Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 18, 2006)
With The Complete Sixth Season, we come to the end of The Flintstones. The series pioneered animation in prime time, and until The Simpsons blew away its record, it remained the longest-running show in that genre. Six seasons and hsdsakd episodes left a mark on pop culture.
Did the series finish with a bang or with a whimper? I’ll examine each of these 26 programs in the way presented on the DVDs, which also corresponds to their airdates. 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.
No Biz Like Show Biz (P-142): “Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm's miraculous singing ability leads to overnight stardom.”
If nothing else, “Biz” deserves credit for its one enduring gag: when Barney misreads “one way” as “oh-nee way”. My friends and I still pronounce it that way whenever possible. Otherwise, “Biz” offers a fairly forgettable episode. Really, it’s little more than a melange of prior fantasy shows and the vastly superior “Sassy” episode from Season Two.
The House That Fred Built (P-141): “Fred and Barney restore an old house for Fred's mother-in-law.”
Unlike the fantasies and gimmicks that tend to dominate the last few seasons of The Flintstones, “House” acts as a simple throwback to the series’ formative days. Its best moments feature the comedic events that surround the boys’ attempts to work on the abode. These help make the show understated and enjoyable. But who knew Wilma had a sister?
The Return of Stoney Curtis (P-144): “Fred wins Stony Curtis's services in connection with the star's upcoming picture, Slave Boy.”
Back to goofy gimmicks! This one owes a major debt to the Rock Quarry episode from Season Two, especially when we see Wilma’s spastic response to Stoney’s unexpected arrival. We also get some material that feels ripped off from the shows when Fred played in TV programs and movies. Unfortunately, it’s not nearly as funny as the Quarry show or the other predecessors. It has some moments but usually comes across little more than an excuse for a guest star.
Disorder in the Court (P-143): “Jury foreman Fred fears for his life after he delivers a guilty verdict for vicious Mangler and the criminal escapes from prison.”
When it depicts the legal system and the Mangler’s trial, “Disorder” works pretty well. That’s the “slice of life” stuff the series does best. Unfortunately, the rest of it proves less satisfying, especially when “Disorder” turns into Cape Fear. I don’t much care for the thriller aspects of the show and wish it had devoted its whole running time to the trial; that’s the good stuff.
Circus Business (P-146): “Fred buys a circus, whose unpaid acts all walk out - leaving the Flintstones and Rubbles to fill in.”
Does anyone else think this episode bears a lot of similarities to the one when the two families took over all the jobs at a friend’s resort? It doesn’t offer a copy as exact as some of the others from this season, but it comes in the same spirit. Truthfully, “Business” is little more than an excuse to have the characters perform in a circus, and it’s only fitfully amusing.
Samantha (P-148): “Unknowingly aided by the magic of their new neighbor Samantha, Wilma and Betty compete with Fred and Barney in the area of woodland survival.”
At least the Stoney Curtis show ripped off a good earlier program. “Samantha”, on the other hand, uses Season Four’s Ann-Margrock show as its inspiration. That’s a lesser episode, and this bizarre Bewitched crossover is no better. It’s odd to place that series’ characters in Bedrock, and the story doesn’t use her particularly well.
The Great Gazoo (P-145): “Gazoo, a political exile from the planet Zetox, is assigned to serve prehistoric ‘dumb-dumbs’ Fred and Barney.”
For the series’ final new recurring character, The Flintstones goes to outer space for inspiration. I suppose I should loathe Gazoo, but to my surprise, I don’t really mind him. Perhaps it’s Harvey Korman’s tart insolence as the voice, or maybe it’s just funny to hear Betty and Wilma cluck like chickens. Whatever – it’s still a decent show.
Trivia: at least once during the program, Korman refers to himself as “the Great Kazoo”. I ran the sequence a couple of times to be sure, and he clearly enunciates a “K”.
Rip Van Flintstone (P-147): “Fred falls asleep at the quarry's annual picnic and finds himself in Bedrock's future, where Barney is a millionaire, Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm are married, and Wilma is a lonely old woman.”
Back to the fantasy, and aren’t things silly? I guess “Rip” isn’t a terrible show, but I do tire of the gimmicky side of things. A few laughs emerge and that’s about it in this mediocre program.
The Gravelberry Pie King (P-149): “Once again fired by Mr. Slate, Fred attempts to market Wilma's gravelberry pies, but finds he is losing money on the deal.”
Season Six rebounds with this fun program. Fred’s employment problems usually bring out the best in the series, and “King” doesn’t disappoint. We see how Fred’s scheme lands him in trouble and the show entertains.
The Stonefinger Caper (P-150): “Barney and Fred are kidnapped by Stonefinger and his henchmen, who have mistaken Barney for scientist Dr. Rockenheimer. Will Gazoo rescue the boys?”
Although “Caper” takes on a James Bond flavor, it feels like a retread of prior thriller episodes. In particular, this one reminds me of Season Three’s “Here’s Snow in Your Eyes”. It’s not a very interesting spy spoof.
The Masquerade Party (P-151): “The promotional campaign for a new singing group, the Wayouts, has Bedrock's panic-stricken populace fearful of an alien invasion--and Fred is wearing a spaceman outfit for the Lodge costume party.”
The series’ attempts at pop culture are hit or miss, but “Party” is pretty good. The band’s tune is a catchy one, and they’re a fun twist on the era’s pop groups. Add to that a little bit of War of the Worlds and “Party” works.
Footnote one: Along with the Four Bugs, “The Beasties” are one of many Beatles parodies on the series. Unlike “She Said Yeah Yeah Yeah”, however, this episode’s “My Broken Heart Will Never Mend” is actually a pretty credible faux Beatle tune. In retrospect, it’s amusing to see how the series dismisses the Beatles as a fad. More than 40 years later, they’re as big as ever, so it’s entertaining to view then-common logic about pop music.
Footnote two: while I don’t expect flawless continuity – or anything close to it – from The Flintstones, this show presents an incredibly glaring goof. When the Wayouts come up to the radio station, their publicist calls it “KFWB”, the sign out front clearly reads “KNBD”. How’d that mess up get past quality control? Was there any quality control at Hanna-Barbera?
Footnote three: obviously not, for another big goof comes at the radio station. At first, the DJ sports bright Barney blond hair, but the next time we see him, he’s more of a chestnut brown! He goes back to blond for his final appearance.
Shinrock-a-Go-Go (P-152): “Fred injures his foot and creates a dance sensation, ‘The Frantic’. ‘Shinrock’ host Jimmy O'Neillstone is so impressed he books Fred to appear on the program.”
Right after the show with the Wayouts, it seems awfully soon to attempt another look at pop music. Surprisingly, “Shinrock” works well. Fred’s “Frantic” is a hoot, and the other dance spoofs are surprisingly effect. Many of the series’ pop culture parodies seem misguided today – ala the swipes at the Beatles – but this one succeeds. It’s a pretty fun show.
Royal Rubble (P-153): “Barney is mistaken for Stonyrock-Arabian Prince Barbaruba and given the royal treatment, but Fred is suspicious.”
“Royal” is a sad retread. It feels an awful lot like Season One’s “The Tycoon”. It never manages to create its own identity as it just borrows from earlier episodes.
Seeing Doubles (P-154): “Fred and Barney go bowling while ‘Fred and Barney nothing’ - Gazoo-created duplicates who can only say ‘Yes, yes, yes’ and ‘No, no no’ - take the wives to dinner.”
Another episode with doppelgangers? At least “Doubles” takes a quirky twist on the subject. “Fred and Barney Nothing” are a delight, and “I sure hope nothing comes up” remains a personal favorite catchphrase. I can’t say I much like Gazoo, but at least he helps produce this strong program.
How to Pick a Fight With Your Wife Without Really Trying (P-155): “A fight sparked by differing beliefs as to which gender has ‘the superior mind’ causes Fred to move in with Barney, and Betty to stay with Wilma.”
If nothing else, “Fight” wins the honor as the series’ longest title ever. It does pretty well for itself as a show, too. It never threatens to become a classic, but at least it sticks with the domestic sitcom premise that works best for the series. At this point, I’m just happy to get a show without gimmicky wackiness.
Fred Goes Ape (P-157): “The wrong bottle of pills turns Fred into an ape instead of curing his sneezing.”
And here we go with the gimmicky wackiness! “Ape” produces the occasional laugh, but it can’t overcome its idiotic premise. Or maybe it could have been decent in the show’s earlier years; after all, the series boasted plenty of goofy ideas in good episodes. By the end of the line, though, those behind the series didn’t have enough left in their tank, so “Ape” falls flat.
The Long Long Long Weekend (P-158): “Fred is skeptical of Barney's magazine about the future, until Gazoo transports the Flintstones and Rubbles there.”
Like some of the best Flintstones, “Weekend” capitalizes on a good, basic sitcom premise: what to do on a long weekend off from work. For a while, it produces decent comedy with riffs on real-life situations.
True to Season Six form, however, “Weekend” eventually loses its bearings. Why is Fred so skeptical of the concept of interplanetary travel when he hangs out with a little green man from the future? That side of things along with the clan’s trip to the future makes this a goofy and ineffective episode that comes across as a cheap attempt to recycle Jetsons sets.
Two Men On a Dinosaur (P-156): “Gazoo's dinosaur-race betting tips prove too accurate, and Fred and Barney are targeted by Big Ed and his bookies.”
Once again, Season Six ruins a potentially entertaining show with bizarre gimmicks. Sure, it’s silly enough to have the boys assisted by a little green man, but then it doesn’t trust a more logical plot in regard to their gambling. Instead, we get a dopey gangster story. Few laughs come along for the ride.
DVD FOUR, SIDE ONE:
The Treasure of Sierra Madrock (P-159): “Fred and Barney are tricked into purchasing a worthless claim of land. When they suddenly find gold, the two con men who sold them the land set about getting the claim back.”
A classic movie fails to inspire a classic Flintstones. Instead, we get a feeling of déjà vu with another lackluster show involving a scam and the boys. This brings out little comedy and tires us instead.
Curtain Call at Bedrock (P-160): “Fred turns down the leading male role in ‘Romeorock and Julietstone’, but replacement Barney seems hopeless in the part.”
Season Six rebounds here, largely due to the comedy related to Barney’s terrible performance. I still find it impossible to hear “with love’s light wings did I o’erperch these walls” and not turn it into a question. The show loses some points due to Fred’s out of character behavior. In the past, he went way out of his way to be a star, but here he turns down a chance to play the lead in a play? That makes no sense. Still, “Call” has some funny moments.
Boss for a Day (P-161): “Gazoo lets Fred experience what it's like to run the show for a change.”
Why would Mr. Slate be a subordinate at the company he runs? Why does he have a fancy limo and then get stuck sitting on a stool at meetings? Why do all the other employees know the chairman of the board but Fred didn’t know he existed? All these stretches make “Boss” tough to swallow. Yeah, I get the episode’s point about appreciating what you’ve got, but the show is too dopey to succeed.
Fred’s Island (P-162): “Tricked into painting Mr. Slate's yacht, Fred and Barney are cast adrift and find themselves on a seemingly deserted island.”
Due to a defective DVD, I wasn’t able to screen this episode.
Jealousy (P-163): “Fred fakes a headache so he can go bowling, but the thought of Wilma's old boyfriend and new dinner date, Wilbur Terwilligerock, keeps him from concentrating on his game.”
That same bad DVD meant I couldn’t watch this episode either.
Dripper (P-164): “Dripper, a performing sealosaurus, follows Barney home from the Oceanrock Aquarium, but a pair of criminals have followed Dripper.”
I get the feeling that whenever the Flintstones writers ran into a block, they just said “gangsters” and left it at that. It’s bad enough that “Dripper” is another episode that borrows from a fellow series, but to subject us to yet another lame gangster plot is too much. “Dripper” has some cute moments but fails to deliver more than that.
DVD FOUR, SIDE TWO:
My Fair Freddy (P-166): “The Flintstones are accepted into the Stonyside Country Club when an overhead conversation about Dino's lineage is misunderstood to be about Fred's. Gazoo sets about helping Fred get culture.”
Haven’t we seen this show already? Like many episodes from Season Six, “Fair” suffers from a series case of déjà vu. While we never got an identical program, we’ve seen many shows in which Fred and the others aspire to hang out with snooty folks. And why is everyone so surprised that Fred does ballet when he already learned how to dance years ago? Combine these redundant factors to make “Fair” an uninspired episode.
The Story of Rocky’s Raiders (P-165): “The perusal of Grandpa Flintstone's diary tells the story of his World War I adventures.”
With “Raiders”, The Flintstones came to an end. Sure, Hanna-Barbera would revive the franchise in many ways over the ensuing decades, but for most other fans and me, those programs don’t count. Only the original series was real Flintstones, so “Raiders” finished the adventures of Fred and company.
Did it do so on a positive note? Yeah, sort of. The flashback concept is a little gimmicky, especially since “Raiders” uses the series’ four leads as the characters. Still, it manages to become a nice little spoof of the war flick genre and offers reasonably clever moments. “Raiders” doesn’t qualify to become a classic, but it finishes the series acceptably well.
One unusual aspect about Season Six: the episodes’ pre-credit openings. In the past, these almost always just acted as “teasers” that showed a quick snippet from later in the show. However, for Season Six, most of the openers present unique material. That means we can’t skip them and expect to see those bits again. I like this since it makes the episodes longer than normal.
Otherwise, Season Six of The Flintstones stands as wholly ordinary. A smattering of good programs appear, but even the strongest ones don’t compete with the series’ greatest hits. This final year will appeal to die-hard Flintstones fans but is the worst of the bunch.