Sunday, September 07, 2008

Happy 40th, Banana Splits!

Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snorky hit the big four-oh today.

The Banana Splits Adventure Hour premiered on NBC on September 7, 1968, and ran on Saturday-morning TV for 31 episodes across two years. The show was later chopped into half-hour episodes for syndicated reruns (The Banana Splits and Friends Show), which I watched everyday after school on channel 11.

Here's a sample:




Sid & Marty Krofft designed the sets and costumes of the frenetic Hanna-Barbera production, which combined elements of A Hard Day's Night, the Marx Brothers, Laugh-In and bubblegum. Both Liz Phair and the Dickies later covered the show's infectious theme song, while Girl Trouble nailed "Gonna Find a Cave" for the legendary Sub Pop 200 compilation. My favorite Splits tune is eerie ballad "Wait 'til Tomorrow," while my second favorite is the upbeat "We're the Banana Splits," as illustrated in this ridiculous video:



The show also included some cheapo Hanna-Barbera cartoons and a kinda cool live-action serial, Danger Island, which had me and my elementary-school pals yelling "Uh-oh, Chongo!" But the Splits' longest-lasting impression on me is my ongoing, largely unfulfilled desire to play drums. No, it's not because of Ringo, John Bonham or Buddy Rich. I owe it all to Bingo, the Ray Charles-esque orange gorilla.

Turns out the Cartoon Network has just revived the franchise this past week, with comedy shorts and videos, an upcoming CD, and of course, a new site. From what I've seen, it all looks fairly faithful to the original:



Still, I've yet to hear the old catchphrase, "Hooooold the bus!"

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