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 ever-lovin' blue-eyed 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.
Both of the top-billing segments contain examples of:
- 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 (though, as mentioned, Fred and Barney did eventually meet the Shmoo in segments of a completely different show).
- Never Trust a Title: Since Barney and Fred do not in fact meet the Thing.
- One Steve Limit: Averted. There are two characters named Betty—Barney Rubble's wife and Benjy Grimm's friend.
The New Fred and Barney Show segments contain examples of:
- Frankenstein's Monster: Or in this case, "Frankenstone's Monster". This is the first appearance of the Frankenstones, who would go on to appear in the four half hour primetime specials, and in their own segment in the previously mentioned Flintstone Comedy Show from 1980.note
- Friendly Neighborhood Vampires: Count Rockula and his wife are vampires who are on good terms with the Flintstones. Unfortunately, the same can't be said about the previously mentioned Frankenstones.
- The New Adventures: The New Fred and Barney Show.
- The '70s: The Stone Age technology equivalent here is updated for the seventies, including the presence of microwave ovens (a dragon in a box spewing rings of fire to cook food rapidly) and CB radios.
- Tyrannosaurus rex: Finally makes an appearance in the series after being absent in the original cartoon.
- Wicked Witch: The titular "Sand-Witch" is this, as well as an example of Jekyll & Hyde.
The Thing segments contain examples of:
- Adapted Out: The other members of the Fantastic Four (Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, and the Human Torch) are completely omitted in this adaptation, with the Thing being portrayed as a solo hero.
- 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.
- Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: Benjy and friends encounter Bigfoot in "The Thing Meets Bigfoot", both Stretch disguised as the hairy cryptid and the genuine article.
- 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.
- Cats Are Mean: The Yancy Street Gang's cat Roscoe in "The Thing Goes to the Dogs", who aids the gang in their plan to kidnap Ronald Radford's dog Countess.
- 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 that 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 (apparently-female) costume.
- Dumb Muscle: Turkey of the Yancy Street Gang is a big guy and the dumbest of the group.
- Easy Amnesia: "The Thing Blanks Out" has the Thing forget who he is after being hit on the head after lifting a bridge to prevent Ronald's yacht from crashing into it. He doesn't have his memory restored until an acorn hits him on the head.
- Evil Knockoff: "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)
- Pet the Dog: Snobby rich kid Ronald Radford demonstrates the trope in a somewhat literal manner in "The Thing Goes to the Dogs", where he is shown to genuinely care for his dog Countess.
- Picnic Episode: "Picnic Panic" had Benjy and friends on a picnic that the Yancy Street Gang tried to ruin.
- Poke the Poodle: The Yancy Street Gang were pranksters who especially loved to torment spoiled rich kid Ronald, but basically harmless.
- Porky Pig Pronunciation: In the episode "The Thing Blanks Out", the Thing struggles to pronounce "ingenuity" before settling on "smarts".
- 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 rather than an adult.
- Shout Out: "The Thing Blanks Out" at one point shows a dog that looks similar to Scooby-Doo.
- 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", he transforms to or from the Thing seven times, the first four in the span of a minute and a half.
- X-Ray Sparks: In "A Hot Air Affair at the Fair", the Thing catches a lightning bolt and throws it at Spike, causing his skeleton to become visible as he's being electrocuted.
The New Shmoo segments contain examples of:
- Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: Nita, the beauty; Mickey, the brains; and Billy Joe, the brawn.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Billy Joe, Nita, and Mickey respectively.
- Comedic Underwear Exposure: Nita in "Monster Island" and "The Terror of The Trolls". See Panty Shot and Marilyn Maneuver below.
- Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears: In one episode, the kids expose the villains by spraying them with a foam that can dissolve clothes, and they end up seeing the bad guys in their undergarments.Nita: Fantastic! This stuff is melting their disguises and revealing who they are!Mickey: (covering Nita's eyes) Revealing a little too much I'd say!
- Doomy Dooms of Doom: "The Flying Disc Of Doom".
- Extra-Long Episode: Some episodes ran for approximately a half-hour, whereas others were shorter at 10-11 minutes.
- Eye Pop: Shmoo in "The Return of Dracula", when he sees the episode's titular vampire heading towards him and Billy Joe.
- Follow the Bouncing Ball: Interstitial segments had singalongs, with the Shmoo turning into the bouncing ball.
- Gratuitous Spanish: Naturally, since Nita is Latina, she occasionally makes Spanish comments.
- Lovable Coward: Billy Joe.
- Marilyn Maneuver: Nita in the episode, "The Terror of The Trolls". After she tries to stop the Troll King's escape by motorboat with a lasso, he manages to drive off. As she holds onto the rope tightly, she's dragged across the surface of water and the motion gives her skirt an updraft. She crouches to avoid revealing too much and her panties are briefly exposed, and seen from the side.
- Ms. Fanservice: Nita in a couple episodes.
- The New Adventures: The New Shmoo (so named because the "old" Shmoo was a whole mess of the critters in the Li'l Abner comic strip).
- Panty Shot: Nita in "Monster Island". When she and Mickey are lassoed, pulled, and yanked up to the top of a cliff, there's a flash of her undies, which match her Kelly green skirt.
- She has another in "The Terror of The Trolls". See Marilyn Maneuver above.
- Plucky Girl: Nita.
- Rubber Man: Well, a rubber something, anyway.
- Ship Tease: There are a few moments where Nita and Mickey seem to have a bit of subtext
- The Chick: Nita.
- The Determinator: Nita, Mickey, and Shmoo. Billy Joe to a lesser extent.
- Through A Face Fullof Fur: Shmoo in "The Warlock of Voodoo Island". As a magnet, he glows yellow as he collects energy from an electric current.
- Two Guys and a Girl: Mickey, Billy Joe and Nita from The New Shmoo.
- You Meddling Kids: Averted in most episodes. Neither this line nor any other variation of it is ever said by most of the criminals in this series.
Mr. Shaw: You had to meddle with a slick plan! Real slick!
- The exception is Mr. Shaw from "The Valley Where Time Stood Still".