Last October, I wrote an article titled "The Forgotten Scooby Clone Show," which highlighted how The Flintstones actually attempted to mirror Scooby's formula in the 1979 series The New Fred and Barney Show. At the end of this article, I briefly mentioned how The Flintstone Comedy Show had a segment that included Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm solving mysteries, but how I hadn't seen it yet. Now, I have a subscription to the Boomerang app, and with some extra time during the pandemic, I've finally gotten to check these out! This is the subject of "part 2" of this article.
Before I dive into talking about Pebbles, Dino, and Bamm-Bamm, the name of this mystery solving segment, I want to give some background on The Flintstone Comedy Show which might intrigue Scooby fans. Scooby was actually not the only show to go through the "Richie Rich Hour" phase. The same year as Scooby, in 1980, The Flintstones franchise experimented with changing their format into 7-minute shorts. The Flintstone Comedy Show, in fact, had several similarities to The Richie Rich / Scooby-Doo Hour. In addition to running two seasons, each "hour" was divided into 6 seven-minute segments to make up a full episode. However, while Scooby-Doo and Richie Rich remained completely separate of each other during this hour, never crossing over besides one brief mention of Scooby-Doo in a Richie Rich episode, The Flintstone Comedy Show remained true to the original format for three of the six segments. The other three segments were various spin-offs of The Flintstones show, including Dino and Cavemouse (a Tom and Jerry type romp where Dino chases after an annoying mouse), Captain Caveman in which Wilma and Betty work at a news outlet, solving crimes with Captain Caveman. Captain Caveman was disguised for most of the time as an intern named "Chester," but whenever crime struck, he would change into his Captain Caveman persona (a la Superman). The third of these "spin-off" segments was Pebbles, Dino and Bamm-Bamm. As a side note to anyone wondering, the three more original segments were, Bedrock Cops, where Fred and Barney were cops in Bedrock, The Frankenstones, in which a weird new Addams-esc family moves next door to The Flintstones, and finally The Flintstone Family Adventures, which is basically an exact replica of the original series made into shorter segments.
But on to the subject of this article, Pebbles, Dino and Bamm-Bamm. This had a very Where Are You-like format, where Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm (along with their pet Dino) are doing teenager-like things around town, but run into a new mystery each episode involving a monster in a mask. There are numerous similarities to Scooby-Doo, and it's obvious to even someone who's not a big Scooby fan that they copied the formula exactly. Each episode consists of them finding clues, then capturing the monster (usually inadvertently, no traps were set). Bamm-Bamm and Dino are very much played up to be the Shaggy and Scooby of the group, both terrified of monsters, while Pebbles is the one with an affinity for mystery like Velma, and solving the cases with the reluctant help of Dino and Bamm-Bamm. There are even door gags throughout, and Dino regularly mimics the monster much like Scooby, contorting his body to look like the creature he just saw, to show Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm.
So, is this a good "Scooby clone" series for Scooby fans to watch then? It's just like Where Are You, right? No, I would actually recommend you don't watch most of these episodes. These suffered from the same issues the Richie Rich Hour did, sadly. The plots were generally a bit rushed, with just enough time for them to find a single clue and "suddenly" figure it all out instantly, which was a bit of a letdown. The pacing is really off because there was no time to develop a proper storyline. Many of the villains in the first season talked non-stop with annoying ad libs, whereas it could have been better if they were just quiet or made a spooky noise or something. I think it works when villains talk, but not when they talk constantly. The main issue is that there's no time to develop a proper plot in those 7 minutes, so everything ends up rushed. While every episode did feature a person in a mask (thankfully, it wasn't just aimlessly running around from normal people sometimes like the Richie Rich Hour was), the majority of episodes did not introduce the culprit in advance, so it's just some random person you'd never met before. In the few episodes that did introduce the culprit before they were unmasked, there would usually only be one person they met, so it was painfully obvious it was them. One episode did feature two people, but one of them decided to go into the haunted mines (the location of the episode) with Pebbles, Bamm-Bamm and Dino, and then the other person that didn't go into the mines let out of an obnoxious "Hmmm!", and we get a ten-second shot zooming in on them looking suspicious of the person who went into the mines with them...so it's obvious lol.
The show wasn't all bad, however. Atmospherically, it's very much like Where Are You. The villains also have cool designs in most cases. The bads do greatly outweigh the goods, which makes this something that's not really worth watching. One thing I haven't mentioned yet is that much of the dialogue in certain episodes is really stilted and poorly written, which is another big downside. If I had to sum up the issue with this series, they had good ideas but they were in most cases, poorly executed.
In case you do want to check out this series though, I want to give a rundown on my picks for the best episodes you should watch, and the worst episodes that you should absolutely avoid. Let's get the worst out of the way first!
There are three episodes that are specifically really dumb. The first of these is "Double Trouble with Long John Silverrock." It's really a shame, because this one had the potential to be one of the best episodes in the series. I personally love haunted house aesthetics, and the plot revolves around Pebbles, Dino and Bamm-Bamm going into a house haunted by the ghost of Long John Silverrock. What ruins this episode though is that the person voicing the ghost is awful to the point of sounding apathetic about the role, and speaks the entirety of his lines in a monotone voice, wrecking any possible spook factor there might have been.
The second-worst episode goes to "The Legend of Haunted Forest," again due to a horrible villain, but also a terribly written plot. This episode has Pebbles, Bamm-Bamm and Dino visiting a forest which is haunted by the ghost of Paul Bunstone (a parody of the lumberjack Paul Bunyan), who chases them shouting "Timber!" which is all he says. It's so dumb. In addition, after the three leave for the night and come back in the morning, the huge forest is somehow all cut down in one night from "loggers," and they just randomly dump the logs in the river. That seemed like a stupid and unrealistic plot point, and combined with the ghost's catchphrase, it made the episode almost painful to watch.
The #1 worst episode is "In Tune With Terror," no competition. I've never taken any sort of hallucinatory substance before, but I imagine watching "In Tune With Terror" is probably what it would feel like. The ending just made no sense whatsoever. It featured a Phantom of the Opera type character, but somehow, at the end, his music is somehow able to magically make anything he wants to happen. This leads to a battle-of-the-bands type thing, where random instruments that Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm pick up also gain magical powers. We get at least a full minute of lightning bolts of music competing against each other, until the phantom is just randomly defeated because his instrument can't take anymore. It's later explained that the phantom's musical instruments gained power via a short cord plugged into the wall, made to give the illusion of looking like magic. However, this episode takes place in a cave that was at least 50 feet down, so the explanation makes no sense. We also get no explanation for how Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm's instruments suddenly also gained magical powers. This episode seriously made me question why I decided to watch these lol. To show you how ridiculous it is, here's a GIF of the ending.
One honorable mention for one of the worst episodes is "The Show Must Go On," in which they somehow managed to cram two minutes of filler. The villain itself, an ape, was sort of random for a theater setting. It felt like they just didn't know how to end it right, so they tacked on two minutes of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm performing onto the end. If you have put 2 minutes of filler onto an episode that's already 7 minutes, that's how you know you have a bad episode.
Now to the good episodes that I would highly recommend you watch! In the first part of this article, I mentioned that I had seen the first two of the episodes when I was a kid, due to having them on a rare Flintstones Comedy Show VHS I had. Sadly, those two episodes are both in my top 3 (out of 18 total episodes in the series). The quality kinda dropped off a cliff after those first two, with the exception of one season 2 episode that was really good.
Let's start with "Monster Madness," one I'd seen as a kid. Honestly, the plot on this one is kind of weak, I will admit. What I really liked about this episode is that it took place in a haunted castle led by Dracula, which had pretty much every Universal monster you can imagine. If not for that, it's a very rushed plot that has no time to really develop. Dracula's pet wolf had a really neat design though!
Before I get to my all-time favorite, the very first episode, I want to talk about that odd season 2 episode that was really good. It was also the only episode that did not feature anyone in a mask. The plot focuses on Dino getting lost in the woods, and finding a creepy lair of giant spiders. Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, desparate to find their lost pet, run into a spooky-looking house owned by a woman only known as "The Spider Lady." Her design is pretty good, but the creepiest part is how she speaks every single "s" as a hissing noise, regardless of where it is in the word. It creates a really creepy aesthetic and does something different that I loved.
Hands-down the BEST episode of the series, and I would say a must-watch if you can, is "Ghost Sitters." The episode takes place in a super creepy skull-shaped house, where Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm are babysitting a bratty young boy. The boy suddenly disappears, and the ghost of Big Bronto Billy (a cowboy who is rumored to haunted the place) tries to scare them away. This episode perfectly captures the creepy atmosphere and doesn't rush the story along like most others do. The Ghost of Bronto Billy genuinely has a really spooky design, especially when they show him to be creeping towards them as a shadow. This is what this series should have been, and what I was hoping it would be when I saw it as a kid (I did rewatch this and "Monster Madness" FYI, so it's not just my nostalgia or poor memory talking).
Honorable mentions include "Dino and the Zombies," which has a good story and creepy cemetery aesthetic, however it's really not clear if they're wearing costumes or not, or just really ugly people who they mistook for zombies. They are shown in jail at the end, but are all still wearing their "disguises," so I'm not sure if it was just laziness on Hanna-Barbera's part or if they were just creepy looking people.
A second honorable mention is "A Night of Fright," which again gets that haunted house aesthetic down and reminds me of those New Scooby-Doo Movies episodes where there wasn't one centralized villain, but rather a lot of different spooks and scares. The reason this didn't make it into my favorites is because the explanation at the end as to why the culprits did what they did is "They were trying to scare everyone away from their house!" Nope, I didn't leave anything out. That's what it was explained as. Scaring someone away from your own property isn't exactly illegal, and it's not really clear what they did wrong, but the cop throws them in jail for some reason anyway. I just thought it was a really dumb explanation, in addition to some of the "ghosts" just being random animals rather than actual spirits, which would have been better.
That about does it for this article! From a completist standpoint, I'm glad I got the chance to see these episodes finally, since they were technical "Scooby clones." However, beyond the 3 episodes I listed as favorites (maybe the two honorable mentions too...they were fun, but then again, there are also better things you could watch), I would not recommend watching this series, and the honorable mentions demonstrate this perfectly. Even in some of the good episodes, corners were definitely cut and certain elements feel rushed and/or poorly put together. It's clear The Richie Rich / Scooby-Doo Hour's issue with good story development was not centralized to that specific series, but rather, a probable overall issue with Hanna-Barbera rushing to make content during this era.
Since I imagine it would interest some people, I'm going tack on screencaps of the rest of the ghouls and monsters in this series, starting with the Skull House (which isn't a villain, but it's cool!) and the ghost of Bronto Billy, whom is my favorite villain,.
~ WildwindVampire ~