YOGI’S SPACE RACE
(NBC, September 9-December 2, 1978)
Daws Butler – Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Quickdraw McGraw
Joe Besser – Scare Bear
Mel Blanc – Quack-Up, Barney Rubble
Frank Welker – Jabberjaw, Buford, Nugget Nose, Captain Good/Phantom Phink, Clean Kat/Sinister Sludge
Marilyn Schreffler – Wendy
Pat Parris – Rita, Cindy Mae Boggs
Dave Landsburg – Woody Boggs
Henry Corden – Sheriff Muletrain, Fred Flintstone
Roger Peltz – Deputy Goofer McGee
Hal Peary – Fenwick Fuddy
Gary Owens – Narrator
For the history of Yogi the Bear, check out the post here.
Yogi’s Space Race was Yogi Bear’s (Daws Butler) second ensemble series with him as the title character after Yogi’s Gang, and the first to be comprised of several different segments. The titular Space Race was a reworking of Hanna-Barbera’s earlier Wacky Races concept that tried to latch onto the popularity of Star Wars (as evidenced by the font used for the series’ title). However, instead of being comprised entirely of all-new characters like Wacky Races, Space Race mixed in some returning classics to go with the rookies.
|Promotional pamphlet about the show.|
Yogi traded in his hunt for picnic baskets in Jellystone Park for racing through space. However, his partner wasn’t frequent sidekick Boo Boo. Rather, he was given the new partner of Scare Bear (Joe Besser); a small bear scared of practically everything, as his name implied. Huckleberry Hound (Butler) was partnered with Quack-Up (Mel Blanc), who was crazy and clumsy and served as their team’s pilot. Musical shark Jabberjaw (Frank Welker) was partnered with Buford (also Welker), a lazy bloodhound belonging to the mystery-solving Cindy Mae (Pat Parris) and Woody (Dave Landsburg). Their ship included a speed-boosting track powered by Burford running on it (which, naturally, was seldom-used).
|The Space Racers in their ships.|
Newly-created for the series was the trio of Nugget Nose (Welker), the gold-obsessed ghost of a prospector who was very protective of his partners, Wendy (Marilyn Schreffler) and Rita (Parris). There was also the racing quartet of Captain Good and his pet cat sidekick, Clean Kat (both Welker). No, that’s not a typo or a case of seeing double. See, Captain Good and Clean Kat seemed to be the ultimate personifications of good sportsmanship and defenders of everything right, but with the push of a button the pair became Phantom Phink and his pet dog sidekick, Sinister Sludge. In their dastardly dual identities, the pair would stop at nothing to achieve victory in the race (and, unlike with Dick Dastardly in Wacky Races, they actually won some races). Although they never went out of their way to make everyone believe their dual identities were separate people, none of the racers or the narrator (Gary Owens) knew they were the same. Other Hanna-Barbera characters made appearances, such as the gigantic Grape Ape (Bob Holt), Fred Flintstone (Henry Corden) and Barney Rubble (Blanc). Bob Singer and Willie Ito served as the show’s character designers.
|Jabberjaw activating Buford power.|
Yogi’s Space Race debuted on NBC on September 9, 1972 as a 90-minute program. Along with the Space Race segment, the show included Galaxy Goof-Ups, which saw Yogi, Scare, Huckleberry and Quack-Up as inept intergalactic police officers; The Buford Files, starring Buford and his owners solving mysteries ala Scooby-Doo; and The Galloping Ghost, highlighting the adventures of Nugget and his friends. The running gag of Space Race was that the prize the race’s winner won was usually terrible in some way; such as a self-massaging bed that beat the stuffing out of whoever used it, winning a trip somewhere where they actually had to work, or a trip with less-than-ideal travel accommodations (makes you wonder why they kept racing). Despite being the title character, Yogi only won two races. In fact, the winningest racing team was Captain Good and Clean Kat with three victories (five if you count the two from their alter egos). Although, considering the prizes, maybe it was no mistake the series’ villain was the ultimate “winner”.
|A tale of split personalities: Captain Good and Clean Kat vs. Phantom Phink and Sinister Sludge.|
Space Race was written by Herb Armstrong, George Atkins, Haskell Barkin, Jack Bonestell, Doug Booth, Chuck Couch, Mark Fink, Gary Greenfield, George Greer, Andy Hewyard, Len Janson, Mark Jones, Glenn Leopold, Ray Parker, Sam Roeca, Jim Ryan and Susan “Misty” Stewart, with Heyward, Parker and Ryan serving as the story editors. Hoyt Curtin provided the music. One feature of the program was that some of the racers were given a biography on screen that often would go into talking about their ancestors. That’s how the audience came to learn that Good/Phink was the descendant of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
|Nugget Nose re-evaluating why he hangs out with a couple of teenagers.|
NBC cancelled the series before it concluded airing its only season. To make it more maneuverable on the schedule, Galaxy Goof-Ups was broken off into its own series on November 4, reducing Space Race to a 60-minute program for the remainder of its initial run. When the series entered the rerun cycle, it was further broken up into the half-hour Yogi’s Space Race and Buford and the Galloping Ghost that February. Space Race left the NBC schedule that March, with Goof-Ups following shortly after. Buford and the Galloping Ghost lasted until the debut of the 1979 season. Beginning in the late 1980s, Space Race was seen in on USA Cartoon Express, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Boomerang. Although it hasn’t been released to DVD, the entire Space Race segment is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
EPISODE GUIDE (Space Race segment only):
“The Saturn 500” (9/9/78) – Yogi Bear and Scare Bear win a trip to Mars where a snow bear keeps chasing them.
“The Neptune 9000” (9/16/78) – Captain Good and Clean Kat win a ship that converts into a bag for easy storage—with Captain Good inside of it.
“The Pongo Tongo Classic” (9/23/78) – Yogi and Scare win dinner at the Ritz for the low, low cost of having to do the dishes after.
“Nebuloc – The Prehistoric Planet” (9/30/78) – Phantom Phink and Sinister Sludge win a chance for a famous artist to paint them. Literally.
“The Spartikan Spectacular” (10/7/78) – Captain Good and Clean Kat win a cruise, however they have to travel with the cargo.
“The Mizar Marathon” (10/14/78) – Jabberjaw and Burfod win a self-massage bed that just a little too rough.
“The Lost Planet of Atlantis” (10/21/78) – Huckleberry Hound and Quack-Up win tickets to an amusement park where they have to be the dunking clowns.
“Race Through Oz” (10/28/78) – Captain Good and Clean Kat win a computerized date and end up matched with the Wicked Witch of the West.
“Race Through Wet Galoshes” (11/4/78) – Captain Good and Clean Kat win floor tickets to a concert—as in they have to lay on the floor.
“The Borealis Triangle” (11/11/78) – Phantom Phink and Sinister Sludge win a trip to a ski lodge where they have to pull a sleigh.
“Race to the Center of the Universe” (11/18/78) – Nugget Nose, Wendy and Rita win a vacation at the very dude ranch where they work.
“Race Through the Planet of the Monsters” (11/25/78) – Phantom Phink and Sinister Sludge win roles in a movie where they had to perform the most dangerous stunts.
“Franzia” (12/2/78) – Huckleberry and Quack-Up with tickets for a ride on a luxury jet; however, nobody ever said the seats were inside of it.
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