Saturday, 6 October 2012

Yogi Bear — Spy Guy

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Ed Love, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Story – Warren Foster, Story Direction – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, Installer – Daws Butler; Narrator, Ranger Smith, Boo Boo – Don Messick.
Music: Bill Loose/John Seely, Geordie Hormel, Spencer Moore, Jack Shaindlin.
First Aired: week of December 7, 1960.
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show No K-044, Production E-117.
Plot: Ranger Smith pretends to be Yogi’s conscience to stop him from stealing food.

When the third season of The Huckleberry Hound Show rolled around at the start of the 1960-61 TV season, Warren Foster was writing a completely different kind of story for Huck than he was for Yogi Bear. Huck never had a set occupation, mental state or even time. Huck would be a little more dense in some cartoons than the others, and Foster had no qualms about plunking him somewhere in the past. Yogi became a formula. It was Yogi versus Ranger Smith, generally over food, with Boo Boo pleasantly giving warnings to his big bear buddy. About the only difference from cartoon to cartoon was sometimes Yogi came out on top and sometimes he didn’t. That was a wise decision. It kept the viewer wondering what would happen as a Yogi cartoon unfolded which, of course, kept him/her tuned in.

But, other than that, there wasn’t much to speak of in Jellystone Park. The limited animation started getting more lacklustre and the comedy in the Yogi cartoons grew out of the situation, as opposed to what Mike Maltese was doing over on The Quick Draw McGraw show, which relied more heavily on silly, if not stupid, characters and dialogue. But Foster’s stories were very well constructed. In Spy Guy, Foster takes the “Yogi hears his conscience” situation to a perfect climax point, the revenge is just long enough to keep everyone’s attention, and there’s a twist ending.

Ed Love is the animator on Spy Guy. Ed, I’ve been told, animated the original Huck show’s cartoons-between-the-cartoons even though the characters are far rubbier than anything that was ever done in the actual cartoons, or anything he did later at H-B. Here, you can see traces of his style, though the animation isn’t as interesting as some of his work on cartoons a year earlier. The characters exhibit two upper teeth and bite their lower lip in dialogue, and have that curvy upper mouth he liked using.

About the only thing that Ed does that’s a little interesting is a walk cycle where Yogi’s accompanied by a drum roll and a cow bell. 12 drawings on twos equals one second of screen time. There’s a head turn while Yogi is strolling.

The plot of the cartoon’s pretty straight forward. As usual, there’s opening narration over a night scene telling us something secret’s going on at the ranger station. The studio saves money by having drawings of trucks on a cel and simply pulling the cel across the background. It turns out that a crew has installed TV cameras and microphones “concealed in every trouble point in the park.” Ranger Smith will use them to watch for Yogi and then go on the mike, pretend to be his conscience and shame him into giving up picnic baskets. And it features that well-known cartoon device—Instant Watch Syndrome. That’s when a character has a watch but only when it’s needed in the plot. It disappears during the rest of the character’s existence. In this case, the watch switches from one arm to the other.

Yogi’s a little more contemptuous of the ranger than normal in this one. “A battle of wits between him and me,” says Yogi, “And he’s running out of ammunition.” So the ranger plants a picnic basket with a rubber chicken in it. “This spring chicken is springier than the av-er-age, Boob,” Yogi says through clenched teeth before getting smacked in the face by it. The ranger pretends to be the voice of the bear’s conscience. The “conscience” follows Yogi to the kitchen at the Inn and the tourist cabins (“I had the measles once, and that went away,” Yogi remarks. He decides the park is haunted and goes to tell the ranger. Ah, but the plot turns. Ranger Smith is having lunch at the Inn with the TV installer and brags to him how successful the “conscience” routine is going. Yogi overhears the whole thing. Now he plots his revenge. He removes a couple of tubes from the TV set (it is 1960, after all, though the ranger has a colour set; a bit of overkill for what amounts to a colour security-cam monitor) and he and Boo Boo run away. Cut to the phone ringing in the ranger station. “Every picnic basket in the park has disappeared? The tourists are rioting?” asks the stunned Ranger Smith. He rushes out the door. Yogi and Boo Boo zip back in to the ranger station, Boo Boo re-installs the tubes and they turn on the set.

“Lynching me won’t get your picnic baskets back,” Ranger Smith tries to reason with the grumbling crowd from a sound effects record. Yogi gets on the microphone and tries to cut a deal. The ranger, shirt-sleeves torn (presumably by the angry mob which is shown as a static drawing), refuses until the Hanna-Barbera sound department turns up the effects record and he gives in.

The deal is revealed in the final scene. “A king-size picnic basket, loaded with goodies, to be served every morning for two weeks.” Ah, but the sneaky ranger saved the rubber chicken. “That Mr. Ranger is one of the good ones,” Yogi says, until he can’t bite into the chicken. “And this chicken is one of the tough ones,” he adds. But he’ll eat anything, he reveals, as long as it comes out of a pic-a-nic basket. The chicken smacks him in the face again to end the cartoon.

A couple of surprises from the sound cutter. The booming TC-221A was used heavily on Ruff and Reddy and periodically on the first season of the Huck show (1958-59) but rarely after that. It makes an appropriate appearance here during the angry mob scene. And the tail end of Jack Shaindin’s “Lickety Split” is the final cue, one that got more use in other series, though it was on the soundtrack at the end of “Wound-Up Bear” the season before.

0:00 - Yogi Bear Main Title theme (Curtin-Hanna-Barbera-Shows).
0:26 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Night shot of ranger station.
0:35 - TC-437 SHOPPING DAY (Loose-Seely) – Ranger talks to workman, Yogi and Boo Boo in cave, leave cave.
1:43 - L-1139 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Yogi and Boo Boo walking off camera from cave, Yogi grabs chicken, chicken smacks him in the face.
2:13 - TC-300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – “Don’t ever do that,” “conscience” speaks. Boo Boo and Yogi walk.
3:01 - L-80 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Ranger looks at TV, inn door scene, strolling to cabins scene.
4:22 - ZR-50 UNDERWATER SCENIC (Hormel) – Berry bush scene, inn scene, Yogi removes tubes.
5:16 - L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Phone scene.
5:34 - TC-221A HEAVY AGITATO (Loose-Seely) – Ranger runs out of cabin, mob scene.
6:22 - C-14 DOMESTIC LIGHT (Loose) – Cave scene.
6:54 - LICKETY SPLIT (Shaindlin) – Yogi tries eating rubber chicken.
7:10 - Yogi Bear End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. Yogi's walk is a little reminiscent of the walk the escaped circus bear (complete with Ed Norton hat) did in "Down-Beat Bear" a few years earlier.

    While this cartoon was part of the now-standard Yogi-vs.-Ranger Smith formula, we're still early enough in the game here so that the you-know-what's-coming-before-it-arrives scenes and dialogue aren't quiet in place yet (i.e. -- opening up with a shot of the Ranger on the closed circuit TV saying “Lynching me won’t get your picnic baskets back.” It's a funny line, but one that never have had made the Standards & Practices cut for H-B cartoons released just a few years later, when everything in the cartoons had to be certified as 'child friendly").

  2. I love this third season Yogi Bear and co.cartoon. The scene that J.Lee mentions is on e of the best, with the mob of picnickers, and it was a neat idea to bring backthe earlier season Bill Loose and John Seely's "TC-221A Heavy Agitato". It was used un der Edward Everettt Horton's dry narration a few years later aftere HB ditched the library in the cult indie school bike saftely flick "One Got Fat" near the tunnell scene. Too bad Warner Bros.never used that cue in any of those six Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons made in 1958 due to a musicians strike (it woulkd wok real well with Roadrunner shorts.)

    The concisense idea was, of course, already becoiming used with Boo Boo (see an earlier post from this wekk, the comics one).

    Here the ranger takes it up to be the mysterrrious connnnnscine (sic-trying to illustrate an "Inner Sanctum" like disemboidied voice there!). Two things I'd wished when I was in my teens watching these iconic Yogis was Yogi getting clobbered and his personality changing for five minutes,not stealing picnic baskets and getting a bit TOO nice, or either thru the clobbering olr sleeping for the night or napping Yogi having a nightmare where he is forced to pay for his Jellystone crimes.

    Those would be fun popclture newslatter fanfics like the type written about other shows or a new cartoon short or even a comic book or something.

    Back to the cartoon for a final note, final scene., That ranger, to paraphrase both bears, is one of the trickiest ones-trickier than the average ranger if the closing gag was any proof if it!Steve C

  3. “About the only difference from cartoon to cartoon was sometimes Yogi came out on top and sometimes he didn’t. That was a wise decision. It kept the viewer wondering what would happen as a Yogi cartoon unfolded which, of course, kept him/her tuned in.”

    That’s a great point! The “outcome-undecided-until-the-end” also applied to Huck and even Pixie, Dixie, and Mister Jinks. …And that’s one huge reason I loved the early H-B cartoons.

    The characters were just as likely to lose (or be left in a terrible fix – think “Tough Little Termite”, “Piccadilly Dilly”, or “Yogi Bear’s Big Break”) as come out on top.

  4. Thanks for reviewing the 1960-61 season of HB cartoons. Even though overall they may lack (though to me in the smallest fashion) some of the primal charm of the 1958-59 cartoons, they are still light years beyond what was produced by HB by 1963, and especially 1965 (Good Lord, "Squiggly Wiggly" and "Precious Pup" ; YARGHH!!), and they still hold up well today, and are just darn funny to boot! I wish that WB would issue the 2nd, 3rd and 4th seasons of Huckleberry Hound on DVD, as well as all 3 seasons of Quick Draw McGraw.