Hanna-Barbera has produced a huge roster of beloved cartoons and characters, but there’s no denying that the Flintstones and the Jetsons are the flagship families for the studio. Positioned at opposite ends of our timestream, The Jetsons and The Flintstones transport the family sitcom of the 1960s into the distant future and the distant past, respectively. Part of the charm of both series is that the prehistoric and futuristic families live in their appropriately exaggerated settings in time, but the featured families’ interactions and situations have a lot more in common with the then-modern TV audience’s lives than with what probably would be happening to families in the actual time periods shown. The result is a natural pairing of cartoons that share a lot stylistically, both in their animation and in their humor and structures.
In 1987, Hanna-Barbera decided it was time for their two animated families to meet, and they aired The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones as a 92 minute feature in their Hanna-Barbera Superstars series, the same show that presented Yogi’s Great Escape, Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers, and a number of other animated TV movies featuring the studio’s stable of familiar faces. The movie opens with both families facing workplace troubles. George Jetson is caught up in some space age industrial espionage when Spacely Sprockets’ robot computer has been seduced into leaking information to competitor Cogswell Cogs’ AI. Meanwhile, but also many millennia earlier, Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble have decided to shirk their work responsibilities at the quarry so that they can sneak into a big poker match. Inevitably, their plan to win riches backfires, resulting in the duo being fired from their jobs.
While the adults are facing their troubles, boy genius Elroy Jetson is putting the finishing touches on his newest invention, a time machine! He demonstrates to his family that it really does work when he indiscriminately plucks some poor and random Arabic girl out of her timestream and deposits her in the far future. Seeing an opportunity to flee his increasingly complicated professional life, George decides the family should go on a trip to the 25th century. Of course the plan goes awry when Astro knocks the machine’s control lever to “Past” and sends the Jetsons hurtling back to prehistoric times. Their initial meeting with the Flintstones and the Rubbles sets up the rest of the movie’s story as culture clashes and corporate trickery span the eons. In any real sci-fi movie, the ensuing events probably would result in the end of reality as we know it, but Hanna-Barbera eschews paradoxes and consequences for some good old Doctor Who-style wibbly wobbly timey wimey. Cavemen make friends with spacemen, and fun is had by all.
The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones has had a few VHS releases in the past, but this is the first time it’s had an official DVD release. It’s now available through Warner Bros.’ Hanna-Barbera Classic Collection, being sold exclusively through the online WBShop.