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The Flintstones: The Complete First Season
Hanna-Barbera Golden Collection - 1960-1961 (2004) - Hanna-Barbera (Warner Bros.)

review by Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits

The Flintstones: The Complete First Season Program Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B/C

Specs and Features

Approx. 737 mins (28 episodes at 26 mins each), NR, full frame (1.33:1), 3 single-sided, single-layered discs, 1 double-sided, single layered disc, Digipack packaging (with slipcase), 2 featurettes (including All About the Flintstones and Wacky Inventions: Season 1), The Flagstones - original pilot "episode", 9 vintage TV commercials and promo spots, DVD preview trailers (for Scooby-Doo Where Are You!; Seasons 1 & 2, Tom & Jerry and the Looney Tunes Golden Collection), animated program-themed menus with music, episode access (28 episodes - 7 episodes per disc), languages: English, French and Spanish (DD 1.0 mono), subtitles: English, French and Spanish, Closed Captioned

In 1960, Hanna-Barbera's The Flintstones became television's first prime-time animated series. The show was a simple take off on the tried and true formula already made popular by TV's The Honeymooners, which depicted the day to day life of a pair of working-class married couples, and particularly the constant schemes and misadventures of the men in this equation. To make the formula its own, The Flintstones set its story in the Stone Age, complete with cave men and dinosaurs. The show was an instant hit with TV audiences, and appeared in first-run broadcast for 6 seasons.

Born as I was in 1967, it wasn't until the mid-to-late 1970s that I discovered The Flintstones. The show became a weekday afternoon staple for Generation X-ers. A typical afternoon went something like this: get home from school - check - get snack - check - watch The Flintstones, The Jetsons and Jonny Quest - check. You followed that up with a game of whatever sport was in season with your friends and a tour of the neighborhood on your Big Wheel... and life was good. Now, we can finally relive a little of those glory days of youth on DVD, with The Flintstones' entire first season.

On disc, every one of these 28 original episodes look and sound fantastic. There's some film grain apparent, as well as the occasional bit of dust or scratch on the emulsion, but it's clear that these episodes have been carefully restored to arguably better than their original brilliance. The colors are vibrant, and the contrast is excellent, with deep blacks and plenty of detail. Simply put, you've never see these episodes looking this good before. The audio quality is also satisfying, presented in the original mono. The track is no frills, but it's always clear and clean, and supports the video well.

The extras aren't exactly plentiful, but they're at least interesting. All of the bonus material is included on the B-side of Disc Four (the first three discs are single-sided, but Disc Four is a flipper). You get a short featurette on the history of The Flintstones called, appropriately, All About the Flintstones. It's fluffy, but you do get some valuable background information, and there's nice archive footage of the show's creators and voice talent. Particularly cute is video of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera singing the show's theme song. A second featurette, called Wacky Inventions, covers the Stone Age substitutes for real-life gadgets that appeared on the show during its first season. Probably the best bonus item here is The Flagstones, the show's very brief pilot episode. It's just a couple of minutes long, and most of the voice talent is different than the final product, but you get to see the very first appearance of Fred, Barney, Wilma and Betty. Finally, the disc includes a series of original TV spots featuring the Flintstones characters selling products like Alka Seltzer, One-a-Day Vitamins and Post Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles breakfast cereal (aahhhhh... Cocoa Pebbles). There are also the requisite preview trailers for other Warner Bros. animated DVD releases, but those don't count as extras, so screw 'em.

Light and fluffy though the extras may be, my only real complaint with this set is the packaging. The discs are housed in a folding, Digipack-style cardboard and plastic case, with a slipcover. The set looks nice, but the discs are difficult to remove from the plastic trays in the package. If I was giving this to kids, I'd probably just take the discs out and put them in CD jewel cases so the packaging (and the discs) didn't get wrecked in the effort of your average 10-year old to pry them out.

That one small complaint aside, this is a pretty nice little set. When I popped in Disc One, and was immediately treated to the show's classic first episode, The Flintstone Flyer, I was absolutely hooked. Finally, THIS is the format we've been waiting for with classic animated shows like The Flintstones on DVD - complete season sets - in which every episode is included for you to enjoy. My only question now is how long Warner's going to take to get them ALL out on disc, 'cause I can't wait for the show's all-time greatest episode, Dr. Sinister, which appears in Season Five, and of course The Great Gazoo in Season Six.

A judo, a chop chop chop...!

Bill Hunt
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com


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