Sunday, September 11, 2011

Toon Legends: The Flintstones (1960)

For openers, here's the original opening sequence to The Flintstones, uploaded by syedamiralisha:

To use the phrase, "ground-breaking" to describe The Flintstones as one of the first primetime animated series would be a gross understatement. It lasted 6 years, and until The Simpsons came along 30 years later, no toon had come close to matching that mark. Homer Simpson and his clan will be starting their 22nd season later this month, and, on top of that, Seth MacFarlane, the twisted genius behind Family Guy & American Dad, is being asked to relaunch Flintstones for the Fox network. That will be ready to go within the next year or two.

After its primetime run ended, The Flintstones shifted to Saturday mornings, but not on ABC. Instead, NBC acquired the series for their Saturday block, which lasted about 5 years or so, as I believe it was gone by the time the spin-off, Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm, launched on CBS in 1971. NBC would welcome back the Flintstones & Rubbles in 1978, first with The New Fred & Barney Show, and experimented with a brief primetime run around 1980. The franchise returned home to ABC with the prequel series, The Flintstone Kids, in 1986, and a series of primetime specials that led to Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm finally getting married.

As we've documented here previously, advertisers seem to prefer that the kids remain toddlers, rather than let them age naturally, and so the later toons have been all but retconned out, and that's a shame. For more than 40 years, Fred & Barney have been front & center shilling for Post Cereals' Pebbles line of cereals and the Flintstones vitamins now made by Bayer (originally made by Miles Laboratories, which was bought out by Bayer some years back). Cartoon Network has gotten into the act, with a pair of Dino shorts for the What a Cartoon Show, and the controversial special, Flintstones On The Rocks. Fred, in particular, appeared in an episode of [adult swim]'s Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law in a "Godfather" parody, among other things.

Song satirist "Weird" Al Yankovic paid homage to the series with the song, "Bedrock Anthem", which was a riff on the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Give It Away", and peppered the video with classic clips from the show.

After 51 years, however, The Flintstones aren't being given a lot of respect at Cartoon Network these days. Yes, Boomerang carries the series on a daily basis, but, aside from a special mini-marathon one year ago, they didn't really do anything to mark the series' 50th anniversary, which speaks to the corporate attitude at CN more than anything else.

Rating: A.


magicdog said...

As many viewers I grew up watching this show in syndication, so I'd never seen the original opening nor closing credits until Boomerang started showing it.

They also put back in some edited footage that got clipped for syndication, so in some ways it was like watching a new show!

Now that I'm an adult, I can definitely appreciate the humor more and got more jokes that I missed as a kid (particularly during the earlier seasons when it was written with a more adult audience in mind).

I shudder to think what Seth MacFarlane will do to the reboot; he has said in interviews that he loved the original show as well and considers the reboot a dream come true for him creatively. Let's hope it doesn't end up in the gutter.

hobbyfan said...

Well, you have to consider that Family Guy and, to a lesser extent, American Dad, both being domestic sitcoms, may have been inspired by the Flintstones more than Fox stablemates The Simpsons. However, you're not alone in worrying about MacFarlane and his tendency to bog down his shows with needless toilet humor that draws the ire of the PTC and its ilk like moths to flame.

The Simpsons has gotten through 21 seasons without resorting to low-brow toilet jokes at every turn. Matt Groening is better than that. Seems to me, though, that Fox wouldn't mind shoving him and the Simpsons aside so MacFarlane and his cronies can have the whole night to themselves.

magicdog said...

I wouldn't be surprised if the Simpsons ends up on the chopping block once McFarlane's reboot is ready.

hobbyfan said...

As Homey D. Clown would've said on In Living Color, I don't think so. Homey don't play dat.