By Chaz Lipp
Article first published as DVD Review: The Flintstones: Prime-Time Specials Collection – Vol. 1 on Blogcritics.
Even though it aired second between the two programs found on Warner Archive’s The Flintstones: Prime-Time Specials Collection – Vol. 1, The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone gets much-deserved top billing. The 49-minute Halloween special (misspelled Rocula on the DVD cover) was originally broadcast on October 30, 1979. It’s a fun spoof that finds Fred and Wilma Flintstone, along with Barney and Betty Rubble, winning a trip to Rocksylvania. They score the prize after an appearance on a game show called “Make a Deal or Don’t.”
No prize for figuring out the rather obvious targets of parody. Count Rockula is, of course, a Stone Age variation on Count Dracula, while Frankenstone represents the Frankenstein monster. Both creatures reside in Rockula’s ancient castle. Since the Count has been dormant for many years, the castle has become a tourist attraction. Once the Flintstones and Rubbles arrive, along with many other party-hungry visitors, the creepy monsters emerge from their crypt. Rockula develops a rather unhealthy obsession with Wilma, becoming determined to make her his bride. Naturally, the quartet of Bedrock residents wants nothing more than to escape the castle and return home.
Airing more than a full year prior to Rockula and Frankenstone, the second special offers a totally different atmosphere. Flintstones’ Little Big League was first broadcast on April 6, 1978. As the title suggests, the theme is baseball. Not to be outdone by Barney, who is coaching a little league team called the Sandstone Sluggers, Fred finds a team of his own to coach. The Bedrock Broncos are sponsored by Fred’s boss, Mr. Slate, who decides to put Fred in charge. As the skipper of the Broncos, Fred is dead set on making his team more successful than his friend’s. Barney, however, has as a secret weapon. His son Bamm-Bamm has a .999 batting average. The antidote is right under Fred’s nose, but he remains largely oblivious to it. His daughter Pebbles happens to be an ace pitcher, but it takes Fred some time to realize it.
Little Big League isn’t as much fun as Rockula. It also lacks Rockula’s laugh track, but that’s by no means a deficit. The plot of Little Big League feels a bit labored, making the special feel much longer than Rockula, despite being the same length. Regardless, this is a great reissue for fans of “the modern Stone Age family.” Warner Archive’s MOD (manufactured-on-demand) DVD-R is nothing fancy in terms of presentation. The static menu page offers the option to “Play All” or to choose between the two specials. Both are surprisingly clean transfers, not showing their age nearly as much as some of the later, ’80s-era cartoons Warner Archive has released.