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Jellystone!

Entry updated 16 August 2021. Tagged: TV.

US animated online tv series (2021-current). Warner Bros. Animation. Based on characters created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Developed by C H Greenblatt. Directors include Aaron Austin, Hannah Ayoubi and Careen Ingle. Writers include C. H. Greenblatt, Ian Mutchler and Ian Wasseluk. Voice cast includes Jeff Bergman, Jim Conroy, C H Greenblatt and Grace Helbig. Ten 22-minute episodes (each with two segments). Colour.

The residents of Jellystone come from various Hanna-Barbera shows: given these series' paucity on the female front, several characters have been gender-swapped to give the town's population a more realistic balance. Its population of human and anthropomorphized creatures are mainly from shows with present-day settings, so Captain Caveman (Conroy) (see Apes as Human) is here, but no one from The Jetsons (1962-1963) or The Flintstones (1960-1966) – though a book club's steamy romance novel is set in the latter's Bedrock, and we are assured that the fifth chapter is the best, "where Fred takes off his shirt".

Though episodes centre on different characters, most prominent – and best – are the bears Yogi (Bergman) and Cindy (Helbig), who are Doctors, and Boo-Boo (Greenblatt), a nurse. Cindy sometimes veers into Mad Scientist territory, devising Technology to perform Identity Transfer ("If you smell eggs, that might be your brain frying.") or – in an attempt to create some free time – building a Ray Gun that turns everyone to jelly (in effect, Suspended Animation), but using it before inventing the cure ... which takes three years. Cindy is strong on ideas, weak on their ramifications: she invents a nuclear stomach for Yogi that creates an "infinite void" (see Pocket Universe), enabling him to eat everything he wants ... but the void makes him permanently hungry, so he swallows the entire population of Jellystone – fortunately he does not chew, so normality can be restored.

Otherwise plots tend to be mundane, albeit taken to an absurd level and untroubled by Physics. Exceptions include an immersive Virtual Reality Videogame: the headset shows a fluffy, friendly world, but players' actions have a catastrophic effect on reality. In another segment, Aliens land in Jellystone and, wishing to pass judgement on our civilization, demand to see its leader: alas, the position of mayor is, at this moment, held by three children in a trenchcoat. Elsewhere, Killer Robots and a Mecha also make an appearance, whilst the town's promotional video turns Anime.

Though characters remain recognizable, their designs do not adhere too strictly to the originals, whilst some personalities have been tweaked: Cindy is the most obvious example and another is the Banana Splits, here a criminal gang (for which there is precedent: in The Banana Splits Movie [2019], the band members go on a killing spree after their television show is cancelled). The series' strength lies in its asides and one-liners; even the weaker segments usually have a couple of laugh-out-loud moments. [SP]

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