Saturday, 10 March 2012

Yogi Bear — Bear on a Picnic

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation: Carlo Vinci; Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Dialogue and Story Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson (no credits).
Voice Cast: Yogi, George, Mountain Lion – Daws Butler; Child, Ranger – Don Messick; Mother - June Foray.
Music: Bill Loose/John Seely; Spence Moore; Geordie Hormel.
First aired: week of February 1, 1959.
Production E-28.
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-19
Plot: Yogi gets hurt trying to protect a baby neglected by his parents.

It appears Joe Barbera, Charlie Shows, Dan Gordon, et al, must have come up with a pile of jokes involving a child, crappy parents and Yogi Bear getting abused because they managed to fill two cartoons with them. In ‘Daffy Daddy’, the child abuses Yogi. In this one, wild animals and even the parents abuse him; the child just walks around and gets himself into dangerous situations.

There are some other things this cartoon has in common with ‘Daffy Daddy.’ Boo Boo doesn’t appear in either of them, not too uncommon in Yogi’s first season. The woman is actually played by a woman. Voice expert Keith Scott says it’s June Foray in this cartoon, and in listening back to one scene in particular, he’s got to be right. And Carlo Vinci animated both ‘Daffy Daddy’ and this one. This cartoon was never restored for DVD; it may be H-B’s new owners don’t have the master, so it’s very murky. That makes it a little difficult to show you some of Carlo’s trademark effects. In the first season, he did a little two-drawing stomp with characters before they ran out of a scene. Here’s Yogi, slowed down. You can see the big Vinci upper teeth here, too.

There’s another Yogi stomp later in the cartoon but Carlo didn’t reuse the animation. He drew a new one with Yogi’s legs not lifting as high. That’s breaking Bill Hanna’s budget, Carlo!

The earliest H-B cartoons had interesting stylised character designs. There are a couple with rangers that are thin and tubular, almost like cigarettes, with head and body as one. Here’s the ranger in this one. Movement tended to be stylised and jerk from position to position at times. Notice how the ranger’s ear moves and his hair disappears. Not exactly fluid MGM animation, is it?

And how about the stylised family? The designs scream 1950s, don’t they? Not artsy-fartsy stylised like in a Magoo cartoon, but very simple. And a lot more attractive than humans in some H-B series in the ‘60s.

Both Ed Benedict and Dick Bickenbach used turned-up snouts like on George, the dad, in this one. But this looks more like Bick’s work. He used the same design in other cartoons and Ed’s humans are more distinctive.

The cartoon opens with a shot of a background of the entrance to Jellystone Park used in ‘Big Brave Bear’ (also a Bick-Monte cartoon). From what I’ve seen, this is the only time a background drawing was re-used in Yogi’s first season. Next is a shot of a station wagon with three silhouettes in it, with the woman silhouette arguing with the man silhouette about where to go picnicking. The camera stops at a tree. Yogi peers from behind it. This is the early Yogi with the three muzzle spots. “Sounds like a jolly little pic-a-nic group,” he says of the discussion. Barbera and Shows set up the fact early that these parents are jerks.

The generic ranger with Ranger Smith’s voice (Smith wasn’t invented until season two) sends the creeping, tippy-finger-and-toeing Yogi on his way before the bear can mooch their goodies. “Shee, what a grouch,” says the Ed Norton-channelling Yogi who, undeterred, tippy-finger-and-toes back to the picnic area. Barbera sets up the story with a cutaway to a baby bashing his head against a playpen as he tries to fit through the bars. I can’t tell if the kid is saying “Cobba,” “Kwabba” or “Gobba.” Oh, for a glance at the storyboard.

Further proof that these are bad parents is the fact the father’s a noisy eater. Don’t you hate people who smack their lips when they eat, folks? Yogi develops the world’s longest arm as he reaches for a peanut butter and salami “sand-a-wich” (twice to pad for time) only to be swatted away.

Meanwhile, the kid escapes from his pen and starts wandering about. Yogi warns the parents. He’s even polite, even lifting his hat and apologising “Excuse me, ma’am,” to the woman for barging in. Like the parents in ‘Daffy Daddy’, and like parents today who leave their kids in sweltering cars on summer days to go to the bar, they don’t notice and don’t care. The woman even swats Yogi away with some French bread. With her arms up and elbows in, it must be difficult to manoeuvre that loaf.

If the lazy parents read to their kid, he might know what a cat is. It’s obvious that he doesn’t because at this point of the cartoon, he’s wandering after a porcupine, calling it a “cobba, cobba, kitty.” Nice stylised porcupine. Yogi does a stretch-dive exit to rescue the child.

The porcupine stabs Yogi. The kid smiles. He’s as much a jerk as his parents. And to add injury to injury, the mother conks the bear on the head with a log after he safely carries her wayward son back to his playpen.

No sooner does Yogi shrug his comment on the situation to the audience than the child is wandering again. This time the “kitty” is a skunk. Yogi does a swoop, turning rescue, just like he did in ‘Daffy Daddy.’

This time, the mother throws a frying pan at the bear after he deposits the child back in the pen. Lip-smacking dad just keeps eating his watermelon without even glancing up.

The toddling toddler escapes again. Like in ‘Daffy Daddy,’ Yogi decides to let fate take its course. This time, the kid finds a “kitty.” He drags back an angry mountain lion. Yogi decides to get involved and beats up the mountain lion. The action fills up 35 seconds of screen time, most of it behind bushes, so all we see is camera shakes and, above the bushes, drawings of fists, smoke, Yogi’s hat in the air, leaves, stars and the planet Saturn in cycle animation, along with re-used cycles of Yogi and the mountain lion trying to get away. Someone will have to explain the history of drawings of Saturn in comics to signify violence or swearing.

The mountain lion has enough and stretch-dives out of the cartoon. The child is safe. But the parents show up with the generic ranger, complaining Yogi has been bothering the toddler (and trying to swipe a sand-a-wich). The beat-up Yogi reacts to the audience.

Even the ranger doesn’t buy Yogi’s story, accepting the word of the deadbeat parents. But then we get a stomping astonishment take as Yogi and the ranger look off-scene. It’s been slowed down a bit for your viewing.

The toddling toddler is off on his own and dragging back the mountain lion in some recycled footage. There’s a close-up of the lion asking the ranger to do something about the kid. So Yogi’s vindicated in the end. He realises it, too, as he is smiling.

In some of the earliest Yogi cartoons, there are stretches of footage with no stock music underneath. This is one of them. Virtually the whole fight scene has vocal and sound effects, but no music.

0:00 - Yogi Sub Main Title theme (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera, Shows).
0:15 - ZR 51 LIGHT ANIMATION (Hormel) – Car enters Jellystone, Ranger sends Yogi away, Ranger stomps away.
1:08 - no music – “Shee, what a grouch.”
1:11 - TC 201 PIXIE COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi tippytoes, tries to steal sandwich, child walks.
2:24 - no music – Child walks into tree.
2:27 - TC 300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – More noisy eating, Mother attacks bear, porcupine scene, Yogi skids to a stop.
3:34 - no music – Mother over playpen.
3:39 - L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – “Cobba, cobba,” skunk scene, child escapes from paypen.
4:40 - no music – Yogi resting.
4:44 - L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Yogi lifts legs, kid drags mountain lion behind bushes.
5:14 - no music – Yogi skids to bushes, dives in.
5:21 - L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Yogi fights with mountain lion.
5:26 - no music – fight scene, mountain lion zips away.
5:57 - ZR 51 LIGHT ANIMATION (Hormel) – Yogi with child, parents accuse Yogi
6:17 - no music – Yogi looks at camera.
6:19 - L-1154 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – “OK, buster,” mountain lion talks to range.
6:51 - Yogi Sub End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. Lots of similarities here to Hanna-Barbera's very last Tom & Jerry cartoon, "Tot Watchers", right down to the disbelieving authority figure who learns differently at the iris out. Bill and Joe might have wanted to offer up a "Story by Homer Brightman" credit on this one. (Also, given the lag time on the MGM releases, "Bear On A Picnic" arrived on TVs across the country just six months to the day after the T&J cartoon hit theaters).

  2. I love YOGI BEAR. There - just had to say it.

  3. The Mother kinda sounds like Bea Benaderet?

  4. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth,

    There are some scenes from this Yogi Bear episode which are included on the John Kricfalusi's blog ( Enjoy to make a visit on this blog.

  5. At age three, my son loved the extended fight scene behind the bushes, with Daws' "Owww-owww-owww!". the cacophony of sound effects, and Yogi and the lion alternately trying to sneak away before being pulled back by the other with a loud H-B stock 'swoop'. It is pretty well-timed, and the lack of background music helps.

    Another well-timed, unseen gag: "Y'know what, kid? That ain't no kitty. That's a [jab!] porcu-PIIIINE!"

  6. To me, at least, the fact that the mountain lion fight is unseen makes it all the funnier! Especially, when Yogi and/or the mountain lion try to sneak away and get pulled back in!

    It DID seem unusual to hear the grunts and groans of the fight – and no music to emphasize the action. That rarely happened in live-action series, much less cartoons.

    And, as much as we all love Boo-Boo (…or SHOULD love him, anyway), this cartoon was proof that he was not always needed. Having him around often made the cartoons more “talky” – and would have dragged down such early good ones as Yogi trying to cross the new superhighway built around his tree, or every appearance of Yowp!

  7. Anon, Keith Scott says it's Foray. I've listened back. There are a couple of spots where it doesn't sound quite like her but one chunk of dialogue is unmistakeably her. So I bow to Keith's ear.

    Joe, it's a shame Yogi got locked into a formula. I can understand why that happened but he was a strong character who didn't need the same supporting cast (imagine if Bugs had been restricted to dealing only with Elmer Fudd). I like the spot gag format for him, especially 'The Stout Trout.' The Tom-Tom and eaglet cartoons are far away from the "vs. Ranger Smith" format but they work for Yogi and he's still recognisable as the same character.

    1. Yes, “The Stout Trout” was another of the great early ones in which Boo-Boo was not necessary.

      BUT, lest we begin stoking the “Scrappy-Doo and Orbity” fires for poor Boob, let’s think about how diminished others like “Pie Pirates” and “Yogi Bear’s Big Break” would have been without Boo-Boo to act as the voice of reason.

      I think he should have been used on a case-by-case basis, according to the nature of the plot.

      Yogi was strong enough a character to be successful with and without a straight man …er, bear.

    2. Like you, Yowp, Keith cott I believe to be usually right [but besides Foray, who else would it be, eoither Messikc or Butler, CERTAINLY not a FOURTH performers. Either weay it would be her HB debut..]In short like you I also bow to Kieth's ear too.

      J.Lee, you're right about both Bugs and Yogi as characters versatile enough NOT to need the same character to play against, likewise I'll add Foghorn Leghorn.:)

      Joe Torciva: The mountain lion & Yogi's fights, with the planet/star mixture, no music, or sound FX that I can recall, and the small running gag f Yogi and the lion crawling out/pulling them back inmakes it a highlight..Steve J.Carras

  8. One of the great things about the Season 1 cartoons like this is they allow Yogi to be annoyed -- not happy-go-lucky annoyed, as would be the case in the later episodes, but truly irked/irritated/POed about what someone else is doing (or is not doing, as in the case of the neglectful mom and dad). But from a sponsor's standpoint, ticked-off Yogi was probably a lesser pitchman for OKs and Kellogg's other cereals than the cheerier version (though to be fair, any sponsor interference here is nowhere near as bad as what the idiots running the networks would do to Bill & Joe's cartoons by the mid-1960s).

  9. THe whole mountain lion scene was truly fun,..the offscene ones with the planet Saturn with Yogi and the mountain lion himself on and offscreen, and the mountain lion's dirty looks. That appears also to end the whole 1st season group of
    Yogi's as well.
    Steve C.

  10. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth,

    Do you remember of the Yogi Bear short A Day in the Life of Ranger Smith (directed by John Kricfalusi in 1999, which was originally broadcasted on Cartoon Network)?
    Very well. Do you remember of a scene which shows that succession of Ranger Smith designs? It's on this sequence that appears this military-looking Ranger Smith prototype (whose design was made by Dick "Bick" Bickenbach), which appears on this Yogi Bear episode which you posted recently.

  11. Yowp, on my old version, it sounds like the child is saying: " Kwabba..Kwabba.." The very bored, male camper was a running joke in a few episodes. I love Daws' dead-pan campers who would rather be anywhere, but there. . " He tried to swipe a sandwich, too ", or in " Daffy Daddy ' when the bratty kid is riding Yogi and digging spurs into him. As Yogi yells and the wife asks " What was that, dear?"..(Very deadpan)." Search me...maybe a wood chuck ".

  12. This episode is most deserving of restoration as an example of talented artists crafting some old-school quality on a low budget. If they'd waited until the mid-sixties the draftsmanship would have been smoother, but the animation wouldn't have been as appealing with stretches and swoops by the likes of Vinci reined in. Also, the cartoon would have been more talky ("Oh my, Yogi, you were telling the truth! This kid CAN drag a mountain lion!").

  13. You put it in excellent perspective. I agree with it ALL. The parents were jerks, the ugly baby should've gotten stabbed by the 'pine and stenched by the skunk. And poor Yogi was only trying to help.
    The world is even screwier now.

  14. Yogi's Quote, "After all he ain't my kid." was taken from Chuck Jones' Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur in 1939.

  15. 70%- 1154 Animation Comedy by Spencer Moore- "Ok, Buster. Let's go."
    71%- "Yogi, you're a disgrace to the rest of the bears."
    72%- "And, what a ridiculous story. A baby dragging a mountain lion around by the tail."
    73%- "And, you want me to believe that?"
    74%- Yogi and Ranger shake themselves in surprise.
    75%- "Kwaba, Kwaba, Kwaba, Kwaba."
    76%- "Kitty, Kitty, Kitty."
    77%- Yogi and Ranger Looks at the child dragging a mountain lion by the tail.
    78%- "Hey! will you do something about this kid?"
    79%- Mountain Lion Looks at camera. "Shee!" iris fades out.