The Banana Splits Adventure Hour was an hour-long, packaged television variety program featuring The Banana Splits, a fictional rock band composed of four funny animal characters. The costumed hosts of the show were Fleegle (guitar, vocals), Bingo (drums, vocals), Drooper (bass, vocals) and Snorky (keyboards, effects).
The series was produced by Hanna-Barbera, and ran for 31 episodes on NBC Saturday mornings, from September 7, 1968, to September 5, 1970. The costumes and sets were designed by Sid and Marty Krofft and the series' sponsor was Kellogg's Cereals. The show featured both live action and animated segments and was Hanna-Barbera’s first foray into mixing live action with animation.
History and description Edit
In 1967, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera approached Sid Krofft 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 was loosely based on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. The Banana Splits Adventure Hour premiered on NBC on September 7, 1968.
The Krofft brothers give credit to the success of the series for opening the door for their own entry into television. NBC picked up the Krofft series H.R. Pufnstuf, which was launched during an hour-long special hosted by The Banana Splits on August 30, 1969.
The show's live-action segment Danger Island, a cliffhanger serial, as well as the short-lived Micro Ventures, an animated series consisting of only four episodes, ran alongside the animated segments Arabian Knights and The Three Musketeers. Actor Jan-Michael Vincent (billed as Michael Vincent) 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.
Each show represented a meeting of the "Banana Splits Club", and the wraparounds featured the adventures of the club members, who doubled as a musical quartet, meant to be reminiscent of The Monkees. The main characters were Fleegle, a beagle; Bingo, a gorilla; Drooper, a lion; and Snorky, called "Snork" in the theme song lyrics, an elephant.
Fleegle would assume the role as leader of the Banana Splits and preside at club meetings. The characters were played by actors in voluminous fleecy costumes similar to later Sid and Marty Krofft characters such as H.R. Pufnstuf. They all spoke in English – Drooper with a Southern drawl in the manner of Michael Nesmith, Fleegle with a pronounced lisp – except for Snorky who "spoke" in honking noises.
The Splits' segments, including songs-of-the-week and comedy skits, served as wraparounds for a number of individual 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).
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. For the second season, filming took place at 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.
The Sour Grapes Bunch is a group of human girl characters from the Banana Splits. One of the members of the club - Charley, usually played by Shirley Hillstrom - would bring a written note to the Splits. None of the Sour Grapes spoke in the entire series, however, they would also do a number with the Banana Splits. In the first season episode on October 5, 1968 titled "Doin' The Banana Split" as all five girls appeared together with the Splits.
Also featured were the "Banana Buggies" mentioned in the theme song. These were 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.
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 Huck Finn; Edward Rosen served as producer on both series.They would not, however, assume the title full-time for another five years. This Hanna-Barbera series was also one of the first Saturday morning cartoon shows to utilize a laugh track.
2008 revival Edit
In August 2008, Warner Bros had announced a multi-platform release featuring new comedy shorts and music videos that debuted on Cartoon Network starting September 2, 2008. The relaunch included a live show and a website, as well as a CD and a DVD featuring 13 new songs released by Universal Records. In addition, a kids-themed area called 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.
Boomerang run Edit
The series ran on Boomerang from the channel's launch in 2000 until 2011. This made The Banana Splits the first (and one of the only) live-action programming to air on Boomerang. However, the version shown on Boomerang was a shorten half-hour version (which was known as the Banana Splits and Friends Show) that was previously shown on Cartoon Network.