The Banana Splits

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The Banana Splits
Adventure Hour
The Banana Splits Adventure Hour.jpg
Original title card
Also known asThe Banana Splits and Friends Show
Genre
Developed byHanna-Barbera
Directed byRichard Donner (Season 1)
Tom Boutross (Season 2)
Presented byFleegle
Bingo
Drooper
Snork
Starring
  • Jeff 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 of
Theme music composerNelson B. Winkless Jr. (credited to Ritchie Adams & Mark Barkan)
Opening theme"Tra La La (One Banana, Two Banana)"
Composers
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes31 + shorts
Production
Executive producers
ProducerEdward J. Rosen (Season 1)
Running time45–48 minutes
Production companyHanna-Barbera Productions
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Distribution
Release
Original networkNBC
Boomerang
PBS Kids Sprout
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 7, 1968 (1968-09-07) –
September 5, 1970 (1970-09-05)
Chronology
Related shows

The Banana Splits Adventure Hour (also known simply 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 costumed 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).[1]

The series ran for 31 episodes on NBC Saturday mornings from September 7, 1968, to September 5, 1970, and in syndication from 1971 to 1982. The show features the Banana Splits band as live-action costumed characters, who host both live-action and animated segments within their program. The Banana Splits was Hanna-Barbera's first series to feature live action with animation, following a 1967 telefilm, Jack and the Beanstalk, which did the same.[2] The costumes and sets were designed by Sid and Marty Krofft, and the series' sponsor was Kellogg's Cereals.[3]

A feature-length comedy horror film adaptation called The Banana Splits Movie premiered at the San Diego Comic-Con on July 18, 2019, and was released worldwide on August 27, 2019.

History[edit]

In 1967, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera approached Sid and Marty Krofft to design costumes for a television show, featuring animated and live-action segments, hosted by a bubblegum rock group of anthropomorphic characters. The format of the show was loosely based on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, and the characters appeared on one episode of that show.[4] The Banana Splits Adventure Hour premiered on NBC on September 7, 1968.[3] 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 credit the series' success for making possible their own entry into television, H.R. Pufnstuf. NBC picked up the Krofft series, which was launched on August 30, 1969, during an hour-long special hosted by the Banana Splits.[3]

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[5] series consisting of only four episodes, ran alongside the animated segments Arabian Knights and The Three Musketeers.[3] 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, was directed by Richard Donner.[6]

Jason Ankeny of AllMusic has blamed the show's drastic ratings drop during the second season on the failure of production staff to change backgrounds or set designs, a situation that misled young viewers into believing that they were watching reruns instead of new segments.[7]

Synopsis[edit]

Each show represented a meeting of the "Banana Splits Club", and the wraparounds featured the adventures of the club members, who acted 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.[3] For the second season, filming took place at the Coney Island amusement park in Cincinnati, Ohio. In many episodes, the Banana Splits were seen riding on the many rides at Six Flags and Coney Island.

The "Banana Buggies", mentioned in the theme song, were customized vehicles driven by each live-action character. The buggies were customized Amphicat six-wheel drive all-terrain vehicles, each decorated to resemble the character who drove it. 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 they have since been released as high-end resin-based kits.[8]

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] This Hanna-Barbera series was also one of the first Saturday morning cartoon shows to feature a laugh track.[9]

Characters[edit]

Main[edit]

  • Fleegle – The self-proclaimed leader of the Splits, Fleegle is a greenish-brown dog wearing a large red bow tie, black buttons, and brownish-orange chucks. His tongue perpetually hangs out of his mouth, giving him a distinct lisp. He hosts the club meetings that occur at the beginning of each episode, and often finds himself trying to keep the other Splits in line. He is frequently seen trying to get mail from an uncooperative mailbox, reporting on the news, or (beginning in the second season) performing as the Great Fleegali. Suit performed by Jeff Winkless (1968), Ginner Whitcombe (2008), and Terry Sauls (2019 film). Voiced by Paul Winchell (1968–1972), Bill Farmer (2008), Eric Bauza (2019 film), and Paul F. Tompkins (in Jellystone!).
  • Bingo – A nasal-voiced orange ape wearing white sunglasses and a yellow vest. In the show's first season, Bingo had no act of his own, but other appeared alongside Fleegle and Drooper; the second season rectified this by giving him an exercise program as Coach Bingo. One of the most common setups was to have Bingo make a wish on Fleegle's robot, Mildred, with disastrous results. Suit performed by Terence H. Winkless (1968), Casey Hadfield (2008), and Buntu Plam (2019 film). Voiced by Daws Butler (1968–1972), Frank Welker (2008), Eric Bauza (2019 film), and Jim Conroy (in Jellystone!).
  • Drooper – A lion with a very long tail wearing yellowish-orange sunglasses and a pair of spats. Drooper, who speaks with a Southern drawl in the style of Michael Nesmith, was frequently seen trying to empty a chaotic trash bin or answering fan mail. When the fan mail segment was expanded to all the Splits in season 2, he was given a new act; namely, a superhero alter-ego named Super Drooper. Suit performed by Anne W. Withrow (1968), Adam Grubner (2008), and Kori Clarke (2019 film). Voiced by Allan Melvin (1968–1972), Carlos Alazraqui (2008), Eric Bauza (2019 film), and C.H. Greenblatt (in Jellystone!).
  • Snorky – An elephant wearing pink sunglasses. Originally depicted as being covered in shaggy fur, he was redesigned for the second season to more resemble an elephant; he also gained visible eyes and a vest with yellow stripes. Snorky never speaks, but can communicate with the other Splits via clown-esque honks. He appears slightly less frequently that the other Splits, but was occasionally shown cleaning the clubhouse. Suit performed by James Dove and Robert Towers (1968–2008) and Brandon Vraagom (2019 film).

Secondary[edit]

  • Announcer – The unseen announcer is the one who introduces the Banana Splits and certain acts. Voiced by Allan Melvin (1968–1972) and Eric Bauza (2019 film).
  • 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 often helps the Banana Splits introduce segments. Voiced by Allan Melvin.
  • Cuckoo Clock – A clock with a blue and yellow bird head inside that gives snarky remarks to the "What time is it" question. He also helps the Banana Splits introduce segments. Voiced by Paul Winchell.
  • Goofy Gopher – A gopher who lives in a flower pot. Voiced by Paul Winchell, the Goofy Gopher was created for the show's second season.
  • Mildred the Robot - An invention of Fleegle's that can grant wishes, often literally. "Performed" by Robby the Robot
  • The Sour Grapes Bunch – A group of silent human girl characters who are all named Charley (portrayed by Sheri Freeman). They take turns bringing written notes to the Banana Splits. The Sour Grapes Bunch danced one song with the title characters. In the first season on October 5, 1968, a song debuted entitled "Doin' the Banana Split" has all five girls appeared together with the hosts.
  • The Dilly Sisters – Two human girls who play acoustic classical guitars and sing two songs: "The Mexican Hat Dance" and "Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay".

Segments[edit]

The show had four segments:

In the second season, The Three Musketeers segments were replaced with reruns 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.

The Banana Splits was syndicated in 1971 to local stations under the title of The Banana Splits and Friends Show, but with several other series included in a package deal. All the Banana Splits episodes were syndicated in this package alongside The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Atom Ant Show, The Secret Squirrel Show, and The Adventures of Gulliver.

Music[edit]

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.[10] 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.[11] In 1968, The Banana Splits released an album on Decca Records titled We're the Banana Splits.

The Banana Splits was among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[12]

An unusual claim[13] 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 the BBC in 2010 examines the claim.[14]

Covers[edit]

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[15] and appears as a bonus on the CD reissue of their 1979 album The Incredible Shrinking Dickies.

Comics[edit]

The Banana Splits' adventures continued in comic books. Gold Key began publishing a comic version in 1969, releasing eight issues through 1971.[16] 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.[17][18][19]

Other projects[edit]

Made-for-television film[edit]

Hanna-Barbera produced The Banana Splits in Hocus Pocus Park, a televised feature film, for ABC in 1972 that has the group rescuing a girl from an evil witch.

Educational films[edit]

2008 revival[edit]

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. Bill Farmer voiced Fleegle, Frank Welker voiced Bingo, and Carlos Alazraqui voiced Drooper.[26][27] The relaunch included a live show and a website,[28] as well as a CD and a DVD featuring 13 new songs, released by Universal Records.[27] 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.[29]

2019 comedy horror film adaptation[edit]

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 collectively named The Banana Splits Movie, which would serve as an R-rated parody of slasher films. Danishka Esterhazy was hired to direct the film, based on a script written by Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas.[30] On June 13, 2019, Syfy Wire released the official trailer for the film.[31][32]

The plot follows a family attending a taping of The Banana Splits television series, in which the titular characters are animatronics with artificial intelligence instead of humans in costumes. However, the family and everyone else present are soon trying to survive when Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snorky go haywire upon learning of the cancellation of their show. Because of this, their programming malfunctions and they start a killing spree around the studio by targeting the crew members and the adults. 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. Eric Bauza lent his voice to Fleegle, Bingo, and Drooper as well as the show's announcer.

2021 animated series[edit]

The Banana Splits appear in Jellystone! which was released HBO Max on July 29, 2021[33] with Fleegle voiced by Paul F. Tompkins, Bingo voiced by Jim Conroy, and Drooper voiced by C.H. Greenblatt. They are portrayed as cartoonishly effective criminals and the enemies of El Kabong.

Home media[edit]

On September 21, 2009, Warner Home Video released the complete first season on DVD in Region 2.[34] 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.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Woolery, George W. (1983). Children's Television: The First Thirty-Five Years, 1946-1981. Scarecrow Press. pp. 31–34. ISBN 0-8108-1557-5. Retrieved March 14, 2020.
  2. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2013). "Jack and the Beanstalk (1967)". Television Specials: 5,336 Entertainment Programs, 1936-2012, 2d ed. McFarland. p. 201. ISBN 9780786474448. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In: Episode #2.9" at IMDb
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ CD liner notes: Saturday Mornings: Cartoons' Greatest Hits, 1995 MCA Records
  7. ^ "The Banana Splits Biography, Songs, & Albums". AllMusic.
  8. ^ "Welcome professorplastik.com - BlueHost.com". www.professorplastik.com. Archived from the original on August 20, 2018. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  9. ^ Iverson, Paul: "The Advent of the Laugh Track" Hofstra University archives; February 1994
  10. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 Chart". Billboard. February 8, 1969. Archived from the original on January 24, 2015. Retrieved January 31, 2015.
  11. ^ "ricky lancelotti". Archived from the original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ "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.
  15. ^ British Hit Singles by Pal Gambaccini, Tim Rice, and Jo Rice, published in Great Britain by Guinness Publishing Ltd.
  16. ^ "The Banana Splits". The Big DataBase of Comic Books. Archived from the original on January 20, 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2008.
  17. ^ "SUICIDE SQUAD/BANANA SPLITS SPECIAL #1". dccomics.com. December 19, 2016. Archived from the original on March 21, 2017. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  18. ^ "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.
  19. ^ "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.
  20. ^ The Banana Splits: Healthy and Happy at WorldCat
  21. ^ The Banana Splits: We Have Five Senses at WorldCat
  22. ^ The Banana Splits: Safety First at WorldCat
  23. ^ The Banana Splits: It's a Sens-sational World at WorldCat
  24. ^ The Banana Splits: Meet the Microbes at WorldCat
  25. ^ Learning About Holidays with The Banana Splits at WorldCat
  26. ^ "The Banana Splits". WarnerBrosOnline. August 14, 2008. Archived from the original on December 25, 2015. Retrieved August 15, 2008.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ "The Banana Splits". Archived from the original on August 20, 2008. Retrieved August 15, 2008.
  29. ^ "Hard Rock Park–Banana Splitsville". Hard Rock Park. Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved August 26, 2008.
  30. ^ "'The Banana Splits' are getting a horror movie" Archived February 21, 2019, at the Wayback Machine from The Los Angeles Times (February 19, 2019)
  31. ^ "The Banana Splits Movie - Official Trailer | SYFY WIRE" from SYFY WIRE (June 13, 2019)[verification needed]
  32. ^ "Syfy basically turned the kids show Banana Splits into a Five Nights at Freddy's movie" from Polygon (June 13, 2019)[verification needed]
  33. ^ "Jellystone! I Official Trailer I HBO Max Family". YouTube. June 24, 2021. Archived from the original on November 18, 2021. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  34. ^ 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 April 10, 2012.

External links[edit]