Earlier this week, it was announced that Dublin-based Salty Dog Pictures partnered with Warner Brothers to produce a new spin-off series based on The Flintstones. The title of the series will be Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs!, and at the moment 24 episodes have been ordered. It's a testament to the enduring legacy of America's favorite "modern Stone-Age family", a legacy worth remembering.
The Flintstones was the brainchild of animation giants William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. The studio was enjoying some success with characters such as Huckleberry Hound and Quick-Draw McGraw. However, that success was primarily with children. They didn't have the same full-family appeal as something like their famous comic duo Tom and Jerry. The Flintstones came about from a desire to appeal to adults again. As a result, it took a lot of inspiration from the famous sitcom The Honeymooners, focusing on the day-to-day struggles that the titular family faced in the prehistoric suburbia of Bedrock.
Funnily enough, the show was predated by a short film from Dave Fleischer called Granite Hotel. Coming out twenty years beforehand, the short introduces the audience to a variety of "modern stone-age" characters, including firemen who ride in a sauropod to their jobs. While the similarities are apparent, The Flintstones definitely pushed the concept much further. It was the first animated series to feature in a prime time slot, and to feature a married couple sharing a bed (rather than separately.)
The first reviews were mixed, with many critics deriding the animation as "limited" and the plots as "derivative". However, it still proved a success with the public, with nearly a quarter of American households tuning in for the first season. Much of that success drew from its constant use of anachronisms; appliances were operated by small animals, cars ran on footpower. It parodied the "American experience" that prevailed in the national consciousness of the time. The show lasted from 1960 through 1966, and ended up being the most profitable cartoon series ever; it only lost that honor to The Simpsons. By the time it lost that crown though, hindsight had already sweetened attitudes towards the show. It's now considered a classic, and in 2013 TV Guide ranked it as the second greatest cartoon of all time.
As happens to most successful franchises, the studio obviously wanted to take the franchise even further. The Flintstones have done a lot over the past fifty-eight years of its existence. There've been spin-off series, animated movies, live-action movies, even a fully built Bedrock in Arizona. At the moment, DC Comics publishes a regular comic series based on The Flintstones that focuses on social commentary and more adult topics, in a way preserving the grown-up focus of the original series.
With the new series now on the horizon, we will see yet another perspective on the Flintstones and their home of Bedrock. Salty Dog Pictures is going to be one more step in keeping the modern stone-age family as modern as possible.
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