There wouldn’t be “The Simpsons” without “The Flintstones.”
Upping the television animation game, the Stone Age family came to prime-time television in 1960 and cracked the door for others. Now, the complete series is going to be released on Blu-Ray Oct. 27. That means you get all 166 episodes, two films and some fun extras.
If you weren’t a child of the ‘60s, you don’t realize how big this really was. When Wilma was pregnant, contests were held to name the baby. Stars delighted when it adapted their personalities. Films – and other series – were a natural.
Want another first? “The Flintstones” was the first animated series to be nominated for a prime-time Emmy as Best Comedy.
What made the cartoon so delightful was its ability to view prehistoric life through a ‘60s lens. Fred and Wilma’s house teemed with clever devices – phones that talked, ottomans that moved, cars that required foot power to accelerate. They sent up places like Las Vegas (Rock Vegas, anyone?), complained about life at the quarry and figured out a way to make dinosaurs friendly. Dino was just as loved as Barney, Betty and their son, Bamm-Bamm.
Because it was a hand-drawn animated series, “The Flintstones” bubbled with the creativity Saturday morning cartoons couldn’t boast. Sure, characters’ movements were limited, but they were set in a world that others couldn’t have imagined.
Naturally, a space-age version, “The Jetsons,” soon followed. As clever as that series was, it didn’t last as long and spark the zeitgeist the way “The Flintstones” did. For six seasons, kids and their parents were enamored with the family antics. Then the other series arrived (“The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show,” among them) and tons of merchandising. A theme park -- Bedrock City in Custer, S.D – let fans walk along the town streets and ride in the Flintstone mobile. The park closed in 2015, but it sparked plenty of memories for Midwestern travelers.
In the new Blu-Ray and Digital HD collection, fans will also get “The Man Called Flintstone” and “The Flintstones and WWE: Stone Age Smackdown!” The first was released in theaters; the second was direct to DVD. Both helped extend the characters’ reach.
Because it introduced plenty of catchphrases (“yabba dabba doo,” for example), “The Flintstones” proved just how powerful animation could be on television. No doubt, it was part of the pitch when Fox was approached about “The Simpsons.”
Today, it’s one of those landmark series, able to crack a door for others – even Beavis and Butthead.
Watch the series and you’ll understand just how daring its creators were. (Sure, they also put Fred in a cigarette ad, but this was unplowed territory.)
If you've got a relative who grew up in the 1960s, consider this as a possible holiday present. If you watch it together, you'll be extolling the "modern Stone-Age family," too.
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