|Theme music composer||Hoyt Curtin|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||75 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||22–30 minutes|
|Production company||Hanna-Barbera Productions|
|Original network||ABC (Season 1)|
Syndication (Seasons 2–3)
|Picture format||NTSC 4:3|
1080p 4:3 (Blu-ray)
The Jetsons is an American animated sitcom produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions. It originally aired in prime time from September 23, 1962, to March 17, 1963, on ABC, then later aired in reruns via syndication, with new episodes produced from 1985 to 1987. It was Hanna-Barbera's Space Age counterpart to The Flintstones.
While the Flintstones lived in a world which was a comical version of the Stone Age, with machines powered by birds and dinosaurs, the Jetsons live in the space age, with elaborate robotic contraptions, aliens, holograms, and whimsical inventions.
The original had 24 episodes and aired on Sunday nights on ABC beginning on September 23, 1962, with prime time reruns continuing through September 22, 1963. It debuted as the first program broadcast in color on ABC, back in the early 1960s when only a handful of ABC stations were capable of broadcasting in color. In contrast, The Flintstones, while always produced in color, was broadcast in black-and-white for its first two seasons.
The show was originally scheduled opposite Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color and Dennis the Menace and did not receive much attention. Due to poor ratings, it was cancelled after its first season but was then moved to Saturday mornings, where it went on to be very successful. Following its primetime run, the show aired on Saturday mornings for decades, starting on ABC for the 1963–64 season and then on CBS and NBC. New episodes were produced for syndication from 1985 to 1987. No further specials or episodes of the show were produced after 1989, as the majority of the core cast (George O'Hanlon, Mel Blanc, and Daws Butler) had died in 1988 and 1989. The 1990 film Jetsons: The Movie served as the series finale to the television show, though it failed to achieve critical and commercial success.
The Jetsons are a family residing in Orbit City. The city's architecture is rendered in the Googie style and all homes and businesses are raised high above the ground on adjustable columns. George Jetson lives with his family in the Skypad Apartments: his wife Jane is a homemaker, their teenage daughter Judy attends Orbit High School, and their son Elroy attends Little Dipper School. Housekeeping is performed by a robot maid named Rosie, who handles chores not otherwise rendered trivial by the home's numerous push-button Space Age-envisioned conveniences. The family has a dog named Astro that talks with an initial consonant mutation in which every word begins with an "R", as if speaking with a growl; a similar effect would also be used for Scooby-Doo.
George Jetson's work week consists of an hour a day, two days a week. His boss is Cosmo Spacely, the bombastic owner of Spacely Space Sprockets. Spacely has a competitor, Mr. Cogswell, owner of the rival company Cogswell Cogs (sometimes known as Cogswell's Cosmic Cogs). Jetson commutes to work in an aerocar with a transparent bubble top. Daily life is leisurely, assisted by numerous labor-saving devices, which occasionally break down with humorous results. Despite this, everyone complains of exhausting hard labor and difficulties living with the remaining inconveniences.
Main article: List of The Jetsons characters
In later productions, Jeff Bergman has voiced George, Elroy, and Mr. Spacely. Bergman completed voice work as George and Spacely for Jetsons: The Movie (1990) after George O'Hanlon and Mel Blanc died during production. Controversially, Janet Waldo was replaced—after recording all of her dialogue—by then-popular singer Tiffany for Jetsons: The Movie. Lori Frazier has provided the voice of Jane Jetson in television commercials for Radio Shack.
The first season for the series was produced and directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. When Warner Bros. Cartoons closed in May 1961, several of its animators, including Gerry Chiniquy and Ken Harris, joined Hanna-Barbera to work on the first season.
In 1963, Morey Amsterdam and Pat Carroll each filed $12,000 suits against Hanna-Barbera for breach of contract, claiming they had been cast and signed to the roles of George Jetson and Jane Jetson, respectively. Although their contracts stipulated they would be paid US$500 an episode with a guarantee of twenty-four episodes (i.e., a full season) of work, they recorded only one episode before being replaced. Several sources claimed the change had occurred as a result of sponsor conflict between Amsterdam's commitment to The Dick Van Dyke Show and Carroll's to Make Room for Daddy. The case had been closed by early 1965. In a 2013 interview, Pat Carroll indicated that the court had ruled in favor of Hanna-Barbera.
Main article: List of The Jetsons episodes
|First aired||Last aired||Network|
|1||24||September 23, 1962||March 3, 1963||ABC|
|2||41||September 16, 1985||December 13, 1985||Syndication|
|3||10||October 19, 1987||November 12, 1987|
The show's original run consisted of 24 episodes that first aired on ABC from September 23, 1962, to March 17, 1963, and, as was standard practice at the time, contained a laugh track.
In 1984, Hanna-Barbera began producing new episodes specifically for syndication; by September 1985, the 24 episodes from the first season were combined with 41 new episodes and began airing in morning or late afternoon time slots in 80 U.S. media markets, including the 30 largest. The 41 new episodes were produced at a cost of $300,000 each, and featured all of the voice actors from the 1962–1963 show. During 1987, 10 additional "season 3" episodes were also made available for syndication.
Following its prime time cancellation, ABC placed reruns of The Jetsons on its Saturday morning schedule for the 1963–1964 season. The program would spend the next two decades on Saturday mornings, with subsequent runs on CBS (1964–65 and 1969–71) and NBC (1965–67; 1971–76; 1979–81 and 1982–83). The Jetsons began airing in syndication in September 1976, and these runs continued after the program returned to NBC's Saturday morning schedule. Along with fellow Hanna-Barbera production Jonny Quest and Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes shorts, The Jetsons is one of the few series to have aired on each of the Big Three television networks in the United States.
On February 21, 2021, The Jetsons began airing on MeTV.
The series' theme song, by composer Hoyt Curtin, became a pop hit in 1986.
Animation historian Christopher P. Lehman considers that the series shares its main science fiction theme with Funderful Suburbia (1962), a Modern Madcaps animated short. Both feature people involved in space colonization. However, there is a key difference in the nature of the colonization: in Funderful Suburbia, humans colonize outer space in order to escape the problems of planet Earth, while the Jetsons live in a place where space colonization is already established. Life in outer space is depicted as a fact of life, and the reasons behind humanity's takeover of outer space are never explained.
Lehman argues that the series offers no explanation for its science fiction premise and does not directly satirize the social problems of any era. The setting is combined with standard sitcom elements, which serve as the series' main focus.
Smithsonian's Matt Novak, in an article called "Why The Show Still Matters" asserts, "Today The Jetsons stands as the single most important piece of 20th century futurism."
Novak continues, "It’s easy for some people to dismiss The Jetsons as just a TV show, and a lowly cartoon at that. But this little show—for better and for worse—has had a profound impact on the way that Americans think and talk about the future."
After the announcement of the fall 1962 network television schedule Time magazine characterized The Jetsons as one of several new situation comedies (along with The Beverly Hillbillies, I'm Dickens... He's Fenster, and Our Man Higgins) that was "stretching further than ever for their situations"; after all the season's new shows had premiered—a season "responding to Minow's exhortations"—the magazine called the series "silly and unpretentious, corny and clever, now and then quite funny." Of all the aforementioned programs in the Time article including The Jetsons, only The Beverly Hillbillies (which would remain on the air until CBS's rural purge in 1971) would make it back for a 2nd season in 1963.
Thirty years later, Time wrote: "In an age of working mothers, single parents and gay matrimony (same-sex marriage), George Jetson and his clan already seem quaint even to the baby boomers who grew up with them." In contrast, economist Jeffrey A. Tucker wrote in 2011 that The Jetsons is "distinguished in science-fiction lore by the fact that it is a rare attempt in this genre that actually succeeds in predicting the future." Apart from flying cars, which are as yet unfeasible in the real world ("a lot of fun, until that first accident occurs"), much of the technology of The Jetsons has become commonplace: people now communicate via video chat on flat screens; domestic robots such as the Roomba are widespread, and various high-tech devices are used for leisure. Tucker notes that The Jetsons depicts neither a grim dystopia nor an idyllic utopia, but rather a world where capitalism and entrepreneurship still exist and technology has not changed fundamental elements of human nature.
In 2017, Devon Maloney from The Verge described the show as a "bone-chilling dystopia", stating how a reboot-comic book revealed that an environmental apocalypse caused humans to seek refuge in aerial cities. Maloney also notes the lack of people of color in the show and theorizes how discrimination against impoverished groups and developing countries could've taken place, stating "though long held up as the quintessential utopia, The Jetsons is a perfect dystopia, built on the corpses of a billions-strong underclass deemed unworthy of a life in the clouds."
Other differences include the following:
A 1974 proposal would have created a sequel series to The Jetsons, set roughly ten years after the original series. CBS rejected the proposal and it was retooled into Partridge Family 2200 A.D.
Paramount Pictures first tried to film a live-action version of The Jetsons in 1985, which was to be executive produced by Gary Nardino, but failed to do so. In the late 1980s, Universal Pictures purchased the film rights for The Flintstones and The Jetsons from Hanna-Barbera Productions. The result was Jetsons: The Movie, which was released in 1990. In November 2001, screenwriting duo Paul Foley and Dan Forman were brought onboard to revise a screenplay, with Rob Minkoff attached as director and Denise Di Novi as producer.
On March 18, 2003, it was announced that the script was again being reworked, with Adam Shankman entering negotiations to direct and co-write the film. In June 2004, with Shankman still onboard as director, Di Novi confirmed that the latest draft was penned by Sam Harper. By May 2006, the project was re-launched with Adam F. Goldberg confirmed as the new screenwriter, and Donald De Line was added as producer alongside Di Novi.
In May 2007, director Robert Rodriguez entered talks with Universal Studios and Warner Bros. to film a CGI adaptation of The Jetsons for a potential 2009 theatrical release, having at the time discussed directing a film adaptation of Land of the Lost with Universal. Rodriguez was uncertain which project he would pursue next, though the latest script draft for The Jetsons by Goldberg was further along in development.
In January 2012, recording artist Kanye West was mistakenly reported as creative director over the project, though West clarified on social media that "I was just discussing becoming the creative director for the Jetson [sic] movie and someone on the call yelled out.. you should do a Jetsons tour!" Longtime producer Denise Di Novi denied the confirmed involvement stating negotiations with West via conference call was merely "preliminary and exploratory and introductory". In February 2012, Warner Bros. hired Van Robichaux and Evan Susser to rewrite the script.
On January 23, 2015, it was announced that Warner Bros. is planning a new animated Jetsons feature film, with Matt Lieberman to provide the screenplay. As of May 25, 2017, Conrad Vernon will direct the film.
On August 17, 2017, ABC ordered a pilot for a live-action sitcom version of The Jetsons to be written by Gary Janetti and executive produced by Janetti, Jack Rapke and Robert Zemeckis.
On June 28, 1990, Hanna-Barbera Home Video released six episodes from the show on videocassette. Warner Home Video released season 1 on DVD in Region 1 on May 11, 2004; upon its release, James Poniewozik wrote that it is "as much about New Frontier 1962 as about the distant future. Its ditzy slapstick is like the peanut-butter-and-jelly mix Goober Grape—if you didn't love it as a kid, you're not going to acquire the taste as an adult—and the pop-culture gags ... have not aged well. But the animation is still a classic of gee-whiz atomic-age modernism."
The review of the DVD release from Entertainment Weekly said the show "trots through surprisingly dated sitcom plots about blustery bosses, bad lady drivers, and Elvis Presleyesque teen idols, all greeted with laugh tracks" but points out "it's the appeal of the retro-prescient gadgets (recliner massagers, big-screen TVs, two-way monitors) that still carries the show." Season 1 was released on DVD in Region 4 on July 5, 2006. Season Two, Volume 1 was released on DVD almost three years later, on June 2, 2009, for Region 1.
On November 8, 2011, Warner Home Video (via the Warner Archive Collection) released The Jetsons: Season 2, Volume 2 on DVD in Region 1 as part of their Hanna-Barbera Classics Collection. This is a Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) release, available exclusively through Warner's online store and Amazon.com. Warner Archive followed up by releasing Season 3 in the same way on May 13, 2014.
The complete ABC series was released on Blu-ray on September 10, 2019, by Warner Home Video (again via the Warner Archive Collection), sourced from new 2K scans of the original broadcast masters while maintaining the show's original 4:3 aspect ratio.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release date|
|Season 1||24||May 11, 2004|
|Season 2, Volume 1||21||June 2, 2009|
|Season 2, Volume 2||20||November 8, 2011|
|Season 3||10||May 13, 2014|
The program was ahead of its time in more ways than one, as it was the first television series to be broadcast in colour on the ABC network, at a time when only 3% of the public had colour television sets.
The producers of The Flintstones have a new family called The Jetsons, who live in outer space.
The series had lots of interesting devices that marveled us back in the 60s. In episode one, we see wife Jane doing exercises in front of a flatscreen television. In another episode, we see George Jetson reading the newspaper on a screen. Can anyone say computer? In another, Boss Spacely tells George to fix something called a "computer virus." Everyone on the show uses video chat, foreshadowing Skype and Face Time. There is a robot vacuum cleaner, foretelling the 2002 arrival of the iRobot Roomba vacuum. There was also a tanning bed used in an episode, a product that wasn't introduced to North America until 1979. And while flying space cars that have yet to land in our lives, the Jetsons show had moving sidewalks like we now have in airports, treadmills that didn't hit the consumer market until 1969, and they had a repairman who had a piece of technology called... Mac.