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Lasting six seasons on the air, THE FLINTSTONES were probably televisionís most successful prime time sitcom, that is, until the advent of THE SIMPSONS- a series that is well on its way to being one of the longest running prime time series in the history of television. I myself became a fan of THE FLINTSTONES a little bit after its original prime time run, with the show being a daily syndicated favorite during my formative years. There wasnít an afternoon that I came home from school that I didnít get a good healthy dose of the prehistoric comedy of THE FLINTSTONES. Now, coming back to the show after so many years, Iíve discover that tons of slapstick humor and sight gags employed in this delightful reworking Jackie Gleasonís classic sitcom THE HONEYMOONERS, keeps THE FLINTSTONES universally appealing to all age groups.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the premise of THE FLINTSTONES, the show is set in a post-modern, prehistoric caveman world, that features stone age equivalents of all the modern conveniences that we know, or at least as they knew in the early to mid 1960s. THE FLINTSTONES follows the comic misadventures of Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, not to mention their long suffering wives Wilma and Betty. Both couples live next-door to one another in the town of Bedrock (Population: 2500). Fred is a schemer, who usually manages to get his pliable best friend Barney into just as much trouble as himself. Wilma and Betty are far more level headed than their husbands, and as such, they usually wind up way ahead of their spouses at every turn of the game. The vocal talent behind THE FLINTSTONES (along with their best friends the Rubbles and other Bedrock denizens) includes Alan Reed, Jean Vander Pyl, Mel Blanc, Gerry Johnson, Gerry Johnson and Don Messick.
THE FLINTSTONES: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON ($45) comes to DVD in a four disc boxed set that features the following twenty-six episodes: Hop Happy, Monster Fred, Itty Biddy Freddy, Pebbles' Birthday Party, Bedrock Rodeo Round-Up, Cinderella Stone, A Haunted House Is Not A Home, Dr. Sinister, The Gruesomes, The Most Beautiful Baby In Bedrock, Dino And Juliet, King For A Knight, Indianrockolis 500, Adobe Dick, Christmas Flintstone, Fred's Flying Lesson, Fred's Second Car, Time Machine, The Hatrocks And The Gruesomes, Moonlight And Maintenance, Sheriff For A Day, Deep In The Heart Of Texarock, The Rolls Rock Caper, Superstone, Fred Meets Hercurock and Surfin' Fred. Personal favorites from season five include: Hop Happy which adds a new pet to the Rubble household; Cinderella Stone has Fredís fairy godmother getting him into his bossí party; A Haunted House Is Not A Home features Fred staying in a creepy mansion to collect an inheritance; The Gruesomes finds the Flintstones and the Rubbles meeting their weird new neighbors; Christmas Flintstone has Fred taking over for Santa; Time Machine finds the Flintstones and the Rubbles traveling into the future.
Warner Home Video has made all the episodes that comprise THE FLINTSTONES: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON available on DVD in the proper 4:3 full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. While the episodes contained in this set really do look good, especially when one considers that these episodes are more than forty years old. Sure, there are some mild limitations in their original film elements, but there is nothing to detract one from their enjoyment of the shows. There is noticeable grain, bits of debris and specks that appear imprinted into the original animation- all of which is generally mild and easy to overlook. Image sharpness and detail is more than respectable for 2D cell animation that is more than four decades old. Colors are a bit variable, but never appear faded. Blacks are accurate and whites appear pretty clean. Contrast is also quite good. Digital compression artifacts are usually well contained. The Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks are perfectly fine for a TV show produced during this time period. Most signs of background hiss and surface noise have been expunged in the mastering process and there are never any significant sonic flaws. Dialogue is always completely understandable. Additionally, the music is pretty serviceable, despite the limited fidelity of the recordings. French language tracks are provided on the DVD, along with English, French, and Spanish subtitles.
Music and a bit of animation serve to enhance the interactive menus, which provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras, which are contained on the final disc in the set. A Stone Age Parenting Guide offers an amusing look at raising children in the era of THE FLINTSTONES. The Gruesome's Road To Bedrock looks at the history of the weird guest characters that made two appearances during season five. Gemstones: Flintstones Rarities Unearthed provides interviews With Bill Hannah and Joe Barbera about the series, as well as vintage commercials for Welchís grape products featuring Fred, Barney and the gang. Still notably absent is the Winston cigarette commercial that aired in the sixties in which Fred and Barney extol the flavorful blend of their advertising sponsor.
THE FLINTSTONE was a joy to watch when I was a kid and is an even bigger joy to watch now on DVD sans commercials. Not surprisingly, Warner has done their usual solid job with THE FLINTSTONES: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON on DVD, offering good quality presentations that should keep fans happy. If you love THE FLINTSTONES, this collection will make another welcomed addition to your personal library. Highly recommended
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