Adventures of the Gummi Bears

-Volume 1: Seasons 1-3

-Disney (1985-87)

 

Summary

They bounce here. They bounce there. They bounce everywhere. They’re the frakkin' Gummi Bears.

My Thoughts

I know you’re wondering why I watched Gummi Bears. Not just an episode or two, but seasons 1-3. Well, a good friend of mine knows the theme song by heart and would sing it quite a bit. He loved the show and would talk of how great it was. Because of that I went ahead and started watching the episodes. I know I had seen the show before when I was young, but I don’t think that I watched it much, maybe just an episode here or there. Once I stated watching the episodes, I remembered the characters, but not any of the situations or zany plots they got into.

Surprisingly, the show holds up fairly well. Since it’s a cartoon for young kids, much of the humor doesn’t connect with me now, but I did find a few funny moments. I found that the "high adventure that's beyond compare" promised in the theme song only appears in a few episodes. Gummi Bears usually have mild adventure that's beyond compare.

The main characters are six differently colored Gummi Bears that live in an underground place called Gummi Glen. Zummi is a magician and holds all the wisdom of the Great Gummies. Grammi is like the mom of the group. She cooks, cleans, and makes the Gummiberry Juice. Tummi likes to eat and between adventures that’s about all he does. He even has an adventure where the whole point is for him to eat more. Tummi is also voiced by Lorenzo Music, who is probably best known for voicing of Garfield and Peter Venkman from The Real Ghostbusters. Sunni is a young teen and is sometimes the “dumb blonde” of the group. Cubbi is the youngest. He wants to become a knight and is cursed with being a pink-colored male bear. He makes up for it with his can-do attitude and fighting spirit. Throughout the series other Gummi Bears are introduced. Some are around for only an episode while one, Augustus, eventually joins the group, making seven gummies at Gummi Glen.

There are a few main human characters, but they are not featured in every episode. Cavin is a young boy who is the first human to make friends with the Gummi Bears. Eventually Princess Calla, the princess of Castle Dunwyn and Cavin’s love interest, also becomes friends with the bears. The main villain of the series is Duke Igthorn who wants to takeover Castle Dunwyn and the secret of Gummiberry Juice. He has a short ogre named Toadie that he likes to kicks around. Igthorn also has a small army of ogres that seem to cause almost as trouble for Igthorn as the bears do.

Basically, the Gummi Bears guard Gummi Glen until it is safe to signal the Great Gummies to return. The Great Gummies left the mainland hundreds of years ago to escape the humans that wanted their secrets. One of their most guarded secrets is the recipe for Gummiberry Juice. When the bears drink Gummiberry Juice it give them the ability to bounce. It seems that they also become near indestructible, because they sometimes bounce in ways that would assuredly kill any normal creature. If a human drinks the juice they become super strong, but it only lasts for a minute.

The episodes of Gummi Bears vary in length. Sometimes there is one 22-minute episode, while other times the show will have two shorter episodes. I can see how this would be kind of exciting when watching this as a kid. You don’t know if you’re getting one big adventure or two smaller adventures.

Many of the episodes try to give a valuable moral lesson. There are the typical don’t be selfish, listen to others even if they are small, don’t eat too much, and accept help when you need it, but I found some lessons that the creators of the show may have not foreseen. Here are a few notable episodes whether they were good or bad. I have also included the lesson I learned from that episode.

A New Beginning: Sure, it’s the first episode, but it’s an important one because it sets up all the main heroes and villains. Plus, there is a joke that humans eat Gummi Bears, an obvious, yet needed line for a cartoon based on delicious candy.

Lesson learned: Gummi Bears are good to eat.

Someday My Prints Will Come: Tummi discovers a secret passageway and ends up getting stuck inside a mechanical leg that jumps around the forest. The knights think a dragon is rampaging and charge into defeat it. The bears meet a real dragon who turns out to be very nice and was the foot model for the mechanical leg. Now, the knights clearly see the one leg jumping around yet they still think it’s a dragon? What kind of dragon is just a leg?

Lesson learned: You don't need brains or be able to see properly to become a knight

A Gummi in a Gilded Cage: Sunni wants to be a singer and sings for the rest of the bears. Gruffi falls asleep during her performance, but I don’t know how anyone could fall asleep with her off-key shrill of a voice. Later while their out picking Gummiberries, Sunni “writes” a new song. Here is the entire song: “Gummiberry. Gummiberry juice,” repeat ad nausea. A couple of vultures kidnap Sunni and take her to their vulture king. The king wants a new songbird and locks her in a cage. Sunni then sings the words “Gummiberry. Gummiberry juice,” over and over for the rest of the episode until she is rescued. Hearing her new song the first time was bad enough, but ten minutes of it drives you mad.

Lesson learned: Write songs with more than two words.

When you Wish Upon a Stone: Cavin is sick of being pushed around. He wants to be big. With the help of the bears Cavin finds a stone that will make him big… except there is a giant guarding the stone. The giant looks like he is sixty, has a big beard and is covered in filth, yet when the final wish on the stone is made; he turns into a boy younger than Cavin. I can understand the stone making you bigger, but older and filthier at the same time?

Lesson learned: Be happy with your size or you’ll be old and covered in crap in a few seconds.

Sweet and Sour Gruffi: A storm has damaged part of the Gummi lair and if the bears don’t patch it up soon, King Gregor will discover the Gummi’s lair. Gruffi takes charge of getting the hole fixed, but his attitude doesn’t sit well with the others. Zummi casts a spell on him to make him super-extra-flamboyantly nice, but only if someone says please. Should someone say thank you, Gruffi turns into the Hulk: full of rage but without the green. The others try not to say thank you until Zummi can find a reverse spell.

Lesson learned: Never say please and thank you.

Duel of the Wizards: This episode has the greatest wizard battle ever. Okay, not really, but it’s not bad. Igthorn steals a key from the wizard Dom Gordo and hides it in a tree (which just happens to be a port hole to the bears’ lair). Zummi finds the key and puts it in his pocket. Igthorn and Dom make a deal. With Igthorn off completing his part, Dom searches for the key: by tearing six inch thick sheets of grass and earth off the ground. Seriously, why would you look for the key, that has been gone for a minute, five inches below the ground? Well, Zummi asks Dom if he needs help, Dom gets angry and the wizard battle of the ages ensues.

Lesson learned: Wizards are jerks.

Light Makes Right: This episode has the best opening of any Gummi Bears episode. Hundreds of ancient Gummi Bears are leaving the mainland in ships. I thought I was watching some Ewok movie for a few seconds because they looked just like Ewoks. I also thought I was in for an epic adventure that explained everything about the bears, but then we see that Grammi is just reading from a book about the ancient bears. Zummi remembers an old device made to communicate with the three other Gummi cities that the ancients settled to. As pure cartoon coincidence would have it, Igthorn also learns of the device which can also be used as a weapon. The Gummi Bears find the device and send messages to the first of the three cities. The problem is that they only wait two seconds for a response before turning it to the other city. The same thing happens on the second. The third city sends a message back. Tummi has a moment of stupidity and only part of the message is delivered just as Igthorn finds the them. Igthorn uses the device to destroy parts of Castle Dunwyn, including a tower that Calla and Cavin are in. Calla and Cavin should totally be dead after the attack, but Cavin is just fine and Calla is unconscious. The bears figure that the only way to save the castle is to destroy the device. During the ensuing battle, Zummi fires off the device to the third city to repeat the message. The message is delivered in full, but the mountain comes down just as it’s finished. Zummi finds the message but can’t read it because it’s smeared from water. What a disappointment, even I wanted to know what it said. I was also hoping for more ancient Gummi/Ewok scenes, but regardless, this is still a great, if maddening, episode.

Lesson learned: Don’t screw around when you’re receiving a message from someone you haven’t heard from in over a hundred years.

For a Few Sovereigns More: As the title implies, this is taken from the movie For a Few Dollars More. It even has a bounty hunter character that looks and talks like Clint Eastwood. His name is… wait for it… Flint Shrubwood. His name is stupid but, Flint has boomerang pistols. They are awesome. Igthorn tries to scam Flint by not giving him his pay for capturing and delivering a Gummi Bear, Cubbi. Flint chains together Igthorn and Cubbi who need to work together to escape. Near the end of the episode the two get released from their chain and Igthorn is holding a chest of gold that Flint wants. Igthorn drops the chest and attempts to get it back. At this time Flint says “Go ahead. Take my pay.” Yes, it’s terrible.

Lesson learned: Never try to screw over Clint Eastwood.

My Gummi Lies Over the Ocean: If any episode has “high adventure that’s beyond compare” it’s this one. Tummi, who we’ve seen building model ships, builds a real boat and Gruffi helps him test it out. After a mishap with a sea monster, the two find their way onto an island in the middle of the ocean surrounded by a circular waterfall – in short there is no way off the island. Here they meet Augustus, a Gummi Bear who has become mildly insane during his 12+ years on the island and is the only bear not to have a name that ends in “i.” He is an artist and has carved a huge dragon statue on the side of the volcano. Gruffi doesn’t like him and wants to get off the island before the volcano blows. I would say that this is my favorite episode. The dragon looks fantastic and there is some good dialogue between the characters. Unfortunately, it seems like no continuity is followed after this episode because Augustus doesn’t appear again until about the second half of season three. What happened during this time? I was ready for a new character to join the regular lot, but he’s was nowhere to be found. Did Gruffi kick him overboard on their way back home? When they got home did Augustus continue to sail onward by himself? Was he captured by pirates? Or perhaps this episode was aired before it should have been.

Lesson learned: Creating giant dragon sculptures is cool, but ultimately a waste of time.

Too Many Cooks: I like this episode simply because there is a character with the title of Imperial Taffy Maker.

Lesson learned: Only the Imperials know how to make good taffy.

Water Way to Go: Augustus has decided not to live with the other Gummis and has his own little place behind a waterfall. He is an artist and is starving for something new to draw. Sunni has a crush on Augustus and suggests multiple times that he should draw her. On man, I think I know where this is going. The two go to a nearby beach where they find a mermaid named Aquarianne. Augustus wants nothing but to draw her. Sunni becomes jealous and scares Aquarianne off by telling her that Augustus will chop off her head and mount it above his fireplace. Aquarianne believes her and swims away, but is captured by Igthorn. The two Gummies then attempt a rescue.

Lesson learned: Like Augustus, hot mermaids also inspire me more than underage bears do.

The Knights of Gummadoon: The ancient Gummi castle of Gummadoon only appears once ever hundred years or so. Cubbi and Cavin get into a fight with Igthorn and Gummi knights help them win the battle, but Cubbi is knocked unconscious. He is taken to the castle and becomes a knight for a day. Cavin enters the castle to warn the bears of Igthorn's plan, but the ancient Gummies lock up Cavin because they distrust humans. The only way to free Cavin is for Cubbi to fight and win against a Gummi knight. Basically, the ancient Gummies go by the “might makes right” way of doing things. This seems odd to me because in many of the other episodes Zummi kept saying how wise the Great Gummies are supposed to be. “Might makes right” certainly isn’t a wise way of thinking.

Lesson learned: Might makes right.

Seasons 1-3 holds 47 episodes of Gummi adventure on three discs. Unfortunately the quality of this set isn't where it should be. There are some episodes that do look very nice, but it is inconsistent. The picture quality is not bad, but it obviously has not been restored or cleaned in any way, which means that sometimes you get faded colors mixed into the usually colorful episodes. The audio is in Dolby Mono.

I also found it odd that right before the first episode there is a "Today on the Gummi Bears" preview of what is to come in the episode. This is the only time the preview thing is shown. Was there only really one preview or did Disney just give up trying to make a complete DVD box set? I'm going with the second choice.

Extras

There are no extras. There had to be some kind of commercials, pictures of merchandise, promos, or something, but there is absolutely nothing on these discs.

Score:

Episode Average: 7.0

Extras: 0.0

Edition: 2.5

At least you get seasons 1-3 in one box.

- Shawn