May 30, 2020


(ABC, September 8-December 29, 1973)

Hanna-Barbera Productions

Daws Butler – Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, Snagglepuss, Wally Gator, Peter Potamus, Augie Doggie, Hokey Wolf, Lippy the Lion, Baba Looey, Tantrum
Henry Corden – Paw Rugg, Dr. Bigot, Chief Short
Allan Melvin – Magilla Gorilla, Mr. Sloppy/Mr. Neat, Professor Haggling
Don Messick – Boo Boo Bear, Ranger Smith, Touché Turtle, Atom Ant, Squiddly Diddly, Mayor of Smog City, Temper
John Stephenson – Doggie Daddy, Hardy Har Har, Mr. Cheerful, Greedy Genie, Hilarious P. Prankster, Envy Brother #2, Captain Swashbuckle Swipe, Fumbo Jumbo, Mr. Hothead, Professor Bickering
Jean Vander Pyl – Maw Rugg

            Where Yogi Bear began his career as a supporting character to Huckleberry Hound (both Daws Butler), and later as the star of his own televised shorts, the rest of Yogi’s television career took him out of Jellystone Park and away from his beloved picnic baskets. Instead, he was always part of an ensemble cast comprised of various other Hanna-Barbera characters both established and new. In fact, this would be the first in a series of programs where Hanna-Barbera would bring characters together from throughout their library.

The titular ark with it's Yogi's Gang name.

            The very first instance of these crossovers, however, was where Yogi’s Gang actually began. In 1972, ABC launched the anthology series The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie where many animation studios presented either pilots for potential series, one-off projects, or follow-ups to well-known works of fiction. One of Hanna-Barbera’s entries was “Yogi’s Ark Lark”. The special was intended to help raise ecological awareness.

Noah Smitty.

            Concerned about the environment, Yogi called a meeting of his animal friends at Jellystone Park. They decided to leave their homes in search of “the perfect place” free of pollution, deforestation and the like. They enlisted the help of Jellystone maintenance man Noah Smitty (Lennie Weinrib) to build a flying arc, naming it “Noah’s Ark” (because “Smitty’s Houseboat” was too long). After exploring some options and morale on the ship taking a hit, they all decide to go back and clean up their homes in order to make them the perfect place.

Some of the gathering of Hanna-Barbera stars.

Along with Yogi, there was Atom Ant (Don Messick), Secret Squirrel, Paw Rugg (Henry Corden), Maw Rugg, Floral Rugg (both Jean Vander Pyl) and Squiddly Diddly (Walker Edmiston) from The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show; Quick Draw McGraw, Augie Doggie (both Butler) and Doggie Daddy (John Stephenson) from The Quick Draw McGraw Show; Huckleberry Hound, Pixie (Messick), Dixie, Mr. Jinks (both Butler), Hokey Wolf, and Ding-A-Ling from The Huckleberry Hound Show; Lambsy (Butler) from the It’s the Wolf! segment of Cattanooga Cats; Wally Gator (Butler), Touché Turtle (Messick), Dum Dum, Lippy the Lion (Butler) and Hardy Har Har (Stephenson) from The Hanna-Barbera New Cartoon Series; Magilla Gorilla (Allan Melvin) from The Magilla Gorilla Show; Moby Dick (Messick) from Moby Dick and Mighty Mightor; Peter Potamus (Butler) and So-So (Messick) from The Peter Potamus Show; Ruff and Reddy from The Ruff and Reddy Show; Sawtooth the Beaver from Wacky Races; Snagglepuss (Butler), Yakky Doodle (Edmiston), Chopper and Boo Boo (Messick) from The Yogi Bear Show; and Top Cat (Butler) and his gang—Benny the Ball (Stephenson), Spook, Choo Choo, Fancy Fancy and the Brain—from Top Cat. Several of the characters made non-speaking appearances, while Mel Blanc, Paul Frees, Howard Morris, Arnold Stang and Jimmy Weldon didn’t reprise their respective characters who did speak. That was likely due to either availability or Hanna-Barbera attempting to keep costs down on the special since they weren’t prominent parts (Maurice Gosfield and Bill Thompson, Benny and Touché, had both died and Doug Young, Doggie Daddy, was caring for his sick wife).

Lotta Litter spreading around some trash.

While the premise remained in place from pilot to series, a number of changes were made when converting “Ark Lark” into Yogi’s Gang. The overall cast was reduced, with the removal of Top Cat and his gang, Pixie, Dixie, Mr. Jinks, Lippy, Hardy and others. The character of Noah Smitty was written out, and the ark was renamed “Yogi’s Ark”. The only humans to appear on the show was Yogi’s supporting character, Ranger Smith (Messick), and various ecological villains. As for the villains, each one would have a particular gimmick related to some form of pollution or unacceptable social behavior that the ark’s crew would have to overcome. For instance, the Sheik of Selfishness (Paul Winchell) would use a magic box to make Yogi selfish. Smokestack Smog (Weinrib) was a business executive that convinced an entire town that the smog produced by his factory was a good thing. Commodore Phineas P. Fibber (Tom Bosley) encouraged members of the crew to lie regularly. Lotta Litter (Rose Marie) encouraged the spreading of trash all over the place.

Dr. Bigot and his bigot ray.

Yogi’s Gang debuted on ABC on September 8, 1973, and was the only Yogi Bear program to feature Hanna-Barbera’s laugh track. It ran for a single season of 17 episodes, with two of those episodes being “Ark Lark” broken up into two half-hour episodes and some scenes edited down or removed. The series was written by Neal Barbera, Alan Dinehart, Neal Israel, Bill Lutz, R.T. McGee, Jack Mendelsohn, Sloan Nibley, Bob Ogle, Ray Parker, Dick Robbins and Paul West. Hoyt Curtin handled the series’ music while Jerry Eisenberg did the character designs. The song “The Perfect Place” from the special was utilized as the show’s theme with slightly altered lyrics.

The complete series DVD.

Following its run, reruns aired as part of the syndicated weekday series Fred Flintstone and Friends beginning in 1977. Starting in the late 1980s, reruns also found their way to USA Cartoon Express, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Boomerang. In 2009, the episode “The Greedy Genie” was released to DVD by Warner Home Video on the compilation Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1970s Volume 1, and “Mr. Bigot” saw release on Volume 2. Both were re-released in the combined Saturday Morning Cartoons compilation collection in 2018. In 2013, Warner Archive released the complete series to DVD as part of their Hanna-Barbera Classics Collection. The series was also made available on the iTunes Store, Google Play Store, and Amazon Prime Video.

“Dr. Bigot” (9/8/73) – While stopping for bananas for Magilla, Yogi and Mr. Cheerful are turned into bigots by Dr. Bigot’s bigot ray.

“The Greedy Genie” (9/15/73) – Yogi’s hobo friend finds a magic lamp whose genie convinces him to lust for more and more, turning him greedy.

“Mr. Prankster” (9/22/73) – A spurned entertainer uses the talentless Wally to get revenge on Yogi for refusing to allow him to participate in Jellystone’s talent show.

“Mr. Fibber” (9/29/73) – The ark picks up a passenger who teaches everyone to lie, which leads to trouble when bad weather brews.

“The Gossipy Witch” (10/6/73) – The ark heads back to Jellystone where a witch spreads gossip among the crew.

“Mr. Sloppy” (10/13/73) – A dedicated foe against neatness, Mr. Sloppy infiltrates the ark to get them to stop cleaning it so well.

“Mr. Cheater” (10/20/73) – Snagglepuss, Quick Draw and Wally are invited to join a school where they’re taught the art of cheating.

“Mr. Waste” (10/27/73) – The ark stops at an island to resupply and the crew is tricked into using up all of the island’s resources.

“Mr. Vandal” (11/3/73) – The crew sets out to teach a destructive bunch of campers the value of antique objects.

“The Sheik of Selfishness” (11/10/73) – The Sheik gives Yogi a magic box that fulfills his desires, but also turns him selfish.

“Mr. Smog” (11/17/73) – The ark stops at a town where everyone has been convinced that smog is good for them.

“Lotta Litter” (11/24/73) – Lotta Litter uses her powers of impersonation to trick the crew into messing up Jellystone Park.

“The Envy Brothers” (12/1/73) – Two trapeze artists try to get control of the circus they work for, but the crew interrupts their plans.

“Captain Swipe” (12/8/73) – When Wally is upset he doesn’t own any beach gear, Captain Swipe is able to talk him into stealing.

“Mr. Hothead” (12/15/73) – When the crew heads out to help Cindy at her new dude ranch, Mr. Hothead uses a device to make all of their tempers flare.

“Yogi’s Ark Lark, Part 1 & 2” (12/22-29/73) – Yogi and his animal friends gather on an ark on a mission to find a place to live that’s devoid of pollution and the destruction caused by mankind.

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