Long before The Simpsons took American prime time by storm, a slightly less dysfunctional cartoon family blazed the trial for generation crossing animated antics.
Inspired by the classic Jackie Gleeson hit, The Honeymooners, in 1960 academy award winning animators of Tom and Jerry, William Hannah and Joseph Barbera created a satirical animated series originally to be called 'The Flagstones.' The Flagstones underwent a name change to The Flintstones, and the legend of Bedrock County and its immortal stone-aged inhabitants was born. Through the gruff, grumpy, but ultimately likeable character of Fred Flintstone, along with his long suffering wife Wilma and best friends Barney and Betty Rubble, the viewers were introduced to a Stone Age which bore startling similarities to their own sophisticated 60's lifestyles. Although the animation was far removed from the golden days of Hollywood theatrical quality, it nevertheless had a charm and inventiveness which was to help cement the foundations for the series ultimate success. Not that the success came immediately. Initially at least the series received much critical hostility as illustrated by the New York Times branding it an 'inked disaster.' However, the series by its second season fared much better with the viewers and was ultimately to prove its critics wrong by being nominated, and winning, a coveted Golden Globe award.
Change was a key to the show's success during its six year run. In 1963 Wilma finally gave birth to a daughter named Pebbles. (A first for television animation at the time). Later, the core cast was expanded further by the Rubble's adoption of Bam Bam, a foundling with extraordinary strength. Although the original series ended in 1966 the format has been revived by the Hannah/Barbera studio numerous times since in varying permutations but without the sharply satirical edge which had made it an adult favourite, and while a major live action movie version starring John Goodman as Fred may have been an enjoyable romp for the kids, it wasn't a patch on the original. The Flintstones deserves its classic status on the merit of it's skilful blend of original writing and pleasingly rounded animated characters, for six years American prime time television was, indeed, a 'Yabba, Dabba, Doo' time.
The Flinstones Theme Tune
"Flintstones... Meet the Flintstones,
They're a modern stoneage family.
From the town of Bedrock,
They're a page right out of history.
Let's ride with the family down the street.
Through the courtesy of Fred's two feet.
When you're with the Flintstones,
Have a yabba dabba doo time,
A dabba doo time,
We'll have a gay old time."
Published on December 12th, 2018. Noel Onely.