The Top Ten Pop-Culture Cavemen Who Aren't the Flintstones (or the Croods)

Friday, March 22, 2013 at 6:00 am

5. Ringo Starr in Caveman!

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This low-comedy gem from 1981 has terrific dinosaur effects, a terrific cast, including the young Dennis Quaid and a cute young Shelley Long, and a rousing score by Lalo Schifrin. Here are the cavefolk holding the first jam session. Maybe the best thing about the picture, though, is that even though he's speaking caveman language, you can still tell that Ringo is from Liverpool.

4. Encino Man

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After wrapping something like Furry Vengeance, does Brendan Fraser ever think back to this 1992 teen comedy, in which he's a caveman revived by high school kids Sean Astin and Pauly Shore, and think, gee, if only I could get back to that level of material again? Astin and Shore think Fraser will be their ticket to popularity, and Astin is (rightly) appalled when Shore teaches his awful verbal tics to the EM. It's like evolution in reverse.

3. Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer

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The late lamented Phil Hartman played the title character in this recurring sketch from Saturday Night Live of the early '90s. He was a trial attorney with only one tactic: pointing out to the jury that as a caveman, he didn't understand modern life, but he understood that his client deserved to win. It worked, and he had the BMW to prove it.

2. The GEICO Cavemen

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Part of the dizzying multiplicity of GEICO advertising characters, the cavemen - who took offense at the insurance company's assertion that their online service was "so easy...a caveman could do it" - were a pretty amusing send-up of sour sophistication and aggrieved sensitivity...for the first commercial or two. Alas, the campaign extended to twenty-odd commercials, plus a TV show that very quickly became extinct.

1. Korg: 70,000 B.C.

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According to this live-action Saturday morning effort from 1974, Neanderthals were earnest, caring, mutually supportive types. Every week Korg and his family would struggle to survive some crisis, often discovering something useful - the lever, for instance, or the salting of food - in the process. The shows, produced by Hanna-Barbera with input from scientific consultants, would end with the narrator (Burgess Meredith) noting that "Neanderthal man left no written records of his history, just some bones, tools and burial mounds. This story is based on assumptions and theories drawn from these artifacts." There's a becoming modesty to this admission, and to the show in general, which in its crude, low-budget, obviously-a-guy-in-a-bear-suit way is pretty effective, even a little touching at times. Check out the moody opening, with its Planet of the Apes-ish logo here - it's sort of great how the Korgs gaze out in gobsmacked wonder, simply at finding themselves in existence. Warner Archives recently released all 16 episodes on a two-disc set; on the back cover it notes this is Hanna-Barbera's other stone-age family.

By the way, since the term "caveman" has different, coarser connotations in pop culture than "cavewoman," this list remains Paleolithic in its gender politics. If it weren't, it would of course include Raquel Welch and Martine Beswick in One Million Years B.C. and Rae Dawn Chong in Quest For Fire.

Who else has been omitted?

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