The Flintstones is an animated, prime-time American television sitcom that ran from September 30, 1960, to April 1, 1966, on ABC. Produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions, The Flintstones was about a working-class Stone Age man's life with his family and his next-door neighbor and best friend. It has since been re-released on both DVD and VHS. The show celebrated its 50th anniversary on September 30, 2010.
Critics and fans alike agree that the show was an animated imitation of The Honeymooners. William Hanna admitted that "At that time, The Honeymooners was the most popular show on the air, and for my bill, it was the funniest show on the air. The characters, I thought, were terrific. Now, that influenced greatly what we did with The Flintstones ... The Honeymooners was there, and we used that as a kind of basis for the concept."
However, Joseph Barbera disavowed these claims in a separate interview, stating that, "I don't remember mentioning The Honeymooners when I sold the show. But if people want to compare The Flintstones to The Honeymooners, then great. It's a total compliment. The Honeymooners was one of the greatest shows ever written." Its popularity rested heavily on its juxtaposition of modern-day concerns in the Stone Age setting.
In 2011 Seth McFarlane, creator of animated series Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show, announced that he would be giving The Flintstones a 21st century makeover with a new series, likely to start production in Fall 2011.
The show is set in the Stone Age town of Bedrock. (In some of the earlier episodes, it was also referred to as "Rockville"). In this fantasy version of the past, dinosaurs, saber-toothed tigers, woolly mammoths, and other long-extinct animals co-exist with barefoot cavemen. Like their 20th-century peers, these cavemen listen to records, live in split-level homes, and eat out at restaurants, yet their technology is made entirely from pre-industrial materials and largely powered through the use of various animals. For example, the cars are made out of stone, wood, and animal skins, and powered by the passengers' feet. ("Through the courtesy of Fred's two feet" comprises part of the lyrics that many people have not been able to decipher over the decades that have passed when they listen to the theme song, for example.)
Often the "prehistoric" analogue to a modern machine uses an animal. For example, when a character takes photographs with an instant camera, inside of the camera box, a bird carves the picture on a stone tablet with its bill. In a running gag, the animal powering such technology would frequently break the fourth wall, look directly into the camera at the audience, shrug, and remark, "It's a living", or some variant thereof. Other commonly seen gadgets in the series include a baby woolly mammoth used as a vacuum cleaner; an adult woolly mammoth acting as a shower by spraying water with its trunk; elevators raised and lowered by ropes around brontosauruses' necks; "automatic" windows powered by monkeys on the outside; birds acting as "car horns," sounded by the driver pulling on their tails or squeezing their bodies; an "electric" razor made from a clam shell, vibrating from a honey-bee inside; a washing machine shown by a pelican with a beakful of soapy water; and a woodpecker whose beak is used to play a gramophone record. In most cases, "The Man of a Thousand Voices," Mel Blanc, contributed the animals' gag lines, often lowering his voice one to two full octaves, far below the range he used to voice the character of Barney Rubble. In the case of the Flintstones' cuckoo clocks, which varied from mechanical toys to live birds announcing the time, when the hour approached 12:00, the bird inside the clock "cuckooing" usually just ran out of steam and gave up vocally, physically, or both. It was a running gag that appeared in nearly every episode.
The Stone Age setting allowed for gags and word plays involving rocks and minerals. For example, San Antonio becomes "Sand-and-Stony-o"; the country to the south of Bedrock's land is called "Mexirock." Travel to "Hollyrock," a parody of Hollywood, usually involves an "airplane" flight — the "plane," in this case, is often shown as a giant pterosaur. The last names "Flintstone" and "Rubble", as well as other common Bedrock surnames such as "Shale" and "Quartz", are in line with these puns. So are the names of Bedrock's celebrities: "Cary Granite" (Cary Grant), "Stony Curtis" (Tony Curtis), "Ed Sulleyrock/Sulleystone" (Ed Sullivan), "Rock Pile/Quarry/ Hudstone" (Rock Hudson), "Ann-Margrock" (Ann-Margret), "Jimmy Darrock" (James Darren), "Alvin Brickrock" (Alfred Hitchcock), "Perry Masonary/Masonite" (Perry Mason as played by Raymond Burr), "Mick Jadestone and The Rolling Boulders" (Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones), "Eppy Brianstone" (Brian Epstein) and "The Beau Brummelstones" (The Beau Brummels). Once, while visiting one of Bedrock's houses of "Haute Couture" with Wilma, Betty even commented on the new "Jackie Kennerock (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) look". In some cases, the celebrity featured also provided the voice: "Samantha" and "Darrin" from "Bewitched" were voiced by Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York. Examples from the above list include Ann-Margret, Curtis, Darrin, and the Beau Brummels. Other celebrities, such as "Ed Sulleystone" and "Alvin Brickrock," were rendered by impersonators. Some of Bedrock's sports heroes include: football player "Red Granite" (Red Grange), wrestler "Bronto Crushrock" (Bronko Nagurski), golfer "Arnold Palmrock" (Arnold Palmer), boxers "Floyd Patterstone" (Floyd Patterson) and "Sonny Listone" (Sonny Liston), and baseball players "Roger Marble" (Roger Maris) and "Mickey Marble" or "Mickey Mantlepiece" (Mickey Mantle). Ace reporter "Daisy Kilgranite" (Dorothy Kilgallen) was a friend of Wilma's.