Jingle Bell Bedrock
In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except bad puns and Christmas specials. No media property delivered either into millions of households quite like "The Flintstones," the show that packed into 160-plus episodes more rock-related jokes than you ever knew existed. A small army of spin-offs and "very special" events followed in its success, with no less than three dedicated just to the yuletide season. But if your nostalgia senses just so happen to be tingling whilst trimming the tree, the folks over at Warner Archive have you covered with A Flintstone Christmas Collection, a double dose of holiday escapades starring the greatest modern Stone Age family of them all.
A Flintstone Christmas (1977)
While it feels like everyone else in Bedrock is all holly and jolly, Fred Flintstone (voice of Henry Corden) isn't quite in the gift-giving mood. That all changes when Santa Claus himself (voice of Hal Smith) takes a tumble off Fred's roof, forcing him and Barney Rubble (voice of Mel Blanc) to finish up the rest of his route before it's too late. A Flintstone Christmas is holiday-themed entertainment at its most traditional, but it's ultimately harmless and even a little charming. While the story is the usual stuff about showing a sourpuss the true meaning of the season, I did enjoy how Fred's apathy didn't stem from outright disdain for Christmas but from how he's too lazy to get involved. It's not much, but it's at least a little indication that the show's satirical roots haven't been completely overtaken by the sugary-sweet songs and lessons about not being a Stone Age Scrooge. Though its humor hasn't gotten any less corny over time, A Flintstone Christmas has its heart in the right place and is sure to entertain kids today as much as it did their parents when they first tuned in way back when.
A Flintstone Family Christmas (1993)
The snow is falling, the sugarplums are dancing, and Fred Flintstone (voice of Henry Corden) is full to the brim with Christmas cheer...or so it seems. A run-in with a "caveless" youngster (voice of Christine Cavanaugh) reveals that Fred still has a lot to learn about humility, trusting in others, and finding joy in giving instead of receiving. The previous special was thin enough as it was, but even with twenty minutes shaved off the running time, A Flintstone Family Christmas still feels like the most padded of the two. Where its predecessor felt earnest and good-natured, this one feels like it's forcing its obligations to be sentimental for the kiddies and work in risque jokes for the adults. Neither the inclusion of a trouble-making hellion or of references to the "All-Cavegirl Network" do any favors for the special, which suffers from a premise already loaded down with almost every holiday cliche known to man. I was in the perfect demographic when A Flintstone Family Christmas aired, but while I missed it back in the day, I think even eight-year-old yours truly would have had a hard time stomaching its steaming cup of holiday mush.
(A Flintstone Christmas Collection is available to purchase through the Warner Archive Collection: http://www.warnerarchive.com)