We need to talk. Seriously, we need to talk.
In the 1960’s, Hanna-Barbera created several seminal cartoon characters. You know them. Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss, Quick Draw McGraw, Magilla Gorilla, all of them. And they appeared on network and syndicated TV broadcasts for ages.
In 1971, the Hanna-Barbera characters appeared in a special one-hour episode of the ABC Saturday Superstar Movie, a children’s anthology series. The special, “Yogi’s Ark Lark,” featured Yogi and Huck and Snagglepuss and the rest of the crew, as they essentially fought against pollution and waste. The special received very strong ratings, which spurred the release of the 1973 series Yogi’s Gang, a spinoff series from the movie. Here’s the show’s intro.
A few years later, Hanna-Barbera expanded this concept by creating Laff-A-Lympics, in which the Yogi Bear extended universe of characters competed against the Scooby-Doo universe of characters, while both competed against an assortment of villains.
There was some more cross-pollenation Hanna-Barbera shared universe programs, such as Yogi’s Space Race, which somehow moved the Joe Besser-sounding shark Jabberjaw into the Yogi Bear universe.
And, of course, now we have Yogi and the gang integrating with the Wacky Races universe, in a series of shorts known as the Fender Bender 500.
Eventually the gang reappeared in a syndicated program called Yogi’s Treasure Hunt, which was – I guess – okay – sorta – maybe.
And finally, when I thought they had milked the whole “Yogi Bear Shared Universe” thing to death, they went with the “super-deformed” cartoon series Yo, Yogi!, in which the Hanna-Barbera characters are now teenagers. By the way, “super deformed” usually means a show in which the characters themselves are teens or pre-teens, and Hanna-Barbera did this several times – The Flintstone Kids and A Pup Named Scooby-Doo come to mind.
Okay. So they’ve milked Yogi Bear and the Hanna-Barbera catalog for everything they could get. And I’m not even going to travel into the Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law universe. That’s a blog post of its own.
But yesterday, I saw a video for a brand new Hanna-Barbera TV series, which will stream on HBO Max. I give you … Jellystone.
No, no, no, no, NO NO NO NO NO!!
Are you freakin’ kidding me?
First off, the animation style for this series is painful. PAINFUL. And the characters barely sound like the originals. And now they’ve moved Captain Caveman and Jonny Quest and the Banana Splits into this shared universe? What, are they going to put everybody who’s ever been in a Hanna-Barbera TV series at any point in time into this show?
Oh my GOD this is horrific. And I’m not speaking as if I’m a Hanna-Barbera purist or anything. But sweet lord, I’m watching this and I’m thinking, what audience is this aimed for? 6-year-olds who are just discovering poopy humor? Because it sure ain’t for those of us who remember the original characters, or that they sometimes were in shared TV shows. It’s like someone watched the movie Ready Player One, and thought to themselves, “Hey, why don’t we do a Ready Player One show and use all the Hanna-Barbera characters that we can in it?”
But I understand what’s happening here. Warner Bros. has already released a trailer for Space Jam 2, which besides showcasing Bugs Bunny and the Warner Bros. Loony Tunes characters, there are also scenes where one can spot the Droogs from A Clockwork Orange, the Wild Boys from Mad Max: Fury Road, and a whole slew of other Warner Bros. intellectual property trademarked characters. This is supposed to be cool. Yeah, no.
As for Jellystone, I’m really feeling like this is a straight-up speeding trainwreck. This honestly makes about as much sense as creating a Gumby Animation shared universe – which, honestly, would just include Gumby and Pokey, Davey and Goliath, and maybe a few experimental clay films.
Yeah, I’m not digging this. Not one bit.
Then again, there’s one way this show could actually be worth watching. And that is, if this Jellystone show incorporates THESE THREE CHARACTERS into the series.
Okay, four, but that fourth one has to include Carl.