Saturday, 15 January 2011

Yogi Bear — Papa Yogi

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – George Nicholas; Layout – Walt Clinton; Backgrounds – Joe Montell; Story – Warren Foster; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Lawrence Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi, Dad 2 – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Dad 1, Ranger Smith, Picnic Emcee, Pie Eating/Sack Dad – Don Messick.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Bill Loose/John Seely, Geordie Hormel.
First aired: week of October 26, 1959 (rerun, week of May 30, 1960).
Plot: Yogi and Boo Boo enter the games at a Father-Son Picnic at Jellystone Park to make off with some food.

The word “satire” was used a fair bit in the late ‘50s to describe the Hanna-Barbera cartoons and this one is a great example why. Warren Foster’s absolute cynicism about parenting and marriage is what drives the plot of this cartoon. It features a bus-load of fathers who have absolutely no interest in taking their sons to a picnic because they know the end result—they’ll spend their time making food for their bottomless-stomached boys and they’ll all get sick. They’ve resigned themselves to doing what they think fathers in the 1950s are supposed to do, living out some kind of pre-determined domestic script of life.

Boo Boo: Are those fathers over there?
Yogi: Could be. They look pretty miserable to me.
Dad 1: How many hot dogs we gotta make, George?
Dad 2: About a million of ‘em.
Dad 1: Who dreamed up this father-son picnic?
Dad 2: The mothers. Who else?

And Foster puts a little more emotion into Boo Boo in this one, too. He’s not a lemming or a conscience. He’s got a mind of his own. At the beginning, he gets excited about the prospect of a picnic while Yogi tries to bluff that he can read the ‘picnic’ banner on the bus. And, even better, he’s absolutely pissed off at Yogi for trying to con him into entering a sack race. Look at the pose at the bottom right.

The animation here is by George Nicholas who came up with the best Yogi cartoons in the second season of the Huck show, meaning he did the best Yogi cartoons ever. Don Patterson and Ed Love did stellar Yogis that year, too, but there’s something about Nicholas’ work I like. He crafts some funny poses and Yogi’s always attractively drawn. Nicholas gave Yogi a big mouth with a floppy tongue (and did the same with Fred in the first season of The Flintstones). In a Nicholas cartoon in this season, Yogi’s nose crinkles when his mouth is wide, too. All three animators are helped by the fact Foster hasn’t chained Yogi to the familiar ‘beat Ranger Smith’ formula which limited the character instead of expanding him. There’s a ranger in this cartoon but he doesn’t hover over the whole plot; the real focus is on Yogi in the various events at the picnic.

Joe Montell handled backgrounds in this one and joins with fellow ex-Avery unit guy Walt Clinton in giving us some effective fall colours of browns and greens. I like the two and three-tone trees in the opening as the rented school bus makes its way to the park. And I don’t know whether Clinton was responsible for this in layout, but this cartoon also features trees in the background that form kind of a hump shape (see below right). They have dots for leaves at the top of bare branches. You can see this in other cartoons too, like ‘Nottingham and Yeggs.’ The shape makes the background a little more interesting.

The cartoon begins with the aforementioned bus followed by a long shot of Yogi and Boo Boo watching it go by, Boo Boo reading the ‘picnic’ banner, the bears moving in for a closer look and watching the forlorn dads you read about above. Then they move in to do some mooching (“Who’s kid is he?” asks one dad of the other, referring to Boo Boo). Nicholas doesn’t let Yogi just stand there bobbing his head. He gives us a pose.

One of the dads offers Yogi an olive. The bear is indignant. He reaches for the strawberry cake in close-up (Daws loved changing the word to “strawmberry”. Huck says it in ‘Little Red Riding Huck’). We get a series of funny hand-violence drawings. One is to the right.

Ranger Smith shows up to warn Yogi about the rules against feeding the park bears. Yogi vibrates to a stop when the ranger calls him. The bear lies that the dads were trying to force-feed him. After expressing remorse, Yogi gives a hammy exit off-stage, pledging to “melt back into the forest.” The camera shakes, then pans to Yogi smashed against a tree. “The forest was closer than I estimated,” he tells us.

Yogi now engages in a tactic that became familiar: he tries to get around the ranger’s order by taking it literally. Since the picnic is for fathers and sons, Yogi steals clothes from some campers so he and Boo Boo can pass as a father and son. Let the contest gags begin.

Yogi easily wins the pie-eating contest, then has a little difficulty exiting out of the scene when the ranger spots him.

Boo Boo doesn’t win the sack race because of Yogi’s instruction to load up the sack with goodies. Instead, a father brings the Boo Boo-in-a-sack back to Yogi. “Keep him away from the picnic table, huh? We don’t want the kids getting sick.”

Finally, it’s the peanut rolling contest. Yogi rolls the peanut right up Ranger Smith’s body to his nose. The bear makes yet another quick exit from the scene and camera shake follows. Yogi smashes into a tree. But this time, it falls on the picnic table to end the afternoon for the fathers and sons. “Double the guard at the games!” yells the ranger into a phone. “Get out the bloodhounds. I want that bear!” Even Ranger Smith gets a big open mouth that Nicholas liked drawing in his early cartoons at Hanna-Barbera.

So we’ve reached the final scene where the bus now leaves through the gate to Jellystone. Cut to a close-up of weary dads and sleeping boys.

Dad 1: I had 12 hot dogs and the kid had eight. Plus ten bottles of sodie pop. Ohhhhh.
Dad 2: So what? I had 15 dogs, three bags of chips, four bags of peanuts. And the kid had more’n me. Oh, I feel awful.

The camera pans to Yogi and Boo Boo in the back seat. Yogi is hunched in to fit.

Boo Boo: Do you think we’ll ever get back in the park, Yogi?
Yogi: What’s wrong with being a human being? They never stop eating. Boy, oh boy, oh boy!

And we get a Yogi slurpy tongue to end the cartoon, another sign that George Nicholas has been at work. He did the same thing in ‘Hoodwinked Bear.’

Some friendly, familiar music greets you during the cartoon. The sound cutter tosses in a fast Hormel cue for the peanut roll, which helps accent the pace.

0:00 - Yogi Bear sub main title theme (Curtin).
0:25 - LAF-21-3 RECESS (Shaindlin) – Bus goes into Jellystone, Yogi and Boo Boo behind tree.
1:11 - LAF-10-7 GROTESQUE No. 2 (Shaindlin) – Fathers at picnic table, Ranger lectures Yogi, Yogi hits tree.
2:51 - TC-300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi and Boo Boo borrow clothes.
3:19 - PIXIE PRANKS (Shaindlin) – Pie eating contest, sack race.
5:01 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Boo Boo begs to quit, Yogi rushes to enter peanut racing contest.
5:27 - ZR-47 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Peanut race, Yogi rolls peanut up ranger’s body.
6:00 - TC-201 PIXIE COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Ranger yells at Yogi, tree falls on picnic table, ranger yells in phone.
6:32 - LAF-21-3 RECESS (Shaindlin) – Bus leaves Jellystone, Yogi and Boo Boo in back seat.
7:09 - Yogi Bear sub end title theme (Curtin).


  1. One of my favourite Yogi cartoons with plenty of fun stuff - long before I knew more about George's work here - including the literal "running" gag and the "peanut between us" line. Truly makes me chuckle.

  2. Totally agree: George's Yogi was a beautiful thing.

  3. Definitely one of the best of the series, with some of the same cynicism that the Shows-Gordon Yogis had during Season 1, but with more action, as the earlier cartoons at times could get too laid-back (while the Yogi-vs.-the tree bit is similar to the one Avery used back in 1941 with Willoughby in "The Crackpot Quail", where we never have to see the actual collision; the noise and Nicholas' reaction shots and Foster's scene-ending line do the job)

  4. A true classic in realm of Yogi! Viva la George Nicholas.

  5. The link for LAF-10-7 Grotesque #2 is not available at the Archive...
    Yowp is a site I try to visit a couple times a week. I appreciate the work you put into it.

  6. When I saw this as a teenager the voices of the dads were enough to convince me that here was a superior cartoon, made by people who still had the adult market in mind. Full marks to Butler and Messick for their naturalistic rendition of already-weary men -- and to Clinton, Montell and Nicholas, who provided quality art in the rushed H-B studio. At the end we see no indigestion wobbles, no sprites or green faces but the voices and expressions convince us that every human character has a tummyache. They brought it on themselves.

  7. That rented bus is something that I always took for a charter bus. This is a fun cartoon [I had posted earlier, but it disappeared]. The "strawberry cake" bit cracks me up,too, and the cues used here mostly are Shaindlin ones. The bus scenes have some great moments, too, coming and going, with the same stock cues. Yogi and "Boob" are the only ones NOT "sick, sick sick" [Yogi could probaly drive that bus, too, if he knew how to shift those..only thing is, of course, knowing from his OTHER motor vehicle experience: helicopters, boats, scooters, and later in the "Hoyt Curtin era", Season Four, army tanks, Yogi's batting average at operating ANYTHING-even to escape from Jellystone, if he could only ambush the driver!- isn't that good.but it';s fun to imagine our favorite bear DRIVING out of Jellystone..after all, he DOES drive up in the opening titles, thru the Kellogg's billboard.]

    "A Peanut coming between us"..."They molested a bear" [try using THAT line, with "molesting" having a MUCH more charged word, and Yogi's antics being more taboo, today!!!!]

    Classic short, and right up there with that Boy Scout one, "A Good Scout."

  8. By Posted I was referring to the comment. I sometimes confuse this with Daffy Daddy due to the title.

    [I was going to make that comment here anyway to keep the last, long enough as it is, from getting LONGER].

  9. Jack, I wrote this last Sept. and a lot of the links have become outdated since then. I thought I had fixed it but there must have been a mystery character inserted in the code. Coding links and pictures takes almost as long as writing the posts. Removing TV channel bugs takes up more time than anything.

  10. Always loved the amount of cynicism in this cartoon. Foster must have attended a few Father-Son picnics in his day. Tony is right on about Daws and Don's worn out sounding dads. You actually feel for the two as they rattle off all they ate. Also, the dads really not wanting to be there in the first place; " Who dreamed up this father & son picnic?, The mothers, who else " Classic lines. Of all the father-son picnics I remember, a lot of dad's DID come home " Sick, Sick, Sick ". A lot of times, the best comedy is rooted in truth. Kudos to everyone involved in this cartoon.

  11. "Release the dogs! I WANNA THAT BEAR!"

  12. Only to remember: Yogi Bear: The Movie premiered today, here in Brazil.

  13. Does anybody else notice that Don Messick's "Ranger Smith" voice is a little different here than in other cartoons? Specifically, he talks with more of a grunt in this one.

    1. Anon, yes, in the earliest Smith cartoons, Messick adopted a world-weary attitude, maybe because Foster wrote him that way. I think it changed by season end. It certainly did when Yogi got his own show and Dick Bickenbach came up with a standard design.