Treva is a pop culture fan who has been writing about the entertainment world for over a decade.
Yabba dabba do! The Flintstones is returning to TV after making history (or prehistory, rather) nearly 60 years ago. In 1960, everyone’s favorite modern Stone Age family paved the way for the incredible animation renaissance that we’re experiencing today by becoming the world's first prime-time animation show. The Flintstones is basically your average sitcom with one brontosaurus-sized twist: It's set in prehistoric times, a creative idea that proved to be a big hit back when there were only three channels for American television owners to choose from. Viewers are now spoiled for choice when it comes to cartoons, but Pitch Perfect actress Elizabeth Banks is banking on Flintstones nostalgia helping a reboot of the series become just as popular as the original.
According to Deadline, Banks's Brownstone Production company is tearing a page right of of history to create an “adult” version of the classic cartoon. This likely means that some of the gags in the new animated series won’t be as PG as those that made '60s TV viewers laugh. They might be more similar to what viewers are used to seeing on raunchy modern cartoons like Family Guy or American Dad. Interestingly, Seth MacFarlane, the creator of both of these popular animated series, attempted to bring his own Flintstones reboot to FOX a few years ago, but he had to give up on the project because he was so busy with his other shows.
What Would a Modern Reboot of 'The Flintstones' Look Like?
There are so many wonderful ways The Flintstones could be updated to parody modern life. One of my favorite gimmicks on the show were the prehistoric animals that were used as technology, like a woolly mammoth shooting water out of its snout for a shower, a wild boar hiding under the sink in lieu of a garbage disposal, and a bird using its beak to open a can. Just imagine all the modern day tech stuff that the show could recreate in Stone Age form: Would a small talking dinosaur or bird replace smart home devices like the Amazon Echo? And what critter could possibly replace our all-important smartphones? The Flintstones’ old horn phone was cutting-edge technology six decades ago, but it’s time for the family to cut the cord and enter the digital Stone Age.
I could see a few jokes about our current political climate thrown into the mix in an adult Flintstones reboot. Perhaps the Mayor of Bedrock will be a golf-loving conman who is obsessed with being in the spotlight and building a rock wall between his city and the neighboring “Mexirock.” Of course, some poor scruffy prehistoric critter would have to be put to work sitting atop the mayor's head, serving as his unpaid flaxen hairpiece.
I could also see Fred and Barney being forced to give up their jobs at Slate Rock and Gravel Company when it shuts down due to an increased interest in newer, cheaper building materials. Perhaps they could get jobs at a massive shipping warehouse, giving us a glimpse of what types of goods prehistoric people have delivered to their homes via pterodactyl (the prehistoric version of a drone).
The Flintstones was also known for its celebrity guests and their stone-centric name puns, like Stony Curtis (Tony Curtis) and Ed Sullystone (Ed Sullivan). I’d love to see who the modern stars of Hollyrock are; maybe Kim Quartzdashian, Ariana Granite, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnstone, and Mariah Quarry will make guest appearances on the show.
If The Flintstones reboot is a success, I hope that it starts a wave of revamped ‘60s cartoons. Some animated series from the era hold up surprisingly well, but they could greatly benefit from a little evolution. Here are six other vintage ‘60 cartoons that need to make a comeback.
'60s Cartoons That Deserve Reboots
- The Jetsons
- The Fractured Fairy Tales segments From The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends
- The Winsome Witch segments from The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show
- Milton the Monster
- Space Ghost
- Super President
Read on to learn more about these fun retro shows.
1. 'The Jetsons'
Seth MacFarlane may have missed out on giving the Flintstones and Rubbles a modern makeover, but there’s another beloved animated ‘60s family that’s just as deserving of making a triumphant return to TV. I’d hope that a modern remake of this cartoon about a futuristic family would answer some of the burning questions I still have about the original, like what happened to the Earth that made everyone have to live in the sky. I’d also like to know why anyone would want to have their dinner in pill form.
In a modern Jetsons remake, it would be interesting to see what type of advanced technology the Space Age family uses in lieu of smartphones, and whether that tech puts them in serious danger of walking off the side of one of their sky buildings while they’re preoccupied with it. And there’s one more mystery of this show that I’d like a reboot to explore: What the hell is a sprocket?
If The Flintstones and The Jetsons both get adult reboots, let's just hope that the families from very different worlds get to do another crossover episode.
2. The 'Fractured Fairy Tales' Segments From 'The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends'
A Rocky and Bullwinkle reboot began airing on Amazon in 2018, but it’s missing my favorite segment from the original show: Fractured Fairy Tales. These fun shorts were twisted retellings of the stories about princesses and princes that we’re all familiar with.
The Disney versions of well-known fairy tales aren’t exactly tales as old as time, since they often take great artistic liberties with their source material. However, while the House of Mouse rewrites fairy tales to give them perfect endings, the princesses of “Fractured Fairy Tales” don’t always get to live happily ever after with their Prince Charmings. For example, in the fractured version of “Sleeping Beauty,” the prince decides to make a quick buck off of Sleeping Beauty by turning her into a tourist attraction instead of waking her up with a kiss.
There aren’t currently enough fairy tale shows on TV, especially humorous ones aimed at adults, so I’d love to see these segments turned into a full-length series. Perhaps a Fractured Fairy Tales reboot should take a slightly different approach from the original by being a serialized series. It could follow a core group of terrible princesses as they try to find happy endings in their magical world by inserting themselves into other characters’ fairy tales. Of course, they would have to fail spectacularly (and hilariously) each time they attempt to steal someone else’s happily ever after.
3. 'The Winsome Witch' Segments from 'The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show'
This was one of the few animated series of the '60s to feature a sole female protagonist. While Winnie the Witch’s cartoons were brief, she always managed to get a lot done in the seven minutes allotted for her stories. The short and slightly chubby spellcaster proved that you don’t have to look like the sexy animated version of Samantha from the Bewitched opening credits to be a likable witch, and she was always going on the most awesome adventures. Winsome Winnie came to the aid of fairy tale characters quite a bit, but she’d occasionally take on odd tasks like filling in for a Little League baseball player, helping a sidelined superhero, and becoming the sheriff of a Western town. She even had a few alien encounters.
However, while Winnie was always willing to help others, no matter what planet they came from, her well-intentioned attempts at using her magic powers often backfired, which is where the comedy of Winsome Witch usually came from.
When it comes to animated series aimed at adults, there aren’t a lot of supernatural comedies, and I can’t think of one centered on a witch. This is a real shame, because a witch's powerful magical spells can make pretty much anything happen, and her flying brooms can take her anywhere.
If any one witch were to finally get an adult animated series, I think it should be Winnie. Her optimism, selflessness, and upbeat attitude make her the ideal candidate for a modern cartoon about one of these magical women. Too many adult animated series today feature characters that are cynical, lazy, selfish, and mean-spirited, so isn’t high time that us grownups got a caring and kind cartoon character to root for?
4. Milton The Monster
This is another supernatural animated series from the '60s, so its reboot would pair perfectly with Winsome Witch for an animated comedy block. Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty proved that there’s a market out there for mad scientists who aren’t the greatest of guys, and this description definitely fits Professor Montgomery Weirdo, the man who creates Milton. Professor Weirdo is a Dr. Frankenstein spoof who is unhappy with his monstrous creation because Milton is just too nice; the big goofy guy would rather cuddle his "teddy bat" than take part in his master’s diabolical schemes.
Milton is a kind creep because Professor Weirdo's assistant, Count Kook, accidentally spilled too much “tincture of tenderness” into Milton’s mold when he was being cooked up in their spooky haunted laboratory on Horror Hill. Because Milton isn't destructive enough, Weirdo often berates his kindhearted creation and schemes to get rid of him. However, Milton doesn’t let his master’s behavior get him down. He makes the most of the life that was bestowed upon him by joining a band of musical freaks, going on dates with ghouls, serving tea to extraterrestrials, and going undercover to infiltrate a witch’s coven.
Milton and the professor live in a spooky old house that's similar to the gothic abode of the Addams Family, complete with a man-eating plant, a pet alligator, a guillotine salami slicer, and a dark dungeon in the basement. They also share their home with the skeletal ghoul Heebie and the furry cyclops monster Jeebie.
Professor Weirdo often clashes with his neighbor nemesis, another mad scientist named Professor Fruitcake. In one episode, the mad scientists face off by shooting projectiles at each other’s frightful fortresses. Professor Fruitcake has a creepy creation of his own named Zelda the Zombie who was once given the opportunity to unite the warring houses of horror by marrying one of Professor Weirdo's creations. However, this didn't happen.
I would really love to see an adult cartoon that sends up classic monster movies, and I think a reboot of this series is an ideal candidate for the job. The last supernatural animated series I really enjoyed, the Comedy Central cartoon Ugly Americans, was always introducing viewers to new creepy characters like zombies, demons, and fish people. I can see a Milton the Monster reboot doing something similar.
5. Space Ghost
There are a few popular adult animated series that occasionally blast off to space, including Rick and Morty, Archer, Futurama, and Final Space. These are all excellent animated series, but Hanna-Barbera found a way to make sci-fi cartoons set in space even better: by adding a superhero to the mix.
Yes, it’s true that the heroic Space Ghost got to return to TV in 1993, ushering in the era of comedic animated series aimed at adults by landing his own talk show on Cartoon Network. However, a superhero doesn’t belong behind a desk, and I think it’s high time that Space Ghost comes out of retirement to ensure that our solar system stays safe. Of course, evil aliens Zorak and Brak will also have to make a comeback.
The Venture Bros. has proved that superhero spoofs can be incredibly entertaining when done right, and I’m surprised that there haven’t been more of them over the years. Sure, an animator who likes the idea could just invent a new character with superpowers instead of dusting off Space Ghost’s old black mask, but I think he would be a bigger draw for audiences. He has the nostalgia factor going for him with two totally different generations, thanks to his straight superhero series and his comedic talk show. A Space Ghost reboot would ideally be a combo of the two, perhaps with a few funny references to the hero's second career thrown in every now and then. Maybe Brak could also serenade him with the occasional original song.
6. Super President
Some Americans aren’t happy about who is currently running our country; critics of the Commander in Chief fear that he’s an inept, willfully ignorant leader who has his best interests in mind, not those of the American people. However, instead of focusing on his antics in the oval office like the animated series Our Cartoon President does, maybe an adult cartoon about the current political climate in the U.S. should put a different man in the White House. And who better to look out for America’s best interests than a superhero?
In the original Super President (which was super bad), the powerful POTUS possessed the ability to change his molecular composition to any form, be it liquid, solid, or gas. Giving the president superpowers is a wacky premise for a cartoon that’s played straight, but it’s the perfect setup for a political comedy series.
The villains in the original series were often racist caricatures, so this definitely needs to be done away with in a reboot. Instead, a modern-day Super President’s main nemesis would obviously be the former president, who was so reluctant to step down from office that he fled to Russia in hopes that one of America’s biggest enemies would help him regain his lost power by reinstating him as a dictator. He’d have to have a crew of minor villains that would try to help him achieve his goal, including a group of mutated frog people inspired by the infamous Pepe meme. Maybe one of them would also be his daughter, who uses her beauty to try and blind people to the bad that he’s doing.
For the reboot of Super President, I’m picturing the POTUS as a female superhero based on Wonder Woman who terrifies the villainous former president with her most powerful weapon: an extra-long red tie that causes its wearer to tell the truth. Perhaps she’d have a whole "super cabinet" of Avengers-style heroes that would help her fight the forces of evil that are out to destroy democracy.
Do you agree that these animated series of the ‘60s should be rebooted, or do you think they’re better off remaining relics of a bygone era?
Treva Leigh (author) on July 25, 2019:
Thanks! They're probably the two cartoons that would benefit the most from a update because of all the jokes they could do about modern life, and I'd also love to see another cross-over episode.
Rachel M Johnson on July 25, 2019:
Hi Treva, really great hub! I would love to see The Jetsons come back to TV! I remember they once did a cross-over with The Flintstones; that would be so fun to see again!