|The Berenstain Bears|
|Based on||Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain|
|Developed by||Joe Cates|
|Directed by||Buzz Potamkin|
|Creative director||Chris Cuddington|
|Opening theme||"We Are The Berenstain Bears"|
|Ending theme||"We Are The Berenstain Bears" (instrumental)|
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||52 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Production companies||The Joseph Cates Company|
Hanna-Barbera Pty Ltd.
Southern Star Productions
|Audio format||Monaural (original runs)|
Stereo (re-runs and home media releases)
|Original release||September 14, 1985 –|
March 7, 1987
The Berenstain Bears (also known as "The Berenstain Bears Show" in its original run) is an animated comedy television series based on the children's book series of the same name by Stan and Jan Berenstain, produced by Hanna-Barbera Pty Ltd., and Southern Star Productions. It aired in the United States from September 14, 1985, to March 7, 1987 on CBS with 52 11-minute episodes in 26 half-hour shows produced. Reruns of the show would continue to air on the network until September 5, 1987. Each show consisted of two episodes, the first being an adaptation of one of the books, the second being an original story.
The series was nominated in 1987 for a Daytime Emmy award for Outstanding Performer in Children's Programming; it was also nominated that year for a Humanitas Prize in the category of Non-Prime Time Children's Animated Show.
A second cartoon series aired on PBS Kids in 2003.
The series is set in a nearby forested land populated only by anthropomorphic bears and primarily centers around the Berenstain Bears. The Berenstain Bears are a family residing in the rural community of Bear Country. The family consists of Mama Bear, Papa Q. Bear, Brother Bear, and Sister Bear. The series teaches lessons, continues from the TV specials, and expands Bear Country as well as character development. Each episode follows the struggles of the family, mainly the cubs.
The characters and setting are from various books written by Stan & Jan Berenstain as well as from several television specials by Joe Cates. Other characters are Actual Factual, Big Paw, Mayor Horace J. Honeypot, Farmer Ben, Cousin Fred, and Grizzly Gramps & Gran.
Characters also introduced are Officer Marguerete, Scout Leader Jane, Lizzy Bruin, Queen Nectar, and Old Jake the Catfish (Queen Nectar and Jake are not bears but they do talk and interact with the Cubs).
The main antagonists of the series are the "swindler" con artist Raffish Ralph and occasionally Weasel McGreed, seen in six episodes. To a lesser extent, Too-Tall Grizzly is another antagonist, serving as the school bully.
Other episodes involve "The Bear Detectives" and their sniffer hound Snuff, Papa Q. Bear's attempts of honey gathering, interaction with forest creatures, and attempts by Weasel McGreed to take over Bear Country.
Main article: List of The Berenstain Bears (1985 TV series) episodes
From 1979 to 1983, The Berenstain Bears made their television debut as a series of holiday specials that aired on NBC. The specials were created and written by Stan & Jan Berenstain, produced by Joe Cates, and directed by Buzz Potamkin. They continued to make one holiday special each year for five years.
After the release of The Berenstain Bears Play Ball, the team began making a TV series based on the books and to a lesser extent, the same TV specials produced. Joe Cates and Buzz Potamkin produced this TV series as well and Elliott Lawrence continuing to score music for the episodes which were based on his compositions from the five specials, but in a faster pace. Some of the production staff who worked on the specials would continue to help out on the show's development. In addition to creating the original books, Stan and Jan Berenstain were producers on the show, and wrote some of the scripts.
Since Joe Cates was responsible for contracting NBC to fund the TV specials, he tried to pitch the show to the network, but his efforts would sadly be ineffetive due to a change in network leadership at the time. However, CBS got interested in the project and would soon struck a deal to pick up the series for a first 26-episode season as an attempt to lure a new audience for their Fall 1985 Saturday Morning lineup.
Development of the series would bring some "executive meddling" to the production staff. In addition to adapting existing works, CBS executives wanted the series to have an original story tied in to the episodes. Allegedly, some of the pre-existing episodes that were planned (mainly the adaptation of the books "Too Much TV" and "Too Much Junk Food") were turned down by the executives. This actually frustrated Stan and Jan Berenstain, but it wasn't all that bad as many of the original segments would end up being turned into books.
The program was produced by Southern Star Productions/Hanna-Barbera Australia with new voice actors. The characters no longer talk in rhyme, and the TV series has the updated appearance and no longer has the rustic design of the earliest books.
The series expanded tremendously on Bear Country which includes many characters and landmarks as well as the economy and government. As a result, the episodes have a faster timing, and the characters seem much busier compared with the TV specials. The stories are now told without the narrator and are 11-12 minutes in length.
The show aired briefly on TLC's Ready Set Learn block from September 28, 1998, to January 8, 1999, when a contract dispute forced TLC to pull the show off the schedule.
During the early 2000s, reruns were later seen on DIC Kids Network syndicated programming block which primarily aired on some stations of FOX, the also now-defunct UPN, and The WB, but the episodes were edited and time-compressed by DIC.
In Australia, where Southern Star is based in, the series was aired on Network Ten.
A few episodes were released on VHS and DVD from various home entertainment companies like Random House Home Video, Avon, Feature Films for Families, and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, albeit with slight alterations (such as a different design for the episode title cards).
All of the episodes are available to watch for free on YouTube via the official Berenstain Bears channel, though with varied video quality.