Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 2, 2005)
2004 was a great year for TV on DVD - at least personally, as all three of my favorite series offered lots of material. We received two packages of SCTV and two seasons of The Simpsons as well. Last spring brought us Season One of The Flintstones, and less than nine months later, Warner Bros. rolled out that series’ second year. Cool!
Without further ado, let’s check out the 32 episodes from Season Two of The Flintstones. I’ll examine each of these programs in the way presented on the DVDs, which also corresponds to their airdates. Sometimes these vary, as the shows first aired over a variety of dates. The “P#” after the title relates the episode’s place in the production order; for example, “P2” was the second program completed. The synopses come from a site called “The Flintstones and Hanna-Barbera“ (http://www.topthat.net/webrock) - thanks to them for their permission to use the recaps.
The Hit Song Writers (P-31): "Taking their cue from There's Loot in Lyrics, Fred (voiced by Alan Reed) and Barney (Daws Butler) try to pen a hit song. They get a helping hand from Hoagy Carmichael (himself)."
Season Two launches with a bang via this excellent episode. A classic from start to finish, this one spoofs the music business and tosses out nice character moments as well. It’s amusing to see that Fred’s so eager to avoid being nice to Wilma, he’d rather beat up Barney than have to live up to any form of standards. There’s not a flaw to be found in this great show.
By the way, the credit of Daws Butler as Barney isn’t a mistake. Voice actor Mel Blanc was in an accident that meant he couldn’t participate in some episodes. Butler substituted for five episodes. In addition to “Hit”, Butler played Barney in "Droop-Along Flintstone", "Fred Flintstone Woos Again", "The Rock Quarry Story" and "The Little White Lie”. Butler does a nice job, but you can tell the difference fairly easily.
Droop-Along Flintstone (P-29): "The Flintstones and the Rubbles agree to take care of Cousin Tumbleweed's ranch, and unwittingly stumble into the filming of a Western."
Theme episodes like this one’s western element often fall flat, and “Droop-Along” isn’t one of the best Flintstones shows. However, its spoofing of the genre help make it reasonably entertaining. The series loved to mock Hollywood and entertainment in general, and they usually did it well. “Droop-Along” doesn’t stand as a favorite, but it’s got more than a few funny moments.
The Missing Bus (P-37): "Fred becomes a school bus driver on the Bedrock-to-Red-Rock route."
Whereas lots of TV series liked to pretend that kids were pure and innocent, The Flintstones knew better and often portrayed them as miserable little gits. That’s what we get from the wonderful “Bus”, in which Fred deals with the terrors of schoolkids. Actually, the show doesn’t make them out to be that bad, but it’s still funny, especially when we see their annoying parents. Add to that my favorite want ad spoof ever when Fred sees the job related to cotton in bottles and this is a fine show.
Alvin Brickrock Presents (P-40): "Fred suspects that his neighbor has killed his wife."
In later seasons, an episode like “Brickrock” would get too gimmicky to work. However, in the early years of The Flintstones, the show could better pull off this kind of material. Not that “Brickrock” comes across as one of the series’ better programs; indeed, it does feel like something from the show’s weaker seasons. It’s entertaining but without much spark or life, and it provides only a few moderate laughs. It is notable for its surprisingly dark ending, however.
Fred Flintstone Woos Again (P-30): "The Flintstones return to Rock Mountain Inn to renew their vows, but discover that their original marriage ceremony wasn't legal."
A good but unexceptional show, most of the fun comes from Wilma’s treatment of Fred. She really gives him a hard time as she forces him to prove her love. The episode doesn’t live up to the series’ highest standards, but it offers some good humor.
The Rock Quarry Story (P-32): "Movie star Rock Quarry attempts to lead a normal life as Gus Schultz, but Wilma (Jean Vanderpyl) and Betty (Bea Benaderet) recognize him."
I’ve always loved “Quarry”, partly due to its atypical depiction of Barney. The usually good-natured neighbor is consistently surly in this show. He snaps at Fred and insults him throughout the show. Even without that interesting element, “Quarry” is a terrific episode. The series always spoofed show business well, and it’s amusing to see how much the famous long to be treated like normal folks - and then hate it.
The Soft Touchables (P-34): "Fred and Barney's private eye business backfires when they become stooges of Boss Rockhead."
”Soft” offers another sign that the series was starting to run out of story ideas. The wackier the concept behind the episode, the more desperate it seems, and “Soft” provides a pretty silly idea. Making Fred and Barney private eyes comes out of nowhere and seems awfully contrived. The show includes a few funny moments, but it’s not one of the series’ best.
Flintstone of Prinstone (P-35): "Fred attends Prinstone U and must balance studying and football practice along with his job at the quarry."
Like “Soft”, “Prinstone” features a moderately wacky concept. However, at least it tries to ground things in reality. Fred goes back to school to improve himself, and the story goes off onto funny tangents connected to his experiences. It’s a strong show.
The Little White Lie (P-33): "When Fred wins money in a poker game and claims he just found it, Wilma makes him run an ad in the paper to find the owner."
Like some of the better programs, “Lie” capitalizes on realistic situations. It deals with various forms of deception that occur in relationships and actually makes a good point, though it doesn’t become sappy or sickly sweet. It provides another amusing and clever episode. (It also marks Daws Butler’s last vocal appearance as Barney.)
Social Climbers (P-38): "The Flintstones and the Rubbles attend an ambassador's ball."
That synopsis doesn’t cover the best parts of “Climbers”. Those come from Fred and Barney’s charm lessons, which offer funny pieces. “Climbers” also delivers another subtle message about not putting on airs. That was one nice thing about the series: it provided a moral concept but didn’t batter us with it.
One odd element: if snooty Emmy is a former classmate of Betty’s, how come she looks like she’s 20 years older? Another strange aspect of the show: apparently Wilma and Betty gripe that they never go out, but in the prior episode, the foursome spent $200 living it up at a restaurant!
The Beauty Contest (P-36): "Fred and Barney are named judges of the Water Buffalo Lodge's beauty contest--a fact they must keep from their wives."
I doubt many will classify “Contest” as one of the great Flintstones episodes, but it’s a consistently entertaining one. Its spoof of beauty pageants lacks bite, and it doesn’t follow a concise path to the end. Nonetheless, it tosses out many clever moments such as one connected to a contestant’s absurd measurements.
The Masquerade Ball (P-42): "Fred tries to win favor with his boss at a costume party, but doesn't know that the costumes have been switched."
”Think big and be big” - what Flintstones fan hasn’t delighted in that mantra? As with “Contest”, “Ball” is another episode that lacks magic but remains consistently entertaining. We know Fred’s scheme is doomed to fail and enjoy watching him mess up along the way.
The Picnic (P-41): "Fred dumps Barney as Lodge field day partner in favor of trophy-rich Joe Rockhead."
”Picnic” manages to tell a nice little tale about being true to your friends without beating us over the head. It tosses out a message but doesn’t become annoying or sappy. Instead, it uses a lot of good humor to depict Fred’s rudeness.
The House Guest (P-39): "Barney and Betty stay with the Flintstones for a week while the Rubbles' plumbing is being fixed, and Barney's behavior begins to drive Fred crazy."
One of the series’ better episodes, “Guest” benefits from a connection to reality. As I’ve implied, I don’t usually like the shows that depend on wacky scenarios. The Flintstones worked best when it stayed within the realm of day-to-day life, and that happens for “Guest”. Barney turns into a hilariously bad houseguest in this hilarious program.
The X-Ray Story (P-43): "Wilma and the Rubbles try to keep Fred awake for 72 hours after Dino's X-ray - showing a case of dinopeptitis - is mistaken for Fred's."
I suppose one could call this an episode with a “wacky scenario”, but I see it as another one with a basis in reality - to a degree, at least. (In terms of the series, I deem the “wacky” ones to be things with Martians or totally out of left field events like the private detective piece.) It’s a hoot to watch Barney and the girls keep Fred awake.
The Gambler (P-45): "'Betting Freddy's' gambling obsession returns, and the Flintstone home is soon devoid of furniture. Arnold's boys club, however, looks great."
”Bet-bet-bet-bet-bet!!!” What Flintstones fan hasn’t quoted that line repeatedly? In addition to this catchphrase, “Gambler” stands out in the way it treats Fred as sympathetic despite his flaws. Usually the show makes him look bad, but this one views him almost as a victim, which makes it ahead of its time.
A Star Is Almost Born (P-47): "Wilma is discovered by a TV producer and Fred becomes her manager."
”Born” echoes Season One’s “Hollyrock, Here I Come” as we watch Fred interfere with Wilma’s potential ascent to stardom. It adds some fun twists, though, especially when it parodies My Fair Lady.
Radical inconsistency alert: Fred swears off betting in “The Gambler”, but at the start of “Born”, he declares that he wagered two bucks on a fight!
The Entertainer (P-44): "Fred woos a female client, Greta Gravel, for Mr. Slate while Wilma is out of town, but Wilma returns early and ends up at the same club as Fred and Greta--who turns out to be Wilma's old friend."
Some entertainment pops up here, though the show feels like an episode of Three’s Company at times. Is Wilma really so unreasonable that she’d not accept Fred working with a client? The program’s sexist ending doesn’t help.
DVD FOUR, SIDE A:
Wilma's Vanishing Money (P-46): "Fred spends Wilma's secret stash on a bowling ball. When he learns that this is what she was planning to use the money for in the first place, he hires a burglar to put the money back again."
Poor Fred! For once he tries to do the right thing, but he still gets screwed. It does seem a little out of character to see Fred attempt to be honest and deal with the consequences, and the show sends an odd message: tell the truth and crime wins anyway. Nonetheless, the program enjoys some funny bits, though it never threatens to become great.
Feudin' and Fussin' (P-50): "Fred insults Barney and then refuses to apologize."
A good episode, “Feudin’” could have been great if it exploited the situation’s potential. Barney finally stands up for himself - at the insistence of Betty - but the circumstances don’t really go anywhere. The bits when Fred tries to entertain himself without his constant companion are good, but overall this becomes an unexceptional show.
Impractical Joker (P-49): "Barney gets revenge on prankster Fred by pretending to run a basement counterfeiting operation."
While it’s hard to believe a character as simple-minded as Barney could come up with such a clever plan, with results this funny, I don’t care. He hooks Fred and creates many hilarious bits in this delightful show.
Operation Barney (P-48): "Feigning illness so he and Fred can go to a ball game, Barney finds himself in the hospital and scheduled for an operation."
So Barney can lie to Fred boldly in one episode and then freaks in the next when required to prevaricate? Chalk it up to weak Flintstones continuity, but again, I don’t really care given the results. The show gets in many funny lines and situations.
The Happy Household (P-51): "Wilma lands a job as star of The Happy Housewife Show, which leaves Fred feeling like The Neglected Husband."
How does a program in which a woman simply shows food to the camera become a hit? And why does Wilma need to shop for clothes? She always wears the same outfit! Typical Flintstones inconsistencies aside, “Household” offers a solid episode. Fred’s anger and the measures he takes offer much amusement.
Fred Strikes Out (P-53): "After failing a considerate-spouse quiz and missing their anniversary, Fred tries to placate Wilma over a romantic drive-in date and bowl in the championship tournament at the same time."
”Out” presents a pretty average episode. Its focus on Wilma’s concerns makes it a little bland, and it doesn’t go overboard to present amusing elements. Fred’s shenanigans as he runs between the bowling alley and the drive-in are pretty good, but otherwise this one doesn’t stand out as special.
This Is Your Lifesaver (P-52): "Fred rescues the apparently suicidal J. Montague Gypsum, and pays the price as Monty takes over his home."
We don’t rarely see Fred as a sympathetic character, but the obnoxious opportunist Gypsum manages to provoke that attitude. One of the more annoying characters ever to appear on the series, he uses poor Fred so badly that we’re totally on his side. It’s a funny show and includes one of my favorite moments when Barney does his “push-outs”.
DVD FOUR, SIDE B:
Trouble-In-Law (P-56): "Fred introduces his mother-in-law to rich rancher Melville J. Muchrocks, then tries to thwart the budding romance when it appears Muchrocks may be a con man."
Wow - for once the Flintstones actually manages to follow its own continuity! In “Lifesaver”, Wilma mentioned that her mother would come to visit, and here it happens. This may be the first and only time that the series acknowledged chronological logic.
It also set up the active dislike between Fred and Wilma’s mother. There’s nothing special there, as it’s a standard antagonism, though the voice actors bring some spark to it. “Trouble” also stands as a pretty ordinary episode, though the parts in which Fred and Barney try to get between Wilma’s mother and Melville are a lot of fun.
The Mailman Cometh (P-55): "Angry at being passed over for a raise, Fred sends an insulting letter to Mr. Slate--then finds out he has gotten his raise after all, and tries to retrieve the letter before his boss sees it."
If nothing else, “Cometh” achieves hilarity via the clever slapstick sequence in which Fred and Barney try to retrieve the letter from the mailbox. The rest of the episode fares well too, but those elements are easily the best, as they present some very amusing moments.
The Rock Vegas Caper (P-54): "Fred accepts an invitation for himself, Wilma and the Rubbles to vacation at Sherman Cobblehead's Golden Cactus Hotel in Rock Vegas. But when he loses all their money gambling he refuses to accept Sherman's charity, insisting that they work for their keep."
In some ways, “Caper” does little more than rewrite Season One’s “The Long, Long Weekend”, in which another hotel-owning old friend of Fred’s gets them to work for free. However, at least Sherman’s a nice guy and there are some twists on the story. The best parts come from the trip out there, as the long journey from Bedrock to Rock Vegas presents many hilarious gags.
Divided We Sail (P-57): "The Flintstones and Rubbles share a game show prize, a houseboat that Fred and Barney christen the Nau-Sea."
“Sail” would be a classic if for no reasons other than a) Barney’s hilariously goofy appearance on The Prize is Priced and b) the clever name given to their houseboat. The rest of the show tosses out great moments as well, and they help make this a classic.
Kleptomania Caper (P-58): "A misunderstanding regarding Fred's old clothes leads to the conclusion that Barney is a kleptomaniac."
While not a bad episode, “Caper” suffers from a sense of déjà vu. Its plot echoes the counterfeiting show in the way Fred tries to atone for Barney’s sins. I like seeing a more caring side of Fred, but a more original plot would have been appreciated.
Latin Lover (P-59): "Wilma encourages Fred to adopt Roberto Rockelini's romantic manner (and moustache), but his apparent effect on women proves too much for Wilma to bear."
”Lover” sort of retreads Season One’s “The Split Personality”, the show that turned Fred into “Frederick”. However, it manages enough twists to stand on its own, and it features a rare starring focus on Wilma. Jean Vander Pyl’s line readings help make the program something special.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game (P-60): "Fred becomes umpire for the little-league baseball game between coach Barney's Bedrock Giants and the Grittsburg Pyrites, but his calls produce unsportsmanlike behavior in the Giants' fathers."
You gotta love an episode with a line like “Dig that crazy turtle girdle!” “Game” nicely spoofs baseball, with an emphasis on the way that parents takes kids’ sports too seriously. Geez, Mr. Slate actually threatens to beat the hoozits out of his kid if the boy loses! It’s an insightful and funny episode.