Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Today’s Flintstone Clipping File

You and I know one of Hanna-Barbera’s biggest profit-makers, The Flintstones, turns 50 on September 30th. And the cable channel that airs the show knows it, too. They’re planning a Flintstone marathon, including an airing of the first episode, The Flintstone Flyer, 50 years to the second it was first broadcast. That’s pretty cool. You can read more about the ‘Salute to the Flintstones’ here.

The channel normally runs The Flintstones three times a day. I’m pretty certain, at one point in the late ‘60s, you could watch it three times a day on different local channels in syndication (and three different episodes, too).

You couldn’t get away from a lot of shows in the 1960s. Unless, of course, you turned off the TV set. And who’d do something dumb like that? So there’s a whole swarm of people of a certain age bracket who will wax fondly about endless viewings of Gilligan’s Island (the Harold Hecuba episode was my favourite), Bewitched, The Patty Duke Show (with that wonderful theme song) and a swarm of other sitcoms. And a swarm of cartoons, too. Including one set in the Stone Age.

You’ve read old newspaper stories here about the enormous (if I said “brontosaurus-sized” your eyes would roll) piles of cash that Hanna-Barbera made on tie-ins related to the show (Pebbles was a girl solely because that’s what a toy company wanted and business is business). One of the commercial ventures was H-B lending the Flintstones name and character likenesses to tourist traps. Weary travellers would be in the middle of nowhere on their way to some determined destination when, suddenly, anxious children would squeal with feverish glee, having spotted a slightly-weatherbeaten road sign for ‘Flintstones Village’ or ‘Bedrock City.’ And dads would figure they could get a rest from driving and find something to occupy their kids, and moms would figure they could shop, so cars would pull in to a somewhat tacky land of imitation (and off-model) Dinos and slab buildings.

There was one such spot on the Trans-Canada Highway from Chilliwack to Hope, B.C. It stopped being a Flintstones’ Bedrock City in 1994 when Hanna-Barbera got new corporate owners who soured on the Bedrock City business. Now, as of Monday, it’s been sadly closed for good, despite a Facebook campaign to save it. You can read about it here. Frankly, I’ve never understood how such places made money outside of tourist season, but another one still survives near Rapid City, South Dakota. In fact, it was the subject of a recent newspaper story, too.

It’s a shame the place has closed because it might have been an ideal post-nuptual spot for the folks on the right. Proving the continued fondness for the modern stone age family, a couple in Manchester, England had a Flintstones-themed wedding party. Read the story here. It is proof positive there is a direct link between The Flintstones and the Honeymooners.

I can’t leave you with that bad joke, can I? Okay, here’s another story, this one from the Santa Clarita Valley in California, where Betty and Wilma showed up to urge moms and dads to “Yabba-Dabba-Do” it and join the local PTA.

This little pile of newspaper clippings shows the continued popularity of The Flintstones after all these years. And why having a TV marathon to mark their 50th birthday is a pretty smart programming decision.

3 comments:

  1. Great post. Back in the mid to late eighties, Hanna-Barbera had a number of VHS volumes called " Bill & Joes " picks. Whether or not it was actually their picks...is left up to what you want to believe or not. It was two hours of supposedly some of their favorite episodes. The cassette I have includes somewhat older, uncleaned up copies of " the " Flintstone Flyer " and " The Pool "... two of my favorites from the series. It was also the first of the Flintstone episodes you could buy for home use on VHS... way before the days of the entire, re-mastered series coming out on DVD. I could kick myself, because they also had a " Ruff N Reddy " volume that I kept putting off and putting off getting...you probably know the rest. Sad to hear the last of the Flintstone type parks is gone. I believe there were also some Yogi type parks here in the states. I think they have long vanished. I could be wrong. No matter how many times I have seen it, I'll be there watching " The Flintstone Flyer ". The good ol unrefined, cynical days of the series. In an unrelated note Jim, " The Producer " is also one of my favorite G.I. episodes.
    Hecuba: You call yourselves actors!!
    Gilligan: We don't call ourselves actors
    Hecuba: Quietttt!, if I say you're an actor, you're an actor
    Gilligan: Ok, I'm an actor
    Hecuba: Believe me kid..You are NO Actor!!

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  2. The press release from Boomerang (which of course is part of Turner and WB, owners of all HB properties) makes for somewhat odd reading. "Critics and fans alike agree that the series was an animated homage to The Honeymooners, with rock puns and animal-powered gadgets thrown in." Yikes, that's not exactly a great presentation. Especially since Joe Barbera seemed notably uncomfortable in that video interview you linked to earlier acknowledging the debt to The Honeymooners. He pointed out quickly that Honeymooners didn't have the bird clothespins, etc. But the press release's "thrown in" isn't very convincing. All of this makes me continue my thought that WB really has no polished plan, or maybe no plan at all, for a future to the Flintstones franchise. I'm glad they're airing the cartoons for the anniversary, but it's hardly huge excitement considering the DVDs are all out there. Couldn't they have put together a good documentary or special?

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  3. Valle, Arizona also still has a Flintstones Bedrock City (that I haven't seen,that is often described as looking rather poorly cared for and empty). http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/11289

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