Sunday, June 10, 2012

Rein-toon-ation: The Flintstone Comedy Show (1980)

Hanna-Barbera marked the 20th anniversary of The Flintstones by rebooting Fred & Barney Meet The Thing & The Shmoo (which was the show's title by the end of the 1979-80 season) into a revival of 1973's Flintstone Comedy Show, which was, in turn, a reboot of the Flintstone Comedy Hour the year prior.

NBC gave this 90 minutes, and to say that Fred (Henry Corden) & Barney (Mel Blanc) were all over the place would be an overstatement. They got 2 segments, and so did their wives, Wilma (Jean VanderPyl) & Betty (Gay Autterson), who would appear in the Captain Caveman segment from time to time.

You see, to justify the Shmoo being part of the show, he was inexplicably paired with Fred & Barney in the Bedrock Cops segment. That this lasted two seasons, given such oddities, would be a minor miracle.

Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm were now solving mysteries, a la Scooby-Doo, although Dino wasn't exactly in Scooby's class. Dino, though, also got 2 segments, as he co-starred in a series of shorts with Cavemouse, a character created by toon legend Tex Avery. Rounding things out were The Frankenstones, who had two kids of their own, Atrocia (Zelda Rubenstein, later of "Poltergeist" fame) & Freaky (Paul Reubens, before he created Pee-Wee Herman). Ruta Lee (ex-High Rollers) & Charles Nelson Reilly (Match Game) voiced the parents, and, if memory serves, Reilly was the 2nd actor to play Frank Frankenstone, with John Stephenson the first in a TV movie.

WREYTube uploaded the open:

They tried to capture the spirit of the original series, and recycled the series for 2 more years of reruns after initial cancellation. Good luck, though, trying to find them on Boomerang and/or Cartoon Network. The series languishes in the vaults.

Rating: B.


magicdog said...

I have had trouble viewing The Flintstones outside of their original series. I guess it's because it was done so well the first time, that subsequent attempts don't do it justice.

This particular incarnation bugged not just because of The Shmoo's appearance (and the retconning of Captain Caveman and his more eloquent son!) but due to Fred's recharacterization as a hateful guy!

Whenever he was dealing with The Frankenstones, he could never be civil! Sure, Mr. Frankenstone had his moments, but Fred was really made unlikeable here. Fred had always been depicted as a blowhard and a loudmouth but underneath he was a decent guy. Yopu saw no trace of that person in subsequent incarnations. If I didn't know better, i'd swear the HB crew was trying to turn him into an "Archie Bunker" type - without the likeability!

hobbyfan said...

Largely, that's because Archie Bunker was still around at the time, still very popular, so the scribblers decided to remold Fred, who originally was based on Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason), into a Bunker-esque character and try to pass it off as the way Fred always was. Good thing it was just a phase he went through.....