Tuesday, January 5, 2021

A Flintstone Family Christmas

Premiered December 18, 1993.

The Christmas season has once again arrived in Bedrock and Fred Flintstone (Henry Corden) is excited about the holidays.  Fred is disappointed that people he encounters don't seem to have much Christmas spirit. 

His friend Barney Rubble (Frank Welker) points out that it's hard to feel merry with all the suffering going on in the world, like rising crime and the collapse of financial institutions.  Fred says he won't let such societal problems ruin Christmas for his family.  

Barney, Fred and their wives Betty (B.J. Ward) and Wilma (Jean Vander Pyl) are excited that their children Pebbles (Megan Mullally) and Bam-Bam, who are now married and have children of their own, will be flying in later that afternoon.  Fred is happy that his grandchildren will get to see him play Santa Claus in the Bedrock Christmas parade.  

When Fred and Barney are running Christmas errands, they're held up by a man in a Santa suit.  They give the mugger their money and watches and he takes off. 

Barney and Fred identify him later in a police lineup and are surprised to see he's a "caveless" child named Stoney (Christine Cavanaugh).  The boy's social worker Stella Stalactite (Didi Conn) tells them Stoney he has a long history of theft.  Stella says that she's had trouble placing Stoney with a foster family, which means he's headed for juvenile detention.  

Over Fred's loud objections, Wilma decides to bring Stoney home with them, since she believes no one should spend Christmas in jail.  

Fred eventually realizes that Stoney has never experienced a real Christmas and he makes an effort to welcome the boy into his home. 

They take Stoney caroling, ice skating, tree shopping, and take him to see Santa.  Stoney has a good time and seems to be changing his ways.  Unfortunately, Stoney gets himself into trouble when he runs a shell game and takes money from a stranger. 

When Fred goes to defend Stoney, he winds up unconscious and in the hospital.  Worst of all, Fred's boss Mr. Slate (John Stephenson) says Fred's injuries will prevent him from playing Santa in the parade.

Stoney decides to lock Mr. Slate in the Flintstones' bathroom so Fred can be in the parade.  This leads to both Fred and Stoney being arrested and sent to jail.  

At the same time, Bam-Bam and Pebbles' encounter further flight delays, jeopardizing their Christmas plans.  It appears that Christmas will be ruined for the Flintstones and Rubbles.  

Will Fred and Stoney spend Christmas in jail?  Will Pebbles and Bam-Bam arrive in time to celebrate Christmas?  

J.A. Morris says:

I had never seen A Flintstone Family Christmas until now and I generally liked it.  The special brings a little bit of social commentary.  Homelessness was a topic that got a lot of attention when this was produced and it's on the rise again in this country.  

There's scene where Stoney comments about how no one wants to think about homeless people because it takes away from their enjoyment of the holidays.  This rings true.  For all the talk about "good will toward men," there are lots of people for whom Christmas is just another day to get through and survive.  I'm not suggesting A Flintstone Family Christmas offers any in-depth analysis of homelessness, but it's better than nothing.  

Some viewers might think Fred conversion from skeptic to fan of Stoney is unearned.  I think it's consistent with Fred's behavior in various specials and episodes.  He often acts like a grump, but he's basically a good guy under his gruff exterior.  

If I have any problems, it's the portion where Stoney and Fred are arrested for kidnapping Mr. Slate.  It feels a bit far-fetched and silly, even by Flintstones standards, and just seems like an excuse to put Fred and Stoney in a cell where they can bond. 

Like every most Flintstones specials, this one features some entertaining "modern stone age" technology.  My favorite was the electric eel that powers Fred's Christmas lights!

A Flintstone Family Christmas also features a scene where Fred watches a stone age version of It's A Wonderful Life, which includes a cartoon version of Jimmy Stewart.

The cast of voice actors is strong with Henry Corden, Jean Vander Pyl and John Stephenson reprising their roles as Fred, Wilma and Mr. Slate, respectively. 

Frank Welker takes over the role of Barney from Mel Blanc, and Welker also portrays Dino.  Megan Mullally, best known for playing Karen on Will And Grace, voices the now-adult Pebbles.  Stella Stalactite is played by Didi Conn, remembered for her roles in Grease and Benson.  

A Flintstone Family Christmas is an enjoyable holiday special headed by a great cast of voice actors. with a little bit of social commentary thrown in.  With a length of 23 minutes, it's also a special that doesn't overstay its welcome. 

J.A. Morris' rating:

3 candy canes.

RigbyMel says:

Like J.A. Morris, A Flintstone Family Christmas was a new viewing experience for me.  It's interesting to see how this little animated special reflects perceptions and concerns about crime and homelessness during the 1990s when it was produced.  

Having watched several Flintstones Christmas specials in a row, it's also interesting to see how Santa's mode of transportation seems to ... shift a bit from special to special.    This time around, we get a sleigh pulled by pterodactyls.   Santa has options in the Stone Age, it would seem.    

My weird sense of humor is also tickled by this special's inclusion of a photo of the Modern Stone Age Family that is labeled "Christmas B.C." seeing as the B.C. (i.e., before the birth of Jesus) would indicate that the caption shouldn't exist in the prehistoric context.  

A Flintstone Family Christmas is a well-intentioned special.  It's possible that the message about homelessness and caring for others might inspire kids to try and go out and do some good after viewing.   

However, the storytelling isn't quite as good as other Flintstones holiday offerings (especially having watched several of these in close proximity this holiday season).   

RigbyMel's rating: 


2 and a half candy canes