Help!... It's the Hair Bear Bunch! is a Saturday morning cartoon, produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1971 for CBS. It would later return in reruns on the USA Cartoon Express and Cartoon Network.
The series depicted three fun-loving bears — the Afroed, fast-talking Hair Bear, confusing-talking Bubi Bear, and laid-back Square Bear — 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, and his hopelessly inadequate assistant Lionel J. Botch. Other residents of the Wonderland Zoo include Bananas the Gorilla, Furface the Lion, Fumbo the Elephant, Slicks the Fox, Hippi the Hippo, Beaks the Pelican, Arnie and Gloria the Gorillas, and Pipsqueak the Mouse.
The bears have a modern "bachelor pad"-styled den at the zoo, but they disguise it from Peevly and Botch to avoid revealing their comfortable surroundings. 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 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; it reappeared in 1984 on cable on USA Cartoon Express. The Hair Bear Bunch currently airs occasionally on Cartoon Network's sibling network Boomerang.
A series of Comic Books were put out by Gold Key Comics which were mostly drawn by Jack Manning and featured original stories, as well as a few adaptations of TV episodes. In the comics, the antagonism between the Bears and the Keepers was softened a bit, to the point that one story had the Keepers figuring where, since the Bears DO return to the zoo after an escape (usually after a wild night on the town) it'd be best just to give them weekend passes and save both parties a lot of aggravation.
- Hair Bear (voiced by Daws Butler). He is the leader of the bunch. A scheming, fast-talking bear, who is always thinking of ways to escape to zoo and/or make a quick buck. Most of his latter schemes are failures, but more often that 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-equiped than it looks. They have Murphy (a/k/a "In-A-Door") beds, an oven, 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 question. Despite the fact, that his plots lead to more trouble for the zoo animals, his persona is anti-authoritarian and lazy, yet resourceful. He has gray fur, has a blond afro haircut 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, powerful bear, he is characterized by having little intelligence. Yet, Square showed intelligence and good will in episode "Rare Bear Bungle", where 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 episode "The Diet Caper", where he is brought to despair after Mr. Peevly bans the bears from getting food. Often Square's appetite knows no bounds; for example, in the episode "Gobs of Gabaloons", Square Bear bites a lock off a chest after Hair tells him to pretend that it's food. A running gag is that Square has an invisible motorcycle that he can use whenever or wherever Hair asks him for it so they can use it as a method of escape. He is compassionate and caring, as shown in the episode "Panda Pandamonium", where Square befriends a little panda named Percy and defends him even after Hair and Bubi are temporarly fed up with it. He is a fan of professional wrestling, as he mentions in the episode "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 ruby turtleneck shirt.
- Bubi Bear (voiced by Paul Winchell). He is the double-talking part of the group. Bubi constantly speaks in a sort of bafflegab way, which is perfect for distracting and confusing Mr. Peevly. For instance in the episode "Rare Bear Bungle" after Hair says that it's 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 deludes Peevly and Botch with his false historical knowledge as evidenced in "The Bear Who Came to Dinner", where to plead the bears' case that Square Bear should stay in the main office after slipping on a banana peel dropped by Peevly. Bubi says: "It's the same try.... the case of of 1898 of Griz L. Bear v. Timbuck Zoo, where the tray....fell on his back.... and the zookeeper, they crilled him, threw away the key." Bubi's speech, not quite so garbled as Klunk's from Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines, may have been inspired by the gibberish that Al Kelly would often use in his vaudeville acts in a combination with the voice of Jerry Mahoney (Paul Winchell's dummy in his ventriloquist show). Hair also asks Bubi to use his bafflegab to influence others of plots, like Square in "Bridal Boo Boo", and Bananas in "King Klong versus The Masked Marvel". In the episode "No Space Like Home", it seemed that Bubi's speech is understandable to aliens of an unknown planet. Bubi is the shortest, with dark brown fur, a yellow hat and a shirt with pink and yellow stripes.
- Zookeeper Eustace P. Peevly (voiced by John Stephenson). He is the zookeeper of the Wonderland Zoo, where the bears live. Peevly is short-tempered and constantly suspicious of the Hair Bear Bunch. He and Hair Bear are always in a battle of wits and even the rare times when they work together, as in the episode "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 explains the plot of the episode "Bridal Boo Boo", where 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", where 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 make that 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....I WOULD HAVE HIRED THE GRAND CANYON!!!" or "Botch, if I need a recording, I'll call you." Peevly also enjoys doing impersonations, as in the episode "Closed Circuit TV", where he does immitations of Ed Sullivan and the Zoo Superindendent. 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 didn't match up to the character of Peevly. He always wears his zoo uniform, even in the episode "Keep Your Keeper", where he is supposed to be on vacation.
- Lionel J. Botch (voiced by Joe E. Ross). He is Mr. Peevly's assistant with a name to match his character and a running gag, that he always wants a raise. He is tall and fat, yet with very little intelligence, which always leads to him getting tricked by the bears into helping them with their goal. Botch also has the annoying habit of repeating Mr. Peevly's commands to the animals, thus angering the zookeeper.
- The Zoo Superintendent (voiced by John Stephenson. His name is never mentioned and is always being referred to as the Superintendent; he is on a constant watch, monitoring Peevly's actions. He has mixed to positive feelings towards him, with only one exception in the episode "Closed Circuit TV", where, after being imitated by Peevly on TV, he took him away and seemingly punished him. In every other episode, he congratulates him on his competence, in most of the cases, after Peevly has been recommended positively by Hair Bear, with the episode "I'll Zoo You Later", being the only one where he congratulates him on capturing bank robbers and runaway bears, admitting that the bears tried to run away from the zoo.
- Bananas the Gorilla (voiced by Daws Butler). He is a good friend to the bears with great strength, although he has little intelligence, which in most cases helps the bears. His voice is an impression of Ed Wynn. In the episode "King Klong vs. The Masked Marvel", the bears use him as a wrestler to win a wrestling match, but Bananas loses the match after Peevly exposes him as a gorilla.
- Furface the Lion (voiced variously by Paul Winchell and Daws Butler) He is outspoken and nice.
- Fumbo the Elephant (voiced by Daws Butler) He is helpful and easy-going.
- Slicks the Fox (voiced variously by Paul Winchell and John Stephenson) He is level-headed and philosophical.
- Hippy the Hippopotamus (voiced by William Callaway) He is playful and sweet-tempered.
- Hercules the Hippo (voiced by Don Messick) He is heroic and open-minded.
- George the Giraffe (unknown voice actor) He is helpful and gentlemanly.
- Beaks the Pelican (no voice actor) He is brainy and exuberant.
- Tiptoes the Ostrich (voiced by Paul Winchell) He is intelligent and hard-working.
- Gabby the Parrot (voiced by Paul Winchell) He is observant and trustworthy.
- Melvyn the Monkey (voiced by William Callaway) He is mild-mannered and clever.
- Hoppy the Kangaroo (voiced by William Callaway) He is happy-go-lucky and organized.
- Zeed the Zebra (voiced by John Stephenson) He is encouraging and humble.
- Ollie the Octopus (no voice actor) He is outgoing and selfless.
- Einstein the Owl (voiced by John Stephenson) He is wise and likable.
- Arnie Gorilla (voiced by Lennie Weinrib He is affectionate and artistic.
- Gloria Gorilla (unknown voice actress) She is ladylike and affectionate.
- Specs the Mole (voiced by Paul Winchell) He is selfless and eager.
- Pipsqueak the Mouse (voiced variously by Janet Waldo and Paul Winchell) He is polite and extroverted.
- Rare Bear (voiced by Hal Smith) He is adventurous and romantic.
- Fanny the Flamingo
- Giggles the Hyena
- Percy the Panda
- The Hair Bear Bunch also made special guest appearances at a celebrity roast honoring Fred Flintstone in the TV special Hanna-Barbera's All-Star Comedy Ice Revue (1977).
- Hair Bear also 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.
- The voice of Square Bear bears some resemblances to that of Trollchoppers member Slug in Trollkins ten years on.
Perhaps one of the most misunderstood lines of any Hanna-Barbera show theme was Bubi's line, the second such; widely misinterpreted, considering Bubi's somewhat confused and confusing stream-of-consciousness approach to conversation, as being "We're the surgeon bears who--".
Hence, to settle any doubt as to what it sounds like, here then are the full lyrics:
ALL: In the Wonderland Zoo- BUBI: We're the certain bears who-- SQUARE: Stay at home every night, Never quarrel or fight-- HAIR: Awww, we don't even bite! ALL: So ... don't ... yell ... HELP! HELP! (Here come the bears!) HELP! HELP! (Here come the bears!) HELP! HELP! (Here come the bears!) SQUARE: Let's split!
ALL: So ... don't ... yell .. HELP! HELP! SQUARE: Here come the bears! ALL: HELP! HELP! BUBI: Here come the bears! ALL: HELP! HELP! HAIR: Here come the bears! ALL: LET's SPLIT! [pause, then, a capella--] HELP!! IT'S THE HAIR BEAR BUNCH!
(The preceding was the form used with the opening titles. With the closing titles, only the first portion was used, conclusing with the strapline.)
- Keep Your Keeper
- Rare Bear Bungle
- Raffle Ruckus
- Bridal Boo Boo
- No Space Like Home
- Love Bug Bungle
- I'll Zoo You Later
- Ark Lark
- Gobs of Gabaloons
- Panda Pandamonium
- Closed Circuit TV
- The Bear Who Came to Dinner
- Unbearably Peevly
- Goldilocks and the Three Bears
- The Diet Caper
- Kling Klong versus the Masked Marvel
- Daws Butler - Hair Bear, Bananas the Gorilla
- William Callaway - Square Bear
- Paul Winchell - Bubi Bear, Mr. Grunch
- John Stephenson - Eustace P. Peevly, Dr. Kneeknocker, Superintendent
- Joe E. Ross - Lionel J. Botch
- Jeannie Brown -
- Joan Gerber -
- Don Messick -
- Vic Perrin -
- Hal Smith - Rare Bear
- Janet Waldo -
- Lennie Weinrib -
- Produced and Directed By: Joseph Barbera and William Hanna
- Associate Producer: Alex Lovy
- Story: Joel Kane, Woody Kling, Howard Morgenstern, Joe Ruby, Ken Spears
- Story Direction: Brad Case, Cullen Houghtaling, Earl Klein, Lew Marshall, George Singer, Paul Sommer, Warren Tufts
- Voices: Jeannie Brown, Daws Butler, Bill Callaway, Joan Gerber, Don Messick, Vic Perrin, Joe E. Ross, Hal Smith, John Stephenson, Janet Waldo, Lenny Weinrib, Paul Winchell
- Animation Director: Charles A. Nichols
- Production Design: Iwao Takamoto
- Production Supervision: Victor O. Schipek
- Character Design: Jerry Eisenberg
- Layout: Roman Arambula, Jim Fletcher, Bob Givens, Jan Green, Gary Hoffman, Homer Jonas, Takashi Masunaga, Joel Seibel, Terry Slade, Grace Stanzell
- Animation: Jerry Hathcock, Frank Andrina, Ed Barge, Lee Dyer, Isadore Ellis, Hugh Fraser, Bob Goe, Ken Muse, Don Patterson, Tom Ray, Morey Reden, Veve Risto, Lloyd Vaughan, Carlo Vinci
- Backgrounds: Walt Peregoy, Fernando Arce, Daniela Bielecka, Bill Butler, Cathy Clark, Philip DeGuard, Bob Gentle, Curt Perkins, Don Watson
- Musical Director: Ted Nichols
- Technical Supervisor: Frank Paiker
- Ink and Paint Supervisor: Roberta Greutert
- Titles: Iraj Paran
- Xerography: Robert "Tiger" West
- Sound Direction: Richard Olson, Bill Getty
- Editorial Supervision: Larry Cowan
- Music Editor: Pat Foley
- Effects Editors: Earl Bennett, Wayne Hughes
- Sound Reader: Peter Aries, Jr.
- Negative Consultant: William E. DeBoer
- Post Production: Joed Eaton
- Camera: Charles Flekal, Marshall Valdez, Roy Wade, Norm Stainback
- A Hanna-Barbera Production
- RCA Sound Recording
- This Picture Made Under the Jurisdiction of IATSE-IA Affiliated with A.F.L.-C.I.O.
- © 1971 Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc.
- Night at the Wonderland Zoo with Box 13, (crossover with the Old-Time Radio drama Box 13)
- Not Quite The Best Tradeoff
- Why Some People Just Won't Understand Zoology
- When Unlikely Bruins Collide (a crossover with the CB Bears)
- Over supper of the Hamline Church Dining Hall's famed ham loaf in same, and at the Minnesota State Fair besides (a whimsical dialogue)
- Postcards from Snagglepuss: You'll never guess who I came across upon London Bridge in Lake Havasu City (included because they featute prominently in this crossover)
- The weirdest attempt known in "rushing the growler"
- Wonderland Zookeeper Breakdown (with apologies to Flatt and Scruggs as much as Hanna-Barbera)