by Erika Cox
Inspired by the 1950s show, The Honeymooners, The Flintstones joined the ABC primetime lineup for six years from 1960 to 1966, becoming one of the first sitcom cartoons to ever be successful with an adult audience. Today, it is still run in syndication and is loved by adults and children alike.
The Flintstones are a prehistoric family who lives in the town of Bedrock. The show is largely an allegory to the American lifestyle in the mid 1900s, and their prehistoric world is a bit of a fantasy, to say the least. The humans in the show coexist with dinosaurs, woolly mammoths, and other animals that were extinct long before human beings appeared on the scene, making the show whimsical and fun.
The Flintstone family and their friends also use a number of modern devices that are simply adapted to their Stone Age environment. For example, they drive cars that are made of stone and use their feet to power them. A number of devices used animals as power, such as their airplane, which was really a pterodactyl and their vacuum cleaner, which was really a baby woolly mammoth. In a running gag, the animals would typically look at the camera and say to the audience “It’s a living!” with a shrug.
Because the show was set in the Stone Age, the writers typically punned a number of other people and place names with “rock” terms. For example, San Antonio didn’t exist, but the characters could travel to Sand-and-Stony-o. Instead of meeting Perry Mason, Perry Masonry was on the show and Hollyrock was the Stone Age equivalent to Hollywood.
The family in this television show was the Flintstones, with Fred Flinstone as the patriarch of the family, but the household being run mainly by his patient wife Wilma. The two had a daughter named Pebbles and lived next to their good friends Barney and Betty Rubble and their adopted son Bamm-Bamm. The Flintstones had a pet dinosaur/dog named Dino and Fred worked for the mean stone quarry boss, Mr. Slate.
A number of talented voice actors works on The Flintstones, including Alan Reed as Fred and Jean Vander Pyl as Wilma. Mel Blanc was the famous voice of the bumbling Barney, and his wife Betty was voiced by Bea Benaderet until season four, when Gerry Jounson took over. A number of others have voiced the characters in more recent shows, since many of the original voice actors have since passed away.
Although the setting was strange, The Flintstones (which was originally going to be called The Flagstones), was a typical 1960s sitcom, like Leave it to Beaver, where the characters solved problems and learned lessons within a 30-minute time frame. Most of the storylines wrapped up nicely, but there were a few that followed a number of episodes, including those surrounding the birth of Pebbles and the family’s adjustment to parenting.
The Rubbles, unable to have children of their own, adopt the playful Bamm-Bamm, who becomes quick friends with Pebbles. After the original show was canceled, the two got their own series, which was short-lived and aired only 16 episodes.
However, this was not the only thing spawning from the original show. In 1972, The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show combined with Segments featuring Fred and Barney and was called The Flintstones Comedy Hour. Later, The New Fred and Barney Show aired, along with the original show finding a new home during Saturday morning cartoons. During the 1980s, The Flintstone Kids aired, featuring the original characters as children, as many cartoons were doing at the time.
Movies were also released featuring the Flintstones and the Rubbles. A Man Called Flintstone in 1966 was the Columbia Pictures movie that ended the series with Fred as an international spy and mystery man. In 1994, The Flintstones Christmas Carol was released, along with the live action film The Flintstones in the same year, which featured John Goodman and Rick Moranis as Fred and Barney and Elizabeth Perkins and Rosie O’Donnell as Wilma and Betty. The sequel, Viva Rock Vegas was released in 2001.
The Flintstones is today a cultural iconic television show for both kids and adults. A number of products, including vitamins and cereals, feature Flintstone characters, and the phrase “Yabba Dabba Do!” is known in households across the nation.
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