Friday, June 19, 2020

Looney Tunes: A Bear For Punishment

Premiered October 20, 1951.

One morning, in the cave of the Three Bears, Papa Bear Henry (Billy Bletcher) wakes up in foul mood.  

Henry lightens up a bit when Mama Bear (Bea Benaderet) reminds him it's Father's Day and gives him a present.

In honor of the occasion, Mama and Junior Bear (Stan Freberg) prepare breakfast in bed for Henry, in spite of the fact that he hates eating breakfast in bed.  Breakfast turns into a disaster due to Junior's clumsiness.

For the next Father's Day "event," Junior offers to give Henry a shave, with a very scary looking razor.

Next up, Mama and Junior insist that Henry sit by a warm fire and read a book.  Junior prepares a pipe for Henry...

...which results in another Father's Day disaster.

Finally, Junior and his mother present a Father's Day pageant for Henry.  Junior reads a poem dedicated to his father.

Mama performs a song-and-dance number for Henry.

None of this appeals to Henry.

The show closes with a march, which culminates in Mama and Junior (forcibly) dressing Henry up as the Statue Of Liberty.

J.A. Morris says:
There's not much of a "story" to speak of in A Bear For Punishment.  It's basically a series of accidents that victimize Henry on Father's Day, when all Papa Bear wants is to be left alone.  However, when a cartoon is directed by Chuck Jones and written by Michael Maltese, you don't necessarily need much of a story to make it entertaining.

A Bear For Punishment is full of great site gags and excellent voice acting.  Billy Bletcher, Bea Benaderet and Stan Freeberg are perfectly cast in their roles.  Bletcher is especially great as Henry, his anger and disgust are palpable.  

Speaking of voice actors, this is one of the few classic Looney Tunes shorts that doesn't feature the voice of Mel Blanc.  It's also worth noting that this was the last Warner cartoon of the "classic" era to feature the Three Bears.

If you're curious about the title, the phrase "a bear for punishment" is an archaic variation of "a glutton for punishment."

There aren't that many movies, specials or episodes that focus on Father's Day and it's always nice to find one.  A Bear For Punishment is very funny and will be enjoyed by all fans of Looney Tunes and Chuck Jones.  Fathers who couldn't care less about Father's Day will especially enjoy it. 

J.A. Morris' rating:

3 Father's Day ties

RigbyMel says: 

A Bear for Punishment is an enjoyably loony Father's Day cartoon.  

As J.A. Morris mentions above, there are some wonderful sight gags. For example,  Papa Bear appears to turn into a literal "heel" when he realizes that Junior and Mama are trying to celebrate Father's Day with him.   

Note "Kinsey Report" book with pink cover on the floor by Papa Bear's bed.  Also note that his bed appears to be part of a Model-T Ford. 
Poor Papa bear would much rather sleep in and/or read his copy of the Kinsey Report (again, a great blink and you'll miss it sight gag), but Junior and Mama have increasingly elaborate plans to celebrate the day.  The song and dance number that culminates with fireworks at the end is hilarious. 

Chuck Jones and company do a great job of contrasting Papa Bear's frustration with Junior's (and to a lesser extent Mama Bear's) steamroller-like testaments to their devotion, which makes for a very entertaining and silly animated short.   

RigbyMel's rating: 


3 and a half Father's Day ties

Saturday, May 9, 2020

The Jetsons: "Mother's Day For Rosie"

Premiered October 1, 1985.

It's the day before Mother's Day in Orbit city and the Jetson children are preparing to honor their mother Jane (Penny Singleton).  Her son Elroy (Daws Butler) has composed a poem for the occasion.  Daughter Judy (Janet Waldo) plans to give her mother a plant.  Jane tells her husband George (George O'Hanlon) she doesn't need a present from him because they need to be "sensible."  George happily agrees with Jane.

In the midst of the Mother's Day festivities, the Jetsons' robot maid Rosie (Jean Vander Pyl) feels left out.  She has no recollections or pictures of her mother.  Rosie tears up and blows a fuse when she reads Elroy's poem.

George decides to visit the robot factory so he can take a picture of the "previous model," which would be Rosie's "mother."  The factory's manager (Gregg Berger) can't find the earlier model robot, but says he will call George if it turns up.

Elsewhere, Jane and Rosie go shopping and see a synthetic stole at Spacey's department store.  Jane hopes that George will get her the stole as a Mother's Day present.  When Rosie points out that she told George not to buy her any presents, she can't recall saying that.

While George is at work, Jane calls his boss Mr. Spacely (Mel Blanc) on the visiphone.  She asks him to tell George that the stole at Spacey's is the best gift in the universe...but asks Spacely NOT to say that she said that.  This leads to confusion at both ends, so Spacely asks George to buy the stole for Mrs. Spacely.

Will George be able to get a picture of Rosie's mother?  Will he get the stole for Judy?  Will Mother's Day be a disaster for everyone?

J.A. Morris says:
This Mother's Day episode was part of the 1980s revival of The Jetsons, not the original 1962 series. All the original voice actors returned, so it feels very similar to the earlier episodes.

There aren't many Mother's Day episodes or specials, so we were glad to discover "Mother's Day For Rosie."  It might seem like a just another silly cartoon, but this episode brings up a serious topic.  Like Rosie, a lot of people have difficulties on Mother's Day because their mother has passed away or they never knew their mother, or they wanted to be a mother, but could not.  Even though Rosie is a cartoon robot, her emotions feel real.

Having said that, "Mother's Day For Rosie" has some problematic aspects that were probably outdated even in 1985.  Jane explicitly states to George that she doesn't want him to buy Mother's Day present...then she gets upset when he doesn't buy her anything.  It feels like a "women, amirite?" joke about stereotypes.

George doesn't come off very well either in this episode.  At one point he calls himself "the biggest idiot in the universe" and that's pretty accurate.  Maybe the creative team thought making both Judy and George look made things "even."  However making the mother come off as materialistic and scatterbrained isn't a very good look for a Mother's Day episode.

A note about the voice actors:
Before we watched this episode for reviewing purposes, I didn't know that Judy is voiced by Penny Singleton.  Her other famous role was playing Blondie, title character from the comic strip of the same name, in twenty-eight feature films and she also played Blondie on radio for eleven years.

Penny Singleton in a publicity still from the movie Blondie On A Budget.
I enjoyed the parts that dealt with Rosie's, and it was nice to hear the original voice actors, but the rest of the episode isn't very good.

J.A. Morris' rating:


2 and a half Mother's Day bouquets

RigbyMel says:

I remember watching the 1980s version of The Jetsons but I don't have any recollection of this particular episode.   As J.A. Morris says, there are not all that many Mother's Day episodes out there, so it's nice to find this.   It's also nice to know that the voice actors are pretty much the same voice cast from the original 1960s series. 

It's kind of sweet that George decides to go out of his way to find Rosie the Robot's "mother" for her when he realizes she is sad.  The sitcom miscommunication not saying what you really want stuff re. Jane is somewhat less endearing.   There is definitely a very 1960s notion of what constitutes gender roles in the "nuclear family" of the Jetsons' future in evidence.  

Considering that "Mother's Day for Rosie" is a 22 minute cartoon, there is a fair amount of filler in the episode that has little or nothing to do with the main story.  There's a scene that focuses on a robot dog at the robot store and another extended scene showing Jane and Rosie experiencing several virtual reality type travel scenarios at a travel agent's office.  

"Mother's Day for Rosie" is certainly an enjoyable bit of retro-futurism with a Mother's Day theme,  but it's probably not a classic for the ages. 

RigbyMel's rating:  

2 Mother's Day bouquets

Friday, April 10, 2020

Yogi, The Easter Bear

Premiered April 3, 1994.

"Easter is a celebration.  It celebrates Springtime, with life starting anew.  It also happens to be the start of Camping Season. 
-Yogi Bear

It's Easter morning in Jellystone State Park and Ranger Smith (Don Messick), the park's chief ranger, is busy preparing for the annual Easter Jamboree.  In addition to celebrating the holiday, this event also marks the beginning of camping season.

Ranger Smith has prepared Easter baskets and ordered a truckload of candy for the buses for of children that are attending the jamboree.  Smith himself plans to dress up as the Easter Bunny.  

The ranger is under a lot of pressure, because the Supreme Commissioner (Ed Gilbert) of state parks will be arriving any minute with his grandchildren.  The commissioner doesn't suffer fools and has a history of shutting down state parks he doesn't like.  Smith believes his career will end if anything goes wrong.

The ranger tells Yogi Bear (Greg Burson), Jellystone's most notorious food thief, to stay away from the Easter Jamboree.  Smith threatens to send Yogi to a circus in Siberia if he causes any trouble. 

Yogi ignores Smith's threats, steals his Easter Bunny costume and eats all of the Easter candy.  

The ranger then chases Yogi all over Jellystone and the bunny suit is wrecked in the process.  It looks like Yogi has ruined everything.  The children will have no Easter candy and Ranger Smith has reached the end of his rope and decides to send Yogi to Siberia.

Yogi's friend Boo-Boo (Messick) feels bad for Ranger Smith says he and Yogi will make things right by bringing the real Easter Bunny to the jamboree.  They visit the Grand Grizzly (Gilbert)...

...who tells them to look for "the big ears in the sky" if they want to locate the Easter Bunny.

When Yogi and Boo-Boo arrive at the Easter Bunny's HQ, they find it ransacked and empty.  Boo-Boo sees "Help Me" spelled out in jelly beans, which makes them believe the Easter Bunny is in danger.  Fortunately, they find a trail of jelly beans and hope it will lead them to the Easter Bunny. 

The Easter Bunny (Rob Paulsen) has been captured by gangsters named Paulie (Charlie Adler) and Earnest (Jeff Doucette).  Paulie owns a factory that makes fake plastic Easter Eggs.  The gangsters plan to steal the Easter Bunny's eggs so that the world will be forced to buy Paulie's fake eggs.

Boo-Boo and Yogi free the Easter Bunny and pay a visit to the Easter Henhouse, home of the Magical Chicken, who lays eggs for the Easter Bunny.  

She is capable of laying chocolate, cream, candy and regular eggs.  They plan to bring these eggs to the Easter Jamboree and save the day.  However, they'll have to get away from Paulie and Ernest, who are in hot on their tails!

Will Yogi, Boo-Boo and the Easter Bunny reach Jellystone in time to save Easter?  Will Ranger Smith get fired?  

J.A. Morris says:

This is a generally enjoyable special.  Yogi Bear cartoons were a staple of my childhood and I've always enjoyed the Hanna-Barbera characters.  It was fun to watch these familiar characters interact with the Easter Bunny and (SPOILER ALERT) save Easter.  

This version of the Easter Bunny is a likeable character.  He's accidentally injured by Yogi several times, but never loses his optimistic outlook.  However, there's a bit too much going on in Yogi, The Easter Bear.

For starters, it's 46 minutes long, or an hour long with commercials.  I felt that a lot of the dialogue was there to fill time rather than move the story along.  For instance, when Paulie tells the Easter Bunny about his plans for plastic eggs, he rants for several minutes about it.  This could've taken one sentence to cover.  There are other scenes that feel dragged out to pad the running time.

There are also a bit too many subplots that don't add a lot.  Ranger Smith says he doesn't believe in the Easter Bunny because he never got what he wanted on Easter.  Later, the Easter Bunny recognizes Smith's name when it's mentioned and says "he never believed in me."  What came first?  The disbelief or the lack of the desired Easter candy?

On a more positive note, the voice actors in Yogi, The Easter Bear all deliver solid performances.  Don Messick was the original voice for both Boo-Boo and Ranger Smith and he does a great job.  This special turned out to be the last time Messick voiced the characters.  Greg Burson is good as Yogi Bear and Charlie Alder provides a great, manically evil voice for Paulie.  Legendary comic actor Jonathan Winters has a small role as Ranger Mortimer.  

Yogi easily fools Ranger Mortimer (Jonathan Winters) into letting him have Easter candy.
The animation also looks great.  The script has some good lines that are (probably) aimed at adults.  

Yogi, The Easter Bear is recommended to all Yogi Bear fans.  As we've mentioned here before, there aren't a lot of Easter specials (compared to other holidays) so it's nice to find something else to watch this time of year.  I think there's a great 25-30 minute special here buried in the over-long scenes and distracting sub-plots.  

J.A. Morris' rating:

2 and a half Easter eggs.

RigbyMel says:  

Yogi The Easter Bear is an agreeably goofy Easter special.  Even though Yogi is his own worst enemy in the story, he does work hard to try to make up for his mistakes.  (Even if sometimes the hard work is reluctant.) 

As J.A. Morris says above, there is way too much going on in this special and the multiple subplots weigh it down a bit, preventing it from being a true classic.   

That being said, it's always fun to see Yogi in action antagonizing Ranger Smith and the Easter Bunny and Easter Chicken are cute. The voice work is great too! 

I also find it interesting that the special is set on Easter itself rather than the days leading up to Easter as is more typical for this sort of holiday entertainment.  I guess the Easter Bunny being snatched by the gangsters held up his delivery schedule? 

While this is not a holiday special for the ages, it's certainly festive and worth sharing with new Yogi fans or fans of long standing.

RigbyMel's rating: 

2 Easter eggs