’s cereals were plugged in the opening and closing credits, and between the cartoons. Kellogg’s was also the maker of Gro-Pup T-Bone dog biscuits. Is it any coincidence that Quick Draw’s bloodhound Snuffles went into ecstasy over dog biscuits? And of a certain kind with the box featured in the cartoons themselves?

No doubt Kellogg’s was happy to see the free plugs in this cartoon. Quick Draw holds the box in several scenes, and then Baba Looey has to buy a box from a nearby store after the supply runs out.

There are at least two animators on this cartoon. In an earlier post, we went into how the Snuffles ecstasy animation was reused in later cartoons. It originated in “Ali Baba Looey,” a second season cartoon animated by Dick Lundy. The exact same drawings were used in “Dynamite Fright” the following season (the credited animator was Hicks Lokey). In this cartoon, the drawings aren’t reinked exactly the same way but they’re obviously from the same artwork and the same timing is used as in the other two cartoons. Here’s an example. On the left is a frame from this cartoon and on the right is one from “Dynamite Fright.” You’ll see the line under the eyeball isn’t identical, the neck lumps go back to a different place on the collar, the body isn’t positioned at the same angle, among other things. But they must have originated with Lundy’s work, so Lundy should get a credit in my view.

Let’s check out Art Lozzi’s desert background. You can see where the background repeats. The mine is on an overlay.

The whole plot centres around Cartoon Law No. 1256H—namely, “Skunks in cartoons must smell all the time.” Naturally, we all know that skunks only spray when they’re in danger. Otherwise, they waddle around on their merry way, stopping to sniff things. The skunk in this cartoon smiles most of the time and seems quite self-satisfied about being a skunk.

Let’s take you through the story, which begins with Don Messick’s narrator explaining how poor Jack Pott became rich by striking gold which falls on top of him. The gag is the stars he sees after being knocked on the noggin by nuggets turn into dollar signs.

Fast forward many years to when Jack Pott is a rich man—but suddenly thwarted when the skunk trots into his mine and the smell makes everyone run for their lives “and some fresh air.”

Narrator: So, old Jack Pott sent for none other than that famous, uh, uhh, ohh, what’s his name? Um...
Quick Draw (displeased): This is terrible embarrassin’.

The rest of the cartoon goes pretty much as you might expect. Pott promises to make Quick Draw a rich man if he gets rid of the skunk. That’s when Snuffles enters the picture. Snuffles gets one biscuit, then two, but can’t handle the skunk smell and demands a third biscuit to perform his job. Quick Draw promises to pay later (Snuffles mutters about Quick Draw being a cheapskate and a welsher) and when it turns out the biscuit box is empty, Snuffles puts the skunk back in the mine. Quick Draw dons a clothespin on his nose and decides to do the job himself. Snuffles is a jerk here. His extremely long arm reaches into the mine grabs the clothespin, and then he rolls the entrance shut and traps Quick Draw (holding his breath) with the smelly skunk. Baba runs to the store, gets another box of biscuits (“it’s a matter of life and breath,” says Baba to the storekeeper). Snuffles lets the blue-in-the-face Quick Draw out of the mine.

Ah, but Snuffles is forgiven for his actions (after all, Quick Draw’s rich because of him), and the cartoon ends with the skunk in a sack being given a dog biscuit and going into Snuffles-like rapture (complete with moaning and floating from mid-air). Baba ends the cartoon: “I like that Quickstraw. He’s got a soft heart—and a head to match.”

Hoyt Curtin wrote some nice little western cues; a jaunty clip-clop with muted trumpet opens the cartoon. There’s a nice medium, lilting cue when Quick Draw McGraw arrives, but it should have been cut when Baba started singing the Quick Draw theme. One of the Top Cat “hurry-in-the-city” cues is used when Baba rushes to and from the store to buy some dog biscuits. The selections are all pretty good. A bassoon laughing cue when Quick Draw’s regaining his breath wasn’t used too often, if I recall. Some Lippy/Wally/Touché cues surface as well, include one every time Snuffles runs into the mine (also heard on the “The Flinstones.”)

Quick Draw says “Hold on thar!” but we don’t get an “I’ll do the thinnin’ around here” or “Oooh! That smarts!” in this cartoon.

This is one of three Quick Draws to have “Hanna-Barbera” on the title card and the only one with script calligraphy.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Park Avenue Indians

Anyone recognise the characters in this drawing by Ed Benedict? The only series I can think of featuring native Americans never got off the ground. And it kicked around Hanna-Barbera for two years.

During the late ‘50s and into the ‘60s, Daily Variety reported on a number of things the studio was proposing or developing that never reached the screen. Two of them were mentioned in a front-page story in the edition of November 30, 1962. The studio wanted to follow the Walt Disney route—shorts to features to live action, though it was a little hesitant about one of its concepts.

Here’s what the trade paper had to say:

Hanna-Barbera Prepping 4 Pilots
Hanna-Barbera Productions is planning four half-hour comedy pilots, and their program includes an expansion into the telefilm series area, as distinguished from animation, which has been company's principal activity to date, with such series as "The Jetsons" and "The Flintstones."
Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna said yesterday vehicle planned as a regular series is untitled, that it's a period (1910) piece. That and "The Park Avenue Indians," a tentative title, may go either animation or regular series route, he said. Joanne Lee has been signed to pen an original for "Indians," which will deal with experiences of a N.Y. model who becomes involved in real estate.
They also reported H-B has acquired its first property for feature filming, but said negotiations are now on for various facets of it, so he could not disclose deals. H-B is also working on an animation feature of its "Yogi Bear" for Columbia release.

Joanna Lee’s name should be familiar to people who watched the credits on the first Hanna-Barbera prime-time shows, as she worked on “The Flintstones,” “Top Cat,” “The Jetsons” and “Jonny Quest.” She also wrote for a number of top live-action sitcoms.

What the period piece was, neither Bill Hanna nor Joe Barbera apparently disclosed to the press. And “Indians” seemed to be shelved for almost two years, when it was re-announced in Daily Variety on October 21, 1964. Mike Connolly’s column in the October 28th edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette went into a teeny bit of detail:

Actress-turned-writer Joanna Lee sold an original, “The Park Avenue Indians,” to Hanna-Barbera. It will be the first full-length live-action feature for the cartoonists. It’s about some Tenth Avenue Redskins who stumble onto a snafu in Peter Stuyvesant’s old real estate contract and discover they own most of Manhattan.

Nothing about fashion models. In fact, the concept for “Indians” now sounds suspiciously like a TV show where some poor people unexpectedly discovered they were filthy rich—so they loaded up their truck and they moved to Beverly. Hills, that is. Well, if Hanna-Barbera borrowed from “The Honeymooners” and “Bilko,” why not grab something from the Number One TV show of 1963?

Joe Barbera was talking about the project as well. In one newspaper interview published on October 24th, he revealed “Indians” was one of three live-action feature films in the works, the other two being “Mr. Mysterious” and “Father Was a Robot.” We talked about those two in this post.

But this little flurry of press activity seems to have been it. I haven’t found any further reference to the film. In the meantime, Hanna-Barbera moved in another direction—creating brand-new cartoons for Saturday morning network television; what new cartoons existed on Saturday mornings before the 1965-66 season were made on the East Coast. It was far more lucrative for the studio than any native American movie comedy could possibly have been.

Oh, the answer to the question above. Joecab mentioned in the comment section the second season Flintstones episode “Droop A-Long Flintstone.” Well, here are some of the Indians as drawn by Carlo Vinci. It looks like some of Benedict’s designs above found their way into this shot, complete with raised big toe.

They’re only seen later in the cartoon as a clump in cycle animation that gets reused. Ken Muse drew them here.

Thanks to all of our commenters who helped put together the pieces of this H-B puzzler, and to Shane Glines for the Ed Benedict drawing that sparked the post.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Are You Loopy For Loopy?

Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera won seven Oscars with cartoons starring Tom and Jerry. They won none with Loopy De Loop.

Let’s face it. Loopy cartoons just aren’t that great, certainly not compared with Quick Draw McGraw or Huckleberry Hound. And putting them up against other theatricals? Forget it. Unless you consider that, perhaps, they set the trend for cheap-looking, unfunny cartoons of the late ‘60s like Cool Cat or the Beary Family that were inflicted on patrons by theatres that still bothered to run cartoons.

You might think it’s odd that I’m not a Loopy fan, despite the fact he was made by the same artists behind the other great early Hanna-Barbera cartoons. But even back in the heyday of theatrical animation, not every character or cartoon was a hit, so the late ‘50s aren’t really any different.

Thus I’ve really said little about him on this blog, but I make an exception today because the Warner Archive Collection has announced it is releasing a DVD of all the Loopy cartoons. It’s great news because Hanna-Barbera fans can see it and make up their own minds about the series. I have no idea if the cartoons been fully restored or are just TV dubs, or if they contain full end credits.

The site has a snippet of one of the cartoons, 1963’s “Sheep Stealers Anonymous.” Here’s the opening shot, another one of Art Lozzi’s blue backgrounds.

The snippet doesn’t have any credit but George Nicholas’ work is unmistakeable. Here’s a neat little take.

The Loopy cartoons were released by Columbia Pictures. It had been releasing UPA cartoons since the late ‘40s. By 1959, Columbia must have figured “Hey, we own part of a cartoon studio. Why aren’t we releasing its cartoons?” Variety of April 29, 1959 mentioned Columbia had terminated its shorts deal with UPA “amicably.” Variety’s Larry Glenn reported in a front-page story on December 2, 1959 that Columbia was nearing a five-year deal with Hanna-Barbera to be its exclusive theatrical producers, with ten Loopy cartoons in the works. Obviously, the two studios had to have signed something before that. On November 23rd, Variety had mentioned Columbia releasing the ten Loopys, and contemporary issues of Boxoffice magazine state the first Loopy, “Wolf Hounded,” was available for theatres that month.

Incidentally, Columbia was supposed to release “Hillbilly Hawk” and “Three Mixed Up Mooses” cartoons from Hanna-Barbera (Variety, May 1, 1963), but something evidently fell through.

It’s a shame the Loopy cartoons weren’t done in full animation. I’d love to know the difference in their budgets compared with the money spent on the UPA shorts the previous year.

It’s also a shame that the Warner Archive Collection can’t see fit to release the last three seasons of “The Huckleberry Hound Show” or any seasons of “The Quick Draw McGraw Show.” The final season of each has no problems when it comes to music rights, as the scores were all cobbled together from Hoyt Curtin’s cues. I’d settle for just the cartoons on their own (restored and with the credits, of course).

The Loopy DVD, says Warners, “ships to U.S. only.” Ironic, considering the cartoon’s about a wolf from Quebec.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Yogi Bear — Missile Bound Yogi

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – C.L. Hartman, Layout – Dan Noonan, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, General, Second Soldier – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Ranger Smith, First Soldier – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1961-62 season.
Plot: Yogi disrupts a war game at Jellystone Park.

Warren Foster worked some military satire into a couple of Yogi Bear cartoons, both with “missile” in the title. This one has the smallest amount. That distinguished military vet Ranger Smith talks with a general who is leading war games at Jellystone.

Ranger: I suppose warfare has changed a lot since I was in the service, sir.
General: Well, the weapons keep changing, but the idea’s the same. Two armies line up and they try to clobber the daylights out of each other. Ha ha ha hah ha ha ha!
Ranger: That’s the way it was in my time.
General: That’s the way it is every time.

The plot’s driven by the ignorant Yogi, who attacks without getting the facts first. The soldiers he’s bashing are on his side? There’s no time to find out unimportant details like that; he’s got to get them before they get him. Stand your ground, Yogi!

The final scene—where Yogi’s forced to eat an entire picnic basket, only to discover it’s full of untasty K-rations—might seem an odd one to stick in what’s supposed to be a children’s cartoon series. But Joe Barbera mentioned in a number of interviews that kids watched adult shows and got jokes like that. Certainly I got it when I was a kid 50 years ago but I couldn’t tell you where I first saw the gag.

The idea of war games inside a national park is a little disconcerting, but I suppose it’s for the convenience of the plot.

Art Lozzi gives us more of his bluish tints and rolling hills with hugging clouds and trees to match. Here’s a great background. Ranger Smith and the general drive past the same trees in their jeep 12 times before cutting to a close-up (and driving past another clump of trees 16 times before the scene fades). The Ranger has a map of Jellystone on his office walls.

You can see some blue shrubbery overlays on these two.

C.L. Hartman received the animation credit. He draws a lot of the dialogue with open mouth shapes on the head that move around. I’ve reviewed three of his cartoons here and I can’t see a lot of stylistic similarities among them.

The less said about Foster’s rhyming dialogue, the better. “In our forest domain, we’re on the gravy train,” exclaims Yogi at the outset of the cartoon. He paraphrases Nathan Hale with “I regret that I have only one life to give for Jellystone,” and then Churchill when he tells the ranger: “Remember, this was our finest hour.”

The plot’s straight-forward. War games are being conducted at Jellystone, Yogi just can’t stay away, he steals the general’s picnic basket, then gets fired on as the games begin. He vows to fight back with a (blue) stick and clobbers all the American soldiers. The games are now fouled up and called off, Yogi is captured and forced to eat the untasty military grub in the basket. The end.

Hoyt Curtin’s underscore fits the cartoon. The Yogi Bear theme song is brought up in the final scene.