The Berenstain Bears (1985 TV series)

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The Berenstain Bears
Berenstain Bears 1985.jpg
The main shot from the opening, showing all four main characters.
GenreChildren's series
Based onBerenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Developed byJoe Cates
Directed byBuzz Potamkin
Creative director(s)Chris Cuddington
Voices of
Composer(s)Elliot Lawrence
Country of originAustralia
United States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes52
Executive producer(s)
  • David Salter (Production Executive; Season 1)
  • Terry Smith (Production Executive; Season 2)
  • Keith Amor (Executive in Charge of Production; Season 2)
Producer(s)Buzz Potamkin
Editor(s)Robert Ciaglia
Running time22 minutes
Production company(s)Southern Star Productions
Hanna-Barbera Australia
Original networkCBS
Audio formatStereo
Original releaseSeptember 14, 1985 (1985-09-14) –
September 5, 1987 (1987-09-05)
Preceded byThe Berenstain Bears Play Ball
Followed byThe Berenstain Bears (2003 TV series)

The Berenstain Bears is an Australian-American animated comedy television series based on Stan and Jan Berenstain's Berenstain Bears children's book series, produced by Southern Star Productions and Hanna-Barbera Australia.[1] It aired in the United States from September 14, 1985 until September 5, 1987 on CBS with 52 11-minute episodes in 26 half-hour shows produced.[2] 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.

In addition to creating the original books, Stan and Jan Berenstain were producers on the show, and wrote some of the scripts.[3]

A second cartoon series aired on PBS Kids in 2003-2004.


The series tells the story of a bear family that lives in a tree. The bears are just like humans. 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. 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 villains to take over Bear Country. It states that Brother Bear is in 2nd Grade then in 3rd Grade while Sister Bear is in kindergarten then in 1st Grade. 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, and Grizzly Gramps & Gran. Characters also introduced are Officer Marguerete, Queen Nectar, and Jake. Queen Nectar and Jake are not bears but they do talk and interact with the humanoid bears. Sister Bear plays with many of the forest animals such as Frog & Butterfly. There are many other background characters that live in the nearby forest land; The bears live among the forest and nature just as they did in the television specials. The main antagonists of the series are the swindler Raffish Ralph and occasionally Weasel McGreed, seen in six episodes. To a lesser extent, Too Tall Grizzly is another antagonist, again serving as the school bully.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
126September 14, 1985 (1985-09-14)June 3, 1986 (1986-06-03)
226September 13, 1986 (1986-09-13)March 7, 1987 (1987-03-07)


  • Ruth Buzzi – Mama Bear, Grizzly Gran, Teacher Jane, Officer Marguerite, Queen Nectar, additional voices
  • Brian Cummings – Papa Q. Bear, Mayor Honeypot, Too Tall, Bigpaw, Jake, Henchweasels, additional voices
  • David Mendenhall – Brother Bear. He is 8 years old in "Too Much Birthday".
  • Christina Lange – Sister Bear. She is 5 from "The Messy Room" to "The Missing Pumpkin", and 6 from "Too Much Birthday" and onwards.
  • Josh Rodine – Cousin Freddy
  • Frank Welker – Raffish Ralph, Actual Factual, Weasel McGreed, Grizzly Gramps, Farmer Ben, Henchweasels, Snuff the Dog, additional voices
  • Henry Corden - Additional Male Voices
  • Linda Gary - Additional Female Voices
  • Marissa Mendenhall – Additional Female Voices
  • Marilyn Schreffler - Additional Female Voices
  • John Stephenson - Additional Male Voices


Stan & Jan contracted with independent producer Joe Cates in 1979 to make a Christmas Special. They continued to make one holiday special each year for five years. They stopped making holiday specials after "The Berenstain Bears Play Ball" and 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. Elliott Lawrence continued to score music for the episodes which were based on his compositions from the five specials, although faster-paced. While they no longer break out in song, the theme music (matching part of Stars and Stripes Forever) resembles the song lyrics from the specials. The program was produced by Southern Star/Hanna-Barbera Australia Productions 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. This TV series expanded tremendously of Bear Country which includes many characters, 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 minutes in length. The bear family had complex patterns on their clothes which were changed to solid colours for the animated specials, with the exception of Mama Bear's inside hat. The TV series omitted the spots entirely, but Mama's yellow "Go And Meet" hat was featured in a "Ghost Of The Forest" adaptation. The episode "Ghost Of The Forest" resembles a Halloween special, but it is a regular episode.

Broadcast and home media[edit]

Reruns aired briefly on TLC's Ready Set Learn block from September 28 to November 13, 1998 when a contract dispute forced TLC to pull the show off the schedule. During the early 2000s, reruns were later seen as part of the DIC Kids Network syndicated programming block which primarily aired on some stations of FOX and the also now-defunct UPN, but the episodes were edited and time-compressed by DIC. The series has not been seen on American television since 2006. In Australia, where Southern Star was created, the series was aired on Network Ten. A few episodes are available on VHS from various companies like Random House, Feature Films for Families, and Columbia/Tristar Home Video, but the opening title as well as the title cards were changed. The introduction scene showing highlights from the episodes was removed. The opening title shot was flipped (The bear family now runs in the opposite direction). The opening title was previously accompanied with the caption: "The Berenstain Bears Show: Created By Stan & Jan Berenstain," which was removed entirely. The episode title cards were originally dark green with a round portrait in a wooden frame. The title cards on the VHS releases instead use part of the main title sequence. The end credits now scroll and the end music is sped up. The 2009 DVD releases from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment don't use the edited versions of the episodes that have previously been released on VHS, but use unedited versions of episodes not previously released on VHS.


  1. ^ Perlmutter, David (2018). The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 77–78. ISBN 978-1538103739.
  2. ^ Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. pp. 133–134. ISBN 978-1476665993.
  3. ^ Hyatt, Wesley (1997). The Encyclopedia of Daytime Television. Watson-Guptill Publications. p. 57. ISBN 978-0823083152. Retrieved 19 March 2020.

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