It’s December, and that means that it’s time to settle in front of the boob tube and be bombarded with the usual array of unrelenting Christmas themed TV specials. All of the classics that you know and love that the networks run every year. So to mark this occasion, today we’re going to focus on a Christmas special that ran for a couple of years in syndication and was then largely forgotten: a slice of 1980s cheese titled Yogi’s First Christmas.
Holiday cheer…we’re full of it!
Yogi’s First Christmas is a 1980 holiday-themed television film first aired on November 21, 1980, and produced by Hanna-Barbera. Throughout the 1980s it was offered to U.S. television networks broken up as a one-week strip syndicated program, generally showing the week of Christmas, one episode per day for four days, although I originally saw it in it’s full 2 hour version, again in syndication. Not to be confused with Casper’s First Christmas, which is a half hour H-B special that aired on NBC in 1979.
Wait…Casper and Hairy Scary have never heard of Christmas? When did these guys die, anyway? Yeah, they’re ghosts, but they’re not aliens. They should at least know of the holiday, even if they don’t celebrate it. OK, I’ll save that kind of nitpicking for Talkin’ Nerdy. Back to the show…
We begin with Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss, Augie Doggie and Doggy Daddy traveling in a snowmobile while singing the song “Comin’ Up Christmastime”(which is one of 2 songs that were previously performed on Casper’s First Christmas). They’re on their way to Jellystone Lodge (why not?) to celebrate the holiday. Yogi and Boo-Boo are usually hibernating during the Christmas season, even though both characters were wide awake to celebrate the holidays in Casper’s First Christmas just a year earlier. Contradict yourselves much? It’s probably best to just consider these H-B specials as each being in their own separate continuity, like the Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z movies. Anyway, Yogi and Boo-Boo are soon awakened by the rest of the gang, which also includes Ranger Smith, hotel manager Mr. Dingwell and Otto the chef. The gang is obsessed with keeping the lodge’s owner, one Sophie Throckmorton, happy so that she won’t close down the lodge, which has become unpopular due to activity caused by Herman the Hermit, a grumpy Christmas-hating hermit who just wants to be left alone, that is when he isn’t prospectin’ fer gold and shooing revenuers off’n his property. Mrs. Throckmorton has arrived to the lodge with her nephew Snively, a rotten brat with a voice that sounds like he’s been gargling with gravel. Seriously, who names their kid Snively? Unless his parents want him to become a horse opera villain. Snively perpetually has his shorts in a bunch because he hates all things associated with Christmas. Yeah, you get the week off from school and a pile of toys for doing nothing. Christmas sucks if you’re a kid.
Snively: Look at me! I wear long pants indoors but change into shorts when I go out in the snow because I make no sense!
Yogi and Boo Boo are put to work as employees of the lodge. Yogi is first ordered to operate the snowplow, to which he saves Mrs. Throckmorton on the road from an avalanche caused by Herman. Later, Yogi is working as a bellboy, where he is tasked by Ranger Smith to stay on Mrs. Throckmorton’s good side. Though Snively tries to embarrass Yogi with his pranks, Yogi comes out on top.
Also, during a lodge scene, Boo-Boo sings the “Hope” song, which was previously used in A Christmas Story. No, not the movie starring Peter Billingsley, but a 1972 animated special with the same title.
“Wow. And they say I’m lazy!”
In another attempt to degrade Yogi, Snively tricks him into entering a figure skating contest, which Snively is also a participant. Although Snively earns high marks, Mrs. Throckmorton covertly wishes Snively would lose in order to tame his poor attitude. Yogi, the last contestant, manages to impress the judges well enough to earn the highest marks and win. Snively is a sore loser and enraged that Yogi beat him at his own game, but his aunt Sophie says that Yogi won fair and square and losing is a lesson of life. Fed up with Snively’s antics, Yogi gets revenge on him during an ice fishing contest, with Mrs. Throckmorton agreeing that he needed to be taught a lesson. Furious, Snively runs away and meets up with Herman, and the two team up to ruin Christmas, when they proceed to sing a song about how they’re “mean, sour, nasty and cruel”, a song that would later be re-used, rewritten slightly and sung by Gargamel in an episode of Smurfs.
Snively: Yeah! Let’s go ruin Christmas!
Herman: Hang on a sec. There’s a tick in my beard and I wanna save that bad boy fer desert!
Cindy Bear also awakens from her hibernation, to help Yogi out (due to her love and concern for him). There’s a running joke within the special of Cindy trying to get Yogi under the mistletoe so that she can give him a smooch. She explains her desire to Boo-Boo and then…this happens.
Ah, there’s a little something for the furries.
That bit almost cost them their G rating. Is this a Christmas special or Showgirls? If Cindy starts doing a striptease, I’m leaving.
Back to the plot. The tag team of Herman the Hermit and Snively set out to ruin Christmas, but Yogi, through a combination of wit and dumb luck, thwarts them every time. Back at the lodge, Mrs. Throckmorton forbids her nephew Snively from attending the gang’s tree trimming party (Gee, I wonder why). Snively is distraught. (Am I supposed to be feeling sorry for this little snot right now? ‘Cause I don’t. Montana Max is cuddlier than this kid!) But instead of Snively getting the ass whuppin’ that he’s been asking for since this thing started, he instead is invited by Herman to join him outside of the lodge in the freezing cold for some vittles and roadkill (Now that’s good eatin’!).
Meanwhile, The gang is celebrating their tree trimming party where they sing “Making A Big To-Do”, the other song that was re-used from Casper’s First Christmas. You gotta love Hanna Barbera; those guys were recycling before it was fashionable.
Yogi dresses up in a Santa Claus suit and plans to surprise the lodge guests, but his plans take a surprising turn when the real Santa shows up and makes the scene before Yogi does.
“Yeah, I can’t believe I showed up for this thing either!”
Hands up. Who saw that coming?
Yogi, Santa and company spot Herman and Snively freezing outside, but instead of throwing rotten fruit at them, they instead invite the 2 of them inside to celebrate Christmas, where both of them have a profound change of heart and spirit. Santa even gives Herman a present. So, Herman has hated Christmas with a burning passion for years, possibly decades, and he changes his tune almost instantly?
“Can you say ‘plot contrivance’, boys and girls? I knew that you could.”
Anyway, Herman would later re-join society and find some people with similar beleifs, and fashion sense.
Oh, and Cindy gets her kiss from Yogi also, by the way.
Santa gives Yogi a basket full of food, however, Yogi has fallen asleep. Prompting Snively say “Good night, you ol’ fuzzball. You’re some terrific character.”
Shut up, Snively!
Santa then says that Yogi and Boo Boo can have the basket when they wake up in the spring. With that, the partiers return Yogi, Boo Boo and Cindy to their caves for the rest of their hibernation. Shlock a doodle doo.
So that’s Yogi’s First Christmas. It could have been better, but it could have been worse. if you want to check it out, it’s floating around on YouTube. The special is also available on DVD and VHS, although personally, I suggest renting it first. But what do others think?
“Yeah, listen, Teddy Ruxpin. Stick to swiping picnic baskets and leave the “holly-jolly” stuff to the experts! Me and Rudolph, we are Christmas! Represent!”