ABC (ended 1987)
With the success of The Flintstones, the modern Stone Age family, Hanna-Barbera decided to make a similar family cartoon, but set in their vision of the Space Age in the 21st century. This new series that debuted September 23, 1962 became The Jetsons. Set mainly in sky-high Orbit City, the show featured the family of George Jetson, Jane, his wife, their daughter Judy, and son Elroy living the average life in the future with flying space cars, instant transport tubes, and various robots and gadgets than can get their work done for them in a matter of seconds.
George brought in the family income by working at Spacely Space Sprockets, run by his stocky, ill-tempered boss Cosmo Spacely, who's usually quick to fire George for any reason he could find. But somehow, he always managed to get his job back and continue supporting his family. He works as an indexer and is teamed with his helpful computer R.U.D.I. Other than the threats of firing by Spacely, George would also have to worry about any schemes carried out by Mr. Spacely's top business rival W.C. Cogswell, owner and president of Cogswell Cogs. If there's a dispute between the two businessmen, it's almost certain George would wind up in the middle of it. Most times, though, things always worked out in the end.
Jane is the housewife who tends to the home, but loves to shop for the latest fashions and various items that can be a help to the family, like new gadgets that can help them in new ways. She's assisted by the family's robot maid Rosey (which can also be spelled Rosie). She's one of the older-fashioned models compared to most of the advanced robot maids of the future, but the Jetsons love her and regard her as a member of the family.
Judy is the Jetsons' teenage daughter who attends Orbit High School and goes for the latest teen fashions, trends, and music, and seems to have a different boyfriend in most episodes. If she's lucky, she can even wind up dating a celebrity, like her favorite rock star Jet Screamer, much to her father's chagrin.
Elroy is the Jetsons' genius son who attends Little Dipper Elementary School and is a straight-A student. He's a part-time inventor and can make new creations in hope to make a better future, and if fortunate, a little money on the side. But most times, he likes to be an average boy by playing various sports, and with his faithful companion, the family's dog Astro, who at times is overly affectionate, and can annoy George at times. But like Rosey, he's regarded as a member of the family.
The Jetsons reside at the Skypad Apartments, which are properly cared for by superintendant Henry Orbit, who like Elroy is a mechanical genius. At times, he can invent gadgets that can help him with his maintenance work. His greatest accomplishment is his robot assistant Mac, who can get his work at the Skypad Apartments done in half the time. But he does have feelings for Rosey as the two are occasionally seen as a couple, but are mainly friends.
Other recurring characters in this series include Mr. Spacely's family, particularly his wife Stella (sometimes called Petunia, likely her nickname), one of few people who can actually put a scare in him if he rubs her the wrong way. And they have a young son close to Elroy's age named Arthur. Common characters at Spacely Sprockets are Uniblab, an underling robot who at times is a stool pigeon for Mr. Spacely to George's dismay, as well as Spacely's secretary Miss Galaxy. Cogswell also had a few subordinates of his own. Among them were his assistant Harlan and his scientist Moonstone.
The Jetsons ran for only one season on ABC, but the series was more successful in syndication. This led to a revival in 1985 with new episodes with more advanced animation that was richer in color and made the series even more futuristic than the 1960's version of the 21st century. New characters were introduced as well, including a new alien gremlin pet for the Jetsons, named Orbitty, who has springlike legs and suction cup feet, enabling him to hang upside down. He could also tinker with machines and change color in accordance to emotion. Another new animal for the revival was a robot dog for Cogwell named Sentro, who served as a guard dog and a spy often used against Mr. Spacely in efforts to beat him to the punch on his latest projects.
These episodes aired in syndication, which generated the same level of success as the originals when they went in that direction. This led to 10 more episodes to finalize the series in 1987, as well as two TV movies, the music-themed Rockin' with Judy Jetson, which was preceded by the epic crossover The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones, which brought the Space Age and the Stone Age together as Hanna-Barbera's most famous families had a grand adventure spanning two eras. The Jetsons had its true finale when Jetsons: The Movie hit the theaters in 1990, as this would be among the last voice work for actors George O'Hanlon (George Jetson) and Mel Blanc (Mr. Spacely) for they both had died just prior to the movie's release.
Overall, The Jetsons may not have had the supreme popularity of The Flintstones, but it did have a wide appeal for families of any generation and certainly had a place in the heart for those who would turn on and watch the series.
The Jetsons, like many Hanna-Barbera series, can be seen on Boomerang from Cartoon Network. Check your local listings. And the majority of the series can be seen on DVD, so it would be a good means to build your cartoon collection.moreless