Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone (1979)

From 1979, 13 years after The Flintstones left the prime time airwaves but kept alive through reruns and numerous Saturday morning incarnations, comes this one-hour TV special, which aired on NBC on 10/30/79.  The Flintstones and Rubbles win big on a popular game show, “Make a Deal or Don’t,” and their prize is an al-expense paid trip to a haunted castle in Transylvania. Betty and Wilma love its touristy charm, but Fred and Barney are too pooped to party, so all turn in early. Unfortunately, the very real monster Rockula startles a sleeping Wilma, thinking that she s his bride. When this misidentification is cleared up, he still wants to marry her, something only possible if she were a widow. Both he, and unfinished creation Frankenstone, are all to happy to make it happen, so poor Fred has to rescue his dearly beloved and save his own skin – and salvage what clearly has turned into a real dud of a grand prize!

Loads of fun, with the usual voices (Henry Corden, Mel Blanc, Jean Vander Pyl) as the main characters. Fun to hear Casey Kasem’s unmistakable voice as the game show host, Monty Marble (can you guess the game show being parodied?). Without spoiling anything, I will say that Barney winds up saving the day with a very special skill, and no, it doesn’t involve propelling a rock-heavy automobile with his bare feet.

Also on this tape is The Flintstones New Neighbors, a 30-minute special that was part of a limited-run prime-time series on NBC, owing in no small part to the rating success of the above special. Broadcast on 9/26/80, it also features
Frankenstone, but this time as a different character: the patriarch of an Addams Family-esque clan who move in next door to Fred and Wilma. The Rubbles and Wilma are delighted, but Fred plays Archie Bunker and is upset that an oddball family has “decreased property values” in the neighborhood (yes, that’s actual dialogue). Upon hearing of Fred’s intolerance, Barney is furious (you can tell because his pupils get black and huge) and ends their friendship. Only after a picnic, in which Pebbles gets carried away by a pterodactyl and subsequently rescued by Frankenstone, does Fred see the error of his ways and ask for forgiveness from all he offended, which he gets. This classic show is out of print, but you can get it by clicking this share.

This special, I think, is even better than the Rockula one, if only for its message of acceptance and understanding. It was also nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animated Programming, and followed by “Fred’s Final Fling” in the Flintstone Special run. 

You can also read this review on Amazon by clicking here.

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