Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Flintstones' Invasion from Space

Before there were The Simpsons, there were The Flintstones, and just as The Simpsons have produced an episode lampooning the 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast, so too did the Flintstones. The episode was called The Masquerade Party, and was the 11th episode of the 1965 sixth season.

By then the series was undoubtedly showing signs of fatigue, but some of the old magic was still there, in particular the well honed bickering relationship between neighbours Fred and Barney. This as so often before forms the bedrock (no pun intended) of this episode.

It's time for Fred's lodge, The Water Buffalos, to hold their annual Masquerade Party, and Fred is determined to win best costume award, as he does every year. But things go horribly awry when he and Barney inadvertently pick an identical "devil" costume, which inevitably starts a big fight.  After a night cooling his heels in jail, Fred emerges more determined than ever to win the competition, and closets himself in the garage to work on a new costume away from prying eyes. Meanwhile across town at the local record company, the studio boss is giving the marching orders to a band called The Beasties, who are told in no uncertain terms that they are yesterdays sound, and a new band is about to hit the big time.

That band is The Wayouts, and their gimmick really is out of this world; they are dressed as aliens! It's an opportunity too good to be true for the record company publicity man, who persuades the local radio station to start transmitting news flashes that The Wayouts are taking over Bedrock.  Panic naturally ensues, but for Fred, fate is about to deal him an even worse hand; his new costume is also a space alien! Setting out for the party, Fred is completely oblivious to the chaos erupting all around him, though perplexed that people keep running away from him in terror. Along the way, Fred runs into The Wayouts and persuades them that it would be a great idea to come and perform at the lodge party, but the lodge members are getting ready to come to the defence of Bedrock, assuring Fred and The Wayouts a less than hospitable welcome.

This is certainly not a classic episode of The Flintstones, but the debt to the 1938 broadcast is obvious and serves to elevate it beyond the merely routine. The Wayouts are fun guest characters and the scenes in which the radio broadcast triggers panic in Bedrock are particularly well done.