Animated tv series (1960-1966). Hanna-Barbera Productions with Screen Gems Presentations for ABC-TV. Produced by Joseph Barbera and William Hanna with Alan Dinehart and Alex Lovy. Directed by Barbera and Hanna. Writers included R S Allen,Tony Benedict, Harvey Eisenberg, Joanna Lee, Michael Maltese and Charles Snow. Cast includes Bea Benadaret, Mel Blanc, Daws Butler, Harvey Korman (occasional), Don Messick, Alan Reed, John Stephenson (occasional) and Jean Vandyr Pyl. 166 30-minute episodes. Colour.
In the Stone Age town of Bedrock, two middle-class families – the Flintstones, Fred (Reed) and Wilma (Vandyr Pyl), and the Rubbles, Barney (Blanc) and Betty (Benadaret, then Johnson) – experience everyday sitcom problems from a Prehistoric SF perspective. Fred works at the Slate Rock and Gravel Company for Mr Slate (Stephenson) operating a Dinosaur-powered "Bronto-Crane". The series was a mild but successful Satire of 1960s US middle-class society, using such "natural" alternatives to Technology throughout. The most famous of these were the foot-powered automobiles, with variations used for aeroplanes, elevators and so forth. Airing in prime time for its entire run, the series quickly became a major hit with both adults and children. Many contemporary guest stars were featured, as themselves or under such transparent stone-age pseudonyms as "Ann-Margrock" (Ann-Margaret) and Stoney Curtis (Tony Curtis). The Flintstones later have a daughter, Pebbles (also Vandyr Pyl), while the Rubbles adopt their son Bamm-Bamm (Messick) in a subtle allusion to infertility which went over the heads of the television censors of the day. Mel Blanc suffered a near-fatal auto accident, and was replaced for a time by Daws Butler as Barney. After the addition of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, the series became gradually more juvenile in tone, and ended in 1966. An added character late in its run was the supposed Alien The Great Gazoo (Korman), a small, green humanoid generally travelling by UFO and eventually revealed to be a visitor from the future: Gazoo used various Superpowers to help the Flintstones, usually with disastrous results.
The Flintstones has remained a major cultural influence, spawning various Comics, Toys and Television sequels from the 1970s onward, and showing every indication of playing in syndication indefinitely. Perhaps inspired by Jackie Gleason's comedy The Honeymooners (1951-1955) – Barbera and Hanna made conflicting statements on this point – it may be regarded as the direct ancestor of The Simpsons (1989-current) and other present prime-time animated series. The series was rapidly followed by the animated film The Man Called Flintstone (1966; vt The Flintstones in The Man Called Flintstone). A futuristic sf counterpart to The Flintstones, also produced by Hanna-Barbera, was the less successful The Jetsons (1962-1963); there was a made-for-television crossover movie, The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones (1987). Two live-action spinoff films, The Flintstones (1994) and The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000), appeared to mixed reviews. [GFi]
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