Saturday, 1 March 2014

Yogi Bear—Touch and Go-Go-Go

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Bob Carr; Layout – Tony Rivera; Backgrounds – Neenah Maxwell; Written by Warren Foster; Story Director – Paul Sommer; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi, George – Daws Butler; Ranger Smith, Boo Boo – Don Messick; Fairy Godmother, George’s Wife – Jean Vander Pyl.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Production: R-29 First Aired: 1961.
Camera: Norm Stainback, shot on March 9, 1961. Plot: Yogi is given the power to turn anything he touches into a picnic basket.

The story of King Midas is a cautionary tale against greed. Yogi Bear is given “the King Midas touch” in this cartoon but he doesn’t learn a valuable lesson about greed. Why? Because he wasn’t greedy in the first place. All he wanted was one picnic basket. Instead, a fairy godmother arbitrarily decides on her own to give Yogi the uncontrollable ability to turn everything into a picnic basket. Then she has the gall to say “I never should have trusted him with that power.” Maybe you should have told him how to turn it off, eh, F.G.?

I suppose we wouldn’t have had a cartoon if that was the case.

Boo Boo turns into a picnic basket. But why? Yogi didn’t touch him, Boo Boo grabbed him by the wrist. And how come when Yogi took a sandwich out of a picnic basket, the sandwich didn’t turn into another picnic basket? He’s touching it, isn’t he?

Hmm. We’re getting a little technical, aren’t we?

This isn’t a great cartoon, though it is fun to see how Tony Rivera designed Ranger Smith as a picnic basket. The ranger hat on top of the handle is funny. But how about this dialogue after Yogi explains the basket he’s carrying is really Boo Boo.

Ranger: It proves you’ve stripped your gears. You’re in orbit, Yogi.

It’d have been funny if the ranger was using either of these as similes or metaphors. But he doesn’t. He just says them without any real point behind using those particular words. If Boo Boo were flying somewhere, the “you’re in orbit” line would at least make sense.

And what is with Ranger Smith in this cartoon, anyway? He goes on to say:

Ranger: “...and it’s bears like that they make bearskin rugs out of. You’ll look good in front of the fireplace at the inn this winter, Yogi. With the skiiers spilling hot toddies all over you.

What?! The Ranger wishes death on Yogi? Shipping to a zoo, I can see. But a lifeless, tortured rug? That’s a little much for Mr. Ranger, don’t you think? Oh, well. Everything’s all right at the end, as the fairy godmother (who doesn’t notice Boo Boo is now a picnic basket) returns to un-do her un-wanted Midas spell, except Ranger Smith puts Yogi in a cave/jail for lipping off Smith. Yogi doesn’t mind. He’s sick of picnic baskets and there are none there.

Still there are a couple of cute bits. When Yogi sees Boo Boo reading a book of fairy tales...

Yogi: Don’t tell me you go for that kid stuff.
Boo Boo: Giving Snow White a poison apple? Killin’ a mean old witch? That’s kid stuff?

Walt Disney would have probably answered in the affirmative.

And there’s the trusty old gag of the guy seeing something he doesn’t believe (in this case, a picnic basket with legs), and he sniffs his thermos container, as if it’s got strong booze making him hallucinate. Foster must have used that type of gag at Warner Bros.

The artwork is pretty lacklustre. Yogi’s head cocked to the side, wagging back and forth in dialogue. In another scene, Yogi’s head is jerking backward when he speaks (the body, of course, is rigid on another cel). The fairy godmother looks like Yogi in drag.

And there are zig-zag trees in the background, but Neenah Maxwell’s art isn’t as stylised as even a few years earlier, when Art Lozzi and Monte were drawing some neat settings. We get a coloured card in most of the medium shots when characters aren’t moving. But there s still a nice, though muted, use of colour elsewhere.

Hoyt Curtin’s cues make me wonder when Fred and Barney are going to show up in the cartoon (particularly when the over-fed Yogi is laying against a tree). Sorry, H-B. I’ll take the Capitol Hi-Q library instead.


  1. It would be nice to see the storyboard on this one, to see if anything was cut out that caused the dialogue to feel a bit disconnected in the final product (Ranger Smith's bear rug line was always a bit jarring watching this as a yute, since Yogi had done things as bad or worse in the past and only been threatened with Jellystone banishment, not death).

  2. I remember watgching this for maybe the first time years ago and thinking a good alternate ending would be Yogi waking up and finding that it was all a dream (why does that sound familiar) as a yute myself in early 70s.Steve

  3. I actually really like Smith's almost threatening line! I find it pretty funny. Also, is it just me, or does the alcohol gag seem as though it's been cropped short (badly)? In my DVD of this it looks like the man's about to chuck the flask away after sniffing it. Interesting that his shirt has X's on it, like a cartoon liquor bottle might.

    1. Never thought about the Xs. And you're right. The guy's arm movement is like he's going to throw away the thermos. If I had to guess, if there's an edit, it was edited so the cartoon would time out.

    2. I would have thought that if they were going to edit anything it'd have been the whole gag - 'No booze jokes for the kiddies!', but it does seem like they edited the throw and not the sniff, which I just found odd.

  4. Never saw this far as the shirt, maybe wanted to look like it matches Argyle socks?

  5. Love the shape of the thermos sniffing picnic guy's head. He's got the Augie Doggie / Doggie Daddy style of a straight line from hairline to the tip of his proboscis. Very Duranteseque.

  6. For me, the highlight of this cartoon is the picnic basket with the ranger's hat and legs chasing Yogi. I also like Jean Van Der Pyl's fairy godmother voice--she sounds a bit like Mrs. Slate. And, oh yes, the Flintstones music cues that are all over this cartoon...truly bizarre. The design of Yogi seems more on-model than some of the other shorts. But it's weird that Yogi needs to be taught a lesson when his only "crime" has been to pooh-pooh Boo Boo's belief in fairy godmothers.

  7. I actusally like this...Let's not forget:Yogi actually turns a CABIN into a GIANT picnic basket......the Flintstones music cues are out of place here, to be sure, but they're fun and it's not like the 1970s cues, for instance are being used..

    Granitoons: You're right that the guy was about to toss that thermos, I always wondered if it would be tossed out in front of Yogi....Spacet..the picnic guy is very Durantesque as you noted..Boo Boo returns to regukar form, regardings Yowp's comment that she doesn't notice that Boo-Boo's now a picnic basket. I also liked the ranger legs under the basket.

  8. Yowp, I love your last line. Hoyt Curtin's cues were perfect for " The Flintstones " , " Top Cat ", " Jonny Quest ", and the other HB-Shows that would follow in the 1960's. But ,the Capitol Hi-Q Library was so much a fabric of the Yogi and Huck cartoons, even after 50 years of watching the Curtin scored Yogi and Hucks, they still seem a little out of place. Also the Curtin scored Pixie and Dixie's. Maybe it's just me.

    1. Errol,

      John Kricfalusi used the EMI/Capitol music scores in those Yogi Bear shorts which he directed in 1999: A Day in the Life of Ranger Smith and Boo Boo Goes Wild.

    2. You are absolutely right. I remember seeing both a few years back and hearing the EMI/Capitol cues.