John Kricfalusi's life has been in suspended animation since his boyhood in Canada, when he discovered "Yogi Bear" and "Huckleberry Hound" and other programs from the prolific Hanna-Barbera studios.
By copying the characters off the screen, he learned to draw at age 2. By making dirty renditions of "The Flintstones," he was able to endear himself to the tough guys in high school.
Kricfalusi, creator of the manic "Ren and Stimpy" series, gets to relive his childhood with an off-center tribute to Yogi Bear, airing Friday at 10 p.m. on Cartoon Network. The one-hour special includes two new sardonic shorts as well as flashbacks to scenes from the classic 1960s series that will help explain Kricfalusi's parody.
The shorts were three years in the making, allowing the cartoonist to create something new while, unlike most revivals, maintaining the soul of the originals.
This is not your father's Yogi Bear. After all, this is the same cartoonist who a decade ago made nose-picking and regurgitation an animated art form. But, the bears' heavy drooling and the extended ultimate fighting scene -- Ranger Smith is a master of Brazilian jujitsu -- are tame touches by current standards.
"Boo Boo Runs Wild" turns the picnic tables on the Yogi-Boo Boo relationship. The usually irresponsible Yogi is the voice of reason when his little sidekick casts off human clothes and returns to his natural bear-like ways.
"He's always telling Yogi, `Mister Ranger won't like that, Yogi. Let's go hunt for roots and berries,' " said Kricfalusi, who supplies the voice of Boo Boo. (Don Messick, who voiced Boo Boo and Ranger Smith in the original series, died in 1997.)
"A Day in the Life of Ranger Smith" exaggerates the ranger's disciplinarian nature while poking fun at the character's changing appearance (depending on who was drawing him). "In those days, one animator would do the whole cartoon by himself and they probably didn't have time to give model sheets to everybody," Kricfalusi said.
At least those shows were created by cartoonists and not executives, said Kricfalusi, whose voice and dry delivery are reminiscent of comic Norm Macdonald. "In the 1970s, they started ruining them. They'd take out everything that made them popular. Popeye wasn't allowed to fight. Tom and Jerry were friends, and they walked on their hind legs."
Kricfalusi, who participated in making a 1980s version of "The Jetsons" and "The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse," appealed years ago to then Hanna-Barbera president Fred Seibert to allow him to make shorts with the classic characters: "I said, `Don't bastardize the characters. Let me do them the way that they are."
Thus, Kricfalusi revived Yogi and his Jellystone Park pals with plenty of details. Look for funny takes on the limited backgrounds (the same bush or lamp used several times during a walk) and the piston-like movement of Ranger Smith's head.