As comic book fans we might have our differences - we might prefer Superman to Batman, or Betty over Veronica, or mylar snugs instead of 3-mil polyester bags. But there's one thing we can agree on, and it's that we share a common enemy, one deadly force that's worked for decades to destroy not only comic books, but society in general. And that enemy is television! Yes, television, the boob tube, the idiot box, whatever you call it, for decades TV has been turning our brains into mush and taking attention and advertising dollars away from their rightful place, which is the comic book. The destructive influence of television is almost immeasurable. It reaches every aspect of our lives- our morals are corrupted, our sense of values are warped, and the healthy fear we should feel for savage woodland creatures is instead twisted and transformed until we are encouraged to think of these beasts as friends and playmates. Not content to broadcast this propaganda over the airwaves, TV's overlords saw fit to pollute even comic books with their wrong thinking. Don't believe me?
Based on the inexplicably popular television series, Gentle Ben is the story of the eponymous bear, who spends his time hanging out with Dennis "Gunsmoke" Weaver and Clint "That Weird Bald Kid From That Star Trek Episode" Howard (as Tom and Mark Wedloe) in a nature preserve in the Florida Everglades, where Dennis Weaver's character is a forest ranger. Danger, thrills and suspense await young Mark and Gentle Ben every episode! Suspense mostly from waiting for Ben to finally snap and start mauling some cameramen!
And what could be a more suspenseful way to begin our Gentle Ben story than by not showing Gentle Ben at all? No way, that's what way. Stay tuned for the exciting adventures of Gentle Petey Pelican!
You'd better get that pelican, Dad. Hook it with the oar, or with a net, or we'll just grab it, or... or you could just dive into the water. Whatever.
That is one chill pelican there. Try grabbing a pelican the next time you're in the swamp and see what happens! Maybe this guy is getting the same tranquililzers they gave Gentle Ben.
Just kidding, they didn't give any of the eight or ten different bears to play Gentle Ben any tranquilizers. I bet your respect for Clint Howard's acting skills just went up a notch or two, huh?
This is also one chill veterinarian! "Nature builds 'em strong, kid! We'll give this bird a band-aid and some aspirin, and then he's outta here!"
One of the hallmarks of the Gentle Ben School Of Cinema is that the kid sidekick has to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to dialogue, unless they're terribly mistaken and what audiences really want is thirty minutes of "grunt."
Get used to it, kids, there's gonna be a lot of Clint Howard talking to himself.
Gosh I wonder what could have scared that rabbit? Maybe it was Ben, who is, after all, a giant hulking bear, known amongst noted animalologists as a "critter" that will "mess you up big time," as they say in scientific circles.
Look out Clint, you've just wandered into an issue of Green Arrow! Or maybe one of the late 60s issues of Avengers before Hawkeye became Goliath!
What do you care about the arrow I just shot that nearly killed you? Existence is fleeting and futile, you should thank me for letting you feel the closeness of death, for it is only then that we are truly alive! And that's why I was trying to kill that rabbit. Because I'm a creep.
I kind of like this kid's attitude, which is that he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, to whoever he wants. And when he's in reform school, he'll be giving that same speech!
This is nuclear levels of sass coming from a kid who doesn't realize how close he is to finding out if he really can stop a bear with a bow and arrow.
Are YOU disgusted with kids? Get a bear. One way or another, it'll solve that kid problem!
OH SNAP, now the HUNTER has become the SNIVELING WIMP CRYING ON A SANDBAR!! Mmmpf is right, Ben! Mmmpf indeed!
Sheezus, dial it back there, Snivelly. Wading through two feet of swamp water isn't a death sentence! I mean, there are alligators in there, snapping turtles, water moccasins, I'm not saying you won't get your hair mussed. But death? Come on, you wimp.
Weeping softly, the sad wussy boy opened his tear-choked eyes to see the bear swimming slowly towards him, vengeance for all animals burning in his ursine eyes. Would the dirty swamp water wash away all traces of how he'd shamefully wet himself in fear? Please, let it be so!
Good boy Ben, take a few exploratory bites. That ought to motivate him.
Hey gang, when you're reduced to a crying, infantile puddle of tears by a few feet of swamp water, and you have to be rescued by a six year old and his pet bear, why not save face by pretending to have "blacked out or something?"
The sun sets over the Florida swamp, the mosquitoes begin their sprightly hum, and two boys and a bear head back to civilization, their conflict resolved and their clothes indescribably filthy and reeking of bear. So long Gentle Ben! Gentle Ben would last two seasons, the various bears that played Ben would move on to various animal shows and zoos, Dennis Weaver would become TV's McCloud, and Clint Howard would go on to have an absolutely amazing Hollywood career in projects as diverse as Apollo 13, Solo A Star Wars Story, Austin Powers, Star Trek, The Rocketeer, Backdraft, Tango & Cash, Evilspeak, Cocoon, Rock 'n' Roll High School, and a starring role in the dairy treat themed horror film Ice Cream Man. But he'll always have a soft spot in his heart for any one of the eight or ten bears that were Gentle Ben.
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