This year is a big one for science fiction mythology. If there is any truth in advertising, The Jetsons will be celebrating a blessed pre-event this year. According to the math, 2022 is the year George Jetson will be born. When it premiered on ABC on Sept. 23, 1962, The Jetsons’ promos explained the series, which had plotlines as old as The Flintstones, was set exactly 100 years in the future.
Everything there is to know about George, voiced by George O’Hanlon, seems to be laid out in the theme song. He is the husband of Jane Jetson (Penny Singleton), they have a teenage daughter Judy (Janet Waldo), who goes to go to Orbit High School, and a son named Elroy (Daws Butler), who orbits middle school. George works at Spacely’s Space Sprocket. Modern science has not yet determined what a space sprocket actually does, but we can assume it will be clear by 2062, when The Jetsons is set.
In the days when everyone had black-and-white TV sets, the Hanna-Barbera-produced The Jetsons was ABC’s first colorized program. It ran on Sunday nights. In the episode “Test Pilot,” which aired on Dec. 30, 1962, a physician named Dr. Lunar tells George to expect to “live to be 150,” which should give him another “110 good years.” The joke is an incidental one, remarking on the then-expected expanded life expectancy, but it concludes that the character is 40 years old when The Jetsons debuted. Now, if you carry the one and take out the commercial interruptions, the calculations find George Joseph Jetson was born on July 31 or August 1, 2022.
The 1973 environmental and overpopulation classic Soylent Green is also set in 2022. The film foretold the ecological disasters which are occurring in the earth’s oceans. It also presents a toy, which looked uncannily like Atari’s video game Asteroids, which wouldn’t hit the market until six years after the film was released. Elroy plays similar-looking games on The Jetsons, as well as owning a drone. The Jetson household has a flat-screen TV, tablet computers, robot vacuums, and of course, their housekeeper Rosie the Robot Maid. Jane had to go through a lot of trouble for that household necessity. They only go to the best of families.
This cartoon only aired for one season, but rivals both Star Trek and Get Smart for preconceptions of futuristic devices which are commonplace now. The whole family routinely makes Zoom calls, which isn’t an original prediction. Videophones can be seen in Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent science fiction classic Metropolis. It looks like Elroy has an off-brand Apple Watch, though to be fair, smart wristwear goes as far back as Dick Tracy. George’s boss, Cosmo Spacely, played by voice acting legend Mel Blanc, relaxes on a tanning bed, which wasn’t created until the 1970s.
But that’s not all, The Jetsons’ modern appliances include voice-activated alarm clocks, holograms, and a bored version of Siri. They even have what looks like 3D printing for homemade meals. At that point in time, the Food-a-Rac-a-Cycle might even have Soylent Green on tap.
“Jane! Stop this crazy thing!”
Yes, even the dog treadmill the family dog Astro exercises on is available at veterinary clinics. The opening credits also show people traveling to work reading digital newspapers on hand-held video screens. The original series only contained 24 episodes, and when it was rebooted in the 1980s, it also included regular space tourism.
Like the films Back to the Future and Blade Runner, the flying car is a normal sight on The Jetsons. Ford Motor came up with the concept in 1954, and while it hasn’t become a mass market item, there are quite a few striking designs for civilian aviation today. The electric car is still making inroads at dealerships, which might be why we never see the earth’s surface on The Jetsons.
The Jetson family lives in the Skypad Apartments in Orbit City, where all the apartment buildings are elevated. In Jetsons: The Movie, made in 1990, there are indications they live that way because of ground-level pollution.
In the “Test Pilot” episode which determines George Jetson’s age, his physical is done by a Peekaboo Prober. It is a robotic pill which he swallows, allowing it to perform a complete internal checkup. In May 2006, the FDA cleared the PillCam, made by Israeli medical technology company Given Imaging. The Jetsons original run passed as quickly as a comet, but its wake left more than comic debris.