Review The Jetsons (1962)

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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.[3][4]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.[5] (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.[7] 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.


Voice cast


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.[25]

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.[25]

Reception[edit]
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";[9] 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."[26]

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."[27] 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."[28]


Specials and film adaptations[edit]
Television films[edit]
Television specials[edit]
Theatrical releases[edit]
Direct-to-video films[edit]





 

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Differences between 60's and 80's versions

Added characters:

  • In the first episode of the 1980s episodes, an alien named Orbitty joined the family after Elroy discovered him on a field trip to an asteroid. Orbitty speaks in his own garbled dialect, has coil springs for legs, and changes colors according to his mood.
  • Various appliances appear in the 1980s episodes such as Memo-Minder and Di-Di, Judy's diary, which is shaped like a giant pair of wax lips.
Other differences include the following:

  • The original 1960s episodes are distinguished by 1960s design motifs, music, and references (similar to The Flintstones and other Hanna-Barbera shows of that period). The 1980s version had a custom soundtrack with new sound-effects created by synthesizer.
  • Whereas the 1960s stories were basically 1950s sitcom plots in a setting, the 1980s stories delved into fantastic, sci-fi cartoon territory.
  • The 1960s version was more adult oriented than the 1980s version, which was aimed at younger viewers.
  • The 1980s opening credits contain a re-recorded version of the original Jetsons theme song, which features the use of synthesized drums and synth lead tracks typical of 1980s music.
  • The 1960s closing credits were similar to the closing credits scenes from The Flintstones, which feature the family getting ready for bed as well as a disaster with their pets. In The Jetsons, George is walking Astro on a treadmill, Astro chases a cat, and then both animals jumping off after the treadmill malfunctions leaving Jetson running for his life. The 1980s version had to accommodate a larger production staff, including dozens of voice actors, and this closing credits segment was replaced with static multicolored backgrounds with pictures of The Jetsons arranged next to numerous credits. The 1960s episodes were rereleased with the redesigned closing segment (containing fewer production staff credits than the 1980s episodes, but has more names than the original closing scene which left several people uncredited) but are usually seen rebroadcast with their original credits segment.
  • The 1960s episodes do not contain title cards. When the 1980s episodes were made, title cards were also made for the 1960s episodes, which explains the appearance of Orbitty in the title cards of the 1960s episodes. (Orbitty also appears in the 1980s closing credits, which style was also used for the 1960s episodes.)
  • Many of the 1980s episodes were colored and composited using computer animation technology including digital ink and paint, rather than the more traditional ink and paint on cels.
  • The backgrounds in the 1980s version contain vivid colors, and are more detailed than the 1960s version.
  • While the 1960s episodes referenced rockets and other "space age" theme devices, reflective of the real-life American space program which fascinated the United States, the 1980s episodes leaned more towards how computers would influence life in outer space.
  • In the 1980s version, Rosie the Robot appears more often than in the 1960s (when she only appeared in two episodes). Astro is also featured more prominently.
  • The original spelling of Rosie's name is "Rosey", as featured in the 1962 premiere "Rosey the Robot". Her spelling was modified to "Rosie", as featured in the 1985 episode "Rosie Come Home".
  • Instead of the buttons, knobs, dials, and switches in the 1960s version, the 1980s version uses flat buttons and brightly lit consoles.
  • The 1960s episodes were fitted with a laugh track (as was The Flintstones); the 1980s episodes were not.
 

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Specials and film adaptations

Television films
Television specials[edit]
Theatrical releases[edit]
Direct-to-video films[edit]
Planned live-action and animated film reboots[edit]
Paramount Pictures first tried to film a live-action version of The Jetsons in 1985, which was to be executive produced by Gary Nardino, but failed to do so.[30] In the late 1980s, Universal Studios purchased the film rights for The Flintstones and The Jetsons from Hanna-Barbera Productions. The result was Jetsons: The Movie, which was released in 1990. In November 2001, screenwriting duo Paul Foley and Dan Forman were brought onboard to revise a screenplay, with Rob Minkoff attached as director and Denise Di Novi as producer.[31]

On March 18, 2003, it was announced that the script was again being reworked,[32] with Adam Shankman entering negotiations to direct and co-write the film.[33] In June 2004, with Shankman still onboard as director, Di Novi confirmed that the latest draft was penned by Sam Harper.[34] By May 2006, the project was re-launched with Adam F. Goldbergconfirmed as the new screenwriter, and Donald De Line was added as producer alongside Di Novi.[35]

In May 2007, director Robert Rodriguez entered talks with Universal Studios and Warner Bros. to film a CGI adaptation of The Jetsons for a potential 2009 theatrical release, having at the time discussed directing a film adaptation of Land of the Lost with Universal. Rodriguez was uncertain which project he would pursue next, though the latest script draft for The Jetsons by Goldberg was further along in development.[36]

In January 2012, recording artist Kanye West was mistakenly reported as creative director over the project, though West clarified on social media that "I was just discussing becoming the creative director for the Jetson [sic] movie and someone on the call yelled out.. you should do a Jetsons tour!"[37] Longtime producer Denise Di Novi denied the confirmed involvement stating negotiations with West via conference call was merely "preliminary and exploratory and introductory".[38] In February 2012, Warner Bros. hired Van Robichaux and Evan Susser to rewrite the script.[39][40]

On January 23, 2015, it was announced that Warner Bros. is planning a new animated Jetsons feature film, with Matt Lieberman to provide the screenplay.[41][42] As of May 25, 2017, Conrad Vernon will direct the film.[43]

Planned live-action TV remake

On August 17, 2017, ABC ordered a pilot for a live-action sitcom version of The Jetsons to be written by Gary Janetti and executive produced by Janetti, Jack Rapke and Robert Zemeckis.[44]
 
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