Virgin Media’s TiVo platform here in the UK is great for many reasons, one of which being the interactive Discovery Bar, which often pops up with tailored suggestions for content you might like.
One day recently something caught my eye – The Flintstones. When I was younger this was one of my favourite cartoons in the days when classic Hanna-Barbera and Looney Tunes animations were still shown on mainstream TV rather than separate Sky channels. Perfect I thought, for a quick five minute reminisce to Bedrock.
Except, once the credits rolled, all was not how I remembered. Nowhere in sight was the usual opening with Fred rushing home from work to pick up the family and neighbours en-route to the Drive-In, nor was there any sign of the theme song.
Instead there was an alternative opening with only an instrumental theme tune, that I’d never seen before. After some research it transpired that although in syndication The Flintstones has only ever had the one classic title sequence, when originally broadcast in the USA the first two seasons actually had a different opening – which I was now viewing.
Something was bugging me though. Although I had definitely never seen this before, there was something incredibly familiar about it. And then I realised – parts of it were almost identical to The Simpsons opening sequence. Or, as of course is the case, The Simpsons pays homage to these early Flintstones titles.
When you look closely, the similarities in the latter part are obvious: Fred driving home in his car from work; crashing into the garage; and finally sitting down on the sofa to watch the TV.
It’s not surprising really, The Simpsons have had a long-running association with their predecessor, ironically most famously with the ‘Meet The Simpsons’ opening song in the ‘Marge vs The Monorail’ episode, which parodies the regular Flintstones opening.
Other gags have included Fred, Wilma and Pebbles beating The Simpsons to the couch in the title sequence and The Flintstone Mobile in the ‘Hollywood Auto Museum’.
It is strange though that after 25 years of The Simpsons it’s not a more known fact, indeed even with armies of die-hard fans there’s little information online about it. It’s always little gems like this that make the show so brilliant.