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Blu-ray Review: The Flintstones: The Complete Series

October 27, 2020

By John Corrado

The idea of a primetime animated sitcom was very much a novelty when The Flintstones premiered in 1960. Created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera under their company banner Hanna-Barbera Productions, the show about the “modern Stone Age family” was the first “cartoon” to ever land a primetime slot.

And it became a smash hit for original broadcaster ABC, running for six straight seasons until 1966. Now Warner Bros. is releasing the entire series for the first time ever in high definition on Blu-ray, in a ten-disc box set that includes all 166 episodes of the original series.

Despite taking place in a modernized version of the Stone Age, The Flintstones still very much follows the formula of other sitcoms from the era, with its domestic humour and suburban setting. The show famously follows the exploits of two families in the town of Bedrock; Fred Flintstone (voiced by Alan Reed) and his wife Wilma (voiced by Jean Vander Pyl), and their neighbours Barney (voiced by Mel Blanc) and Betty Rubble (voiced by Bea Benaderet in seasons 1 to 4, and Gerry Johnson in 5 and 6).

Packaged snugly in a white box with two plastic cases inside that hold five discs each, The Flintstones: The Complete Series includes all six seasons of the show. The animation itself looks fabulous on Blu-ray, and the superior picture quality is one of the main selling points of this release. It’s also worth noting that the set retains the original instrumental theme song “Rise and Shine” on the first two seasons, which only got replaced by the famous jingle “Meet the Flintstones” in the third season, and was retroactively added to the earlier episodes when they played in syndication.

The set also includes two bonus movies on the last disc. The first is The Man Called Flintstone, a theatrically released animated feature from 1966, which was produced directly following the end of production on the show, and serves as a sort of finale to the series. Directed and produced by original creators Hanna and Barbera, the amusing spy spoof finds Fred Flinststone being hired to take the place of an incapacitated secret agent, and sent on a mission to France with his family and friends.

The second one is The Flintstones and WWE: Stone Age Smackdown!, a direct-to-video movie from 2015 which was notably the first Flintstones movie to be produced following the deaths of Hanna and Barbera in 2001 and 2006, respectively. Roughly fifty minutes long, the mid-length feature finds Fred Flintstone (voiced by Jeff Bergman) trying to double his clams by becoming a wrestling promoter. It’s actually pretty good, and does a fine job of capturing the feel of the original show. The film also boasts appearances from animated, Stone Age versions of several real life WWE superstars.

To quote the show’s classic theme song, “they’re a page right out of history,” and The Flintstones is in fact an important touchstone of both TV and animation history. While the show initially received mixed reactions from critics when it first aired, it was an instant hit with viewers, becoming the first animated show ever to receive a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series. It’s still only one of two animated shows to receive this honour, with the other being Family Guy. While admittedly dated in some regards, I have always found The Flintstones to be very amusing, and it’s a lot of fun to revisit the show and characters now through this set.

Bonus Features (Blu-ray):

Along with all 166 episodes of the show and the two movies, the set also includes a selection of archival featurettes spread over seven of the ten discs, ported over from the original DVD releases.

Disc 1:

The Flagstones: The Lost Pilot (1 minute, 35 seconds): Part of the original pilot for the show, back when it was called The Flagstones.

How to Draw Fred Flintstone (6 minutes, 47 seconds): A tutorial on how to draw the title character, with help from voice actor Alan Reed.

Disc 2:

Carved in Stone: The Flintstones Phenomenon (20 minutes, 42 seconds): Animators from Hanna-Barbera discuss the history and legacy of the show, in this very informative archival piece.

Disc 3:

Songs of the Flintstones Album (27 minutes, 57 seconds): A selection of songs lifted from an old novelty record, including the original version of what became the theme song, which play over images from the show.

Disc 4:

All About the Flintstones (5 minutes, 21 seconds): A short archival featurette presenting a breezy overview of the show’s history.

Wacky Inventions (5 minutes, 44 seconds): A nice overview of some of the inventions seen on the show, which cleverly mix the trappings of modernity with Stone Age technology.

Disc 5:

Bedrock Collectibles: Collecting All Things Flintstone (6 minutes, 42 seconds): Animator Scott Shaw shows us pieces from his vast collection of Flintstones memorabilia.

The Flintstones: One Million Years Ahead of Time (8 minutes, 32 seconds): Animators from Hanna-Barbera talk about the legacy of the show, the ways that it was ahead of its time in terms of dealing with the issue of adoption, and how the production company saved money by cutting corners and simplifying the animation process.

Disc 6:

First Families of the Stone Age (7 minutes, 6 seconds): This featurette focuses on the portrayals of the show’s female characters Wilma and Betty, as well as how the show evolved with the arrival of their kids, Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm.

Hanna-Barbera’s Legendary Music Director Hoyt Curtin (7 minutes, 5 seconds): A solid look at the music of the show, from the background instrumentals to the two different theme songs.

Disc 10:

The Flintstones Meet Pop Culture (11  minutes, 29 seconds): Stephen Baldwin, who played Barney Rubble in the live action movie The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, takes us through some of the many pop culture references and parodies of real celebrities that appeared on the show.

The Great Gazoo – From A to Zetox (3 minutes, 49 seconds): Animation historian Earl Kress talks about the history of the character The Great Gazoo, a green alien from the planet Zetox, who was voiced by character actor Harvey Korman and appeared in the show’s sixth and final season.

The Flintstones and WWE: Stone Age Smackdown! (51 minutes, 39 seconds): The direct-to-video movie from 2015.

The Man Called Flintstone (89 minutes, 0 seconds): The theatrically released feature from 1969.

The Flintstones: The Complete Series is a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release. It’s 4,217 minutes and rated G.

Street Date: October 27th, 2020

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