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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 222013

Back in the 80s, there were some very memorable shows from the PBS network like Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and Square One TV. I have recently remembered another one I used to watch often. Welcome to Zoobilee Zoo (1986-1988), population: 7. It’s a nice neighborhood inhabited by zoobles, which are talking animals with human-like qualities. Each zooble’s home is entirely based on his or her common interests and they’re only walking distance from each other.

Running Zoobilee Zoo is Mayor Ben (Ben Vereen) the leopard, who lives in a mountain cave. He hosts the show and narrates. Mayor Ben never leaves his home, but whenever the other zoobles need advice he’s always there to help.

Bill der Beaver (Sandey Grinn) is a handyman, or handyzooble, who likes to build things. Bill’s house also has a living hand in the wall that helps him out. What is it and where did it come from?

Lookout Bear (Michael B. Moynahan) loves going on adventures. I’m referring to the kind of adventures one would find in exploring nature, not the kind found on Adventure Time. This is a children show after all.

Whazzat Kangaroo (Louise Vallance) is the youngest of the zoobles. She’s sweet, has a cute giggle, and loves music. Whazzat can play any instrument, which I think is impressive. Whenever she’s confused about something she says, “Whazzat?” I guess that’s how she got her name. What I’ve often noticed is that Whazzat usually hangs out with Lookout and he enjoys her company. I don’t know if they have a relationship or what.

Van Go Lion (Forrest Gardner) is an artist that loves to paint. He’s also brave when faced with danger, most of the time. Van Go also enjoys singing and dancing. It’s true that all of the zoobles often break into song, but Van Go stands out because he’s the lead singer in a rock band called the Zoobadoobas. (Apparently, that was only featured in one episode.)

Then we have Bravo Fox (Gary Schwartz) the actor. He directs and stars in every play he presents. Bravo’s costars are the other zoobles, even though they’re not official actors. But who else is there? Bravo can also juggle bowling pins and his house is a stage theater. I’ve heard the term, “Life is but a stage”, but this sure takes the cake.

On a side note: Gary Schwartz has made a couple of guest star appearances on The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, but this series was what helped me recognize him.

Last, but not least is Talkatoo Cockatoo (Karen Hartman). This bird is a writer, mostly for the Zoobilee Zoo newspaper. It used to confuse me when I look at Talkatoo’s house, which looks like a children’s book. Now I understand that she likes to write stories as well as articles. Another side note: Karen Hartman has also made guest star appearances on The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. Once again, it was Zoobilee Zoo that helped me recognize her.

Together the zoobles all live in harmony. Sometimes they go to other lands to learn things by using a transportation system called the Zoobilee Zoo-Choo to travel through the Tunnel of Surprise. Of course all six zoobles have to do a song and dance number before hand, even though only three or four of them are actually taking the trip. I’ve also noticed that the Zoo-Choo has five gates, but Gate 3 is the only one that’s ever open. Isn’t that puzzling.

This was certainly a classic series. Even though there are guest stars on occasion, I just find it hard to believe that there are so few zoobles that live in Zoobilee Zoo.