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Mar 162016
 

Many of us remember Yogi Bear as one of Hanna-Barbera’s biggest icons. The smarter than the average bear had a series called The Yogi Bear Show – The Complete Series (1961-1962) about his misadventures in Jellystone Park stealing picnic baskets and driving Ranger Smith crazy. Yogi and his little pal Boo-Boo had also been involved in other animated shows in the 70s and 80s, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The focus right now is on Yogi’s first movie, Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear!. It’s the first day of spring and Boo-Boo is very excited. Apparently, Yogi’s only interest is snatching food from tourists by going back to his old tricks again. It’s so typical of Yogi.

However, Ranger Smith manages to outwit Yogi a lot easier than before and enforces “Do Not Feed the Bears” signs all over the park. That drives Yogi to live like a hermit, even though he was believed to have been sent away to the San Diego Zoo.

Reoccurring character on The Yogi Bear Show, Cindy Bear, is more prominent in this movie. She truly loves Yogi. At first Yogi is against the idea of having a relationship, but eventually he realizes that he does love Cindy after all. That’s when Yogi finally decides to think with his heart instead of his stomach for a change.

Things really get mixed up when Cindy hears about Yogi going to San Diego and gets herself sent away to be with him, not realizing that she’s going to the St. Louis Zoo. While on the train, Cindy meets a group of other bears that sing and dance while playing around with the other luggage. To me, that’s one of the most memorable scenes with the fun singing and how heartbroken Cindy gets when she discovers where she’s really going.

On the way, Cindy ends up lost and captured by greedy traveling circus owners. What really stands out here is their dog Mugger. He has a very striking resemblance to Muttley, wheezing laugh and all. Now this was back in 1964, several years before Muttley became an official Hanna-Barbera icon.

Once Yogi finds out that Cindy is missing, he and Boo-Boo head out to find her. Even after they do, the three bears are still lost and end up in quite a few different places with all sorts of humans seeing them as threats, even though they’re actually nice bears that would never hurt anyone.

This was a good movie with it’s brand of kid friendly humor and catchy musical numbers, with the exception of that slow song Ven-e, Ven-o, Ven-a. When I first saw this film years ago I thought it was just another episode of The Yogi Bear Show only longer, since the animation style is no different. Looking back now, I can see the difference, which makes it much more memorable.

Aug 132014
 

The Scooby-Doo franchise has certainly evolved over the years. Scooby-Doo: Mask of the Blue Falcon actually goes back to its roots by including the Blue Falcon and Dynomutt. That used to be an old cartoon series from the 70s and the two of them were on the Scooby Doobies team in Laff-A-Lympics, but in this feature Blue Falcon and Dynomutt are portrayed as old comic book characters that also had a TV series.

The Mystery Inc. gang travels to the city of San de Pedro to attend a comic book convention. Shaggy and Scooby are very excited since they are such huge fans of Blue Falcon and Dynomutt. They even made costumes out of string cheese and food coloring. Now that’s just weird.

I go to comic book conventions all the time. They always provide a great atmosphere with posters, pictures, displays, backdrops, and wall hangings of classic characters randomly placed all around. This one has that too and the characters displayed are all from classic Hanna-Barbera franchises. Ones like Space Ghost, Frankenstein Jr., The Jetsons, Atom Ant, Herculoids, Mightor, Yogi Bear, The Impossibles, The Flintstones, Magilla Gorilla, and others. So these characters were really all just fictional in the Scooby-Doo universe, even though some of them did coexist in Laff-A-Lympics with Shaggy and Scooby?

One of the celebrity guests there is Owen Garrison, who played the original Blue Falcon. Now that’s clever because in the actual Dynomutt cartoon series, Laugh In star Gary Owens voiced the Blue Falcon.

The main event Fred looks forward to is the premiere of the new Blue Falcon movie that’s darker and edgier. The leading actor is Brad Adams, who never really watched the original Blue Falcon TV show in order to prepare for the role. Instead he wanted to give the character a clean slate and only sees the Blue Falcon as an enigma. Somehow this reminds me of the comparison between the old Batman series from the 60s and the Batman movies of today.

Meanwhile, Daphne’s desire is to complete her collection of cute stuffed dolls called Littlest Fuzzies. Man, I have never seen her get so obsessed over anything.

I met Grey Delisle, who was the voice of Daphne, at AFO 2012.

However, Velma isn’t thrilled to be at the convention at all. Her only interest is the mystery going on about a monster terrorizing the place. This is no ordinary monster though. It’s the Blue Falcon’s archenemy Mr. Hyde, who is a creature of chaos. Mr. Hyde wasn’t in the new movie, but he was in the old TV series. That’s why Shaggy and Scooby know about him so well.

As the Mystery Inc. gang gets on the case, Shaggy and Scooby are the most knowledgeable and take the mystery more seriously than they usually do. However, the number one suspect is Owen Garrison because he tried to revive the Blue Falcon and every studio turned him down. And with the new movie version out, Mr. Garrison’s fan base has disappeared. He keeps going on and on about it. It seems obvious, but Shaggy and Scooby refuse to accept that because they still believe in the original Blue Falcon. They even found other suspects, yet Fred, Daphne, and Velma still think Mr. Garrison is Mr. Hyde. Can you believe it?

Meanwhile, Jennifer Severin the writer/producer/director of the new Blue Falcon movie takes advantage of all the publicity involving the Mr. Hyde attacks. What I couldn’t help but notice is that she believes that her movies should have less story line and be more about blowing things up since that’s where the money is.

This was a great movie with a modernized collaboration of Hanna-Barbera nostalgia. Even the opening credits feature some of the ghosts from the classic Scooby-Doo series. If you’re a fan of classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons, be sure to observe the backgrounds and cosplayers closely.

 

Dec 172013
 

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.

Nov 262013
 

Now who remembers this old classic? Wake, Rattle and Roll (1990-1992) is about a young man named Sam Baxter (RJ Williams) and his robot DECKS having misadventures in a basement that’s filled with high-tech gadgets that are highly imaginative.

Some of these gadgets include a dumbwaiter that works like a roller coaster shute, a transporter that summons people, and a living library that brings characters from a book to life. The inventor of these contraptions, including DECKS, is Sam’s grandfather Lester Quirk (Avery Schriber). He often travels around the world, but always keeps in contact.

Another major contraption is the Debbie Detector. Debbie (Terri Ivens) is Sam’s older sister and the detector is a transmission device to her bedroom. Debbie is a mean girl, but deep down she does care about her brother. One thing I don’t understand is what Debbie is speaking into on the other end of the transmission because we never see her bedroom.

The main person who joins Sam and DECKS on their misadventures is Sam’s good friend KC (Ebonie Smith), who is very helpful on occasion.

Each episode has two cartoons DECKS shows on his TV in his chest. The first is Fender Bender 500, which is an “updated” take on Wacky Races. Classic Hanna Barbera characters have races all over the world in creatively designed trucks that require two riders.

They include Yogi and Boo-Boo in the Jellystone Jammer (#1) and Huckleberry Hound and Snagglepuss in the Half Dog Half Cat Half-Track (#2). Man that’s a mouthful.

There’s also Magilla Gorilla and Wally Gator in the Swamp Stomper (#3) and Top Cat and Choo-Choo in the Alley Cat (#4). On a personal note, this cartoon is how I first learned about Top Cat.

Here are some more likely team-ups. Quickdraw McGraw and Baba Looey in the Texas Twister (#5), Pixie and Dixie in the Cheddar Shredder (#6), Auggie Doggie and Doggie Daddy in the Lucky Trucky (#7), and Winsome Witch and Lucky the cat in the Sonic Broom (#13).

Then there’s the cheating Dick Dastardly and Muttley in the Dirty Truckster (#00). It’s no surprise since they always used to cheat in Wacky Races. You just never know who is gonna win.

The second cartoon is Monster Tails. In a castle that’s always raining and snowing outside, resides animal versions of the classic horror monsters having misadventures with their human guardian Igor Jr. There’s Frankenmutt, Catula, Mumfrey, and Dr. Veenie who becomes Mr. Snyde whenever he sneezes. I think these names speak for themselves. The only exception is Elsa. She’s resembles the Bride of Frankenstein, but also has a bit of talking parrot in her.

This was a good show that was very well made. It’s unfortunate that it didn’t last and it would be nice to find it on DVD as well.

Mar 092012
 

Hanna Barbera Productions has produced many different cartoon shows over the years. Laff-A-Lympics (1977-1978) provides an opportunity to bring these various characters together in a weekly sport competition with creatively unorthodox events, while traveling around the world.

Snagglepuss and Mildew Wolf from The Catanooga Cats Show are the commentators.

The athletes are split into three teams. Team #1 is the Yogi Yahooeys with Yogi Bear as captain. They are all animal characters from The Huckleberry Hound Show, The Yogi Bear Show, and Quick Draw McGraw, along with Grape Ape.

Team #2 is the Scooby Doobies with Scooby Doo as captain. This group is all mystery solver characters from The Scooby Doo Show, Dynomutt the Dog Wonder, Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, and Speed Buggy, along with Hong Kong Phooey and Babu from Jeannie.

And team #3 is the Really Rottens. Other than team captain Mumbly, who has a striking resemblance to Muttley, these characters are all brand new to the Hanna Barbera franchise. Some of which are highly similar, like the Creepleys who are much like the Gruesomes from The Flintstones and Dread Baron who resembles Dick Dastardly.

On occasion, other characters make guest appearances. Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble come by to demonstrate an event and Jabberjaw makes appearances as a guest referee, particularly for the water events. Don’t worry, he doesn’t bite.

As the three teams compete for the Laff-A-Lympics gold medal, the Rottens always look for ways to cheat while the Yogis and Scoobys work hard to earn the prize fairly. Sometimes the Rottens lose points for cheating, but only when they get caught. I’m surprised that it doesn’t happen often.

I don’t know how they select which athletes to do which events, but the creativity he or she provides makes them exciting to watch. It’s kind of like picturing these characters as video game heroes.

The scoring system is always the same, 25 points for first place, 15 points for second, and 10 points for third. On rare occasions, there’s a 50-point bonus included for the really difficult events. Unfortunately, none of the teams have ever won it. It can be overwhelming if you think about it.

Each episode features six events, three in one country and three in another. Yet there’s no mention of the transportation used to get to these places so efficiently. It makes me wonder what these athletes do to party while they travel.

I enjoyed this series for its mixture of characters and exciting competition. Even though the Rottens never learn about cheating, it’s good to know that the Yogis and Scoobys are good sports toward one another.