It may have been considered a slight when I passed over The Flintstones for inclusion in my top ten animated television shows, but maybe a 9th place finish here will take away some of that sting. The modern stone-age family has been around a long time, and while their profile has certainly diminished over the years, The Flintstones are still pretty well known.
Basically every time I have chosen to talk about The Flintstones on this blog it has been related to one of the Christmas specials, and in particular, A Flintstone Christmas. A Flintstone Christmas came after the show stopped airing new episodes and is essentially the episode “Christmas Flintstone” re-done as an hour-long television special (for more on that, check out my review last year of A Flintstone Christmas Carol which also includes “Christmas Flintstone”). It used to be that you could count on seeing the special re-air every year on either Cartoon Network or TBS but that hasn’t been the case of late. So like yesterday’s entrant, A Garfield Christmas, A Flintstone Christmas is in danger of becoming kind of an unknown Christmas special.
The story for A Flintstone Christmas revolves around Fred and Barney filling in for Santa Claus. Fred is supposed to play Santa for his work’s Christmas party, but when the real Santa gets injured on Fred’s roof (sound familiar?) Fred has to put on the Sant suit and fill-in. Barney tags along as Fred’s elf, and the two stumble their way through the night. At one point they lose all the presents and have to head back to the North Pole to get more, but this serves as a way for the show to present Santa’s work shop and his many elves.
There’s a few original songs thrown in to liven things up. They’re actually not too bad and it’s kind of nice to not have to hear the same public domain songs over and over. The only one I don’t care for is the overly sappy song that revolves around Pebbles waking up on Christmas morning. Fred (Henry Cordon) has some singing parts that can hardly be labeled as singing, so those songs are kind of lousy as well. All in all though, the music gets the job done.
The animation is pretty standard Hanna-Barbera stuff and doesn’t look all that different from the show. It’s probably slightly better and there’s some very minor visual effects at work in some places. It’s really only noticeably better if you watch this special and then watch an episode of the show. Unfortunately, there aren’t any great dinosaur gags to speak of, which was a major part of the show’s charm. It would have been fun to see some odd dinosaur appliance incorporated into Santa’s work shop, but oh well.
A Flintstone Christmas is kind of hard to come by these days. Since it’s not shown on television anymore, the only way to see it is either online or by purchasing the special on DVD. For some reason, A Flintstone Christmas Carol appears to be the special of choice that gets peddled around each holiday season while A Flintstone Christmas has been relegated to Amazon’s manufacture-on-demand printing service. As a result, the DVD release is as bland as it gets, though it does also include the 90’s special A Flintstone Family Christmas, which actually isn’t that bad. It’s a really fun special though with a premise that would clearly be ripped-off down the road. There’s some laughs and nice Christmas sentiments tossed-in and it never feels overdone. Hopefully A Flintstone Christmas will eventually find its way back to television where it belongs this time of year.