|The Banana Splits|
|Also known as||The Banana Splits Adventure Hour|
The Banana Splits and Friends Show
|Directed by||Richard Donner (Season 1)|
Tom Boutross (Season 2)
|Theme music composer||Nelson B. Winkless Jr. (credited to Ritchie Adams & Mark Barkan)|
|Opening theme||"Tra La La (One Banana, Two Banana)"|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||31 + shorts|
|Producer||Edward J. Rosen (Season 1)|
|Running time||45–48 minutes|
|Production company||Hanna-Barbera Productions|
Warner Bros. Television Distribution
|Original release||September 7, 1968 –|
September 5, 1970
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 marching band hats with yellow plumes. The costumed hosts of the show are Fleegle (guitar, vocals), Bingo (drums, vocals), Drooper (bass, vocals) and Snorky (keyboards, effects).
The series ran for 31 episodes on NBC Saturday mornings from September 7, 1968, to September 5, 1970, and in syndication from 1970 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 costumes and sets were designed by Sid and Marty Krofft, and the series' sponsor was Kellogg's Cereals.
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.
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. The Banana Splits Adventure Hour premiered on NBC on September 7, 1968. 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.
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 series consisting of only four episodes, ran alongside the animated segments Arabian Knights and The Three Musketeers. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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. This Hanna-Barbera series was also one of the first Saturday morning shows to feature a laugh track, but only the live-action comedy segments. It its first year, the cartoons were adventure-based and did not have laugh tracks. The first Saturday morning cartoon with a laugh track with Filmation's The Archie Show.
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 1970 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.
Main article: Banana Splits discography
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. 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. 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 destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.
An unusual claim 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.
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 appears as a bonus on the CD reissue of their 1979 album The Incredible Shrinking Dickies.
The Banana Splits' adventures continued in comic books. Gold Key began publishing a comic version in 1969, releasing eight issues through 1971. 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.
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.
In August 2008, Warner Bros. Consumer Products announced a multi-platform release featuring new comedy shorts/series and music videos; this debuted on Cartoon Network starting on from September 2, 2008. Bill Farmer voiced Fleegle, Frank Welker voiced Bingo, and Carlos Alazraqui voiced Drooper. 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 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.
Main article: The Banana Splits Movie
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. On June 13, 2019, Syfy Wire released the official trailer for the film.
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.
Main article: Jellystone!
The Banana Splits appear in Jellystone! which was released HBO Max on July 29, 2021 with Fleegle voiced by Paul F. Tompkins, Bingo voiced by Jim Conroy, and Drooper voiced by show creator C. H. Greenblatt. They are portrayed as cartoonishly effective criminals and the enemies of El Kabong.
On September 21, 2009, Warner Home Video released the complete first season on DVD in Region 2. 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.