Today in 1960, The Flintstones premiered on ABC. Meet The Flintstones in this prehistoric Hanna-Barbera production. Primetime’s first animated series was also the longest running until The Simpsons came along. Not so coincidentally, the two shows aren’t all that different–even if the former emerged in the sixties, the latter in the eighties. Fred (Alan Reed), patriarch of the cave-dwelling clan, may be marginally more intelligent than the similarly blue collar Homer, but most storylines still revolve around his more dunderheaded moves. Fortunately, wife Wilma (Jean Vander Pyl) and Barney (Mel Blanc) and Betty Rubble (Bea Benaderet), their neighbors, are usually able to set things right. That was also true for Ralph Cramden of The Honeymooners, a direct influence (Reed even sounds like Jackie Gleason). But Ralph didn’t have a pet dinosaur and he did live in the Modern Age–if you can call the fifties “modern”–rather than the Stone Age.
This long-awaited DVD set includes all 28 episodes of the first season, including the lost Flagstones pilot. Notable segments include “Hot Lips Hannigan”–one of several riffs on beatnik culture–in which Fred, aka “The Velvet Smog,” sings and Barney beats the traps and “The Creature From the Tar Pits,” in which Fred fills in as Gary Granite’s stunt double in a Bedrock-set horror flick.
The Flintstones’s first season introduced two timeless couples from another time. Its success led to a theatrical release, two live-action features, and countless specials and spin-offs. New viewers may be surprised to find that Dino doesn’t make his official entrance until episode 18 (“The Snorkasaurus Story”), that Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm aren’t in the first season at all, and that the famous theme won’t hit the airwaves until the third (replacing instrumental “Rise and Shine”). Those quirky quotes, however, were in effect from the start: “Wiiilmaaaaaaa!” “Droll, very droll” and, especially, “Yabba-dabba-doo!”