Western Animation / Fred and Barney Meet the Thing


No, it's not a Word Salad Title, but neither does it actually describe what happens in the show.

In 1979, Fred and Barney Meet the Thing was an hourlong Saturday morning cartoon on NBC in which, ironically, neither Fred Flintstone nor Barney Rubble ever met the Thing. It consisted of a half-hour of The Flintstones and a half-hour of The Thing. Eventually it was expanded to 90 minutes with the addition of a half-hour Shmoo segment, at which point the title of the show was changed to the equally inaccurate Fred and Barney Meet the Shmoo (although it did happen in the "Bedrock Cops" shorts on The Flintstone Comedy Show).

The Flintstones segment consisted of episodes of the late 1970s spinoff The New Fred and Barney Show, a series of new half-hour Flintstones stories told in a style somewhat closer to the original series versus the previous few spinoffs (i.e., Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm were depicted as toddlers instead of as teenagers).

The Thing, which was loosely based on the character of the same name from Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four series, followed the adventures of young Benjy Grimm. His magic ring would transform him into a rock-covered monster whenever he touched the two halves together and said, "Thing Ring, do your thing," a particularly cheesy example of By the Power of Grayskull!. This was quite a departure from the original character, Ben Grimm, an adult test pilot who was transformed permanently into the rocky-skinned Thing after having been exposed to cosmic rays (though several episodes state this was the same character, an adult stuck as a teenager). The Thing segments were the only segments specifically produced for this show.

The New Shmoo stars the titular creature from Li'l Abner as the Team Pet of a trio of teenagers in yet another of Hanna-Barbera's own apings of the Scooby-Doo formula. It was originally a separate series, but it was incorporated into this show after a couple of months. The last five episodes only aired as part of the combined series.

Even the staff who worked on this barely believe this show existed.

The New Fred and Barney Show segments contain examples of:

The Thing segments contain examples of:

  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: "The Thing Goes To The Dogs" features a supposedly-normal dog who, at one point, stands on her hind legs to play charades with the main characters.
  • Beach Episode: "Beach Party Crashers", though most of the characters spend the episode in their normal outfits. Betty changes into a bikini for one scene, which she spends mostly underwater. (Though rich kid Ronald and the elderly Miss Twilly get more screen time in their respective swimsuits) "Lights, Action, Thing" starts with the characters on a yacht in swimwear, hewing closer to the trope in spirit if not literally.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: This version of the Yancy Street Gang is this, with leader Spike being the "Short", Stretch being the "Thin", and Turkey being the "Big".
  • Blessed with Suck / Cursed with Awesome: The main character is, in reality, neither the scrawny geek Benjy nor the monstrous but popular Thing. He's the adult Ben Grimm, unable to change back to his normal self. The young audience is apparently supposed to see his condition as Cursed with Awesome, but Benjy clearly feels differently. As he says in "To Thing or Not To Thing":
    The Thing: I've had it being Benjy or boulders! I want to be me again, test pilot Ben Grimm.
  • Celebrity Lie: Used weirdly in "Decepto the Great". Benjy can't seem to produce the Thing for a school show, even though he is the Thing. (Every time he tries, he winds up scaring a comic-relief janitor character - seen only in this episode - and he changes back to try to calm him down instead of going on stage)
  • Cryptid Episode: One of the first episodes is "Bigfoot Meets the Thing". Subverted in Bigfoot is just one of the Yancy Street Gang in a costume. Double-subverted when the real Bigfoot falls in love with the guy in the (female) costume.
  • Evil Twin: "Double Trouble for the Thing" features a robot duplicate of the Thing, programmed to commit crimes and frame the real deal.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The opening heavily implies (and several episodes later confirm) that this is the same adult Ben Grimm from the comics, but with a cure that had gone wrong, so he's unable to transform back into his normal adult self. Now he's stuck as either a scrawny geek or a monstrous pile of rocks, neither of which he likes (but he likes being the Thing less).
    • To a lesser degree, the robot Clunk from "The Thing Meets The Clunk". It's a robot designed and programmed to help people, but in practice it combines strength equal to the Thing with absolutely no common sense, leading him to cause more disasters than he stops. "HELP? CLUNK HELP!" meant that a disaster was about to occur.
  • Hammerspace: The orange rocks that turn Benjy into the Thing seem to appear out of nowhere. (Though that does seem to be at least partially for the audience's benefit; when transforming in an enclosed space, no rocks are shown flying into the space from the outside)
  • Picnic Episode: "Picnic Panic".
  • Poke the Poodle: The Yancy Street Gang were pranksters who especially loved to torment spoiled rich kid Ronald, but basically harmless.
  • Power Incontinence: "To Thing Or Not To Thing" has Benjy transforming back and forth at random all day (with a shortened and rock-less version of his usual Transformation Sequence), while out with his friends. Somehow, nobody notices.
  • Scooby-Doo Hoax: "The Thing and the Captain's Ghost" is based around this, with Spike of the Yancy Street Gang pretending to be the ghost of the title to scare Ronald. They themselves then get scared off by the heroes pretending to be ghosts or, more specifically, by Betty, with her hair in curlers and her face in a mudpack.
  • Secret Identity: Only Kelly Harkness and her father know that Benjy is the Thing. Her father is the reason he's a teenager in the first place.
  • Transformation Sequence: A particularly elaborate one, and another one for reversion. While he normally only transforms two or three times per episode (plus maybe one reversion sequence), in "Decepto the Great", where he transforms to or from the Thing seven times, the first four in the span of a minute and a half.

The New Shmoo segments contain examples of:

Alternative Title(s): Fred And Barney Meet The Thing, Fred And Barney Meet The Shmoo