Yogi's Gang: When Saturday Mornings Became Green
by Rich Keller, posted Apr 22nd 2010 10:05AM
We all know about the Green movement that has pushed its way into every facet of our lives. And though its been around for a few years, some folks believe this thinking of greener living, which equals the lack of oceanfront property in the middle of Iowa, is a brand new concept. This couldn't be further from the truth!
The fact is, there have been surges of environmentally-conscious thought in every decade since Earth Day was conceived back in 1970. The biggest surge came in the early '70s when Woodsy Owl told us to "Give a hoot -- don't pollute' and a crying Native American lamented over the trash thrown out of moving cars. This thinking even permeated the safe haven of Saturday morning cartoons during this time, thanks in no part to a bunch of washed-up Hanna-Barbera characters in a flying, wooden ark.
The cartoon was 'Yogi's Gang', which premiered on the ABC Saturday morning schedule in 1973. A spin-off of 'Yogi's Ark Lark', which aired on 'The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie' a year before, the series featured former Hanna-Barbera stars of the 1950s and '60s that were brushed aside by Penelope Pitstop, Dastardly and Mutley, and a group of mystery-solving kids with their stupid dog. Led by the charismatic Yogi Bear, their goal was simple: to find a utopia free of crime, pollution, deforestation, and mean people.
Equipped with a flying ark built by Jellystone handyman Noah Smitty, Captain Yogi, pal Boo-Boo, Huckleberry Hound, Magilla Gorilla, Snagglepuss, Quick Draw McGraw, and many others ventured off to find "the perfect place." Unfortunately, after 60 minutes, they couldn't find such a location. In the end, they decided to return to their homes and clean up the areas around them. However, a year later, they were still dissatisfied with their plight. So, they hopped in the ark once again for the series 'Yogi's Gang.'
The tone of the series was much different from that of the movie. Where 'Ark Lark' focused more on the environmental problems of the day, 'Yogi's Gang' dealt more with bad behavior and less with pollution.
Each episode had a similar setup: the crew, who's total intelligence was average at best, are lured into doing some not-so-nice stuff by the likes of Mr. Fibber, Mr. Prankster, Lotta Litter, and Gossipy Witch. This eventually leads to strife and misunderstandings between the characters and others. After messing up in a big way, an understanding is established between the characters, and the true villain is kicked out of the Gang.
Though it tried to right the moral compass of many pajama-clad viewers, 'Yogi's Gang' didn't make much of a dent, After 17 episodes, including 'Ark Lark' chopped into two parts, the series ended. After that, many of the show's cast members went on to complete in 'Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics,' 'Yogi's Space Race,' and 'Yogi's Treasure Hunt.' In the end, though healthier and wealthier, they never found that perfect place.