March 07, 2015

DISNEY'S ADVENTURES OF THE GUMMI BEARS



DISNEY'S ADVENTURES OF THE GUMMI BEARS
(NBC, ABC, Syndicated, September 14, 1985-February 22, 1991)

Walt Disney Television Animation
 


MAIN CAST:
Bill Scott – Gruffi Gummi, Toadwart “Toadie”, Sir. Tuxford, various (all season 1)
Corey Burton – Gruffi Gummi, Toadwart “Toadie” (both season 2-6), various
Paul Winchell – Zummi Gummi (season 1-5), various
Jim Cummings – Zummi Gummi (season 6), Chummi Gummi, various
June Foray – Grammi Gummi, various
Lorenzo Music – Tummi Gummi, various
Katie Leigh – Sunni Gummi, various
Noelle North – Cubbi Gummi, Princess Calla, Tree #3
Christian Jacobs (season 1), Brett Johnson (season 2), David Faustino (season 3), Jason Marsden (season 4-5), R.J. Williams (season 6) - Cavin
Michael Rye - Duke Sigmond Igthorn, King Gregor, Sir Tuxford (season 1), Sir Gawain, Sir Victor Igthorn, various
Will Ryan - Gad, Zook
Rob Paulsen – Augustus “Gusto” Gummi (season 2-6)

            Candy may be bad for you, but for Disney it led to animated series gold.


Colorful sugary goodness.

            Then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner was inspired by Heide’s candy gummi bears when his son requested them one day. Ordering a series based around the candy, Adventures of the Gummi Bears became Disney’s first foray into Saturday morning programming; which, before then, it had largely disregarded as unimportant. The goal was to make a standout program, different from anything else currently being offered at the time. Gary Krisel was placed in charge of Saturday morning programming for Disney and oversaw the concurrent production of both this show and The Wuzzles


Castle Dunwyn.

            The series was set in a medieval world of kings, castles, knights and magic. Legend says that once upon a time, humans coexisted with magical anthropomorphic bears known as Gummies until the humans’ desires for their magic and advanced technology forced the Gummies to sail across the world and find a new home in isolation. These ancient Gummies left behind small scattered populations to watch over the old Gummi cities. 


The exterior and main gathering space of Gummi Glen.

            One such group, and the focus of the show, were the group of six Gummies who resided in the kingdom of Dunwyn. Their home was a hollowed-out tree in the woods that served as an entrance to a massive complex and a series of tunnels below called Gummi Glen. Surrounding the Glen were bushes full of multi-colored Gummiberries, which could be used to create a juice that could empower those who drank it in various ways. Humans and ogres gained super strength and could only use it once a day, while taking too much or mixing a batch incorrectly had adverse (but non-lethal) effects. Typically, for Gummies, it allowed them to become extremely and effortlessly bouncy.


Character size-relationship model sheet.

Their de facto leader was Gruffi Gummi (Bill Scott & Corey Burton), a skilled craftsman and mechanic who preferred to do things the traditional “Gummi way” and often served as the voice of reason in situations. Zummi Gummi (Paul Winchell & Jim Cummings) was an elder bear who served as the keeper of Gummi wisdom and, after obtaining the Gummi-Medallion that allowed him to read The Great Book of Gummi, resident magician (although his spells tended to backfire). Zummi tended to mix up parts of words together when he spoke, especially when excited. Grammi Gummi (June Foray) was the clan matriarch who cooked, cleaned and held the secret recipe for their Gummiberry Juice. Often times, Gruffi and Grammi’s strong personalities and dead-set ways would have them clashing over what has to be done and how.


Tummi, Gusto, Artie Deco, Zummi, Sunni, Grammi, Cubbi and Gruffi.

            Tummi Gummi (Lorenzo Music) is the eldest of the three younger Gummis in residence. Overweight, Tummi has an intense love of food that often landed him in trouble. He would often explore the Glen and unearth ancient relics of Gummi technology that would be repaired to the point of causing chaos or being used by their enemies. The next youngest was Sunni Gummi (Katie Leigh), a preteen bear who preferred human culture and fashion over Gummi history and dreamt of one day becoming a princess. The youngest Gummi was Cubbi (Noelle North), who was impetuous and desired to be a knight above anything else. Occasionally, Cubbi would don a mask to feed his desire for adventure as the crime-fighting vigilante The Crimson Avenger.


The Gummies meet Cavin.

            Although the existence of Gummies had fallen into the realm of myth and legend, one young page from Castle Dunwyn, Cavin (Christian Jacobs, Brett Johnson, David Faustino, Jason Marsden & R.J. Williams) still believed and eventually had that belief realized when he encountered Cubbi in the woods. Cavin had been given the Gimmi-Medallion by his grandfather, Sir Gawain (Michael Rye), who had found it after a Gummi bowled him over in his youth. The Gummies’ other primary human friend is Princess Calla (North), who often tired of the requirements of her station and rather go on adventures. Calla became close friends with Sunni and was also fond of Cavin.


Drekmore Castle.
Duke Igthorn yells at Toadie in front of Gad and Zook.


            The primary villain of the series was Duke Sigmund Igthorn (Rye). Formerly one of Dunwyn’s greatest knights and the identical twin brother of white knight Sir Victor (Rye again), he was exiled after conspiring to overthrow King Gregor (also Rye). Taking refuge in Castle Drekmore, Igthorn took control of an ogre army that, more often than not, thwarted his attempts at conquering Dunwyn more than helped. Igthorn’s primary lackey was a diminutive ogre named Toadwart, aka Toadie (Bill Scott & Corey Burton), who was more intelligent than his larger brethren and, unlike Igthorn, has shown he isn’t completely evil. Igthorn’s primary bodyguards were two especially-dimwitted ogres named Gad and Zook (a play on “gadzooks” and both Will Ryan), who endlessly annoyed Igthorn by constantly calling him “Dukie.” The third season saw the addition of an evil witch named Lady Bane (Tress MacNeille), inspired by Lucrezia Borgia. She also possessed a Gummi-Medallion and an obsession to obtain any power she could. Igthorn developed a crush on her that, while an annoyance, she used to her advantage when she could.



Lady Bane casts a spell.

            While the production and background art was handled by Disney animators and voice work recording done at their studios in Burbank, the actual character animation was handled by Walt Disney Animation Japan. The result was a crisp-looking show that almost attained the same level of animation excellence as Disney’s feature films, causing it to stand out amongst the other Saturday offerings at the time; even the Japanese imports. Coupled with smart writing, the series easily won the #1 position in its timeslot for the four seasons it ran there. Krisel attributed the high-quality of the show to the fact that while most studios animate under the network licensing fee in order to turn an immediate profit, the Disney Studios operated under deficit financing: spending more up front than they were being paid with the belief of recouping those funds later in syndication. The series’ theme was composed by the duo of Michael and Patty Silversher.


Calla spends some time with Cavin.

            The series debuted on NBC on September 14, 1985 and was comprised of a mixture of full story episodes and ones comprised of two shorter segments. After the first season finished production, Scott died of a heart attack that November. His roles were filled by Burton and Roger C. Carmel (until his own death in 1986), respectively. By the end of the second season, a new gummi was introduced as a recurring character. Gusto Gummi (Rob Paulsen) and his toucan Artie Deco (Jymn Magon & Brian Cummings) was an artistic Gummi that ended up stranded on a deserted island until found by Tummi and Gruffi and brought back to the Glen. In season 5, the Gummies discovered the lost Gummi city of Ursalia. It was guarded by Sir Thornberry (Walker Edmiston), an aged Gummi knight who was as forgetful and clumsy as he was brave. Additional Gummies would come to make appearances as the main Gummies learned more about their culture and history, and explored their world. Among many in-jokes throughout the episodes, such as references to other Disney characters, many episode titles were plays on other titles and phrases.


Extending the Gummi family.

            For the fifth season, the series switched networks to ABC, where it was paired up with The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh to form the Disney’s Gummi Bears/Winnie the Pook Hour. Ursalia would come to be inhabited by Barbics, Gummies from the Barbic woods that were rough customers. They had a deep-seeded hatred of humankind for driving their ancestors into hiding and scattering the Gummies around, and sought nothing more than their elimination. They had come to Ursalia in order to find an ultimate weapon to eliminate the humans before deciding to remain in Ursalia peacefully. They were comprised of leader Ursa (Pat Musick), warrior Gritty (Peter Cullen) and gentle and artistic Buddi (Dana Hill). It was at this point Winchell decided to leave his role, being replaced by Cummings (which happened again when Winchell left his role of Tigger from the Winnie the Pooh franchise in 1999).



Beginning in the second season, some of the segments aired alongside reruns domestically. Internationally, the segments were combined into their own half-hour combinations. As season five had an odd number of segments, “Never Give a Gummi an Even Break” was paired with the following season’s “Friar Tum." For the final season, the show was moved into syndication and became part of the first line-up of Disney’s new The Disney Afternoon; a two-hour programming block featuring four Disney shows every weekday afternoon. The season was shown interspersed with older episodes, and aired a bit out of order as the intended series finale (one of the few cartoons to actually have one) “King Igthorn” was soon followed by several more episodes in February of 1991. After its removal that summer, reruns began airing on The Disney Channel until 1996, and then on Toon Disney several years later. The lasting legacy it had was kick starting the television animation boom of the 80s and 90s, leading to the creation of more high-quality shows from both Disney and outside companies.


DVD ad.

Internationally, multiple episodes were released on several volumes of VHS cassettes. Only the first four released were in English; the remaining were all exclusive to non-English speaking countries. In 2006, Walt Disney Home Entertainment released Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears Volume 1 on DVD, containing the complete first three seasons. A second release with the remaining series has yet to be issued due to low demand. In Australia, nine volumes were produced in storyline production order beginning from the 19th episode through the 65th. Amazon UK was planning a release of the series over 12 Region 2 volumes, but these plans never saw fruition.


Fisher-Price Gummi plushes.

With the success of the series, a wave of merchandise followed. Fisher Price and Applause put out a series of plush dolls and figurines. Jaymar, Golden, Tefl and Waddingtons each released several puzzles depicting the bears engaged in several activities. Read-Along, Wanderer, Fleetway and Little Simon all released books based on the series. Other items included food premiums from Wendy’s kids’ meals and Kellogg’s cereals, stamps, stickers, pencil toppers, clothing, pins, buttons, a bank, cups and more. 


Gummies at Disneyland.

As part of Disneyland’s temporary attraction “Disney Afternoon Avenue,” the Motor Boat Cruise became the Motor Boat Cruise to Gummi Glen where plywood characters made Gummiberry Juice along the waterway. The Gummies and some of the human characters also appeared as characters around the park. At the height of the show’s popularity, two episodes were released as theatrical shorts in the United Kingdom in 1986 and 1987: “A New Beginning” and “Faster than a Speeding Tummi.” In 1986, Gruffi starred in a D-TV music video of Elvis Presley’s “Teddy Bear.” Zummi would go on to cameo as a doll in an episode of Darkwing Duck while the Gummies were featured on Robot Chicken in the episode “In Bed Surrounded by Loved Ones.”



EPISODE GUIDE:
Season 1:
“A New Beginning” (9/14/85) – Cavin encounters the Gummis in the woods and convinces them to help repel an attack by Duke Igthorn and his Ogres.

“The Sinister Sculptor / Zummi Makes it Hot” (9/21/85) – A sculptor uses magic to turn the Gummis into statues that King Gregor buys, leaving Grammi, Gruffi and Cavin to rescue them. / The Gummis head out to fix the pumping station near where Igthorn and his ogres reside.

“Someday My Prints Will Come / Can I Keep Him?” – Tummi accidentally activates a machine that creates dragon footprints, attracting the attention of a real dragon and the knights. / Cubbi’s new whistle attracts a dragon that brings him and Sunni to Drekmore Castle.

“A Gummi in a Gilded Cage” (10/5/85) – Carpies kidnap Sunni and their king forces her to sing constantly.

“The Oracle / When You Wish Upon A Stone” (10/12/85) – Tummi finds a device inside a stone oracle and uses it to trick Igthorn into bringing him food.  / Cubbi and Cavin try to find a way to get past a giant guarding a wishing stone.

“A Gummi by Any Other Name” (10/26/85) – Zummi gives Sunni a magic hat that can change her into anyone, and she chooses to be Calla just as Igthorn kidnaps her.

“Loopy, Go Home / A-Hunting We Will Go” (11/2/85) – Cubbi raises a wolf cub. / Calla, Sunni and Grammi try to warn King Gregor, Tuxford and Cavin about a vicious wild boar.

“The Fence Sitter / Night of the Gargoyle” (11/9/85) – Everyone ignores Cubbi’s ideas to get rid of the bird threatening the Gummiberry bushes. / Igthorn gives King Gregor a cursed gargoyle that comes alive at night to destroy things—including the King.

“The Secret of the Juice” (11/23/85) – Grammi is kidnapped by Ightorn for the secret of the juice and Sunni, who failed to pay attention to Grammi’s lessons, can’t make more for her rescuers.

“Sweet and Sour Gruffi / Duet of the Wizards” (11/30/85) – The Gummies use magic to try and change Gruffi’s disposition. / Don Gordo refuses Zummi’s help in finding his missing magic key.

“What You See is Me / Toadie’s Wild Ride” (12/7/85) – Tummi learns being handicapped doesn’t always mean needing help. / Tummi’s lying causes trouble when he spots Toadie in the Glen and no one believes him.

“Bubble Trouble / Gummi in a Strange Land” (12/14/85) – Sunni gives a baby cliff dragon with hiccups Gummiberry juice, which makes the small problem larger. / Grammi and Cubbi try to find the Slumber Sprite that put Gruffi to sleep.

“Light Makes Right” (12/21/85) – The Gummies discover a device that could allow them to communicate with other Gummies, or serve as a weapon for Igthron.

Season 2:
“Up, Up and Away” (9/13/86) – Chummi Gummi comes to the Glen to find other Gummies, and Igthorn uses his flying ship to conquer Dunwyn.

“”Faster Than a Speeding Tummi / For A Few Sovereigns More” (9/20/86) – Tummi tricks Zummi into casting a spell to allow him to clean up the Glen faster. / Igthorn hires a bounty hunter who captures Cubbi, then takes Igthorn prisoner with him when he refuses to pay.

“Over the River and Through the Trolls / You Snooze, You Lose” (9/27/86) – Trolls try to steal the gold Sir Gawain is guarding. / Calla, Cavin and the Gummies have to protect the castle after Igthorn puts everyone else to sleep.

“The Crimson Avenger” (10/18/86) – Cubbi takes to rescuing people in the woods, becoming known as “The Crimson Avenger,” and drives a highwayman into the castle.

“A Hard Dazed Knight / Do Unto Ogres” (10/25/87) – Igthorn uses a magical egg to turn the king into a crystal statute unless the people recognize his rule. / Sunni saves Toadie’s life and she teaches him about self-respect and assertiveness.

“For Whom the Spell Holds” (11/8/86) – Zummi discovers advanced spells in the Great Book of Gummi that also holds the key to freeing the evil wizard Zorlok.

“Little Bears Lost / Guess Who’s Gumming to Dinner” (11/15/86) – Zummi and Grammi shrink down to catch a rat, but are unable to regrow. / Sunni goes overboard trying to impress Calla with the preparations for the holiday of Fall’s Farewell.

“My Gummie Lies Over the Ocean” (11/29/86) – Tummi’s new boat takes him and Gruffi to a volcanic island inhabited by Gusto Gummi.

Season 3:
“Too Many Cooks / Just a Tad Smarter” (9/12/87) – Tummi, Sunni and Cubbi try to replicate a taffy recipe from retiring legendary confectioner Sir Paunch. / Toadie’s cousin Tadpole visits Drekmore and assumes control of the ogres.

“If I Were You / Eye of the Beholder” (9/19/87) – Igthorn magically switches places with Tummi to infiltrate the Glen. / Sunni must find the ingredient that will break the witch Marzipan’s enchantment over Dunwyn before she steals the king’s fortune.

“Presto Gummo / A Tree Grows in Dunwyn” (9/26/87) – Cubbi plays a prank making Tummi think he’s learned magic. / The trolls escape from the dungeons and take the Gummies hostage while going after an apple tree that hides their stolen gold.

“Day of the Beevilweevils” (10/3/87) – Tummi’s device calls beevilweevils that destroy the Gummiberry bushes, setting him and Gusto out to find a replacement.

“Water Way to Go” (10/10/87) – Sunni and Gusto have to save new mermaid friend Aquarianne from Igthorn.

“Close Encounters of the Gummi Kind” (10/17/87) – Gusto’s decoy urges ogres away from the Glen, but ends up attracting humans.

“Snows Your Old Man” - (10/24/87) – Sunni, Tubbi and Cubbi investigate why it’s still winter in Dunwyn and discover a frost giant with a magical horn.

“Boggling the Bears” (10/31/87) –Sunni saves a shape-changing Boggle from a wolf and brings it home as a pet.

“The Knights of Gummadoon” (12/5/87) – Knights of the magical castle Gummadoon capture Cavin as a spy and the Gummies must save him before it disappears for another 100 years.

“Mirthy Me” - (12/12/87) – A Gigglin spreads practical jokes throughout the Glen, delaying production of a much-needed dam.

“Gummi Dearest” (12/19/87) – A griffin mistakes Cubbi for her baby and the baby mistakes Gruffi for its father.

Season 4:
“The Magnificent Seven Gummies” (9/10/88) – An Asian prince enlists the Gummies’ help in stopping a dragon while Igthorn stows away to find a weapon against Dunwyn.

“Music Hath Charms / Dress for Success” (9/17/88) – Igthorn acquires magical bagpipes that entrances anyone who hears it. / Sunni has to save the king from Igthorn at the masquerade festival.

“A Knight to Remember / Gummies Just Want to Have Fun” (9/24/88) – Cubbi helps the ghost of a Gummi Knight complete his quest. / Grammi’s friend Nogum visits and gets Grammi to have fun at the expense of her chores.

“There’s No Place Like Home” (10/1/88) – The Gummies are forced to temporarily leave the Glen, but their new homes end up being not much better.

“Color Me Gummi” (10/8/88) –To conceal the origin of Gusto’s painting Cavin claims he did it prompting the king to request a portrait.

“He Who Laughs Last” (10/15/88) – Sir Garwin is challenged to find the Gummies or lose his fortune, while Tummi is cursed after eating a piece of fruit.

“Tummi’s Last Stand” (10/29/88) – Tummi sets out to lose weight after almost getting captured by Igthorn.

“The Crimson Avenger Strikes Again” (11/5/88) – The Gummies force Cubbi to give up his heroing, allowing Toadie to take it up as Igthorn plans to capture Calla.

“Ogre Baby Boom!” (11/12/88) – Baby powder and Gummiberry juice turns Igthorn’s ogres into babies.

“The White Knight” (11/19/88) – Igthorn knows Sir Victor’s terrible secret and uses it to force him to help conquer Dunwyn.

“Good Neighbor Gummi / Girl’s Knight Out” (12/3/88) – Gruffi refuses to rest his broken foot lest the Glen suffer just as bandits make camp above. / Calla disguises herself to compete in a squire competition that will determine who her bodyguard will be.

“Top Gum” (12/10/88) – Cubbi constructs a flight pack to find the legendary Aerials, but learns they don’t live up to the old stories.

“Gummi’s At Sea” (12/17/88) – Tummi discovers a Gummarine that could take them to New Gumbria to meet other Gummies, but Igthron steals and uses against the king.

Season 5:
“A Gummi a Day Keeps the Doctor Away” (9/9/89) – Tummi helps an unsuccessful pharmacist by putting Gummiberry juice in his concoctions.

“Let Sleeping Giants Lie” (9/16/89) – Sunni and Cubbi accidentally wake up a giant using an old Gummi ritual.

“The Road to Ursalia” (9/16/89) – Gruffi accidentally destroys the Great Gummi Book prompting him to journey to Ursalia for a replacement.

“Bridge on the River Gummi” (9/23/89) – Gusto convinces Gruffi to build a better bridge over the river which allows Ightorn to bring his weapon to Dunwyn.

“Life of the Party” (9/30/89) – While Igthorn entertains Lady Bane, Sunni and Cubbi try to get back a tree the ogres took.

“My Kingdom for a Pie” (10/7/89) – Igthorn tries to bribe Tummi for the location of the Glen with food.

“The World According to Gusto” (10/21/89) –Grammi encourages Cubbi to live with Gusto to test Gusto’s rule of there being no rules.

“Ogre for a Day” (11/4/89) – Zummi uses a spell to turn Cavin into an ogre so he can infiltrate Drekmore.

“Princess Problems” (11/11/89) – A visiting princess turns out to be a brat and causes her father to lay siege to Dunwyn.

“A Gummi is a Gummi’s Best Friend” (11/18/89) – Gruffi believes Gusto’s statue of Zummi is Zummi having turned himself to stone.

“Beg, Burrow and Steal” (12/9/89) – The Trolls break free again and steal an ancient Gummi digging machine.

“Return to Ursalia” (12/16/89) – The Gummies and Ightorn are lured back to Ursalia where the Barbica Gummies plot to get revenge against all humans.

“Never Give a Gummi an Even Break” (1/6/90) – Grammi rescues who she believes is a Gummi from a sideshow, but Gruffi thinks she’s mistaken.

Season 6:
“Tuxford’s Turnaround” (9/18/90) – Cavin asks Tummi and Cubbi to help Sir Tuxford compete in a tournament that Ightorn plans to use as a diversion.

“Thornberry to the Rescue” (10/19/90) – Sir Thornberry accidentally releases old Gummi foe The Spinster and may be their only hope at escaping it.

 “Toadie the Conqueror” (9/19/90) – An invincible magical armor can only fit Toadie, which prompts Toadie to overthrow Igthorn and lead his own conquest.

“A Gummi’s Work is Never Done” (9/10/90) – Grammi and Gruffi trade chores to see whose is hardest while Igthorn needs to capture a Gummi to build a machine they found plans for.

“Zummi in Slumberland” (9/25/90) – Zummi begins casting spells in his sleep.

“A Recipe for Trouble” (11/6/90) – The roots Grammi needs for seasoning are the same roots a group of gnomes need to ward off a monster.

“Patchwork Gummi” (9/26/90) – Sunni loses an enchanted Gummi quilt that Lady Bane uses to conquer Dunwyn.

 “Queen of the Carpies” (11/15/90) – Sunni ends up with the king’s crown, making the Carpies believe she defeated him and take her back to the mountain to rule.

 “Rocking Chair Bear” (2/18/91) – Lady Bane uses Sunni’s hair to keep her eternally young while it makes Sunny older.

“Once More, the Crimson Avenger” (11/5/90) – A defeat has Cubbi reconsidering his role, but a young boy’s faith inspires him.

 “Friar Tum” (9/12/90) – Their daily baking leads Tum to join up with a group of human monks.

 “True Gritty” (11/19/90) – While trying to get water for Ursalia, Cubbi tries to convince Gritty not to take vengeance out on human shepherds.

 “Trading Faces” (2/19/91) – When Sir Victor fills in for an injured Sir Tuxford, Igthorn plans to use his resemblance to his advantage.

“Tummi Trouble” (2/14/91) – Igthorn plans to use a love potion on Lady Bane, but an accident causes it to make her fall for Toadie and Tummi for her.


“Wings Over Dunwin” (2/21/91) – Grammi and Tummi have to protect the giant birds they went to feed from Igthorn who wants to turn them into war steeds.


“May the Best Princess Win” (2/20/91) – Calla and Princess Marie get into a quarrel that leads them to be captured by the villainous Bouillabaisse.

“The Rite Stuff” (2/22/91) – Cavin goes to Ursalia to meet the Barbics while satyr poachers are on the hunt for furs to line their purses.

 “King Ightorn: Part I” (11/27/90) – With Igthorn gone for a year, Zummi decides it’s time to call on the Great Gummies.

“King Igthorn: Part II” (11/28/90) – With Igthorn now ruling and several Gimmies captured, the others, Cavin and the Barbics must rescue them while Zummi wards of the Great Gummies.

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