11 September 1971
| 6.3/10 |
8 January 1972
| Joel Kane
Joe E. Ross
Daws Butler, Paul Winchell, John Stephenson, Joe E Ross, William Callaway
Help!... It's the Hair Bear Bunch! is an American Saturday morning cartoon show, produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1971 for CBS.
Help!... It's the Hair Bear Bunch! Wikipedia
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 was never syndicated and was rarely seen after CBS cancelled it. It reappeared briefly in 1984 on the cable channel USA Cartoon Express. The Hair Bear Bunch also aired 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 1990s, Boomerang until 2003 and Cartoon Network Too until 2007.
The series depicted three fun-loving bears - the 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 from 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 (also 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 domestic lifestyle.
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".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 anti-authoritarian, lazy, yet resourceful. He has a light brown coat, a blond afro, and wears a yellow scarf and 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 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 peel 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". His infuriation of Botch's antics came to a head in the episode "I'll Zoo You Later", in which he built an exhibit for the clumsy assistant complete with a wooden sign labeled "Botch". 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. 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. Botch's unintelligent nature was demonstrated in one episode where he thought the light were out due to a blackout despite the fact that he had just saw Peevly ram a wastebasket over his head.
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.
Furface the Lion (voiced by Paul Winchell and Daws Butler)
Bumbo the Elephant (voiced by Daws Butler)
Slicks the Fox (voiced by Paul Winchell and John Stephenson)
Hippy the Hippopotamus (voiced by William Callaway)
Hercules the Hippo (voiced by Don Messick)
George the Giraffe (Unknown voice actor)
Beaks the Pelican (No voice actor)
Tiptoes the Ostrich (voiced by Paul Winchell)
Gabby the Parrot (voiced by Paul Winchell)
Melvyn the Monkey (voiced by William Callaway)
Hoppy the Kangaroo (voiced by William Callaway)
Zeed the Zebra (voiced by John Stephenson)
Ollie the Octopus (No voice actor)
Einstein the Owl (voiced by John Stephenson)
Arnie Gorilla (voiced by Leonard Weinrib)
Gloria Gorilla (voiced by Jeannie Brown)
Specs the Mole (voiced by Paul Winchell)
Pipsqueak the Mouse (voiced by Janet Waldo and Paul Winchell)
Rare Bear (voiced by Hal Smith)
Jeannie Brown - Gloria Gorilla
Daws Butler - Hair Bear, Bumbo the Elephant, Bananas the Gorilla, Furface the Lion (3 episodes), Film director
William Callaway - Square Bear, Melvyn the Monkey, Hoppy the Kangaroo
Joan Gerber - Bertha, Twinkles Sunshine,
Don Messick - Hercules the Hippo, Ambassador of Ptomania
Vic Perrin - Professor Neilsen Rockabuilt
Joe E. Ross - Lionel J. Botch
Hal Smith - Rare Bear
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
Janet Waldo - Pipsqueak the Mouse (episode 6)
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
A series of comic books were produced by Gold Key Comics. They 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 the Brady Bunch episode, The Cincinnati Kids, the bear suit Greg and later Peter dons is Hair Bear.
The Hair Bear Bunch made special guest appearances at a celebrity roast honoring Fred Flintstone in the TV special Hanna-Barbera's All-Star Comedy Ice Revue (1978).
Hair Bear made an appearance in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, where he was accused of property damage and attacking customers and co-workers at a fast food restaurant.
They also made a brief appearance in the pilot of Welcome to Eltingville.
An episode of The Partridge Family which was filmed at Kings Island Amusement Park in Cincinnati featured costumed figures of the Hair Bear Bunch.
The British comedy series Peep Show contained a reference to The Hair Bear Bunch when Superhans claims that his and Jeremy's band is called "The Hair Blair Bunch," punning on the name of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair.
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. The series is also available in Digital media format at iTunes Store for Apple mobile device owners to download their favorite episodes or the entire series after purchases.
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