by Rachel Newstead
Original Airdate: Dec. 30, 1960
Writer: Joe Barbera
In short: Fred poses as a prowler to scare Wilma, but doesn’t count on a real one showing up…
Having already utilized the “dueling neighbors” and “battle of the sexes” plots, it’s perhaps inevitable that today’s episode, “The Prowler,” would make use of the next item in the Stock Sitcom Situations Handbook, the “wounded male pride” plot.
That’s not a criticism–every sitcom works its way through these, sooner or later. The good ones burn them off quickly and get them out of the way before moving on to more original material. The great ones take these stock situations and still make a brilliant episode. “The Prowler”‘s use of this particular standard situation reinforces this series’ position as one of the great ones.
“The Prowler” very nearly subverts the standard plot structure it’s placed in. Fred objects to Wilma’s taking up judo to defend herself not so much because he’s the man of the house (or cave), but because he’s too darned cheap to pay for the lessons. Pride matters to him, but not as much as money.
The male characters in this sort of plotline often sulk for days before something happens either to convince them they really are big strong he-men after all, or (more common these days) show them they don’t have to be.
Not Fred–he’s too full of misplaced confidence (and too stubborn) to go the “sulking” route. He takes a unique approach by posing as a prowler himself, to prove first that Wilma really needs him, and second (and most importantly, to Fred) that they don’t need the expense of lessons. But as we’ll soon see, the best-laid plans of Fred Flintstone often turn catastrophic. Continue reading