The Jetsons, Billboard’s Top 10, and Stone Age Minimalism
In my previous post, I was discussing what was the first Saturday Morning Cartoon. I learned it was Crusader Rabbit and while watching an episode on YouTube I started to wonder if it was ever broadcast in color? It turns out it was.
In fact, the majority of Crusader Rabbit cartoons were produced in color, and the production of those cartoons started in 1959. Oddly enough, though, it did not get the credit for being the first cartoon broadcast in color in the United States.
The First TV Cartoon Broadcast in Color?
Electronic color broadcast TV started back in 1952. The problem was that not many people had color television and color programming was very expensive to produce. Still, like with most mediums, you did see early adopters, and slowly throughout the Fifties color programming began to get produced. In 1957, the first full season of color TV was broadcast.
It was CBS’s The Big Record, starring pop vocalist Patti Page, and it cost a fortune to produce. How expensive? The cost rivaled motion pictures of the time.
While cartoons were being produced in color during this period, none were being broadcast in color. That would change on September 23, 1962, when the TV show, The Jetsons premiered on ABC.
The Jetsons get this claim to fame, even though their more famous and successful sister show, The Flintstones also aired in color that season. It was just a quirk of scheduling that would let The Jetsons have that entry in the history books.
While the show was broadcast in color, not a lot of people had color televisions. So the majority of people seeing the show would not see the fabulous, fun, and futuristic colors that made the show so compelling. Some have said this might have been the reason the show only lasted one season.
As it turns out, this was not the only time that The Jetsons managed to beat The Flintstones.
The Jetsons Theme Song Charted
While The Flintstones theme song might be more fun to sing a long to, The Jetsons one-upped their stone-age neighbors (more about that next), when their theme song hit the Billboard Top 10.
Now I know what you are thinking, music was very different in 1962, so why couldn’t this short but jazzy theme song hit the top of the charts? Well, the thing is it didn’t happen in 1962. The Jetsons theme song charted 24 years later in 1986.
Composed by Hoyt Curtain, the song was re-recorded and released to radio stations in 1986 to coincide with the show’s return as part of The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera. To everyone’s surprise, it leapt onto the Billboard charts peaking at number nine.
Post-Apocalyptic Future Theory
Have you ever considered the connections between The Jetsons and The Flintstones? If you haven’t, don’t worry, as it turns out lots of people have theories about the relationship between the shows.
Probably the most famous theory says that they exist in the same world. That the Jetsons and all the people who live up in their floating homes are fleeing some apocalyptic ruin that still exists on the surface of their world.
This could explain the Flintstones references to the modern world and their attempts at reinventing the things they were familiar with while using more primitive materials (e.g., a TV made of rock). They were the survivors who have been left behind.
It’s a fun fan theory, but it does ignore some existing Jetsons’ canon. For example, we do see the ground in some episodes of the Jetsons, and not a dinosaur or cave person is anywhere to be seen.
Stone Age Minimalism
The Jetsons and its retro-futuristic Googie aesthetic has aged well and continues to inspire creative fans of the show. But what about the design aesthetic of The Flintstones?
It might have taken a lot longer to develop, but in 2020, blogs and even news outlets began to discuss, not just the resurgent use of stone, but also a new Stone Age trend in design.
I doubt it will get us a stone television, but some aspects of this trend could have come straight out of Fred or Barney’s homes.