Smurfin’ Smurfs. Like most Americans raised on TV, I learned about the Smurfs not from the 1950s comic strip in which they first appeared, but from the Hanna-Barbera series that ran from 1981-1989 on NBC. Who could forget when Greedy Smurf got greedy or when Brainy Smurf said something smart? Not I, says everyone. But as much as the new Neil Patrick Harris-starring Smurfs movie would like you to remember otherwise: the Smurfs kind of suck, and the TV show really sucks. But! It’s not the worst series to come from Hanna-Barbera — which, to its credit, did create some great series like “The Flintstones,” “Space Ghost,” and “Johnny Bravo.” But this is the Internet, so let’s talk about the ones that sucked hardest.
Here they smurfin’ are.
Any Flintstones Production That Isn’t “The Flintstones”
The original “Flintstones,” which ran on ABC from 1960-1966, is a great show, and not only because there wouldn’t be a “Simpsons” without it. Unlike most televised animation of the time, it took its cues not from other cartoons, but from great sitcoms, like “The Honeymooners.” Hanna-Barbera knew that just because “The Flintstones” was a cartoon, that didn’t mean they’d have to constrain the show to only appeal to children.
Unlike every “Flintstones” spin-off and special, that is. Notable turds in this category include “The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show” (1971-1972), “The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone” (1979), and “The Flintstones: Fred’s Final Fling” (1980), as well as the John Goodman and Mark Addy-starring films in 1994 and 2000. Nobody cared about Fred meeting the Thing; people watched the show because (a) it was funny, and (b) it was oddly relatable, that even in the Stone Age, an overweight oaf could be loved by a charming female. Seth MacFarlane, who will remake the show for Fox in 2013, understood this when he said, “I think America is finally ready for an animated sitcom about a fat, stupid guy with a wife who’s too good for him.” Like anything from the guy who brought us “Family Guy,” I’m skeptical, but it can’t be any worse than “The Flintstones: Jogging Fever.”
“Partridge Family 2200 A.D.” (1974-1975)
Hanna-Barbera wanted to make an updated version of “The Jetsons.” CBS, however, asked that they instead find a way to mooch off the success of “The Partridge Family.” The two awful ideas came together, and like the beauty of a child being born, “Partridge Family 2200 A.D.” came out of TV’s womb, all wet and slimy and screaming. Nothing about the show makes sense—Why are they in the future? Was including “A.D.” in the title really necessary, other than they needed something to rhyme with “see’ in the theme song? Why was Danny Bonaduce allowed to have a platform to do anything?—and because it was such an obvious “Jetsons” clone (another question: why did Hanna-Barbera rip off their own show?), nobody watched. I’d rather much the year 2200 look like it did in The Matrix than the shudder-inducing future of “Partridge Family 2200 A.D.”
“A Pup Named Scooby-Doo” (1988-1991)
One of TV’s more regrettable trends over the past 30 years was when networks thought it was a good idea to “baby-fy” shows. It began with “Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies” in 1984 (the first time I ever heard of Star Wars was in an episode of that show) and has since given the world “Baby Looney Tunes” and “Yo Yogi!” Hanna-Barbera, never one to not take an idea from another company, came up with “A Pup Named Scooby-Doo,” featuring pre-teen versions of the Mystery, Inc. Gang. The show had one funny joke (every episode, Fred would blame a character named “Red Herring” for a crime he never committed), but what still doesn’t make sense to me is why Hanna-Barbera would create an entire series around an annoying younger version of Scooby-Doo when they already had the equally annoying Scrappy-Doo in their arsenal? There’s only one diminutive character worse than Scrappy…