80’s Cartoon Review: Gummi Bears

If you grew up in the 80’s and loved television (howdy, fellow Gen-X’ers!), there’s a decent chance you watched Adventures of the Gummi Bears. If you weren’t savvy and determined enough to record live TV on VHS tapes, this show has faded into the mists of your 80’s childhood nostalgia, along with Reebok Pumps and weekend Blockbuster runs.


Luckily, Ready Player One isn’t the only party cashing in on your midlife income and your craving to foist your childhood memories on the next generation. Disney+ (the OG Plus [yes, Paramount, Hulu, and Peacock – that was a diss]), has thrown open the vaunted Disney Vault to bring back such quality programming as Mr. Boogedy and Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers.

One surprisingly pleasant discovery was Gummi Bears, which I, in my childhood obliviousness, didn’t even encode as a Disney property. As with all things half-remembered from childhood and rediscovered in adulthood, there was a lot more going on than I realized at the time.

The sheer ambition of Gummi Bears’s writers/creators is impressive. Consider the elements that it attempts to pack in:

  • Anthropomorphic bears based on an iconic candy
  • A child-hero bear with no special skills meant to be an avatar of the viewer
  • A young, empowered preteen female heroine bear who wants to be a singing star but lacks the voice for it
  • An old, wise, wizard bear
  • A matronly bear figure that keeps all the bears in line with stern glances and sharp rebukes
  • A manly builder-bear meant to reinforce 80’s American masculine stereotypes, often supporting but occasionally mocking them
  • A fat bear called Tummi Gummi who is voiced by the actor from Garfield, and who apparently shares Garfield’s single-minded comical focus on the next meal
  • Dragons, but not scary ones
  • Ogres that serve as comic villains
  • Castles
  • Knights and knight paraphernalia a la Dungeons and Dragons
  • Princesses
  • Ancient advanced technology
  • Moral lessons that are sufficiently religious-distant to encode 80’s publick morality
  • A robber-baron knight villain with an overly enthusiastic British-adjacent accent, meant to engender a subtle disdain of high-class culture that was so often seen in the 80’s (see: MacGyver’s folksy humility)
  • A class-misfit human child who is in love with a princess, who is the only true believer in the Gummi Bears, and who benefits from the combination of their mythical status and his special knowledge of them
  • Awkward pre-teen love plot lines
  • Gummi Berry Juice
  • Ancient Lore

The ancient lore, discovered by both the viewers and the show’s characters at the same time, becomes a reusable deus ex machina, allowing the show’s writers to insert magic to alter the Gummi’s abilities and pull them out of whatever sticky jam (pun unapologetically intended) they may be in.

The theme song is worthy of mention, because it’s an awkward masterpiece in itself. It attempts to lay out all the elements of the show, unintentionally becoming almost comical in its thematic whiplash. But the best part is a near-religious soaring vocal track that, even in my childhood, seemed inappropriately passionate to be used on cartoon-mythical-candy-bears. I dare you to watch it in the video below and find yourself embarrassed as you try to refrain from whistling it for the rest of the day.

Watching the show with my kids has been a fun return to my own childhood, and has allowed me to see and appreciate the times in which I grew up with the perspective of distance.

Did you watch the Adventures of the Gummi Bears? Are there any other old movies or TV shows that you’ve rediscovered?