18 Feb

Fred Flintstone standing on people floating in pool, talking to Barney

by Rachel Newstead

I think the first words I ever remember hearing must have been “Yabba Dabba Doo.”

In 1964, my granddaddy bought a brand new Zenith color television set at a time when a color TV cost about the same as a good used car, and had controls which resembled nothing less than the flight deck of a 747. Which were touchy enough that pink skin and green grass could easily become green skin and pink grass if one breathed a little too hard.

The colors came at you with retina-blasting mercilessness: they were bright, they were garish–and absolutely perfect for cartoons. And thanks to my granddaddy, I saw a lot of them, including a show called The Flintstones.

Granddaddy loved Fred Flintstone, probably because there was  more than a little bit of Fred in him–bombastic and blustery, with a childlike playfulness he tried to hide. But when Fred was on screen, that playfulness came out in full force.

He delighted in bellowing “Yabba Dabba Doo”, much to my consternation. I’d usually cover my ears whenever he did, making surreptitious glances at him during the program to see if he’d do it again. And he always would.

Despite this early childhood trauma, those years instilled a love for the program that lasts to this day. How, after all, can you not love what you literally grew up with? Fred in a sense was both big brother and surrogate father to me. Consequently, I stayed with my Stone Age “relative” through every conceivable incarnation–including the better-left-forgotten Saturday-morning years. Yes, even through such abominations as Fred and Barney Meet The Schmoo.

But nothing quite satisfied my Flintstone fix as much as those episodes of the very first season. As you probably know if you read my scene-by-scene analysis of episode 18, “The Hot Piano” (and judging from the blog stats, quite a few of you have) there’s just something about those early episodes that set them apart from the ones that came later. The characters may have been cruder–in appearance and manner–but the dialogue, backgrounds and model sheets had a certain ” snap” that first season or two that gradually, almost imperceptibly faded as the years wore on.

My original intention, when I finished with the Avery piece, was to resume my reviews of the Larry Doyle Looney Tunes.  After seeing just how popular the “Hot Piano” post has been, however, I thought otherwise. You, the readers have spoken, and you want The Flintstones–so The Flintstones you shall have.

What I intend to do is go through each of the first-season episodes, one by one, over the next few weeks, giving them the same in-depth treatment I gave “The Hot Piano”–and I’ll continue until I’m told to shut up.

The Freeze Frame Friday feature will continue as scheduled–perhaps I’ll find a Flintstone-related frame or two to talk about as a way of launching this series of reviews. I think Granddaddy would have liked that.


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