Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Art Davis, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Bob Gentle, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, Dad with Camera, Charlie’s Buddy, Maître d’ – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Ranger Smith, Boy Scout, Charlie – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1961.
Plot: Yogi decides to build a wishing well to earn money to buy food.
There’s not a lot of laugh-out-loud comedy in the Yogi Bear cartoons exclusively for his own show in the 1961-62 season. Most of them are amusing at best and pleasant at worse. “A Bear Living” is pleasant.
The cartoons had devolved to a point where the plots were mainly Yogi-vs-Ranger Smith, usually involving food or park rules. This cartoon contains both. Warren Foster’s story is well-constructed but the dialogue merely services the plot. There’s nothing I would really call hilarious. Even Yogi’s rhymes are at a minimum (“My conscience is clear. I have nothing to fear,” he tells Boo Boo). It’s tough to blame Foster, though. He was busy writing “The Flintstones” at the time and the workload doing that series and a dozen-or-so Yogis (plus Huckleberry Hound, plus Pixie and Dixie, plus Hockey Wolf, plus some Loopy De Loops) is just mind-boggling. A lesser writer would come up with disjointed crap like any “Bucky and Pepito” story.
Foster’s dialogue isn’t the only thing that’s tamer here. The animation is by the great Art Davis. But if you compare it to what he did on the Quick Draw McGraw cartoon “El Kabong, Jr.” the previous season, which has some neat angular poses and stylisation, there’s a lot of talking and walking and not a lot else. Davis tends to curve up the mouth high into the face in his Hanna-Barbera cartoons around this time. Here are a couple of examples.
Davis left behind some eyes when Yogi zips out of the scene.
I’ve mentioned before how the positions of the characters don’t match after cuts. Here’s a good example of consecutive frames. The shot cuts from two characters to three (I gather in layout, these are considered separate scenes).
Bob Gentle doesn’t get a chance to shine. Like the dialogue, the backgrounds service the plot. In fact, 40 seconds of screen time features a background that’s a greenish-tan coloured card. That’s it. Here are two of his drawings that are in the clear.
And here’s a basic drawing of the Ranger Station to open the cartoon. Gentle gets some varied angles in it.
There aren’t any of the isosceles triangle-shaped trees that you normally see when Tony Rivera is the layout artist. Rivera designed the cars in this.
The straight-forward story starts with Ranger Smith holding up a park rule book and telling Yogi that’s what he’s going to follow. Yogi apparently thought the Ranger was a preacher with a Bible. “But for a minute, I thought you were going to marry us.” Even Boo Boo laughs as that, not realising that a couple of generations later, people with too much time on their hands would try to read something into his relationship with Yogi. “This book won’t sell big amongst us bears,” Yogi tells the Ranger.
Ah, but smarter-than-the average Yogi has found a loophole. It doesn’t say bears can’t buy food at the park. So he decides to construct a wishing well (as a “Flintstones” bassoon underscore plays in the background) and make some cash from the coins dropped in (“The Ranger isn’t going to like that, Yogi). It’s visited by characters with pipe-stem legs (Rivera’s favourite), including a Boy Scout (Bill Hanna’s favourite) with 5 o’clock shadow.
We mentioned one cue you’ll recall from “The Flintstones.” The rest of Hoyt Curtin’s music should be familiar from Touché Turtle and Wally Gator cartoons.