Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Animation

Yabba Dabba Doo! ‘The Flintstones’ Celebrates It’s 60th Anniversary!

It’s hard to believe that Hanna Barbera’s The Flintstones has been ingrained in popular culture for six decades.

America’s first prime-time adult animation series, The Flintstones began first as an inspired remake of Jackie Gleason’s Honeymooners set in prehistoric times until in February 1963 when Fred Flintstone and his wife, Wilma, welcomed their baby, Pebbles, turning the series into a family sitcom.

It didn’t take long for Barney and Betty Rubble, the Flinstones’ neighbors and best friends, to adopt their own child. the super-strong, club-toting Bamm-Bamm.

In the decades since the original series first aired, the modern stone age family have appeared in dozens of movies and series including The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, The Flintstone Kids, The Flintstone Comedy Hour, The Flintstone Kids, The Man Called Flintstone, two live action films and most recently, The Flintstones & WWE: Stone Age SmackDown!

To celebrate the release of The Flintstones: The Complete Series on Blu-ray, I was fortunate to speak with several people instrumental in the continuing legacy of the Modern Stone-Age family including animation historian and author Jerry Beck, Eric Bauza (currently voicing Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety, Marvin the Martian, Pepé Le Pew, and Woody Woodpecker), the voices of Bamm-Bamm and Dino; Jeff Bergman (George Jetson, virtually all of the Looney Tunes characters, Yogi Bear, and Donald Trump), the longtime voice of Fred Flintstone; and director/producer Tony Cervone (SCOOB!, The Flintstones and WWE: Stone Age Smackdown!).

Top Row (L to R) Tony Cervone, Jeff Bergman • Bottom Row (L to R) Eric Bauza, Jerry Beck

FOG!: The Flintstones was the first prime time animated series. What sets it apart from the other series? And do you think that there is a place in the 21st century for a prime time incarnation of Hanna-Barbera properties?

Jerry Beck: Wow. That was like two or three great questions in there.  I don’t even know where to begin, but, The Flintstones, what sets it apart?

Obviously in the very beginning, it was the first prime time animated series aimed at adults for television. TV animation before The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Ruff and Reddy, not to mention things like Tom Terrific and Crusader Rabbit were all aimed at children for the most part. The Flintstones was taking animation to where live action on television was at that time, which was sitcoms.

It was a shock to people when it came out. I’m old enough to actually have been alive and see The Flintstones when it was first on and it was unbelievable to people.  It was a surprise hit because it was good; it looked good, and it was funny.  It was definitely worthy of being a big bang for television animation, and television animation in prime time when people were forgetting that animation was always for adults, in my opinion, the animated shorts that used to be made for theaters, the ones like Hanna-Barbera had done with Tom and Jerry.

By 1960, animation was being devolved as a children’s medium only, really; and it took Hanna-Barbera and The Flintstones, and then their later prime time series to really, revive that idea that it’s animation can be for everyone.

The other question you had about reviving it for any Hanna-Barbera shows for the 21st century. I totally agree with that. I totally believe that it absolutely could be done. Animation characters are timeless  and immortal. They don’t age and as long as we have people like Jeff Bergman and Eric Bauza around and directors like Tony, the characters could be as fresh and funny and alive as they’ve always been. I have no doubt we could do a modern day version of these characters.

FOG!: When performing an iconic character, such as Fred or Dino, are you trying to nail an impression of Alan Reed or Mel Blanc, or capture the spirit of the character?  And, when doing these characters, was there a point when when you decided, “That’s it; that’s the character”, and what was the moment  that defined it for you?

Jeff Bergman:  Hmm. Wow

Eric Bauza: Jeff’s been with the characters so long and so many iterations, I’m dying to hear his take.

Jeff Bergman: I think originally approaching it, I would always try to do the best, the closest representation possible. But what happens generally is you end up putting so much of whatever it is you bring to it. And I think everybody who does all the classic voices and has reprieved them over the years, put something kind of special, their own soul into it, and it makes it kind of fun to hear everybody’s different take.

It’s like James Bond. There have been so many James Bonds and it’s hard to say for me what my favorite is because I have favorite movies and favorite lines.

But as far as Fred goes, If somebody says, “Wow, that’s my childhood”. Then, I kind of feel like I did my job.

Whatever it takes to get you there. A lot of times, a director will give you a sense of where they want the character to go or how they want the line to be.  Not a line read, and that will just wow, that will put me right there.

For years people said, “you don’t sound like Fred. It just doesn’t sound like him.”

I was in my twenties and in my thirties, and by the time I got into my forties, I don’t know if my ear developed a little differently or my voice just changed; I think it took a while for my voice to mature.

But once I was in my forties, people would react to it. And that’s how you kinda know and be like, “Wow, that’s it; you got it, that’s really great.” And then it just was easier to, just get there.  But it just took a while; 25 to 30 years for me.

Original cast members Alan Reed (Fred), Mel Blanc (Barney), Jean Vander Pyl (Wilma), and Bea Benaderet (Betty)

Eric Bauza: I had to do it, or else Tony said, “you’re fired.”

I had no choice, but to just nail it right there. Only a handful of it experiences for me, but even in those iterances, it’s just like, “oh, okay.”  Again, depending on who is directing you in the situations and the story definitely affects the way you’re gonna kind of have to bring this old character into this new. situation, all the while keeping in mind the essence of the character.

It just depends on where the person that’s telling the story wants to take you, and then I guess your job as the actor is just to make sure that it’s fine tuned to what you remember.

Every time Jeff does Fred, Grey (Griffin), who plays Betty goes, “Ah, man, that’s so good.”

When I’m looking at someone like Grey, who is like modern day, June Foray; actually a modern day Grey Griffin, she’s her own living icon. I’m like, if she’s impressed, then you know, it’s good, because she’s also amazing.

it’s, it’s great being in that room. And then you got Kevin Michael Richardson doing his take on Barney.  Tony, would you say that was the original sound of Barney?

Tony Cervone: Jerry jump in, but didn’t someone else do Barney when Mel Blanc was in the hospital?

Eric Bauza: Was it Daws (Butler)?

Jerry Beck: It was Daws, that’s right,.

Tony Cervone: And he had that more nasally kind of Barney, which I love. I always liked that nasally Barney.  Of course I love Mel’s Barney, but as a kid, when I would see those cartoons, I was like, “Oh, there’s the weird Barney. I like that weird Barney.”

Eric Bauza: It’s funny because the, the Mel Barney, I know Jeff also does and has done for commercials and such. I mean, it’s technically supposed to sound a bit like more dull; a bit more slower.  But that  nasally one to me, that even sounds dumber. (laughs)

When I hear, Kevin and Jeff go back and forth as those characters, It’s like, “Man, order 12 seasons of this!”

Tony Cervone: That’s the show to make; like there’s two Barneys. There’s like another Barney; we could have duelling Barneys.

Eric Bauza:  It’s like, Scooby’s cousin from the South visits. In Bedrock, you know, Barney’s cousin from the town over. I’m telling you, I would love to see like Fred and Barney, at a bar in Bedrock, just after work, before going home having a drink. That would be amazing to see these characters again in modern times.

Jeff Bergman: Well you know, they used to advertise for Busch Beer. There’s like about a nine minute commercial for Busch Beer that they do (laughing), it’s so funny.

Eric Bauza: I gotta look that up.

Jeff Bergman: Yeah, that’s great.

FOG!: When directing and producing classic Hanna Barbera properties do you feel it’s important to tell a story that fits within the history of the character or move them forward?

Tony Cervone: Well, you know, the answer is both. You always have to respect that the history of the characters and where they’re coming from, and then you also have to kind of in equal measures, do something new.

And that’s tough to do.  We’re not always successful with it, but I think that some of the things over the years have been pretty successful where it feels like, yeah, this is new, but also really entrenched in where, where it comes from it.

And I think with, with the Hanna-Barbera properties, that’s even more important. I think you do have to be really respectful of their histories and their origins.

Thanks to Jeff, Eric, Jerry, and Tony, as well as special thanks to Ines Logarta and Gary Miereanu for making this conversation possible.

 

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.

Now, a look at the Blu-ray release of The Flintstones: The Complete Series, which includes all six season & two bonus movies.

Let’s be realistic, chances are if you are a fan of The Flintstones, you’re going to want this set.  And it’s definitely worth it.

But let’s take a look at the good and bad of this release.

THE GOOD

 

  • The set includes all six seasons and 166 episodes of the original series, along with two additional animated movies – 1966’s The Man Called Flintstone and 2015’s The Flintstones & WWE: Stone Age Smackdown! Every episode has been remastered in HD*

 

  • There are tons of supplemental materials including the a clip of the lost pilot, and several featurettes focusing on everything from the phenomenon that resulted from the series to collectibles to an audio supplement featuring almost a half hour of music from the series.

 

THE BAD
  •  * The two bonus films, The Man Called Flintstone and The Flintstones & WWE: Stone Age Smackdown! are presented in standard definition.  Considering Stone Age Smackdown was already released on Blu-ray, this is a poor decision.

 

  • No digital code.  One of the great things about many of Warner Bros. releases are the inclusion of a digital code.  This is a disappointing exclusion.

 

  • Missed opportunities.  It would have been great to have examples of The Flintstones in advertising, from beer to cigarettes to vitamins to breakfast cereal.  Another disappointing exclusion is the rarely seen, but phenomenal 2001 animated film The Flintstones: On the Rocks, which, like Stone Age Smackdown!, pays homage to Ed Benedict’s original designs and features Jeff Bergman, Kevin Michael Richardson, Grey Griffin and longtime Wilma, Tress MacNeille, as well as the last time an original cast member appeared in a Flintstones project (in this case John Stephenson as Mr. Slate)

 

  • There’s some lossy audio and all supplemental features are in SD.

 

 

CONCLUSION

It’s not perfect, but even with some of the issues, its likely a better audio and visual experience than when you watched it in syndication as a kid.  The Flintstones has entertained me for most of my life and I’m thankful that Warner Bros. has put the effort in The Flintstones: The Complete Series to make sure it reaches both older and new fans.  A wonderful opportunity to bathe in nostalgic comfort during this challenging.

Yabba Dabba Doo!

 

 

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

DISCLAIMER

Forces of Geek is protected from liability under the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) and “Safe Harbor” provisions.

All posts are submitted by volunteer contributors who have agreed to our Code of Conduct.

FOG! will disable users who knowingly commit plagiarism, piracy, trademark or copyright infringement.

Please contact us for expeditious removal of copyrighted/trademarked content.

SOCIAL INFLUENCER POLICY

In many cases free copies of media and merchandise were provided in exchange for an unbiased and honest review. The opinions shared on Forces of Geek are those of the individual author.

You May Also Like

Animation

Edited by by Kevin Sandler and Tyler Solon Williams Published by University Press of Mississippi   Hanna and Barbera Conversations is a new book...

Animation

Join us as we celebrate 25 years of warping fragile little minds when the critically acclaimed, Academy Award-nominated* SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT...

Interviews

Garo Setian loves sci-fi movies. And not just the franchise juggernauts, but the ragamuffin strays spawned in their wake too. Though scrappier fare like...

Movies

Let me start off by acknowledging that this is my first viewing of The Raid 2. I watched it right after I watched The...