The best stories are those that are timeless, those that can last decades and still be enjoyed. A Christmas Carol, for example, may have been written in 1843, but the flexibility of the story and its message means that it can still receive a tonne of adaptations in this day and age, fitting well into different contexts. Yes Minister reflects the politicians of today just as well as it reflected the politicians of the 1980s. Batman and his villains can be made to fit a modern setting without changing the core concepts of their characters. The films of Alfred Hitchcock are more chilling than most thrillers made today.
On the other hand, there are some media and characters that belong solely in the time period they was made in and don’t really hold up by today’s standards. Corny old family sitcoms like Leave It To Beaver have no place in this cynical world, as Pleasantville has demonstrated. Likewise, Hanna Barbera’s cartoons, the likes of Yogi Bear, Snagglepuss etc have not aged well at all. They are relics – the kids of today have better cartoons to watch, and there is little to offer adults other than nostalgia and ironic laughs.
That hasn’t stopped some people from trying to bring them to the modern age though. Apparently they succeeded with that Scooby Doo Mysteries Inc thing which I haven’t watched, but stuff like the Yogi Bear movie, in trying to modernise the Hanna Barbera characters, only pointed out how dated they were. It’s something I pointed in the Geronimo Stilton reviews; Geronimo took its cues from Hanna Barbera’s old crap, and it was made all the more noticeable by the laptops and mobile phones.
Even Geronimo, however, is not as obnoxiously “hip” as Yo Yogi! That’s right, there existed a show that unironically used the word ‘Yo’ in its title. ‘Yo’ is like the phrase ‘Hey Kids’ or any word that ends with ‘riffic’ and ‘astic’ – if it’s used in the title or intro of a kids’ cartoon, it’s gonna be shit. And boy oh boy is Yo Yogi shit.
Yo Yogi belongs in the execrable Muppet Babies subcategory of cartoons – take a bunch of characters from a pre-existing cartoon and make them younger. In this case, Yogi, Snagglepuss and co were made into teenagers. Like I said, they were trying to be more “hip” and “with it”. It’s the cartoon equivalent of when your dad would try to take an interest in your favourite songs.
So, let’s take a look at the first episode, shall we? The first episode of Yo Yogi, called…’Yo Yogi’.
We begin with the release of a bunch of balloons, or rather giant floating gumballs by the way they’re drawn. Doggie Daddy is…remember Doggie Daddy, kids? Didn’t think so. Anyway, Doggie Daddy, or rather, “Diamond Doggie Daddy”, is opening the new Jellystone Mall.
What did I tell you? Look kids! We have a shopping centre! You like shopping centres, don’t you? Watch us watch us PLEASE FUCKING WATCH US.
And yes, Doggie Daddy and Augie Doggie are the same age they were in their original cartoons, while everyone else has been made to be about 14. Young Augie hung out with adult Yogi in some cartoons, so he probably wouldn’t have been born when Yogi was 14, but hey, this is probably not set in the ‘normal’ Hanna Barbera universe, if such a thing exists. This is some alternate cool 90’s-verse with malls and food courts and wails of WE KNOW WHAT YOU KIDDIES WANT.
Yogi and Boo-Boo are watching the mall’s opening on TV and Boo-Boo remarks that…oh god OH FUCKING GOD… ‘Jellystone Mall is happening.’ Unless you meant ‘happening’ as in that its opening is something that has happened, you deserve to be shot in the head, Boo-Boo. Yogi laments that he cannot go as he doesn’t have enough money…why does he even have money in the first place? He’s a bear that lives in a cave and gets his sustenance from stealing pic-a-nic baskets, and occasionally pic-a-nic caskets. See, I can be hip too. Okay, this is pretty much proof this is an alternate universe. In this universe, Yogi has a house with parents or guardians, and is living like a human as opposed to living like a bear. He’s also wearing a ridiculous outfit that makes him look more like a used car salesman than a teenager.
Yogi decides to go along to the mall anyway when he finds out there’ll be free food samples, and then on the TV, there’s a news report about ‘The Invisible Bandit’. Yeah, this really is a Hanna Barbera cartoon. One thing you should know about Hanna Barbera is that it has the shittiest rogues’ gallery in history. Its recurring villains, like Dick Dastardly and the Hooded Claw, were bad enough, but they also have a shitload of one-dimensional generic robbers and mad scientists who would show up in only one episode and sneer a lot before being pushed into a river by the good guys and never being seen again after that. The Invisible Bandit seems to be one of those villains, as his first evil act is to steal the TV the news report is coming from, upsetting the reporter within.
Why do news reporters in cartoons always wear toupees?
Then we see the rest of the gang arrive at the Jellystone Mall. Cindy Bear and Snagglepuss and Huckleberry Hound, all teenagers. Okay, this show is obviously supposed to be an attempt to make the characters “cool” for kids of the 90’s, and yet with Cindy’s go-go boots and Snagglepuss’ varsity jacket, they all look like they’re from the 60’s. So maybe this is their past and not an alternate…oh, screw it.
Then comes the teen version of Dick Dastardly, complete with dirtbike version of the Mean Machine. It’s not enough that Dastardly had to be the stereotypical cartoon villain, now he’s the stereotypical cartoon bully too. He wrecks the good guys’ bikes and unleashes a torrent of bees upon said good guys. Seriously, Teen Dastardly is probably even more annoying than Adult Dastardly, since Teen Dastardly sounds like he’s doing a bad impersonation of how Americans think British people speak.
Yogi appears and stops the bees by making them slam into a picnic table, meaning they get their stingers stuck in the wood. However, the bees just flap their wings and lift up the table, using it to attack Yogi and his friends. So in this universe, bears live like people, dogs open shopping centres and bees are super strong. I wouldn’t be surprised if humans were treated the same way they were in Planet of the Apes.
Speaking of humans, we now get to see this show’s version of classic Yogi antagonist Ranger Smith…oh, I’m sorry, Officer Smith. Yes, he’s mall security, and is talking with Doggie Daddy about surveying the centre. Doggie Daddy then buggers off, leaving behind his cane. Smith returns it, and Daddy says it’s his most prized possession aside from his son. Wait, you pretty much called your son a possession. That’s just…that makes his strong attachment to Augie all the more creepier. Like he was overjoyed he got custody of Augie after he and Doggie Mummy divorced. Look how terrifyingly happy he looks in the below image. Is he going to shove that cane where the sun don’t shine?
Daddy, Augie and Smith then see the bee-infested table and come to the conclusion that it must be the Invisible Bandit. Either that or Daddy’s trying to draw attention away from the fact he put a fucking beehive on the grounds of his shopping centre. After we get some antics where the bees beat the crap out of the kids, the bees are foiled with some flowers and Yogi is accused of ruining mall property. Well, yeah, he pretty much did, really. Smith thus bans Yogi from the mall for life…come to think of it, shouldn’t the others be banned too? Snaggle nicked some clothes to fool the bees and Cindy pinched some flowers from Peter Potamus…an adult Peter Potamus I might add. Geez, all this talk about Hanna Barbera characters reminds me I could be watching Harvey Birdman right now.
Before Yogi can get kicked out, however, Daddy’s cane gets stolen by the Invisible Bandit and Daddy promises anything for the one who returns it to him. Cripes, he really is attached to that cane, isn’t he? He probably sleeps with the damn thing. Yogi decides to bring the Bandit to justice and convinces his friends to go along with it due to the promise of rewards. See, Cindy likes the gym, Huck likes sports and Snagglepuss likes movies! What great character development!
Oh yeah, and this is really a sign the creative well for this show is as dry as a bone; it uses Hanna Barbera characters and it’s a detective show. Doesn’t HB have a squillion of those? Not just Scooby Doo, but Inch High Private Eye, Captain Caveman and all those others. Not to mention there were tonnes of other shows where Yogi, Snagglepuss, Huckleberry and all of Hanna Barbera’s other animal characters were a big superhero team solving problems and fighting evil. Remember Yogi’s Gang? I hope you don’t.
Yogi follows the floating cane into the food court known as…sigh…The Picnic Basket. Also, he eats a shitload of hot dogs despite having little money and the fact that free samples aren’t usually that big. Maybe he stole them? Yeesh, Yogi, you’re in enough trouble as is. Then we get some more tired tomfoolery that really does nothing except eat more clock, and I realise perhaps there was a reason the average Yogi cartoon of old was only six minutes long.
After getting the cane back, Yogi notes there’s a little beeping thing on it. Now how did it get there? Oh, who cares, Doggy Daddy has his cane back so now Augie won’t have to listen to him cry himself to sleep. Thus, now the gang can have anything their heart desires, all because of a stupid little stick with a diamond on it. Really, it was Daddy’s fault for holding close to that thing and not noticing the fucking bleepy thing on it. I mean, it bleeped for God’s sake. While the others look through a catalogue for a reward, Yogi decides to track down the owner of the little bleepy thing.
Said bleepy thing, of course, originates from the stockiest of stock villains. Bombastic Bobby, whose hair and chequered jacket make him look like a circus clown with a gigantic overbite. He’s using the bleepy things to bring items from the Jellystone Mall over to his store so he can sell them at inflated prices. Due, you’re using your bleepy things to bring stuff like fridges and exercise equipment floating to your store. People are going to notice that. They’ll notice the crap floating to your store, notice you selling those stolen goods – of which you have no proof of legal purchase – and know you’re the invisible bandit. How did he even attach the bleepy thing to Doggy Daddy’s cane if Daddy’s always carrying it around like a replacement wife?
How does Yogi know about this evil plot? Dick Dastardly stole the bleepy thing Yogi had for some reason and the bleepy thing took him to Bobby’s store. Yeah. I guess we had to have Dick do something, since he’s supposed to be HB’s greatest villain. Well, not so much if he’s going to get owned by a D-List dunce like Bobby, but still.
Back at the mall, Cindy, Huck and Snaggle are arguing about what reward to have. Why are they arguing – it was Yogi that got the cane back, they did shit. Huck wants a “football bat” (whuh?) and Snagglepuss wants movie passes and Cindy wants a gym membership. See, Yogi, you tempted them with pleasures of the flesh and sowed the seeds of chaos. Then the stuff starts floating to Bobby’s store, and they do what anyone with half a brain would do and follow it to Bobby’s store. And no-one else has done this because?
So they stop Bobby and his evil plan and attach him to his own electromagnet. Of course a story like this would have its villain humiliated rather than fall to his death or whatever. Bobby’s a lame villain and he deserves a lame fate. A job well done – by that I mean Bobby’s capture as opposed to the cartoon – and Yogi and friends are put in charge of the shopping centre’s lost and found.
So basically every episode from here on out was just them solving mysteries and foiling crimes while being goofy just like, you know, EVERY SINGLE OTHER HANNA BARBERA CRARGREAHVIVHAFRHRGJGHN Yeah, they tried to appeal to the youth of today with slang and characters saying ‘Totally’ and music bands, but all they did was make the creaks louder. It just proved the modern world is really no place for Hanna Barbera’s cardboard villains and rickety protagonists. Most adults, and even most kids, have more sophisticated entertainment now. Maybe there’s a reason the best Yogi-related thing in decades involved Yogi dying.