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.

The New Shmoo (originally a separate series) 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.

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

This inaccurately named show contains examples of:

  • Beach Episode: "Beach Party Crashers"
  • 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 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)
  • Crossover: Averted! Fred and Barney never actually meet the Thing, the shorts of one NEVER crossover with the shorts of the other. The only time they are ever seen together are during the opening credits and bumpers between segments.
  • 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: Well, maybe not "horribly", but 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.
  • 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)
  • The New Adventures: The New Fred and Barney Show and The New Shmoo.
  • Picnic Episode: "Picnic Panic"
  • 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.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Mickey, Billy Joe and Nita from The New Shmoo.

The New Fred and Barney Show segments contain examples of:

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