Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Flintstones: September 30, 1960...

Hello one and all...on this date in 1960 the first-ever animated series to air in prime-time made it's debut on ABC-TV. "The Flintstones" hit the airwaves as a satirical mix of contemporary life set in the prehistoric stone-age. The series is from the legendary duo, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, and it's based on Jackie Gleason's immortal sitcom, "The Honeymooners". The vocal cast of the original series consisted of Alan Reed as Fred Flintstone, Jean Vander Pyl as Wilma Flintstone; Mel Blanc as Dino and Barney Rubble; and Bea Benaderet as Betty Rubble. The extended voice cast consisted usually of Don Messick, Howard Morris, Hal Smith, Doug Young, and in numerous authority figure roles [including Fred's boss, Mr. Slate], John Stephenson.

The series aired for 6 seasons...it's last prime-time episode airing April 1, 1966...with a grand total of 166 episodes. The topic of pregnancy surfaced in the third season with Wilma giving birth to a baby, Pebbles. Pregnancy was certainly an unusual topic for animated cartoons of the era...and to give it an even more real life, human drama there was a story written in the 4th season about how Barney and Betty were unable to have children and so the two ultimately adopt a baby left on their door-step. The baby is super-strong and was named Bamm-Bamm (voiced by Don Messick).

There were cast changes/additions in later seasons...particularly in the role of Betty Rubble. Gerry Johnson took over the role for the final two seasons on ABC. In January 1961 on Sunset Blvd. Mel Blanc was involved in a near fatal car accident. He was in a coma for several days but eventually came out of it but spent months in a full body cast. Once the doctors felt he was able to leave the hospital he remained somewhat bed ridden in his house for several more months. His son, Noel Blanc, got the idea of having a make-shift recording studio installed in Mel's bedroom so he could continue working during his recovery. In a famed photograph from the time period Mel can be seen lying in bed with a microphone hovering above while the other three vocal performers are standing on either side of the bed with script in hand.

In five episodes from season two another vocal legend, Daws Butler, performed the role of Barney Rubble in a voice similar to Art Carney's Ed Norton. Mel had been performing the character with a much different vocalization more along the lines of the sarcastic best friend forever needling Fred's ego. Once Mel returned to the series he adopted some of the inflections that Daws installed but Mel added a much more dopier voice to it...without it being an exact replica of Ed Norton...and Mel also gave the character a distinctive laugh. The sponsor of the series in it's earliest years was Winston Cigarettes. It's been reported that when the producers and the network realized that the series was becoming increasingly popular with children the decision was made to switch advertisers from Winston to Welch's. In so doing the integrated commercials were much more family-oriented and kid friendly. You can see Winston commercials with Fred and Barney on various video sites from the early 1960s and you will also see the ignorant comments made by people completely unaware that the series original target audience were adults.

After the series ended it's original prime-time run in 1966 it eventually became a long running franchise in local syndication and on cable television. A lot of incarnations of the series popped up on Saturday morning television throughout the 1970s and 1980s in addition to the reruns of the 1960s episodes. Alan Reed, the original voice of Fred, passed away in 1977 and so the role was taken over by Henry Corden and he ended up being the voice of the character for almost 30 years thereafter in animated programming for both network and cable television as well as direct-to-video projects and dozens of television commercials for both Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles cereal. He passed away in 2005. In some of the 1980s incarnations Mel Blanc provided the voice of Captain Caveman as he previously had done in a late 1970s animated series. In these 1980's episodes Captain Caveman is without the Teen Angels from the 1970's series and it's meant to be a look at Captain Caveman's life in the stone-age before he was frozen in a block of ice and discovered by the Teen Angels millions of years later in the late 1970's. A youth-driven incarnation called "The Flintstone Kids" (1986-1988) features Captain Caveman and his son as a pair of super-heroes starring in a show that Fred, Wilma, Barney, and Betty gather around their stone-age TV to watch. Mel returned to voice the Captain while also providing the voice of Barney's father. Jean Vander Pyl remained the voice of Wilma in all the incarnations (except "The Flintstone Kids" series) until her death in 1999.

The pilot of the series was an animated short subject called The Flagstones. Interestingly all of the voices were done by Daws Butler and June Foray. When the series was picked up by ABC there were obviously major changes in store not only in vocal cast but series title. In the later years of the series stone-age caricatures of contemporary television programs and celebrities began to grace Bedrock, the fictional town where the series took place. Harvey Korman became the voice of The Great Gazoo, a tiny green alien that can only be seen by Fred, Barney, and the children. This character became the focal point of much anger and resentment but in all honesty I find the character hilarious...so I've never been on the anti-Gazoo bandwagon that exists. One of the most celebrated episodes of it's later years is when Samantha and Darrin of "Bewitched" have guest appearances. While reading this you may be wondering about "The Simpsons". That particular series has long since took over the history books when it comes to prime-time animated programs. "The Flintstones" were basically doing the same kind of things, as far as concept and satire, decades before "The Simpsons" came along, though, but it doesn't often get credit for it because the passage of time has presented "The Flintstones" more and more as a series aimed at children rather than teenagers and adults.

The sleazy politicians, the left-leaning media, and Kavanaugh...

Everyone has an opinion surrounding the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation to the Supreme Court...and I'm no different. If you're familiar with some of my politically-driven blog entries that I sometimes post then you'll know that I lean heavily Conservative when it comes to the political spectrum. I post political commentary in this blog to keep it separate from the other blog I'm much more active in. Although this is largely a blog where I focus on animated cartoons and offer memorials to legendary entertainers let it not be said that I hadn't posted a stray political blog rant or two over the course of this blog's on-line history...so today is no exception. It's my opinion based on what's been reported so far and based on things I've took notice of...

He said/She said...

It's long been nothing more than a political witch hunt, actually. The fact that it's being sold by the mainstream media and in some segments of the country accepted as something to care about shows how ignorant the general public is when it comes to accusations of something that took place in the early 1980s and no solid, concrete proof. The thing that never gets brought up is the fact that Kavanaugh's been a public official for many years...and had served in the U.S. Court of Appeals since 2006 and yet, as far as we know, there had never been any sort of reports filed against him having to do with any kind of sexual abuse or harassment and certainly there had never been any accusations made against him throughout his entire career as an Appeals Judge. If there had been any kind of police reports or a paper trail of misconduct on his record it would've been public knowledge given him being a public figure...and yet during his confirmation hearing for Supreme Court there's suddenly accusations of this kind of thing being reported all over the place and the media is pushing a 'guilty until proven innocent' agenda. You don't call a person guilty because an accuser is "believable" just like you don't call a person innocent because the accused is "believable". You need real evidence and not hearsay and character assassination when it comes to allegations of this magnitude...and the fact remains that true evidence is likely to never surface and the Senators know this...but yet they keep going on with their political dramatics which just proves my opinion that it's nothing more than a political witch hunt...and a colossal waste of our time. It's not a waste of time to the opposing Senator's of course...they fear a Supreme Court in which a majority of the Justices will more than likely have rulings and write decisions that tilt in a more Conservative, traditional flavor. They want a Supreme Court in which it's majority decisions will likely go against the Trump agenda or any agenda implemented by any President that affiliates with the Republicans or Conservatives. The Senator's are more or less using the two (Kavanaugh and Ford) as political pawns in an effort to stop Trump's nomination to the Supreme Court. I think the majority of America get what's going on and yet the mainstream media wants you to believe that Kavanaugh's some sort of drunken sexual predator...basing it on testimony rather than factual evidence...and there are many fools out there who will adopt that irrational line of thinking and politically choose sides where, to date, no evidence exists.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Benny Hill...a Future Biopic in the Works...

I periodically browse the internet as mostly everybody else does and I came across a story about a biopic in the works centering around the one and only Benny Hill. I came across this story while doing an on-line news search for Benny and it's from a site called deadline.com and I offered a comment over there. Their comments section, much like mine, is monitored and so it hasn't been uploaded to their site yet. Just in case my comment, for whatever reason, doesn't get published on their site I planned ahead and copied my message and I'm pasting it here. Since I'm a fan and appreciator of Benny Hill's brand of humor and entertainment and since I've written several blog posts about him over the years I decided it made a whole lot of sense to share it on my personal blog page, too. First off here's the link to the story about the possible Benny Hill Biopic so you'll be able to better understand my comment:

Although one comment suggests there's not an audience considering the subject of the biopic died more than 25 years ago and another comment simply trashes him based on their interpretation of his comedy I, for one, have loved Benny Hill's style of entertainment ever since I came across it by accident flipping through the television channels one summer night as a teenager. I live in America and like a lot of people here I discovered Benny's comedy on late night television on those half hour syndicated programs that used to air on numerous local channels at all hours of the night.

I get a bit nervous, though, anytime I read about upcoming book releases or in this case, a biopic, centering around Benny given his enigmatic life and how only a precious few actually got to know Benny off-stage.

Unlike a quote from one of the writers of this project I never "fell out of love" with Benny's comedy...I grew to love it more and more. I've since added a lot of DVD products of his comedy...everything from his sketches from his BBC era in the mid 1960s to his more famous Thames Television sketches. But again...I hope this does Benny justice and presents him in a way that will teach people a lot of things they maybe didn't realize...the last thing I want to see, as a Benny Hill fan, is a hatchet job that celebrates or justifies the negative criticisms leveled at him during his later years from those with axes to grind
.

So, then, that's the comment I wrote concerning the possible biopic of Benny Hill. You will be able to read much more detail about this when you click the link I provided. There are other on-line sites reporting on this, too, but deadline.com was the first one I came across. They published their report on May 31st so I'm just a tad bit late at finding it.