December 8, 2010

Christmas specials: "A Flintstone Family Christmas"

Christmas specials: "A Flintstone Family Christmas"

Here’s the next Flintstone special on the Christmas special hit parade, 1993’s “A Flintstone Family Christmas.” This one might be notable for several (geeky) reasons, but for me it’s easily my least favorite Flintstone Christmas special.

Background

Back in the early 90s, two made-for-TV movies were made featuring the adult versions of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm. The first movie, “I Yabba Dabba Do!,” featured the wedding of the two, while “Hollyrock-a-Bye Baby,” its sequel, focused on the birth of their twin children, red-headed Chip (with a loud mouth like Fred’s) and white-haired Roxy (who inherited her father’s strength). Both TV-movies also had as a theme Fred and Wilma being forced to deal with becoming empty-nesters (and grandparents). They also learned to let their kids grow up and lead their own lives.

“A Flintstone Family Christmas” seemed to undermine or ignore that, in favor of a typical “feel good” Christmas plot. While Fred and the gang are waiting for the kids/grandkids to arrive for Christmas, a constantly-in-trouble “caveless” kid named “Stony” is taken in by Fred and Wilma. Eventually, Stony’s shown the (secular) True Meaning of Christmas.

Simultaneously, Fred is scheduled to (again) play Santa, this time for the Slate-sponsored Bedrock Christmas parade. After a series of hijinks, the special ends with Fred welcoming Stony as the “[newest member of] the Flintstone family.”

Like the two TV-movies, seeing 90s versions of Stone Age gadgets is one of the special’s highlights. A “speaker phone” is a parrot in a cage next to a phone, while a beaver is used as a chainsaw.

Santa’s unseen here, but implied to be “Stone Age” style. Same for his “reindeer,” who’re now pteranodons with “rock” pun names, unlike the previous specials.

Like the previous two TV-movies, the animators didn’t bother drawing Fred, Barney, Betty and Wilma to look like people who’re at minimum (by my count) in their late 50s. Granted, “Hollyrock-a-Bye Baby” did bother to age Wilma’s mother (giving her grey hair instead of her usual red).

As I said earlier, this special ends with Stony taken in for good by Fred and Wilma. That seems like a rather huge change to me, in a series that adheres strongly to the status quo and has minimal continuity. At least Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm getting married and having kids seems expected, based on the original series and its spin-offs. However, seeing grandparents Fred and Wilma taking in another kid, after spending two TV-movies focusing on how they’re finally adjusting to becoming empty-nesters, seems to undermine those films’ tone to me.

TV Tropes dubs this trope “Cousin Oliver,” after a less-than-popular character addition on “The Brady Bunch.” The YouTube series “I’m a Marvel, I’m a DC” parodied this in its “Superman Returns” short.

Later appearances

After this special, the older Flintstones next appeared in 2001’s “On the Rocks” TV-movie. Fred mentions in “Rocks” he’s been married for decades, plus none of the kids or grandkids appear. Perhaps “On the Rocks” is also set later in their lives (and after “Family Christmas”)?

On TV/home video

Boomerang usually airs “Flintstone Family Christmas” during December.

This special’s available on DVD alongside “A Flintstone Christmas” as part of the Warner Archives’ “A Flintstone Christmas Collection.”

(Updated 12/1/16)

Tags: animationChristmasChristmas specialsHanna-BarberaMediaThe Flintstones