Sunday, March 8, 2009

Yogi Bear - Pie-Pirates

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Mike Lah; Layout – Mike Lah; Designer – Frank Tipper; Story and Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Cast: Yogi, Farmer, Dog – Daws Butler; Narrator, Boo-Boo – Don Messick.
Released: week of Monday, October 13, 1958.
Plot: Yogi has to get past dog to get to a pie on a window ledge. He and Boo-Boo stop dog but have to settle for makeshift soup instead.

According to Ted Sennett’s The Art of Hanna-Barbera, this was the first Yogi cartoon put into production. The book goes on to explain that Joe and Bill contemplated calling our hero “Huckleberry Bear,” and the story-line for this cartoon would explain why.

The plot is basic, but entertaining. And, best of all, it’s not locked into the Ranger/Jellystone formula. There’s no ranger and no park in this one. We open with a farmer, surrounded by stationary chickens that look like something Ed Benedict might craft for Tex Avery in Farm of Tomorrow—even though Benedict receives no credit (former Schlesinger and Lantz animator Frank Tipper supposedly designed this one). The farmer shoots at burgling bears Yogi and Boo-Boo, who are identified by a narrator. The narrator disappears after the opening scene but is completely unnecessary to begin with, unless someone thought Yogi and Boo-Boo were new characters so they needed some kind of introduction.

The two protagonists are a bit different in this cartoon. The first few Yogis had the bear with a lighter-brown mask around his eyes, while Boo-Boo is suffering from stuffed sinuses. Mike Lah had an odd way of drawing Yogi. He gives the bear googly eyes and a mouth that doesn’t reach the end of his face, thus allowing him to animate only the mouth-lines. His animation tends to be jerky at times.

After making a running escape, the bears spy a hot, huckleberry pie cooling on the window sill (“Be right back with the snack, Jack,” rhymes Yogi). Misreading a warning—“I don’t smoke, anyhoo”—and not spotting any dog despite Boo-Boo’s translation of the sign, Yogi ends up running away in a panic when the canine appears as he reaches for the pie. The bulldog has those little mirror-image ears that seem to have been borrowed from dogs in various Avery M.G.M. cartoons. There’s some really cheap-looking animation here. Yogi talks while he tippy-toes toward the pie, but his lips don’t move. There’s a repeat-shot of Boo-Boo licking his lips. And the dog growls in a two-frame cycle that lasts six seconds.



So now Yogi borrows from Bugs Bunny’s vocabulary and decides to use some “stragedy.” He pins Boo-Boo to a clothesline, but the pin can’t hold the little bear (in an unanimated sliding cell) who lands in a fortunately-placed rain barrel and uses it to escape. That gives Yogi an idea, but he blows it when he lifts the metal ring holding the barrel together, the staves fall down and that’s the dog’s cue to attack.



But Yogi tries a distraction by playing “Fetch the stick” in a crudely-drawn sequence—Yogi even loses his mouth for a few frames—but the dog re-appears via a basement window (in another unanimated sliding cell). So much for that idea.



Next, Yogi gets past the dog by using stilts, but the canine guard is ready with a match. Fortunately, Yogi crashes on top of the dog and is able to get away.



The climax action scene has arrived. Yogi attaches a bone to an inner-tube tied to a fence. Cartoons law is that dogs love bones, so the dog grabs the bone and sails through the air. The inner tube snaps back, sending the dog flying back, smashing through the wooden gate, knocking him cold.



We now get more of that rhyming word-play that Shows littered the Ruff and Reddy cartoons with, as Yogi remarks: “How’s that for size, blue eyes? And now for the prize. Huckleberry pies!” Afraid not, Yogi. The lady of the house (it is 1958, after all) reclaims her pie, so the bears settle for “inner tube minestrone soup.”



Hanna and Barbera sure loved Jackie Gleason. Setting aside the fact they later borrowed concepts from The Honeymooners for The Flintstones, not only is Daws Butler using an Ed Norton-esque voice for Yogi, he pulls an “And away we go” exit off-stage just like Gleason did on his variety show. He even cries “And away you go!” when he pushes Boo-Boo off on his journey on the clothes-line.

There’s less of Bill Loose and John Seely’s music than you’d normally find in an early Yogi, and the last piece is so covered up in dialogue and sound effects, I can’t tell what it is; I think it's an instrumental of the opening theme.


0:00 - Yogi original opening theme (Hoyt Curtin-Hanna-Barbera).
0:26 - ZR-47 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Geordie Hormel) - Yogi chased by farmer.
0:44 - ZR-51 LIGHT ANIMATION (Hormel) - Yogi and Boo-Boo peer from behind tree.
1:51 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Spencer Moore) - Yogi reaches for pie.
2:05 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) - Yogi reaches for pie again.
2:11 - LAF-5-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Jack Shaindlin) - Yogi chased by dog.
2:29 - ZR-52 LIGHT QUIET (Hormel) - Boo Boo on clothesline.
3:50 - ZR-47 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Hormel) - Yogi chased by dog after barrel falls apart.
4:45 - L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) - Yogi on stilts.
5:36 - trumpet blare - Yogi falls after dog burns stilts.
5:41 - LAF-5-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) - Yogi runs after stilts burn.
5:47 - TC-432 HOLLY DAY (Loose-Seely) - Yogi nails inner tube to fence.
6:02 - L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) - Yogi gives bone to dog.
6:30 - L-1154 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) - Dog stuck in gate; lady takes pie.
7:01 - unknown - Yogi makes soup.
7:12 - Yogi original closing theme (Curtin).

1 comment:

  1. Dodsworth,

    Seeing the animation and the artwork done by Michael Lah on this Yogi Bear episode, it worths to note how Yogi seems more Tex Avery-esque on this same episode.

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