Flintstones. Meet the Flintstones. They’re the modern stone age family. Fred and Wilma. Barney and Betty. Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm. The overeager Dino.
It’s been nearly 50 years since Hanna-Barbera’s The Flintstones made its exit from ABC’s primetime line-up. In pop culture it has remained a small screen attraction in the form of commercials for Fruity Pebbles cereal. It is because of the popular kids’ cereal that a partnership of the Flintstones world and the WWE universe started to form. John Cena, by far the company’s biggest wrestling personality, would appear on Pebbles cereal boxes along with Fred and other Bedrock residents. The logic with the release of The Flintstones and WWE: Stone Age SmackDown! is to get kids who are familiar with the spectacle of wrestling, and who may even eat the Pebbles cereal because of Cena, to have them become fans of the Flintstones.
The town of Bedrock has had its share of celebrity cameos during its television run. Alvin Brickrock (a take on Alfred Hitchcock), Stoney Curtis, Ann Margrock, and Ed Sullystone. Yogi Bear had a one-shot appearance. And characters from the Flintstones and the Jetsons even collided in the late ’80s with a TV movie. In this 52-minute direct-to-video release, we get a longer-than-average Flintstones episode with a familiar Flintstones plot and added WWE personalities.
Fred Flintstone hatches a hair-brained scheme to get back the family vacation money he lost. Seeing the dollar signs after Barney gets into an altercation with CM Punkrock (voice of CM Punk) at a fundraiser, Fred blows some more clams on fancy clothes (looking like Bedrock’s version of former WWE performer “The Godfather”) and transforms himself into a show business promoter. He creates FFE (Fred Flintstone Entertainment) and the promotion, though short-lived, would leave quite the impression as it would later be adopted by Vincent Kennedy McMahon.
Fred’s plan isn’t without fault as he convinces his pal, Barney, to be one of the wrestlers, along with John Cenastone (John Cena), Rey Mysteriopal (Rey Mysterio) and The Undertaker.
The Flintstones and WWE: Stone Age SmackDown! is a good litmus test for those who are knowledgeable wrestling fans and those who are not. Those who aren’t will have no clue who the Boulder sisters are, or Daniel Bryrock, or Marble Henry.
A staple of the show was taking mid-20th century technology and habits and purposing it in prehistoric times. The citizens of Bedrock would eat out at drive-in restaurants (don’t order a huge slab of ribs or your car will tip over) and listen to records. The new special gives us modern stone age jokes. The best occurs early on when Fred is late for work. Knowing he’s going to be late he makes a stop at a Stonebucks to get a coffee. We also have characters using “shale phones” and tablets, an electronic device that doesn’t need clever wordplay to help identify.
I’m not a Flintstones purist, having not watched an episode or segment in a number of years, but even I found fault with vocal characterization and visual style. Jeff Bergman is a suitable replacement for Alan Reed’s 1960s original. The worst is Kevin Michael Richardson as Barney. The delivery is off-putting compared to my memories of what Barney used to sound like. Though, interestingly enough, the Blu-ray includes an old Flintstones episode, “The Engagement Ring” (November 25, 1960), where the phrasing and tone of Barney Rubble is similar to Mel Blanc’s iteration.
With the world of the Flintstones and WWE colliding it seems like a golden opportunity was missed by not having Dwayne Johnson as one of the voice talents. I mean it is hard to top The Rock as a celebrity guest. Make him a concierge at the Bedrock Hotel on the corner of Know Your Stone Boulevard and Jurassic Drive.
The Flintstones! and WWE: Stone Age SmackDown! Blu-ray comes packaged as a combo pack with a Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD download. I’m not positive, but this may be the first time the Flintstones have been presented in 1080p. Their last special, The Flintstones: On the Rocks, aired in 2001 on Cartoon Network and has never made an appearance on DVD.
Bonus features include the already mentioned “The Engagement Ring” episode, plus second season’s “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” (April 27, 1962). We also get a few EPK-style featurettes. “The Superstars of Fred Flintstone Entertainment (FFE)” helps viewers identify the WWE personalities behind the celebrity voices. Understandably missing from this feature are both CM Punk and Rey Mysterio, two wrestlers who are no longer with the WWE promotion, plus The Undertaker, who is the king of anonymity when it comes to separating his in-ring persona from his real-life persona. Finally, there is “How to Be a Stone Age Superstar”. This segment has wrestlers offering advice to those dreaming of being sports entertainers in the future.
The Flintstones and WWE: Stone Age SmackDown! is another in a series of fan-building ventures for World Wrestling Entertainment and Warner Bros. It began last year around this time with a Scooby-Doo WrestleMania mystery. Now it extends to the world of Bedrock. What will happen next? Will wrestler Roman Reigns “Superman Punch” his way to Spacely Sprockets and meet the Jetsons? The Blu-ray presentation is perfect for youngsters. They get a 52-minute special, a few featurettes and two classic Flintstones episodes. I don’t think this will interest many older WWE fans or those who grew up enjoying the animated series, but kids will be entertained.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment presents The Flintstones and WWE: Stone Age SmackDown! Directed by: Spike Bandit and Tony Cervone. Written by: Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas. Starring: John Cena, Niki Bella, CM Punk, Brie Bella, Vince McMahon, Daniel Bryan, Jeff Bergman, Kevin Michael Richardson. Running Time: 52 minutes. Rating: Not Rated. Released: March 10, 2015.
Tags: John Cena, The Flintstones, The Undertaker, WWE DVD