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William Hanna, Joseph Barbera
Daws Butler, Don Messick, Julie Bennett
Writing Credits:
William Hanna, Joseph Barbera, Warren Foster

When Ranger Smith ships Yogi to the San Diego Zoo, Cindy Bear follows to save him.

Rated G.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA Stereo
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 5/30/2023

• One Episode of The Yogi Bear Show


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Hey There, It's Yogi Bear [Blu-Ray] (1964)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 13, 2023)

After the studio started in the late 1950s, Hanna-Barbera specialized in TV animation, with 1960’s The Flintstones as probably their most famous product. 1961 brought another series called The Yogi Bear Show, a star spot for the ursine lead who originated on 1958’s Huckleberry Hound Show.

Yogi’s TV series only lasted a year, so it made much less impact than the six seasons of The Flintstones. However, the role did enjoy one distinction, as 1964’s Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear delivered Hanna-Barbera’s first theatrical feature film.

Yogi Bear (voiced by Daws Butler) loves to steal picnic baskets from visitors to Jellystone Park. As part of a scheme, Yogi threatens to leave.

Ranger Smith (Don Messick) takes him up on the offer and ships him to the San Diego Zoo – or intends to, as Yogi tricks another critter to take his position instead.

In love with Yogi, Cindy Bear (Julie Bennett) thinks Yogi’s gone and connives to wind up in California as well. However, complications ensue and Cindy winds up forced to join the Chizzling Brothers Circus, which means Yogi and his pal Boo-Boo (Messick again) need to figure out how to save her.

The Yogi Bear Show ran – and ended – well before my birth. If it ever enjoyed life in syndication – ala The Flintstones - I don’t recall it.

Honestly, while Yogi and many other Hanna-Barbera characters acted as staples of my childhood TV experiences, I don’t specifically remember where I saw many of them. Like Huckleberry Hound, Top Cat and plenty of others, I can’t say where I experienced the roles.

I don’t think I ever watched Hey There - and I may never have known it existed until I learned of this Blu-ray. The character offers enough appeal to make a feature-length Yogi adventure demonstrate promise, however.

Does Hey There live up to these hopes? Not especially, as the filmmakers struggle to find the content necessary to sustain viewer attention across 89 minutes.

I think some of that stems from the limited range of the characters involved. Frankly, Yogi always felt like a fairly one-note role, as these activities revolved so often around his schemes to steal food.

Compared to the broader universe of something like The Flintstones, the Yogi universe lacks a lot of room for expansion. While not as limited as the world of Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote, the restricted settings and roster of participants puts a cap on creativity.

Shorts can find enough ingenuity to get around these limitations. A feature film proves less able to overcome the issues, though, and that turns into a drawback here.

In theory, Hey There comes with an expanded universe that should add spark. However, because Yogi stays in Jellystone for much of the film, this aspect proves less effective than hoped.

Even when we leave Jellystone, the end product feels unimaginative, as his road adventures do little to take much advantage of possibilities. The plot heats up by the finale, but this feels like too little, too late.

Hey There decides to boast a mix of musical numbers, a choice that matches the Disney model for animated movies – well, most of them, at least. The songs fail to add much to the proceedings and come across as window dressing.

It doesn’t help that large chunks of Hey There ignore Yogi in favor of Dull As Dishwater Cindy. She exists as a plot device more than as a character, and her scenes harpoon the movie because it devotes so much time to her.

I find the movie’s blandness to become its biggest flaw. It never takes any risks or goes for the delightful edginess that the best Hanna-Barbera – like The Flintstones - could deliver.

Instead, Hey There becomes a genial but wholly unmemorable animated adventure. The film simply can’t find enough substance to keep it engaging across 89 minutes.

Footnote: the Chizzling Brothers (Mel Blanc and J. Pat O'Malley) travel with pet dog “Mugger” (Messick). The pooch clearly inspired “Muttley” from the 1970 series Wacky Races, so it seems semi-interesting to see the character in his embryonic form.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C-

Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The film came with an appealing presentation.

Overall sharpness satisfied. Some optical zooms delivered a bit of softness, but the majority of the movie felt accurate and well-defined.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain felt light but appropriate, and print flaws remained absent. Inevitably, some marks and dust from the source popped up, but these felt modest and stemmed from the original product.

Colors appeared solid. The movie opted for a fairly subdued semi-pastel feel that allowed it to give us lush hues.

Blacks seemed dark and dense, while shadows came across as appropriate. The Blu-ray demonstrated a fine representation of the film.

Given the movie’s era, I expected basic mono audio from Hey There, so color me surprised that I found DTS-HD MA stereo instead. As it happens, the flick apparently ran mono in 1964 but got reworked for two-channel audio via a 1980s re-issue.

Whatever the case, the soundscape didn’t go nuts, as it mostly boasted stereo spread for the film’s score. This allowed the music to blend gently across the front, albeit in a manner that didn’t seem especially ambitious.

In addition, the track allowed for some minor movement, such as when vehicles like trains or automobiles zipped from one side to the other. Don’t expect much here, though, as the soundscape largely felt pretty monaural – which was fine with me, given the nature of the original production.

Audio quality seemed more than adequate for a production from 1964, with music that showed pretty solid range and clarity. Speech came across as a little edgy at times, but the lines remained intelligible and largely natural.

Effects appeared acceptably accurate, even if they failed to boast a lot of range. Ultimately, the soundtrack worked fine for an animated feature from 1964.

One extra appears, as we find an episode of The Yogi Bear Show. Called “Yogi’s Birthday Party”, it spans 22 minutes, 54 seconds.

The program shows Ranger Smith’s “surprise” for Yogi, one that gets broadcast on TV and emulates the This Is Your Life series. The final episode of Yogi Bear Show, it comes with lots of “cameos” from other Hanna-Barbera characters and offers reasonable amusement.

Note that although the Blu-ray’s case claims the disc includes the movie’s trailer, it doesn’t appear.

A beloved cartoon character made his initial leap to the big screen in 1964 with Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear. Unfortunately, the end product feels bland and uninspired. The Blu-ray comes with good picture and audio as well as an episode from an animated TV show. Hey There doesn’t stink but it fails to deliver an engaging tale.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
0 3:
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