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Seth MacFarlane, wunderkind creator of Family Guy, hack behind American Dad, and just-phoning-it-in-by-now producer of The Cleveland Show, has been tagged to oversee the return of beloved cartoon icon and pioneering animated TV series The Flintstones to the small screen. MacFarlane, who famously had his first show, a cult favourite and critical darling, cancelled, only to see it returned to television, stupider and lazier than ever before, after huge sales of its DVD set and wide public outcries forced his network to reconsider its decision, is thrilled to be involved in the project. “I’m a huge fan, of course,” MacFarlane said, noting that “none of us [at his production studio] would be here today without The Flintstones… it’s just such a huge influence and inspiration… when I get too many accusations of just copying The Simpsons I can always look back at Fred Flintstone and know that we’re all copying from the masters of Hanna-Barbera, and the best part is that my fans are so young and stupid they don’t even know we’re copying because they’ve never heard of The Flintstones [trademark smarmy, squinty-eyed grin]!”

The Flintstones, a touchstone of early TV culture, originally ran for six seasons between 1960 and 1966, and has enjoyed a long life in syndication ever since. Big-screen, live-action remakes were made in the 1990s, but MacFarlane is distancing himself from those efforts. “I love cartoons, period. It’s what I’m good at; it’s what I know. Also, after that embarrassing cabaret special in which the voice actors appeared on stage, I’m contractually obligated to never show my face when doing character voices again… it’s far too creepy, I’ve been told.” *

Fans of the original cartoon should not worry that updating the show will upset the original formula of great characters and gentle satire, MacFarlane says. “I wouldn’t dream of messing with a classic like this–it’s a huge honour, after all. I see it being basically the same show, with slight tweaks to make the references more meaningful for a modern audience.

“In my version, for example, Fred will work in a factory, not a quarry. And Wilma won’t just be stay-at-home mom–she’ll have a job, too. Those are just the realities of the twenty-first century, and The Flintstones was, despite its setting in the Stone Age, always a satire about modern life. I won’t change that. Oh, and I’m going to replace Dino with women getting punched in the face.”

* ed. note: This seems to be a legal grey area, since MacFarlane’s “normal” voice is instantly recognizable as being essentially indistinguishable from any number of his characters. The latest court ruling clarifies that MacFarlane cannot identify himself in public as one of his characters through such catchphrases as “What the deuce?!” Appeals are pending.


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