Next to seals, the polar bear is a wonderful animal to think of when it comes to the Christmas holiday, particularly the ones that drink Coke from the bottle. In honor of the Coca-Cola polar bear, I have a list of my top ten favorite bears in pop culture. Unfortunately, none of them are from the Arctic. So bear with me.
#10) Winnie the Pooh from Disney’s Winnie the Pooh: He’s a quiet and friendly bear that loves honey. What usually stands out to me is Pooh’s classic catchphrase. Whenever he finishes a honey pot, he always says, “Oh, bother. Empty.”
#9) Sancho Panda from The Adventures of Don Coyote and Sancho Panda: He is the nervous, but noble squire of Don Coyote and rides a donkey for a steed. Sancho is sensible, even though Don never listens to him when it comes to avoiding trouble, but you’ve got to hand it to him for trying.
#8) Lookout Bear (Michael B. Moynahan) from Zoobilee Zoo: This adventurous bear loves to travel. He drives a jeep and lives in a tent. It seems primitive compared to the other zoobles’ houses. I don’t think it even has a bathroom, but Lookout doesn’t seem to mind.
#7) The Country Bear Jamboree from Disney’s Magic Kingdom: This is a group of performing bears that perform country songs. It was one of the main attractions that’s been a part of Walt Disney World since the 70s and still remains there today. I never really had just one favorite among the group, but The Country Bear Jamboree has always been a favorite since I was a kid.
#6) The Buddy Bears from Garfield and Friends: Bobby, Billy, and Bertie are a trio of brothers, who sing, dance, and always get along with each other. Their antics often drive others crazy when their purpose is to teach important lessons to their viewers. Whether it’s to invade Garfield’s personal space or drop heavy objects on Roy the rooster, these bear cubs leave me laughing.
#5) Yogi Bear from Yogi Bear: There’s no doubt that he is one of Hanna Barbera’s biggest icons. Yogi, along with his good friend Boo-Boo, are friendly park bears that love food in picnic baskets and will do anything to get them. Yet it often results in driving Ranger Smith crazy. In later years, Yogi has adventures with the other talking animals of Hanna Barbera. And like Scooby-Doo, he was a team captain on the Laff-A-Lympics. He certainly is smarter than the average bear, not to mention friendlier.
#4) Little John from Disney’s Robin Hood: I totally remember this bear from when I was a kid. He is Robin Hood’s faithful companion when they go out helping the poor by rebelling against Prince John. Little John is a master of disguise just like Robin and has a fun persona.
On a side note: Some might confuse him with Baloo from Disney’s The Jungle Book because the same voice actor did both roles (Phil Harris). Do you think there’s a resemblance?
#3) Tummi Gummi from Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears: He was always my most favorite of the Gummis, mainly because he is very similar to Garfield. Tummi sounds like Garfield and love to eat like Garfield. Isn’t that something?
#2) Teddy Ruxpin from The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin: Technically, Teddy is an illiop, but when it comes down to it, he is in fact a bear. Teddy hails from the country of Rillonia and enjoys going on adventures in the land of Grundo with his best friends Grubby and Gimmick, as well as making new friends everywhere he goes. Teddy’s loyal and positive attitude always comes in handy when there’s a squabble among his friends. It’s all part of what makes this teenage bear such a big hero.
#1) Fozzie Bear from Muppets franchise: What bear could compete with this lovable and comedic performer. Fozzie not only does stand-up comedy. He’s also a singer, dancer, sketch comedy actor, and even plays the ukulele. Although Fozzie’s jokes can be corny sometimes, I find him to be a real creative comic, no matter what Statler and Waldorf say about it.
Before Garfield had his own cartoon series, Garfield and Friends, he had quite a few different TV specials. Some of my favorites are from Garfield: Fantasies, which features a trilogy of Garfield’s adventures from within his own imagination.
The first special is Garfield’s Babes and Bullets. Garfield finds an old trench coat and hat in a closet and imagines that he’s a private eye named Sam Spayed trying to solve a murder case. I can already tell that it’s going to be funny because of the name. “Are you Spayed?” “I never know how to answer that question.” It was an interesting mystery with running gags about coffee and young ladies’ tears that are as big as rainfall.
The second feature is Garfield’s Feline Fantasies, where Garfield really lets his imagination run wild. He and Odie have all sorts of adventures. The biggest is a treasure hunt for the Banana of Bombay with Garfield as Lance Sterling and Odie as his associate Slobber Job. That was an interesting story as well.
The Garfield special I remember best from this group is the third one, Garfield: His Nine Lives. This features nine different short stories about Garfield as he presents each life, which sometimes ends in death. Nothing gruesome though.
Life #1: First up is Cave Cat. During the Stone Age, Garfield adjusts to living with cavemen and then encounters Big Bob, who is a giant green Odie. It’s hilarious.
Life #2: Then in King Cat, Garfield lived in Egypt as a king with his owner Junior and staff of slave dogs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last if Junior gets killed because if he goes, King Cat goes with him.
Life #3: This was a little different with Garfield as a kitten. He and his owner Chloe have a fun adventure In the Garden. It’s such a happy and cheerful place, not to mention colorful.
Life #4: Here’s a funny one, which features Garfield’s owner, a Court Musician, in the year 1720. There was also a Court Jester who intimidates the Court Musician by telling him that if the king isn’t satisfyed with the music, he gets executed.
It really shows when the Jester shows a slide show of himself with his head chopped off in different ways, but it was funny when there was a brief photo of the Jester in a swimming pool with two hot girls. How did that get in there? However, it did confuse me at first when Garfield’s look had drastically changed as a thinner blue cat.
Life #5: This feature was very short with Garfield as a Stunt Cat. It wasn’t until recently when I noticed that the animation was from a cartoon from the early 60s called Krazy Kat. Isn’t that something?
Life #6: Garfield was a female cat named Diana in Diana’s Piano. This sentimental story went at a completely different pace, which caused it to run long. I wonder if the purpose was to put the TV special in balance after all that comedy.
Life #7: This was a more exciting story with Garfield as Lab Animal 19-GB. After being experimented on, Garfield escapes from the army lab into the forest and the experiments soon take effect, like a man turning into a werewolf, Garfield starts to change. As the army soldiers look for Garfield in the woods, they have no luck finding him, which soon becomes mysterious.
Life #8: After that, Garfield’s actual background story is now revealed in Garfield. He was born in an Italian restaurant on June 19, 1978 and sent to a pet shop. “I’m a big boy,” Garfield says to his mother, “I’m five minutes old now.” Soon Jon Arbuckle comes to the pet shop to adopt a cat. Garfield quickly jumps up, grabs Jon’s face, and begs. “This one seems friendly.” Not too long afterwards, Jon adopts Odie to keep Garfield from getting lonely. The rest is history.
Life #9: Lastly, in Space Cat, Garfield and Odie have a hilarious outer space adventure, but not a safe one. Uh oh.
This was a creative group of adventures here. It sure brings me back to classic Garfield from when I was a kid.
In the hilarious feature Garfield’s Halloween Adventure, Garfield and Odie go trick-or-treating in pirate costumes. Garfield gets excited for all that candy, but I always thought that candy is bad for cats as chocolate is bad for dogs. That doesn’t stop Garfield. “I’ll have you know Halloween is my middle name,” he says, “Gar-Halloween-field.”
Along with Garfield’s costume, he uses the persona of Orange Beard the pirate. The act is a success, but gets tested when Garfield and Odie accidentally end up at a creepy house down the river, where they meet an old man who tells them about pirate ghosts coming at midnight for their buried treasure. Then the old man takes off in Garfield and Odie’s rowboat, leaving them at the mercy of those creepy pirate ghosts. I admit that this guy used to creep me out.
Then it gets exciting when Garfield and Odie escape from the ghosts. It was a rough night, but as long as Garfield has his candy, he’s happy. I’m a little surprised that none of that candy includes cat treats.
This is definitely one of my all-time favorite Halloween specials. Garfield is hilarious as a pirate, who gets extra candy by threatening to ruin people’s drapes, just like a cat.
There were many great cartoon characters from the 80s, but it wasn’t until the half-hour special Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue premiered in 1990 to bring them all together in the ultimate drug intervention.
Meet Michael, a teenager who secretly uses marijuana. His younger sister Cory is worried because he’s acting weirdly, since they used to be so close.
One morning, Michael snatches Cory’s piggy bank and her tie-in toys come to life to help her find it. The characters include the Smurfs, Alf (animated version), Garfield, Alvin & the Chipmunks, Winnie the Pooh, Baby Kermit from Muppet Babies, and Slimer. It was so thrilling to see these icons together for the first time ever, but this is only the beginning.
Although Michael has friends he smokes with, he feels uneasy when offered stronger drugs like crack. Then there’s this Smoke Demon that accompanies Michael and tempts him by saying how drugs make you feel good. I don’t know where that creature came from, but he sure appears to be dangerous.
Soon Bugs Bunny finds Michael and takes him back in time to refresh his memory on how he got started on the drugs. It’s revealed that two years earlier, Michael gave into peer pressure and he still does.
After getting back, Michael and the Smoke Demon fall into a manhole and find Michaelangelo of the ninja turtles. Surprisingly, he’s much taller on this show. Then Michael and the Smoke Demon find themselves on a roller coaster ride, where Muppet Babies Kermit, Piggy, and Gonzo show how messed up Michael’s brain is. If that didn’t scare him straight, what will?
Michael wakes up in the park and finds all of the cartoon characters, which now also include Tigger and Huey, Dewey, and Louie from Ducktales, and they all sing about saying no. I know that some of these characters are known for breaking into song, but I found it a little strange when the characters who normally don’t sing actually join in.
It’s not over yet. Next, Alf takes Michael to a house of mirrors to really show him what drugs can do as a result and that the Smoke Demon is an enemy. Meanwhile, Cory finds Michael’s secret stash of marijuana and the Smoke Demon tries to tempt her into trying it.
Michael leaves the house of mirrors and tries to escape the creepy amusement park with his life. The search ends with Daffy Duck showing Michael his dark future if he was to stay on the drugs. That helped Michael see the light and get back home just in time to save Cory from the Smoke Demon’s temptation.
There were so many commercials about saying no to drugs, but this special actually provides a real example of how drugs are bad for you. That’s what makes Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue a real classic. The Smoke Demon was defeated, but vowed revenge. Do you suppose he’s now out tempting other kids to do drugs?