Saturday, 28 January 2012

Yogi Bear — Wound-Up Bear

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera
Credits: Animation – Don Patterson; Layout – Tony Rivera; Backgrounds – Joe Montell; Story – Warren Foster; Story Director - Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi, Bill, Cabin Woman 2 (Vera), Souvenier Shop Guy, Lodge Man 1 – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Ranger Smith, Wife, Cabin Woman 1, Lodge Man 2 – Don Messick.
Music: Jack Shaindlin; Bill Loose/John Seely; Spencer Moore; Raoul Kraushaar?.
First Aired: week of December 28, 1959 (rerun, July 4, 1960)
Plot: Yogi disguises Boo Boo, them himself, as wind-up toys to get goodies.

I don’t really want to bash Tony Rivera, but has Ranger Smith ever looked uglier than he does in cartoon? Check this drawing from a walk cycle.

And at the start of the cartoon, Mr. Ranger looks like a neckless triangle. In fairness, the rest of the character designs aren’t bad at all. Tony even created some cute toy bears in the window of a souvenir store which spark the plot of the story. Tony’s career started at Disney in 1934 and after the strike there in 1941, he bounced to and fro on his own volition (everywhere except Warners, it appears), spent time in commercial work in the ‘50s and then landed at Hanna-Barbera. His son has a web site and you can check out some of Tony’s sketches HERE.

Tony was ending his career at Hanna-Barbera when Scott Shaw! was there. Scott passes on this remembrance:

"Tony Rivera was a very talented cartoonist/layout man and a very kind man...and he could draw FUNNY...even on scenes that didn't have a scintilla of humor in the script or storyboard. Tony went out of his way to teach me many trickier points of layout when we worked together in Hanna-Barbera's layout department during the late 1970s and early 1980s. But being the gentleman that he was, Tony never acted like an instructor; he's pretend that he was asking me a layout question while showing me the best way to do, say, a bicycle pan. I owe him a lot, for both his knowledge and his friendship."
Back to our cartoon...

Ranger Smith’s character is still new. He was developed by Warren Foster after Barbera and Charlie Shows used generic rangers in Yogi’s first season on the Huck show. Smith started out as a grumpy, weary-of-Jellystone guy before he was turned into a friendly adversary. He’s grumpy in this cartoon and pretty enjoyable. Foster comes up with a great line for him in the middle of the cartoon. Fed up with endless phone calls about thieving toy bears, he slams down the phones and says (as Rivera moves in for a closer shot) “Mabel and her charge accounts. We could have had that chicken ranch by now.”

Don Patterson’s the animator here and he’s much like Ed Love; he’s trying to get a bit more animation into his scenes. At the start of the cartoon, he’s animating dialogue of Yogi Bear in a medium close shot. The lower body doesn’t move, but Patterson changes the angle of the head horizontally and vertically during the talking. Eye pupils change position. We even get Yogi (on twos) wagging his head like a bell tolling when he says the word “pic-a-nic baskets.” It would have been easier just to animate the mouth and having maybe two head positions (like Lew Marshall) but Patterson goes for a few extra drawings to try to wring something out of limited animation. You can tell his stuff by looking at his closed eyes; they’re almost like triangle cut in half.

The cartoon features the basic Ranger-vs-Yogi plot. The Ranger nails up a sign that prohibits the feeding of bears (that appears in almost nine seconds of a static shot). Yogi is hungry. He tries to con the Ranger into telling him the “new red tape” doesn’t apply to him. The Ranger responds with a threat to send him to the St. Louis Zoo. Yogi shrugs off that “it’s back to the nuts and berries” when he sees the wind-up toy bears and gets an idea.

“Whatever it is, the ranger won’t like it, Yogi,” opines Boo Boo, as he watches Yogi pound a large turn-key into a toilet plunger suction cup. The idea is to attach it to Boo Boo so he can act like a toy bear and “having a lot of yummy fun” at the picnic grounds. Boo Boo figures he’s not going to like it either. So Yogi turns Boo Boo into a common thief, as the little bear puts on a mechanical walk (two drawings on twos, with smears to show motion). He’s a success at the beginning, ripping off a cake from a bored couple. “Beats me how they get a toy to do that,” drones Bill to his wife (the preponderance of incidental characters named ‘Bill’ in cartoons produced by Bill Hanna can hardly be a coincidence).

Not only is Yogi pimping Boo Boo to get food, he’s also a pig. And a noisy one. We cut to a scene where he’s licking his fingers. Très gauche. “Very good, Boob. Next time, you get a piece,” promises Yogi. Yeah, he slobbered down the whole cake. But that’s not good enough. He’s thinking bigger. So he shoves the mechanical Boo Boo towards a tourist cabin, where the reluctant accomplice opens an oven and grabs Vera’s apple pie (Vera Ohman was a background artist at Hanna-Barbera and married to Howard Hanson, the production supervisor). Mercifully, Boo Boo didn’t burn himself opening the oven. Yogi silently chortles about the blatant theft, which he calls “a little fun, son.” Ah, for the later, creative days when Yogi warned children against such behaviour, while piloting a spruce goose or an arc or a yo or some such thing. Oh. No one watched those cartoons, did they?

The cartoon has reached the scene where Ranger Smith laments about Mabel, and off he goes to investigate. “Last year, the flying saucer, the year before, the serpent in the lake and, now, toy bears,” he says to himself sceptically before he stops at the gift shop to investigate. He has the store operator give him a demonstration of the wind-up toy. The store owner’s as Jellystone-weary as the ranger is.

Smith: Is that all these things do?
Shop Owner: You’re expecting maybe a floor show?
Smith: You wouldn’t have one that steals picnic baskets, would you?
Shop Owner: No, but I’m workin’ on one that washes cars and whistles “Yankee Doodle” at the same time.

Notice the thin 5 O’Clock shadow on the ranger and the shop owner. Rivera seems to have liked that on his characters. And Smith has a really bad overbite, which is one of Patterson’s traits.

In later cartoons, Ranger Smith would instantly suspect Yogi as the culprit. Perhaps he’s reasonably newly-invented by Foster, he hasn’t caught on to the nefarious bear’s ways. Better make that lying nefarious bear. The ranger tells Yogi he has a problem. “Tempo of the times. International tensions. Et-cetera, et-cetera,” suggests Yogi. The ranger shakes his head while Yogi’s angularly moves his from side to side. No, it’s a toy bear, Smith sadly declares. Yogi blows his chance at honest. “I never did trust those toy bears,” says Yogi, ironically holding his hands in prayer and looking skyward, as if to ask his Creator (and we don’t mean Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera) to bless his B.S. So we now have a sacrilegious, lying, nefarious bear. Foster gets out his old “you’re one of the good ones” lines and we see the hiding Boo Boo gulp as the ranger promises to take apart the thief “spring by spring.”

Boo Boo quits to open the next scene. Yogi, instead of being understanding, basically called his best friend a wuss. “Never send a little bear to do the work of a big bear,” says Yogi as he plucks the wind-up key from Boo Boo’s back and puts it on his. Then, it’s off to the Lodge where he steals a refrigerator (but not before a Gleason-eque “And away I go” which, no doubt, pleased those Gleason-loving Hanna and Barbera). Here are Patterson’s two drawings of Yogi as a wind-up toy, slowed down.

Meanwhile, Ranger Smith has all the toy bears in his office and has counted them all. “This should wind-up the wind-up toy bear bit,” he says. Reader J. Lee would point out that Smith’s eyes look toward the camera, signalling he’s about to pull a groaner on us.

The Lodge calls to report the refrigerator theft. Smith finally clues in that it’s Yogi and lets out with a crazy laugh. Ah, but he hasn’t gone nuts. He sets a trap for the thieving bear—a loaded picnic table. Yogi sees it and his hat does a spinning take (by contrast, Yogi’s body remains rigid and the background drawing slides behind him). “With food on the table, I’m willing and able,” rhymes Yogi, who then turns to the camera to make sure we got it. Yogi gets in the whole role here by enunciating like a mechanical toy. As he grabs a cake, the ranger pops out from behind a tree. Yogi still won’t give up the fraud. “I am not a Yo-gi, sir. I am a mech-an-i-cal bear,” he stiffly states. “Good,” says Smith, who then comes out from behind the tree, showing his own wind-up key in the back. “Because I’m a wind-up ranger. And I’m winding up your park career.” Yogi and the ranger are nose-to-nose. Yogi drops the cake and zips out the frame. The ranger’s nose bounces up and down, another little bit that Patterson added that you wouldn’t see in an H-B cartoon (except in a take) within a year or so.

The Ranger chases Yogi down the road and into the distance, but not before Foster fits in a reference to the song title “Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis.” No one’s named ‘Louis’ here; Foster seems to think just referring to it is funny. But, obviously, the pilfering bear’s comeuppance isn’t being shipped to the zoo, any more than Ranger Smith’s wife is named ‘Mabel’ anywhere but in this cartoon. Yogi’s back in Jellystone for another adventure next week.

This is one of a few Yogi cartoons in the second season that doesn’t open with a narrator.

Lots of Jack Shaindlin music in this cartoon and there’s that short reverbed trumpet which I haven’t located.

0:00 - Yogi Bear Sub Main Title Theme (Curtin-Hanna-Barbera)
0:13 - C-3 DOMESTIC CHILDREN (Loose-Seely) – Ranger nails sign, Yogi looks in window, Yogi hammers wind-up key.
1:32 - LAF-4-6 PIXIE PRANKS (Shaindlin) – Yogi and Boo Boo walk out of cave, Boo Boo walks away with cake, makes off with pie.
2:53 - creepy muted horn music (Kraushaar?) – Ranger in office.
3:18 - LAF-10-7 GROTESQUE No 2 (Shaindlin) – Ranger in souvenir shop, talks with Yogi, Boo Boo quits.
4:57 - LAF-1-1 FISHY STORY (Shaindlin) – Ranger counts toy bears.
5:08 - L-75 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Yogi goes to lodge, takes fridge.
5:36 - LAF-25-3 bassoon and zig zag strings (Shaindlin) – Ranger in office.
6:05 - TC-437 SHOPPING DAY (Loose-Seely) – Ranger leaves cake for Yogi, Yogi grabs cake, wind-up ranger, Yogi runs away.
6:45 - LICKETY SPLIT (Shaindlin) – Ranger chases Yogi into horizon.
6:58 - Yogi Bear Sub End Title Theme (Curtin).


  1. Yep, I noticed ;)

    The great thing about the eye movements is that, like Avery's handling of his groaner puns in the MGM-era spot gag shorts, it lets you know that they know it's a bad joke, and that they know that you know it's a bad joke. Two years down the link and without any visual reaction (or, I suppose pre-action) by the characters, those same gags come across as if they're really expecting the viewers to laugh just from the bad pun.

    Aside from the eyes, the cynicism is what helps make the Season 1-Season 2 Yogis so enjoyable. The world-weariness added personality even to the generic rangers (or the scooter rental guy) in the Shows/Gordon cartoons, even though the Ranger-Yogi relationship by Season 3 would be the template that all Hanna-Barbera cartoons would later follow.

  2. It always bothered me how Yogi is even more greedy than usual in this one via the "next time you get a piece" line. And here he's making Boo-Boo do all the work!

  3. It’s sorta hard to remember, having not seen this one in decades (Thanks again, Warner Home Video!), but wasn’t Yogi’s “bongo-walking sound effect” (or some modified version thereof) heard when he was walking as the king-size wind-up bear?

    That sound, as he walked casually, was one of my favorite aspects of early Yogi, and its later abandonment was indicative of the changes in him – and the series as a whole – that would come later. Even by this relatively early point, it would seem to only be utilized for the “specialty walk” he was performing in his wind-up guise.

    Oddly, and this just occurred to me as I was typing these comments, ALL of the early H-B characters would do that “Shows Rhyming Thing” in their speech(which I love, and others seem to not) at the beginning… but only Yogi retained that characteristic – again, to a lesser or modified extent – for pretty much his entire life. I wonder why that was?

  4. Probably my favorite scene in this short is the conversation between Ranger Smith and the cynical store owner. Yes, this was just another episode that featured the many different looks of Ranger Smith. Always loved the old " Cartoon Network " promo, circa 1995, that featured all the different Ranger Smiths. The voice over saying; " look, there's a bald Ranger Smith, oh looky, here's a gray haired, mustached Ranger Smith, how about this one with big ears..." Well, you get the point. They did a good job.

  5. Actually, I didn't find Ranger Smith's design to be that bad in this cartoon (I thought he was uglier in cartoons like "Bear For Punishment"). In fact, he has an almost identical design in his very next cartoon, "Bewitched Bear."

    This is also, I think, the first cartoon where he doesn't have a long pointy nose.