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A Cartoon Christmas - "A Flintstone Christmas" (1977)

I really enjoy Christmas television specials, especially the older ones I remember from times gone by.  Many of my favorites were some of the older cartoons, and every year here on YesterYear, I try to highlight one of the Christmas cartoons I remember fondly from years gone by.    

Like any kid, I liked cartoons, especially if they had to do with Christmas!  These days, the Hannah Barbera cartoons get a bad rap by cartoon "purists" on the internet these days, but I don't understand their complaints.  I enjoy the simple animation and the now-iconic voice acting.  Growing up, I remember watching The Flintstones on TBS in early morning reruns before school.  During the early 90s, the reruns were paired with The Jetsons, and I remember eating cereal and getting ready for school while they were on.  I remember The Flintstones being on in the afternoon as well, where I could catch them before dinner.

The Flintstones is just good, clean, family fun.  Which is what a Christmas special should be all about, right?  "A Flintstone Christmas" is just that.  

Featuring a familiar storyline amongst many holiday specials, we find Santa Claus needing some help this year to save Christmas!  The 1977 Flintstone's special borrows the same storyline (and several re-used animation scenes) from a previous 1964 episode of the Flintstones titled "A Christmas Flintstone."  

The special we'll look at today, "A Flinstone Christmas," debuted on December 7, 1977.

Christmas has arrived in the town of Bedrock!  Fred Flintstone and Barney Ruble are very excited to put up decorations while their wives, Wilma and Betty, organize a Ladies Auxiliary Party for the Bedrock Orphanage.  Those Ladies Auxiliary clubs, or the men's Lodge like Fred's Water Buffalo club, need to become a thing again.  They were in every sitcom or cartoon from that era, and I could get into joining one.

The wives want Fred to play Santa Claus at the party.  Fred declines, claiming his coworkers would never let him live it down.

When Fred goes to work, his boss Mr. Slate, tells him that his wife also wants Fred to play Santa at the orphanage party.  Afraid of his boss, Fred finally agrees to play good old Saint Nick.

Barney and Fred are preparing for the party when they find a man in a Santa Claus suit in a snowdrift outside the Flintstones' home on Christmas Eve.  The man has a sprained ankle and isn't feeling well and says he needs help.  He also claims to be the real-life Santa Claus!   

Here's a fun side note:  Hal Smith voices Santa Claus in this special as well as in the original "Christmas Flintstone" episode from a decade prior.  Hal Smith, whom you may know, played Otis the town drunk on "The Andy Griffith Show."

Fred and Barney doubt he's jolly old Saint Nick until they see the sleigh and reindeer on the roof!  Barney suggests that due to his injury, Santa should find a replacement to deliver the gifts and nominates his buddy, Fred.  Santa hands over the official Santa Claus suit to Fred and, using his Christmas magic, Santa creates an elf suit for Barney. 

The pair's worldwide journey goes well at first, but they soon encounter a blizzard.  The storm is raging, and the turbulence causes Santa's bag of toys to fall from the sleigh!  

Using the latest in 1970's technology, Fred and Barney pull out a CB radio to contact Santa Claus.  Santa tells them to fly the North Pole workshop to collect more toys.  When they arrive, Mrs. Claus is waiting for them.  Another funny side note:  Mel Blanc, the voice of Barney and a slew of other cartoon characters of yesteryear, was a CB radio fan and would talk to children around California using his CB radio, performing his many cartoon voices for their enjoyment.

Meanwhile, the children are getting upset at the orphanage party since "Santa" hasn't arrived yet.  They begin chanting, "WE WANT SANTA!"  Pebbles tells her mother Wilma that she's worried Santa might not come this year.  

Can Fred and Barney deliver all of the presents in time to make it to the party in time?  

Of course, they do!   

I was born after this special's release in 1977, so I don't remember when it was brand new.  My nostalgia for this toon comes from when Mom would rent it from the library to give my Brother and I something to watch.  We'd watch this short episode a few times in a weekend each year before we brought the tape back.  I remember enjoying it then, and it's been several years since I've seen it.  Having gone back to see it for this article, it's still fun all these years later.  

The original episode from 1965 was slightly different but had the same basic premise.  In the 1965 episode "Christmas Flintstone," Fred worked a side job at Macy-Rock wrapping presents.  When he couldn't do that properly, he was given a second chance by the department store to play Santa Claus.  Fred succeeds at this job, and the children all love him.  When the real Santa gets injured at Fred's house, Fred offers to complete the Christmas Eve sleigh ride for him.  In this episode, Barney doesn't fly on the sleigh, but instead, two elves from Santa's workshop help Fred fly the sleigh.  The sleigh is also pulled by flying dinosaurs later replaced with traditional reindeer for the '77 special. 

All in all, it's a good holiday special, especially if you grew up watching The Flintstones or reruns of the show like myself.  It's a light, fun, and entertaining entry into the collection of Christmas specials.  I enjoy the simple Hannah Barbera animation, and the excellent voice work from its era makes it a nostalgia hit.  This special is worth watching at least once, and I highly recommend adding it to your holiday viewing rotation.