A long, long time ago in front of a TV set far, far away, I was recuperating from the flu and I was sprawled out on the couch feeling somewhat feverish when I saw an episode of The Flintstones that had to have been the wackiest ever produced by Hanna-Barbera—and there are plenty of candidates for that honor, let me tell you. It was called “Samantha,” and it featured the Samantha and Darrin Stephens characters from Bewitched (in cartoon form) as next-door neighbors to the modern Stone Age family. What’s more, the voices were supplied by Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York, the stars of the fantasy sitcom.
Now, at the time I saw this…well, I wasn’t actually 100% positive that I did see it. I thought it was all some sort of whacked-out fever dream, so naturally I was relieved when I did a little research and learned that the episode did exist. It’s not too hard to figure out how this crossover happened—both shows were produced by Screen Gems, both were on the same network…with Bewitched just starting its second year after its phenomenally popular freshman season (ranked #2 among all TV programs, second only to Bonanza). Hanna-Barbera also did the animated credits of Bewitched’s memorable opening, so you can chalk this up as an early example of what would later be called “synergy.”
Fifty years ago on this date, The Flintstones premiered on ABC and became the first prime-time animated situation comedy in the history of the boob tube…and for six seasons would also be the longest-running until The Simpsons premiered nearly thirty years later and ran on…and on…and on… It’s a show I fondly remember from my youth although in taking a gander at a few episodes it’s lost a little bit of its luster—the only real pleasure I get out of watching it is listening to the wonderful voice work by OTR veterans Alan Reed, Mel Blanc, Jean Vander Pyl, Bea Benaderet, etc. I talk a bit more long-windedly about the show with this post at Edward Copeland on Film.