Happy birthday, bucket o’ suck
The first episode of The Flintstones aired fifty years ago on this day. Also, that’s Stony Curtis! Who is dead! Plus, I saw a guy walking down the street today wearing a Quick Draw McGraw t-shirt, no lie.
That’s enough synchronicity to make your eyes bleed.
And speaking of things that make your eyes bleed — Hanna-Barbera Cartoons!
I once worked for a man who loved H-B cartoons for the same reason I hate them — they were forever finding new and innovative ways to be cheap-ass. Like, when Barney’s talking the camera’s on Fred and when Fred is talking the camera’s on Barney so they don’t have to pay for so much of that gosh-darned moving mouth animation.
The downside? Making your viewers stare at a big ugly drawing of a head that doesn’t do anything but blink occasionally.
These guys had hundreds of titles. I mentally divide Hanna-Barbera cartoons into the following categories:
The Early Suck: the three or so decades from Huckleberry Hound through to Josie and the Pussycats, inclusive of the whole Scooby Doo oeuvre.
The Doesn’t Actually Suck: which includes most of their adventure cartoons of the same era. Jonny Quest, Birdman and the Galaxy Trio, The Herculoids, the Fantastic Four. Character design by the excellent comic artist Alex Toth and non-comedy storylines make the difference.
The Later Suck: the Eighties were full of cartoons (from many studios) that had slick production values but still somehow managed to suck even harder than Magilla Gorilla. The Smurfs, Pac Man, Scrappy Doo, Snorks. There was a plague of “familiar cartoon characters as babies” shows, too. The Flintstone Kids, A Pup Named Scooby Doo. There’s something peculiarly horrible and soulless about this era.
The Aren’t Really H-B Cartoons cartoons: Turner bought the Hanna-Barbera studio and library in the early Nineties and launched the Cartoon Network to showcase them. H-B studios then encouraged in-house staff to pitch cartoon ideas, which were shown as World Premiere Toons. This gave rise to several excellent cartoons: Dexter’s Laboratory, Cow and Chicken, I Am Weasel, The Powerpuff Girls. You might think of them as HBINOs.
I must say, I’m awfully tempted to buy the Hanna-Barbera Cartoon Sound Efx collection, but I just can’t work out how to sync up life events with the appropriate sound effect.