It wasn’t the first animated series in primetime but The Flintstones was the first to last more than two seasons. It was also the longest-running one, until it was surpassed by The Simpsons in 1995/96.
Debuting in 1960, The Flintstones ran for six seasons on ABC and was originally geared towards adults. Over time, the show’s humor and storylines became aimed more at a younger audience. By the sixth season, it was clear that the show was running out of steam and, as often happens, the producers added a new character to try to breathe new life into the TV series (the show was still cancelled after April 1966).
On The Brady Bunch, it was Cousin Oliver. In The Flintstones, it was The Great Gazoo (Harvey Korman), a short alien from the future who’s been exiled to Earth. Possessing magic-like powers, he tries to help Fred and Barney and this often leads to lots of trouble.
The character is often seen as when The Flintstones “jumped the shark.” He’s well remembered by viewers but actually only appeared in 11 episodes. He wasn’t used in later animated movies or shows but does have a pivotal role in the live-action movie sequel The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, voiced by Alan Cumming.
Many years after The Flintstones went off the air, Korman reprised his Gazoo role for a Fruity Pebbles cereal commercial. Korman died in May 2008.
Here’s a 2004 interview with Korman where he recalls playing The Great Gazoo, as well as a clip from the character’s first appearance on episode 147:
What do you think? Where do you stand on The Great Gazoo — love him or hate him?