December 10, 2010

Christmas specials: "A Flintstones Christmas Carol"

Christmas specials: "A Flintstones Christmas Carol"

Next on the holiday specials list is 1994’s made-for-TV movie, “A Flintstone Christmas Carol.” Yes, it’s the billionth media adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens novel. Or in the Flintstones’ case, still-living Stone Age writer “Charles Brickens,” voiced by John Rhys-Davies of “Sliders” fame. However, this special, unlike some others, managed to be faithful to the original story.

Background

The special’s plot revolves around Fred and the gang performing “A Christmas Carol” at a local theater, with Fred cast as “E-bone-ezer” Scrooge, Barney as “Bob Cragit” (Cratchit), and Bamm-Bamm as Tiny Tim. (The kids are toddlers/preschoolers once more.) However, Fred becomes obsessed with the role, to the point of ignoring his family obligations. He forgets to pick up Pebbles from “Cave Care” (day care), and only remembers to get gifts at the last minute for his family. The latter prompts a rushed trip to “Bloomingshale’s” department store (the prehistoric Bloomingdale’s, complete with a real-world-accurate logo).

As suggested above, the usual “rock” puns and Stone Age gags are here, though more focused on the play’s setting of a Stone Age version of Victorian-era London. The “primitive” London consisted of firefly-powered street lights, sundial pocket-watches, dinosaur-drawn carriages, and, per all American media appearances of London, Big Ben. Interestingly, Big Ben here has actual clock hands, and isn’t a giant sundial.

The one fault of this special might be a running gag where various characters involved in the play come down with “the Bedrock Bug,” a prehistoric flu. This causes them to turn green and run off-stage, followed by vomiting noises. Still, that’s pretty tame compared to the bathroom humor of then-contemporary TV shows (“Ren and Stimpy,” “Beavis and Butt-Head,” etc.).

The special stayed fairly faithful to the original Dickens story, including aspects such as Scrooge’s death scenes in the future. Even with the “rock” puns, that’s pretty unusual compared to most animated versions.

This is the only Flintstones Christmas special (aside from “Cave Kids”) where Fred doesn’t play Santa. However, Fred is still playing another major holiday icon, Scrooge.

This special’s one of the rare instances on “The Flintstones” that references religion (due to the nature of the play and Tiny Tim’s famous closing line). After hearing Bamm-Bamm practice his “God bless us, everyone” line, an angry Wilma says “that’s right, Bamm-Bamm—everyone but Fred!”

References

A mannequin display at Bloomingshale’s has a wig resembling the teenaged Pebbles’ hairstyle.

Like most modern Flintstones versions, Bedrock’s a more diverse Stone Age town. Of interest is an appearance by an adult, glasses-free version of Philo Quartz, “The Flintstone Kids”‘s brainy African-American youth. Oddly, here Philo’s a Bedrock police officer, which was his father’s job. Maybe Philo’s involved in (or invented) forensics?

Joe Rockhead, a minor supporting character from the original series, also appears.

The Flintstones’ newspaper is the “Daily Granite.” It’s the newspaper that Wilma works for (or, given Pebbles is a preschooler here, will work for) in the early 80s series “The Flintstone Comedy Show.”

On TV/home video

Boomerang usually reruns “A Flintstones Christmas Carol” during December.

“A Flintstone Christmas Carol” is available on its own DVD. It also includes as a bonus the original series’ “Christmas Flintstone” episode.

(Updated 12/1/16)

Tags: A Christmas CarolanimationCharles DickensChristmasChristmas specialsMediaThe Flintstones