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Yabba-Dabba-Do! Happy 50th Anniversary to the Folks in Bedrock (twitch, twitch)!

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TV's favorite stone-age family first visited our living rooms on September 30, 1960. Originally pitched as The Flagstones, television's first prime-time animated series ran for six seasons and became so popular that companies like Welch's paid big bucks to get their products advertised by Fred, Wilma, Betty, Barney and Pebbles. (Let's face it, 44 years after the series went off the air, kids are still gobbling down Flintstones vitamins daily.) While everyone remembers things like Fred's catchphrase and his foot-propelled car and Wilma's baby mastodon vacuum cleaner, what often gets forgotten is some of the great (well, "catchy" at least) music that the series gave us over the years.

If You Play a Hot Piano, You Get Your Fingers Burned

How many of you still wish couples a "happy anniversary" to the tune of the William Tell Overture? Gioachino Rossini wrote the melody, but it was William Hanna and Joseph Barbera who provided the memorable lyrics. Poor Fred had forgotten his wedding anniversary yet again, and in a bid to buy Wilma a nicer last-minute present than a bouquet of flowers, he decided to purchase a piano. Unfortunately his limited budget meant that he had to buy a genuine Stoneway out of the back of a truck from a guy named 88 Fingers Louie. Fred and Barney were busted while hauling the piano home late at night, but the obliging cops took time out to sing this commemorative ditty.

Long-Haired Weirdoes

The writers spoofed everything from the then-current craze of Beatle-haired pop groups with strange names and gimmicks to the hysteria that occasionally resulted from outrageous promotional campaigns in the episode entitled "The Masquerade Party." Radio ads warning Bedrock of an imminent invasion from the Way-Outs spooked the city into a War of the Worlds-type panic, which led to Fred (in a spaceman costume en route to a party) being arrested. Eventually it was revealed that the Way-Outs were a British pop band, and their catchy theme song was sampled many years later in rap trio J.J. Fad's hit "Way Out."

Your Taste We Will Tickle with a Cold Dill Pickle

Unless there's a Sonic near your home, you may have never experienced having your food brought out to your vehicle by a carhop. But in the 1960s, drive-in restaurants were as common as 1-800-LAWYER commercials. Because of their ubiquity and popularity, Fred and Barney naturally assumed that owning a drive-in meant instant goldmine. Unbeknownst to their wives, they quit their day jobs and bought a restaurant. Their secret didn't stay under wraps for long, however, when two enterprising carhops got a bit too aggressive in their job-seeking campaign:

It's Where the Hipsters Go

"The Twitch" was an obvious reference to Chubby Checker's hit "The Twist," but singer Rock Roll was meant to be a composite of the manufactured pop stars of that era. It was revealed in the episode that his groovy hair and sideburns were fake, and that his dance craze had been invented inadvertently as a result of an allergic reaction to pickled dodo eggs. (By the way, for those under-30 types who've never seen the real thing, that animated TV host is a spoof of Ed Sullivan, whose variety show was the venue for the hot acts of the day.)

Better Buy Some SoftSoap Quick, Before They Call You "Skunk"

Around the same time The Flintstones was originally on the air, another hit show was Sing Along with Mitch, which starred record producer/A&R man Mitch Miller leading a chorale in a community sing. The words would scroll on-screen so viewers could sing along at home. (It didn't take much to entertain us back in the day.) In Bedrock, folks tuned in to Hum Along with Herman to get their karaoke mojo on. When Fred discovered that Barney had a mellifluous singing voice, he quickly formed the Flintstone Canaries and arranged for an audition. Unfortunately, Barney could only carry a tune while in the bathtub, which is why the quartet ended up semi-nude on the program for a commercial spot promoting the sponsor's soap:

Almost a Lawsuit, but Really Just a Strange Coincidence

It's probably far from politically correct, but whenever I hear someone speak with any type of Scandinavian accent my mind automatically recites, "He is Olé, I am Sven." The episode entitled "The Swedish Visitors" featured a pair of foreign musicians who bunked at the Flintstone home for a short time. The episode was inspired by a record called "Wilma" released in Sweden by Owe Thörnqvist. The chorus "jabadabadooo" sounded suspiciously like Fred's favorite exclamation, and then there was that whole "Wilma" angle... Hanna-Barbera contacted Thörnqvist who insisted that jabadabadooo was a traditional Viking cry, and everything else was strictly coincidental. The matter was resolved by having the singer record an English version of his tune for use on the show.

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Pop Culture
The Sweet Surprise Reunion Mr. Rogers Never Saw Coming
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Family Communications Inc./Getty Images

For more than 30 years, legendary children’s show host Fred Rogers used his PBS series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to educate his young viewers on concepts like empathy, sharing, and grief. As a result, he won just about every television award he was eligible for, some of them many times over.

Rogers was gracious in accepting each, but according to those who were close to the host, one honor in particular stood out. It was March 11, 1999, and Rogers was being inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame, an offshoot of the Emmy Awards. Just before he was called to the stage, out came a surprise.

The man responsible for the elation on Rogers’s face was Jeff Erlanger, a 29-year-old from Madison, Wisconsin who became a quadriplegic at a young age after undergoing spinal surgery to remove a tumor. Rogers was surprised because Erlanger had appeared on his show nearly 20 years prior, in 1980, to help kids understand how people with physical challenges adapt to life’s challenges. Here's his first encounter with the host:

Reunited on stage after two decades, Erlanger referred to the song “It’s You I Like,” which the two sang during their initial meeting. “On behalf of millions of children and grown-ups,” Erlanger said, “it’s you I like.” The audience, including a visibly moved Candice Bergen, rose to their feet to give both men a standing ovation.

Following Erlanger’s death in 2007, Hedda Sharapan, an employee with Rogers’s production company, called their original poignant scene “authentic” and “unscripted,” and said that Rogers often pointed to it as his favorite moment from the series.

Near the end of the original segment in 1980, as Erlanger drives his wheelchair off-camera, Rogers waves goodbye and offers a departing message: “I hope you’ll come back to visit again.”

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20 Things You Might Not Have Known About Firefly
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© 2002 Twentieth Century Fox

As any diehard fan will be quick to tell you, Firefly's run was far, far too short. Despite its truncated run, the show still offers a wealth of fun facts and hidden Easter eggs. On the 15th anniversary of the series' premiere, we're looking back at the sci-fi series that kickstarted a Browncoat revolution.

1. A CIVIL WAR NOVEL INSPIRED THE FIREFLY UNIVERSE.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Killer Angels from author Michael Shaara was Joss Whedon’s inspiration for creating Firefly. It follows Union and Confederate soldiers during four days at the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. Whedon modeled the series and world on the Reconstruction Era, but set in the future.

2. ORIGINALLY, THE SERENITY CREW INCLUDED JUST FIVE MEMBERS.

When Whedon first developed Firefly, he wanted Serenity to only have five crew members. However, throughout development and casting, Whedon increased the cast from five to nine.

3. REBECCA GAYHEART WAS ORIGINALLY CAST TO PLAY INARA.

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Before Morena Baccarin was cast as Inara Serra, Rebecca Gayheart landed the role—but she was fired after one day of shooting because she lacked chemistry with the rest of the cast. Baccarin was cast two days later and started shooting that day.

4. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS WAS ALMOST DR. SIMON TAM.

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Before it went to Sean Maher, Neil Patrick Harris auditioned for the role of Dr. Simon Tam.

5. JOSS WHEDON WROTE THE THEME SONG.

Whedon wrote the lyrics and music for Firefly’s opening theme song, “The Ballad of Serenity.”

6. STAR WARS SPACECRAFT APPEAR IN FIREFLY.

Star Wars was a big influence on Whedon. Captain Malcolm Reynolds somewhat resembles Han Solo, while Whedon used the Millennium Falcon as inspiration to create Serenity. In fact, you can spot a few spacecraft from George Lucas's magnum opus on the show.

When Inara’s shuttle docks with Serenity in the pilot episode, an Imperial Shuttle can be found flying in the background. In the episode “Shindig,” you can see a Starlight Intruder as the crew lands on the planet Persephone.

7. HAN SOLO FROZEN IN CARBONITE POPS UP THROUGHOUT FIREFLY.

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Nathan Fillion is a big Han Solo fan, so the Firefly prop department made a 12-inch replica of Han Solo encased in Carbonite for the Canadian-born actor. You can see the prop in the background in a number of scenes.

8. ALIEN'S WEYLAND-YUTANI CORPORATION MADE AN APPEARANCE.

In Firefly’s pilot episode, the opening scene features the legendary Battle of Serenity Valley between the Browncoats and The Union of Allied Planets. Captain Malcolm Reynolds takes control of a cannon with a Weyland-Yutani logo inside of its display. Weyland-Yutani is the large conglomerate corporation in the Alien film franchise. (Whedon wrote Alien: Resurrection in 1997.)

9. ZAC EFRON'S ACTING DEBUT WAS ON FIREFLY.

A 13-year-old Zac Efron made his acting debut in the episode “Safe” in 2002. He played Young Simon in a flashback.

10. CAPTAIN MALCOLM REYNOLDS'S HORSE IS A WESTERN TROPE.

At its core, Firefly is a sci-fi western—and Malcolm Reynolds rides the same horse on every planet (it's named Fred).

11. FOX AIRED FIREFLY'S EPISODES OUT OF ORDER.

Fox didn’t feel Firefly’s two-hour pilot episode was strong enough to air as its first episode. Instead, “The Train Job” was broadcast first because it featured more action and excitement. The network continued to cherry-pick episodes based on broad appeal rather than story consistency, and eventually aired the pilot as the show’s final episode.

12. THE ALLIANCE'S ORIGINS ARE AMERICAN AND CHINESE.

The full name of The Alliance is The Anglo-Sino Alliance. Whedon envisioned The Alliance as a merger of American and Chinese government and corporate superpowers. The Union of Allied Planets’ flag is a blending of the American and Chinese national flags.

13. THE SERENITY LOUNGE SERVED AS AN ACTUAL LOUNGE.

Between set-ups and shots, the cast would hang out in the lounge on the Serenity set rather than trailers or green rooms.

14. INARA SERRA'S NAME IS MESOPOTAMIAN.

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Inara Serra is named after the Mesopotamian Hittite goddess, the protector of all wild animals.

15. THE CHARACTERS SWORE (JUST NOT IN ENGLISH).

The Firefly universe is a mixture of American and Chinese culture, which made it easy for writers to get around censors by having characters swear in Chinese.

16. THE UNIFORMS ARE RECYCLED FROM STARSHIP TROOPERS.

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The uniforms for Alliance officers and soldiers were the costumes from the 1997 science fiction film Starship Troopers. The same costumes were repurposed again for the Starship Troopers sequel.

17. "SUMMER!" MEANS SOMEONE MESSED UP.

Every time a cast member flubbed one of his or her lines, they would yell Summer Glau’s name. This was a running gag among the cast after Glau forgot her lines in the episode “Objects In Space.”

18. THE SERENITY SPACESHIP WAS BUILT TO SCALE.

The interior of Serenity was built entirely to scale; rooms and sections were completely contiguous. The ship’s interior was split into two stages, one for the upper deck and one for the lower. Whedon showed off the Firefly set in one long take to open the Serenity movie.

19. "THE MESSAGE" SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE SHOW'S FAREWELL.

Although “The Message” was the twelfth episode, it was the last episode filmed during Firefly’s short run. Composer Greg Edmonson wrote a piece of music for a funeral scene in the episode, which served as a final farewell to the show. Sadly, it was one of three episodes (the other two were “Trash” and “Heart of Gold”) that didn’t air during Firefly’s original broadcast run on Fox.

20. FIREFLY AND SERENITY WERE SENT TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION.

American Astronaut Steven Ray Swanson is a big fan of Firefly, so when he was sent to the International Space Station for his first mission (STS-117) in 2007, he brought DVD copies of Firefly and its feature film Serenity aboard with him. The DVDs are now a permanent part of the space station’s library.

This post originally appeared in 2014.

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