The family stone-age

Cavemen are reinventing the wheel in everything from advertising to sitcoms

March 08, 2007|By Rob Hiaasen | Rob Hiaasen,SUN REPORTER

Throughout history, cavemen have often been portrayed as knuckle-dragging, club-wielding, fire-starting cavemen. But even a caveman can get a sitcom.

The three cavemen in the Geico insurance ads will star in a comedy pilot for ABC. In the popular commercials, the prehistoric dudes act insulted over the running joke that "even a caveman can do it." The sitcom, if picked up for the fall season, will feature the cavemen handling "prejudice" as thirtysomethings living in modern-day Atlanta. Long before the Geico guys, though, there were other great moments in prehistoric pop culture:

Caveman (1981) - Ex-Beatle Ringo Starr "stars" as Atouk. Dennis Quaid and Shelley Long also appear. "Dum-dum comedy saved by fantastic (and funny) special-effects dinosaurs," wrote movie critic Leonard Maltin.

Cirroc - Phil Hartman's "Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer" character on Saturday Night Live. Despite having been preserved from the Ice Age, Cirroc becomes a noted personal injury attorney.

Man caves - Modern-day garages for men often featuring flat-screen TVs, classic cars and pristine Marilyn Monroe (or Anna Nicole Smith) posters.

"Wild Thing" - The Troggs, a 1960s British rock band, gave us: "Wild thing, you make my heart sing. You make my everything. Come on, wild thing." Trog is short for troglodyte (cave dweller).

Cavemen cartoons - The New Yorker has a bank of such cartoons as a group of cavemen clumsily trying to start a fire and perform other basic caveman functions. "We are neither hunters nor gatherers. We are accountants," reads the caption. Or the cartoon of one hirsute caveman telling another: "I'm thinking of waxing my back."

The Cave - Tar Heels know of what we speak. The Cave is considered Chapel Hill's oldest tavern.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - Cavemen discover monolith. Cavemen confused. Cavemen upset. Cavemen beat other cavemen with clubs.

FedEx commercial (2006) - One of the most popular ads during last year's Super Bowl showed a caveman being fired by his boss for shipping inefficiently by pterodactyl, illustrating that office culture goes back longer than you think. The Cro-Magnon Dilbert eventually gets crushed by a dinosaur.

B.C. - Johnny Hart's long-running comic strip features witty, pun-filled cavemen waxing philosophic, often at the altar of "Wiley's Dictionary." (Definition of Luck: "A term generally employed by the terminally unfortunate.")

Frederick "Fred" Flintstone - The Ralph Kramden of Bedrock, Fred is a crane operator extraordinaire. He's loud, aggressive and has a gambling problem. A real Neanderthal.

Bernard "Barney" Rubble - Fred's blond-haired cave buddy. The Ed Norton of Bedrock, the dim and loyal Barney excels at bowling, golf and the drums.

It's About Time (TV, 1966) - The CBS comedy lasted one year and featured two dumb trogs named Gronk and Shadd (the legendary Imogene Coca). The show's theme song can still be conjured from baby boomers: "It's about time, it's about space, about two men in the strangest place ... "

One Million Years B.C. (1966) - Before there was the Farrah poster, Raquel Welch's loin-clothed movie poster was a cultural phenom. Welch's character, Loana, is attacked by an Allosaurus and, while bathing, is hauled away in the air by a Pteranodon. And there was a movie poster.

Encino Man (1992) - From what we're told, Brendan Fraser doesn't look bad in a loincloth, either.

Wonder how he'd look in an insurance commercial?

rob.hiaasen@baltsun.com

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