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The Flintstones – The Complete Third Season (A PopEntertainment.com TV on DVD Review)

The Flintstones - The Complete Third Season

The Flintstones – The Complete Third Season

The Flintstones

The Complete Third Season (1962-1963) (Warner Brothers-2005)

YABBA DABBA DOO …

Everyone’s favorite modern stone age family are celebrated on The Flintstones – The Complete Third Season. Focusing on construction worker Fred Flintstone and his curvaceous wife Wilma, his “bestest” buddy Barney Rubble and his better half Betty; the Flintstones took the changing mores and sexual and financial landscape of the early sixties and transplanted them into a cartoon world.

The show was dreamt up by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera , the creative duo who also brought us Tom & Jerry, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, Squiddley Diddley, Magilla Gorilla and Atom Ant. The Flintstones premiered on prime time (a then unheard-of time period for an animated series) in 1960 and became one of the most popular and critically acclaimed shows on television for the next several years.

By the time Hanna-Barbera reached Season Three (1962-1963), they had the machine down to a science. Lead character Fred Flintstone (voiced by the brilliant Alan Reed) is an obvious knockoff off on Jackie Gleason’s Honeymooners character, Ralph Kramden. Fred is the everyman, a regular blue-collar ham and egger with a good heart but a propensity for screwing up everything he touches. The vulnerability of the family patriarch (in an era when most TV dads were benevolent, perfect citizens like Ward Cleaver, Dr. Alex Stone or Jim Anderson)  is one of the keys that made Fred Flintstone much more than a one-dimensional character. Let’s face it, for better or worse, there’s a little of Fred Flintstone in all of us. The episodes found on Season Three resonate with enough pratfalls, witty repartee and zany Fred and Barney hijinks to keep you laughing until your belly aches.

Included on the 4-DVD set are 28 classic episodes, plus a bonus look at Flintstones collectibles. One of the standouts episodes on the collection is “The Twitch,” an episode which pokes fun at the then-current dance craze popularized by Philadelphia bred singer, Chubby Checker his the smash singles, “The Twist” and “Let’s Twist Again.” In this Stone Age version, through a weird series of circumstances, Fred has to fill in for the twist king after the singer loses his voice at a benefit concert for Wilma’s Ladies Club. Fred takes his place at the mike, long-hair wig in place atop his head, and performs “Bedrock Twitch,” a frenetic blend of Fifties rockabilly and slippery R&B.

Meanwhile, “Dial S For Suspicion,” continues in the show’s time-honored tradition of spoofing cultural icons. This episode playfully skewers the Alfred Hitchcock thriller, Dial M For Murder, upending that classic film’s labyrinthine criminal plot with a comical twist.  Pop culture also was on the receiving end in the memorable installment “Wilma, The Maid.” As was the series’ long-lived tradition, they lampooned current celebs with characters whose names were decidedly stony variations on their monikers (i.e. Ann-Margrock, Cary Granite, Stony Curtis, etc.). This one features a disgruntled maid known as Lollobrickida, an obvious spoof of Italian pin-up queen, Gina Lollabrigida.

This collection also features one of the most historic episodes in Flintstones lore. Not blind to the fact that babies were always a ratings bonanza in the early days of TV (two words: Little Ricky); “Dress Rehearsal” chronicled the frenetic birth of the Flintstones’ lovable, constantly cooing daughter, Pebbles. This particular chapter was such a runaway success that it yielded yet another addition, this time to the Rubble family. Betty and Barney’s son was named Bamm-Bamm. For some reason the infant was blessed with super-human strength (Barney’s a tough mofo, but really…) and had dialogue limited to his grating trademark yelp, “Bam! Bam!”

The show may seem strangely timeless, but what doesn’t stand the test of time as well is the actual animation. The drawing suffers from the financial constraints placed upon the Hanna- Barbera team who were forced to crank out episode after episode in an dizzyingly expedient manner. Therefore, to achieve the show’s trademark look, a primitive animation technique was utilized. There was little movement to the characters and many of the set backdrops were used over and over again. While minimalizing man-hours and helping the producers meet deadlines, it certainly does detract from the effectiveness of the overall visual presentation.

That said, if the look of the show is a bit dated and primitive, (unlike the imaginative vibrant animation technique used to create the Warner Brothers cartoons, for instance) it’s narrative voice is still as current as the rocking rag-top that Fred uses to cruise the streets of Bedrock. The Flintstones stands as one of the sixties most-beloved TV programs, continuing to attract legions of new fans and inspiring such spin-offs as 1971’s The Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm Show. The success of The Flintstones also ignited a bonanza of merchandising opportunities; selling the Stones-crazed kids all sorts of things they didn’t really need, like vitamins, cereal, board games, dolls, pillows, coloring books, cookie jars and much more.

Marketing was just a happy circumstance of the series’ following, though. What makes Fred, Wilma, Betty, Barney, Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm (and yes, even eventually less-inspired characters like the Great Gazoo) vital is that they touched off a revolution in animation. Cartoons were no longer just for kids. The Flintstones (together with The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle) blasted down the cartoon door, helping to legitimize animation in an adult landscape. No longer solely relegated to Saturday morning fare, The Flintstones made it possible for such successful animated favorites as The Jetsons, The Simpsons, Ren & Stimpy and Family Guy to follow in their shoes. Okay, the Flintstones and the Rubbles didn’t wear shoes, but you know what I mean…

Ken Sharp

Copyright ©2005   PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved. Posted February 13, 2005.

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