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The Jetsons is an American animated sitcom produced by Hanna-Barbera, originally airing in primetime from September 23, 1962, to March 17, 1963, then later in syndication, with new episodes in 1985 to 1987 as part of The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera block. It was Hanna-Barbera's Space Age counterpart to The Flintstones.
While the Flintstones lived in a world which was a comical version of the "stone age", with machines powered by birds and dinosaurs, the Jetsons live in a comical version of the future, with elaborate robotic contraptions, aliens, holograms, and whimsical inventions.The original series comprised 24 episodes and aired on Sunday nights on ABC beginning September 23, 1962, with primetime reruns continuing through September 22, 1963. It debuted as the first program broadcast in color on ABC-TV. (Only a handful of ABC-TV stations were capable of broadcasting in color in the early 1960s.) In contrast, The Flintstones, while always produced in color, was broadcast in black-and-white for its first two seasons.
Following its primetime run, the show aired on Saturday mornings for decades, starting on ABC for the 1963–64 season and then on CBS and NBC. New episodes were produced for syndication from 1985 to 1987. No further specials or episodes of the show were produced after 1989 due to the deaths of stars George O'Hanlon and Mel Blanc. The 1990 film Jetsons: The Movie served as the series finale to the television show. 27 years later, a new direct-to-video animated movie, The Jetsons & WWE: Robo-WrestleMania!, was released in 2017.
- George Jetson – George O'Hanlon
- Jane Jetson – Penny Singleton
- Elroy Jetson – Daws Butler
- Judy Jetson – Janet Waldo
- Astro the Space Mutt/RUDI/Uniblab/Mac – Don Messick
- Rosie/Mrs. Spacely/Miss Galaxy – Jean Vander Pyl
- Cosmo Spacely – Mel Blanc
- Spencer Cogswell – Daws Butler
- Henry Orbit – Daws Butler (Howard Morris in a few early Season 1 episodes)
- Orbitty – Frank Welker
- DiDi – Selma Diamond (and Brenda Vaccaro after Diamond's death
Science fiction themes
Animation historian Christopher P. Lehman considers that the series shares its main science fiction theme with Funderful Suburbia (1962), a Modern Madcaps animated short. Both feature people involved in space colonization. However there is a key difference in the nature of the colonization. In Funderful Suburbia, humans colonize outer space in order to escape the problems of planet Earth. The Jetsons live in a place where space colonization is already established. Life in outer space is depicted as a fact of life, while the reasons behind humanity's take over of outer space are never explained.
Lehman argues that the series offers no explanation for its science fiction premise and does not directly satirize the social problems of any era. The setting is combined with standard sitcom elements, which serve as the series' main focus.
After the announcement of the fall 1962 network television schedule Time magazine characterized The Jetsons as one of several new situation comedies (along with The Beverly Hillbillies, I'm Dickens... He's Fenster, and Our Man Higgins) that was "stretching further than ever for their situations"; after all the season's new shows had premiered—a season "responding to Minow's exhortations"—the magazine called the series "silly and unpretentious, corny and clever, now and then quite funny."
Thirty years later, Time said: "In an age of working mothers, single parents and gay matrimony, George Jetson and his clan already seem quaint even to the baby boomers who grew up with them." Conversely, Jeffrey Tucker of the Foundation for Economic Education has argued that "The whole scene—which anticipated so much of the technology we have today but, strangely, not email or texting—reflected the ethos of time: a love of progress and a vision of a future that stayed on course ... The Jetsons' world is our world: explosive technological advances, entrenched bourgeois culture, a culture of enterprise that is very fond of the good life."
Specials and film adaptations
- Jetsons: The Movie (1990)