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