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Long ago, there was a thriving civilization of small humanoid bears called Gummi Bears. Possessing powerful magic and advanced technology, this race coexisted with humans until the growing rivalry forced the Gummies to flee across the sea, leaving only a small caretaker colony to prepare for a possible return. However, generations passed and the colony forgot their purpose even as human knowledge of the race faded into mere legend. All that changes when the colony meets a boy with a Gummi Bear medallion which unlocks the Great Book of Gummi which reveals lost knowledge of their past. Now the colony has dedicated themselves to the new goal to rediscover their heritage with the help of a few trusted humans while preventing new enemies like Duke Igthorn from exploiting that heritage to their own ends. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In 1991, a small part of Disneyland in California was temporarily outfitted as Disney Afternoon Avenue, featuring characters from The Disney Afternoon series of shows, including "Gummi Bears", which led to temporarily re-themeing the Disneyland attraction the Motor Boat Cruise as the Motor Boat Cruise To Gummi Glen. Plywood characters from the show were displayed during the ride. See more »
Whenever I mention watching Gummi Bears, people can't help making the oh-so-witty comment "Huh? You actually watch a show about little candy bears?" "No," I patiently explain, "They are not the candy. They are Gummi Bears, members of an ancient medieval civilization with advanced technology, culture, morals, history, traditions..." By that point whoever I'm talking to has usually raised their eyebrows and started to back away slowly, or to laugh.
But it's their loss, because the Gummis are anything but little candy bears. This show goes further than any other Disney Afternoon show that I've seen in truly developing a whole mythology and culture that the viewer can actually learn from, while watching witty and entertaining plots involving adventures around the kingdom of Dunwyn. The show revolves around the Gummis of Gummi Glen, which used to be the center of a thriving Gummi culture that coexisted with humans, until the humans began to clash with the bears forcing them to flee overseas. A few were left behind in hiding, however, with the duty to protect the kingdom of humans from greedy people who might want to take it over (eg Duke Igthorn, a bitter exiled Duke who covets the throne), and to keep Gummi Glen functional until the other Gummis can return, at a time when humans will once again accept them without conflict. At the time of the show, the group living in Gummi Glen is composed of: Gruffi, the practical and cynical one who believes in hard work, living each day "the Gummi way", and not going out of his way to help silly humans (although in the end, he'll always go along to help); Grammi, whose work as the woman of the house cooking and cleaning and mending clothing hides an adventurous and daring nature; Zummi, the absent-minded and wise keeper of the library and ancient Gummi wisdom, including magic--which he is forever screwing up, in a truly endearing way; Tummi, whose name reveals his great love of food, although he also loves to garden and work on various crafts projects, and who has a patient and generous nature, sometimes to the extent that he can't say no to anything even when he should; Sunni, who's energetic and romantic, always dreaming of being a princess, but at the same time she's spunky and determined, and learns a lot as she grows up; Cubbi, who dreams of becoming a great knight and defending justice, and also just loves to play and to annoy Sunni; and finally Augustus, aka Gusto, who joins them later and doesn't live in Gummi Glen--he's an artist who doesn't believe in living life by strict rules and discipline, and so of course is constantly on Gruffi's nerves. In addition, there's Calla, Sunni's best friend, the princess who would rather be a tomboy or a knight, and Cavin, Cubbi's best friend, a page at the castle.
So that's the basic cast, plus a few others. Every character is multi-dimensional, and in particular, the development of their relationships is fascinating and complex and often touching. But in addition to the individual characters, the whole Gummi culture is well-developed and interesting. They are more advanced than the humans of their time, with wisdom and technology that the medieval humans have lost, now that they're in this era of rejecting the Gummis as silly myth. There are Gummi holidays and traditions, as well as sayings--my favorite of those being: "Though the first step is the hardest, and the last step ends the quest, the long steps in between are certainly the best." And of course the spells are great, with poor Zummi never picking up on the simple language they're written in. (One funny line is when Zummi's trying to create a small tornado, and misreads his paper: "Wumind Blumow Humere!" And then as the tornado suddenly starts up right under him: "I mean, Thumere!!") There are other centers of Gummi culture other than Gummi Glen, such as Ursalia, an ancient deserted city now inhabited by "Barbic" Gummis whose culture conflicts with the Glen Gummis' ideas of civilized culture, and also Gummadoon, the city that's under a spell to reappear for a day every hundred years. And of course, there's Gummiberri juice, the juice made from the secret recipe that allows the Gummis to bounce around, and makes humans extremely strong--hence it had better not fall into the wrong hands!
But not everyone will find a made-up culture of colored bears all that interesting. Even if you don't, the shows are well worth watching simply for the wit and entertainment of their plots and character interactions. The dialogue is sharp and amusing, the background music is charming, and the plots are sweet and entertaining. In my opinion, this is one of Disney's most intricate and well-developed and truly endearing shows. Highly recommended to anyone of any age who's willing not to be cynical about it.
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