Back to Bedrock

Fifty years ago this morning, I opened my eyes to a great new old world -- a place called Bedrock. The previous evening, "The Flintstones" debuted on prime time network television and I was there.

"The Flintstones" Show Opening (1960) via YouTube

Fred and Wilma advertising Winston Cigarettes ...Image via Wikipedia
The strange, comical, prehistoric universe of Fred and Wilma and Dino Flintstone, plus their nifty neighbors, Barney and Betty Rubble, was too delicious for this 8-year-old Neanderthal to resist. My friends, too. "The Flintstones" became the first communal obsession of our youth, followed, three months later, by Walt Disney's "One Hundred and One Dalmatians" and, three years down the path, Beatlemania.

What had been intended as TV's first animated sitcom for adults — note the product placement for Winston cigarettes — was hijacked by children. We loved the show and were soon teaching ourselves to doodle the characters' pictures during school. I can draw Fred at the click of a pen or the hammer of a chisel.

"The Flintstones" Winston Cigarettes Commercial and Winston End Credits via YouTube

It wasn't long before producers Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera revamped the concept to pander to kids with the introduction of tot Pebbles (followed quickly by Bamm-Bamm). Great move, boys. The moment that happened — February 2, 10,000 B.C. (We were on tape delay) — the show was altered and ruined forever.

The TV rule of "adding brats to beloved formats doesn't work" was proven once again, or so I told "Lucy" loser Little Ricky.

The chums and I were out of there, moving on to something else, maybe Arithmetic, but probably "The Jetsons."

My first-run "Flintstones" experience was entirely in black-and-white, which was the broadcast norm in 1960. On this page, I've featured the original opening sequence from seasons one and two of the series, plus the end credits for Winston. My memory is the cigarette company was an alternating sponsor, so not prominent each week; therefore, here's a somewhat reworked *generic* closing taken from the color elements.

"The Flintstones" End Sequence (1960) via YouTube

I prefer the early "Flintstones" title sequences. I owned the vinyl record of the superior, jazzy theme, "Rise and Shine," and played the tune incessantly in my bedroom. There were additional musical selections, including the toe-tapping "Split Level Cave."

But, after 48 years of repetitive TV exposure, the updated "Meet the Flintstones" title footage is better known. I like it well enough. With its drive-in theatre imagery, how could I not?

"The Flintstones" Updated Opening via YouTube

"The Flintstones" Updated Closing via YouTube

Eventually, the animation was expanded to include Pebbles and the Rubbles, joining Wilma, Fred, Dino, and the cat on their night out at the movies:

"The Flintstones" Opening With Pebbles and the Rubbles (1964) via YouTube

The closing with the children and Barney and Betty can be seen in this foreign adaptation, although the music track is different than in the U.S. version:

"The Flintstones" Closing With Pebbles and the Rubbles (1964) via YouTube

Now, I must go take a shower. Cue the elephant...

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