Quick, what cartoon was generally considered to be the first primetime cartoon of its kind, running from 1960 to 1966 with over a hundred and sixty episodes? Give up? Well that show would be the Flintstones, a stone age comedy that imitated the Honeymooners with quick wit and wholesome family jokes. Today, we have a review that brings together a couple of primetime specials that aired during the late seventies. Let’s explore the first volume of Flintstones Prime Time Specials Volume 1 from the Warner Archive.
The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone: This special aired on October 30th, 1979. Fred and Wilma dress up as a chicken and rabbit while Barney and Betty dress up as a flower and a bumble bee. They find themselves going to the set of the game show: “Make a Deal or Don’t” hosted by the one and only: Monty Marble. The first contestant is Barney who is given $1,000 but is also given the option of taking the curtain. Despite “chicken” taunts by Fred, Barney listens to his wife and takes the money. Fred’s egging one of his best friends earns him the right to be the next contestant.
He is given the same choice, $1,000 or the curtain. After some prompting, he takes what’s behind the curtain. Behind the curtain, Fred learns that he receives a trip to Rocksylvania for him and his wife. However, Monty also takes pity on the Rubbles as he offers them the chance to take the trip as well. The Rubbles gladly accept and soon the Flintstones and the Rubbles are on their way to the fabled land of Rockula and Frankenstone in a haunted getaway. But is this some elaborate tourist resort or is somebody ready to take a bite out of the two families?
The Flintstones: Little Big League: This special aired on April 6th, 1978. Fred Flintstone wakes up to the sound of spring cleaning and decides he wants to go bowling. However, when he goes over to Barney’s house to see if he is willing to join him, Barney turns him down. It just so happens that Mr. Rubble is coaching his son’s little league baseball team. Bam Bam is the star player and tends to hit a homer on each and every pitch that is thrown to him. Dejected, Fred goes home and renounces his friendship to Barney.
After repeated attempts from Wilma and Betty to try and get the two to make up, it does not work out. Later, at work, Fred is offered a chance to coach his own little league team. However, it does not go so well when he has to incorporate a judge’s son and a cop’s boy who are both terrible at baseball into the starting lineup. The opening day game between the Sandstone Sluggers and Bedrock Brontos is only days away and Fred has to find himself a star. Little does he know that his own daughter, Pebbles could be the best pitcher this side of Bedrock. Who will win, and who will lose this pivotal baseball game?
The Flintstones ran about a dozen specials from 1977 all the way up to 1993. These two contained here are a case of pretty good and downright awful. The pretty good one happens to be Rockula and Frankenstone as it becomes the classic fish out of water followed by a big ole chase in and out of the haunted castle. It really seems to work and the characters feel harmonious, full of friendship and some good laughs. I liked it, but then again a Halloween special is hard to get wrong as long as you hit all of the basics. It does not hurt that it felt completely like a Scooby Doo episode as well.
However, Little Big League is completely awful. The show is a classic case of Fred being a cry baby and having to top Barney at everything rather than let the little guy have his day in the sun. Then Fred finally gets his team and we watch as he completely ignores his daughter until they find out that she has an amazing arm. The finale is where the crapfest becomes the worst as we witness the two teams break out in song about how it is not important who wins or loses? Who is directing these shenanigans? It tries to be a feel good moment but all of the sentiment just makes you want to gag.
Interesting fact, in Little Big League, the voice of Pebbles is voiced by none other than Pamela Anderson. Yes, that Pamela Anderson. She was twelve at the time. That aside, there is nothing in Little Big League that will warrant repeat viewing. Its syrupy and its attempt at a feel good production falls flat on its face. Really, a musical number? At least, Rockula and Frankenstone would be a fun diversion to watch when you aren’t watching a slasher or zombie flic.
Add that to the fact that I am still not on board with the Warner Archive. No matter how many times they try to include interesting forgotten content onto a disc, I can’t get past the bare bones presentation and that they are using a dvd-recordable disc. Add that to the fact they are charging fifteen to twenty dollars for a couple of 45 minute specials. Maybe in the future they will put these two together with the rest of the prime time specials and make a three or four disc special. No recommendation here, unless you just have to have every single Flintstones episode and special available.