Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Satirical Canape

A satirical canapé?

Someone in Arnie Carr’s PR department at Hanna-Barbera came up with that one and tossed it into news releases about the studio’s newest cartoon series, The Flintstones. I’ve found it twice in blurbs that appeared in newspapers prior to the show’s debut.

First we peer into the Courier-Post of Camden, New Jersey. Here’s what was published on August 27, 1960. The story is almost prophetic. It refers to I Love Lucy, and this is long before Bill and Joe ripped off the pregnancy angle from Lucy.

TV Cartoons Scheduled for Adult Viewers
How does TV plan to stimulate the adult intellect this fall?
Why, with cartoon people, of course. Cartoon people in life-like situations devised for adult viewing and thinking.
"It's generally agreed that real people have made a pretty good mess of things. We're trying cartoon people this time," said an aide at the Hanna Barbera cartoonery.
Offer 'The Flintstones'
So Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, the developers of "Huckleberry Hound" and "Quick Draw McGraw," are offering "The Flintstones."
The show will debut Sept. 30 on ABC-TV in one of the primest half hours in television; 8.30-9.00 p. m.
It's the first cartoon series devised for grownups, aired in a grownup time slot.
Can it click?
Most of the new shows in television will prance out of high-powered, high-domed, ultra-posh sound stages where glamour is the A-Line staple.
Blue Chip Prospect
The Flintstones were born in a maze of tiny rooms in an old movie studio behind a Hollywood supermarket.
But there'll be just as many millions riding on the pen and ink wizardry of Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera as on the platinum-plated jobs.
And in the eternal grab for rating riches, Madison ave., believes The Flintstones look like a blue chip prospect.
The series is a situation comedy. It has the heart of "The Honeymooners" and the burlesque genius of "I Love Lucy."
But more than either, it's a satirical canape of the human comedy using cartoon situations, cartoon locales and, wittily, cartoon humans
The Daily News of Dayton, Ohio served up canapés on August 30, 1960.
BILL HANNA and Joe Barbara, who have been eminently successful in efforts to entertain the kiddies with Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw, will try to do the same for adults this season with a series called 'The Flintstones' . . .
The series is described as "a satirical canape of the human comedy", employing cartoon situations and cartoon locales as well as cartoon humans . . . Warren Foster, who has written a dozen of the stories, opines:
"Cartoons are another strata of entertainment. We expect the kids to watch the show, but it's the adults who will really enjoy it . . . "It's the first new idea in television in 10 years".
The series hadn’t debuted when this column appeared in the Orlando Sun of September 18, 1960. There are several interesting things about it. Dino’s spelling of “Deeno” was not unusual in the early months of the series. This is another article which states there was no pilot film for the show. That “pilot” found in the studios archives and later broadcast on cable TV and put on the Flintstones DVD was apparently not shown to a network or potential sponsors; “pilots” don’t have film markings like that short piece of film does. And like other stories of the period, indications are sponsors loved the show and signed on the dotted line right away. Years later, Barbera gave a tale of woe of trying to find a sponsor for “eight straight weeks”; Joe always seemed to have a story of underdog hardship about his cartoons in later years.

Oddly, studio publicity art didn’t accompany the story, the drawing by Al Kilgore to the right did.

Stone-Age Suburbia
A new cartoon twist for a setting as old as time adds up to a bold gamble

"What's new on television for this new season?"
Well, there's sure to be a few more Westerns, a police drama or two, maybe another adventure series here and there.
One upcoming series that seems truly worthy of the designation "new" is ABC-TV's soon-to-be-seen "Flintstones" series, which premieres on Sept. 30.
What's so different about "Flintstones?" To begin with, it's an adult cartoon series, first ever tried by a network in a prime evening time slot.
"FLINTSTONES" paints a bright, satirical picture of family life as it might have been in prehistoric suburbia. The language and behavior of the characters are strictly 20th Century, but the settings, costumes and props are out of the Stone Age.
The pleasures and pressures of suburban living, from crab grass to commuting, will be shown in prehistoric perspective.
As the first situation-comedy series to be produced in animation, "Flintstones" promises fun for youngsters as well as wit and social satire for adults. Viewers will see a refreshing difference in the animated technique. Unlike children's cartoons which lean heavily on slapstick, "Flintstones" utilizes subtlety and satire in illustration and dialogue.
THE STARS are Fred and Wilma Flintstone and their irrepressible neighbors, Betty and Barney Rubble.
The supporting cast includes such interesting personalities as "Deeno the Dino" and other colorful inhabitants of the community known as "Bedrock."
Putting a radically new type of program into a top spot on a network's valuable evening schedule is almost unheard-of in television. Such a decision involves a great many people and organizations, including not only the network but the sponsors and their advertising agencies for whom such a move means a "gamble" of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It is all the more surprising therefore to find that "Flintstones" was sold without even a "pilot" or sample program to demonstrate its unusual format.
Standard procedure is to produce a "pilot" for a projected series in order to "sell" prospective sponsors. These pilots cost anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000 to produce.
IN THIS CASE, one of the co-creators of "Flintstones," Joe Barbera, came to New York armed only with a pile of sketches and an amazing ability to act out each role of the series before any audience he could reach.
Advertising agency TV executives, who are usually calloused and bleary-eyed from having watched dozens if not hundreds of pilot films each spring, were completely enthralled by Barbera and his act.
The story of how "Flintstones" was sold has become a Madison Avenue legend.
Barbera and his partner, Bill Hanna have turned out several other cartoon shows that have proved to be TV successes, but none was designed for adults until "Flintstones."
The voices of Fred Flintstone, his wife and the others seen in the series, are the "secret ingredients" that bring the cartoon characters to life. Handling the tasks are "old pros" of the radio-TV field. Alan Reed, who delineates Fred Flintstone in uproarious fashion, is well-known to listeners and viewers.
He was "Falstaff Openshaw" on the Fred Allen radio show, has worked on "Life of Riley" and many, many other television series.
And one more to exhaust our Flintstones clipping file. It’s from the Montgomery Advertiser of November 4, 1960. It refers to “Junior” who was jettisoned months earlier when the show was still in development as The Flagstones. The art accompanied the article. There’s no byline, making it seem this could have been one of Carr’s releases simply plunked into type.
‘The Flintstones’
Stone Age Cartoon Series Strikes Fancy Of Adults
The first situation-comedy series to be produced in animation, "The Flintstones," now being presented Thursdays on Channel 20, is providing fun for children and social satire for adults. According to reviewers the new "adult" cartoon is a decided hit.
From the drawing boards of Hanna-Barbera Productions, "The Flintstones" paints a bright, satirical picture of family life in suburbia as it might have been in prehistoric times. The language and behavior of the characters are those of the modern family, but the settings, costumes and props are out of the Stone Age. The pleasures and pressures of suburbia, from crab grass to commuting, are shown in prehistoric dwellings instead of split-level houses. The rigors of office procedures are depicted with chisels and stone tablets instead of typewriters and triplicate forms.
The "stars" are Fred and Wilma Flintstone; their son. Junior; a pet dinosaur called "Dee-no" and Dino [sic]; and their irrepressible neighbors, Betty and Barney Rubble.
There has never been a program even similar to it in television. Unlike Children's cartoons which lean heavily on slapstick with characters chasing around the screen, "The Flintstones" spotlight subtlety and satire in illustration and dialogue.
Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera have already gained their fame with youngsters as creators of Ruff & Reddy, Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw.
For 20 years at MGM, Hanna and Barbera produced "Tom and Jerry" theatrical cartoons which won seven Academy Awards.
One day, after turning out more than 125 "Tom and Jerry" strips, the frisky characters stopped moving on the artist's board and the ink dried: The upper echelon declared a burial. It didn't make economic sense, they argued; good animation is too expensive and limited animation is too shoddy. That was in 1957.
"The planned animation" was developed by the two men—a technique involving a rare commodity: experience. As Barbera puts it: "You have to know when to cut and when not to cut, it's that simple. Some people think they can save money and still come up with something good by taking cut-outs and moving them around a fixed background. Limited animation like that is a mistake."
The new technique caught on quickly. They set up their own studio and, with Screen Gems acting as distributor, they brought "Ruff & Reddy" into view. It was the story of a frisky cat and a dimwitted dog. Huckleberry Hound, the saga of a canine Don Quixote, followed in 1958 and an obtuse horse came along in 1959 to star in "Quick Draw McGraw."
This year Hanna-Barbera Productions can be considered the leading producer of new cartoons for television an occupation once considered irresponsible and worthless a few years ago by hard-headed businessmen. In fact, the firm has begun an expansion program which is expected to make it the largest animation studio in the country.


  1. OK, I give up - the top image. I can picture Fred flying headfirst into the fridge, but without going through the entire series I can't remember the episode or the circumstances, but I know the scene ends with Fred taking a bite out of the drumstick. Help?

  2. Wait a minute, just to be accurate (and I'm not entirely sure that I am), wasn't "ROCKY AND HIS FRIENDS" the first animated prime time series? Or did "THE FLINTSTONES" and "ROCKY AND HIS FRIENDS" somehow make it to prime time, neck and neck?

    1. Rocky aired at 5:30 (4:30 Mountain). That's not prime time.

  3. I just found this blog off CRIVENS! and would like to add that the pitch to adult audiences happened in the UK too. Funnily enough it was TOP CAT based on Phil Silvers Sgt Bilco that seemed more adult or maybe that's just my British perspective.