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Thursday, June 13, 2013

On The Flintstones (and a Tiny Bit About the Infestation of Pointless PR Schmucks)

June 13, 2013:  Good Morning, Class ... This week we -- (meaning me) -- were  -- (meaning was) -- torn between between writing about why PR people are such uselesss, unnecessary, resource-sucking schmucks whose meaningless purpose in life centers on driving poor, innocent, good-intentioned writers like myself to the point of sour diarrhea with their utterly pointless and time-consuming formalities and importunate moronically self-consumed bullshit ... and writing about The Flintstones. For my own relative peace of mind, I thought it wise to go with The Flintstones.

It's a tad surprising that my Blah-ugh! has, up until now, omitted any Flintstone commentary, for it's a grand show and certainly a vitally important cultural, social and, dare I say, political lynchpin. Yet it's a big world out there. I realized this week that the Blondie (Chris Stein) song "Shayla" deserves an entire entry of its own, for Chris'sake, so with that kind of pedantic focus I'm having to regularly apply, it'll be years before I ever give Steven Spielberg his long-warranted and overdue due.

Anyway, I remain a faithful Flintstones fan, as we probably all do. But that doesn't mean -- like with everything else about me -- there aren't authentic concerns and questions that will probably never be answered. For instance, who was Gerry Johnson and why did she (or he) replace Bea Benederet as the voice of Betty Rubble? Why, in fact, did they stop crediting Benederet in the controversial 3rd Season? What was Wilma's relationship with Boney Hurdle really about (or, for that matter, her history with Rodney the Knife Thrower) And why was I so stupid my entire life as to believe that line in the opening song -- "Through the courtesy of Fred's two feet" -- was "Rudolph, turn and see a place to eat"? (Although, the more I think about it, there really were some valid reasons.)

It's hard to know where to begin writing about a show -- a phenomenon, really -- to which one could devote an entire series of books and perhaps several college courses. The clever use of animals to perform their menial tasks and replace modern automated machines alone is worthy of an essay. (I find it interesting how, even though it was in primitive times, some of the inventions are much more practical than what we have today, such as the turtle jack that will actually lower your car when you tell it to. Of course, some make no sense at all, such as the elephant sprinkler that Barney invents; I mean, how much water can it really hold in its trunk anyway?!)

Where to begin focusing? For one thing, it's fascinating to realize that the great Allan Melvin was one of the regular supporting voices on the show -- something I didn't ever realize until last month! Those of you (cretins) who don't know the name will recognize him not only as the extremely annoying Sam the Butcher from The Brady Bunch, but also Archie Bunker's neighbor and sometimes friend Barney Hefner. (A good trivia question, if nothing else -- Who graced the cast of three of the best and most important TV shows of last century?) I assume you already know that the Great Gazoo was voiced by the great Harvey Korman, who as you must also know did the voice of Carol Burnett.

We just started on the 5th Season last night and it's surprisingly startling how the show demands that you suspend reality going forward. Honestly, I never had a big problem accepting things like the Barney 'Copter (a.k.a. the Flintstone Flyer), Barney's invisibility, or Fred fighting the Bull-osaurus in Rockapulco. But Season Five starts right away with the introduction of Hoppie (the hoparoo -- a much less believable animal than Dino ever was). By the second episode Barney takes Fred to Dr. Len Frankenstone to help restore his sense and, consequently, he switches his personality with, respectively, Dino's, Barney's and ultimately Wilma's. (You probably also remember this episode as including the disturbing oddity of Dr. Dracuslab and his three bats; I mean, come on!)

But I don't want to imply I have a problem with any of this. I don't. It's just surprising to me that a show that was able to establish such a frank believability as a human drama had to, after only four full seasons, resort to such high chicanery. For example, in the rodeo episode, Pebbles suddenly has blue eyes in one scene. I mean, what the hell is that about?! Do they need to, from a dramaturlogical standpoint, establish her obvious love of her daddy by flashing new blue baby eyes? It just seems odd to me, that's all ...

I love The Flintstones, and could spend valuable hours reminiscing about a litany of Flintstone-related moments and experiences -- the spy woman who's "too important to be captured," the gravel-voiced song cameo of Ann Margrock doing "I Ain't Gonna Be Yo Fool," the walk and accompanying jazz music of Perry Gunite walking across the room in the bar to order "Rocks over rocks," Rock Quarry, the extreme oddity of Bam-Bam and Pebbles singing that "Let the Sunshine In" song, Uncle Giggles, "slalom," Wilma as the Happy Housewife singing "Make Your Hubby Happy," Fred's "Pass the poi!" line, "H-E-P-L," The Flintstone Canaries singing the Soft Soap theme on the Hum Along with Herman show, the grissly choking sound the cop makes when Fred tries to drag him through the hole in the wall of his new addition remove that's partially on Barney's property, Grandma Dynamite, Betty as Mrs. O'Lady, the Happy Anniversary song, and of course the cameo by the Beau Brummels, as the Beau Brummelstones, singing their awesome song "Laugh Laugh."

I could go on ... One day I may have to ...

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