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October 13, 2015

Yogi's Gang: When Saturday Mornings Became Green

by Rich Keller, posted Apr 22nd 2010 10:05AM
Yogi Bear and the rest of the crew of 'Yogi's Gang'
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.

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Sorry by the 1970's those characters were basically washed up. None were in staring vechicles on any of the networks at the time. Most their runs were over by the end of the 60s. There's been a billion re-creations/re-boots of Scooby Doo but I can't remember a revival for any of those poor cartoon characters stranded forever in that flying boat.

April 22 2010 at 11:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

OMG what a memory this brings back ... I loved that song .... "We're on our way to the perfect place ... the perfect PLA-ACE .... " years later on road trips to the shore we'd sing that song in the car. Yogi's gang RULES !

April 22 2010 at 5:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Richard Ott

The Hanna Barbera Characters are not washed up,
they were, and still are my favorite characters I
grew up with. In fact, I watched nearly 4 hours
a week on Sunday mornings of the USA Network's
Cartoon Express. Laff A Lympics, Yogi's Space
Race, The Hair Bear Bunch, and many, many more.
As a matter of fact, I loved the Yogi's Gang
Theme song whenever it aired. It even inspired
their last great movie, "Yogi Bear In The Magical
Flight Of The Spruce Goose", a story about this
humoungous airplane built in 1955. Dick Dastardly
& Muttley plot to take over the Spruce Goose,
and get stranded themselves on Mula Mula Island.
I hope Yogi's Gang, Yogi's Space Race and
Yogi's Treasure Hunt make their way to DVD
very soon, and the above mentioned 1987 movie.

April 22 2010 at 1:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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