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.