Saturday, 9 April 2011

Yogi Bear — Space Bear

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Don Patterson; Layout – Walt Clinton; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Story – Warren Foster; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Lawrence (Art) Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi, Motorist, Man with Gun – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Alien Leader, Alien, Ranger Smith – Don Messick.
Music: Bill Loose/John Seely, Jack Shaindlin, Geordie Hormel, Spence Moore, Phil Green, Raoul Kraushaar?
First Aired: week of February 22, 1960 (rerun, week of August 1, 1960).
Production: Huckleberry Hound Show No. K-39.
Plot: An alien disguises himself as Yogi and terrorises Jellystone with a disintegration gun.

Title card courtesy of Greg Duffell.

Any Hanna-Barbera fan watching this can’t help but think of ‘The Ten Little Flintstones’ (1964). That’s where a flying saucer lands, takes a picture of Fred, ten small-pupiled, staring duplicates of Fred are made, and a quavery-voiced leader played by Don Messick dispatches them to “mingle with the natives” of Earth before an invasion. Fred eventually chases them back into the saucer and saves the planet.

It was written by Tony Benedict, who wasn’t at Hanna-Barbera when this cartoon was written by Warren Foster. Still, the basic opening is the same. A saucer lands at Jellystone Park. Yogi, who’s not very bright for someone who is supposedly crafty, thinks it’s a car with newly-arrived tourists and decides to hit them up for food. A camera emerges, takes pictures of Yogi, then the saucer zooms into space and lands on a ringed planet. A quavery-voiced leader played by Don Messick—yes, using the same voice—talks of invasion plans. The photos of Yogi are used as a guide to make a costume of a “typical Earth inhabitant” worn by an alien who is told to go back to Earth and “mix in with the population.” And at the end of the cartoon, Yogi kicks butt (literally) and presumably saves Earth.

Comes to think of it, in Hanna-Barbera’s very first series, didn’t the two-faced Big Thinker of Muni-Mula want to make Ruff and Reddy look-a-likes to invade the Earth?

Ah, well. Despite the similarities, there’s a still lot to like in this cartoon. The aliens look like something from a ‘50s print ad instead of a ‘50s sci-fi movie. Messick’s alien voice is cool. He even changes pitch and puts it in another alien (he used it on The Herculoids and a number of other times during his career). Don Patterson gets some great expressions at the end of the cartoon out of a streamlined Ranger Smith. The timing of the realisation Yogi hasn’t left is perfect, too. And Yogi’s spit-take is as good as any Catskills comic’s.

An ingenious animation-saving bit is used, similar to when Jinks is zapped by a light socket in ‘Mark of the Mouse.’ When the camera takes a picture of Yogi, no animation is used. Instead, alternating black-and-white drawings are flashed on the screen.

Just to vary the visuals, there’s a cut to a shot of Boo Boo as the flash goes off. I like the brushwork here (or is it pencilwork?). The one thing I don’t understand is how the aliens can build a futuristic space ship but they’re using what looks like an old Bell and Howell home movie camera from the 1950s.

Here are a couple of shots of Saucer X-12 as it weaves to a landing on the unnamed planet. Nice brush-stroke space clouds and varying shades of grey on the planet. The landing tower is kind of art deco.

The aliens have ears that curl up from the bottom. Either the model sheet was inconsistent or Don Patterson didn’t pay attention to it. In the scene where the alien leader is showing the photos of Yogi on the big screen, he has only one triangle on his full-length tunic. Later, when he’s giving instructions to the alien disguised as Yogi, he has interlacing triangles and stylised epaulettes. Patterson must have had fun following the dialogue track because he gives the alien mouth movements that waver at the appropriate time.

The spaceship and its disguised occupant return to Jellystone and stop in the middle of a road. The fake Yogi gets out and toddles along with a disintegrating ray gun in hand. There’s honking off-camera. “Get out of the road you mangy bear! Come on, beat it!” yells the passenger in a car. Apparently, the presence of a large flying saucer in the road has escaped him. He just notices the bear. You can tell which one he is because he’s not in a brown shadow. The alien aims his ray gun and poof!

 This development, logically, results in a phone call to the Ranger Station. The station looks like something a five-year-old would draw. There are spots in the cartoon where parts of the backgrounds look fairly crude (the letters of “Jellystone” over the park entrance almost look traced) but this is just a bit much. The zig-zag lines indicating fir branches work for me, though.

Inside, the Ranger listens to the phone call concludes “They forget where they park their cars and blame it on the bears.” Meanwhile, Yogi decides to find some tourist-type goodies and jauntily walks past the alien Yogi. “Shee. What a screwy-looking bear,” he remarks. When he goes over to talk to the “bear,” it zaps him. After the flash, we see a headless Yogi. But we all know Hanna-Barbera anatomy. It means the head is really under the collar and pops back up. I’m still not quite sure where the head actually goes.

The fake Yogi is on his way to the Ranger Station, where more calls are pouring in. First the alien zaps the ranger’s desk, then his back wall. The ranger’s okay. He’s only biting his bottom lip because Don Patterson’s animating.

“Attention, all sections of the park!” Ranger Smith blares on a radio. “This is an emergency. A bear has gone berserk. He is armed and dangerous. If you see him, call the ranger station at once. Repeat. A berserk bear is on the loose. He is armed and dangerous. His name is Yogi Bear.” At that point, the thermos-drinking bear does a shock take then a spit take. Patterson stretches out the scene with cycles, too. There’s a picnicking family with a dad chewing and the daughter blinking (the mother does nothing).

Yogi and Boo Boo hightail it into their cave. Boo Boo notices the disguised alien who Yogi kicks out of the cave. The alien aims the disintegrating ray gun at Yogi but it’s out of whatever. But the Ranger has a regular (presumably loaded) gun he points at the fake Yogi who runs away. “Hey, Yogi, come back,” says the ranger. “I promise you a fair trial.” Just then is a clank and a shot of the space ship taking off. Ranger Smith thinks he’s rid of Yogi. Here’s his exuberance in five drawings; Patterson has him change direction.

“I’m free! I’m free, I tell ya!” shouts the ranger as Yogi walks up to him in that dip walk Patterson used to avoid animating legs. “You certainly are, sir. It’s a free country.” Here’s when the Ranger realises something.

“That voice!” says the ranger as he slowly turns up to see who he’s hugging. The head turns in seven drawings (with a blink tossed in) and returns to the sixth drawing.

“Oh, no! It’s Yogi,” moans Ranger Smith, who then looks at the audience through half-closed eyes and drops down further on Yogi’s body and starts crying. “How about that? I didn’t know he cared,” says Yogi, with an eye roll before the iris closes.

The theme of someone who was something else was a good crutch for Foster in the 1959-60 season. He wrote 12 Yogi cartoons (Mike Maltese wrote one) and based eight around the concept:
● A jewel thief pretending to be a bear in ‘Bare Face Bear.’
● Yogi and Boo Boo pretending to be father and son in ‘Papa Yogi.’
● Wee Willie being mistaken for a ranger in ‘Stranger Ranger.’
● Yogi mistaking human football players for real bears, then being mistaken for a mascot from the front office in ‘Rah Rah Bear.’
● Boo Boo being made to think he was a bird in ‘Nowhere Bear,’
● Boo Boo, then, Yogi, pretending to be a toy in ‘Wound-Up Bear.’
● Boo Boo pretending to be Little Red Riding Hood in ‘Hoodwinked Bear.’
● And this cartoon where an alien pretends to be Yogi.

The sound cutter pulls out a bit of spacey music, not as much as you hear in the Muni-Mula stories on Ruff and Reddy as only part of this is set in space. One of the Loose-Seely “Ghost” cues (actually written by David Rose) makes an appearance and there’s one of Phil Green’s eerie flute and bassoon underscores when the alien shows the snaps of Yogi. It was used in at least one other cartoon. And we get the creepy mysterioso muted trumpet bed that may have come from the Omar library distributed by Capitol.

0:00 - Yogi Bear Sub Main Title Theme (Curtin-Hanna-Barbera)
0:13 - L-75 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Space ship lands in Jellystone.
0:30 - ZR-51 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Yogi talks to Boo Boo, camera takes pictures of Yogi, space ship takes off.
1:35 - TC-22 SUBLIME GHOST (Loose-Seely) - “What a cheapskate”, space ship lands.
1:59 - EM-136I EERIE (Green) – Alien shows film of Yogi.
2:50 - TC-22 SUBLIME GHOST (Loose-Seely) – “One of us...” Leader gives orders.
3:17 - low key dramatic music (Green) – Alien salutes, lands space ship in Jellystone, car honking sound.
3:31 - creepy wah-wah muted trumpet (Kraushaar?) – Guy in car yells at alien, car disintegrated, ranger station scene.
4:04 - C-3 DOMESTIC CHILDREN (Loose-Seely) – Yogi “liberates” goodies, has head zapped by alien.
4:40 - LAF 27-6 UNTITLED TUNE (Shaindlin) – Ranger’s office scene, alien zaps hole in office, walks away.
5:16 - L-80 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Ranger on radio, Yogi spit take,
5:49 - TC-301 ZANY WALTZ (Loose-Seely) – Yogi and Boo Boo zip away, alien/bear in cave, runs away, Ranger with gun.
6:24 - TC-432 HOLLY DAY (Loose-Seely) – Space ship lifts off, Ranger joyous, hugs Yogi.
6:41 - ’FIREMAN’ (Shaindlin) – “It’s a free country,” Ranger sobs.
6:57 - Yogi Bear Sub End Title Theme (Curtin).


  1. Sadly, my only copy of this is from " Cartoon Network ", circa 1995, during one of their Saturday afternoon " Super Chunks ". So, needless to say, the little " super chunk " kid's face is at the bottom right hand corner. Also, no credits. Just the Yogi theme and title card. That being said, My favorite part is when Ranger Smith is on the phone talking to the guys who just had their car destroyed by the alien bear. " Oh yes, we ALWAYS check out car disintegrations". Don Messick spoken those lines so sarcastically. Love it.

  2. ANd of coruse, "FIREMAN" (title incomplete) from Quick Draw, Augie, and Snooper closes out the cartoon!!

    (In addition to the music choices mentioned).

    This really seemed to be about the ranger and the alien for the most part--I kept forgetting how much Yogi and Boo Boo were in this..

    In regard to W.Foster writing "Disguise" shorts, in a variation, in the 1960 Huckleberry Hound short, "Nutts over Mutts", we get that snickering dog, not disguised, but acting like he's crippled so as to get Huck's symphathy for laughs.

    And yes, "Ten Little Flintstones" is what I think of regarding "Space Bear", though it was remade as one of those rather blah late 1980s TV feature films that Hanna-Barbera put out.(Meedless to say, the preferred version of Yogi vs an alien "bruin" is right here on this blog..)

  3. Errol, what's frustrating and puzzling is I thought the Italian Yogis would be minus the unsightly "TVG" and might have all credits. But what they did was take the visuals from Boomerang, with all ugly logos intact, and use the same music and sfx track, but add an Italian dialogue track over top. They did that for all the 1959-60 Yogis (except the Yowp cartoon, which they didn't dub at all). I don't know why a bug-filled copy would exist in that state, one that allows the removal of one of the audio tracks. I can understand an edited (ie. credit-less) version in the studio's hands for foreign distribution. But one with a huge "TVG" already slapped on it that was obviously done long after the cartoon was originally made? I don't get it.

  4. Dick Bickenbach makes lower ears sometimes too, Rod. He did on 'SOUR PUSS'. This one doesn't have enough Clint dumpiness in it, but you may very well be right; you were about 'Batty Bat'.

    Patt makes some lovley solid drawing. I love how he handles the Ranger at the end there.

  5. Zartok, I thought Clinton at first but the aliens don't strike me as Clinton-esque. The guys in the car sort-of do. It's sure not Tony Rivera.

    1. I always recognized the Walter Clinton's design on the four men who were inside the car.

    2. Zartok, I just got the credits today from restored versions of the cartoons. It's Clinton.
      The less said about "Batty Bat," the better.

  6. for some reason, don messick's alien voice always reminded me of george jessel.

    1. Geez, I never thought about it, but, yeah, I can hear it.
      Jessel always reminded of Jolson.

  7. "I didn't know you cared" was a staple in WB cartoons in which two characters accidentally get tangled together in what would otherwise resemble an amorous embrace.

    In this case it's strange that the Ranger would continue to clutch Yogi after he comes to the horrible realization that the latter is still very much around. You'd expect the Ranger to collapse to the ground in a childlike tantum, run screaming into the woods, or flip out and go bouncing into the woods emitting gutteral sounds.

  8. Hoard, good observation..and not surprising that the line "I didn't know you cared"[changed a bit] would be used...after all, who wrote this cartoon ? And what was his background for year? :)

  9. Drawings No. 5-7 on Patterson's 'blink' take by the Ranger have a very 1950-ish Lantz look to his face, while the facial design of the alien in the bear suit look like a more precise version of the "Astronut" character Terrytoons was drawing up at roughly the same time this cartoon came out for the new Deputy Dawg series (maybe future H-B employees Larz Bourne and Dave Tendlar were watching the Huckleberry Hound show on WPIX in February 1960 when they came up with the long-nose look for their guest star in "The Space Varmint").

  10. Even as a six-year-old watching this cartoon on an afterschool H-B compilation, I knew something was amiss. A Yogi cartoon ending with an outcue from the Quick Draw trilogy?! On occasion, 1958 cues would be heard under an early Quick Draw or Snooper & Blabber short (and only once, situationally, in the Augie short "Pipsqueak Pop").

    But very rarely would 1959 'Quick Draw' cues be heard in new Season 2 or 3 of the Huck trilogy. As Steve C has mentioned, the Season 3 Huck short "Nuts About Mutts" used a sad cue common to the Augie shorts; likewise Season 3 Meece short "Wise Quackers" another Augie cue. One of the last Huck shorts, "Lawman Huck" ended with a quick snatch from "Comedy Walker". But that's all I can think of.

  11. I suspect the cutter used whatever cue he thought was appropriate. I was watching a Quick Draw cartoon the other day with a Bluestone-Cadkin cue.

  12. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth,

    On the scene where the aliens were taking photos of Yogi (brilliant flashlight VFX!), the camera which the aliens were using to photograph Yogi was a Rolleiflex (manufactured in Germany by Rollei), which was very en vogue in the 50s and 60s.

    1. Alias, Rollei sponsored the 1974 FIFA World Cup (which was held in Germany).

  13. Did anyone else seem to notice that the basic plot idea of a show's main character getting impersonated by a bad guy in a full suit or mask, as seen here, was also done in MANY OTHER H-B cartoons? I swear someone at H-B loved that plot and kept recycling it with some variation. Here are other examples I know...

    Breezly and Sneezly: "SPIES IN THE OINTMENT" (two spies sneak into a military base using polar bear and seal costumes that happen to look just like Breezly and Sneezly)
    Ricochet Rabbit: "TWO TOO MANY" (a small midget criminal disguise as Ricochet to frame him for sending him to jail)
    Squiddly Diddly: "SQUIDDLY DOUBLE DIDDLY" (a Paul Frees-voiced spy impersonates Squiddly to sneak into the aquarium to seal secret plans)
    Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?: "NEVER APE AN APE MAN" (the Ape Man uses a full rubber Scooby-Doo mask at one point in the episode to confuse the real dog, which Shaggy then repeats) and "SCOOBY'S GOLD MEDAL GAMBIT" (when the escaped criminal The Chameleon dresses up as Scooby-Doo as one of his disguises to infiltrate the Olympic events)
    Hong Kong Phooey: "HONG KONG PHOOEY vs. HONG KONG PHOOEY" (where the titular kung-fu dog and his sidekick Spot the Cat are BOTH impersonated by a midget farmer in a Hong Kong Phooey suit, and his dog in a Spot suit, to claim the awards Phooey turned down)
    Grape Ape: (I don't know the title, but someone told me about the episode, where someone disguises as Beegle Beagle and uses a giant mechanical Grape Ape to frame our heroes)
    The Scooby-Doo/Richie Rich Show: (Again, I don't know the title, but it features the villain Dr. Disguise, among other impersonations, disguises as Richie Rich to swipe his fortune)

    See what I mean?