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Bearing a certain resemblance to the venerable Hanna-Barbera characters
Yogi Bear and friends,the Hair Bear Bunch were three cousins who lived
in Cave Block #9 at the Wonderland Zoo but regularly made their escape
to the outside world,usually at night when nobody is looking,to see
what action they were missing or to find out what's happening. The
series "Help! It's The Hair Bear Bunch",was one of CBS-TV's colossal
line-up of successful Saturday Morning cartoons that impact the
schedule during the 1971-1972 season. From the premiere episode on
September 11,1971(it premiere on the same day as another CBS Saturday
Morning venture as well...the spin-off to The Flintstones'
Hanna-Barbera produced show "Peebles And Bamm-Bamm",as well as others
that premiered the same day like "Sabrina The Teenage Witch","The
Groovie Ghoulies",and "Chan and the Amazing Chan Clan") to the final
episode on August 31,1974 in repeated episodes from the first season.
Only 17 episodes were produced for the series under the production
company of Hanna-Barbera Productions.
"Help! It's The Hair Bear Bunch",was basically a revitalization of their own classic early 1960's show "Top Cat" with a constructed remaking of Hanna-Barbera's own Yogi Bear who at the time needed a constant change over and this time around took the characters of Yogi Bear,his sidekick Boo-Boo,and even the character of Ranger Smith and completely gave them a 1970's makeover. The leader of the squad was Hair Bear(voiced by Daws Butler),who sported a soulful fuzzy Afro style head of hair and the brains of the outfit. Square Bear(Bill Callaway)was the Southern spoken Bear,who was a tall goony bear in a cap,while Bubi Bear(Paul Winchell)was the rough equivalent of Boo-Boo in all mannerisms. Chasing them constantly on their excursions were the zoo's curator and head of the Wonderland Zoo,Mr. Peevely(in the pilot episode it was Joe Flynn of McHale's Navy fame and during the rest of the series' run was Hanna-Barbera stock player John Stephenson) and his chubby right-hand man Botch(Joe E. Ross),who catch phrase was "Ooo,ooo!" This was a combination of several shows which made it hilarious...one it was part "McHale's Navy",part "F-Troop",and it was part "Phil Silvers",and part of "Hogan's Heroes" in the zoo,with a cast of crafty conning animals that wheel and deals for either meals or favorites from their human counterparts. Funny show. The first season ran from September 11,1971 until September 2,1972,and moved from Saturday Mornings to Sunday Mornings from September 9, 1973 until August 31,1974 in repeated episodes. Only 12 episodes were produced for this series.
I remember watching The Hair Bear Bunch on Saturday mornings in the
early 70s and to me it was one of the funniest cartoons at that time.
It reminded me a little of Sgt. Bilko as Hair, the leader concocted
schemes so that he, Square and Bubi tried to escape from the Wonderland
Zoo. Frequently trying to foil the bear's plans was zoo keeper Mr.
Peevely and his sidekick Botch.
The show was part of CBS' outstanding Saturday morning lineup but it only lasted one season before being exiled to Sunday morning reruns. One aspect that stood out was the voice work of Bill Callaway, Paul Winchell, Joe E. (Ooh Ooh!) Ross, John Stephenson and Hanna-Barbera stalwart Daws Butler. Let's split.
This was a compilation of about 18 different successful shows of the
previous decades, all shuffled together and redistributed as a revamp
of the previously loved Yogi & Boo-Boo. There was Hair Bear who was the
bad influence in a fro, Square Bear who was the goody-two-shoes
Southern Baptist, and Bubi who basically was Yogi's sidekick in
virtually every way. Oo!Oo! Botch, and Mr. Peeveley the Zoo manager.
After bedtime, the bears would sneak out into the world to see what
they could get into and then try to get back into their habitat by the
time the sun came up and Mr. Peeveley would be back on the grounds. All
in all it was pretty cute, and I have fond memories of watching it as a
child. I can't say today that the stereotypes would be entertaining, or
that the premise of sneaking out at night is a good thing to teach a
kid. So much for the memories. Cheers!
It rates a 7.6/10 from...
the Fiend :.
The Hair Bears were hippies / beat nicks and swingers (as much as a kids cartoon character can swing) They would have gotten along very well with Shaggy Norville, Austin Powers, and The Beach Boys. If the bears where the hipsters, then the zookeepers were the establishment, and the bears did a fine job of taking on "the man". As a kid of the late 60's / early 70's (with very square parents) I remember this as very funny at the time. In 1971 their "batachlor pad" cave was cool, and to me, The Hair Bears sneaking out of the park to go on some groovy adventure was a lot like us sneaking out of the house or cutting school. I don't know if 30 + years later the jokes, hair and clothing will have aged well or not. You might have had to have been there. Then again it might get that much funnier.
When I was younger, I only actually saw one episode of Help! It's the Hair Bear Bunch. It was about three bears, Hair, Square and the little one, with lots of hair, trying to escape from a zoo to have freedom in the National Forest. Mr. Peevley and Botch were the two zoo keepers stopping them from doing this. Mr. Peevley obviously wasn't watching, but Botch, the fat stupid one let them out and they escaped pretty easily. When the bears explore the National Forest they find a ranch house which they enter to try and get food. After eating they find out the ranch is being used by Bank Robbers. When Mr. Peevley and Botch catch up with the bears they are all tied up by the crooks until they decide what to do. They manage to escape and at the end the crooks are captured and the Super Intendant gives the reward to the bears. Quite a good cartoon episode!
Ah, yes the 70s! Afros, nehru jackets and that cool jive talkin' in the air. And Yogi Bear is getting to be stale. Why not an update? A bear with an afro, two dumb sidekicks and a zoo keeper with an even dumber assistant. It's McHale's zoo with the groove on, almost. Hair Bear is the top bruin in the zoo, he escapes to party outside and is mightily afraid of the forest (a threat by the keeper to make his bunch stop all that loitering). It could have been fun, considering kids get their those of pop culture from cartoons. But the animation style offers nothing new and the stories were picked up off from Flintstone plot rejects. The animators should have watched Sesame Street and learn from it.
Nothing about this weird addition to the Hanna-Barbera canon made sense. The bears had an invisible motorbike, which they hopped on seemingly at will. As a child, I found this confusing and weird, and not very funny at all. The inside of the bears' cave was spartan and 'realistic', until buttons were pressed and it turned into an ultra-modern pad with a fridge, a TV and lavish beds. This wasn't funny either, just a bit of contrived 'hi-tech' business that now seems so embarrassingly dated, as passe as jet-pack travel and monorails. One set piece I remember was one of the bears holding a switched-on vacuum cleaner in the air, explaining "this is my solution to the pollution", before one of the keepers jammed the nozzle on his nose. But his nose didn't stretch, it turned into a spear-shaped appendage which he then used to pick up rubbish. WHAT?! The bottom line is, this series was a ragbag of surreal ideas and low-brow comedy that didn't gel, let alone make one single scrap of sense. Nobody's finest hour.
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