|In a weird way, it kind of made sense—Stone Age family, guy made out of rock… Whatever the reason, somebody thought it would be a good idea to team up Hanna-Barbera’s Flintstones with Marvel Comic’ Fantastic Four superstar. The resulting show, Fred and Barney Meet The Thing, actually featured separate adventures of the Flintstone/Rubble gang and The Thing, combined together into one hour-long show.
The “Fred and Barney” half consisted of new and old episodes of The New Fred and Barney Show. 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).
After less than three months, Fred, Barney and The Thing were joined by another comic creation, Al Capp’s The Shmoo. The blobby white crimefighter brought his The New Shmoo adventures to the mix, and the 90-minute program was retitled Fred and Barney Meet The Shmoo. Now the team-up made even less sense, but with his funny moustache and high-pitched voice, The Shmoo was too adorable for anyone to care.