"The Flintstones" Rocks as a Classic Animated TV Series

Herbie J Pilato

[The Classic TV Preservation Society]

As a huge fan of the classic TV show, Bewitched (ABC, 1964-1966) one would think my favorite episode of The Flintstones (ABC, 1960-1996) would be the one, titled, "Samantha," in which a stone-age Sam and Darrin (featuring the real-life voices of Bewitched stars Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York) make a one-time appearance as Fred and Wilma's (Alan Reed and Jean Vander Pyl) new next-store neighbors. Though this is a fine Bewitched side-sequel (and Wilma makes a credible quasi-Mrs. Kravitz), it must stand apart for me in comparison to other Flintstones fragments. (In fact, I would prefer to view this concrete Sam-segment of The Flintstones as an illustrated time-travel episode of Bewitched.)

But the essence of why I love Bewitched (it makes you believe in make-believe) is why I love any and all episodes of The Flintstones, and why I am particularly fond of a thirty-minute granite-escapade, called, "Little Bamm Bamm."

Here, the Flintstones, and their neighbors, Barney and Betty Rubble (voiced by Mel Blanc and Bea Benaderet), discover the truth of what it means to be a parent, as well as a friend. It's significant not only due to the fact that it introduced the super-powered Bamm Bamm to the series (thus presenting an additional element of fun-fantasy) but also because of how the toon-tot is interposed into the program.

The action takes place shortly after Wilma gives birth to Pebbles (which, in and of itself, is a milestone in the annals of small screen animation). Because of the blessed boulder of an event, Barney and Betty become even more frequent than usual visitors to their neighbors.

Meanwhile, however, Fred becomes extremely frustrated with the situation. He doesn't feel he's spending enough quality time with his new daughter. In a vile moment, Fred is incredibly rude to Betty with a derogatory remark about the Rubbles not having children.

Betty runs away crying. Barney and Wilma are furious. Fred is morose.

In a very poignant and real moment, Betty is next seen, sobbing, in the arms of her husband on a bench in their side yard. As Barney attempts to console his teary spouse, to near no avail, the two look skyward and notice a shooting star. A wish is made. The next day, Bamm Bamm is abandoned at their door, and the Rubbles make every attempt to adopt the infant. The episode would be significant enough, such that the Rubbles actually adopt Bamm Bamm, which marks the first time in animated history that cartoon characters gave time to foster children. But it's this episode's legitimate moments of emotion, recited so believably well by the characters (and their voice-overs) that christens this episode as vintage and definitive.

Like any good series, animated or not, The Flintstones played according to the logic it created. As with the live-action 1950s-1960s CBS-TV show, The Honeymooners (which inspired the series), Fred and Wilma's program invites us into its self-contained world, and makes us feel welcome, even though we are the outsiders and, in this case, live-action figures.

In addition to being the longest-running animated series in prime-time history (with 166 episodes), The Flintstones' prehistoric ways remain ageless, mainly because of the intelligent, time-honored episodes like "Little Bamm Bamm."

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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