The Flintstones (ABC, 1960-1966)
This is a look back at another cartoon, it’s one that was originally on TV a rather long time ago, and this year is its 60th anniversary. I’m not usually so familiar with shows from as long ago as this, but it has been repeated so many times since, meaning that several generations of viewers will know this one. Firstly, it is noted as being just about the very first attempt at an animated show being shown in a primetime slot in America.
Also, it’s another one of those shows that is so well known that it’s difficult to know what angle to take because people will already know its story. For example, The Flintstones is a Hanna-Barbera cartoon that was set in Bedrock a rather long time ago in the Stone Age and featured the adventures of a family and their friends. But you already knew that. In fact I know you already knew that.
This is because once on the daytime game show Pointless, I remember a moment where a contestant gave an answer that scored 100 points, meaning that everyone in the survey knew the right answer, the opposite of what they are supposed to achieve. So that must mean that it’s a piece of knowledge that literary everyone knows, and should be put on a list of the only things in life that are really worth knowing. I say all this because there was a question about who the main character in The Flintstones was, and all 100 correctly said Fred, so if you all know that already, what else can I say?
You probably know too that Fred’s wife is Wilma, and their next door neighbours are the Rubbles. The show’s characters were loosely based on the sitcom The Honeymooners. It’s a show that I’ve not ever seen much myself, but it was one of the most successful in helping to establish American TV in the 50s, and it was shown in this country on BBC2 in the late-80s/early-90s.
Here’s something that you won’t know about the show, which is how I got into it. I first remember watching The Flintstones in the late-80s, when it was shown after CBBC ended (I don’t think that it was ever shown as part of CBBC itself) and although I wasn’t that old I do remember enjoying it. After a while though, the repeat of Neighbours was put into this slot and the ratings soared, so it moved off to various other timeslots, and everyone had a yabba-dabba-doo time.
There were 166 episodes of The Flintstones in six series, and this total wasn’t surpassed by a primetime animated show until the The Simpsons about 30 years later. And since the show ended in 1966, there have been a huge amount of spin-offs almost right up to this day, along with two live-action films that did rather well. The show has often been parodied in Family Guy, and a while ago there was a rumour that Seth Macfarlane was working on a revival, but this didn’t happen.
I also remember when I had Cartoon Network they often dedicated rather a lot of their schedule over to showing various original episodes and spin-offs, and they were still enjoyable to watch all these years on. And of course plenty of episodes have been released on DVD. After The Flintstones was a big success, Hanna-Barbera decided to launch a new cartoon about a family that was at the other end of the timescale, way into the future, which was The Jetsons, and I’ll review that one soon too.