Hanna-Barbera’s first attempt at a Christmas cartoon was “Christmas Flintstone” which aired in a brand-new Friday Flintstones time slot at 7:30 p.m. on December 25, 1964. It was a comparatively ambitious endeavour, with John McCarthy called on to write a couple of original songs and Hoyt Curtin adding Christmassy background music (with trombones and a nice little beat in one part) to his regular mix of cues.
Some of the backgrounds are pretty nice, too. We mentioned a couple of years ago on the blog about the rather unsubtle plug for Flintstones Building Blocks in the final shot of the cartoon. Well, that isn’t the only far-too-obvious product placement. Check out the toy department in the store that hires Fred to be its Santa Claus.
Shockingly, you could buy Pebbles, Bamm Bamm, Dino and Baby Puss dolls just like the ones on the cartoon! As you probably know, the whole reason Pebbles came into being was because Ideal Toys wanted a Flintstones doll character to hawk.
Here are a few of the snowscapes in the cartoon.
There’s a background continuity error (yes, we’re humbugish enough to point this out). Fred goes from inside his house to outside. Here are the backgrounds.
You can see the door is open on the inside but closed on the outside. How did the door get closed? Fred didn’t do it. And where’d the lamp go? And the build up of snow outside the door? And how did the doorknob change sides? And the wreath? And the door colour? Maybe… maybe it was the work of the Spirit of Christmas.
The funniest background is the one where Dino runs from his basket. Look at the women dinosaur pin-ups! Rowrr!
The old guard of Bob Gentle, Monty and Art Lozzi didn’t have a hand in this cartoon. The old guard was giving way to new artists. The backgrounds are credited to Phil Lewis, Rene Garcia and Don Watson. Lewis started as an in-betweener during the last gasps of the Warners Bros. studio. He died a couple of years ago. Rene worked on a bunch of shows in the mid to late ‘60s. Someone on Tumblr posted this great colour picture of him with some Flintstones backgrounds.Watson worked on a pile of H-B shows in the ‘60s as well and was still drawing until at least a few years ago. All three of them ended up at Filmation at one time or another.
The Flintstones began its nose-dive for me when Pebbles showed up and then really started tiring before it lurched into its sixth and final season (Gerry Johnson, Hoppy, Gazoo, Gruesomes, Bewitched characters in the Stone Age and sunshine-singing kids all took a toll). But the show was still capable of good episodes after Bea Benaderet was summarily dismissed and this was one of them. You can credit the fine performance of Alan Reed, Warren Foster’s story and even some of the wintery landscapes.