Plot: The future is quite the place, especially if you’re lucky enough to experience it with The Jetsons. George Jetson works hard at Spacely’s Sprockets, while his wife Jane tries to run the household with the help of robotic maid Rosie, and their children Judy and Elroy navigate the educational and social tribulations of youth. The family experiences the kind of ups and downs all of history’s households have gone through, just with a futuristic twist. But while the future provides a wealth of time saving and convenient upgrades, there are some things that technology simply can’t help with, as George and his family learn in each episode.
Entertainment Value: This is such a fun show and while it might be The Flintstones in the future, The Jetsons was able to carve out a place for itself in the cartoon world and stand on its own merits. This first season is sometimes the original series, as these episodes were broadcast in the early 60s, then The Jetsons would be revisited decades later in the 80s, when the show continued. So this review covers the original episodes from the 60s. I don’t mind the similarities with The Flintstones, likely because of how much I love that show as well, but also because these kind of family sitcoms often share themes or conventions. I love the visuals of The Jetsons and the world building, as it creates such an interesting, always fun vision of the future, trimmed with all these little touches that bring it all to life. As with The Flintstones, seeing how various tasks or objects are handled with the show’s futuristic slant is a lot of fun, especially since those elements are often quite creative. The stories are basic, but universal to the sitcom genre and while familiar, have some freshness as well, thanks to the setting and animation, which allows some creative approaches. I had an absolute blast revisiting these episodes and that’s another reason to recommend The Jetsons, as with most Hanna-Barbera shows, it has immense replay value.
The animation in The Jetsons falls in line with similar shows from Hanna-Barbera, but the visual design elements have a unique component, since the futuristic setting allows for a lot of creative freedom. This was true in The Flintstones as well, which lets the animators bring prehistoric elements to life in creative ways, so here we see some wild, interesting takes on future tech. I always look forward to seeing how various things are tackled through that lens, while the animators also provide a lot of little touches tucked around the scenes. This lets you pick up things on repeat viewing sessions, adding even more to the show’s world. And I do think the world building here is quite effective, much like in The Flintstones. The voice talent on showcase is impressive as well, with a host of veteran performers and beloved voices, including perhaps the legend of legends himself, Mel Blanc. Janet Waldo is wonderful as Judy, while George O’Hanlon and Penny Singleton are also fun as the parental Jetsons, with Jean Vander Pyl also on hand as Rosie the maid. But that’s not all, as we also have Don Messick and Daws Butler as part of the regular cast.
The Disc: Warner Archive’s release of the original series sports a new scan from the original elements and it shows, as The Jetsons has never looked this good. The image here is much brighter and more colorful than I expected, while keeping the inherent texture and quirks of hand drawn animation. So despite the uptick in sharpness and overall visual dynamism, the animation looks natural and that’s great news. I can’t imagine fans being anything less than delighted here, as the show looks almost brand new in this edition. The extras include voice over legend Janet Waldo’s audio comments on two episodes, profiles on the prominent characters, a highlight reel of the show’s gadgets, and a brief retrospective featurette.