The Retro Bin: Laff-A-Lympics (1977-1978)

As you may have noticed by now, Twinsanity generally doesn’t probe too deeply into the careers of Hanna-Barbera’s premier roster of characters like Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss and the many, many Scooby-Doo clones. This is for 2 reasons: one, they tend to be a tad on the interchangeable side, and two, the H-B studio has provided us with opportunities to discuss several of them at once.

One such example is the subject of today’s Retro Bin, Laff-A-Lympics.

 

Laff-A-Lympics was the co-headlining segment, with Scooby-Doo, of the package Saturday morning cartoon series Scooby’s All-Star Laff-A-Lympics, beginning in 1977. The show was a spoof of the Olympics (duh!) and the ABC television series Battle of the Network Stars, which debuted one year earlier. It featured 45 Hanna-Barbera characters organized into the teams (the Scooby Doobies, the Yogi Yahooeys, and the Really Rottens) which would compete each week for gold, silver, and bronze medals. One season of 16 episodes was produced in 1977–78, and eight new episodes combined with reruns for the 1978–79 season as Scooby’s All-Stars. Yes, both incarnations of the show were named after Scooby-Doo; he was pretty much the Kingpin of Saturday morning back in the 70’s.

“Riss my ring, ritches!”

The episodes themselves basically reiterated the same formula: the 3 teams would lock horns in various sporting events, typically taking place in some exotic location. The various team members would employ their special talents, quirks and shticks to win; sometimes they’d work, sometimes they wouldn’t. The ‘bad guy’ team, the Really Rottens, would habitually cheat and suffer the consquences, and at the end, 1 team would emerge victorious with a gold medal, a 2nd would earn the silver and the loser (usually the Rottens) would get stuck with the bronze. Yada yada yada. What made this show special was its’ novelty: it featured no less than 45 H-B stars occupying a single program. That means nothing to anyone born past Generation X, but for a kid in the 70’s, especially one who was a hardcore Hanna-Barbera fan, LAL was the equivalent of giving a kid the keys to a candy store and saying they can go nucking futs, or a horndog let loose in the Playboy Mansion with a License to Grope badge. Here’s the intro:

 

Now, on to the show’s major selling point: the teams and the stars themselves. The “good guy” teams, consisting of the Scooby Doobies and the Yogi Yahooeys, were good friends and their respective team members gladly helped each other whenever they got into a jam. The Really Rottens, however, always cheated and pulled dirty tricks which would ultimately cause them to be the last-place losers in most episodes. Much like Dick Dastardly and Muttley on Wacky Races, typically the Really Rottens would be just on the verge of winning, before they would make a fatal error at the very end that allowed one of the other two teams to end up at the top. Occasionally, though, the Rottens’ cheating technique wouldn’t actually be against the rules, which resulted in them (unlike Dastardly and Muttley) actually winning in a few episodes; there was even one episode where they won through sheer chance. The final event on the show’s final episode, which took place on the moon (!), ended in a 3-way tie.

Each team adhered to a particular ‘theme’ or genre/era of H-B cartoons.

THE YOGI YAHOOEYS

This team was comprised of Hanna-Barbera’s 1950’s through 1960’s television shorts characters. It was the only team made up entirely of anthropomorphic animals. Grape Ape was the only post-1962 character in the line-up. With this team, the challenge wasn’t finding members for it, but narrowing the choices down to just a few!

TEAM ROSTER:

  • Yogi Bear (captain)
  • Boo-Boo Bear
  • Cindy Bear
  • Huckleberry Hound
  • Mr. Jinks
  • Pixie
  • Dixie
  • Wally Gator
  • Quick Draw McGraw (no Baba Looey)
  • Hokey Wolf (no Ding-a-Ling)
  • Snooper
  • Blabber
  • Augie Doggy
  • Doggy Daddy
  • Yakky Doodle
  • Grape Ape

“Oh sure, name your frelling team after one of us but don’t even ask us to be on it! No royalty check, nothin’! We couldn’t even get jobs as water boys! Yeah, that’s fair!”

“You folks are probably wondering why your old pal Beegle Beagle didn’t make it to the Yahooeys team. Well, it turns out I was blacklisted by the Laff-A-Lympics Ethics committee. Geez, you offhandedly mention that you know a guy who can hook your team up with some Happy Win-Time Go-Go Juice injections, and suddenly you’re banned for life!”

“So let me get this straight: the Scooby Doobies had a magic user. The Really Rottens had a magic user. I’m a 60’s era H-B character who’s a magic user, and I don’t get so much as a phone call? What the what?!”

THE SCOOBY DOOBIES

Much like how the Yogis team represented 50’s-60’s era H-B, the Scooby Doobies team had a heavy 1970’s vibe to them. (They were the ‘modern era’ team at the time.) This team drew mainly from the 1970s Hanna-Barbera cartoons, particularly the “mystery-solving/crime busting” series derived from Scooby-Doo, whose titular character served as team captain.

TEAM ROSTER:

  • Scooby-Doo (captain)
  • Norville “Shaggy” Rogers
  • Scooby-Dum (Why? I don’t know)
  • Dynomutt
  • Blue Falcon
  • Captain Caveman
  • Brenda Chance
  • Taffy Dare
  • Dee Dee Skies
  • Babu (from Jeannie)
  • Hong Kong Phooey
  • Speed Buggy
  • Tinker

*Rumor has it that Mark and Debbie from Speed Buggy had fled to get busy in a love nest in Tijuana at the time.

BTW, take a gander at the original lineup for the Scoobies.

Yes, that’s right: the early production art for the series showed Jeannie from the Jeannie series and Melody, Alexander, Alexandra, and Sebastian the Cat from the Josie and the Pussycats series as members of the Scooby Doobies team, but legal problems with Columbia Pictures Television, Screen Gems’ successor, prevented it. Babu from Jeannie made the final cut, as he was an original creation of Hanna-Barbera, but Columbia controlled all rights to Jeannie’s image. As a result, Babu appeared alone as a member of the Scooby Doobies. Likewise, Archie Comics held rights to the Josie characters. In the actual series, Jeannie was replaced by Hong Kong Phooey and the Josie characters were replaced by Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels.

“When we lawyers sink our teeth into something, there’s no letting go!”

“Shafted again…naturally.”

THE REALLY ROTTENS (Boo! Hiss!)

No prizes for guessing, This team is composed of villainous characters. With the exception of Mumbly and the Dalton Brothers, all of the members are original characters, many of whom are based on various characters that appeared in cartoons and comics prior to Laff-A-Lympics. Originally, Muttley and Dick Dastardly were planned as the leaders of the Really Rottens; however, they could not appear on the show due to those characters being co-owned by Heatter-Quigley Productions. In their place, Hanna-Barbera used the existing character Mumbly and created the new character Dread Baron.

“What did I just tell you??”

Prior to Laff-A-Lympics, Mumbly was a heroic detective rather than a villain on his original show. (Turns out he was another cop gone corrupt, just like in Serpico.) Following the character’s revision as the villainous team leader, he remained a villain in Yogi Bear and the Magical Flight of the Spruce Goose, which was also Dread Baron’s only other role. The Dalton Brothers appeared in 1950s and 1960s shorts (including the 1958 short Sheriff Huckleberry Hound, which featured appearances by Dinky, Dirty, and Dastardly Dalton, as well as their other brothers Dangerous, Detestable, Desperate, and Despicable). However, they were given new character designs for the Laff-A-Lympics series. After Laff-A-Lympics, Dinky reappears in The Good, the Bad, and Huckleberry Hound with brothers Stinky (who bears a resemblance to Dastardly Dalton from Laff-A-Lympics), Finky, and Pinky. Mountain-sized Dinky (get it?) was the only mainstay of the Dalton clan.

TEAM ROSTER:

  • Mumbly (captain)
  • Dread Baron (co-captain)
  • The Dalton Brothers (Dinky, Dirty and Dastardly)
  • The Creeply Family (Mr., Mrs. and Junior; loosely based on the Gruesomes from the Flintstones and the J. Mad Scientists from the H-B shorts)
  • Orful Octopus (aka Octo, the Creeplys’ pet)
  • The Great Fondue (villainous magician who seemed to be incapable of performing magic with any sort of accuracy; Similar to Abner K. Dabra from the 1963 book, Yogi Bear and the Cranky Magician)
  • Magic Rabbit (Fondue’s pet, dialogue limited to “Brack!” Bears a resemblance to the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland (or What’s a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This?)
  • Daisy Mayhem (or as Goldstar likes to refer to her “Boner Launcher”; mean-spirited hillbilly gal with split ends, Daisy Dukes and bare feet, who bears a resemblance to the Li’l Abner character Moonbeam McSwine)
  • Sooey Pig (Daisy’s pet pig. You can tell he’s rotten because he wears sneakers and an eye patch!)

“What? You recruited a bunch of newbies and doppelgangers instead of me? You could’ve just hired me and all the bad guys from ‘Yogi’s Gang’. There’s your Rottens team right there!”

“I didn’t get a call either? What’s the deal? Just yesterday I was in the park feeding the pigeons…to some alley cats! I’m totally rotten up here!”

Trivia Time:

  • In one season 2 episode, Mumbly is referred to throughout as Muttley.
  • Dick Dastardly and Muttley appear in issue #13 of the Laff-A-Lympics comic book series, “No Laff-A-Lympics Today!”. In the book, Dread is revealed to be Dick Dastardly’s twin brother.
  • In the Latin American dub of Laff-A-Lympics, Dread Baron and Mumbly are called Dick Dastardly and Muttley.

Each episode was presented in a format similar to an Olympic television broadcast, with announcing/voice-over duties handled by an unnamed/unseen Announcer character (see also Wacky Races, Yogi’s Space Race and Fender Bender 500). Hosting duties and commentary were provided by Snagglepuss and Mildew Wolf from the It’s the Wolf! segments of Cattanooga Cats (though unlike It’s the Wolf!, Mildew was not voiced by Paul Lynde; he was here voiced by John Stephenson). Apparently, Lynde had a reputation of being difficult to work with, so HB opted to go with a sound-alike rather than contend with the real deal.

I guess H-B considered Mr. Lynde to be kind of a silly savage.

Also, since the show was airing on ABC, Snagglepuss and Mildew wore the then-traditional yellow jackets of ABC Sports announcers.

Laff-A-Lympics ran for 16 episodes in it’s first season (1977-78) and an additional 8 episodes for its’ second season (1978-79). The series kind of fizzled after that; probably because it was the same basic formula repeated again and again, and also, let’s face it: the show lacked the ‘jiggle factor’ that permeated throughout the series that inspired it, Battle of the Network Stars. Let’s address the elephant in the room…

 

These guys don’t have much to offer in the wet T-shirt department.

Talkin’ Nerdy: The Hanna-Barbera Zoo’s Big Three

Hey, I’ve noticed something about Hanna-Barbera’s roster of 1960’s ‘funny animal’ characters (hereinafter referred to as the Hanna-Barbera Zoo): Nearly all of them seemed be derived from 1 or more of the same 3 basic archetypes. You have your Big Three of:

Huckleberry Hound

Yogi Bear

Quick_Draw_McGraw

…And Quick Draw McGraw.

…And then you have the others.

Hey, kids. Did you spot Waldo?

It’s no secret by now that HB liked to repeat successful formulas, and so I theorize that just about all of HB’s 1960’s output is in some way a derivation of one of those characters’ shorts. They’re either about an animal who appears in a different setting/occupation each time, an animal in a recognizable human sanctuary like a park or a zoo where they make trouble for some human shmuck in charge of them or an animal hero crime fighter who does battle with wacky criminals and is often aided by another animal with the opposite personality who acts as their sidekick.

Now when I first proposed this theory on a message board, someone hit me with this:

“That’s not true! What about Snagglepuss?! He’s not like any of them! He’s the Shakespearean actor of Hanna-Barbera!”

To which I say:

“IRRELEVANT!”

That’s not my point. Like, at all. I’m not talking about individual cast members, personalities or character shticks. Geez, even H-B’s characters aren’t that autonomous. I’m referring specifically to the tones and structures of the shorts themselves. Many of them can be traced to either Huck, Yogi or Quick Draw. Some examples:

  • The aforementioned Snagglepuss is a Huckleberry Hound archetype: a funny animal who appears in a number of various settings in each short doing his usual shtick each time, regardless of how incongruous.
  • Wally Gator is Yogi Bear in a zoo.
  • Ricochet Rabbit is Quick Draw McGraw except here the smaller animal is the leader and the taller one is the sidekick. Also, the leader here is competent and the sidekick dim-witted rather than the reverse like on Quick Draw.
  • Touche Turtle is Quick-Draw in a French period setting.
  • Squiddly Diddly is Yogi Bear in an aquarium.
  • Hokey Wolf is kind of a Yogi/Huck hybrid: a canny taller animal and his short sidekick who scam humans, but in a different setting each time.
  • Breezly and Sneezly are Yogi and Boo-Boo in the Arctic.
  • Magilla Gorilla is Yogi Bear in a pet shop.
  • Snooper and Blabber are Quick Draw and Baba Looey as cat and mouse detectives.
  • Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har are basically a luckless Hokey Wolf and Ding-a-Ling, who as previously stated carry traits of both Huck and Yogi.

-Of course, not every HB funny animal toon falls into 1 of these boxes. Pixie & Dixie is a TV version of Tom & Jerry, but with the main characters able to speak and with limited animation. Loopy DeLoop is a character fighting against his stereotype, in this case a do-good wolf trying to undo the myth that all wolves are evil. Winsome Witch follows a similar formula, only with a witch. Yakky Doodle can be traced back to Tom & Jerry, with a recurring character similar to the titular star and the formula of a small animal being protected from a wily predator by a tough animal with a heart of gold who has no reservations about beating the predator’s brains in (see also It’s the Wolf!). Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy likewise have roots in Tom & Jerry; they’re somewhat more anthropomorphic versions of Spike & Tyke. The Hillbilly Bears are a family of, well, hillbilly bears. (Incidentally, Ma and Pa Rugg were voiced by Jean VanderPyl and Henry Corden respectively, who’d go on to voice Wilma and Fred Flintstone.) Ruff & Reddy was a takeoff of multi-part adventure serials. Yippy, Yappy and Yahooey were 3 hyperactive canine royal guards who shouted their names and crashed into stuff. Dumas is back and we’ve got him!

So while there are exceptions, it’s no secret who had the stroke in the Hanna-Barbera Zoo.

“You heard the man. You jobbers, second-stringers and ham-and-eggers better pay yer respects. WE’RE the top dogs in this pound, an’ doooooon’t you ferget it!”

TV Special Showdown: Yogi’s First Christmas

It’s December, and that means that it’s time to settle in front of the boob tube and be bombarded with the usual array of unrelenting Christmas themed TV specials. All of the classics that you know and love that the networks run every year. So to mark this occasion, today we’re going to focus on a Christmas special that ran for a couple of years in syndication and was then largely forgotten: a slice of 1980s cheese titled Yogi’s First Christmas.

Holiday cheer…we’re full of it!

Yogi’s First Christmas is a 1980 holiday-themed television film first aired on November 21, 1980, and produced by Hanna-Barbera. Throughout the 1980s it was offered to U.S. television networks broken up as a one-week strip syndicated program, generally showing the week of Christmas, one episode per day for four days, although I originally saw it in it’s full 2 hour version, again in syndication. Not to be confused with Casper’s First Christmas, which is a half hour H-B special that aired on NBC in 1979.

Wait…Casper and Hairy Scary have never heard of Christmas? When did these guys die, anyway? Yeah, they’re ghosts, but they’re not aliens. They should at least know of the holiday, even if they don’t celebrate it. OK, I’ll save that kind of nitpicking for Talkin’ Nerdy. Back to the show…

We begin with Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss, Augie Doggie and Doggy Daddy traveling in a snowmobile while singing the song “Comin’ Up Christmastime”(which is one of 2 songs that were previously performed on Casper’s First Christmas). They’re on their way to Jellystone Lodge (why not?) to celebrate the holiday. Yogi and Boo-Boo are usually hibernating during the Christmas season, even though both characters were wide awake to celebrate the holidays in Casper’s First Christmas just a year earlier. Contradict yourselves much? It’s probably best to just consider these H-B specials as each being in their own separate continuity, like the Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z movies. Anyway, Yogi and Boo-Boo are soon awakened by the rest of the gang, which also includes Ranger Smith, hotel manager Mr. Dingwell and Otto the chef. The gang is obsessed with keeping the lodge’s owner, one Sophie Throckmorton, happy so that she won’t close down the lodge, which has become unpopular due to activity caused by Herman the Hermit, a grumpy Christmas-hating hermit who just wants to be left alone, that is when he isn’t prospectin’ fer gold and shooing revenuers off’n his property. Mrs. Throckmorton has arrived to the lodge with her nephew Snively, a rotten brat with a voice that sounds like he’s been gargling with gravel. Seriously, who names their kid Snively? Unless his parents want him to become a horse opera villain. Snively perpetually has his shorts in a bunch because he hates all things associated with Christmas. Yeah, you get the week off from school and a pile of toys for doing nothing. Christmas sucks if you’re a kid.

Snively: Look at me! I wear long pants indoors but change into shorts when I go out in the snow because I make no sense!

Yogi and Boo Boo are put to work as employees of the lodge. Yogi is first ordered to operate the snowplow, to which he saves Mrs. Throckmorton on the road from an avalanche caused by Herman. Later, Yogi is working as a bellboy, where he is tasked by Ranger Smith to stay on Mrs. Throckmorton’s good side. Though Snively tries to embarrass Yogi with his pranks, Yogi comes out on top.

Also, during a lodge scene, Boo-Boo sings the “Hope” song, which was previously used in A Christmas Story. No, not the movie starring Peter Billingsley, but a 1972 animated special with the same title.

7d-sleepy

“Wow. And they say I’m lazy!”

In another attempt to degrade Yogi, Snively tricks him into entering a figure skating contest, which Snively is also a participant. Although Snively earns high marks, Mrs. Throckmorton covertly wishes Snively would lose in order to tame his poor attitude. Yogi, the last contestant, manages to impress the judges well enough to earn the highest marks and win. Snively is a sore loser and enraged that Yogi beat him at his own game, but his aunt Sophie says that Yogi won fair and square and losing is a lesson of life. Fed up with Snively’s antics, Yogi gets revenge on him during an ice fishing contest, with Mrs. Throckmorton agreeing that he needed to be taught a lesson. Furious, Snively runs away and meets up with Herman, and the two team up to ruin Christmas, when they proceed to sing a song about how they’re “mean, sour, nasty and cruel”, a song that would later be re-used, rewritten slightly and sung by Gargamel in an episode of Smurfs.

Snively: Yeah! Let’s go ruin Christmas!
Herman: Hang on a sec. There’s a tick in my beard and I wanna save that bad boy fer desert!

Cindy Bear also awakens from her hibernation, to help Yogi out (due to her love and concern for him). There’s a running joke within the special of Cindy trying to get Yogi under the mistletoe so that she can give him a smooch. She explains her desire to Boo-Boo and then…this happens.

Ah, there’s a little something for the furries.

Yogi's First Christmas - Cindy Bear

BOM-CHIKKA-WOW-WOW!
 
That bit almost cost them their G rating. Is this a Christmas special or Showgirls? If Cindy starts doing a striptease, I’m leaving.
Back to the plot.  The tag team of Herman the Hermit and Snively set out to ruin Christmas, but Yogi, through a combination of wit and dumb luck, thwarts them every time. Back at the lodge, Mrs. Throckmorton forbids her nephew Snively from attending the gang’s tree trimming party (Gee, I wonder why). Snively is distraught. (Am I supposed to be feeling sorry for this little snot right now? ‘Cause I don’t. Montana Max is cuddlier than this kid!) But instead of Snively getting the ass whuppin’ that he’s been asking for since this thing started, he instead is invited by Herman to join him outside of the lodge in the freezing cold for some vittles and roadkill (Now that’s good eatin’!).
Meanwhile, The gang is celebrating their tree trimming party where they sing “Making A Big To-Do”, the other song that was re-used from Casper’s First Christmas. You gotta love Hanna Barbera; those guys were recycling before it was fashionable.
Yogi dresses up in a Santa Claus suit and plans to surprise the lodge guests, but his plans take a surprising turn when the real Santa shows up and makes the scene before Yogi does.

“Yeah, I can’t believe I showed up for this thing either!”

Hands up. Who saw that coming?
Yogi, Santa and company spot Herman and Snively freezing outside, but instead of throwing rotten fruit at them, they instead invite the 2 of them inside to celebrate Christmas, where both of them have a profound change of heart and spirit. Santa even gives Herman a present. So, Herman has hated Christmas with a burning passion for years, possibly decades, and he changes his tune almost instantly?
“Can you say ‘plot contrivance’, boys and girls? I knew that  you could.”
 
Anyway, Herman would later re-join society and find some people with similar beleifs, and fashion sense.
Duck Dynasty
Oh, and Cindy gets her kiss from Yogi also, by the way.
BOM-CHIKKA-WOW-WOW!
 
Santa gives Yogi a basket full of food, however, Yogi has fallen asleep. Prompting Snively say “Good night, you ol’ fuzzball. You’re some terrific character.”

Shut up, Snively!

Santa then says that Yogi and Boo Boo can have the basket when they wake up in the spring. With that, the partiers return Yogi, Boo Boo and Cindy to their caves for the rest of their hibernation. Shlock a doodle doo.
**********************************************************
So that’s Yogi’s First Christmas. It could have been better, but it could have been worse. if you want to check it out, it’s floating around on YouTube. The special is also available on DVD and VHS, although personally, I suggest renting it first. But what do others think?
“Yeah, listen, Teddy Ruxpin. Stick to swiping picnic baskets and leave the “holly-jolly” stuff to the experts! Me and Rudolph, we are Christmas! Represent!”

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!.

yo_yogi

When the shows’ title is a worn out buzzword, that’s not a good sign.

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.

“DUDE! The green jacket and rd hi-top are so 90s! It’s AWESOME!!”

*********************************************************************
Anyway, here’s the premise:Yo, Yogi! takes place in Jellystone Town (so it’s a town now?). Yogi Bear, along with his sidekick Boo-Boo and their pals Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss and Cindy Bear (voiced this time around by Kath Soucie) have been de-aged into 14-year-old teenagers. The characters hung out at Jellystone Mall (which appeared to be patterned after the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota) owned by “Diamond” Doggie Daddy with Augie Doggie as his heir to the mall business. Yogi and the gang work at an agency called L.A.F. (short for Lost and Found – The initials spell out LAF, as in ‘Laugh’, get it?) where they act as detectives trying to solve mysteries under the supervision of the mall’s security guard Officer Smith. Dick , or “Dickie” Dastardly as he was called here (doing his best Montana Max impression) and his sidekick Muttley would cause trouble for Yogi and his gang. New character Roxie Bear was a teenager who was causing trouble with Dick Dastardly and she was Cindy’s rival and Yogi’s competitor. The characters were never seen at home or school. Some other H-B characters were also turned into teenagers, such as Top Cat, Wally Gator and Hardy-Har-Har, while other characters such as Secret Squirrel and Morocco Mole, were featured as young children. Magilla Gorilla appeared in 1 episode as a famous rapper named Magilla Ice (groan!)
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Here’s the shows’ opening:

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 make 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.

The main problem that I had with Yo, Yogi! was the entire mentality of the show’s supposed appeal smacked too much of this:

Steve Buscemi - How Do You Do Fellow Kids

Or to put it another way, 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.

NEVER FORGET

The Retro Bin: Yogi’s Gang (1973)

As previously mentioned in Jason (Goldstar)’s Yogi’s Space Race review, a staple of Hanna-Barbera Studios was its’ employment of the “potpourri” show concept, namely gathering their vast and rather redundant library of star characters together in a single program, typically with them all involved in some group activity like a major sporting competition or celebrating some character’s First Christmas TM. I suppose to die-hard HB fans, these crossovers were considered the ultimate team-ups. But for folks like me, these characters were simply interchangeable; putting 20 of them on one program was like dawn of the Stepford Cartoons. One early example of the HB “potpourri” show was 1973’s Yogi’s Gang, which aired 16 half-hour episodes on ABC from September 8, 1973, to December 29, 1973 and was based on a TV movie from a year earlier called Yogi’s Ark Lark. For those who aren’t old codgers like me and weren’t around to experience this show, imagine if all of the characters from the Boomerang Zoo block appeared together in one show, suck out all of the fun and mix in the ham-handed PSA preachiness of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids and The New Zoo Revue and you have the basic idea of what we had to endure back then.
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Here’s the basic crux: In the TV movie Yogi’s Ark Lark (1972), a myriad of HB’s funny animal toon stars, specifically Atom Ant, Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy, The Hillbilly Bears, Hokey Wolf and Ding-A-Ling, Huckleberry Hound, Lambsy, Lippy the Lion & Hardy Har Har, Magilla Gorilla, Moby Dick (from Moby Dick and Mighty Mightor), Peter Potamus and So-So, Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks, Quick Draw McGraw and Baba Looey, Ruff and Reddy, Sawtooth the Beaver (Rufus Ruffcut’s pet beaver from Wacky Races), Secret Squirrel and Morocco Mole, Snagglepuss, Squiddly Diddly, Top Cat and his gang (Benny the Ball, Spook, Choo Choo, Fancy Fancy, and the Brain–not the lab mouse from Animaniacs who wants to take over the world!), Touché Turtle and Dum Dum, Wally Gator, Yakky Doodle & Chopper, Yogi Bear and Boo Boo and an unknown and unnamed dinosaur character (Phew! That’s was a long list, but no worries; since all of them contribute what is in essence a single character–they’re all basically same goofball–and as such I won’t need to delve into any of their ‘characters’ individually again and have no desire whatsoever to do separate reviews of any of their own respective cartoons, I won’t ever have to type it again) headed by Yogi, become concerned about the environment and pollution, and gather together at Jellystone Park to build a flying ship resembling Noah’s Ark with a propeller on top to find “The Perfect Place”, an environment free of of pollution, deforestation, and other forms of mankind’s despoilment. They are aided by Jellystone Park’s handyman, Mr. Smitty, and out of gratitude the gang decide to name the ship after him. The name ‘Smitty’s Houseboat’ is too long to paint on the ship’s bow, but Mr. Smitty’s first name just happens to be Noah, so they end up calling it ‘Noah’s Ark’. (Get it? How original and not at all pretentious!) Anyways, after journeying from everywhere from the Antarctic to the Sahara Desert to outer space (yes, really), the kid animals (Augie Doggie, Boo Boo, Baba Looey, Benny the Ball, Lambsy, Shag Rugg, Yakky Doodle–wait, since when are Boo-Boo, Baba Looey and Benny the Ball kids? I knew that they were short, but them being minors gives their “partnership” with their taller, adult animal partners a somewhat creepy vibe) get the idea that there is no “Perfect Place”, and that they should all simply go back home and clean up the messes that they were trying to get away from, since It’s Up To All Of Us TM. This decision is met with unanimous approval, and the animals all head for home to take pollution down to zero, and turn their home into “the Perfect Place.”
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Nifty. Well, it would seem that these guys must suffer from short-term memory loss, since the following year they were back in that flying boat again, once more looking for a place free of pollution or crime and doin’ the righteous thing for an additional 16 episodes (really 15, as episode 16 was just a rebroadcast of Yogi’s Ark Lark, split into 2 parts. Here’s the opening:

-Now, I know what you younger folks are thinking: about Boo-Boo’s line in the 3rd verse:

…Yeah, Boo-Boo sang “The world be so bright and gay”; keep in mind this was 1973, back when ‘gay’ still meant ‘happy’. It was meant to have shiny, happy connotations, but of course hearing that line now, and then seeing that shot of the little side-stepping dance all those male cartoon characters are shown doing afterwards, it’s unintentionally hilarious. Moving on…

The show typically ran along the same basic lines. The ship, curiously now dubbed ‘Yogi’s Ark’ and now with Yogi at the helm (it’s never stated exactly what happened to Noah Smitty, or at what point Yogi assumed command, but I’m guessing you just might find something interesting at the bottom of the Hudson River chained to a block of cement) traverses the skies and lands somewhere where they run afoul of some loony would-be supervillain who is the embodiment of some human vice, bad habit or negative trait: Captain Swashbuckle Swipe, Smokestack Smog, Lotta Litter, the Envy Brothers, Mr. Hothead, Dr. Bigot (and his henchmen Professor Haggling and Professor Bickering), the Gossipy Witch of the West, J. Wantum Vandal, the Sheik of Selfishness, Commadore Phineas P. Fibber, I.M. Sloppy, Peter D. Cheater, Mr. Waste, Hilarious P. Prankster, and the Greedy Genie (think a dime store Legion of Doom, only not nearly as awesome). Typically these goons would masquerade as allies to the gang, only for our heroes to discover their true intentions by Act 3 (Gee, who would have thought a guy called DR. BIGOT would be bad news), and we the audience would get the basic Moral of the Week pounded into our heads with a sledgehammer: Don’t litter. Don’t play pranks on people. Don’t be envious. Don’t cheat. Don’t fib. Don’t be selfish. Don’t gossip. Don’t steal. Don’t be a hothead. Don’t vandalize. Don’t be wasteful. Don’t pollute. Don’t be sloppy. And above all, don’t expect your Saturday morning cartoons to be in any way fun or entertaining. The preachy moralizing this show did made Smokey the Bear and Woodsy Owl facepalm.

“Dude, seriously. Just give the message to the kids straight. Don’t be drama queens. Nobody likes to be preached to, especially on Saturday morning. And you just gotta love the irony of a bear who’s made a career out of swiping peoples’ pic-a-nic baskets telling people not to be greedy or selfish. Hypocrite much?”
“Remember, TV execs. Give a hoot. Don’t pollute the air waves with Politically Correct pap!”
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Finally, why is Peter Potamus making that messed up face in the crow’s nest in the opening titles? Was he airsick? Did he just receive a vision of the future where Williams Street spoofs him on Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law? Or maybe he just came to the realization that he and his fellow HB toon stars were starring in a show in which they traveled the globe in a flying ark ramming pro-social values down kids’ collective throats. The world may never know.