Hanna-Barbera Productions (September 30 1960 – April 1 1966), Warner Home Video (October 28 2008), 24 discs in custom packaging, 4258 mins plus supplements, 1.33:1 original full frame ratio, Dolby Digital Mono, Not Rated (nothing offensive), Retail: $129.98
Flintstones, meet the Flintstones – they’re the modern stone-age 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-dadda-doo time, a dabba-doo time – you’ll have a gay old time!
I defy anyone to be reading those momentous lyrics and not be humming the theme music to Hanna-Barbera’s groundbreaking animated prime-time series in the back of their mind. Now, for the first time in one package, all six seasons of 166 episodes have been gathered together on DVD which, considering each one played the tune twice (at the beginning and the end) in the final four seasons of the show, means you’ll hear that song a good couple of hundred times! So come and have a yabba-dabba gay old time with Fred, Wilma, Barney, Betty and, yes, Dino, in the series that – like the song itself – never grows old!
The Sweatbox Review:
Old Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera ended up having quite the career, if continued success is the barometer one measures these things by. Having started out as animation assistants at various studios (Bill at Harmon-Ising, Joe with TerryToons), they finally met when, through various circumstances, they reached MGM in the 1930s. It wasn’t long before they’d moved up the production line to become story artists, planning and directing a short they’d come up with, featuring a cat and mouse act. Puss Gets The Boot became MGM’s first hit of what would soon be called the Tom & Jerry series, leading to almost 120 further cartoons over seventeen years and the first of an incredible eleven Oscar nominations – with seven wins – not bad for a series of shorts that basically relied on the same one-joke setup time after time. With the leaving of their stable mate Tex Avery and retirement of MGM’s cartoon department producer Fred Quimby, Hanna and Barbera took on production duties too, but their new found head roles were short-lived when MGM decided they could reissue the pair’s decade-old library of cartoons instead of creating new ones. Bill and Joe got their walking papers.
Having been the masters of their own ship, Hanna-Barbera weren’t looking to join another studio and start back at the bottom again. Bill and Joe saw a growing market in television, which had so far not tapped in to original animated programming because of the vast budgets needed, and set up their own shop. They reasoned that “limited animation”, where character movement was more restrained such as seen in the theatrical output from the UPA Studio, might lend itself to the smaller screens of the day, the lack of detail perhaps working to their advantage in not cluttering the viewing space. Smart and witty scriptwriting would replace any slides in animation excellence, and after their debut show, Ruff And Reddy in 1957, Bill and Joe’s reputation was assured. Over the next fifty years they churned out series after series of new, exclusive to television programming. Their business sense, through various mergers, led them to create characters they owned rather than licensing (for the most part) properties from other sources, resulting in a them being able to sell their entire library of assets to co-establish the Cartoon Network in the 1990s, where they remained consultants to Warner Bros. until their deaths. Pretty good going, by anyone’s book!
Back in the 1960s, buoyed by an initial success in television where their shows ran during early evening hours on weekdays before the big-name “prime time” shows, Hanna-Barbera’s ambitious natures had them pushing the envelope: the studio never abandoned completely their theatrical ties (producing the little remembered Loopy De Loop shorts and a later feature outing for one of their runaway television successes, Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear!) and they were eager to make their mark in other areas too. Clearly there was a space for family animation that broke free of the kiddie cartoon confines: their sales agent John Mitchell convinced Bill and Joe to pitch for a prime time animation slot, an unheard of move for a regular running half-hour weekly show. They knew animated animals were out, for being too similar to the product being produced already, but latched on to a cartoon version of Jackie Gleason’s phenomenally successful domestic sitcom The Honeymooners with a unique cartoon spin: primitive Alpha Male Gleason’s character would become a caveman for real! It was a sure-fire hit – mixing the most-watched show of the day with the kind of setting only animation could provide; Hanna-Barbera were ready to present their prehysterical comedy…the Flagstones!?
Bill and Joe struggled to sell the networks on the show, but eventually ABC took the chance and, after a couple of name changes (The Flagstones nixed for being used in the Hi And Lois strips; another name, The Gladstones, rejected for sounding too “rich”), was rewarded with a fairly instant hit. An Emmy nomination (for best comedy program) ensured it made it to a second season, by which time audiences and critics had responded favorably, proving that animation could work in prime time and wasn’t just for kids, with the show picking up a coveted Golden Globe award! Later on in re-runs, the other networks were more than eager to share in The Flintstones’ success, with NBC running the show until 1970, when a “sequel” series featuring the Flintstones and Rubbles’ grown up children aired. An alternate, futuristic version of the same premise, The Jetsons came along in 1962, but never caught on with audiences until much later in syndication. So what was it about everyday caveman Fred that caught our attentions?
The genesis for the show can perhaps be traced back to the Fleischer Studios’ short-lived Stone Age Cartoon series from the 1940s, but the clear indicators are a 1954 Looney Tunes cartoon, Wild Wild World, which places modern-day conveniences into a prehistoric setting, and a cartoon from MGM the following year, Tex Avery’s The First Bad Man, with designs by Ed Benedict, who would later come on to provide The Flintstones style. The Honeymooners was obviously an influence too (having also been lampooned by Robert McKimson in three Looney Tunes cartoons featuring The Honeymousers), but through its initial six season run, The Flintstones became its own thing, uniquely creating running storylines that gripped us all, most notably Wilma’s becoming pregnant in the third season: I still remember being totally wrapped up in the plot when it replayed many years later. Fred and Wilma’s marriage went through its ups and downs, just as many real families’ lives did, and their relationships with next door neighbors Barney and Betty Rubble felt just as genuine. Though not prehistorically correct (man and dinosaur never shared the planet, of course, but it’s these anachronisms that stood the show apart and gave it the uniqueness), it didn’t matter that these folks lived millions of years ago…they were you and me, the family across the street, the every(cave)man.
It’s just this normalcy in an extraordinary setting that gives The Flintstones its winning foundations: anything other than something primarily recognizable in its fantasy world would not have given us characters we could identify with and therefore care about. Fred himself is Mr Average, a blue-collar worker who works down at the Slate Rock & Gravel Company with neighbor Barney, both dreaming of a better life for them and their wives (and eventually children), the American dream re-writ but for the inclusion of a dinosaur as a pet! These stone-age gags are the fantastical elements that made The Flintstones both a clever show for adults, and a fun one for younger audiences; most famous, of course, are the cars which, before the motor has been invented, require the quick-stepped feet of the driver to bring it up to speed.
Air travel is in effect too, but here you’ll find the tourists flying in crates strapped to the back of giant pterodactyls; answerphone services come courtesy of parrot-like dictabirds and garbage disposal provided by the always hungry, eat anything creature under the sink. When it comes to music, horn billed birds provide the stylus for the records (though where the sound comes from I wouldn’t care to hazard a guess!), an often used gag in the show that oddly now seems prehistoric itself – what’s a “record” nowadays!?
Visually, these are the touches that offer the most entertainment value to all ages, and the artists were more than adept at coming up with more and more of them, Hanna-Barbera being lucky in being able to bring in much of the theatrical talent that had found itself out of work following the closure of the studios’ animation units, among them Looney Tunes writers Mike Maltese and Warren Foster, and directors Alex Lovy, Art Davis, Disney’s Charles Nichols, and Dan Gordon, who became credited for much of the success of The Flintstones’ first season. They also manage the near-impossible balance between the typically routine plots (usually a series of domesticated issues and misunderstandings which lead to neighbor squabbles before an inevitable resolve) and the level of limited animation: used creatively and in the right way, there’s no reason to dismiss such work as long as the characters and situations are appealing. And in The Flintstones, they were: a couple of much later live-action feature films actually fail to add anything to the concept despite whizz-bang CGI enhancements. The characters just don’t need high-tech gadgetry to work, they’re better off stuck in the stone age!
The Flintstones’ natural lineage finds ourselves being taken to the likes of The Simpsons and Family Guy, two animated prime time comedies that owe much if not all of their existence to Hanna-Barbera’s rock breaking classic (it was, until Matt Groening came along, the longest running animated program in prime time). The Flintstones would even go as far in its prehistoric mocking to include references to celebrities of the day (with such stone-aged renaming as Stoney Curtis), therefore also providing the template for these later shows’ random style of pop-culture referencing. And, like The Simpsons, the first season of The Flintstones underwent a number of refining tweaks during the first few episodes. Indeed, it’s during the first season that the show is still finding its caveman mojo: shown here corresponding to the original airdates rather than production order, some elements can appear to be unsettled (Fred appears to work first for Rockhead & Quarry Cave Construction before finding more secure work at Slate’s). Barney sometimes works there with Fred and other times they have separate jobs; Barney’s log car is used before the famous Flintstonemobile debuts, and the pair are associated with a different private members’ group before being established later as long-time constituents of the Loyal Order Of Water Buffalos Lodge).
Character designs alter slightly, too: the first show produced but the third to be aired, The Swimming Pool (a typical neighbor dispute that may have set up both characters as too obstinate), was still finding Barney Rubble between his appearance in the original Flagstones pilot and eventual Flintstones look, and this season is also notable for Mel Blanc’s rather more nasally Barn, sounding more wiseacre (and sometimes Mexican!?) than the later dopey but dependable friend that we remember with the he-he-he laugh. Most unusual is the original opening, not seen since original airings and eventually replaced with the third season’s “Meet The Flintstones at the movies” sequence in syndication: here it’s stock library music accompanying Fred on a drive around Bedrock, which takes some time getting used to, though with its car chasing around town, racing into the parking garage and a leap to the television sofa, its influence is still clearly being felt in a certain yellow family’s main titles today.
Disc One: The Flintstone Flyer (the second show produced, with the first “yabba-dabba-doo!”), Hot Lips Hannigan, The Swimming Pool (the actual first production episode), No Help Wanted (although he featured in the titles as a blue dinosaur, this was Dino’s first purple appearance), The Split Personality, The Monster From The Tar Pits (first of Fred’s many brushes with film fame, and a “celebrity appearance” by Cary Granite) and The Baby Sitters.
Disc Two: At The Races, The Engagement Ring, Hollyrock Here I Come, The Golf Champion, The Sweepstakes Ticket, The Drive-In and The Prowler. Disc Three: The Girls’ Night Out (Fred’s first brush with recording artist fame), Arthur Quarry’s Dance Class, The Big Bank Robbery, The Snorkasaurus Hunter (Fred and Barn go hunting, but end up with a new blue pet referred to as Dino even though he had already appeared previously; in later shows, Dino again changes color and loses his wiseacre speaking voice), The Hot Piano, The Hypnotist and Love Letters On The Rocks. Disc Four, Side A: The Tycoon (Fred’s first doppelganger story), The Astr’Nuts, The Long Long Weekend, In The Dough (not for the last time, Fred and Barn drag it up), The Good Scout, Rooms For Rent and Fred Flintstone: Before And After.
If it ain’t b-rock, don’t fix it! With the elements in place, the second season played as more of the same while uniquely developing the characters and storylines further, embellishing backstories and building up the world in a fuller sense. The inconsistencies of the first episodes were nailed down, even if the main titles still show Fred clocking out of his first location of employment at Rockhead & Quarry rather than Slate Rock & Gravel…one of a handful of continuity errors that persisted in the show itself. Mr Slate himself still finds himself at odds with the writers just exactly what his role is – and there’s even the hint that Barney may well be his nephew, though this is never explored – but none of this actually seemed to matter, and no one wrote in to complain! Season Two also saw the first expansion of family, with Wilma’s Mother Pearl Slaghoople turning up and making herself welcome in Fred’s home in the last few episodes.
An interesting note is that, coming in 1961, the season features alternate episodes featuring Daws Butler taking on Barney Rubble duties, following Mel Blanc’s life-threatening car crash. Blanc often toyed with Rubble’s vocals during the first season, and would record his vocals for a whole host of assignments from his recovery bed for the next couple of years, but whether it was a production decision to soften Barney’s vocals, whether it was Blanc’s own choice or whether it was just Butler’s attempt to refine what Blanc had been doing and Blanc deciding to go along with it thereafter, it’s unmistakable that Barn becomes the Rubble we know and love during the first few shows in this season. Gone is the scratchier and wisecracking voice from the first season, replaced with the he-he-heh laugh and smiley outlook that continues to carry Barney through incarnations of the character today.
Disc One: The Hit Songwriter (with Hoagy Carmichael, the only guest not to have his name stone-aged), Droop-Along Flintstone (with a terrific Grand Canyon gag), The Missing Bus, Alvin Brickrock Presents (a Hitchcock spoof, naturally), Fred Flintstone Woos Again and The Rock Quarry Story. Disc Two: The Soft Touchables (Fred and Barney become crime detectives), Flintstone Of Prinstone (back to school for Flintstone), The Little White Lie, Social Climbers, The Beauty Contest and The Masquerade Ball. Disc Three: The Picnic, The House Guest, The X-Ray Story, The Gambler, A Star Is Almost Born and The Entertainer. Disc Four, Side A: Wilma’s Vanishing Money, Feudin’ And Fussin’, Impractical Joker, Operation Barney, The Happy Household, Fred Strikes Out and This Is Your Lifesaver. Side B: Trouble-In-Law (Pearl Slaghoople arrives), The Mailman Cometh, The Rock Vegas Story, Divided We Sail, Kleptomaniac Caper, Latin Lover and Take Me Out To The Ball Game.
There are big changes afoot in Bedrock in this third year round for The Flintstones! Most obvious of all is the new opening, from the third episode onwards: the now legendary Meet The Flintstones song accompanying the characters as they all rush down to the drive-in theater to catch the latest episode. This introduction’s lyrics was based on a music cue that had been used from the earliest shows, so to audiences of the time it probably didn’t seem like a huge shift: Fred is still seen driving his car and eventually arrives at a place where the camera zooms into a screen, both mainstays of the original titles where Fred watched the new episode on television. In the closing, it’s still based on Fred putting out the “cat”, actually a sabre-toothed tiger named Babypuss who otherwise strangely rarely appeared in any shows, and being accidentally locked out, waking up the neighbors with his perpetual cry of “Wilmaaaaa!”
Also in season three, there’s the introduction of a real story arc in the form of Wilma becoming pregnant, a successful move to introduce a new angle and keep the program from repeating itself. A string of shows were largely shifted to this primary focus alongside Fred and Barney’s antics, making it clear that Fred at least would have to become a family man and refrain from his unpredictable activities. Though Pebbles wouldn’t come along until well into two-thirds of the run and Wilma wouldn’t exactly show during her pregnancy until the very few episodes prior to giving birth, Fred’s Mother-In-Law Pearl Slaghoople was an on and off mainstay during the season as she helped around the house and looked down on his harebrained schemes disdainfully. Many of the stories have a baby theme, pointing to what was to finally come in Dress Rehearsal, though oddly once Pebbles has joined the family, Wilma’s Mother is swapped for an equally stern care nurse. With a new little girl in the family, she features heavily in the final few episodes, bringing a fresh dynamic to the show.
Disc One: Dino Goes Hollyrock, Fred’s New Boss, Barney The Invisible, The Bowling Ballet, The Twitch and Here’s Snow In Your Eyes. Disc Two: The Buffalo Convention, The Little Stranger, Baby Barney, Hawaiian Escpade, Ladies’ Day and Nothing But The Tooth (with a rare cameo for pet cat Babypuss). Disc Three: High School Fred (back to back to school), Dial “S” For Suspicion (another mystery thriller homage), Flashgun Freddie, The Kissing Burglar, Wilma The Maid and The Hero.
Disc Four, Side A: The Surprise (Wilma reveals she’s expecting), Mother-In-Law’s Visit, Foxy Grandma, Fred’s New Job and Dress Rehearsal (the big day, when Fred tries to make arrangements for the delivery of the baby but naturally winds up more nervous than Wilma). Side B: Carry On Nurse Fred, Ventriloquist Barney, The Big Move (which, coming from what looks like videotape from Hanna-Barbera’s Taft-owned years, is missing the opening teaser scenes and seems to be trimmed from the usual 26 minutes to less than 23), Swedish Visitors (on a visit to Jellyrock Park it’s inevitable that Hanna-Barbera’s Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo make a brief picnic swiping cameo) and The Birthday Party.
The show won plaudits for dealing with the sensitive subject of infertility in its fourth year, when Barney and Betty became broody but found they could not have children (I always suspected that Barney Rubble wasn’t all the man he was cracked up to be). The Flintstones dealing with couples being unable to conceive was pretty courageous for a prime time show, not least one that was animated and appealed to more family members than strictly adults. This raised the opportunity to speak openly about such topics as adoption, a process that the Rubbles undertook and resulted in a happy ending for them when they were able to adopt baby Bamm-Bamm (as found on their doorstep after wishing on a star, his named confirmed after the mega-strong boy whacks Barn on the noggin with his trademark club). A further impact Pebbles clearly had on the show is seen from the opening frames: she is now integrated, by way of cleverly animating over existing shots, into the main titles.
Another female that got a lot of exposure from this season was Ann-Margret, Elvis’ Viva Las Vegas co-star and the hot lead of Bye Bye Birdie at the time. Stone-aged versions of big names would often pop up in the show, but this was the first time the actual star provided their voice as a featured character in the storyline instead of a cameo and got equal or more dominant billing in the publicity, and such as it was this show was moved from later in the run as planned and shown as the season premiere. Seasons Three and Four of The Flintstones arguably find the show running at full steam; the previous two seasons had allowed for smoothing out the character dynamics, and with children now in both families, the range of situations Fred and Barney could find themselves in opened up exponentially. When people think of “The Flintstones”, it’s this specific season that they’re fondly remembering!
Disc One: Ann-Margrock Presents, Groom Gloom (a dream-inspired flash forward to the future teenaged Pebbles shows), Little Bamm-Bamm (a particularly touching and no-nonsense episode in which the Rubbles attend the child welfare agency and must prove they would be suitable parents to the orphaned lad), Dino Disappears, Fred’s Monkeyshines (or “Flintstone Magoo”, more like!) and The Flintstone Canaries (marking the first time the three Rubbles join the Flintstones at the drive-in during the titles by way of a newly animated opening).
Disc Two: Glue For Two, Big League Freddie, Old Lady Betty (Wilma and Betty are well emancipated women, but this is a rare lead for a character often regulated to second fiddle), Sleep On Sweet Fred, Kleptomaniac Pebbles and Daddy’s Little Beauty. Disc Three: Daddies Anonymous, Peek-A-Boo Camera, Once Upon A Coward, Ten Little Flintstones (the ’Stone is cloned!), Fred El Terrifico and Bedrock Hillbillies (the first appearance of the Hatrocks). Disc Four, Side A: Flintstone And The Lion, Cave Scout Jamboree, Room For Two and Ladies’ Night At The Lodge. Side B: Reel Trouble, Son Of Rockzilla, Bachelor Daze and Operation Switchover.
With the babies becoming the focus of attention for much of the third and fourth seasons, The Flintstones found itself appealing to younger audiences as well as the adults, the result of which was an earlier time slot, by as much as two hours on some stations. As such the shows slowly found themselves slipping into slightly more fanciful scenarios than were usually accepted, and though there are still good episodes here, the centre of attention was often thrown on some supporting characters which, at times, felt in danger of unbalancing the program. Thus we have the introduction of more outlandish adventures and, most notably, the moving in of the Gruesomes, a reaction to the enormous success of The Addams Family, but not a bunch of relations that naturally seem to fit in around Bedrock.
Nevertheless, the show was comfortable enough to endure the odd hiccup (the Gruesomes were not mainstays of the show, just occasional guests) and was still powering along on the good will the of the previous two seasons, keeping up the feeling for the audience of spending time with an extended family thanks to the still warm relationships and episodes such as one marking Pebbles’ first birthday and another with the Flintstones and Rubbles celebrating Christmas (an elaborate special, with a fun reference to Hanna-Barbera’s merchandise). These shows kept things grounded amongst the more far-fetched (yes, even for The Flintstones) outings that included such fare as bumping into various monster movie spoof characters and situations, an incredible shrinking Fred, Flintstone and Rubble the racing team, the original “Fred Claus”, or time travellers to the 1964 World’s Fair!
Disc One: Hop Happy (the Rubbles’ Bamm-Bamm gets a hopping dinosaur pet), Monster Fred, Itty Bitty Fred, Pebbles’ Birthday Party (Babypuss not only makes a rare blink-and-you’ll-miss-him appearance here but also gets a line of dialogue!), Bedrock Rodeo Round-Up and Cinderellastone. Disc Two: A Haunted House Is Not A Home, Dr Sinister, The Gruesomes, The Most Beautiful Baby In Bedrock, Dino And Juliet (further additions to the family come in the form of Dino’s “puppies”) and King For A Night. Disc Three: Indianrockolis 500, Adobe Dick, Christmas Flintstone, Fred’s Flying Lesson, Fred’s Second Car and Time Machine. Disc Four, Side A: The Hatrocks And The Gruesomes (a follow-up to Season Four’s Bedrock Hillbillies, featuring both families), Moonlight And Maintenance, Sheriff For A Day, Deep In The Heart Of Texarock, The Rolls Rock Caper and Superstone. Side B: Fred Meets Hercurock and Surfin’ Fred (Wilma and Betty in bikinis!) with a note-perfect Beach Boys pastiche.
The previous season of The Flintstones contained a few more out of the ordinary plots, but remained the program we’d loved from the beginning, but this sixth and final season infamously sees the show going off the rails and running on empty. Though still far from jumping the shark altogether, the introduction of The Great Gazoo, a slightly nutty and whimsical being from Zetox, made it all too clear that original situations for Fred and Barney were becoming more and more thin on the ground. The introduction of this further fantasy element, and one too out of Fred’s world even for The Flintstones, completes the unbalancing that had begun in Season Five, and results in a surprisingly juvenile set of episodes that certainly wouldn’t have grabbed the attention from adults had it been the first to air.
Differences in the animation abound too, most perceptibly in the use of the new Xerox process, which creates a sketchier look faintly unbecoming to the designs (which had been so outlined with thick inks as to help the characters read on tiny or poor reception television screens). But by now the animators were very adept at drawing Fred and company, and in fact the process arguably lends itself to a more rounded look; even though it’s still “limited”, the animation is noticeably more fluid, with more movement and less recycled poses providing better acting, a counter to the repetitive nature of the scripting.
The refined animation does have a trade off: the backgrounds are undoubtedly simpler in design and the Xeroxing – a cheaper production method that helped keep escalating costs more reasonable – has the regrettable effect of filling in Barney’s trademark circular eyes, making the character feel different (less gormless?) for this one and only season. But there’s still the enjoyable interplay between Fred and Barn, of course, and even with their squabbling and arguments over Gazoo’s interruptions, they remain solidly good friends. The show in this season feels more “Hanna-Barbera” than any previous episodes, perhaps more akin to the likes of Top Cat, which we shouldn’t forget was also a fairly adult aimed comedy, a take on Phil Silvers’ shtick.
Wives Wilma and Betty, and children Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm seem to take a back seat, even if when they’re all together it’s clear there’s a great deal of love between them, providing just enough emotion to keep the series from tipping over entirely. Though the Bedrockians were indulging in some crazy shenanigans – including a somewhat desperate crossover episode featuring an appearance by the cast of Bewitched – the natural warmth of the characters and “rock-hard” foundations of the show kept things (just about) in check, Gazoo or not!
Disc One: No Biz Like Show Biz, The House That Fred Built, The Return Of Stoney Curtis (in a Spartacus spoof, “Slave Boy“), Disorder In The Court, Circus Business and Samantha (with Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York reprising their original roles). Disc Two: The Great Gazoo (or not so great, depending on your point of view), Rip Van Flintstone, The Gravelberry Pie King, The Stonefinger Caper (a Bond spoof that may have instigated the full-length Man Called Flintstone feature), The Masquerade Party (Wilma in a Playboy bunny outfit of all things, with a Beatles parody, The Beasties) and Shinrock-A-Go-Go (with another mop-top group, the Beau Brummelstones) – never have two shows dated a prehistoric program so much!
Disc Three: Royal Rubble (the first of only two shows not to close with the standard credit sequence, using instead a Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm song from the Show Biz episode), Seeing Doubles (glass comes to Bedrock?), How To Pick A Fight With Your Wife Without Really Trying, Fred Goes Ape, The Long Long Long Weekend (another, Gazoo-fuelled trip to the future) and Two Men On A Dinosaur.
Disc Four, Side A: The Treasure Of The Sierra Madrock, Curtain Call At Bedrock (easily one of the best to recall the spark of the earlier episodes), Boss For A Day, Fred’s Island, Jealousy (sinking as low as Gazoo-switching Barn momentarily to Barbara) and Dripper. Side B: My Fair Freddy (Gazoo’s goodbye) and The Story Of Rocky’s Raiders, in which Fred’s Grandpa visits; a fairly inauspicious end to the series, but one that suggests the Bedrockians’ technology is close to at least propelling them to the next stage of human evolution: Fred’s last spoken line to the audience is, “anything is possible”. The episode quite appropriately aired on April 1st!
By the end of this sixth season, the slide into what was ostensibly children’s territory saw audience ratings drop, the result of the adult demographic finding their kicks in the now high end pre-recorded television dramas and celebrity sketch comedies. However, there is still the characteristic interplay between Fred and Barney to enjoy, mostly thanks to the endearing personalities helped established by the voice cast. Through all six seasons, Hanna-Barbera were able to call upon veteran names of the cartoon and radio voice over business: the legendary Mel Blanc was perhaps the best known but plays Flintstone’s sidekick Barney instead, the inimitable Alan Reed stepping into Fred’s stone shoes. Jean Vander Pyl had been a proficient actress on such family staples as Leave It To Beaver and The Donna Reed Show, bringing a familiar voice to prime time audiences, while Blanc’s old Looney Tunes pal Bea Benaderet was Betty (later Gerry Johnson for Seasons Five and Six) and stolid support came from Hanna-Barbera’s stock players Daws Butler (who had voiced both male leads in the pilot) and Don Messick: a perfect cast that ably helped the animation feel more alive than it perhaps sometimes was.
The Flintstones: The Complete Series brings together all 166 episodes from the initial six season run, previously released individually. Complete series sets, an essentially still new idea, are a peculiar breed: they undoubtedly provide a fair way for new fans or those old ones that haven’t yet picked up their favorite programs to acquire them in one easy swoop, but they have the habit of not being collated in such sets unless the original releases sell well enough to suggest a strong enough fan base to warrant a double dip! Therefore we find ourselves in a “chicken and egg” situation where some folks resist purchasing a long run of seasons in the hope a deluxe collection will eventually come about…but such things don’t get packaged up if the original sets don’t sell! Secondly, to entice a second buy from those core-base fans, these kinds of “complete series” collections can frustrate those that have been loyal to the distributor in going along with buying each new season as they debut when some “new” bonus material is included. As such, The Flintstones: The Complete Series seems to have circumvented the problem to find a happy medium, being a simple repackaging of what has come before without any new extras (actually to its detriment I believe), but providing some debatably fun new packaging to make it attractive enough to those that have so far withheld following the adventures of our favorite modern stone age family over its six seasons on DVD.
Is This Thing Loaded?
Right off the bat, let’s answer the simple but much asked questions: what are the 4.5 hours of bonus material the set was announced with, and is there anything new over the previously released individual season sets? In short, these are the exact same discs as before, right down to the dated previews for now long on the shelves product, with Warner dropping the bowling ball in my opinion in not including even a single disc of any new content. Essentially, if you have all six seasons of The Flintstones on DVD, you already have all 24 discs in this collection and there’s no need to worry about a re-purchase, the major difference being the new stone-age packaging, which itself comes with a couple of cautionary observations, of which more on below. However, if you’re coming to these discs for the first time, the smatterings here and there on various selected discs make up a very welcome list of supplements that, while nowhere as extensive as they perhaps should be, provide a little extra appreciation for the series and throw in a few surprises.
Throughout the first five seasons, the 16:9 menus are bright and colorful affairs, with “television” playing a major part in various visual representations; music, sound effects and tidy animation welcoming us to the Flintstones world on the main menus and, on the episode selection options, characters looking at still shots from the shows on their screens or through windows, which change as a different show is highlighted (even as a child, I puzzled as to how television actually “worked” in the prehistoric age). Each episode is shown with its original pre-title teaser intact (save for Season Three’s The Big Move as noted above), cool little bonuses that I don’t think are seen nowadays on TV, though there are no chapter stops within shows. Reflecting the different feel of the final year, Season Six’s menus are still 16:9, but are instead static, without the animation or screen shots in the episode listings. Apart from the menus, all other programming across each and every disc is in original and intended 4:3 format.
Season One’s supplements reside on Side B of the fourth disc, though the total running time of around 22 minutes might have probably benefited the set by finding themselves on the fourth side without the need for a double sided disc. It just feels an awful waste of space to dedicate an entire side to such a slim helping of material, not coming over as the “extra side” of bonuses that a flip of the disc perhaps implies – why not just make it dual-layered like the three other discs of the season? Anyway, first up is the first of many featurettes we’ll encounter in the set, All About The Flintstones (5:19), which isn’t really all about the Flintstones (though the quick look at alternately considered time periods are fun) and only briefly covers the background of the show. Using a very great deal of spot clips from the show, combined with stills and limited archive footage, it’s nice to see some special material featuring Hanna and Barbera, but it’s fairly insubstantial and clearly comes boiled down from other (longer? Better?) documentaries which may have been more worthwhile inclusions.
Wacky Inventions (5:42) provides more of the same, merely running several scenes from the shows and pointing out the modern-day counterparts to the cavemen’s “original” devices, with a fairly smug and kitschy feel. I was most intrigued to view The Flagstones: The Lost Pilot, the original presentation pitch film that sold the concept, but was surprised when it ended after just a minute and a half! As such, this really proves to be an earlier version of a scene from the first produced episode The Swimming Pool, which would later be refined and re-recorded with the final voice cast (here Daws Butler is Fred and Barney, June Foray is Betty), though using earlier, noticeably rougher character designs for the Rubbles, most obviously Barn’s spiky hair, black eyes and big rounded nose! Only rediscovered in the 1990s, when it was made available on a Flintstones LaserDisc set, the footage is sharp but in scratched up condition, coming from a workprint with the editor’s marks intact, but the presentation is as basic as it comes: no other context is offered.
After selling their pitch to ABC, Hanna-Barbera had no problems then finding program sponsors, and the show lined up quite a few of them. Original Flintstones Spots are perhaps the season’s best extras, a 5:20 selection of Early TV Commercials for Alka Seltzer One-A-Day Vitamins (four ads, three in black and white) and Post Fruity & Cocoa Pebbles Cereal (three, all in color but without soundtracks) from the mid-1970s. There are also two Network Promo Spots for a broadcasting slot change, quite obviously from later runs since Fred is seen changing baby Pebbles’ nappy…a character still two seasons away from being introduced! Quality is understandably variable on these and while the infamous Reynolds Tobacco ads, where Fred and Barn light up their Winstons, are not included they’re better looking than the multi-generational copies found on bootleg VHS tapes.
Since this season came to DVD in 2004, previews for other of the time “Family Favorites” feature, for Scooby-Doo Where Are You?: Seasons One & Two, some Tom & Jerry single disc releases and the Looney Tunes Golden Collection.
The dino’s share of more extensive supplements are found on the Season Two discs, beginning right at the top of these episodes, with an Audio Commentary by layout artist Jerry Eisenberg, writer/animation historian Earl Kress and Hanna-Barbera historian Scott Shaw on the first aired show of this season, The Hit Songwriter. The trio take a time to warm up, but they eventually slide into some great anecdotes about working practices at Hanna-Barbera, but much of it is reactionary comments to what is happening on screen, with a surprising amount, for a 26 minute program, of dead space. However, their observations are all acute, and even fans may pick up a thing or two. An additional featurette, Carved In Stone: The Flintstones Phenomenon (20:40), is much more like it, an in-depth discussion of the show and what has made it tick for so long. Historians Kress, Shaw and Jerry Beck speak among Hanna-Barbera crew members Eisenberg and Iwao Takamoto as they examine the genesis and development of the series, the inclusion of a laugh track, the alternate opening sequences and the use of “limited” animation as pioneered by Bill and Joe. And Now A Word From Our Sponsor is the label for another sixty second One-A-Day Vitamins commercial, shown here from what looks to be a VHS dupe, in black and white.
Disc Two features another Commentary, from the same participants as before, on The Beauty Contest, and it’s again sporadically interesting, but a very cool bonus is the Songs Of The Flintstones Album with the Original Series Voice Cast, the complete eight track record released at the height of the show’s original popularity. Written by Hanna, Barbera and the series’ musical director Hoyt Curtin, the 28 minute album of course includes the immortal theme song, here in a much expanded version with different lyrics and verses given over to some of the characters. In a Play All option the tracks are prefaced with some album cast info, a couple get some on-screen lyrics, and there’s a vocal edition of the Rise And Shine opening, all illustrated by stills from the show. It’s great to be able to hear something like this, but I’d also reckon that most folks would perhaps have preferred a physical CD for portability or listening to in their own Flintstonemobile. Nevertheless, those with ripping abilities will no doubt be able to create their own version for whatever devices they choose, but even as part of this package a special disc (with bonus tracks and rarities?) would have been great. And Now A Word From Our Sponsor is another vintage commercial, this time for Welch’s Grape Jelly, a sixty second spot in black and white.
Disc Three recycles a little more from the supplements last seen on the earlier LD release, and How To Draw Fred Flintstone (6:45) is a 1991 slice of home video filler, a “six step” approach to drawing your own version of our favorite caveman, here voiced by later Fred, Henry Corden. Bill and Joe pop up in the bookends (though I never did find them too comfortable on camera), but it’s a bit harder than it looks and certainly takes more than “just” six steps!
Flintstone Art explores rare pencil drawings from the archives in a 4:25 video gallery presentation, and another And Now A Word From Our Sponsor provides three short spots, all sixteen seconds a piece: one for Kitchen Rich Cookies, and two for Carnation Evaporated Milk (in Spanish), in black and white. This season’s extras conclude on Disc Four, Side A with a final Commentary, on The Happy Household, with the same participants and interest level as before.
Trailers for other HB and WB product include: The Flintstones: Season One, The Jetsons: Season One, Wacky Races: Complete, Tom & Jerry Spotlight Collection, Top Cat: Complete and Looney Tunes Golden and Spotlight Collections Volume Two.
Season Three’s extras certainly are a little slimmer in number and lighter in depth. Disc One looks at the world of Flintstones merchandise in Bedrock Collectibles (6:41), peeking into the private collection of “Flintstones enthusiast and cartoonish” Scott Shaw to gawp at his extensive assortment of Bedrock memorabilia including record albums, figures, lunchboxes, plush toys, a really weird Barney “hobo”, as well as original animation cels and a little look at Shaw’s own contributions to the Flintstone universe. Shaw’s obsession with the show is evident in every piece he has lovingly collected over the years – he has a lot of stuff – and it’s all rather infectious!
Disc Two throws the spotlight on the Bedrock wives, highlighted by Wilma expecting a baby, in the First Families Of The Stone Age featurette (7:05), which obviously focuses on this season’s big storyline, the birth of Pebbles. It’s a genuinely decent discussion instead of a puff piece, with the likes of former HB executive Mark Young, WB animation producer Scott Jeralds and Shaw again reminiscing on the role Mrs Flintstone and Mrs Rubble played in the program, with Iwao Takamoto describing the subtleties in personality and character development as Wilma became a mother. Such was the public interest in the birth that Pebbles dolls were given out to anyone who became parents during the original half-hour airing of that episode, with Shaw getting to show off that very collectible keepsake. Naturally, a boy was to follow for the Rubbles, based on an earlier caveboy character from The Ruff And Reddy Show, though the choice of a boy or girl addition to the Flintstone family was decided by the network sponsor’s suggestion that girl dolls sold more than any other!
Disc Three’s “Special Features” are no more than the usual trailers for other Hanna-Barbera animated sets, this time: The Flintstones Season One, The Flintstones Season Two (which promises extras not found in the eventual set), The New Scooby-Doo Movies, Scooby-Doo Where Are You?: Seasons One & Two, Top Cat: Complete and Wacky Races: Complete.
The Season Four supplements on Disc One return to the inclusion of Audio Commentaries, with two tracks, for the first show in the season, Ann-Margrock Presents, and the later landmark episode Little Bamm-Bamm, both with writer/historian Earl Kress and animation writers Paul Dini and Mark Evanier. Their remarks are excellent, with a wealth of amusing anecdotes and acute observations that really offers a lot of information (fun facts: Jean Vander Pyl also voiced Pebbles, Don Messick was Bamm-Bamm). A stereo master for the song Ann-Margret performs in Ann-Margrock Presents is clearly stated to have been recently found, but is sadly and unforgivably missing from being repeated on its own against the episode’s visuals…a very big disappointment.
Disc Two remembers Hanna-Barbera’s Legendary Music Director Hoyt Curtin, speaking to HB’s former president Fred Siebert, film music historian Jon Burlingame, conductor and music supervisor Richard Kaufman, studio historian Kress, studio performer Steve Carnelli and chief arranger Tom Worrall. Expanding its reach outside the Flintstones universe to acknowledge the almost invisible but noteworthy work that Curtin contributed to the success of many of the Hanna-Barbera shows, this is a suitably analytical piece, also contemplating the development of the legendary theme song, though strangely there isn’t one archived photo of the man shown its entire seven minutes.
On Disc Three, practically anyone who’s provided a sound bite on the previous seasons’ bonus features so far turns up again to heap more praise on the show for The Flintstones: One Million Years Ahead Of Its Time (8:30). Recounting how the series became the first animated program in prime time, the piece somewhat treads over familiar ground but does make a feature out of examining the show’s unique broadcast slot, with original artist Willie Ito and writer Tony Benedict discussing how the studio aimed to keep the show fresh over its various seasons and timing changes. Season Four is suitably appraised specifically, presenting scenes from Ubble Ubble’s appearances in Ruff And Ready where the little cavekid certainly looks like Barney Rubble Junior and is a clear basis for Bamm-Bamm in the later show, addressing the inclusion of celebrity culture in the episodes, and the influence The Flintstones continues to exert to this day.
True to form, trailers for other HB and WB properties on DVD can be found tucked away on Disc Four, Side B: The Yogi Bear Show, The Huckleberry Hound Show, Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 3, Looney Tunes Movie Collection, Tom & Jerry Spotlight Collection Volume 2 and the recent direct to video feature Scooby-Doo in Where’s My Mummy?.
Perhaps the slimmest selection yet, the bonuses for Season Five can all be found on Disc Four, Side B. Purely nothing more than a piece of puff, A Stone Age Parenting Guide hopes to assist with child-rearing in the stone age, which is about as helpful as this four minute sequence of clips is patronising. Following the previous sets’ focus on specific story points, The Gruesomes’ Road To Bedrock (8:25) featurette offers up a closer look at a couple of classic Season Five episodes. Earl Kress genially runs us through the character development process, from initial concept and design to animation and final color, examining their debut in the Snooper And Blabber segments of former Looney Tune Mike Maltese’s Quick Draw McGraw series for Hanna-Barbera. Though the family is a fairly obscure element to focus upon, it turns out there’s a heap of interest to be found in them: it appears The Gruesomes was once intended to be a horror-spoof series of its own, perhaps derailed by The Addams Family and The Munsters?
Gemstones: Flintstones Rarities Unearthed really could have been one of the best things on all 24 discs in this complete series collection, a Kress hosted look back at a couple more Flintstones commercials. Spots for Welchade Grape Drink and Welch’s Grape Jelly precede very brief comments from Bill and Joe themselves, speaking in their own words about how The Flintstones came about. There’s really a whole documentary to be mined from this material, the complete story behind Fred’s entering the advertising industry, but as such we’ll have to make do with the four and a half minutes offered here. Short and sweet as they say, but those Winston ads are still missing in action despite the opportunity to include them here with an appropriate disclaimer.
The usual trailers are packed in too: Kid Easter is the fairly ugly title grouping for The Easter Bunny Is Comin’ To Town and The Greatest Adventures Of The Bible, a series that I actually wasn’t aware had made it to DVD. Further spots include another double bill, The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour and The Flintstones Season 5 (yes, season 5…that’s not a misprint), which again promises a bonus feature that’s not actually in the set, and the modern day superheroics of Justice League/Batman Beyond: Complete First Seasons.
Heading into the last batch of episodes, the supplements for Season Six are saved for the final Disc Four; on Side A you’ll find The Flintstones Meet Pop Culture (11:25). The Flintstones has always been held up as the forerunner to today’s animated family sitcoms, but a big part of these programs that the show doesn’t get too much credit for was the many references and celebrity appearances that the likes of The Simpsons and Family Guy feed on relentlessly.
Here, Stephen Baldwin (billed here as “one of the voices of Barney Rubble”, but actually Rubble himself, of course, in the underrated recent live-action feature Viva Rock Vegas prequel) hosts this look at the effect of pop culture on the show, and vice versa, running through some of the famous faces to have made appearances.
On Side B, the final supplement of this complete series set, The Great Gazoo – From A To Zetox featurette (3:48), looks at this odd, but oddly likeable, creature. Earl Kress returns again to throw the spotlight on Fred and Barney’s magical chum, making a decent argument in favor of the much-derided character and revealing several working names he went through in development (my faves: Hocus the Pocus, or Dr. Puckwuck).
He was voiced by long-time Mel Brooks collaborator Harvey Korman, who I had never before realised was essentially providing the template for Family Guy’s bitter tot Stewie – go on, close your eyes, and don’t forget that Seth MacFarlane voiced Gazoo in his often homage paying show. It’s clear the spaceman was never intended to pull the series down in age and that writer Joanna Lee had made efforts for him to appeal to adult viewers, but the eventual cancellation meant his arc was never satisfactorily completed, despite never being seen or heard of again (save for Viva Rock Vegas, where the merger of live-action and CG is quite astonishing).
The final batch of trailers rounds things out, for: Justice League Season 2/Superman Volume 3, Justice League/Batman Beyond: Seasons One, Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour & Flintstones Season 5, The Flintstones Season 6 (again promoting the very set you’re watching!), and Magilla Gorilla/Hong Kong Phooey.
As mentioned, those with these discs already aren’t missing a thing here, but there are several extras that might well have found themselves in this box that may have provided a more definitive grouping: a be all and end all of Flintstones, if you like, and for which I’m sure Warners would have appreciated the double dipping trade for. A number of “wish-list” extras have already been mentioned above (the stereo cues for the Ann-Margrock songs especially), but considering the original show, the first fourteen episodes were presented in a 1997 LaserDisc set supplemented by a group of bonuses, with only some of them ported over to these DVDs. The handsome package, by John Kricfalusi and his Spumco team, included a 24-page booklet on the show, background on the crew and an Ed Benedict interview. Even a basic episode guide would have sufficed in this DVD set, with airdates and synopsis, but it’s something that certainly feels missing.
The LD’s episode order went with the production run instead of the airdate chronology in this DVD; no biggie, but a neat way to see the progression as things settled down and became established. An alternate menu choice, for the first season only, could have easily recreated that ordering on DVD for those interested. Likewise, the LD offered some of these initial shows with or without the laugh track: how neat is that? Most importantly, four of those Winston Cigarettes commercials are in place among other advertisements, and two additional featurettes, Meet The Animators and Meet The Voices, offered a look behind the scenes at two vital components of the show’s success which otherwise are not elaborated upon on DVD. The remainder of the LD extras have been carried over in various forms and spread over each of the seasons, but at $130 this DVD collection is obviously aiming for the collectors’ market, and one would have thought these adults could handle the characters smoking or been more interested in the production.
The show was such a success that it led to a one-off theatrical movie, The Man Called Flintstone, a 1966 espionage spoof that feels like a natural inclusion (it serves essentially as a series finale) but also isn’t here in this DVD set. Over the years, the Flintstones and the Rubbles have appeared in many one-off specials – The Flintstones Meet Rockula And Frankenstone has always been a personal favorite – and one would have thought one or two here would have been a no brainer. Then there’s the early 1970s follow-up series The Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm Show in which Fred and Barney’s kids are all grown up and enjoying teenaged life in Bedrock. Though the concept would later be forgotten (with the kids reverting to being eternal babies in future specials), this is genuinely the only narrative continuation of The Flintstones from the original episodes, and its inclusion would perhaps have rounded off this version of events naturally. The program has only recently made it to DVD, but I’m guessing there might be quite a few fans who may have double dipped as a way to spring for a show they didn’t get around to picking up yet, had the option been here.
While these would have made great reasons for people to double dip, this is the complete Flintstones series and as such one can’t complain about later produced ancillary material not making the cut: to overly complain would be to not acknowledge the basic ambitions of the set. But I do feel Warners have missed a trick in not providing a definitive release for a truly iconic slice of television history or a solid reason for those with the six season sets to essentially pick them up again; the concurrently released Peanuts Holiday Collection comes bundled with an exclusive CD, and Batman: The Animated Series not only gets snazzy new packaging but also a fresh bonus disc and glossy book – if nothing else, a single supplements disc featuring the one-hour Flintstones’ 25th Anniversary Celebration special from 1986 should have unquestionably been considered here, and throwing in the two missing LaserDisc featurettes and Winstons ads as further sweeteners surely couldn’t have hurt? I guess there’s always Blu-ray, but whether anyone but rock-hard fans are going to triple dip on shows that won’t look much cleaner than they do here might be pushing it one release too far, when this had all the opportunity to carve The Flintstones in stone definitively.
The big draw and fuss this collection has been making online is with its very cool Flintstones television set packaging. Originally seen to be much more stone-like in concept images [as seen right], the final toned down (to a simple orange colored rock effect) result is still immensely fun to hold in one’s hands. But there are a few caveats inside: packing in 24 discs into a size roughly twice the width of a typical tin packaged DVD, and just a little taller, means placing them in two book-styled wallets (and not four as the slightly misleading concept image shows)…still a classy look but perhaps less than practical. The discs are pretty stiffly stored, and the indent cut in the “page” sleeves to enable an easier pulling out of each disc as seen in that concept art is lacking in practice, meaning either the card or the platters are going to be damaged by lots of fingers and thumbs trying to slide out the discs out for repeat use. Each page of the book re-uses art as seen on the individual season sets to various degrees, while providing episode titles and bonus listings. The back of the box comes with a large card insert giving a general overview of the show and each season’s bonus features, though as before there are no episode guides, production or airdate info.
Ironically, those with the previous season sets may be better off in the protection of their discs – especially the few double sided ones – and the question of whether shelf space is saved is debatable; The Complete Series is narrower than the six digipack volumes of before, but how do you store it? Given its size and eye catching nature it could well take up more room! However, as showpiece packaging, there’s no doubt the outside is certainly attention grabbing, topped off with a lenticular “screen image” on the TV, which turns between two typical representations of the series: Fred, Wilma, Barney, Betty and Dino in their roadster (as seen in the concept here), and the iconic image of the waitress from the diner tipping the vehicle over as she serves some dinosaur ribs (shown on the final box rendering below). This is actually the third time around for these discs, following a card box-wrapped collection that bundled the six sets together. Since there isn’t any new content to entice, those with the previous collections will have to wonder if a moulded plastic box – however bright and fun looking – is worth shelling out for the shows again, but those coming to the series anew should find themselves smiling at the overall presentation.
Ink And Paint:
Having ridden the bumpy road of Hanna-Barbera picture quality in some of WB’s sets, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect here: possibly the early shows looking fair and the later ones looks better. Well, WOW! Okay, these shows are of their time, but the transfers from the 16mm originals really are sparkling. Lines are strong and bold, colors pop pleasingly, and everything is presented as close to the original airings as possible, with the original title sequences restored to Seasons One and Two, and the pre-teaser scenes setting up the shows intact. Grain and a very slight speckling of print marks is evident but non obtrusive or anything to complain about, though out of the number of shows sampled for this review, Season Two’s The Hit Songwriter and Itty Bitty Fred from Season Five look much more grainy and dark, as does Season Six’s The Great Gazoo, while it must be questioned if The Big Move from Season Three is as originally shown: it’s noticeably softer, looking like a videotape master as opposed to film, and almost three minutes shorter, which can’t just be attributed to the missing teaser scene. That the Taft logo music can be heard at the tail suggests this comes from a later syndicated edition, perhaps the only one available. As such, it still looks perfectly in keeping with the rest of the presentations here, which essentially offers these shows as simply the best they’ve ever looked!
Matching the awesome picture quality are the high fidelity soundtracks, presumably from the highest and most direct sources from the original masters as could be found. For all their cost-cutting visuals, Hanna-Barbera understood that a cartoon’s vitality was just as much about the audio, something that stayed with them from their MGM Tom & Jerry days, and The Flintstones soundtracks are full of not only the witty scripting and friendly voices, but a menagerie of dinosaur yelps, roars and character vocals from a well established cast of players, all of which meld with Hoyt Curtin’s huge collection of stock library music cues. In short, there’s nothing to complain about here: these original mono tracks are just as intended and clear as a bell. English, French and Spanish dubs and/or subs have been included on various seasons, though there are no such provisions for the bonus features. Though not as clear or dynamic as the original English tracks, which were either better recorded to begin with (as opposed to those produced at localised studios) or have been better preserved due to constant maintenance and remastering, the quality of the foreign language dubs is pretty good, with fun alternate voices staying true to the characters and an interesting quirk in that the laugh track doesn’t seem to feature on all the Spanish shows. He-he-he-he-heh!
The Flintstones: The Complete Series does exactly what it says on the box – every episode of Hanna-Barbera’s iconic program wrapped up in fancy packaging, and that’s that, no more, no less. Those without the show will be enticed by the new packaging, which may or may not save shelf space but looks cool, and the all-in-one price, which certainly does save on the individual sets. Extras are the same as before, again a pretty decent selection for those coming to them for the first time, but disappointingly not adding even a token disc of exclusive content: I’m sure some Flintstones die-hards may have double dipped on this collection for any of the “missing” extras noted above. Essentially, it’s the somewhat ill-considered packaging that may appeal most, though whether it beats the vinyl digipacks of before is open to question. For some, it’ll be a cry of yabba-dabba-doo, for others a case of yabba-dabba-don’t, but whatever the pros and cons, The Flintstones: The Complete Series preserves all 166 original episodes of a truly groundbreaking series as a fitting tribute to one of Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera’s most enduring shows in a very uniquely styled all-in-one package.