Remember when your favorite show jumped the shark? Like when the Fonz jumped that shark? Or when Oliver came to live with the Bradys? Or when Rodimus Prime took over as leader of the Autobots? Sometimes, more isn't always better. And Orbitty was a prime example of such desperate attempts at life.
Hanna-Barbera, of course, was notorious for recycling its shows and characters with minor tweaks - witness "The Partridge Family: 2200 A.D." and the abominable "The Thirteen Ghosts of Scooby-Doo" - but occasionally it did things right. In 1984, H-B, fresh off the success of new shows such as "The Smurfs" and "He-Man, Master of the Universe", decided to revive one of their most beloved series: "The Jetsons." Back were fumbling George, even-tempered Jane, chatty Judy, and precocious Elroy. They even had that lovable space mutt Astro along for the ride!
Until the third episode.
Yes, a mere three episodes into the new incarnation, the writers decided to revive some life into their classic futuristic sitcom, and did so by having Elroy take a field trip to the far depths of outer space, and finding a rock who was not a rock, but was instead Orbitty. For those of you who can't remember the silly monstrosity that was Orbitty, here is a brief description: a rock with a toupee and springs for legs. Yes, that's right, this rare pet coveted by collectors everywhere had springs for legs. A weird pop culture cross between Tigger and a troll doll, Orbitty spoke in a high-pitched garbled dialect (voiced by the juggernaut Frank Welker), and changed colors when he was happy, or sad, or whatever he was at the moment.
Orbitty became a regular fixture at Elroy's side, just as Astro had become less a pet than George's after-hours barfly friend. When Elroy started competing in the intergalactic Olympics, Orbitty was there to help him apparently cheat in a few contests. And let's not forget the time Elroy broke Jane's favorite vase - where was Orbitty then? Hiding in Elroy's pocket, of course! Some friend.
Orbitty stuck it out for the next 2 seasons (including the prorated 1987-88 season that served mostly as promo fodder for the upcoming movie. Why were the Jetsons so popular in the late 80s anyway? Was it .. the Internet?) and had a fairly major role in Jetsons: The Movie as Elroy's right-hand man to help save his dad. And then, like so many other spring-legged toupee-wearing rocks, he vanished without a trace.
Now does anyone know where the Great Gazoo has gone off to ...?