In the early 1960’s the world became enamored with a new vision. President Kennedy countered the Soviet Union’s space exploration program with the challenge “this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning hine safely to the earth.” Kennedy’s address to Congress on May 21, 1961 started our fascination with space.
Even though the general population was intrigued by the American and Soviet space programs and astronauts . . the entertainment industry was slow to embrace the “astro-obsession”, but quickly caught up in the mid to late 1960’s. One of the first prime time shows to jump on the space craze bandwagon was the animated show The Jetsons which debuted in the Fall of 1962.
The Jetsons was produced by Hanna Barbera, one of the first animation studios to produce cartoons for televison. Their success with The Flintstones on ABC was an original concept when television cartoons were usually reruns of cartoons shown in theaters.
The original Jetsons program ran from September 1963 to March 1964 with 24 episodes. As you can see from the following ABC promotional credit clip that the adventures of The Jetsons predicted what our lives would be like in 2062.
The science of the space age, of course, has brought about some of the gadgets and inventions that we see in many of the early space television shows such as The Jetsons and Star Trek (1966-1969). I think some of the apprehension’s people had in the 1960’s regarding where science might lead us can be seen in the way robotics were portrayed in The Jetsons. Rosie the robot maid was portrayed as slow and not very bright. In the episode The Coming of Astro, an animated guard dog was show as overly competent and having no loyal attributes.
A second season was added to The Jetsons series in 1985. With the beginnings of computer technology for personal use, this new season of 30 episodes, added a few new characers, including George’s work computer R.U.D.I. This was aother link to the space science that started in the 1960’s.
We still have a way to go before we have the ‘pop-up bed’ or the ‘flying car’ that George had, but we can find the traveling walkways at many of our airports and a 3-D television is in its experimental stage!
If you would like to see some model sheets and/or concept art for The Jetsons series you may want to take a look at this blog dedicated to Irving Spector, Animator.