Yabba-dabba-gee-I-must-be-getting-old! (‘The Flintstones’ turn 50)

You know, I don’t feel old …

But I just ran across Google’s home page, and instead of the usual logo, I got the above. And it hit me — could today be the 50th anniversary of “The Flintstones”?

And of course, being such a slave to logic, I clicked on the cartoon.

Yep — it was a half-century ago tonight that ABC aired the first episode of TV’s first prime-time cartoon comedy.

And now you know what the reaction’s gonna be, on a grander scale, in January 2040, when “Simpsons” fans say the same thing … (And can you imagine “The Simpsons” intro — at least before network TV chopped openings to pieces — without the classic “Flintstones” intro? Or even “Family Guy”?)

By the time I first could remember watching Bedrock’s modern stone-age family, and their neighbors, the Rubbles, the show was already on in syndication, afternoons and some mornings. But the adult fan found out how groundbreaking the show was.

I also learned, as I left childhood, how much Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera were inspired by one of the greatest sitcoms of all: “The Honeymooners.” Bigmouth, blue-collar, bowling- and- lodge-loving guy? Check. Lovable dumb neighbor and best buddy? Check. Attractive wives who put up with them? Check. (Except Wilma was no Alice Kramden. And she had a much better place to live. Then again, Fred was no Ralph, either …)

“The Honeymooners” — which was a regular part of Gleason’s variety show for years before and after it was spun off for one season (1955-56) as a standard sitcom — was much better written and, of course, had the benefit of an incredibly talented cast. A couple of things that “The Flintstones” had going for it, though, were cartoon violence (Ralph could never, ever be as abusive to Norton as Fred could be to Barney) and a hipness factor.

Mostly, that took the form of music. And as a music fan even as a kid, that’s what stuck the most. It could have been a spoof on a current celebrity, like Ann-Margrock (Ann-Margret):

Or Jimmy Darrock (James Darren):

Or my second-favorite (though not by much) celebrity appearance: The Beau Brummelstones:

Or it was timeless, like my favorite cameo of all — Hoagy Carmichael (no “stone” necessary) — which, unfortunately, isn’t available in videoland:

But the fictional music was even more memorable. Hi Fye and “Listen to the Rockin’ Bird”:

Rock Roll with the “Bedrock Twitch”:

The Hatrocks/Gruesomes “Bug Music” extravaganza:

And for cryin’ out loud, The Way-Outs!

And I can’t think of married couples and milestones without thinking “Happy Anniversary”:

And, of course, after about four seasons, the Flintstones and Rubbles had a couple other things the Kramdens and Nortons never had: Kids. Cute, adorable, lovable kids:

While it was an influence on future generations of cartoons, “The Flintstones” was a trendy show for its time, and some of it, of course, remains in an early-’60s time warp. (Fat chance there’ll be another cartoon with Joe Rockhead or the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes. And legally, there can’t be cigarette commercials.) But while the show has aged, I haven’t. No, wait … Isn’t that the other way around?

One Response to “Yabba-dabba-gee-I-must-be-getting-old! (‘The Flintstones’ turn 50)”

  1. bob Says:

    yeah yeah yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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