DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

The Flintstones: Prime-Time Specials Collection, Volume 1 DVD Review

The Flintstones: Prime-Time Specials Collection, Volume 1 DVD cover art - click to buy exclusively from WBShop.com The Flintstones: Prime-Time Specials Collection, Volume 1
Specials & DVD Details

Creators/Executive Producers: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera / Associate Producer: Neil Balnaves / Animation Director: Chris Cuddington

Flintstones Little Big League

Original Air Date: April 6, 1978 / Running Time: 48 Minutes

Story: Jameson Brewer

Voice Cast: Pamela Anderson (Pebbles Flintstone), Mel Blanc (Barney Rubble, Dino), Lucille Bliss (Dusty), Ted Cassidy (Police Officer), Henry Corden (Fred Flintstone), Randy Gray (Lefty), Gay Autterson Hartwig (Betty Rubble), Don Messick (Quarry Co-Worker), John Stephenson (Mr. Slate), Jean Vander Pyl (Wilma Flintstone), Herb Vigran (Judge Shale), Frank Welker (Bamm-Bamm Rubble, Short Police Officer)

The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone

Original Air Date: October 30, 1979 / Running Time: 49 Minutes

Director: Ray Patterson / Producer: Alex Lovy / Story: Willie Gilbert

Voice Cast: Gay Autterson (Betty Rubble), Mel Blanc (Barney Rubble, Dino), Ted Cassidy (Frankenstone), Henry Corden (Fred Flintstone), Casey Kasem (Monty Marble), Don Messick (Igor), John Stephenson (Count Rockula), Jean Vander Pyl (Wilma Flintstone), Lennie Weinrib (Mr. Silika)

Total Running Time: 97 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio), Dolby Mono 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: None; Not Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: October 9, 2012 / Suggested Retail Price: $14.95
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5 DVD-R) / Black Keepcase
Previously released on VHS: Little Big League (1986) and Rockula and Frankenstone (1989)

Buy The Flintstones: Prime-Time Specials Collections exclusively at WBShop.com: Volume 1 Volume 2

Preorder the new The Flintstones: The Complete Series DVD at Amazon.com

While now dwarfed by the seemingly interminable runs of "The Simpsons", "South Park", and even PBS' "Arthur", "The Flintstones" was unquestionably the most successful cartoon in the history of American television through its time, running an unprecedented six seasons in primetime on ABC. When the Hanna-Barbera production's final episode premiered in April 1966, it was hardly the end of the modern Stone Age family.
The film A Man Called Flintstone went to theaters that summer and the spin-off "The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show" was just a few years away.

A plethora of anthologies, repackagings, and original series followed, among them "The Flintstone Comedy Hour", "Fred Flintstone and Friends", and "The New Fred and Barney Show." While those were airing on Saturday mornings or in weekday syndication packages, the Flintstones also ventured back into primetime in a number of NBC television specials, beginning with 1977's hour-long A Flintstone Christmas. With the entirety of the original "Flintstones" released to DVD in season sets and a since-discontinued and soon-replaced 24-disc complete series box set, as well as all the one and only season of "Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm", Warner Home Video has started to turn to those one-off specials for release through the Warner Archive Collection, where the Hanna-Barbera Classic Collection banner lives on in a less prosperous marketplace.

Since A Flintstone Christmas came to DVD last year alongside 1993's A Flintstone Family Christmas, the studio moves to two of the next unreleased hour-long cartoons to comprise The Flintstones: Prime-Time Specials Collection, Volume 1. This DVD-R, available exclusively now from the official WBShop, pairs the seasonably marketable The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone (1979) with the baseball-themed Flintstones Little Big League (1978).

Though the DVD lists them the opposite way, I watched and am reviewing these by order of original airdate.

Coaching opposite Little League baseball teams creates a rift between longtime best friends Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone. In their tweens for the first time in Flintstone history, Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm make a not so innocent initialism with their Bedrock and Sandstone jerseys.

More time is spent talking about baseball than playing it in Flintstones Little Big League (48:22). Fred Flintstone is ticked to learn that Barney Rubble has become the coach of Little League's Sandstone Sluggers without clearing it with him first. Fred very much wants in, but he is not about to accept the only position Barney is willing to give him: assistant batboy. The insult creates a rift between the two best friends that only deepens when Fred becomes the coach of the rival Bedrock Brontos.

Fred's hopes of showing up Barney begin to fade as he realizes the Brontos are comprised of lousy players, albeit lousy players with fathers who are important figures in the community, including Judge Shale and Fred's boss down at the quarry, Mr. Slate. Fred uses his new position to get out of speeding tickets and legal troubles, promising powerful dads more playing time for their sons.

When it comes time for the big showdown, after all the spying on one another and abruptly hung up phone calls, Fred and Barney get in trouble for speeding and are kept away from the game, leaving their clueless wives Wilma and Betty to substitute coach. Naturally, their respective children, who are depicted as tweens for the only time in Flintstones history, are star athletes. Bamm-Bamm's .999 batting average is an all-time record, while Pebbles has a killer pitching arm, which Fred discovers after budging from his stance of having her cheer from the bleachers.

The special ends with an uncharacteristic didactic musical finale, as everyone sings that "winning isn't everything."

Fred tries (unsuccessfully) to scare Barney with his Rockula costume. Awoken after five hundred years away, Count Rockula and Frankenstone proceed to disturb Wilma in the middle of the night.

Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm are nowhere to be found in The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone (48:41), which appropriately debuted on Halloween Eve 1979. The Flintstones and the Rubbles are excited to appear on an episode of "Make a Deal or Don't", which they attend in costume.
Barney seems to be a big winner by opting to walk away with a prize of $1,000, but then a more daring Fred gets something even better: a free romantic trip to Rocksylvania, where Count Rockula's castle has been converted into a tourist hotel. Barney gives back his $1,000 so that he and Betty can join Fred and Wilma on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

The two couples arrive in time for the opening night's Rocksylvania Monster Bash. While they're getting settled into their hotel rooms and trying on their provided costumes, Count Rockula and Frankenstone, the monster he created to protect him from the werewolves he fears, are inadvertently awakened from their 500-year slumber. The Flintstones and Rubbles make it an early night, but after they retire, the real Rockula lays eyes on Wilma and mistakes her for his wife from half a millennium ago. She sets him straight, but the Count is still determined to make her his bride and plans to widow her if necessary.

With a lot of running around the castle and discovering trap doors and hiding places, this outing is kind of "Scooby Doo"-ish compared to the franchise's usual "The Honeymooners"-inspired domestic family sitcom makings. Both specials, however, offer fine entertainment that is able to sustain the longer runtimes.

Count Rockula's Rocksylvania castle is converted to a tourist hotel in "The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone." Fred Flintstone's propensity for speeding repeatedly gets him into trouble in "Flintstones Little Big League."

VIDEO and AUDIO

Manufactured on demand discs typically warn viewers to set their expectations beneath ordinarily restored fare. No such disclaimers are found here, and WBShop actually claims "The film is newly remastered." While that may be true, these specials are not quite as presentable as they would be with a standard restoration, but they are easily good enough and no doubt better than the VHS cassettes and bootlegs you'd otherwise be left with. Little Big League is a little more troubled.
Not very sharp, it is often plagued by some minor artifacts, including gray specks and white scratches. The colors seem to fluctuate a little too. Rockula and Frankenstone isn't perfect, but it is better, with a more consistent element and far fewer specks.

Sound is offered as Dolby 2.0 Mono and it too gets the job done. With children definitely among the viewership, these characters speak clearly enough for you not to mind the lack of subtitles and closed captioning that comes with manufactured on demand. It's worth noting that Rockula very rarely employs a laugh track, while to the best of my memory, Little Big League did not use one at all. Though long retired, including laugh tracks on animation is considered something of a controversial practice which affects Hanna-Barbera 'toons more than any others. Here, it's essentially a non-issue.

Like all Warner Archive DVDs, this one features an extremely simple menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Like most manufactured on demand DVDs, there are no bonus features to be found here. It seems doubtful these would have gotten anything more in general retail release, other than ads for other animated Warner DVDs and maybe one of the specials being given semantical bonus feature status.

As usual for Warner Archive, the packaging looks professional enough to the untrained eye, with just slightly lower print quality and a disc label resembling one you yourself could make with a little bit of time. One annoying thing is the front cover's glaring misspelling of "Rockula" ("Rocula").

The static, silent simple menu reformats the cover art and gives you the choice to watch one or both of the specials. The disc shows a touch more effort than other Warner Archive titles by sensibly placing chapter stops at act/commercial breaks instead of just every ten minutes.

Fred and Barney in a werewolf mask open the door for a mummy attack (by Wilma) in "Rockula and Frankenstone." Count Rockula gets a look at Wilma's unglamorous domestic life.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I enjoyed both of these late-'70s Flintstones primetime specials quite a bit. An animated franchise can't run as long as this one has without having a lot of appeal. The Flintstones remain full of that, as perhaps the centerpiece of the Hanna-Barbera animation empire.
That's especially true when watching two self-contained hour-long narratives instead of enduring marathon sessions of less ambitious standard episodes. The simple concept of finding a prehistoric equivalent to every facet of modern living continues to charm half a century later. While the gender depictions are perhaps outmoded, there's little else to date this classic series in these two fun outings.

Like all manufactured on demand offerings, Warner's DVD is basic, but the presentations are adequate and the price is reasonable and barely more than what it'd be in general retail. While this obviously isn't going to be your first choice for buying a Flintstones DVD, it's a strong pair of specials that should satisfy both completists and casual fans wanting just a taste.

Buy The Flintstones: Prime-Time Specials Collections at WBShop.com: Volume 1 Volume 2

Preorder the new The Flintstones: The Complete Series DVD at Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Hanna-Barbera Animation in Warner Archive Collection: The Halloween Tree Yogi's Great Escape
Featuring "The Flintstone Kids": Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1980s
New: Pete's Dragon Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted A League of Their Own An American Christmas Carol All in the Family: The Complete Series
Hanna-Barbera: Yogi Bear's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo The Jetsons: Season 2, Volume 1 Smurfs: Season One, Volume One
Peanuts: 1970's Collection, Vol. 2 Alvin and the Chipmunks: Trick or Treason The Smurfs and the Magic Flute Forever Funny: T.V. Sets
New-ish: Mad Monster Party DreamWorks Spooky Stories Jeff Dunham: Minding the Monsters Ed Wood

DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

Search This Site:

DVDizzy.com Top Stories:

Reviewed October 18, 2012.



Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1978-79 Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc. and 2012 Warner Home Video.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.