Judge Paul Corupe firmly believes that feet-powered cars are the answer to our reliance on foreign oil.
Our reviews of The Flintstones: The Complete First Season (published April 27th, 2004), The Flintstones: The Complete Second Season (published February 16th, 2005), The Flintstones: The Complete Fourth Season (published December 14th, 2005), The Flintstones: The Complete Fifth Season (published May 17th, 2006), The Flintstones: The Complete Sixth Season (published October 11th, 2006), and The Flintstones: Prime-Time Specials Collection, Volume 1 (published November 1st, 2012) are also available.
It's a girl!
Animation? In prime-time? It's hard to believe there was a period when this very concept was considered radical, a time before The Simpsons, King of the Hill, and Family Guy made cartoons not only acceptable, but also highly successful, weeknight rituals. Without The Flintstones, however, none of these shows would have been possible. In 1960, Hanna-Barbera's The Flintstones became the first cartoon to break free from the Saturday morning ghetto, proof positive to skeptical network executives that animated programs were indeed capable of drawing an adult audience.
Hanna-Barbera frequently borrowed the personalities of famous comedians for their cartoons, from Doggie Daddy's obvious resemblance to Jimmy Durante to the Phil Silvers-inspired Top Cat, but The Flintstones ambitiously mimicked an entire show, the popular Jackie Gleason sitcom The Honeymooners. Combining familiar sitcom conventions with slapstick antics and goofy caveman gags for the kids, The Flintstones became a huge success—an innovative cartoon show that changed the face of the industry.
Facts of the Case
With a heart almost as big as his mouth, stone-age construction worker Fred Flintstone (Alan Reed, Breakfast at Tiffany's) lives in the town of Bedrock with his patient, understanding wife Wilma (Jean Vander Pyl, The Jetsons). They spend much of their time with their next-door neighbors, Fred's best friend, the affable Barney Rubble (Mel Blanc, The Jack Benny Program) and his demure wife Betty (Bea Benaderet, The Beverly Hillbillies). Fred and Barney's schemes to make a little extra money on the side or to sneak out for an extra game of bowling invariably go wrong, often through comic misunderstandings, and when the boys are up to their stubble in deep dinosaur doo-doo, it's usually up to Wilma and Betty to scoop them out. This season, Wilma and Fred welcome a new addition to the show as well—their baby daughter Pebbles.
All 28 half-hour episodes from The Flintstones's third season are here in broadcast order, spread over four discs—three single-sided, and one flipper. Here's what you get:
• Dino Goes to Hollyrock
• Fred's New Boss
• Barney the Invisible
• The Bowling Ballet
• The Twitch
• Here's Snow in Your Eyes
• The Buffalo Convention
• The Little Stranger
• Baby Barney
• Hawaiian Escapade
• Ladies' Day
• Nothing but the Tooth
• High School Fred
• Dial "S" for Suspicion
• Flashgun Freddie
• The Kissing Burglar
• Wilma, the Maid
• The Hero
• The Surprise
• Mother-In-Law's Visit
• Foxy Grandma
• Fred's New Job
• Dress Rehearsal
• Carry On, Nurse Fred
• Ventriloquist Barney
• The Big Move
• Swedish Visitors
• The Birthday Party
Even after the first successful season of The Flintstones, few figured that the prime-time animation trend would last. Of course, it didn't; following up their groundbreaking show proved to be impossible for Hanna-Barbera, and subsequent attempts to create another "adult" hit—Top Cat, Jonny Quest, and even the The Jetsons—made bigger splashes when they were scaled back to Saturday morning for the milk and cereal set. When Fred, Barney, Wilma, and Betty returned for a third season in 1962, however, Hanna-Barbera planned a special television event to help maintain the popularity of The Flintstones, and push the show in a whole new direction.
By the third season, The Flintstones had almost exhausted its usual array of time-tested, classic sitcom plots—overplayed misunderstandings, embarrassing turns of fate, and pratfalls—and its no surprise that many of the episodes on this set, such as "High School Fred" and "Dino Goes to Hollyrock," are essentially retreads from earlier seasons. Although one of the main advantages of animated prime time shows is that characters aren't required to age or grow in any visible way, starting with "The Surprise," Hanna-Barbera introduced a five-episode story arc that fundamentally changed the very dynamic of the show. The birth of Wilma and Fred's baby, Pebbles, in "Dress Rehearsal" became a much hyped television event in 1962, a crafty move that not only guaranteed a big audience for the blessed event, but also helped break The Flintstones a little further away from just an animated knock-off of The Honeymooners to become a cultural phenomenon in its own right.
Of course, astute viewers would have known about Pebbles's impending arrival all season long, with many episodes cleverly foreshadowing her birth. Starting with the seventh episode, "The Little Stranger," viewers are bombarded with a bassinet-full of infant insanity in episodes like "Baby Barney," "Flashgun Freddie," and "The Hero" even before the five famous episodes. The most noticeable effect that Pebbles's arrival had on the show was a fundamental shift in Fred's character, as now he had to become a mature dad—loudmouth blowhard just didn't cut it anymore. Although some episodes like "Mother-In-Law's Visit" and "Carry On, Nurse Fred" hint at the change to come, because the season ended with this arc, the truly proud prehistoric pappy isn't really explored at great length until next season.
What does become apparent this season, however, is that the show has begun incorporating fantastic elements into the plot. Particularly noteworthy are "Barney the Invisible," in which Barney turns invisible for almost the entire episode, and "The Hero," which has Fred's identical twin conscience pull out of his body and steal his dinners. These particular episodes build on the pop culture parodies of the second season, and look forward to the more implausible and over-the-top storylines yet to come, including season six's controversial alien addition, The Great Gazoo.
The shows presented on this DVD look about as good as they do on other Hanna-Barbera releases: good, but not great. This is probably as clean as these old animated shows are going to look on DVD, so get used to the noticeable layer of grain, as well as dirt, scratches, and other source artifacts that frequently show up throughout the set. Color, though, is excellent. Much like the picture quality, the sound is unremarkable but reliable. As a mono TV soundtrack from the 1960s, there are no dynamics to speak of and the music and dialogue occasionally seem a little flat, but Warner Brothers has at least presented them clearly, with minimal distortion. Those that have the first two sets of The Flintstones will find Season Three much on par with the earlier releases. This season is also notable as the point in the series when the last familiar piece fell into place: In "Barney the Invisible," the now-famous "Meet the Flintstones" song finally becomes the show's main theme.
We've seen an evolution in the quality of the extras presented on these Hanna-Barbera box sets since they first started coming out about a year ago, from throwaway bits meant for kids to commentaries and documentaries on more recent releases. The stone-age extras presented on The Flintstones: Season Two were a distinct improvement over the Season One set, but on this release, the quality remains, but the quantity dips severely. First up is "Bedrock Collectibles: Collecting All Things Flintstone," a featurette with cartoonist Scott Shaw showing off his Flintstones paraphernalia. It's a fun, informative piece. This is followed by "First Families of the Stone Age: Spotlight on the Bedrock Wives." I assumed this was going to be a typical fluffy extra, but Jerry Eisenberg, Iwao Takamoto, Earl Kress, and Scott Shaw all return to give well thought out opinions on Betty and Wilma. Last and certainly least is a "limited edition" animation cel that falls out of the digipak and onto the floor pretty much every time I open it.
Season Three of The Flintstones manages to maintain the sitcom dynamics that made the show popular in the first place while expanding the family dynamic with the addition of Pebbles. Despite stumbling a bit over the special features, Warner Brothers has put together yet another well-packaged set here, highly recommended to fans of the show.
Innocent. This set is definitely a dabba-do time, a gay old time.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• First Families of the Stone Age: Spotlight on the Bedrock Wives
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