I love the Warner Bros Archive Collection. I’ve you aren’t familiar with this vendor, it’s where Warner Bros sells DVDs of movies and TV shows they know have an audience, but probably not a big enough audience to mass-produce and sell in stores. With DVD-on-demand technology being what it is today, they can burn and package DVDs to order at a much smaller financial risk and sell them exclusively online, on theor own site and on Amazon. I’ve found some old favorites on this site — things like the Rankin and Bass Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, the Chuck Jones version of The Phantom Tollbooth, and the so-bad-you-must-watch-it Legend of the Superheroes special which featured Adam West and Burt Ward reprising their roles from Batman alongside a host of DC superheroes.
But today, I want to talk about The Flintstone Christmas Collection. Now don’t mistake this for The Flintstones Christmas Carol – also a fine cartoon, but it’s been readily available on DVD for years. (By the way, Warner Brothers, can we please agree on pluralization? Why is it sometimes “Flintstone” and sometimes “Flintstones?” Let’s pick one.) This Archive DVD contains two other Flintstones Christmas specials, beginning with 1977′s A Flintstone Christmas. In this special, Fred is summoned to play Santa Claus both by Wilma and by his boss, Mr. Slate. He runs into trouble, however, when the real Santa Claus takes a tumble, gets hurt, and Fred and Barney have to step up and take his place. I really like this cartoon, but I’m almost positive it’s a 60-minute remake of an old episode of the original TV series. I got the complete series on DVD last Christmas (thanks, Mom and Dad), so I suppose I could check, but I’ve got a week of school left before the semester ends and these kids are starting to whine about wanting to “know what they made on the last three tests” or something.
The second special, A Flintstone Family Christmas, is from 1993, and is perhaps the last thing made in the chronology of the original series. This actually follows up two made-for-TV movies from the early 90s in which an adult Pebbles and Bamm Bamm got married and had twins. In the new special, their family (who lives in Hollyrock) is coming home for the holidays, and new grandpas Fred and Barney couldn’t be happier. But things go awry when Wilma convinces them to take in a street kid named Stony who seems to be a bit of a troublemaker. If only he had a father figure in his life to set him straight.
If you know where this is going, it’s because you saw the same thing playing out in the now-infamous Leonardo DiCaprio arc on Growing Pains. And like The Cosby Show‘s Raven-Simone before him and the Simpsons‘ Poochie after him, Stony seems to be a rather blatant attempt to inject a new character in the franchise. Which is odd, as there was no Flintstones TV show on the air at that point. I dunno, maybe they hoped that this special would jump start things and get them back on the air. It didn’t, though, and to the best of my knowledge they stopped going forward in the Flintstones’ personal timeline after this and returned to Pebbles and Bamm Bamm’s years in diapers the very next Christmas, for 1994′s Flintstones Christmas Carol.
The second special is kind of trite, but it’s okay. The first one is classic. And if you’re looking for old Christmas cartoons and movies, hunt around the Archive collection. There’s a lot there to choose from, including a lot of things you’ve probably forgotten.