The Jetsons is an animated sitcom produced by Hanna-Barbera, originally airing in prime-time from 1962–1963 and again from 1985–1987. It was Hanna-Barbera’s Space Age counterpart to The Flintstones, a half-hour family sitcom projecting contemporary culture and lifestyle into another time period. Reruns can be seen frequently on Boomerang and Cartoon Network.
While the Flintstones live in a world with machines powered by birds and dinosaurs, the Jetsons live in the year 2062 in a futuristic utopia (100 years in the future at the time of the show's debut) of elaborate robotic contraptions, aliens, holograms, and whimsical inventions.
The original incarnation of the series comprised 24 episodes and aired on Sunday nights on ABC from September 23, 1962, to March 17, 1963, with primetime reruns contining through September 8, 1963. At the time of its debut, it was the first program ever to be broadcast in color on ABC-TV. There were only a handful of ABC TV stations that were capable of broadcasting in color in the early 1960s. The Flintstones, while always produced in color, was broadcast in black-and-white for its first two seasons. Following its primetime run, the series aired on Saturday mornings for decades, starting on ABC for the 1963-64 season and then in future seasons on CBS and NBC.
The Jetsons are a family living in Orbit City, in the year 2062. George Jetson is married and lives with his family in the Skypad Apartments in Orbit City, where all homes and businesses are raised high above the ground on adjustable columns in the Googie style, reflective of Seattle's Space Needle and the Theme Building of the Los Angeles International Airport. George is married to Jane, the homemaker, and the couple have two children, teenage daughter Judy who attends Orbit High School, and early-childhood son Elroy who attends Little Dipper School. Housekeeping is seen to by a robot maid, Rosey, handling chores not otherwise rendered trivial by the home's numerous push-button Space Age-envisioned conveniences. The family has a dog named Astro, who talks with an initial consonant mutation in which every word begins with an "R", as if speaking with a growl.
Jetson's workweek is typical of his era: three hours a day, three days a week. His boss is Cosmo Spacely, the diminutive yet bombastic owner of Spacely Space Sprockets. Spacely has a competitor, H. G. Cogswell, owner of the rival company Cogswell Cogs (sometimes known as Cogswell's Cosmic Cogs). Jetson commutes to work in an aerocar that resembles a flying saucer 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 of living with the remaining inconveniences.
The Jetson family (clockwise from upper left) — Rosey (robot), George, Jane, Judy, Elroy, and Astro the dog.George Jetson: age 34, is a loving family man who always seems to make the wrong decision. He works "full-time," 9 hours a week, at Spacely's Sprockets as a computer engineer. He is married to Jane and together they have two kids, Elroy and Judy. George is the protagonist of the show.
Jane Jetson: age 33 (self-reported in the first episode), is George's wife, mother of their two children, and a homemaker. Jane is obsessed with fashion and new gadgetry. Her favorite store is Mooning Dales. She is also a dutiful wife who always tries to make life as pleasant as possible for her family. Outside of the home, she is a member of the Galaxy Women Historical Society and is a fan of Leonardo de Venus and Picasso Pia.
Judy Jetson: age 16, is the older child in the Jetson family. A student at Orbit High School, she is a stereotypical teenage girl whose prime interests include: clothes, going out, and revealing secrets to her digital diary. Tiffany did the voice of Judy Jetson in the 1990 movie.
Elroy Jetson: age 6½ (self-reported in the first episode), is the younger of the two children in the Jetson family. He is highly intelligent and an expert in all space sciences. A mild-mannered and good child, Elroy attends Little Dipper School where he studies space history, astrophysics, star geometry and math.
Rosey: age 45, is the Jetsons' household robot. She's an outdated model but the Jetsons love her and would never trade her for a newer model. Rosey does all the household chores and some of the parenting. She is a strong disciplinarian and occasionally dispenses advice to the family. Excluding a scene from the closing credits, Rosey appears in only two episodes of the original 1960s show, but makes many appearances on the 1980s show.
Astro the Dog: Astro is the Jetsons' family dog. Prior to being a Jetson he belonged to the fabulously rich Mr. Gottrockets. Astro is one of George's best friends, next to his work computer, R.U.D.I., and is able to speak in a rough sounding English, somewhat like Scooby-Doo, whom Astro "pre-dates" in the "real world" by seven years.
Orbitty: age unknown (probably 2 months), is the 2nd pet of the Jetson family. Orbitty is an alien with spring-like legs. He has the ability to express his emotions by changing color. This character was introduced in the 1980s version of the series.
Cosmo G. Spacely: is George's boss and owner of Spacely Space Sprockets. His company was founded in Newfoundland in 1937, where it continued to prosper until massive surface pollution necessitated a move to the elevated platforms seen in the series. He is a "little person" with black hair and a bad temper, the antagonist in the series. Spacely always comes up with ideas to bring in more business only for them to backfire. George, who Spacely has known since childhood, gets blamed for most things that go wrong. A series' running gag involves him kicking George out of his office shouting "Jetson! You're fired!" Although, Spacely would later give George his job back in the end of the episode. Mr. Spacely is sometimes helped out by Uniblab, the company's robot assistant.
Spencer Cogswell: is Spacely's big competitor. He owns Cogswell Cogs company and causes a lot of trouble for Spacely and George. To a lesser extent Cogswell is another of the series' antagonists. He and Spacely are always finding ways to bring each other's businesses down. Cogswell has often tried to steal Spacely's ideas and make them his own to gain an advantage (only for it to backfire on both bosses). He's also not above firing his employees when any little thing goes wrong. Mr. Cogswell's first name of "Spencer" is revealed in the 1980s version of The Jetsons.
R.U.D.I.: is George's work computer and also one of his best friends, next to his dog, Astro the Dog. His name is an acronym for Referential Universal Digital Indexer. He has a human personality and is a member of the Society Preventing Cruelty to Humans.
Henry Orbit: mid-1960s, is the Jetsons' apartment's repair man. He is always helpful and always in a good mood. His robot Mac has a crush on Rosey.
- Montague Jetson, the kindly but eccentric grandfather of George Jetson who constantly annoys the cop every time he meets him — Howard Morris; after Morris' death: Dan Castellaneta
- Mrs. Stella Spacely, Cosmo Spacely's wife and Arthur Spacely's mother — Jean Vander Pyl
- Arthur Spacely, Mr. Spacely's son — Dick Beals
- Uniblab, George's mortal enemy — an obnoxious robot who was also his supervisor at work. Appeared in two 1960s episodes, "Uniblab", where he becomes George's supervisor and "G.I. Jetson", where he becomes the Sergeant of George's platoon. "Cost the government millions ... enough for two officers' clubs", said General McMissile (nicknamed "Old Blast Off")
- DiDi, Judy's digital diary — Brenda Vaccaro
- Jane Jetson — Penny Singleton
- Elroy Jetson — Daws Butler (Seasons 1-3), Patric Zimmerman (Season 4)
- Judy Jetson — Janet Waldo
- Astro the Dog/RUDI/Uniblab/Mac — Don Messick
- Rosey/Mrs. Spacely — Jean Vander Pyl
- Mr. Spacely — Mel Blanc
- Mr. Cogswell — Daws Butler
- Henry Orbit—Daws Butler (Howard Morris in a few early Season 1 episodes)
- Orbitty — Frank Welker
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.
Main article: List of The Jetsons episodesThe show's original run consisted of 24 episodes that first aired on ABC from September 23, 1962 to March 17, 1963. 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 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. Starting in 1987, ten additional "season 3" episodes were also made available for syndication.
The 1962 episode "A Date With Jet Screamer", in which daughter Judy Jetson wins a date with a rock star, provided the song "Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah (Means I Love You)" written by Hoyt Curtin, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, sung by Howard Morris. The episode was a surrealistic Busby Berkeley-in-space affair which prefigured conceptual MTV videos by decades.
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."
Thirty years later, Time said "In an age of working mothers, single parents and gay matrimony, George Jetson and his clan already seem quaint even to the baby boomers who grew up with them." Conversely, Jeffrey Tucker of the Ludwig von Mises Institute has argued that "The whole scene — which anticipated so much of the technology we have today but, strangely, not email or texting — reflected the ethos of time: a love of progress and a vision of a future that stayed on course ... The Jetsons' world is our world: explosive technological advances, entrenched bourgeois culture, a culture of enterprise that is the very fond of the good life."
Differences between versionsEdit
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In the first episode of the 1980s show, an alien named Orbitty joined the family after Elroy discovered him on a field trip to an asteroid. Orbitty speaks in his own garbled dialect, has coil springs for legs, and changes colors according to his mood.
Other differences include the following:
- The original 1960s episodes are distinguished by 1960s design motifs, music, and references (similar to The Flintstones and other Hanna-Barbera shows of that period). The 1980s version had a custom soundtrack with new sound-effects created by synthesizer.
- Whereas the 1960s stories were basically 1950s sitcom plots in a futuristic setting, the 1980s stories delved into fantastic, sci-fi cartoon territory.
- The 1960s version was more adult oriented than the 1980s version which was aimed at younger viewers.
- The opening credits of the 1980s version contain a re-recorded version of the original Jetsons theme song, which features the use of synthesized drums and synth lead tracks typical of 1980s music.
- Most episodes of the 1980s version of The Jetsons were colored and composited using computer animation technology rather than the more traditional ink and paint on cels.
- While episodes made in the 1960s referenced rockets and other "space age" theme devices, reflective of the real-life U.S. space program which fascinated America, the 1980s episodes leaned more towards how computers would influence life in the future.
- In the 1980s version Rosey the Robot appears more often than the 1960s version where she only appears in 2 episodes
- Instead of the buttons, knobs, dials, and switches in the 1960s version, the 1980s version uses flat buttons and brightly lit consoles.
Specials and film adaptationsEdit
- Jetsons: The Movie (1990)
- The Jetsons (2014)
In May 2007, director Robert Rodriguez entered talks with Universal Studios and Warner Bros. to film a live action film 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 assigned writer Adam Goldberg was further along in development.
The film, to be produced by Denise Di Novi alongside Donald De Line with Hanna-Barbera Productions, Universal and Warner Bros. was set for a 2012 release. The film was placed on hiatus for the last time by Rodriguez due to the production and subsequent release of Rodriguez's other own film Spy Kids: All the Time in the World. Universal's involvement in the project is a result of having previously acquired the film rights in the late 1980s, the resulting film being Jetsons: The Movie.
On February 7, 2012, it was announced that Van Robichaux and Evan Susser were to rewrite the script.
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- The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera (ride) Elroy Jetson is kidnapped by Dick Dastardly and Muttley and it is up to ride guests to save him. (1990)
- Space Stars, Astro appeared in the segment Astro and the Space Mutts
- The Jetsons: Father & Son Day (Spümcø, Macromedia Flash)
- The Jetsons: The Best Son (Spümcø, Macromedia Flash)
- Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law episode "Shaggy Busted" (2002)
- Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law episode "Back to the Present" (2004)
- Some characters appeared in commercials for Electrasol and Tums.
- In the late 1990s, George, Jane, and Astro appeared in Christmas Radio Shack commercials. Judy, Elroy and Rosey were mentioned.
- In 2003 New Zealand ISP Xtra used The Jetsons as part of an advertising campaign with George Jetson promoting the benefits of Broadband Internet. The advert ended with George saying that "Broadband is the way the future, but some people will never get used to progress" showing an image of Fred Flintstone using a stone shaped computer with a real mouse.
- The Jetsons have appeared three times in Family Guy in the episodes "Brian in Love", "Meet the Quagmires" and "Something, Something, Something, Dark Side".
- Rosey appears in the Futurama movie Bender's Game; she has been sent to the Hal Institute For Criminally Insane robots after murdering Elroy and Astro.
- The Jetson family were seen in a Cartoon Network Rap in 1995.
- The Jetsons characters were main characters in a parody of I, Robot done by Robot Chicken, where Rosey is accused of murdering George.
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- The Jetsons #1–36 (Gold Key Comics, January 1963 – October 1970)
- March of Comics #276 (1965), #330 (1969), #348
- The Jetsons #1–20 (Charlton Comics, November 1970 – December 1973); 100-page no-number issue
- Spotlight #3 (Marvel Comics, 197x)
- The Jetsons #1–5 (Harvey Comics, September 1992 – November 1993); Big Book #1–3, Giant Size #1–3
- The Jetsons #1–17 (Archie Comics, September 1995 – August 1996)
- The Flintstones and the Jetsons #1–21 (DC Comics, August 1997 – April 1999)
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- The Jetsons' Ways with Words (Intellivision, 1984)
- The Jetsons: George Jetson and the Legend of Robotopia (Amiga, 1990)
- The Jetsons: By George, in Trouble Again (DOS, 1990)
- The Jetsons: Cogswell's Caper! (NES, 1992)
- The Jetsons: Robot Panic (Game Boy, 1992)
- The Jetsons: Invasion of the Planet Pirates (Super NES, 1994)
- Jetsons: The Computer Game (Amiga, 1992)
- The Jetsons: Mealtime Malfunction (Apple, 1993)
- The Jetsons' Space Race (part of "Hanna-Barbera’s Cartoon Carnival") (CD-i, 1993)
- Flintstones Jetsons Time Warp (CD-i, 1994)
Home video releasesEdit
On June 28, 1990, Hanna-Barbera released six episodes from the show on home video. Warner Home Video released season 1 on DVD in Region 1 on May 11, 2004; upon its release, James Poniewozik wrote it's "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 Bros. released The Jetsons: Season 2, Volume 2 on DVD in Region 1 via their Warner Archive Collection. This is a Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) release, available exclusively through Warner's online store and Amazon.com, and only in the US.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release date|
|The Complete First Season||24||October 15, 2004|
|Season 2, Volume 1||21||June 2, 2009|
|Season 2, Volume 2||20||November 8, 2011|
|The Complete Third Season||10||TBA|
The Jetsons todayEdit
- Boomerang is currently airing the 1960s episodes regularly, with 1980s episodes playing afterward. Also, some of the 1980s episodes are available for viewing on In2TV. Also the first two seasons of The Jetsons are available to download on Sony's Playstation Network, Apple's iTunes Store and at the Xbox Live Marketplace.
- Forbes magazine valued Spacely Sprockets at $1.3 billion, on their "The 25 Largest Fictional Companies" list.
- In January 2009, IGN listed The Jetsons as the 46th best animated television series.
- The music video for the Kanye West song "Heartless" features George, Jane, Judy, Elroy, Astro, and Rosey done as portraits. This footage is based on Kanye West's actual apartment decor, which includes large portraits of the Jetsons in the den.
- The Jetsons episodes are currently available for viewing on Comcast's video on demand service under the kids category, then under the Kids WB subcategory.
- The Jetsons are currently being screened on the Australian TV channel GO! at 6:30 pm everyday, with the same episodes showing in the morning at 9:00 am on GO! with a different episode being played at 5:00am.
- In South Korea, The show is named 젯슨 가족 and has been dubbed into Korean show program The Jetsons and were first broadcast by SBS premieres 2008, and later on the Boomerang (South Korea) in starts 2009 onwards.
- Reruns of the show are currently seen on Boomerang since the channel's launch; however, Cartoon Network now also reruns the show starting January 11, 2012, through, it was previously seen on the Cartoon Network from 1992 to 2004.
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- List of works produced by Hanna-Barbera
- List of Hanna-Barbera characters
- Design for Dreaming
- Googie architecture
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