The Flintstones appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The Flintstones appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on these Blu-ray Discs. The shows never looked better.
Sharpness worked well, with nary a sliver of softness in sight. I saw an occasional minor anomaly – like one quick shot that looked like it’d been zoomed awkwardly – but the episodes almost always boasted excellent clarity and delineation.
No issues with jagged edges or shimmering emerged, and I saw no edge haloes. With a light layer of grain, the programs lacked signs of overt noise reduction.
Print flaws remained absent, though that didn’t the series lacked some “messiness”. Due to lackluster clean-up animation and dust on the original cels, the episodes didn’t exactly look pure and immaculate.
However, these “issues” came from the source, and any elimination of these “defects” would alter the shows as originally photographed. Since the Blu-ray represented the episodes as made in the 1960s, I felt fine with these bits of dust and whatnot. The Flintstones was made on the cheap and quickly, so these “flaws” became inevitable and not a problem.
Colors looked pretty terrific. The series opted for bold, primary hues, and the tones came across as dynamic and vivid. Some variation occurred, of course, but the hues still felt bright and lively most of the time.
Blacks seemed deep and dark, while the occasional low-light shot appeared smooth and clear. Without question, The Flintstones has never looked this good, as the Blu-rays delivered wonderful visuals.
Though perfectly acceptable, the series’ Dolby Digital monaural audio seemed more ordinary. Given the limitations of the source, though, this didn’t turn into a surprise.
Speech usually worked fine. Some edginess/roughness emerged at times, but the lines mainly felt reasonably concise and natural.
Effects offered decent clarity and accuracy, and music showed acceptable life and range. Nothing here excelled, but the track felt fine given the audio’s age and roots.
By the way, I regard it as a minor disappointment that the Blu-rays went with the lossy Dolby Digital format. While I recognize that lossless audio might show little to no improvement, I’d still prefer that benefit of the doubt.
Note that due to the massive amount of content in this package, I could not watch every episode for this review. I viewed all 166 shows when I wrote up the DVDs, but those came out over a period of more than two and a half years, not all in one fell swoop like the Blu-rays.
To allow me to review this set in a timely manner, I watched two episodes per disc. Here are the shows I viewed:
Disc One: “The Flintstone Flyer” and “Hollyrock, Here I Come”.
Disc Two: “ The Hot Piano” and “The Hypnotist”.
Disc Three: “Flintstone of Prinstone” and “The Happy Household”.
Disc Four: “Dino Goes Hollyrock” and “The Twitch”.
Disc Five: “Hawaiian Escapade” and “Ventriloquist Barney”.
Disc Six: “The Swedish Visitors” and “Daddies Anonymous”.
Disc Seven: “Ten Little Flintstones” and “Son of Rockzilla”
Disc Eight: “Indianrockolis 500” and “Adobe Dick”.
Disc Nine: “No Biz Like Show Biz” and “The Gravelberry Pie King”.
Disc Ten: “Seeing Doubles” and “Boss for a Day”.
A mix of extras appear across this set. On Disc One, we get The Flagstones: The Lost Pilot, a one-minute, 35-second clip.
The length comes as something of a disappointment, as one might expect it’ll include a full-length show. However, this brief piece is apparently all that exists and may be all they made. We get a short piece of what would eventually be “The Swimming Pool” with cruder character models and some different voices. It’s cool to see.
How to Draw Fred Flintstone runs six minutes, 47 seconds and brings a 1991 featurette. Hosted by studio heads William Hanna and Joseph Barbera along with a voiceover from Henry Corden as Fred, this piece aims at the kids. Nonetheless, it does a good job of conveying the way to sketch Fred and it offers a fun clip.
Disc Two presents a featurette entitled Carved in Stone: The Flintstones Phenomenon. This 20-minute, 42-second piece includes comments from layout artist Jerry Eisenberg, writer/animation historian Earl Kress, and cartoonist/Hanna-Barbera historian Scott Shaw, animation historian Jerry Beck, and artist Iwao Takamoto.
They discuss the transition of Hanna-Barbera into TV animation, the development of The Flintstones and its different elements, the different theme song heard in the early seasons, the use of a laugh track, the “limited” style of animation, reflections on Hanna and Barbera, and some general thoughts about the series and its legacy.
While “Stone” doesn’t present a complete history of the show, it hits on a lot of interesting subjects. I especially like the notes about the theme song, the animation, and the work of Hanna and Barbera. The documentary serves as a fun and useful examination of the series.
On Disc Three, we find an audio feature: the Songs of The Flintstones Album. From 1961, this runs 27 minutes, 57 seconds and includes singing and narration from the four chief voice actors.
They do eight songs written by Hanna/Barbera and musical director Hoyt Curtin. We hear a few retreads from the series such as the “Meet the Flintstones” theme song and the classic “Car Hop Song”, but it mostly consists of original material. It’s an exceedingly fun extra.
As we move to Disc Four, we locate two components. All About The Flintstones brings a five-minute and 21-second featurette with a few archival pieces and comments from creators Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera and former network executive Fred Silverman.
Essentially it presents a glossy and very superficial overview. Actually, it mostly just tells us what a hit the show was. We learn a couple of very minor facts but mostly it’s a happy-talk waste of time.
Next we go to Wacky Inventions, a five-minute, 44-second compilation reel. A narrator discusses many of the Stone Age adaptations of modern devices seen during the series as we watch them. It’s a cute piece but nothing terribly useful.
Disc Five inclues Bedrock Collectibles, a six-minute, 42-second piece with collector/animation producer Scott Shaw. He chats about his early interest in the show, his work on Flintstones projects over the years, and his memorabilia collection. The latter area makes up the best parts of the featurette as we see Shaw’s extensive roster of items.
Also on Disc Five, One Million Years Ahead of Its Time goes for eight-minutes, 33-second and includes comments from former Hanna-Barbera president Fred Seibert, layout artists Willie Ito, Jerry Eisenberg, and Iwao Takamoto, cartoonist/animation historian Scott Shaw, historian Jerry Beck, and writer Tony Benedict.
We get some notes about the series’ continuing appeal as well as specifics about elements from Season Four. It includes a fairly good level of detail in regard to character development, story ideas, cheap animation techniques and other issues. Despite its brevity, “Time” gives us a nice snapshot of Season Four.
Shifting to Disc Six, Hanna-Barbera’s Legendary Musical Director: Hoyt Curtain goes for seven minutes, five seconds. We learn about Curtain with comments from Kress, former Hanna-Barbera president Fred Seibert, film music historian Jon Burlingame, conductor/music supervisor Richard Kaufman, Hanna-Barbera guitarist Steve Carnelli, and Hanna-Barbera chief arranger Tom Worrall.
The show looks at Curtain’s work in general and gets into many specifics of music at Hanna-Barbera. We learn a lot about the workload as well as influences and Curtain’s jazzy leanings, instrumentation, and themes.
Inevitably, the featurette delivers a lot of praise for Curtain, but it also comes through with plenty of nice information. We don’t usually find programs that cover this subject, so I like the emphasis on the music of Hanna-Barbera.
A seven-minute, six-second piece,First Families of the Stone Age. It includes remarks from Shaw, former Hanna-Barbera executive Mark Young, animation producer Scott Jeralds, and Warner Bros. Vice President of Creative Design Iwao Takamoto.
They discuss the series’ portrayal of its female leads and the development of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm. The short piece lacks depth but it offers many fun tidbits and pieces of trivia connected to the subjects.
Disc Ten includes The Flintstones Meet Pop Culture. Hosted by Stephen Baldwin – he played Barney in the live-action Viva Rock Vegas film - the show runs 11 minutes, 29 seconds.
“Culture” brings comments from animation historian Earl Kress, producer/music historian Alex Palao, and Beau Brummels lead singer Sal Valentino. We look at the start of Hanna-Barbera and how The Flintstones came into being. From there we get notes about how the series spoofed then-modern life, with an emphasis on Flintstone takes on dances, pop music, and movie stars.
This is a rich subject, but one explored in a superficial manner via this program. We hear about many guests and spoofs but fail to learn any real insight into their use. The show adds up to little more than a catalog of parodies without much point.
Next comes the three-minute, 49-second The Great Gazoo: From A to Zetox. It includes comments from Kress as he discusses Flintstones writer Joanna Lee, the creator of the Great Gazoo.
We hear about the development of the character and his initial appearance as well as the casting of Harvey Korman. Some good insights appear, but the show’s too short to be terribly meaningful.
Disc Ten provides two feature-length films as well. From 2015, The Flintstones and WWE: Stone Age Smackdown! spans 51 minutes, 39 seconds and presents a “crossover” in which pro wrestlers morph into Flintstones roles.
After Fred (Jeff Bergman) bungles and loses vacation money, he decides to shove Barney (Kevin Michael Richardson) into the wrestling ring to earn some bronto bucks. This pits him against stars like John Cenastone (John Cena) and Rey Mysteriopal (Rey Mysterio).
Just because Smackdown exists as a product to promote two separate properties doesn’t mean it needs to stink. For instance, Rock and Roll Mystery paired rock band Kiss and the Scooby-Doo gang for a surprisingly fun adventure.
Smackdown doesn’t match up with that moderately enjoyable tale, and it never finds a groove. It lacks real cleverness and turns into a dull, humor-free experience.
Weak voice acting doesn’t help. Maybe if I’d not just watched 20 episodes of the original series, I might’ve adapted to the new actors, but they all seemed mediocre to bad.
Do “replacement” voice performers need to strive to emulate their predecessors? Maybe not as carbon copies, but they need to come close enough to let us forget they’re not the old actors.
That doesn’t happen here, though some come closer than others. Bergman manages a passable Fred, but Richardson develops a terrible Barney, with a weirdly nasal tone that doesn’t work. Richardson sounds more like the Teutonic voiced Barney adapts in the “Flintstone Flyer” episode than “regular Barney”.
As talented as they are, Tress MacNeille and Grey Griffin don’t create good versions of Wilma and Betty, respectively. The WWE wrestlers mail in their performances, and all of this adds up to a wholly forgettable animated tale.
In terms of presentation, Smackdown looks less than great. It seems a little rougher around the edges than expected, and wide shots show an odd “processed “feel that make the image feel strangely blocky.
Colors remain bright and bold, and the image usually seems satisfactory. However, it isn’t up to the standards you’d expect from a product made in 2015.
Audio came via a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix that offers minor breadth and not much more. Music and effects spread to the sides in an acceptable manner, but they don’t come with a whole lot of excitement.
Sound quality seems pretty good, at least, which natural speech and vivid music. Effects show decent low-end and accuracy. Nothing about the audio stands out but it works fine.
Note that Smackdown came out on Blu-ray already, and I suspect Warner “dumbed down” the version here. I never saw the 2015 disc, but based on reviews, I get the impression it offered superior visuals.
The 2015 disc also brought a DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack instead of this platter’s lossy 2.0 mix. Did Warner neuter the version of Smackdown here to encourage sales of the existing Blu-ray? Maybe – I’m not sure why else it’d get a subpar rendition here.
Released back in 1966, The Man Called Flintstone lasts one hour, 29 minutes and provides a spoof of the era’s spy movies. When a secret agent who looks just like Fred gets hurt, our favorite Flintstone needs to take over and foil an evil plot.
By 1966, the show was in its sixth season, and it offered only sporadic pleasures. While it still churned out some good episodes, it produced too many misses and not enough hits.
The final episode of Season 6 aired April 1966. Called hit screens in August, so it really represented the last gasp of the original era.
One might hope that Called demonstrates a resurgence in quality, but unfortunately, it doesn’t. Instead, it feels like a long – and not very good – episode from the end of the series’ run. It’s nice that the original show got one last big-screen gasp, but Called doesn’t send off The Flintstones on a high note.
Note that three-fourths of the series’ four primary actors – Alan Reed, Jean Vander Pyl and Mel Blanc – would reprise their roles in the 1970s, mainly via 1971-72’s Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show and 1972-73’s Flintstone Comedy Hour.
Original Betty Bea Benaderet quit after Season Four and died in 1968. Replacement Betty Gerry Johnson lived until 1990, but she appears to have retired after Man Called Flintstone. Gay Hartwig played Betty in these 1970s incarnations.
Previously out only on DVD, Called makes its Blu-ray debut in this package. Unfortunately, it clearly didn’t enjoy a new mastering.
Picture quality looked DVD-quality, with definition that seemed fairly mediocre, and an ugly gauzy feel to the presentation. This made the movie look a bit rough, and colors suffered, as the tones appeared mediocre at best.
While not overwhelming, print flaws materialized throughout the film, as they brought a mix of specks and marks. This became a messy, dull presentation.
The movie’s Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack held up better, even though the absence of lossless material continued to disappoint. Still, the film’s audio seemed fine given the project’s age and origins.
Really, the soundtrack felt about the same as what I heard for the main series, albeit without any of the minor distortion I occasionally noted. This wasn’t a memorable track, but it seemed more than adequate for this film.
While I didn’t expect Warner to give the level of attention to Called that they brought to the TV episodes, I feel disappointed they didn’t seem to bother at all. I strongly suspect the Blu-ray used the same master from the 2008 DVD, so don’t expect it to offer any form of upgrade.
Note that the Blu-rays drop some of the DVDs’ extras. We lose a few audio commentaries as well as vintage TV commercials and some featurettes. I have no idea why these elements fail to reappear here.
Sixty years after the series debuted, The Flintstones remains witty, clever and delightful. Of course, not all the episodes hit the mark, but this “Complete Series” collection brings more than enough strong entertainment to make it a keeper. The Blu-rays offer terrific visuals along with adequate audio and a decent array of bonus materials. As a life-long Flintstones fan, I feel overjoyed to own this set.