As anyone who’s accessed Google today has discovered, today’s the 50th anniversary of the debut of “The Flintstones.” I’ve always been a fan of the modern Stone Age family, having grown up watching reruns of the original series on weekday afternoons, as well as its multiple spinoffs on Saturday mornings. While parts of it are dated now (namely, the 60s pop cultural references and gender role attitudes), the show still holds up for me when watching its reruns on Boomerang. I’m glad to see that it’s getting acknowledgement via a Google custom logo.
As for the show itself, I wonder how well a revival would fare today. The last Flintstones production that wasn’t cereal-related was late 2001’s “On the Rocks,” a TV movie made for Cartoon Network centering around Fred and Wilma’s marriage being, well, on the rocks. The film was produced by the same people behind such modern classics as “The Powerpuff Girls” and “Dexter’s Laboratory,” with the film offering a more mature take on the characters than the Saturday morning-fare of previous Flintstones spinoffs. Despite that the film was entertaining, it only aired briefly on Cartoon Network, before they shelved it permanently, and it hasn’t aired in the US since. I only saw it via somebody posting it to YouTube (as it isn’t on DVD or Cartoon Network.com), as I didn’t have cable (or Cartoon Network) in 2001.
I suspect “On the Rocks”‘s fate was due to one of several possible reasons: the general shift in the 2000s toward emphasizing near-exclusively new material and older cartoons of all types being shoved aside (Boomerang came along in 2001 as a way to showcase older shows, and CN’s only older material since the early 2000s mainly being “Tom and Jerry” and various “Scooby Doo” incarnations); CN disliking the tone of the movie, not fitting in with the usual lighter portrayal of Fred and company in recent years; CN at the time not having a proper place or emphasis on airing “PG” rated material—material aimed mainly at adults like the then-brand-new Adult Swim. CN nowadays has dedicated its primetime and early-Adult-Swim timeslots to TV-PG rated fare (“Total Drama World Tour,” “Regular Show,” “King of the Hill”), but that wasn’t the case in 2001.
Still, if Time-Warner ever wants to consider an older property to revive, along with the upcoming Looney Tunes and Yogi Bear revivals, they could do worse than the Flintstones. Kids at least still recognize the characters thanks to the cereal ads, and there might be humor in parodying some modern aspects (a Stone Age version of the iPhone?). It’d also lend some diversity to CN’s offerings, with a show that isn’t about a superhero, talking Great Dane, human children/teenagers (aside from Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm), or imported from Canada/Japan.