Guest Blogger: Gummi Bears Remembered

Arriving home late from work the other day, I walked in my door and saw something that warmed the winter chill. My son, Benji, was sitting still (a rarity!) staring intently at the television. And coming from the speakers was one of the most cherished sounds of my childhood; and it wasn’t the theme of Star Wars! I had to grin as I watched my son totally hypnotized by the favorite cartoon of my youth, giggling as the Gummi Bears bounced here and there and everywhere.

Disney’s Adventures of The Gummi Bears (VERY loosely based on the candy) was responsible for the Disney television carton boom of the late eighties and early nineties. With its success, Disney launched several franchises based on their established characters, including Tailspin (Jungle book), Duck Tails (Donald Duck’s family), Chip & Dale’s Rescue Rangers, Darkwing Duck (Ducktails spin-off), Goof Troop (Goofy), and many others. It’s amazing that the genesis of this boom was also the only show not based on a previous property.

Gummi Bears tells the story of the small remnant of a once great civilization of bears possessed of advanced technology and magical knowledge. Jealous of the Gummis, humanity chases the bears from their lands, banishing them to the islands of the sea. Some stay behind to watch and observe, but as time goes by, the descendants of these survivors forget many secrets of Gummi history. Deciding to rediscover Gummi history, the group of bears begins a quest of knowledge. A pretty impressive plot for a kid’s show!

I don’t remember my first exposure to Gummi Bears, but I do remember that I loved it. The mystery of a magical past, ancient tunnels and devices, secret rooms and passages: I lived for that stuff. Gummi Bears had such a rich back story, it made for wonderful storytelling and presented some really unique and new ideas. Based in a fantasy setting, but with real sci-fi elements, Gummi Bears was the perfect chew toy for a teething Geek. All the great stereotypes and elements were there: monsters, a ruthless (though stupid) bad guy, magic, knights, ancient technology of a lost civilization, and a super cool secret base for the heroes.

Above all though, the Gummis were a family and a group of heroes. They fought to save the local humans constantly, and befriended several. Each Gummi had a distinct personality, and all served their roles. While the 80’s did have their influence, Gummi Bears was a strong, well-written, and extremely positive cartoon, especially for its time.

When I saw it on DVD a few years ago, I grabbed it purely out of nostalgia. When I rewatched it, I realized that I apparently had really great taste as a kid because the show was just as good as I remembered. So to see my son watching it now, absolutely transfixed, despite the technology and highly refined shows of today, made me want to leap with joy. Sure, every parent wants to share their interests and loves with their children, but for me, this was something more.

Gummi Bears is one of those truly wonderful relics from my youth, and I believe one of the most influential. Gummi Bears taught me that imagination was powerful, each individual was special, and the past is a fantastic source of knowledge. It was my gateway to a world of imagination and wonder that has held me captive to this very day. While there are parts of my life I’d never wish on my son (such as being a geek in high school… brrrr), I’m excited for him at the same time. He’s discovering something precious, and he’s in a place where he can savor it. And, he’s getting it from a source that I trust and return to every so often myself.

--Mike Cherniske

No comments: