Saturday, October 23, 2010

Yogi Bear — Robin Hood Yogi

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation – Ken Muse; Layout – Ed Benedict; Backgrounds – Art Lozzi; Dialogue – Charlie Shows; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson (no credits).
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, Elwood, Driver, Ranger Joe – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Tourist with Camera, Ranger Mack – Don Messick; Honey Bun – Ginny Tyler?
Music: Bill Loose-John Seely; Jack Shaindlin.
First aired: week of March 2, 1959.
Plot: Yogi acts like Robin Hood to rob picnic baskets from tourists.

Here’s the difference between a Charlie Shows Yogi Bear cartoon and a Warren Foster one (and others who came later): a Foster cartoon would have Yogi steal picnic baskets, or the contents therein, but plot how to get around Ranger Smith to do it. A Shows cartoon simply has Yogi doing it because he’s hungry. There’s no reason for Yogi to dress up as Robin Hood and declare Boo Boo is now Little John. It’s not like the guise will fool anyone, which is the way Foster used guises. Shows does it because Yogi has logically decided his situation is analogous to Robin’s—“We’ll rob tidbits from the rich and give to the poor. Namely us.” And that certainly works for his character.

Shows also brings us some tried-and-true gags, his usual rhyming couplets and a running dialogue gag that caps the cartoon. Oh, and like he did in Pie-Pirates and Yogi Bear’s Big Break, Yogi imitates Jackie Gleason’s stage exit, though he doesn’t borrow the line “And away we go!” Gleason made popular on his TV variety show.

Because Yogi is pretending to be Gleason Robin Hood, the cartoon is set in a forested area of Jellystone Park and we get a wonderful palate of greens from Art Lozzi in the backgrounds.




The running gag starts early.

Yogi: For now on, you and me will be known as Robin Hood Yogi and his Merry Men (laughs). And you will be called Little John.
Boo Boo (innocently): My name’s Boo Boo.

And Boo Boo, who simply doesn’t get Yogi’s sense of logic, naïvely corrects him throughout the cartoon as a set up for the last gag.

Yogi spends the bulk of the cartoon trying to pounce on his victims from a tree à la Robin to grab goodies. But in the role he emulates Daffy Duck more than Errol Flynn. In fact, Yogi’s a failure before he even starts. He climbs up a tree and immediately falls because he picked a “skinny little branch” to sit on.

Spot gags:

 A basket-carrying tourist with a camera snaps some shots but walks away before Yogi jumps. (“I missed” is the less-than-witty comment from the bear).

 A trailer approaches Yogi’s tree. Shows’ gratuitous rhyme: “I shall drop lightly on the roof of the trailer and surprise him in a aerial attack, Jack.” Yogi’s bulk propels him through the roof and he’s lodged halfway through it, watching a woman cooking lunch. More Shows rhyming and a variation on a Ed Norton catchphrase:


Yogi: You got any goodies, madame?
Woman: Scram! Shoo! Skidoo, you!
Yogi: Ouch! What a lady grouch!

Here’s the bashing slowed down.


 Another trailer approaches. Yogi lands on it. In a variation of the old ‘standing-on-a-train-going-into-a-tunnel’ gag, the bear is knocked off the roof when the trailer goes through a hollow tree in the road.

 He lies in the road like an injured bear to stop a car with a couple of tourists. They drive over him.




Driver: When are they going to pave these bumpy roads?
Boo Boo: Are you injured, Yogi?
Yogi: Only my pride, Boo Boo. Only my pride.

 Yogi emulates Robin Hood Daffy by swinging from a rope. “Watch this trick, Boo Boo. It’s tricky” is Shows’ weak pun this time. Well, actually, he emulates Tarzan because he gives out a Tarzan yell before trying to swoop down on a picnic table where the man and wife from earlier in the cartoon are eating. The first time, the rope’s too long and he skids up to his neck in the ground. The second time he grabs a watermelon but glides into their trailer, collapsing all four walls on top of each other. Warren Foster reused the gag in Lullabye-Bye Bear with the ranger station.



And that’s where our next scene takes place. Ranger Smith hasn’t been invented yet, so we have Rangers Mack and Joe. Mac’s the one with the white moustache. Joe goes to investigate a call about a bear wrecking a trailer.

 Meanwhile, Yogi uses a bow and arrow to harpoon a basket of yummies. But the housewife from earlier in the cartoon makes an appearance again with her frying pan.



So what gag about stealing by Shows and Joe Barbera climaxes the cartoon? We don’t get one. The gags don’t build to a finish. Instead, Mack goes to investigate what’s happened to Joe, then finds Yogi has conned him into becoming one of the Merry Men and is teaching him how to shoot an arrow. The climax turns out to be the running gag.


Yogi: And, you, sir, are Friar Tuck.
Joe: But my name is Joe.

Yogi faces the camera in a close-up and remarks: “I ask ya, did Robin Hood ever have trouble like this? Shee!”

And, with that, the cartoon ends. However, don’t fret. Yogi, Boo Boo, Art Lozzi’s tints of green forest, and Ed Benedict’s Ranger Mack all return to the air in a mere two weeks in Scooter Looter.


There’s one other mystery in this cartoon. Daws Butler and Don Messick provided just about all the voices during the entire first season of the Huckleberry Hound Show. Any female characters, they did in falsetto, except the same woman was hired to do this cartoon and Daffy Daddy. It’s certainly not Julie Bennett or Jean Vander Pyl, who worked at Hanna-Barbera the next season. At first, I thought I had matched the voice to Ginny Tyler, who was doing children’s records for Walt Disney at the time and later worked on several H-B cartoons. Now, I’m not so sure (it sounds more like her on Bear on a Picnic; the character has a higher pitch). There is another possibility. We posted an old newspaper story here earlier about Margie Liszt, who it was said played a cat in a Huck cartoon. If you watch the cartoon, it’s apparent Don Messick is the cat. But perhaps Liszt is in this one. I haven’t got a sample of any of her radio work to compare this voice with.

No mystery in any of the background music here. You’ve heard it all before. The cutter tends to let each cue run through scenes and then have a sound effect or no music until the next scene starts.


0:00 Yogi Bear sub-main title theme (Curtin).
0:17 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi declares Boo Boo is Little John, climbs tree.
1:35 - no music. Boo Boo hears tourist, dashes behind tree. Tourist takes a picture.
1:47 - TC-300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Tourist takes pictures, Yogi lands on ground, bashed with frying pan, slides back to tree.
3:00 - no music. “What a lady grouch!” “Here comes another trailer, merry Yogi.”
3:05 - TC-201 PIXIE COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi zips up tree, tunnel in the tree scene, run over by car, tourists eating.
4:23 - TC-303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Boo Boo pops out bush, Yogi jumps from tree with rope.
4:42 - No music. Yogi swings down, buried himself in ground.
4:49 - TC-303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi in tree, leaps.
5:00 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Yogi swings down, grabs melon, “Like taking candy.”
5:10 - no music. “From a baby.” Trailer collapses.
5:17 - TC-201 PIXIE COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Ranger on phone, Yogi captures basket, hit with frying pan. Mack decides to check on Joe.
6:33 - no music. Mack walks and stops.
6:38 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Yogi teaches Joe how to shoot arrow.
6:59 - Yogi Bear sub-end title theme (Curtin).

6 comments:

  1. Even a weak Shows effort like RHY has enough charm, and the backgrounds are impressive. Art Lozzi makes Jellystone look like a near-tropical paradise, with trees that look more like Florida pines than the lodgepole pines of the real Yellowstone.

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  2. This cartoon was one of four whose soundtrack on a Colpix 33RPM album, with the addition of a narrator who would cue the listener in on what was happening on screen, and sometimes offer warnings to the characters. "Look out, Yogi- low bridge."

    The narration and editing of SFX changed some of the original gags as well. When Yogi drags himself into the ground due to the overly long rope we hear a stock H-B THUD! instead of the stock H-B "screeching to a stop" used in the actual cartoon. Instead of hitting the trailer we're advised by the narrator that Yogi is about to hit a tree, resulting in a stock H-B BANG! followed by a smaller thud. This rendered the tourist's complaint about Yogi wrecking his trailer pointless.

    No matter, I still crack up at "See how easy it is to get it, Boob?" and the stock H-B frying-pan-to-head SFX.

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  3. Do I detect even a little love for Charlie Shows?

    And, hey... I like the ending! Yogi even converts the dullard ranger to his cause!

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  4. This may be more looking back in hindsight than anything else, but Shows' low-keyed, laid-back stories are a welcome change of pace to that more hyper and at times forced-hilarity of the later Hanna-Barbera work (even as early as 1961 some of the final series of Yogi cartoons are just trying too damned hard to be madcap/wacky, a pattern that would remain a staple of pretty much all animated TV cartoons until the end of the 1980s).

    As Michael Barrier said of Tedd Pierce's stories for Chuck Jones in the early 1940s, it's like they had five minutes worth of story in a seven-minute cartoon. Knock a minute off both numbers and you get the situation with a lot of Shows' cartoons for H-B, but the sparse stories/under-developed gags do leave space for more personality development, while the later cartoons often try to cram too many forced hilarity plot points in at the expense of personality development.

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  5. Joe, there's nothing wrong with the gag. Nice little surprise bit and a dialogue capper. But for an end gag, it'd be nice to have something a little stronger.

    JL, that's probably a pretty good summary. In the least-amusing Shows cartoons, it seems to take awhile for anything to happen and then not much ends up happening. That's probably a drawback of limited animation. If you have no budget to draw a lot of action, you've got to pad somehow, so you have Jinks take a robot cat for a no-gag test spin.

    The one thing Shows had over Foster is he never got locked into a formula. It may have been deliberate or because the characters were new. So we get funny spot gag cartoons with a trout or a freeway. Or we get a slice-of-life piece with Li'l Tom Tom being rescued; Foster never would have written something like that or 'Little Bird Mouse.' Foster, Maltese and the guys who came later seem boxed in, and that limited storyline possibilities. And it seems the same plots .. Red Riding Hood parodies, fighting dragons, etc. .. ended up being used in almost all the series. Even the pacing was identical. Fortunately, they were good enough writers that in the best cartoons there's something amusing or silly going on or being said.

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  6. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth,

    In the John Kricfalusi's blog (http://johnkstuff.blogspot.com), there are various topics refering to the background paintings made by Art Lozzi on the Hanna-Barbera cartoons. But the most interesting topics involving the Art Lozzi's background artwork, are on the following links:

    - http://johnkstuff.blogspot.com/2006/11/color-theory-art-lozzi-interview-early.html
    - http://johnkstuff.blogspot.com/2006/10/color-theory-good-color-without-lot-of.html

    Enjoy to visit them!

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