December 21, 2019
(ABC, September 30, 1960-April 1, 1966)
For the history of The Flintstones, check out the post here.
Originally beginning life as The Flagstones, The Flintstones was meant to be Hanna-Barbera’s answer to shrugging off its reputation as a producer of strictly kiddie fare by airing as a primetime sitcom. Heavily influenced by The Honeymooners (to the point that series creator and star Jackie Gleason considered suing the company) and set in a modernized version of the Stone Age, the show focused on overweight and overbearing caveman Fred Flintstone (Alan Reed) who would often drag his dim-witted best friend and neighbor Barney Rubble (Mel Blanc, Daws Butler for several episodes and the pilot) into various get-rich-quick schemes. Along for the ride were their long-suffering wives, Wilma (Jean Vander Pyl) and Betty (Bea Benaderet through season 4, Gerry Johnson for the remainder). Running gags in the series included names of people and places that featured some kind of rock or mineral word, modern conveniences made out of stone such as newspapers, chairs and furniture, animals acting as appliances (and complaining about it to the audience), and cars driven via foot-power.
The Flintstones debuted on ABC on September 30, 1960, and proved a hit; easily securing its desired adult demographic. As the series went on, however, changes were made. In the third season, the Flintstones and the Rubbles both gained children in the form of Pebbles (Pyl) and the super-strong Bamm-Bamm (Don Messick). The Rubbles also got their own pet, a Hoppasaurus named Hoppy (Mesccik), to compliment the Flintstones’ snorkasaurus, Dino (Blanc). The series also gained its memorable theme, “Meet the Flintstones”, performed by the Skip-Jacks and a 22-piece jazz band. For the final season, an alien named The Great Gazoo (Harvey Korman) came to the town of Bedrock and used his magic to help Fred and Barney learn valuable moral lessons. With these changes, the tone of the series softened and the writing skewed more juvenile; becoming the antithesis of the reason Hanna-Barbera created it. The show was quietly cancelled after 6 seasons and a theatrical film, becoming the longest-running primetime animated series until The Simpsons surpassed it in 1995. The series would go on to be more popular and profitable in syndicated reruns, leading to numerous spin-offs and revivals.