Thursday, May 8, 2014

Revisiting 1974: Which was more deserving of a reboot: The Jetsons or the Partridge Family?

Time to get back into revisiting Hanna-Barbera's class of 1974, and the debate that has raged over one particular project.........

The story was that Joseph Barbera had pitched to CBS a revival of the 1962 series, The Jetsons, which logged time on CBS in reruns in the late 60's before moving to NBC. The idea, as I understand it, involved letting daughter Judy (Janet Waldo) and son Elroy (Daws Butler) grow up to a certain point. That being Judy, who was in high school in the original series, would've long since graduated and become a songwriter, or at least tried to get into the music business in pursuit of her idol, Jet Screamer (Howard Morris). Elroy, then, would be in high school, much like Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm three years earlier.

Unfortunately, CBS passed, opting instead to adapt The Partridge Family into an animated series, which, coincidentally, was set at the dawn of the 23rd century. Yep, practically in the Jetsons' backyard. This decision ultimately proved costly to both CBS & H-B, as Partridge Family 2200 AD, like The Jetsons before it, lasted just one season.

For the sake of debate, let's go back to 1962, and the intro to The Jetsons:

Partridge Family 2200 AD, by comparison, was a troubled series. Susan Dey (Laurie) dropped out early on, replaced by Sherry Alberoni (Super Friends, Josie & the Pussycats). Apparently, H-B couldn't come up with enough cheddar to get Shirley Jones or David Cassidy on board. Plus, some stations didn't carry the show at all, opting for syndicated programming. Those of us who missed it the first time caught up via reruns that were split into 2-3 parts on Fred Flintstone & Friends.

Consider the intro to Partridge Family 2200 AD, cheesy theme song included:

The Partridges would be given a robot dog, as if they needed one, because the mindset among network suits was that pets would attract the kiddo's. Maybe, but bad writing will ultimately turn them away, too.

The Jetsons would eventually return, but their pet, Astro, was brought back first as part of a comedy super-team on Space Stars, four years before The Jetsons was revived for syndication, with Astro & The Space Mutts having been mercifully retconned out, since it was never referenced. And, yeah, George Jetson and company would end up getting a weird new addition to the family in Orbitty, who had coils for legs.

Joe Barbera is long gone now, but his vision of sending Judy off to college, and maybe into a music career, coupled with Elroy moving on to high school & beyond, could still get done. Unfortunately, such brilliant thinking is lost on the nimrods at Cartoon Network. They commissioned John Kricfalusi (Ren & Stimpy) to do a couple of specials, one of which involved The Jetsons, some years back, but the results weren't good. We'll look at that another time.

That being said, with Jetsons having passed its 50th anniversary 2 years ago, CN & Warner Bros. blew a golden opportunity to honor Hanna-Barbera's "First Family of the Future". I'd say the opportunity's still there for someone to pitch an animated movie that would have George & Jane retired, with Elroy & Judy all grown up, each having gotten married and started families of their own. Yes, I'd go with a generational comedy-drama, which is also how we'd revisit another 1974 entry, These Are The Days, which we'll focus on another time.

What do you think?


magicdog said...

I remember the Partridges 2200Ad and it was BAD!

Even as a kid I knew something wasn't right when so much of the Jetsons' world was mixed with a musical group which was originally rooted in the (then) present.

I personally don't know if revisiting the Jetsons in '74 would have succeeded either - considering the mixed results with a grown Pebbles & Bamm Bamm. If given the choice, I'd have preferred to see them than this drek!

I had heard the idea was to make Judy a reporter while Elroy was in HS, but Jane and George were still in the wings. Perhaps Judy would have been a bit like a detective investigating various stories. I don't mind that - or the idea of her being married to Jet Screamer either. Something else: The character of Ruben Kincade in "2200 AD" looks a lot like an older George Jetson don't you think? It make sense now - since I thought he looked nothing like Dave Madden. I wouldn't be surprised if it was used to recycle some early designs.

The trouble with rebooting the Jetsons is that so much of their "future" was a 60s version of it. Compare it with our present - it looks nothing like it! Some things came to pass like big screen TVs and "visiphones" in the form of camera phones, etc. To reboot it would mean changing it based on how things might turn out in 100 years and it might age even worse! Look at the 80s episodes and you'll see how much 80s tech is in a show which makes it more dated than the 60s episodes!

hobbyfan said...

A music reporter, like for a knock-off of Rolling Stone, would've been a good career gig for Judy, too.

Recall also that Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm were given the Scooby-Doo treatment, rebooted as teen detectives in 1980, but it didn't last.