Sunday, January 30, 2011

"The Yogi Bear Show" -- 50th Anniversary -- Part 3

After "The Huckleberry Hound Show" (1958) and "The Yogi Bear Show" (1961), Yogi went on to star in his own feature film, "Hey There, It's Yogi Bear!" (1964) and in a number of additional television series.  Those series included:  "Yogi's Gang" AKA "Yogi's Ark Lark" (1973-1975), "Yogi's Space Race" AKA "Galaxy Goof-Ups" (1978), "Laff-A-Lympics" (1977-1979), "Yogi's Treasure Hunt" (1985-1987), "The New Yogi Bear Show" (1988),   and "Yo Yogi!" (1991).

Yogi was a regular "go-to" character for Hanna-Barbera, and the "smarter than average bear" was never far from Joe Barbera's thoughts.  Joe really felt a close kinship with this fast-talking and quick-witted star, and Joe was always developing new stories to put Yogi through his paces.  

Along with artists/colleagues including John Ludin, Earl Kress, Scott Jeralds, Alfred Gimeno, Wayne Kaatz,  Charlie Howell and plenty of others, I worked with Yogi and many of the classic Hanna-Barbera characters on the syndicated series "Yogi's Treasure Hunt," which was a regular segment of the two-hour weekend cartoon block entitled "The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera."   

Above is a cel set-up with Yogi and his costars from "Yogi's Treasure Hunt."   (It was fun to have Snooper & Blabber and Augie Doggie & Doggie Daddy back in the mix!)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"The Yogi Bear Show" -- 50th Anniversary -- Part 2

A cell set-up of the stars from "The Yogi  Bear Show," Yogi and Boo Boo, signed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.

"The Yogi Bear Show" -- 50th Anniversary

January 30, 2011 marks the 50th Anniversary of the premiere of "The Yogi Bear Show" (January 30, 1961) in syndication on TV stations around the nation.  

Yogi first appeared back in October 1958 as one of the costars of "The Huckleberry Hound Show." His popularity led to his own series, in which he was supported by sidekick Boo Boo, nemesis Ranger Smith, and costars Snagglepuss, Yakky Doodle and Chopper.  

The show featured the brilliant voice acting of Daws Butler, Don Messick and, as Yakky Doodle, Jimmy Weldon.

Of course, Yogi became one of Hanna-Barbera's most enduring cartoon stars.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"The Good, the Bad, and the Huckleberry" -- starring Daws Butler

In the late 1980's, Hanna-Barbera made a syndication deal to produce ten new animated TV movies for local stations around the country.  These movies, which would air in two-hour prime time blocks, were to star many of Hanna-Barbera's biggest cartoon stars.  One of the first of these feature-length TV movies was "Yogi and the Magical Flight of the Spruce Goose."  It premiered at Thanksgiving in 1987.   I recall watching it on TV with my kids...I think it was the longest two hours of their young lives.  It really did seem to go on forever, with the numerous and lengthy commercial breaks virtually destroying all tension and sense of continuity to the story.  

Others titles in this series included "Scooby Doo Meets the Boo Brothers," "The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones," and "Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats."  Many of them sounded promising, at least on paper.  But all of them seemed to collapsed under the weight of the interminable length of the time slot.  Two hours proved to be too much for a lot of these stories.  

Back then, John Ludin and I had been working together on "Yogi's Treasure Hunt" and we were both big fans of Quick Draw McGraw, so we tried to interest the powers that be in giving one of these movies to Quick Draw.  Joe Barbera, who was in charge of this movie package, wasn't keen on the Quick Draw concept, but he suggested we pursue a different title he had been considering:  "The Good, the Bad and the Huckleberry" --a western starring Huckleberry Hound.   John and I leapt at the chance to write this one.  We vowed to make it the best darned Huck cartoon ever.  

Well, it didn't quite work out the way we planned.   

We managed to tell part of the story we wanted to tell...but Mr. B had some thoughts on the subject, and he was quite insistent that we do what he requested.  We were surprised by this, because in our experience, this was not the normal procedure for Joe.  He usually let us do our own thing.  But these ten feature-length TV movies were important to him and the studio, so he took a personal interest in each one of them.  

Fortunately for John and me, Joe didn't micromanage our script, but he did insist on some moments that never quite made sense to us.  For instance, in the middle of an old western town in the 1880's, a bus containing kids would pull up, the kids would look out the bus windows, see Yogi and Boo Boo out on the street, and shout, "Look at the bears, look at the bears, look at the bears."  Yogi would find this annoying... while John and I just found it confusing.  This moment had absolutely nothing to do with  Huckleberry Hound's taming of the wild west, but Joe wanted it in there.  So it stayed in there.  

We learned later that Joe dictated the entire plot and virtually all of the dialog in almost every one of the other movies, so in the end, John and I felt fortunate that Joe trusted us enough to let us write most of the script on our own.  

But, ultimately, "The Good, the Bad, and the Huckleberry" was defeated by the same thing that brought down most of the other nine movies in this series:  they were just too dang long!  

Above is the cover page from the script, signed by the voice of Huck, Yogi, Quick Draw, Hokey Wolf and many others:  the great Daws Butler.  

The Cartoon Shows That Never Were #2: "The Trio of Triumph" Bible

Below is the preliminary "series bible" created for "The Trio of Triumph."  I worked on this with John Ludin, Scott Jeralds and Alfred Gimeno at Hanna-Barbera back in the late 80's.  Earl Kress and Wayne Kaatz had some input as well.  We'd leave this document behind after pitching the show concept to network execs. 

The words and drawings are circa 1987.  The color, for the most part, is new... 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Cartoon Shows That Never Were #1: "The Trio of Triumph"

Back around 1986, I had been working on "Yogi's Treasure Hunt" with, among others, two of the legends of cartoon voice overs, and certainly two of the voice actors who helped make Hanna-Barbera Productions the success that it was:  namely, Daws Butler and Don Messick.   

Both Daws and Don were famously talented as well as renown for being among the nicest people working in show business.  On occasion, before or after a "Treasure Hunt" recording session, Daws would stop by the office and give us writers, including John Ludin, Earl Kress and me, a few pointers on how one of his HB characters turns a phrase.  By this time, Daws had been performing these roles for over 25 years, so you can bet he knew his stuff.   He was particularly helpful in getting us in tune with Quick Draw's cadence and word pronunciation.  Since Quick Draw was one of my favorite characters, I was always grateful for these entertaining tips and lessons from the master.  


...When we heard that "Yogi's Treasure Hunt" would be drawing to a close, John and Earl and Scott Jeralds, Alfred Gimeno and I started thinking about some new show concepts for the classic Hanna-Barbera characters.  We loved these characters and the people who voiced them, and wanted to keep that association going.  We came up with a number of show ideas.

One that made it through several development stages and was ultimately pitched to the networks was "The Trio of Triumph," which cast Quick Draw, Huck and Boo Boo as modern day superheroes.  Quick Draw played El Kabong, now in the city, in a Batman-ish role.  Huck played Huckle-Hero, a flying canine persona we had introduced in "Yogi's Treasure Hunt."  And Boo Boo became Ram-Boo-Boo, our cross between the Hulk and John Rambo.

Unfortunately, the series didn't sell... 

What remains is a show bible and pitch document for the series that I will post if there proves to be keen interest.  

But, for the time being, here, above, is the cover art from the pitch.