The Flintstones is the first animated prime-time American television series. It was broadcast from September 30, 1960 to April 1, 1966 on ABC. The show, produced by Hanna-Barbera, fancifully depicted the lives of a working-class Stone Age man, his next-door neighbor/best friend, and their families.
The show's continuing popularity rested heavily on its juxtaposition of modern everyday concerns in the Stone Age setting. The Flintstones was the most financially successful network animated franchise for three decades, until The Simpsons debuted. In 2013, TV Guide ranked The Flintstones the second Greatest TV Cartoon of All Time (after The Simpsons).
The show is set in the Stone Age town of Bedrock. In this fantasy version of the past, dinosaurs and other long-extinct animals co-exist with cavemen, saber-toothed cats, and woolly mammoths. Like their mid-twentieth century counterparts, these cavemen listen to records, live in split-level homes, and eat at restaurants, yet their technology is made entirely from pre-industrial materials and powered primarily through the use of animals. For example, the cars are made out of stone, wood and animal skins, and powered by the passengers' feet.
Animation historian Christopher P. Lehman considers that the series draws its humor in part from creative uses of anachronisms. The main one is the placing of a "modern", 20th-century society in prehistory. This society takes inspiration from the suburban sprawl developed in the first two decades of the post-war period. This society has modern home appliances but they work by employing animals and birds. They have automobiles but they hardly resemble the cars of the 20th century. These cars are large wooden structures and burn no fuel. They are powered by people who run while inside them. Finally, the stone houses of this society are cookie-cutter homes positioned into typical neighborhoods.
As a running gag, often the "prehistoric" analog to a modern machine uses an animal. For example, when a character takes photographs with an instant camera, inside the camera box, a bird carves the picture on a stone tablet with its beak. The animal powering such technology would frequently break the fourth wall, look directly into the camera at the audience and offer a mild complaint about his job. Other commonly seen gadgets in the series include a baby woolly mammoth used as a vacuum cleaner; an adult woolly mammoth acting as a shower by spraying water with its trunk; elevators raised and lowered by ropes around brontosauruses' necks; "automatic" windows powered by monkeys on the outside; birds acting as "car horns", sounded by the driver pulling on their tails or squeezing their bodies; an "electric" razor made from a clam shell, vibrating from a honey-bee inside; a pelican as a washing machine, shown with a beakful of soapy water; and a woodpecker whose beak is used to play a gramophone record. In most cases, "The Man of a Thousand Voices", Mel Blanc, contributed the animals' gag lines, often lowering his voice one to two full octaves, far below the range he used to voice the character of Barney Rubble. In the case of the Flintstones' cuckoo clocks, which varied from mechanical toys to live birds announcing the time, when the hour approached 12:00, the bird inside the clock "cuckooing" usually just ran out of steam and gave up vocally, physically, or both.
The Stone Age setting allowed for gags and word plays involving rocks and minerals. For example, San Antonio becomes "Sand-and-Stony-o"; the country to the south of Bedrock's land is called "Mexirock" (Mexico). Travel to "Hollyrock", a parody of Hollywood, usually involves an "airplane" flight — the "plane", in this case, is often shown as a giant pterosaur, with the fuselage strapped to its back. Sun Valley becomes "Stone Valley" and is run by "Conrad Hailstone" (Conrad Hilton). The last names "Flintstone" and "Rubble", as well as other common Bedrock surnames such as "Shale" and "Quartz", are in line with these puns, as are the names of Bedrock's celebrities: "Gina Loadabricks" (Gina Lollobrigida), "Gary Granite" (Cary Grant), "Stony Curtis" (Tony Curtis), "Ed Sullivanstone/Sulleystone" (Ed Sullivan), "Rock Pile/Quarry/Hudstone" (Rock Hudson), "Ann-Margrock" (Ann-Margret), "Jimmy Darrock" (James Darren), "Alvin Brickrock" (Alfred Hitchcock), "Daisy Kilgranite" (Dorothy Kilgallen), "Perry Masonry/Masonite" (Perry Mason as played by Raymond Burr), "Mick Jadestone and The Rolling Boulders" (Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones, called "Mick Jagged and the Stones" in live-action film The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas), "Eppy Brianstone" (Brian Epstein) and "The Beau Brummelstones" (The Beau Brummels). Once, while visiting one of Bedrock's houses of "Haute Couture" with Wilma, Betty even commented on the new "Jackie Kennerock (Jackie Kennedy) look". In some cases, the celebrity featured also provided the voice: "Samantha" and "Darrin" from Bewitched were voiced by Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York. Examples from the above list include Ann-Margret, Curtis, Darren, and the Beau Brummels. Other celebrities, such as "Ed Sulleystone" and "Alvin Brickrock", were rendered by impersonators. Some of Bedrock's sports heroes include: football player "Red Granite" (Red Grange), wrestler "Bronto Crushrock" (Bronko Nagurski), golfer "Arnold Palmrock" (Arnold Palmer), boxers "Floyd Patterstone" (Floyd Patterson) and "Sonny Listone" (Sonny Liston), and baseball players "Sandy Stoneaxe" (Sandy Koufax), "Lindy McShale" (Lindy McDaniel), "Roger Marble" (Roger Maris), and "Mickey Marble" or "Mickey Mantlepiece" (Mickey Mantle). Ace reporter "Daisy Kilgranite" (Dorothy Kilgallen) was a friend of Wilma. Monster names include "Count Rockula" (Count Dracula), Rockzilla (Godzilla) and "The Frankenstone Monster" (Frankenstein's monster).
- Fred Flintstone is the main character of the series. Fred is an accident-prone bronto-crane operator at the Slate Rock and Gravel Company and the head of the Flintstone household. He is quick to anger (usually over trivial matters), but is a very loving husband and father. He is also good at bowling and is a member of the fictional "Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes" (Lodge No. 26), a men-only club paralleling real-life fraternities such as the Loyal Order of Moose.
- Wilma Flintstone is Fred's wife. She is more intelligent and level-headed than her husband, though she often has a habit of spending money (with her and Betty's catchphrase being "Da-da-da duh da-da CHARGE IT!!"). She often is a foil to Fred's poor behavior.
- Pebbles Flintstone is the Flintstones' infant daughter, who is born near the end of the third season.
- Dino, a prosauropod dinosaur, is the Flintstones' pet who barks and generally acts like a dog. A running gag in the series involves Dino knocking down Fred out of excitement and licking him repeatedly. Though this irritates Fred a lot, he generally likes Dino very much.
- Baby Puss is the Flintstones' pet saber-toothed cat, who is rarely seen in the actual series, but is always seen throwing Fred out of the house during the end credits, causing Fred to pound repeatedly on the front door and yell "Wilma!"
- Barney Rubble is the secondary main character and Fred's best friend and next door neighbor. His occupation is, for the most part of the series, unknown, though later series depict him working in the same quarry as Fred. He shares many of Fred's interests like bowling and golf, and is also a member of the "Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes". Though Fred and Barney frequently get into feuds with one another (usually due to Fred's short temper), their deep fraternal bond remains evident.
- Betty Rubble is Barney's wife and Wilma's best friend. Like Wilma, she too has a habit of spending money.
- Bamm-Bamm Rubble is the Rubbles' abnormally strong adopted son, whom they adopt during the fourth season; his name comes from the only phrase he ever speaks as a baby: "Bamm, Bamm!"
- Hoppy is the Rubbles' pet Hopparoo (a kangaroo/dinosaur combination creature), whom they adopt in the beginning of the fifth season. When he first arrives, Dino (and eventually Fred) mistakes him for a giant mouse and becomes frightened of him, but they eventually become best friends in a manner similar to that of their owners. He babysits the kids as he takes them around in his pouch, which also serves as a shopping cart for Betty. Fred Flintstone regards Hoppy as an overgrown and obnoxious nuisance until the fateful day that the Flintstones and the Rubbles go out together on a picnic. The families' lives are endangered during the picnic and Hoppy goes for help.
Over 100 other characters appeared throughout the program.
- Mr. Slate is Fred's hot-tempered boss at the stone quarry. Though he is friends with Fred and Barney and often joins them for events such as parties, he is often not impressed with Fred's antics at the quarry, and has fired him on many occasions, only to give him his job back at the end of the episode. A running gag is his ever-changing first name, which has been presented as Sylvester, Nate, Oscar and George. On the episode "The Long, Long, Long Weekend", which originally aired on January 21, 1966, he is shown as being the founder of Slate Rock and Gravel Company. The company is still in business two million years later and is being run by his descendant George Slate the Eighty-Thousandth.
- Arnold is the Flintstones' paper boy, whom Fred absolutely despises, because he often, unintentionally, throws the newspaper at Fred's face. A running gag has Fred being outsmarted by Arnold. His parents are mentioned, but almost never seen. His mother has never been seen on screen, but her name is Doris and she is a friend of Wilma's and Betty's as evidenced in the episode "The Little Stranger", which originally aired on November 2, 1962. His father was shown on the episode "Take Me Out to the Ball Game", which originally aired on April 27, 1962. His name, however, is unknown.
- Joe Rockhead is a mutual friend of Fred and Barney. Usually, when Fred and Barney have some kind of falling out, Fred mentions doing something (such as going to a baseball game) with Joe. Joe was, at some point, chief of the Bedrock Volunteer Fire Department (as shown on the episode "Arthur Quarry's Dance Class", which originally aired on January 13, 1961). His appearance varied throughout the run of the series, but his appearance in the episode "The Picnic", which originally aired on December 15, 1961, was the one most commonly used.
- Pearl Slaghoople is Wilma's hard-to-please mother, who is constantly disapproving of Fred and his behavior. Their disastrous first meeting was recounted in the episode "Bachelor Daze", which originally aired on March 5, 1964. They briefly reconciled in the episode "Mother-in-Law's Visit", which originally aired on February 1, 1963. That is, until, she found out that she became Fred's "nice fat pigeon" when he suckered her out of money he need to buy a baby crib for Pebbles. They would reconcile again at the end of the TV movie "I Yabba Dabba Do".
- The Great Gazoo is an alien exiled to Earth who helps Fred and Barney, often against their will. He is actually from the future, and is quite dismayed when he realizes he has been sent back to "the Stone Age". He can only be seen by Fred, Barney, Pebbles, Bamm-Bamm, other small children, Dino and Hoppy. Gazoo appeared in the final season only.
- Uncle Tex Hardrock is Fred's maternal uncle and a member of the Texarock Rangers. He constantly holds Fred's future inheritance over his head.
- Sam Slagheap is the Grand Poobah of the Water Buffalo Lodge.
- Fred Flintstone – Alan Reed (speaking voice only)
- Wilma Flintstone/Pebbles Flintstone – Jean Vander Pyl
- Barney Rubble – Mel Blanc; Daws Butler (season 2; episodes 1, 2, 5, 6, and 9 only)
- Betty Rubble – Bea Benaderet (seasons 1–4); Gerry Johnson (seasons 5–6)
- Bamm-Bamm Rubble/Hoppy/Arnold – Don Messick
- Dino – Mel Blanc
- Mr. Slate – John Stephenson
- Mrs. Slaghoople – Verna Felton and Janet Waldo
- The Great Gazoo – Harvey Korman
Additional voice castEdit
- Howard Morris
- Doug Young
The opening and closing credits theme during the first two seasons was called "Rise and Shine", a lively instrumental underscore accompanying Fred on his drive home from work. The tune resembled "The Bugs Bunny Overture (This Is It!)", the theme song of The Bugs Bunny Show, also airing on ABC at the time, and may have been the reason the theme was changed in the third season. Starting in Season 3, Episode 3 ("Barney the Invisible"), the opening and closing credits theme was the familiar vocal "Meet the Flintstones". This version was recorded with a 22-piece jazz band, and a five-voice singing group called the Skip Jacks. The melody is derived from part of the 'B' section of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 17 Movement 2, composed in 1801/02. The "Meet the Flintstones" opening was later added to the first two seasons for syndication. The musical underscores were credited to Hoyt Curtin for the show's first five seasons; Ted Nichols took over in 1965 for the final season.
Films and subsequent television seriesEdit
- The Flintstones (1960–66) (166 episodes) (6 seasons)
- The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show (1971–72) (1 season)
- The Flintstone Comedy Hour / The Flintstone Comedy Show (1972–74) (1 season)
- Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics (1977-79) (2 seasons)
- Fred Flintstone and Friends (1977–78) (compilation series)
- The New Fred and Barney Show (1979) (1 season)
- Fred and Barney Meet The Thing (1979) (1 season)
- Fred and Barney Meet the Shmoo (1979–80) (1 season)
- The Flintstone Comedy Show (1980–82) (2 seasons)
- The Flintstone Funnies (1982–84) (1 season)
- The Flintstone Kids (1986–88) (2 seasons)
- Dino: What a Cartoon! – featuring "Stay Out!" (1995) and "The Great Egg-Scape" (1997)
- Cave Kids: Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm (1996) (1 season)
Theatrical animated featureEdit
- The Man Called Flintstone (1966, released by Columbia Pictures)
- A Flintstone Christmas (1977)
- The Flintstones: Little Big League (1978)
- The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone (1979)
- The Flintstones' New Neighbors (1980)
- The Flintstones: Fred's Final Fling (1980)
- The Flintstones: Wind-Up Wilma (1981)
- The Flintstones: Jogging Fever (1981)
- The Flintstones' 25th Anniversary Celebration (1986)
- The Flintstone Kids' "Just Say No" Special (1988)
- Hanna-Barbera's 50th: A Yabba Dabba Doo Celebration (1989)
- A Flintstone Family Christmas (1993)
- The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones (1987)
- I Yabba-Dabba Do! (1993)
- Hollyrock-a-Bye Baby (1993)
- A Flintstones Christmas Carol (1994)
- The Flintstones: On the Rocks (2001)