|Fred and Barney had already met one new buddy that year, but by the end of 1979, the Flintstones twosome added yet another segment to their popular show. In December, Fred and Barney Meet The Thing became Fred and Barney Meet The Shmoo, as rerun episodes of The New Shmoo were added to the show. And just to clear up any confusion from the title, Fred, Barney, The Thing and The Shmoo only really met each other in brief bumpers between the individual segments.
The format changed very little with the new addition. 60 minutes were still devoted to separate episodes of The New Fred and Barney Show and The Thing, and the program was expanded an extra half-hour to accommodate its new co-star.
The “Fred and Barney” portion consisted of The New Fred and Barney Show reruns. The two Stone Age buddies and their families—wives Wilma and Betty, kids Pebbles and Bamm Bamm (once again toddlers)—engaged in weekly comic misadventures at home, at work, and in spooky haunted houses. Some plots were familiar to long-time Flintstones fans (getting in trouble with bank robbers, taking moonlighting jobs after a pay cut at the quarry), while others spoofed late 70’s fads like C.B. radio and the physical fitness craze.
The Thing took several liberties with the rocky orange strongman’s origins. Gone were the other Fantastic three, and “Benjy” Grimm was now a slightly geeky teen. Benjy spent his days hanging out with fellow Centerville High School students Betty (the snob), Kelly (Betty’s kid sister) and rich kid Ronald Radford, while teacher Miss Twilly and next-door neighbor Dr. Harkness provided a dash of adult wisdom.
When trouble reared its ugly head—usually in the form of Yancey Street Gang members Spike, Stretch and Turkey—Benjy found a good place to hide and let his secret identity come out. By placing his two ring halves together and shouting, “Thing Ring, do your thing!,” Benjy transformed into a muscular, rocky superhero with a Brooklyn accent. With his superior strength, The Thing usually got the situation under control pretty quickly, and no one was ever the wiser (only Kelly knew Benjy’s secret).
The Shmoo was originally a recurring character from Al Capp’s Li’l Abner comic strip in the late 1940’s. In the Hanna-Barbera version, the bell-shaped Shmoo teamed up with three young reporters—Mickey, Billy Joe and Nita—who worked for Mighty Mysteries Comics. Together, the foursome fought crime and investigated supernatural goings-on. Shmoo also had the very Shmoo-like ability to morph into whatever shape, size or object he chose, a handy talent to have in a jam.
The original half-hour episodes of The New Shmoo were split into two-parters for the new show, allowing more mingling and mixing of the program’s individual segments.
After one year of somewhat strained relations (the three groups didn’t really have that much in common, and mostly kept to themselves on the set), Benjy and company were dropped from the lineup and The Shmoo joined Fred and Barney on the “Bedrock Cops” segment of The Flintstones Comedy Show.