Updated on November 26, 2022
One of my favorite Christmas specials as a kid was “Yogi’s First Christmas,” a 1980 Hanna-Barbera made-for-TV movie.
“Yogi’s First Christmas” tells how Yogi Bear and his pal Boo-Boo (who usually hibernate through the holidays) stay awake long enough to celebrate the holiday for the first time. Along with Cindy Bear and Ranger Smith, fellow Hanna-Barbera stars Huckleberry Hound, Augie Doggie, Doggy Daddy, and Snagglepuss, also appear.
The plot is the time-worn “saving something from being foreclosed on the oddly-chosen date of December 24th” Christmas plot; in this case, the privately-owned Jellystone Lodge in Jellystone Park. There’s also a “somebody hates/tries to ruin Christmas” subplot; in this case, a hermit living on a hill in Jellystone. Yogi’s usual antics win over the lodge’s owner, albeit to Ranger Smith’s irritation.
While no “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Yogi’s First Christmas” is still on my annual holiday viewing list, even if out of nostalgia. The animation quality definitely suffers in spots.
The special’s songs are all reused from various previous Hanna-Barbera Christmas specials. The opening song, “Coming Up Christmas Time,” first appeared in the 1979 special “Casper’s First Christmas,” which also featured Yogi and Boo-Boo. The song has the amusing but self-centered (for a holiday special’s standards) line: “to make sure I get what I want, I buy my gift for me!”
While not a Christmas song, part of “The Huckleberry Hound Show” theme song can be heard during a scene with Huck skiing.
Other high points of “Yogi’s First Christmas”:
- Cindy’s plan to get a kiss from Yogi (involving mistletoe by the metric ton).
- The lodge owner putting her bratty nephew in his place. While not usually in the spirit of a holiday special, the kid deserved it.
- Huck singing “Clementine” as a Christmas party song. This prompts an appropriate slightly-early Christmas gift from Doggy Daddy to Augie (earmuffs).
The title isn’t false advertising. Yogi subsequently appeared in 1982’s “Yogi Bear’s All Star Comedy Christmas Caper,” a half-hour special. The special features a wide range of cameos, from Fred Flintstone to Snooper and Blabber.
On TV/home video
Warner Archive released “Yogi’s First Christmas” to DVD. Unfortunately, the cover included is the wrong one—it’s a scene based on “Yogi’s All Star Comedy Christmas Caper.”
The special is also available to stream on Boomerang.
Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.