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Picks and Pans Main: Junior

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There is, of course, the thought that as turn-of-the-17th-century England has come to be known for spawning Hamlet, our culture will be known for The Flintstones.

The TV cartoon series that debuted in 1960 trundles along in reruns, tape series celebrating every related event this side of the invention of the rock and eventually in a movie starring John Goodman as Fred.

One of six new cassettes is “A Page Right Out of History.” It includes inane tributes by some current athletes, reminiscing animators Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, and the episode in which Pebbles Flintstone is born.

The animators prate about their series’ best bits—modern gadgets cast in prehistoric mode, such as an elephant whose trunk becomes a vacuum cleaner. There are topical jokes, such as Ben Casey appearing at the hospital where Pebbles is born.

Even at its best, though, The Flintstones just isn’t all that much fun to look at today, however you might have to admire its durability. (Hanna-Barbera, $14.95 for “A Page Right Out of History,” $24.95 for other tapes)

(Thad Novak, 11, looked incredulous-much as he does when asked if he wants to help with the dishes—at the suggestion that he might like to watch these tapes.)



The hippest, most colorful of video basketball games, not to mention the toughest to beat, Lakers vs. Celtics is just the thing to work off those basketball jones frustrations.

The title is deceptive. While the game is indeed based on real National Basketball Association teams, only Boston, Chicago, Detroit, the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio and two all-star teams are included. Each team has 12 players closely based on real-life counterparts. Michael Jordan, for instance, will slip between defenders for characteristically lithe dunks other players never make.

Equally enjoyable is the attention to detail. Not only are black players black and white players white, but such quirks as James Worthy’s goggles and Mike Gminski’s scruffy beard are duplicated too.

While the player controls one member of his team, the other four move too, and the dribbling, passing, faking, shooting, rebounding and even defensive moves are astonishingly realistic. (Bounce and lob passes are used, for example.)

The computer pushes the pace, so scores are too high. The scoreboard is hard to see. Some of the memory used for such (admittedly enjoyable) byplay as having the coaches going bonkers at courtside might have been used to add more teams. Two players can’t play on the same team, though head-to-head competition is fun—if you find someone with slower reflexes.

The graphics and programming are sharp though, and if you don’t like the way the real NBA play-offs are going, you can try to put things right with this all-pro-caliber game. (Electronic Arts, for Sega Genesis, $49.95)

(T.N. says: “It’s great being able to use real stars, and it’s a good game. Some of the moves get tiresome after a while though.”)