Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear! Blu-ray Review: Ready for His Close-up

Yogi Bear, voiced by Daws Butler and based on Art Carney’s Ed Norton from The Honeymooners, first appeared in his own recurring segment of cartoons on Hanna-Barbera’s The Huckleberry Hound Show (1958)for two seasons along with Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks. He was frequently seen with his pal Boo Boo trying to outsmart Ranger Smith in Jellystone Park. Yogi was such a success he was spun off into his own show, which ran for two seasons (1961-62) and included Snagglepuss and Yakky Doodle cartoons. He then starred in Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear (1964), Hanna-Barbera’s first theatrical feature film.

Hey There opens with winter hibernation coming to an end. Not liking all the rules regarding no feeding of the bears, Yogi issues an ultimatum to Ranger Smith: change the rules or ship him away. Ranger Smith (Don Messick) plans to ship Yogi off to the San Diego Zoo but Yogi talks his fellow bear Corn Pone into taking his place. After this switcheroo, Yogi goes into hiding within the park, so is not suspected to be The Brown Phantom, who is stealing food from campers.

Lovesick Cindy Bear (Julie Bennett) wants to follow Yogi to San Diego, but since they have their fill of bears, she unknowingly get shipped to St. Louis. Before reaching her destination, she exits the train but gets captured by the owners (Mel Blanc and J. Pat O’Malley) of Chizzling Bros Circus whose dog Mugger (Messick) is a proto Muttley in look and that signature laugh.

Yogi and his little pal Boo Boo (Messick) head off to rescue Cindy in silly ways, such as filling a rubber raft with helium to fly part of the way. Wacky high jinks ensue as they escape the circus and the police chase them into New York City, which is no place for bears.

Expanding Yogi’s adventure from a 7-minute short to an 89-minute movie works for the most part, but there were too many songs. Granted many children’s movies are musicals, so it might be that the songs aren’t memorable. It was funny to have James Darren sing one song as Yogi, which the bears comment on for the grown-ups watching.

The video was given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer taken from a 4K scan of the original camera negative and is displayed at the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The image delivers strong colors, inky blacks, and accurate whites. The figures stand out from the backgrounds with the detailed line work. Mild film grain remains. The picture is predominantly free of defect or signs of wear.

The audio is available in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 created from the 1986 theatrical re-issue soundtrack. Dialogue sounds clear throughout, and along with the effects and the score are balanced well in the mix, which plays in front center speaker.

The lone extra is “Yogi’s Birthday Party” (HD, 23 min), the final episode of The Yogi Bear Show. Rather than the traditional three-cartoon show with the different characters mentioned above, this cartoon runs the whole episode and features many Hanna-Barbera characters.

Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear is a fun treat from the Hanna-Barbera library and a welcome addition to the Warner Archive Collection. The Blu-ray disc delivers a pleasing high-definition presentation and the addition of “Yogi’s Birthday Party” teases fans that the entire series might get the same treatment.

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Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site. "I'm making this up as I go" - Indiana Jones

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