Saturday, 14 September 2013

Yogi Bear — Biggest Show-Off on Earth

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Ed de Mattia, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Story – Warren Foster, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, Blue Clothed Circus worker, Ranger 1, Voice in helicopter – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Elmo, Ranger Smith, ringmaster, Ranger 2 – Don Messick.
Music: Bill Loose/John Seely, Jack Shaindlin, Geordie Hormel, Spencer Moore.
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-047.
First Aired: week of January 23, 1961 (week of Feb. 29, 1961 on the Yogi show).
Plot: A vicious circus bear exchanges places with Yogi.

Yogi Bear is a happy, rhyming schemer. Elmo the Circus Bear can’t talk; he just angrily growls. So how is it that people who know them can’t tell them apart? Are they that stupid?

That’s something that’s always bothered me about this cartoon. Well, that and the ending. But at least it’s a change from the Yogi-vs.-Ranger Smith which stifled the series a bit. And if people could tell the two apart, it’d botch the story a bit.

The trio of Rivera-de Mattia-Thomas from “Do or Diet” and “Huck Hound’s Tale” handled the artwork in this cartoon. Rivera’s parallel face lines and pipe-stem legs are evident here, as is his fixation with trees shaped like isosceles triangles.

Ed de Mattia animated, as best as I can tell, four cartoons at Hanna-Barbera before being hired at commercial house Animation, Inc. in 1960 (unless he was merely freelancing at H-B). He has the same animation quirks in the two he did with Rivera. He spends the time to draw hand and finger gestures; there’s a nice bit of work where Elmo wiggles his fingers before grabbing Ranger Smith. Here’s an example with Yogi.

The back of Yogi’s mouth is rounded in dialogue where he’s not smiling. He also like grilles of teeth to show some emotions, like anger. Here’s an example of Elmo. Note the fingers again.

Some drawings just look odd; they’re a little more stylised than what you’d find in many Hanna-Barbera cartoons.. Check out these rangers. The one on the phone could almost fit in a Gene Deitch Tom and Jerry cartoon.

We mentioned in the “Talky Hawky” post that it looked like de Mattia drew the close-ups at one time and the longer shots at another because the shots don’t always match. Here’s just one an example from this cartoon. The cartoon cuts from animation of Yogi and Boo Boo to a close-up of Yogi. But Yogi’s not in the same position from one frame to the next.

Dick Thomas painted the backgrounds. Here’s part of the one used to open the cartoon.

Warren Foster’s story starts with Elmo the Performing Bear breaking out of a circus train which is stopped at a siding. Elmo trudges his way into Yogi and Boo Boo’s cave, growling all the way. And leaving footprints. Until he gets inside Yogi’s cave. Miraculously, the mud instantly dries up. Or something. His expression changes, too. The snarling becomes a long-toothed grin. Elmo exchanges hats with the sleeping Yogi and trudges off again. Circus workers “folley” the footprints into the cave, bash Yogi on the head and carry him out. Boo Boo wakes up and follows. Yogi comes to in a circus train car with Boo Boo outside. “Boo Boo, what are you doin’ in my dream? Go find your own dream,” he says. Boo Boo jumps inside the car and assures him it’s not a dream. The car starts moving and the adventure is under way.

A shot of the circus midway follows. Yogi’s told by the circus manager to get in the parade (Boo Boo carries a bass drum on his back as Yogi plays it) and then that he can’t go to Jellystone because he’s the star of the show, pointing to a sign. The manager thinks the genial Yogi is his foul-tempered star because they’re wearing the same hat. Meanwhile, the scene cuts to the circus bear eating out a picnic basket. He makes short work of the chiding Ranger Smith (shoving him in a picnic basket, off screen of course) and two generic rangers (slamming a car door down on them), who call for reinforcements as Elmo leaves the park. Except they all think it’s Yogi.

Back at the circus, Yogi dives into a pitcher of water then comes crashing to the ground after putting on the brakes on his unicycle doing a loop-de-loop. Then the final stunt. “The odds are all with ya,” says the circus manager. “There’s 170 million people in the country, right? And, last year, not one person was injured gettin’ shot outside of a cannon.” “I wonder if this could be construed as shootin’ bears out of season,” Yogi muses to us as he flies through the air (and the tent) and crashes on the ground outside. Somehow, Boo Boo is there when he lands. Elmo then stomps into the scene, exchanges hats and stomps out.

Yogi and Boo Boo arrive back at Jellystone. They’re shot from the waist up (Yogi looks awfully fat) so de Mattia doesn’t have to animate their legs. Nor does he animate the scuffle Yogi has with the police and state troopers who come to capture him. Fade to Yogi sitting in some kind of wooden cage. He’s been banished for 60 days—with talk of selling him to a circus. But why didn’t Boo Boo explain to Ranger Smith it’s all a case of mistaken identity? Isn’t that what a faithful friend would do? And wouldn’t the ranger have believed Boo Boo? Yogi ends up being punished for something he didn’t do just so Foster can get in an ironic finish to the cartoon.

The sound-cutter evidently was going for an inside joke when he had Yogi dive into the water to the cue “Animation-Nautical” by Spencer Moore. There’s a piece of music that plays during the parade that may be part of the same Jack Shaindlin cue used in de Mattia’s circus outing with Huck, “Huck Hound’s Tale.” It’s tough to hear over all the sound effects and I don’t have a copy of it. And the cutter uses an odd cue when Elmo grabs the ranger. It features a loud, off-key piano chord as a stab. Hoyt Curtin wrote material like that (such as on “The Flintstones” when Fred suddenly stopped and realised something) so this may be something by Curtin. He had already written stock cues for Loopy de Loop which would soon find their way into Hanna-Barbera’s TV cartoons as well.

0:00 - Yogi Bear Sub Main Title Theme (Curtin-Shows-Hanna-Barbera).
0:28 - C-19 LIGHT ACTIVITY (Loose) – Pan over train, Elmo walks to cave.
1:00 - LAF-25-3 bassoon and zig-zag strings (Shaindlin) – Yogi sleeping, hat switch, bash on head, Boo Boo leaves cave.
1:43 - TC-303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Rail car scene.
2:14 - medium fanfare/parade cue (Shaindlin?) – Shot of midway, Yogi told to get in parade, Yogi bangs bass drum, “Havin’ fun, Boo Boo?”
2:36 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – “Aw, Yogi,” Yogi sees billing, “my public awaits!” 3:20 - TC-201 PIXIE COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Close up of Boo Boo.
3:25 - LAF-93-2 comedy flute and quack cue (Shaindlin) – Elmo eats from picnic basket.
3:39 - surprise cue with piano and tuba (Curtin?) – Elmo raises arms and squeezes ranger.
3:42 - ZR-48 FAST MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Elmo carries ranger, ranger in basket, rangers on phone.
4:17 - fanfare (?) – Yogi on platform, “What are you waitin’ for?”
4:22 - L-1121 ANIMATION NAUTICAL (Moore) – “There’s plenty of water,” Yogi dives.
4:33 - LAF-72-2 RODEO DAY (Shaindlin) – Shot of empty platform, Yogi’s head in bottle, unicycle scene.
5:20 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Yogi talks to “boss man,” shot from cannon.
5:53 - LAF-25-3 LICKETY SPLIT (Shaindlin) – Yogi flies through air, Elmo exchanges hats, Yogi and Boo Boo decide to go home.
6:30 - TC-437 SHOPPING DAY (Loose-Seely) – Helicopter, fight sounds.
6:58 - LAF-5-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Yogi in cage.
7:11 - Yogi Bear Sub-End Title (Curtin).


  1. Now THAT is imitable violence! Concking someone over the head while they are sleeping! How many people do you think have received head injuries from ''The Biggest Show Off on Earth''.

    One time my grandmother accidently dropped her watch on the floor while I was sleeping and I nearly got a shock. Why did they have to hit him with a hammer?!?! He was sleeping and not dangerous.

  2. To my knowledge, this episode, Acrobatty Yogi, & the 3-part Birthday finale were the only ones not aired on the USA Cartoon Express airings (my introduction to the series) in the mid-80s. I didn't see these eps. until the 1988 revival.
    Not one of my favorites. One would think Ranger Smith would know Yogi well enough to realize that bestial savagery is not one of his characteristics. It gets weirder considering the 80's revival reveals that Smith has an evil twin brother.
    Well, I suppose Yogi's last line about going to a circus might hint to a resolution. Ranger Smith would no doubt contact the closest circus, learn they had an escaped bear with people problems & that they 'recaptured him' near Yogi's cave. A look at Elmo's photograph or the bear himself (assuming he returned to the circus) would finally confirm the mistaken identity.

  3. Cartoons where the dupe ends up getting the worst of it in the end generally feel unsatisfying, because the character we're supposed to be identifying with doesn't deserve what happens to them. Unless you're trying to make a point about life being unfair, as with the Jones-Maltese "Fresh Airedale", ending a cartoon where Yogi does nothing to deserve landing in a cell (or Porky does nothing to have his service station ripped down, or Popeye does nothing to have his home destroyed by a bunch of files) just leaves a bad after-taste, no matter how good the gags that come before it might be.

    1. Two episodes of "The Flintstones" come to mind: "The Tycoon" and "Ten Little Flintstones" which Fred gets accused of behaving oddly and strangely around Wilma, Barney and Betty. "The Tycoon" ends with Barney hand-flipping Fred when he comes back home and three of them complaining and yelling at him when he's lying down. "Ten Little Flintstones" ends with Wilma telling Fred he's been on a his diet to long and he's having hallucinations. They walk away from Fred laughing and not believing his story about his alien duplicates causing trouble for Fred with Fred saying "That's the last time I save the world for them." Fred just can't catch a break sometimes in most episodes.

  4. Beware, Mr. Ranger! This isn't Yogi! This is the rebel circus bear who escaped from the circus.