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The Banana Splits

The Banana Splits Adventure Hour (also simply known as The Banana Splits) is an American television variety show produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and featuring the Banana Splits, a fictional rock band composed of four funny animal characters in red helmets. The costumed hosts of the show are Fleegle (guitar, vocals), Bingo (drums, vocals), Drooper (bass, vocals) and Snorky (keyboards, effects).

The Banana Splits
Adventure Hour
The Banana Splits Adventure Hour.jpg
Original title card
Also known asThe Banana Splits and Friends Show
GenreChildren
Live action
Animation
Psychedelia
Comedy
Adventure
Directed byRichard Donner (Season 1)
Tom Boutross (Season 2)
StarringJeff Winkless (as Jeffrey Brock)
Ginner Whitcombe (as Fleegle 2008)
Terence H. Winkless (as Terence Henry)
Dan Winkless (as Daniel Owen)
James "Jimmy" Dove
Steve Kincannon
Voices ofPaul Winchell
Daws Butler
Allan Melvin
Theme music composerNelson B. Winkless, Jr. (credited to Ritchie Adams & Mark Barkan)
Opening theme"Tra La La (One Banana, Two Banana)"
Composer(s)Ted Nichols
David Mook
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes31 + shorts
Production
Executive producer(s)William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Producer(s)Edward J. Rosen (Season 1)
Running time45–48 minutes
Production company(s)Hanna-Barbera Productions
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Distribution
Release
Original networkNBC
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 7, 1968 (1968-09-07) –
September 5, 1970 (1970-09-05)
Chronology
Related showsThe Skatebirds
Cattanooga Cats

The series originally ran for 31 episodes on NBC Saturday mornings from September 7, 1968 to September 5, 1970, and in syndication from 1971 to 1982. The costumes and sets were designed by Sid and Marty Krofft, and the series' sponsor was Kellogg's Cereals.[1] The show features both live action and animated segments, and was Hanna-Barbera's first foray into mixing live-action with animation.

A horror film adaptation, The Banana Splits Movie, was released on DVD, Blu-ray and digitally in August 2019, with an airing on the Syfy channel on October 12 of that year.

HistoryEdit

In 1967, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera approached Sid and Marty Krofft to design costumes for a television show which would feature animated and live-action segments, with the whole show hosted by a bubblegum rock group of anthropomorphic characters. The format of the show is loosely based on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, and the characters appear on one episode of that show.[2] The Banana Splits Adventure Hour premiered on NBC on September 7, 1968.[1] In his autobiography, Barbera said that the show was originally going to be called The Banana Bunch, but permission could not be obtained from the author of a children's book by that same title.

The Krofft brothers give credit to the success of the series for opening the door for their own entry into television, H.R. Pufnstuf. NBC picked up the Krofft series, which was launched during an hour-long special hosted by the Banana Splits on August 30, 1969.[1]

The show's live-action segment Danger Island, a cliffhanger serial, as well as the short-lived Micro Ventures, a part-live action, part-animated[3] series consisting of only four episodes, run alongside the animated segments Arabian Knights and The Three Musketeers.[1] Actors Jan-Michael Vincent (billed as Michael Vincent) and Ronne Troup appeared in the live-action component Danger Island. All the live-action material filmed for the series' first season, including the Banana Splits and Danger Island segments, is directed by Richard Donner.[4]

SynopsisEdit

Each show represents a meeting of the "Banana Splits Club", and the wraparounds features the adventures of the club members, who act as a musical quartet, meant to be reminiscent of the Monkees.

The Splits' segments, including songs-of-the-week and comedy skits, served as wraparounds for a number of individual segments.

For the first season, some of the live-action segments—specifically those used during the musical segments—were shot at Six Flags Over Texas, an amusement park located in Arlington, Texas.[1] For the second season, filming took place at the Coney Island amusement park in Cincinnati, Ohio. In many episodes, the Banana Splits would be seen riding on the Runaway Mine Train roller coasters, Log Flumes, Bumper Cars, Merry-Go-Rounds, and many other rides at Six Flags and Coney Island.

Also featured are the "Banana Buggies" mentioned in the theme song. These are seen driven by each live-action character in the opening and closing segments, and occasionally in the wraparound and music video segments as well. The buggies were customized Amphicat six-wheel drive all-terrain vehicles each decorated to resemble the character who drove them. Plastic 1/25 scale model kits were issued by Aurora Plastics Corporation under catalog number 832, beginning in 1969. These were never reissued by Aurora, but have since been released as high-end, resin-based kits.[5]

The Banana Splits was one of the first two Hanna-Barbera series in 1968 in which Hanna and Barbera received executive producer credits, the other being The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Edward Rosen served as producer on both series.[citation needed] They would not, however, assume the title full-time for another five years.[citation needed] This Hanna-Barbera series was also one of the first Saturday morning cartoon shows to utilize a laugh track.[6]

CharactersEdit

MainEdit

  • Fleegle — A greenish-brown dog wearing a large red bow tie, black buttons, orange chucks, and his tongue is always sticking out, giving him a lisp. He plays a guitar and sings. His acts in the main show include leading a club meeting, and collecting an envelope from an uncooperative mailbox. Suit performed by Jeff Winkless (1968 — 1970), Ginner Whitecombe (2008), and Terry Sauls (2019 horror film). Voiced by Paul Winchell (1968 — 1972), Bill Farmer (2008), and Eric Bauza (2019 horror film).
  • Bingo — An orange gorilla wearing white glasses, a yellow vest, and always has a toothy grin. He plays drums and sings. His acts is answering riddles asked by Fleegle. Suit performed by Terence H. Winkless (1968 — 1970), Casey Hadfield (2008), and Buntu Plam (2019 horror film). Voiced by Daws Butler (1968 — 1972), Frank Welker (2008), and Eric Bauza (2019 horror film).
  • Drooper — A lion wearing yellowish-orange glasses, spats on his feet, and speaks with a Southern drawl in the style of Michael Nesmith. He plays a bass guitar and sings. His acts include trying to empty a trash bin that would automatically spew its contents, and answering mails from fictional fans. Suit performed by Dan Winkless (1968 — 1970), Adam Grubner (2008), and Kori Clarke (2019 horror film). Voiced by Allan Melvin (1968 — 1972), Carlos Alazraqui (2008), and Eric Bauza (2019 horror film).
  • Snorky — A mute furry elephant wearing pink glasses. He later becomes a regular elephant in season 2 while wearing a green vest with yellow stripes. He comunicates through honking sounds, and one of the Splits would translate what he is saying. He plays a keyboard. His act in the show is using a vacuum. Suit performed by James Dove and Robert Towers (1968 — 1970), and Brandon Vraagom (2019 horror film).

SecondaryEdit

  • The Banana Vac — A blue moose-like head with brown hair and light bulbs on his head. He hangs over the entrance of the clubhouse making different comments and would often help the Banana Splits introduce the segment. Voiced by Allan Melvin.
  • Cuckoo Clock — A clock with a blue and yellow bird head inside that would give a snarky remark to the "What time is it" question. Voiced by Paul Winchell.
  • Goofy Gopher — A gopher who lives in their flower pot. Voiced by Paul Winchell.
  • The Sour Grapes Bunch — A group of silent human girl characters who are all named Charley. They take turns bringing a written note the Banana Splits. They would dance one song with the title characters. In the first-season on October 5, 1968, a song debuted entitled "Doin' the Banana Split", as all five girls appeared together with the hosts.

SegmentsEdit

The show had four segments:

In the second season, The Three Musketeers segments were replaced with repeats of The Hillbilly Bears, a cartoon segment that previously appeared on The Atom Ant Show (1965–1968). In reruns, episodes of The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show, The Adventures of Gulliver, and The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn were aired on the show.

SyndicationEdit

The Banana Splits were syndicated in 1971 to local stations but with several other series in a package deal. Several other series were put under the Banana Splits Banner. All the Banana Splits episodes were syndicated in this package as presented but also The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Atom Ant Show, The Secret Squirrel Show, and The Adventures of Gulliver were syndicated under this banner. On The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the Banana Splits opening was played and one of the Banana Splits would say "The Banana Splits presents the Adventures of Huck Finn".

After the commercials, the Adventures of Huck Finn would run with the Huck Finn Adventures end credits running at the end. The Adventures of Gulliver was handled the same way except the Banana Splits themselves would appear for a few seconds saying "And now, Gulliver". The Banana Splits end credits still ran on that. For Atom Ant, the Banana Splits would first say at the end of the opening "The Banana Splits presents, the Atom Ant Show". Then after each commercial break, the group would host each of the three cartoons which consisted of Atom Ant, Precious Pup, and the Hillbilly Bears. The end credits of the Banana Splits show would run as well. On Secret Squirrel, the opening song would play of the Banana Splits and one of them would say "The Banana Splits presents, the Secret Squirrel Show".

On Secret Squirrel the Banana Splits would host each of the three cartoons including Secret Squirrel, Squiddly Diddly, and Winsome Witch. Also the end credits of the Banana Splits would run on these. Most stations ran each group once a week. The shows were likely syndicated as a package due to the limited number of episodes of each show. These were run this way on local stations throughout the 70's and into the 80's. After Cartoon Network launched the shows were aired on their own and independent of each other.

MusicEdit

The show's theme song, titled "The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)", was credited as being written by Ritchie Adams and Mark Barkan, but that was merely contractual. In fact it was written by N.B. Winkless, Jr. on the upright piano in his living room—a piano that also spawned the "Snap, Crackle, Pop" jingle, among others. Adams and Barkan were music directors for the show. The song was released as a single, attributed to the Banana Splits, and peaked at number 96 on Billboard's Top 100 in February 1969.[7] The version included on the We're The Banana Splits album is the same recording heard at the beginning of the show, while the single version is an entirely different arrangement and recording of the song, featuring an additional verse.

The Banana Splits' bubblegum pop rock and roll was provided by studio professionals, including Joey Levine ("I Enjoy Being a Boy", "It's a Good Day for a Parade"); Al Kooper ("You're the Lovin' End"); Barry White ("Doin' the Banana Split"); Gene Pitney ("Two Ton Tessie") and Jimmy Radcliffe, who provided his songs ("I'm Gonna Find a Cave", "Soul", "Don't Go Away Go-Go Girl", "Adam Had 'Em" and "The Show Must Go On") but did not contribute vocals to Splits recordings.

The music director was music publisher Aaron Schroeder, while production duties were mainly handled by David Mook. When a heavier R&B vocal was needed, the music producers usually turned to singer Ricky Lancelotti, who was billed in the show credits under his stage name Rick Lancelot. Lancelotti went on to record several songs with Frank Zappa.[8] In 1968, The Banana Splits released an album on Decca Records titled We're the Banana Splits.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed The Banana Splits among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[9]

CoversEdit

US punk rock act the Dickies covered the theme song in 1978, entitled "Banana Splits (Tra La La Song)". Their recording reached Number 7 in the UK charts and now appears as a bonus on the CD reissue of their 1979 album The Incredible Shrinking Dickies. They still perform this cover live at almost every concert. It was also featured in the movie soundtrack of Kick-Ass, during ten-year-old Hit-Girl's brutally violent fight scene.

A cover of the show's theme song performed by Liz Phair with Material Issue is included on the 1995 tribute album Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits, produced by Ralph Sall for MCA Records. Another rendition was performed by rock & roll comic C.C. Banana on the 2005 cartoon tribute album "Complete Balanced Breakfast."[10]

A cover of "Don't Go Away Go-Go Girl" by pop-punk band Mr. T Experience was issued on the 1993 tribute album Banana Pad Riot and their Big Black Bugs Bleed Blue Blood and Our Bodies Our Selves CD releases. The 1988 landmark release "Sub Pop 200" included a version of "I'm Gonna Find a Cave" retitled "Gonna Find a Cave" by the band Girl Trouble. "Sub Pop 200" featured recordings from many soon to be notable bands, Nirvana, Green River, Mudhoney, Soundgarden and others from Seattle's Grunge music explosion that followed.

Chicago punk band, The Vindictives did a version of “Two Ton Tessie” for the before mentioned “Banana Pad Riot” tribute compilation, and was later released as part of their “Curious Oddities and the Bare Essentials” compilation album. It was also covered by Texas punk band, Bickley in 1998.

The “Banana Pad Riot” tribute, in addition to the Mr. T Experience and Vindictives songs, also included: Wisconsin band, Boris The Sprinkler performing “We’re The Banana Splits”, and Seattle band, The Young Fresh Fellows performing “Doin’ The Banana Split.”

Chicago-based musician Ralph Covert, who records children's music under the group name Ralph's World, covered the theme song under the title "The Banana Splits (The Tra La La Song)" on his 2001 album At the Bottom of the Sea.

An unusual claim[11] is that the song may have inspired Bob Marley, with the striking similarity between the song's chorus and the bridge of the Bob Marley and the Wailers song "Buffalo Soldier". A story by BBC in 2010 examines the claim.[12]

New York-based alternative rock band They Might Be Giants have covered "I Enjoy Being A Boy (In Love With You)", released as part of their podcast.

New Hampshire punk band, The Queers, also covered “I Enjoy Being A Boy (In Love With You)” on their 1998 album, “Punk Rock Confidential.” It also appeared on their “Everything’s Okay” EP the same year.

Cleveland-based garage rock band 45 Spider have covered "I'm Gonna Find a Cave" for the Underground Garage "Coolest Song in the World".[13]

ComicsEdit

The Banana Splits' adventures continued in comic books. Gold Key began publishing a comic version in 1969, releasing eight issues through 1971.[14] Drawn by Jack Manning, these stories followed the musicians either trying to find work or on the road between gigs.

The Banana Splits had a crossover with the Suicide Squad in Suicide Squad/Banana Splits #1 on March 29, 2017.[15][16][17]

Other projectsEdit

TV filmEdit

Hanna-Barbera produced The Banana Splits in Hocus Pocus Park, a televised feature film, for ABC in 1972.

2008 revivalEdit

In August 2008, Warner Bros. Consumer Products announced a multi-platform release featuring new comedy shorts and music videos; this debuted on Cartoon Network starting on September 2, 2008.[18][19] The relaunch included a live show and a website,[20] as well as a CD and a DVD featuring 13 new songs, released by Universal Records.[19] In addition, a child-themed area named Banana Splitsville was placed at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina's Hard Rock Park rock-and-roll theme park, which later became Freestyle Music Park before closing permanently in 2009.[21]

2019 horror film adaptationEdit

On February 19, 2019, Warner Bros. Television Group's Blue Ribbon Content division announced that it was collaborating with Blue Ice Pictures on producing a film adaptation of The Banana Splits television series, which would take place in a horror-like setting. Danishka Esterhazy was hired to direct the film, based on a script written by Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas.[22] On June 13, 2019, Syfy Wire released the official trailer for the film.[23][24]

The plot follows a family attending a taping of The Banana Splits television series, in which the main characters are animatronics with artificial intelligence. However, they are soon trying to survive when Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snorky become evil upon learning of the cancellation of their show and, in their rage, their programming malfunctions, starting a killing spree around the studio. The film premiered at the San Diego Comic-Con on July 18, 2019, and was released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment via Blu-ray and DVD on August 27, 2019 to mixed to positive reviews from critics.

Home mediaEdit

On September 21, 2009, Warner Home Video released the complete first season on DVD in Region 2.[25] The six-disc set consists of 36 edited half-hour episodes of The Banana Splits and Friends Show as aired on Cartoon Network and Boomerang. The series was also released on VHS.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e Erickson, Hal (1998). Sid and Marty Krofft. McFarland. pp. 14–15. ISBN 978-0-7864-0518-3. Archived from the original on May 2, 2014. Retrieved August 27, 2009.
  2. ^ "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In: Episode #2.9" on IMDb
  3. ^ Woolery, George W. (1983). Children's television, the first thirty-five years, 1946-1981. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-1557-5. OCLC 8451238 – via Internet Archive.
  4. ^ CD liner notes: Saturday Mornings: Cartoons’ Greatest Hits, 1995 MCA Records
  5. ^ "Welcome professorplastik.com - BlueHost.com". www.professorplastik.com. Archived from the original on August 20, 2018. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  6. ^ Iverson, Paul: "The Advent of the Laugh Track" Hofstra University archives; February 1994
  7. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 Chart". Billboard. February 8, 1969. Archived from the original on January 24, 2015. Retrieved January 31, 2015.
  8. ^ "ricky lancelotti". Archived from the original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
  9. ^ Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 29, 2019. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  10. ^ "C.C. Banana Reunites With Banana 7, Records Song For Tribute Album". TributeAlbums.com. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  11. ^ "Not My Job: Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales". Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!. Archived from the original on December 1, 2017. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  12. ^ "Did the Banana Splits inspire Bob Marley?". BBC News Magazine. August 20, 2008. Archived from the original on December 1, 2017. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  13. ^ "Sirius XM's Underground Garage names 45 Spider's Banana Splits cover 'Coolest Song in the World'". cleveland.com. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  14. ^ "The Banana Splits". The Big DataBase of Comic Books. Archived from the original on January 20, 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2008.
  15. ^ "SUICIDE SQUAD/BANANA SPLITS SPECIAL #1". dccomics.com. December 19, 2016. Archived from the original on March 21, 2017. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  16. ^ "SUICIDE SQUAD Meets THE BANANA SPLITS, More In DC/HANNA-BARBERA Crossover Titles". newsarama.com. Archived from the original on July 14, 2018. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  17. ^ "Suicide Squad Crossovers With The Banana Splits. Wait, What??!". capedcrusades.com. December 13, 2016. Archived from the original on March 24, 2018. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  18. ^ "The Banana Splits". WarnerBrosOnline. August 14, 2008. Archived from the original on December 25, 2015. Retrieved August 15, 2008.
  19. ^ a b "The Banana Splits Are Back! Warner Bros. Consumer Products Serves Up Four Scoops Of Hilarity With Relaunch". Warner Bros. Press Office. August 15, 2008. Archived from the original on December 20, 2008. Retrieved August 20, 2008.
  20. ^ "The Banana Splits". The Banana Splits. Archived from the original on August 20, 2008. Retrieved August 15, 2008.
  21. ^ "Hard Rock Park–Banana Splitsville". Hard Rock Park. Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved August 26, 2008.
  22. ^ "‘The Banana Splits’ are getting a horror movie" Archived February 21, 2019, at the Wayback Machine from The Los Angeles Times (February 19, 2019)
  23. ^ "The Banana Splits Movie - Official Trailer | SYFY WIRE" from SYFY WIRE (June 13, 2019)[verification needed]
  24. ^ "Syfy basically turned the kids show Banana Splits into a Five Nights at Freddy’s movie" from Polygon (June 13, 2019)[verification needed]
  25. ^ https://www.amazon.co.uk/Banana-Splits-Complete-Season-DVD/dp/B0027UY87M Archived September 5, 2017, at the Wayback Machine The Banana Splits - Complete Season 1 [DVD]: Amazon.co.uk: Film & TV]. Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved on 2012-04-10.

External linksEdit