Mark Marek discusses "Flintstones" spinoff, "Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs"

Mark Marek discusses "Flintstones" spinoff, "Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs"

The Flintstones and the Rubbles return in the new spinoff series, "Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs".
The Flintstones and the Rubbles return in the new spinoff series, "Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs".

Everyone's favourite stone age families are back! The Flintstones and their neighbours, The Rubbles, will soon be seen in a new spinoff series, "Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs".

While the original series focuses on the parents, this new one follows the adventures of the kids, Pebbles and Bamm Bamm – still set in prehistoric time, of course, in the modern stone age town of Bedrock. Together with their faithful but crazy dinosaur Dino, the kids like to head off to the wild and untamed lands outside of Bedrock, encountering countless different dinosaurs on their endless and exciting adventures.

Since its premiere in the 1960s, "The Flintstones" has grown into a mega media franchise, which to date includes various TV specials, movie adaptations and video games. In fact, Will Ferrell is working on an animated film while Elizabeth Banks is developing a new reboot series that's aimed at an adult audience.

Cinema Online recently had the chance to talk to Emmy-nominated producer Mark Marek ("MAD", "Right Now Kapow" and "Teen Titans Go!"), who currently serves as producer on the Warner Bros. Animation series "Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs". Read on below for what he has to say about the show.

Let's see what the Flintstones and the Rubbles will be up to this time around.

Cinema Online: As the showrunner on "Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs", what elements of humour did you focus on including in the show to make it more relatable to today's younger generations?

Marek: I am not particularly focusing per se (on specific elements of humour) – or going through a checklist of items. However, I am hoping that (together with) the writers that I work with and when I read the scripts that they are reflective of the intelligence and the level of perception that kids have these days.

I am hoping that I tapped into that and that I am using my intuition correctly. Well, my kids are all grown (up now), but I have kids of my own, and hopefully I have absorbed that to the point that I am not playing down to anybody. I don't want to play down to an audience.

The animation style for "Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs" is distinctively different from "The Flintstones". Can you tell us a bit more about the animation choices?

Well, it was done in a program called Anime (as compared to) the original that was drawn on paper. It just has a different look. (In the original), you can actually see the shadows of the cels against the background. It has a texture and a film look that you don't have now. So, there's the technical disparity between the two.

What's available now technically is the speed of animation. When I say speed, I mean the ability to do a lot of interesting things visually (and that) is easily available without it being too cumbersome. You just want to make sure that your core is still good drawing, good design, and good voice acting. Those are stull you can never abandon.

We haven't seen a live-action movie adaptation of "The Flintstones" for about two decades now, do you think it's time Hollywood revisit that idea?

To be honest, I don't really have an opinion on this one. I like animation. I am drawn to animation. To me (live action) is like a different animal. There're certain ways of approaching humour that you can achieve in animation but can't really be achieved live. I appreciate the animated Flintstones more than the live action.

What is so timeless about "The Flintstones" that you agreed to create another version?

I grew up watching the first series come out in the '60s and at that time it was a real ground-breaker which helped it be put on the map. And so, the series played out and The Flintstones and the Rubbles had their children, and I think that the children were a property that they wanted to play out as well.

I think that it is a family topic that has a nice twist to it. It is timeless in that it deals with family issues, it's popular, it's funny and it's interesting to look at. I think those things help to keep it on the map.

"The Flintstones" stays relevant in today's society as it has always been notable
for its modern but primitive conveniences.

Have you watched any other Hanna-Barbera cartoons when you were a kid? Did they influence your work?

I have probably watched them all. They certainly influenced my sense of humour. I have an art background and an undergrad comics background, so I sort of lean towards the more subversive whereas I would consider "The Flintstones", as it stands now, more mainstream than my sensibility.

What things did you try to keep in terms of animation from the original series?

I can't say we leaned on anything necessarily. Technically animation has changed a lot, so we have a lot more freedom to make changes on a production side. I don't want to over-animate it though because I like the early Flintstones laughter track and the simplicity of it.

I haven't liked it when I've seen "The Flintstones" over-animated. To me, if the animation is simple then it relies on the writing. I think that it's more successful and truer to the original Flintstones tone if the animation is kept simple.

Also, when you change the style, people that grew up on it can get very offended. So, we changed the style a little bit. In this version, I tried to maintain a laugh track. Additionally, this show is about two locations, Bedrock and the Crags. And when we are in Bedrock, I try to treat it as classically as possible.

When we see the adults, Fred, Wilma, Barney and Betty, and there is an opportunity, I use the original laughter track and that is a sort of nod to the classic Flintstones. But when we are in the Crags, with the kids on their own, I don't use that. This is something I hope people pick up on.

How do you think Yabba Dabba fits into today's society?

We don't want to be too specific that it times out after a while, but in this series we make an allusion to smartphones which we call smart stones, and instead of Siri they have Wiki, which is a bird that pops out and they talk to it and it gathers information for them.

"The Flintstones" was always notable for modern conveniences, but primitive versions of modern conveniences like disposals of pigs under the sink.

What do you hope viewers will get out of this TV show?

I am hoping that this puts Pebbles, Bamm-Bamm and Dino on the map in a way that they haven't been before. They haven't really been their own characters so that is what I am hoping to get the most out of this series. And for it to be entertaining.

Yabba Dabba Doo! Catch "Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs" for more 'modern stone age' fun!

Catch "Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs" when it premieres on UNIFI TV Channel 555 this 23 May (Saturday) at 10am.