The Retro Bin: Yo Yogi! (1991)
It’s that time again! Time for another installment of The Retro Bin. Remember that great animated series that featured all new versions of those beloved classic cartoon characters that we grew up watching? The one that debuted in the early 1990s? The one that had all of those great jokes and well written stories? The one that gave us a reason to start watching cartoons again? That show was Steven Spielberg’s Tiny Toon Adventures, but we’re not going to be talking about that show today. Instead, we’ll be talking about a cheap Hanna-Barbera produced knockoff of that show. A Saturday morning “quickie” (as in quickly gone and forgotten) from 1991 titled Yo, Yogi!.
Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies begat The Flintstone Kids, which had sex with Tiny Toons to spawn this show. Yo, Yogi! was like Tiny Toon Adventures, only without the memorable characters, clever writing or funny jokes. Yo, Yogi! was one of the last Hanna-Barbera produced Saturday morning shows before NBC abandoned Saturday morning cartoons in favor of live action, teen-centric programming (i.e., Saved By the Bell clones) the alphabet networks did away with SatAM cartoons altogether. Yo, Yogi! ran for only a single season (1991) on NBC. Apparently, someone at H-B studios thought that shrinking Yogi Bear down to half of his height and dressing him up in a lime green puffy jacket and red hi-top sneakers would be a good idea.
A lot of this show didn’t make much sense to me. First, if this series is supposed to take place before the old shorts, does that mean that Jellystone started out as a mega mall and was later torn down to make room for a national park? Second, why did Yogi and his friends wear more clothing as teenagers than they do as adults? And why was Dick Dastardly always trying to mess with the L.A.F. Squad anyway? What did he get out of it? At least in DD’s previous incarnations, he had clear motivations. In both Wacky Races and Fender Bender 500, he wanted to win the race, and he preferred cheating to achieve this goal. In Yogi’s Treasure Hunt, Dick wanted followed Yogi’s Gang around so that if they found any treasure, he could ambush them and claim the treasure for himself without having to do any actual work. Here, he just meddled in the gang’s affairs simply because he seemed to have nothing better to do. And like in his previous appearances, if he didn’t devote so much of his time to trying to screw over the good guys, he’d probably do all right for himself. And it didn’t make sense how some characters were de-aged for the show, while others weren’t. If Yogi and company all hung out with Auggie Doggie and Doggie Daddy in the present, how is it that Auggie and his dad are still the same age here? Unless the Auggie Doggie on Yo, Yogi! is actually Doggie Daddy as a puppy and the Doggie Daddy on this show is his father, who’s also called Doggie Daddy… Sorry. Didn’t mean to blow your mind. I think that it’s best to think of Yo, Yogi! as an alternate reality rather than a flashback, as that would a tad more sense. Tiny Toon Adventures was one of the best written TV shows of the 1990s. Yo, Yogi! didn’t seem written at all. If anyone remembers that one episode of The Simpsons titled “The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show”, the worst thing about Yo, Yogi! was that the whole series was a “Poochie”; a soulless by-product of committee thinking. It was based on the premise that kids would be more willing to watch a show with established cartoon characters from several decades earlier if they were remade to be “cool”, and it seemed like the entire series was concocted in board room by executives who don’t have a creative bone in their collective bodies. I doubt that the producers of Yo, Yogi! even knew what a writer was. The shows’ producers and writers tried to make Yo, Yogi! like Tiny Toon Adventures without realizing what is was that made TTA so great. Quite frankly, if taking established characters and trying to update them for younger audiences by making them desperately cool and hip is the only way to get them back on the air, then I think it’s better that they stay buried.