Help!... It's the Hair Bear Bunch!

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Help!... It's the Hair Bear Bunch!
The Hair Bear Bunch.jpg
Help!... It's the Hair Bear Bunch!'s Title Card
Genre Comedy
Written by Joel Kane
Heywood Kling
Howard Morgenstern
Joe Ruby
Ken Spears
Directed by William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Starring Hair Bear
Square Bear
Bubi Bear
Voices of Daws Butler
William Callaway
Joe E. Ross
John Stephenson
Paul Winchell
Composer(s) Ted Nichols
Country of origin USA
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 16 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Producer(s) Alex Lovy
Running time 30 Minutes
Production company(s) Hanna-Barbera Productions
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
Picture format Color
Audio format Monaural
Original run September 11, 1971 (1971-09-11) – January 8, 1972 (1972-01-08)

Help!... It's the Hair Bear Bunch! is a Saturday morning cartoon, produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1971 for CBS.[1]

Production[edit]

The show was developed under the name The Yo Yo Bears, a title which many sources inaccurately list as its name in syndication. The show never went into syndication after CBS canceled it in 1974 (1974); it reappeared in 1984 (1984) on cable on USA Cartoon Express. The Hair Bear Bunch currently airs occasionally on Cartoon Network's sibling network Boomerang.

Like many animated series created by Hanna-Barbera in the 1970s, the show contained an inferior laugh track created by the studio, one of the first shows to do so. In the UK, the series regularly aired on BBC1 in various slots from the mid-1970s into the 1980s.

Plot[edit]

The series depicted three fun-loving bears - the Afroed, fast-talking Hair Bear (voiced by Daws Butler), bafflegab-talking Bubi Bear (voiced by Paul Winchell), and laid-back Square Bear (voiced by William Callaway) — who are always trying to find a way to escape the Wonderland Zoo on some sort of get-rich-quick scheme, or a wild night of fun.

Trying to stop them are the constantly aggravated head zoo director, Mr. Eustace P. Peevly (voiced by John Stephenson), and his hopelessly inadequate assistant Lionel J. Botch (voiced by Joe E. Ross). Mr. Peevly and Botch work for the Zoo Superintendent (voiced by John Stephenson), and both of them try to stay on his good side. Many episodes end with Hair Bear covering for Peevly, couching the shenanigans and disarray as a project initiated by Peevly for the zoo's welfare, which the Superintendent always accepts (and he spares Peevly's job).

The bears have a modern "bachelor pad"-styled den at the zoo containing actual beds, Bubi's laboratory, a moving chair, a television, refrigerators, and a pizza maker. Yet they disguise it (with secret panels) from Peevly and Botch to avoid revealing their comfortable surroundings.

While the bears escape the zoo for larks and excursions, they cherish the easy life in the zoo and do not wish to leave permanently; Peevly, aware of this, often threatens to expel the bears from the zoo and into the North Woods - a prospect the bears dread, because they would lose their privileged lifestyle. In fact, it's an odd role reversal of a prison sitcom: the bears fear emancipation and make efforts to remain captives.

The bears also have an invisible motorcycle, which Square Bear can call upon when necessary by jumping in the air and kicking his leg to start it. The motorcycle is never explained, though in episode twelve, Hair Bear comments: "I don't know what he does, but I'm sure glad he does it".

Characters[edit]

  • Hair Bear (voiced by Daws Butler). He is the leader of the bunch. A scheming, fast-talking bear, he is always thinking of ways to escape the zoo or make a quick buck. Most of his latter schemes are failures, but more often than not his plans of escape are successful, yet only in order for the bears to see a movie or go to the city. Another reason for his constant conflicts with Mr. Peevly are the Bears' infiltration of his cabin to get some food from his refrigerator. As shown throughout the series, the bears cave is much more well-equipped than it looks. They have pull-down beds, an oven, a television set, a pool table and many other conveniences. Always on top of things, Hair Bear is at the top of the zoo hierarchy, with the other animals trusting him and following his every command without questioning, even though his schemes lead to more trouble for the zoo animals. His persona is antiauthoritarian, lazy, yet resourceful. He is grey coloured, has a blond afro and wears a yellow scarf and an orange vest.
  • Square Bear (voiced by William Callaway). He is the muscle of the group. A laid-back, tall and powerful bear, he is characterised as having little intelligence, yet Square showed intelligence and good will in "Rare Bear Bungle", in which he was friendly and trusting of Rare Bear, before Hair showed his suspicions. On the other hand, he has a big appetite, as evidenced in "The Diet Caper", in which he is brought to despair after Mr. Peevly bans the bears from receiving food. Often his appetite knows no bounds, in "Gobs of Gabaloons", Square Bear bites a lock off a chest after Hair tells him to pretend that it is food. A running gag is that Square has an invisible motorcycle that he can use anytime or anywhere, Hair asks him for it so the they can use it as a method of nimble escape. He is compassionate and caring, as shown in "Panda Pandamonium", in which he befriends a little panda bear named Percy and defends him even after Hair and Bubi are temporarily fed up with it. He is a fan of professional wrestling, as he mentions in "Goldilocks and the Three Bears". In the same episode, Square indicates that he is a fan of Twinkles Sunshine. He has brown fur, a yellow flower covered blue hat which covers his eyes and a purple, turtleneck shirt. He occasionally removes his hat, which reveals an unkempt shaggy hairstyle which also covers his eyes (which are never visible, with the exception of "Rare Bear Bungle").
  • Bubi Bear (voiced by Paul Winchell). He is the double-talking member of the group. Bubi constantly speaks in a sort of bafflegab way, which makes perfect for distracting and confusing Mr. Peevly. He tends to throw in incongruous words with a pig latin syntax, making him very hard to understand. For instance, in "Rare Bear Bungle" after Hair says that it is always a pleasure to meet new faces, Bubi says "Oh yes, sir. It's always a great pleasure to get a try with a they." He also deludes Peevly and Botch with his false historical knowledge as evidenced in "The Bear Who Came to Dinner", in which to plea the bears' case that Square Bear should stay in the main office after slipping on a banana peal dropped by Peevly, Bubi says "I remember that clay as well as the case of George C. Grizzly vs the Kalamazoo zookeeper zoo and look it's an orange peel that the guy the clides and oop, slip, oom and ugh it nay, big crack on the sacroiliac clide and the (falls over) ugh, it was hurt and the zookeeper.. ha ha.. they tried him in the jail, throw away the key, and slip the note in the smy". His speech, not quite as impossible to understand as Klunk's from Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, may have been inspired by the gibberish that Al Kelly would use in his vaudeville acts in a combination with the voice of Jerry Mahoney (Paul Winchell's dummy from his ventriloquist show). Hair also asks Bubi to use his bafflegab to influence others of their schemes like Square in "Bridal Boo Boo" and Bananas in "King Klong versus The Masked Marvel". In the "No Space Like Home", it seemed that Bubi's speech is understandable to aliens of an unknown planet. He is the shortest, dark brown coloured, has a yellow hat and a pink and yellow stripped shirt.
  • Zookeeper Eustace P. Peevly (voiced by John Stephenson). He is the Zookeeper of the city zoo, where the bears live. Peevly is authoritarian, short-tempered and constantly suspicious of the Hair Bear bunch. He and Hair are always in a battle of wits and even the rare times when they work together, like in "No Space Like Home", don't last forever. Despite the rough time he is given by the zoo animals, he shows that he wishes to keep his job as zoo keeper. Although he is also (like Hair) open to get-rich-quick schemes, even if it means teaming up with the bears, they always end up humiliating Peevly or putting him at the mercy of Hair Bear in front of the Superintendent. He is not married, which led to Episode "Bridal Boo Boo", in which he is shown as having a big ego, noting that a lady going into his office is probably one of his many loving fans at the zoo. It is also the only episode, besides "Gobs of Gabaloons", in which his real name Eustace P. Peevly is mentioned. His catchphrase is "I'll get you for this!!!". His plans of apprehending the bears and exposing them for the trouble makers they are, are often thwarted by Botch's clumsiness and gullibility. Botch's constant repetition of Peevly's words, leads him to angry outbursts, such as "Botch, if I wanted an echo for an assistant. I would have hired the Grand Canyon!" or "Botch, if I need a recording, I'll call you". Peevly also enjoys doing impersonations, as seen in "Closed Circuit TV", in which he does imitations of Ed Sullivan and the Zoo Superintendent. His voice and person are inspired by Joe Flynn's Captain Wallace "Wally" Burton Binghamton in McHale's Navy. Joseph Barbera had even hired Flynn to do the voice, but replaced him with John Stephenson, claiming that Flynn's voice did not match up to the character of Peevly.[2] He always wears his zoo uniform, even in Episode "Keep Your Keeper", in which he is supposed to be on vacation.
  • Lionel J. Botch (voiced by Joe E. Ross). Mr. Peevly's assistant, with a name to match his character. He is tall and fat, with very, little intelligence, which always leads to him getting tricked by the bears into helping them with their goal. Botch has a slovenly appearance, with his tie undone and his shirt wrinkled and untucked. He also has the annoying habit of repeating Mr. Peevly's commands to the animals, thus infuriating the zookeeper. A running gag is that Botch is always hoping for a promotion, which he of course never gets, especially since he tends to ask for it immediately following a failure. Botch has a verbal tic of going "Oooh! Oooh"! which is a trademark of the comedian voicing the character. Both Botch and Peevly appear to live in a house on the zoo property.
  • The Zoo Superintendent (voiced by John Stephenson). His name is never mentioned and he is always referred to as the Superintendent. He is on a constant watch, monitoring Peevly's actions. He is shown as having mixed to positive feelings towards him, with only one exception in Episode "Closed Circuit TV", in which after being imitated by Peevly on television, he took him away and seemingly punished him. In every other episode, he congratulates him on his competence, in most cases, after Peevly has been recommended positively by Hair Bear. He thinks very highly of the Hair Bear bunch, with "I'll Zoo You Later", being the only episode in which he acknowledged that the bears were trying to run away from the zoo, as he congratulated Peevly on capturing the bank robbers and the runaway bears.
  • Bananas the Gorilla (voiced by Daws Butler). He is a good friend to the bears with great strength, although he has no intelligence, which in most cases helps the bears. His voice is an impression of Ed Wynn. In "King Klong versus The Masked Marvel", the bears use him as a wrestler to win a wrestling match, but he loses the match by disqualification after being exposed as an ape by Peevly.
  • George the Giraffe (Unknown voice actor)
  • Beaks the Pelican (No voice actor)
  • Ollie the Octopus (No voice actor)
  • Gloria Gorilla (voiced by Jeannie Brown)

Episode guide[edit]

Episode # Episode title Original airdate Synopsis
BEAR-1 "Keep Your Keeper" September 11, 1971 (1971-09-11) The Hair Bear Bunch trick Mr. Peevly into thinking he has Zoolerium. When Mr. Peevly goes on vacation, a strict zoo keeper named Mr. Grunch is called in to cover for him. Now the Hair Bear Bunch plans to find Mr. Peevly and get him back.
BEAR-2 "Rare Bear Bungle" September 18, 1971 (1971-09-18) The Hair Bear Bunch gets a new roommate named Rare Bear. Yet Hair Bear suspects that he has been planted in the group's cave by Mr. Peevly to act as his spy.
BEAR-3 "Raffle Ruckus" September 25, 1971 (1971-09-25) Hair Bear suggests to Mr. Peevly to hold a raffle in order to obtain money for new stuff for the zoo. When Hair Bear wins, he ends up having ownership of the zoo and sees how hard it is to run the zoo and fill out the needs of the other animals. When Hair Bear learns that Mr. Peevly has been playing him, Hair Bear ends up sneaking the other animals out of the zoo.
BEAR-4 "Bridal Boo Boo" October 2, 1971 (1971-10-02) In order to keep Mr. Peevly busy, Hair Bear plans to set him up with a female to be his girlfriend. Yet Mr. Peevly ends up getting a tough lady named Bertha who plans to bring order to the Wonderland Zoo.
BEAR-5 "No Space Like Home" October 9, 1971 (1971-10-09) The Hair Bear Bunch apply for an ad for adventure and fame when it comes a space expedition to Mars sponsored by Professor Nielsen Rockabuilt. Mr. Peevly and Botch end up stowing away and end up landing on an alien planet of Turulia where the Turulians there elect Mr. Peevly as their new leader. While in the alien's dungeons, the Hair Bear Bunch learn that the aliens elect a new leader every day while the old one gets imprisoned in a glass cage.
BEAR-6 "Love Bug Bungle" October 16, 1971 (1971-10-16) Mr. Peevly ends up bunking Arnie the Gorilla into the Hair Bear Bunch's cave. Hair Bear discovers that Arnie is in love with Gloria the Gorilla and plans to hook both of them up which involves making their own cologne that causes him to lose control of his love advances.
BEAR-7 "I'll Zoo You Later" October 23, 1971 (1971-10-23) The Hair Bear Bunch plan to make their way to the National Forest. Once they do, the Hair Bear Bunch take refuge in a cabin which turns out to be a hideout for two bank robbers even when Mr. Peevly and Botch catch up to them.
BEAR-8 "Ark Lark" October 30, 1971 (1971-10-30) Following a drawing from the Suggestion Box, Mr. Peevly puts on a play on Noah's Ark with the zoo animals. Later that night, Hair Bear secretly places wheels on the Ark and pilots the Ark all the way to Pleasure Island when they planned to go to a deserted island. To gain money, they disguise Zeed the Zebra a horse and enter a horse race.
BEAR-9 "Gobs of Gabaloons" November 6, 1971 (1971-11-06) When Mr. Peevly wants the animals to build him a swimming pool, the Hair Bear Bunch finds a treasure map in one of the trees which leads to the treasure of Redbeard which had been stolen from Ptomania. They follow the map to the end point to Mr. Peevly's office and try different ways to get to the treasure below.
BEAR-10 "Panda Pandamonium" November 13, 1971 (1971-11-13) While hiding from Mr. Peevly and Botch in the woods when trying to get to the carnival, the Hair Bear Bunch find a baby panda named Percy whose cage fell off a passing train bound for the St. Louis Zoo. Mr. Peevly has the Hair Bear Bunch watch over Percy Panda until the Zoo Superintendent comes to pick Percy up and bring him to the St. Louis Zoo.
BEAR-11 "Closed Circuit TV" November 20, 1971 (1971-11-20) Mr. Peevly sets up a closed TV and cameras around the zoo to keep an eye on the zoo so that he would catch the Hair Bear Bunch in another one of their escapes. Hair Bear discovers the cameras and uses this as an advantage to make a television show.
BEAR-12 "The Bear Who Came to Dinner" November 27, 1971 (1971-11-27) Hair Bear has Square Bear fake an injury to have the Hair Bear Bunch evade being sent to the National Forest. Mr. Peevly ends up allowing Square Bear to recuperate at his house to evade getting into trouble with the Zoo Superintendent. Mr. Peevly vows to find a way to expose the fact that Square Bear is faking.
BEAR-13 "Unbearably Peevly" December 4, 1971 (1971-12-04) In order to catch the Hair Bear Bunch in one of their escape plans, Mr. Peevly and Botch disguise themselves as bears. Of course the Hair Bear Bunch play along with this upon seeing through their disguise. Things get worse for Mr. Peevly and Botch when they are mistaken for escaped circus bears.
BEAR-14 "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" December 11, 1971 (1971-12-11) The Hair Bear Bunch end up getting involved in the production of "Whatever Happened to Goldilocks and The Three Bears" where Twinkles Sunshine (the actress playing Goldilocks) rewrites the script where the Three Bears have to save Goldilocks from an evil prince.
BEAR-15 "The Diet Caper" December 18, 1971 (1971-12-18) The Hair Bear Bunch and the other animals attempt to tunnel into town to get food leads the Hair Bear Bunch into a haunted house in an amusement park. The Hair Bear Bunch then end up tricking Mr. Peevly and Botch into going down the same path.
BEAR-16 "Kling Klong versus The Masked Marvel" January 8, 1972 (1972-01-08) In order to win $500.000 from the Sports Arena, Hair Bear has Bananas the Gorilla go through wrestling training in order to stay in the ring with the Masked Marvel. Yet when the Masked Marvel gets the measles, Botch ends up having to cover for him in the wrestling ring.

Voice Cast[edit]

  • Jeannie Brown - Gloria Gorilla
  • Daws Butler - Hair Bear, Bumbo the Elephant, Bananas the Gorilla, Furface the Lion (3 episodes), Film director
  • Don Messick - Hercules the Hippo, Ambassador of Ptomania
  • John Stephenson - Eustace P. Peevly, The Zoo Superintendent, Slicks the Fox, Hippy the Hippopotamus, Dr. Kneeknocker, Ringmaster, Hotel Manager, Bank Robber, Zeed the Zebra, Policeman, Ring announcer
  • Lennie Weinrib - Bank Robber, Wrestling Manager, Arnie The Gorilla, Orderly
  • Paul Winchell - Bubi Bear, Furface the Lion, Tiptoes the Ostrich, Specs the Mole, Mr. Grunch, Gabby The Parrot, Pipsqueak The Mouse (episodes 4), Rockabuilt's Butler

Comic Spin-Off[edit]

A series of Comic Books were produced by Gold Key Comics which were mostly drawn by Jack Manning and featured original stories, as well as a few adaptations of television episodes. Some of these comics were also drawn by Hanna and Barbera. In the comic book, the antagonism between the Bears and the Keepers was softened a bit, to the point that one story had the Keepers figuring since the Bears do return to the zoo after an escape (after a wild night on the town), it would be best just to give them weekend passes and save both parties a lot of aggravation.

In Popular Culture[edit]

DVD release[edit]

On March 12, 2013, Warner Archive released Help!... It's the Hair Bear Bunch!: The Complete Series on DVD in NTSC picture format with all region encoding, as part of their Hanna–Barbera Classics Collection. This is a manufacture-on-demand (MOD) release, available exclusively through Warner's online store and Amazon.com.[3] The series is also available in Digital media format at iTunes Store as well.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]