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Yogi Bear's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper DVD Review

Yogi Bear's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper DVD cover art - click to buy DVD from Amazon.com Specials & DVD Details

Executive Producers: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera / Directors: Steve Lumley, William Hanna, Joseph Barbera / Writers: Mark Evanier, Warren Foster

Yogi Bear's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper

Voice Cast: Daws Butler (Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss, Quick Draw McGraw, Mister Jinks, Hokey Wolf, Augie Doggie, Blabber Mouse, Dixie, Mr. Jinks, Snooper, Wally Gator), Mel Blanc (Barney Rubble), Henry Corden (Fred Flintstone), Georgi Irene (Judy Jones), Allan Melvin (Magilla Gorilla, Murray), Don Messick (Boo Boo Bear, Ranger Smith, Pixie), Hal Smith (J. Wellington Jones, Chief Blake), John Stephenson (Doggie Daddy, Faversham), Janet Waldo (Mrs. Jones), Jimmy Weldon (Yakky Doodle)

Yogi's Birthday Party

Voice Cast: Daws Butler (Yogi Bear, Snagglepuss, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, Hokey Wolf, Mister Jinks, Blabber Mouse, Snooper, Dixie, Augie Doggie, Baba Looey), Don Messick (Boo Boo, Ranger John Smith, Pixie), Doug Young (Ranger Jones, Ding-A-Ling), Julie Bennett (Cindy Bear), Duke Mitchell, Jimmy Weldon (Yakky Doodle)

Running Time: 46 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Aspect Ratio)
Dolby Digital Mono 1.0 (English, Spanish, Portuguese)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish, Portuguese; Not Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: December 7, 2010 / Suggested Retail Price: $14.98
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5) / Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase

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The opening weekend numbers suggest that the live action-CGI hybrid Yogi Bear is no Alvin and the Chipmunks, the blockbuster whose success it was looking for. By all appearances and nearly all reviews, Warner Bros. Pictures' loss may be the American public's gain as far as time and taste are concerned. The movie's underwhelming start may also be a blessing for the 52-year-old cartoon universe on which it is based.
Sure, Hanna-Barbera's first hit character may not be winning over a new generation of kids. But unlike the Chipmunks, whose 1960s and 1980s TV runs are now greatly overshadowed by the less cuddly film franchise, those discovering Yogi and Boo Boo might be doing so in one of their many TV series, specials, or movies.

All of those past properties have been flirting with obscurity of late, something which may factor into the cinematic underperformance (though it didn't seem to deter Alvin). Those sickened to see the picnic-swiping park dweller from their childhood given a 21st century makeover can at least celebrate one side effect: its release is reason enough for Warner Home Video to open the floodgates and make some of Hanna-Barbera's classic Yogi Bear animation available on DVD. As by far the leading distributor of TV cartoons on DVD, Warner has already put some of Yogi's canon on disc, most notably releasing the complete "The Yogi Bear Show" (1961-63) in 2005.

To that, this month adds the 1987 TV movie Yogi's Great Escape exclusively through the WB Archive made-to-order program, which last year debuted Yogi's First Christmas. Meanwhile, general retail has just gotten the subject of this review, Yogi Bear's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper, a half-hour special first aired in 1982.

Santa Claus (Yogi Bear), his elf (Boo Boo) and their new friend Judy Jones enjoy a jolly picnic in the snowy big city park in "Yogi Bear's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper. Augie Doggie, Doggie Daddy, Quick Draw McGraw, Super Snooper, Snagglepuss, Blabber Mouse, Huckleberry Hound, and Hokey Wolf surprise Ranger John Smith with a misguided Christmas visit to Jellystone Park.

Yogi Bear's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper (23:24) (First aired December 21, 1982)

Created in between the brief runs of "Galaxy Goof-Ups" and "Yogi's Treasure Hunt", Christmas Caper parades out the large stable of Hanna-Barbera personalities. Many of them show up at Jellystone Park looking to spend the holiday with their friend. But the park is closed for the season and its two most famous bear residents are nowhere to be found.

In fact, Yogi and his short, young companion Boo Boo have gone to the Big City to meet their friends there. With each group looking for the other, Yogi winds up sworn in as a department store Santa and is befriended by Judy Jones, daughter of rich, busy J. Wellington Jones. Believing Yogi to be Santa, the underloved young girl runs off with (and then from) her new bear friends, prompting a city-wide search.

Among those featuring in this special are Snagglepuss, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy, Hokey Wolf, Snooper and Blabber (most voiced, like Yogi, by Daws Butler). To the kids of the 1960s, '70s and '80s, these Saturday morning characters may well have justified the "All-Star" of the title. I doubt many youths will recognize them today, but for that matter, they probably wouldn't know Yogi and Boo Boo if not for Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake's takes on the characters. The most familiar faces in the special belong to Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, whose acknowledgedly anachronistic appearances are more like cameos (albeit inspired ones), as are those of Pixie, Dixie, Mr. Jinks, Magilla Gorilla, Yakky Doodle, and Wally Gator.

Snagglepuss spots Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble ringing a bell on the street in an effort to raise money for the children of Bedrock. Yogi Bear's birthday party surprise involves him being serenaded by his fellow Hanna-Barbera cartoon stars, including Mister Jinks, Blabber Mouse, Snagglepuss, Quick Draw McGraw, Augie Doggie, and Hokey Wolf.

I've seen a lot more Christmas movies, TV specials and episodes than the average person because -- and if you're a regular reader, you already know this -- I am a fan of holiday spirit. The more I see, the more I realize how many of such creations hit on common story points and locations. Department store Santa, neglected child, and police intervention are staples of the genre. And yet, Christmas Caper is so fast, bouncy, and full of characters that you don't mind or even notice the familiar aspects until the show is done. It's a quality half-hour cartoon. I don't know that it's a great deal more ambitious than a standard episode of any of Yogi's shows (which would obviously shine brighter in isolation than bundled together), but on its own merits, it's an enjoyable diversion in Hanna-Barbera's reliable tradition of character and situational comedy.

Yogi's Birthday Party (22:45) (First aired January 6, 1962)

Designated as the DVD's only special feature on the packaging but every bit as much of an attraction as the title cartoon,
Clip from "Yogi's Birthday Party":
this special "Yogi Bear Show" finale claims an entire half-hour of air to itself (as opposed to the series' three-segment standard episodes). Ranger Smith gets a call about Yogi getting a TV special to celebrate his birthday. While the above-average bear soon finds this out, an element of surprise remains as he takes singing and dancing lessons in anticipation of his big, self-promoted special. In fact, Yogi just has to sit back and let the party come to him, which it does with a number of the Hanna-Barbera characters of the previous special, plus Cindy Bear, Baba Looey, and Ding-A-Ling.

As this special was part of Warner's complete "Yogi Bear Show" DVD, it's not the most amazing inclusion here. Nor is it the most pertinent, as All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper would seem better suited to accompanying Yogi's First Christmas, Casper's First Christmas (guest-starring Yogi), or even Yogi the Easter Bear.

In anticipation for his big TV special, Yogi Bear takes dance lessons from Fred Upstairs. Yogi Bear takes extreme measures to get the word out about his birthday television special.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Preserving original designs, the DVD presents both shows in 1.33:1 fullscreen and 1.0 monaural sound. Both look pretty good, especially Christmas Caper, which only exhibits mild wear and intrusions; not bad for a one-off approaching 30. I would guess that Yogi's Birthday Party looks as it does on the Yogi Bear Show's Complete Series DVD. There is moderate grain and some debris throughout, plus colors appear slightly faded, but a nearly half-century-old television show could easily look much worse.
The Mono soundtrack is surprisingly crisp on the newer show and also decent on the older one. A number of dub and subtitle foreign language options are offered. In both cases, I suspect that the quality here exceeds what would be done for a Warner Archive debut.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

Birthday Party is the closest thing to a true bonus feature you'll find here. The DVD loads with promos for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and A Charlie Brown Christmas, Classic Christmas Favorites, and the new Yogi Bear movie. These are not available from the Trailers menu, which holds looks at the video games Scooby-Doo! and the Spooky Swamp and LEGO Harry Potter.

The static 16:9 menu screens remain close to the package art, with the main screen playing score.

Exhibiting restraint that may be connected to home video's declining numbers, Christmas Caper does not feature a flashy or even a redundant cardboard slipcover. Inside the standard black Eco-Box keepcase, a double-sided insert promotes Yogi's themed Jellystone Park Camp Resorts found in over 70 US and Canadian locations.

It's not a real Christmas TV special until the cast gathers around to sing a closing carol in the falling snow.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I have nothing but like for Yogi Bear's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper, a sprightly, charming outing even for those unfamiliar with its many guest Hanna-Barbera characters. It may not be iconic or beloved, but it is fun and just as much so today as twenty-eight years ago. Yogi's Birthday Party is also entertaining, though more ordinary. The marketplace is so full of television product that no list price (not even Warner's minimal $14.98) is low enough to make this light compilation stand out and feel like a good value. Still, if you are a fan of the classic Yogi Bear or would like to become one, the two specials offered here provide a pleasant taste of two past generations' takes on the character, making it one of the best bets for a frugal sampler.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

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Related Reviews:
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A Chipmunk Christmas A Charlie Brown Christmas Mickey's Christmas Carol The Muppet Christmas Carol
The Santa Clause (Special Edition) Four Christmases The Christmas Star One Magic Christmas



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Reviewed December 22, 2010.



Text copyright 2010 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1962-1982 Hanna-Barbera Productions and 2010 Warner Home Video. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.