Cartoon Country: Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs!
So last year, I posted my initial reaction and my impressions of Warner Brothers’ latest animated Flintstones series Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs.
It was originally going to be a segment of Peeks, but I switched it to Brain Candy when I learned that WB decided to cancel the series after one season instead of the two seasons that were originally planned.
I did this because I figured that WB was just going to bury this show in a landfill somewhere with all of the unsold Atari E.T. game cartridges and act like it never existed. However, as of this writing, Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs is currently airing on Boomerang in the United Kingdom and in Africa, and it’s supposed to come to Boomerang’s streaming service some time thereafter. So because of this and also because I’ve since seen some additional material since viewing the initial pilot for the show, I can now do a proper Cartoon Country for it.
So off we go again!
I’ve already explained the premise of YDD last February in my post Yabba Dabba Done, but in case you don’t feel like referring to that, here it is one mo’ time:
Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm are back in this quarter-hour animated comedy series, Yabba-Dabba Dinosaurs! Warner Bros. Animation takes you beyond Bedrock to The Crags, a vast land that is as dangerous and wild as the dinosaurs that inhabit it.
Pebbles Flintstone and Bamm-Bamm Rubble are two best friends, growing up in the prehistoric time when dinosaurs and giant beasts still walked the earth. But as exciting as that sounds, they live in peaceful, quiet old Bedrock, a modern domestic civilization similar to our own (but with stone cars that run on leg-power). That’s why whenever they get the chance, Pebbles, Bamm-Bamm and Dino head to the open wilderness, helping new friends, fighting new enemies, and learning about life through their endless crazy adventures. Back in Bedrock, Fred, Wilma, Barney and Betty still enjoy all the familiar quirks and trappings of life as a modern Stone Age family not knowing all the trouble (and fun!) their kids are getting themselves into.
Yabba-Dabba Dinosaurs! is produced by Warner Bros. Animation. Mark Marek (producer, MAD, Be Cool Scooby-Doo!) and Marly Halpern-Graser (executive producer, Right Now Kapow) serve as producer with Sam Register as executive producer.
Now, here are my thoughts:
This is an original idea and a fresh take on the Flintstones franchise. I think that there being a Jurassic Park like savage area inhabited by wild dinosaurs located adjacent to Bedrock is a cool idea, and it’s something that’s never been attempted before in the franchise. It’s also a nice change of pace to have a Flintstones show that takes the primary focus away from Fred and Barney for a change (Fred, Wilma, Barney and Betty are still very much a part of the show, of course, but here they’re more supporting characters). Yeah, I know that we’ve previously had The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm show in the 1970s…
…but let’s be real: that show just Archie with the Flintstones branding (teen Pebbles was pretty hot, though).
There was also that short lived Cartoon Network show in 1996 starring P&BB titled Cave Kids, but that only lasted for eight episodes and it came and went so quickly that I never saw it.
Another good thing about Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs is that it’s a rarely seen take on P&BB as pre-teens! Except for a couple of prime-time specials, we never saw that before. Here, P&BB aren’t babies nor teenagers, but rather they’re a happy medium between the two. They appear to be between 8 and 11 age-wise.
Plus, kudos to this show’s producers for remembering that Bamm-Bamm is super strong!
Even as kids, my twin Damon and I would watch The Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm Show and wonder “What happened to Bamm-Bamm’s super strength?” Sure, as a teenager he was shown as being kind of a jock, but come on! As a toddler, Bamm-Bamm could lift an entire couch with one hand! As a teenager, he should’ve been able to lift the entire Bronto Bunch, motorcycles and all, and juggle them over his head! This show at least remembers that little detail. As a bonus, just so that Pebbles has something to contribute to the show, here she’s depicted as having above average intelligence, as opposed to before, where she merely inherited her father’s love of hatching hair-brained schemes.
And you’re free to disagree with me on this, but I saw the pilot and I thought that it was pretty funny. I genuinely laughed at the Wikipedia joke, as I did with the running gag of Dino taking off for the hills in terror and Pebbles asking “Why did we bring you?” Yeah, I thought that was funny! Fight me!
I read that Capatain Caveman will be making an appearance on the show at some point. Damon has theorized a way to include Cavey on this series where his inclusion would actually make sense! He’s the one who laid this all out, so I’ll just re-print his words. Take it away!:
Going back to the Captain Caveman thing for a sec, ever since 1983, Hanna-Barbera has been trying to integrate Captain Caveman into the Flintstones universe. First they tried making him a straight-up Superman parody and that didn’t work since he was still covered in hair and couldn’t speak a sentence without saying “Unga-munga” first, so you’d have to be blind, deaf or just have a Degree in Dumb not to see that Chester the Copy Boy and Captain Caveman were one and the same. They next tried making Cavey a fictional character on a TV show on Flintstone Kids, and that didn’t work either because the show-within-the-show that Cavey starred in was also set in Bedrock, so he still stuck out like a sore thumb. Only after the WB takeover someone finally got the idea that if you put an actual savage land in this prehistoric setting (which itself should be a no-brainer), you could put the hairy wild man in there and he’d actually fit in! Just make him the Crags’ Tarzan. You wouldn’t have to explain why Cavey is the way he is; he spent his entire life in the Crags, so naturally he wouldn’t be civilized like the citizens of Bedrock.
There’s an ancient saying which I think applies here. What is it? Oh yeah…DUH.
Also, this intro is pretty cool:
WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD
Of course with any update/revival/fresh take of a long established franchise (and you can’t get much longer established than The Flintstones!), you’ll hear the inevitable comments like these:
…but out of all the negative comments and criticisms about Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs, most of them have been about the art and the character designs, and I have to say…yeah, I can see where they’re coming from. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t hate these designs, but the whole thing looks kind of…rough, for lack of a better word. This looks more like an early draft than the finished product. I mean, why is Pebbles so skinny? And those brown jeans on Bamm-Bamm. No, just no.
Apparently, Warner Brothers commissioned several artists and animators to come with their own designs for the characters, and they ended up going with Mark Marek’s designs. For those who don’t know, Mark Marek drew the Henry & June host segments for Nickelodeon’s Kablam!.
Kind of makes you wonder what the character art of the people who didn’t get the job looked like.
Personally, I would probably have gone with Chris Battle’s designs:
The kids’ heads are kind of big, but they’re still recognizable as Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, and at least Bamm-Bamm isn’t wearing brown jeans!
Granted, I would have preferred a more traditional look for the characters and the show, again, viz:
…but I’m willing to overlook that if the show is consistently good and the episodes are well written, overall. And I do like the ponytail on Pebbles.
Another not so good thing is that Boomerang UK isn’t promoting this very well. Case in point, this promo:
That wasn’t terrible, but I felt that Boom UK could’ve placed more emphasis on The Crags and it’s inhabitants. Also, personally I would have drawn the Crags dinosaurs in a different art style. Make them more stylized and dangerous looking as a way to differentiate them from the tame, domestic dinos that willingly (or some cases, not so willingly) serve the humans in the more civilized Bedrock. A more cinematic look and feel, with detailed backgrounds, light and shadow effects, etc., would have been nice also, but you take what you can get.
I don’t know how well Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs is going to be received by the general public, but personally I think that it’s a pretty cool idea, and since this is the first new Flintstones series in years that’s not some crossover DTV with WWE wrestlers, I’m willing to give it a shot. At least WB remembers that The Flintstones exists and is trying to do something new with them. Yeah, there’s also that upcoming adult animated reboot of The Flintstones produced by Elizabeth Banks that supposedly in development, but I can’t get excited about that. I wanted to talk about YDD! because that’s an interesting idea and a different take on the franchise (Heck, the idea could work even if it didn’t take place in the Flintstones universe!), but this reboot just sounds like more of the usual strum and drang and I don’t think that Family Guy style jokes is the shot in the arm that this franchise needs. So sorry, folks, but I don’t plan on watching nor writing about that one.
Myself, I remain cautiously optimistic about Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs!. It’s a decent concept that could work in the right hands. And who knows? If the show goes over well, WB might to decide to renew it for a second season after all. Unfortunately for us here in the good ol’ US of A, we’ll have to settle for clips floating around online for now, but wherever you can see it, check it out!
“Yeah, kids! Come on over and visit The Crags! I LOVE finger food!”