Santa And The Three Bears was a 1970s theatrical movie, later cut down to TV Special length. I remember ads for it on USA Network but I don’t remember if I actually watched it. The story follows two bear cubs who learn about Christmas and fight their hibernation in order to meet Santa Claus. Frankly cutting it down was the right idea. I found a copy of the full version but its just ten minutes of kids at Sea World, the most Christmasy place on Earth. Wait, really? The whole thing, which frankly I could see being used by Rifftrax, is just them walking around Sea World and talking about how there is no snow in Florida’s Christmas, which is okay to acknowledge but that’s as Christmas as it gets. I just stopped watching and went to find the shorter version.
Not that we’re spared bad live-action acting by kids mind you. In the TV special version a live-action version of the Park Ranger is telling his poorly acting grandchildren (as in the little girl sounds like she’s reading off the script rather than actually acting the lines) about his time as a park ranger at Yellowstone park, leading into our tale. It’s still better than the full version. As a bonus, a second video contains some trivia about the movie…and how it was almost a Yogi Bear Christmas special.
So how was this planned to be a Yogi Bear Christmas special? From the YouTube channel Hero Journalism we have an interview with Tony Benedict, who originally pitched the special to Hanna Barbera.
Yogi Bear would get his own Christmas special in 1980 with Yogi’s First Christmas. While it also has Yogi, Boo Boo, and Cindy trying to stay awake for Christmas they also help out their friends in running a Christmas lodge while the owner’s nephew and a Christmas-hating hermit try to ruin their fun. It’s worth checking out. Frankly I think that’s a better use of the plot for Yogi while this is better served being its own story…without the Sea World additions.