Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of “The Jetsons,” and that led to blogposts hither & yon about why the show still matters.
Because boomers grew up with it, that’s why. That’s most of it. But there’s also the matter of its impact on the national imagination, which was not insignificant. In a way, it introduced the California “googie” architectural vernacular to the rest of the nation, and established for half a century the look of mid-century futurism. Matt Novak, the web’s preeminent paleofuturist, has a great piece here at the Smithsonian blog. Worth the entire read.
I probably watched it first in reruns, and I remember being slightly unnerved by the opening credits: what happened to the continents?
“He works at Spacely's Sprockets turning the Referential Universal Digital Indexer (R.U.D.I.) on and off.”
I gather that comes from the 80s version of the series, since the list of characters also includes Orbitty. We will not speak of Orbitty. Wikipedia also says: this about Mr. Spacely:
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.
Really? That’s why all the buildings are raised high? As a kid I thought they were up there because it was just cool, that’s all. Once they could build stable structures on tall pylons, and once flying cars were the dominant means of transportation, of courseyou’d want to live up there. No need to be afraid of storms toppling one of those things, either; by 2062 they’d have the weather under control. But no: when they redid it in the 80s, of course they had to bring pollution into it.
Never quite figured out what a Sprocket was, or why Mr. Spacely didn’t diversif beyond them; never quite got what a Cog was either, or why Cogswell and Spacely were such bitter rivals. Too much bad blood to be blamed on simple business rivalry. Cogswell’s aptonym seemed odd to kids as well; he made cogs, and his name was Cogswell. But apparently at some point in the future, last names are changed to reflect industry and cosmology. (That’s better than the Flintstone period, when patronyms reflected geological matter.) Take Henry Orbit, for example. He’s probably in his fifties, which means he’s born around now. No one has the last name “orbit” these days. So either he changes it, or it’s changed for him, which suggests a social upheaval the show never mentions. It’s possible the people in the clouds are the ruling class. Everyone on earth is a slave in a mine.
Then again, this might not be the most authoritative Wikipedia page ever written.
Rosie: 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. Rosie does all the housework and some of the parenting. She is a strong authoritarian and occasionally dispenses pills to the family.
TIME FOR BED BEEP TAKE YOUR SOMA PILLS BEEP
The series' theme song, by composer Hoyt Curtin, became a pop hit in 1986.
Really? It’s nowhere in the top 100. It should have been a hit, though. It’s a crazy tune. We all know it, but now and then you have to listen anew to remind yourself how wild the first 21 seconds are.
The other famous musical moment, the “Eep” song, omits the reason George is playing drums in the first place: he snuck on the set to make sure a charismatic pop star doesn’t take advantage of his daughter.
Missing in all this celeeration is a recognition of the back-stabbing brown-nosing robot, Uniblab. Here's a happy little song about him. One of those things were you have to write X amount of music for a background, so yes, it's padded out.
And that's probably the most I'll think about the show for the next 50 years. Like so much of the boomer childhood lore, it's better remembered than experienced.