See: The Flintstones

The Flintstones ran from 1960 until 1966, when it was unceremoniously canceled. The characters moved immediately to the big screen, with 1966's animated spy-spoof, A Man Called Flintstone, while reruns kept the original show alive, especially with the younger set.

The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show (1971-1972) was the first of the Flintstones spin- offs, and it set the tone for most Flintstones shows that would follow. Generally, these would ignore the original series' broader audience, and aim at the Cocoa Pebbles-eating market. The show featured the teenage Pebbles ("Yabba-Dabba-Doozy!" Sally Struthers did the voice) and Bamm-Bamm (voiced by Jay North, the serial killer-obsessed former child star who had played TV's Dennis the Menace) tooling around Bedrock with their pals, science nerd Moonrock, hippie flake Wiggy, and heavy girl Penny. The show never really knew what to do about Bamm-Bamm's super-strength; sometimes it figured in an episode, but the writers just as frequently forgot or ignored it. The old cast reappeared, though original series pets Dino, Baby Puss, and Hoppy were nowhere to be seen. They were replaced by Pebbles' baby mammoth, Wooly, and Bamm-Bamm's barking dinosaur, Snoots. These creatures would disappear in later Flintstones shows, and the more familiar ones would figure in adventures. Other new characters included the morose Badluck Schleprock and the motorcycle-riding Bronto Bunch. The show works well because, although it brought the primetime series to the level of a Saturday morning cartoon, it stayed close to the original premise in more than just the anachronism-filled setting. Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm are very much their father's children. Although Pebbles lacks Fred Flintstone's volatile temper, she has inherited his knack for crackpot schemes that generate trouble. Bamm-Bamm, like his father before him, goes along, despite reservations

Episodes were rerun the following year on The Flintstones Comedy Hour (1972-73), which also featured new material set during Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm's adolescent years. Reruns of the Comedy Hour were repackaged the following season as The Flintstones Show.

Fred Flintstone and Friends (1977) and The New Fred and Barney Show (1979) showcased old and new Flintstones material and other cartoons, and helped revive the franchise at the end of the 1970s. The first show featured the teenage children; the second returned to the days when Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm were toddlers. Flintstones characters would appear, along with the majority of Hanna-Barbera's characters, in Scooby's All Star Laff-A-Lympics, which made its debut in 1977.

The late 1970s added new adventures in Fred and Barney Meet the Thing (1979). The Thing was the Fantastic Four's Ben Grimm, as he appeared in Hanna-Barbera's universe. While his cartoon adventures were separate from the Flintstones', Fred, Barney, and Ben Grimm appeared together in brief transitional material. Later in the season, the Thing was dropped and the Fred and Barney adventures were paired with adventures of the Shmoo. This character certainly resembled Al Capp's memorable creation, but he had none of its satiric intent, and was instead a shape-shifting assistant to some mystery-solving kids. The decision is an odd one, since the show is clearly aimed at children who would not be aware of Al Capp's creature, and would have been as inclined to watch if the Shmoo had been called the Blob or the Thingamabob or the Quizro. In any case, that version of the show went by the title Fred and Barney Meet the Shmoo, and it was a portent of things to come.

The late 1970s also boasted some Flintstones specials. A Flintstones Christmas (1977) wasn't the first time the citizen of Bedrock were shown celebrating Christmas; they'd done so in the original series. Still, one wonders how a family who lives B.C. could be observing that particularly holiday. The Flintstones' Little Big League arrived a year later. It fills in the time between the original series and Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm's teen years. Here, the kids play on rival little league baseball teams, coached by their respective fathers. Nitpickers will note that Pebbles' impressive athletic ability contradicts an episode of The Pebbles and Bamm Bamm Show, where the teenage Pebbles takes over a little league team coached by Fred and demonstrates a stunning lack of baseball knowledge.

The Flintstones Comedy Show came next, and ran two seasons, from 1980 to 1982. This ninety-minute show features six different Bedrock-based cartoons. "Flintstones Family Adventures" presents more kiddie-oriented adventures of the original series characters. "Pebbles, Dino, and Bamm-Bamm" focused on the Bedrock kiddies themselves. "Bedrock Cops" had Fred and Barney working, inexplicably, as the Stone Age's finest, and finally meeting the Shmoo. Betty and Wilma, meanwhile, now have jobs as reporters for the Bedrock Daily News. In times of trouble, their copy boy would become Captain Caveman-- this segment's title character. This prehistoric superhero had been introduced in Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels (1977-80), a toon in which Hanna-Barbera's answers to Charlie's Angels revived the frozen Captain. A furry beast who spoke with less sophistication than Johnny Weissmuller's Tarzan, he stood out as much in Bedrock as in 1970s America. Still, no one seemed to mind this evolutionary throwback interacting with the more sophisticated "modern stone age family," nor did they connect him to his shaggy copy-boy alter-ego. Other features were "Dino and Cavemouse" and "The Frankenstones."

The Frankenstones are a variation of the Gruesomes, the Addams Family/Munsters-inspired family of the original series. The Flintstones and Rubbles first meet the Frankenstones in two 1980 specials, The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone and The Flintstones' New Neighbors. Reportedly, both specials were aired with hopes of reviving the franchise as a primetime show. While this was not to be, two other specials aired in 1981: The Flintstones: Wind-Up Wilma and The Flintstones: Jogging Fever.

The specials stopped until 1987, which saw the inevitable: The Jetsons meet the Flintstones. This pre/historic meeting had almost happened once before; back in the original series, time-travel brought the Stone Age family into a distant future that represented Hanna- Barbera's trial run for the Jetsons-- though the Jetsons themselves did not appear.

The next series, The Flintstone Kids (1986-87), chronicled the childhood adventures of Fred, Barney, Wilma, and Betty. The idea was partially a marketing gimmick, inspired by the Cabbage Patch Kids craze. Nevertheless, it also attempted to be somewhat educational, and even spawned a War on Drugs-related special, The Flintstone Kids: Just Say No (1988). The show's premise also retroactively changed the original series' established prehistory. The 1964 episode "Bachelor Daze" had flashed back to Fred and Barney's first meeting with Wilma and Betty, shortly after they graduated from high school.

The success of that show may have partially inspired the short-lived Cave Kids (1996), an educational show featuring baby Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm. Out of adult hearing range, the infants spoke articulately to each other and babysitter Dino (presumably, their usual gibberish was being translated for the audience). The 1990s also saw various animated material repackaged and syndicated as Back to Bedrock.

Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm finally reached adulthood and married in I Yabba-Dabba Doo! (1993). Animated stand-ins for William Hanna and Joseph Barbera made cameo appearances; it would have been unthinkable not to invite them. A respectable nine months later, Hollyrock-A-Bye Baby ended with the birth of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm's twins, Roxy and Chip. A third special, A Flintstones Family Christmas, brought 1993 to a close.

Hanna-Barbera returned to the holiday theme one year later, with A Flintstones Christmas Carol (1994) In 1997, Dino starred in a cartoon short, "The Great Egg-scape." Most surprising of the later spin-offs is The Flintstones On the Rocks (2001), animated in the style of the old episodes. The plot actually explores the likely effects, even in a cartoon world, of Fred's obnoxiousness. Could Fred and Wilma be heading for a divorce? Of course, it ends happily, but it shows the characters in an adult manner that recalls the original show. As a bonus, it boasts a dream sequence done in a style recalling the clay-model Flintstones viewmasters of the 1960s.

The show has, of course, inspired two live-action movies. In 1994, John Goodman, Rick Moranis, Elizabeth Perkins, and Rosie O'Donnel appeared in a big-budget adaptation that played to mixed responses. The sequel or "prequel," The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas featured lesser-known actors in yet another tale of how the prehistoric couples first met.

The Flintstones were a natural for comic books, and every major American company has had a hand in their printed adventures. Dell published the first from 1961 to 1962, when most of the company's licensed properties went to Gold Key. The Key continued the Flintstones line, adapted A Man Called Flintstone and briefly, ran a book based on The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show. Charlton took over the title in the early 1970s, publishing The Flintstones, The Flintstones featuring Gazoo, Dino, The Flintstones' Neigbors, Barney and Betty Rubble, and Pebbles and Bamm- Bamm, until 1976. Marvel Comics snapped up the rights in 1977. Their Flintstones ran for the remainder of the 1970s, and helps to explain Fred and Barney Meet the Thing. In the late 1980s, Blackthorne produced several 3-D comics featuring the characters. In early 1990s, Harvey Comics picked up the rights, and featured both the original comic books and an adaptation of the big-budget movie. In the second half of the decade, Archie ran titles. At present, DC Comics owns the rights to the characters. In addition to these, many promotional comics have appeared, under various banners. During the 1960s and 70s, a Flintstones strip ran in many daily newspapers.

The characters have promoted a bewildering assortment of merchandise, from Winston-Salem cigarettes to Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles cereal and Flintstones vitamins. The characters are a natural for playthings of all description. Dolls, puppets, lunch boxes, more than a dozen board games, computer games, and stuffed characters have been sold. Perhaps the rarest collectible is the Marx Toys Bedrock set, produced during the early 60s. It featured a play mat, plastic cast (Fred, Barney, Wilma, Betty, Dino, Baby Puss), 10 plastic Bedrock citizens (including two guys with beer mugs), trees, mailboxes, two flintmobiles, six buildings (including the Flintstone and Rubble homes), and several realistic dinosaurs taken from an earlier, non-Flintstones related set. My sisters had one, once; it is very hard to find an intact set now.

At this point, grandchildren of the original Flintstones fans can watch a cartoon about the grandchildren of the original characters. Whether new material will remain marketable is anyone's guess, but there's little question that The Flintstones have established themselves as a part of late twentieth-century pop culture.

Sources:

T.R. Adams. The Flintstones: A Modern Stone-Age Phenomenon. Atlanta, Georgia: Turner, 1994.

"Flintstones Spin-offs." Top That! http://www.topthat.net/webrock/fspin.htm

Don Markstein. "The Flintstones." Toonopedia. http://www.toonopedia.com/flintstn.htm

"The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show." http://www.topthat.net/webrock/spinoffs/pebbles1.htm

Steve Trussel. The Flintstones Illustrated Bibliography. http://www.trussel.com/prehist/flint.htm

TV Tome. www.tvtome.com