For those Flintstones collectors out there, the ride is almost over. Season five of this show’s six season runis now available on DVD. Of course, this show will never completely go away, and for good reason. The Flintstones was quite progressive for its day. Not only was it the first prime time cartoon program to develop a following, but it also has other things in common with modern animated sitcoms. It is easy to see traces of the characters of Homer Simpson and even Peter Griffin in these episodes. F…ed means well, but it is abundantly clear that Wilma is the brains of the family. This is a plot device that has almost been taken for granted today.
There are 26 episodes in this season, and each one includes some great laughs that easily translate to today’s modern lifestyles. Though the show was created in the 1960’s, it is still funny to see Wilma hang clothes on a clothesline with birds, or to see Barny fix the garbage disposal by poking it in the hindquarters with a stick. Our tools may have changed, but the personalities still ring true today.
I was disappointed with the audio on this disc. Either the dialog is mixed too low, or the music track is too loud. Obviously, when all of the audio comes out of one speaker, there is going to be some overlap. I was not prepared for the constant battle between the different sources, however. Even when the audio features dialog only, the results are still on the distorted side. When paired with the “cartoony” voices, some of the dialog is actually a bit hard to understand. I wasn’t expecting a full 5.1 mix, but I am really surprised that this mono offering is as poorly presented as it is.
Obviously, it would have taken a long, long time to have gone through and cleaned up every episode in every season of this classic program. Instead of cleaning up the entire product, the studio has concentrated on the one thing that they can change fairly easily and quickly. Their focus was on brightening the color in the episodes, and ignoring the scratches, dust and other blemishes that fill the screen. Half a restoration deserves half a score. Economically viable or not, this is just not one of those quality transfer that make you amazed at the wonders of the film restoration process.
There are only three extras on this set, but they are all very well done. A Stone Age Parenting Guide is a fairly lengthy featurette that plays like a 1950’s era educational film. The topic, of course, is child rearing in the Stone Age. I love it when the studios put some real time, effort and creative thought into their extras, and they have most certainly done so here.
The Gruesomes’ Road to Bedrock is a featurette that tells the story of a family of characters called The Gruesomes, which appeared in two episodes in season five. Warner Brothers has featured similar origin featurettes in other animation titles, and they are always very well done. This segment is no exception.
Finally, the best extra here is called Gemstones – Flintstones Rarities Unearthed. This mini-documentary is a collection of interviews With Bill Hannah and Joe Barbera on the origins of the show, as well as their thoughts on various plot devices. The real fun is the assortment of commercials from the shows original broadcast, however. While Warner’s has decided to shy away from the tobacco ads that the series did so many of, they have included several Welch’s Grape spots that are simply fascinating. As pervasive as advertising is today, it is easy to forget that so many shows used to feature product ads presented by the characters of the show themselves. This was a hold over from the old radio serial days, and it is fun to see some of those classic spots included in this set.
At some point last year, Warner Brothers became the DVD studio that could do no wrong. With the biggest classic television and film library on the planet, they have a seemingly endless supply of great material to be reworked and released anew. With the looks of this set, they will continue to hold that position in the industry for this year as well. I gave the episodes on this set some fairly low marks in the A./V department, but it is important to understand that we are talking about a cartoon series from the 1960’s. Though this program is not up to the usual high standards that DVD allows, it s still every bit as clean as it was on its original broadcast run, if not more so. A classic show, decent presentation and some great extras makes this set a must buy or Flintstones and classic animation fans. For the casual viewer, however, I might actually recommend they check out a compilation set instead.
Special Features List
- A Stone Age Parenting Guide featurette – child rearing in the Stone Age
- The Gruesomes
- Gemstones – Flintstones rarities unearthed