If you grew up in the 1960s or 1970s, you might have memories of a wacky TV show called The Banana Splits. Featuring four costumed characters and a mix of live-action and animated segments, The Banana Splits was like nothing else on the telly, either at the time or since.
Here’s a load of fun facts about its weirdness (including the link between "The Banana Splits" and the 1970s horror classic, The Omen...)
Origin of the Banana Splits
To understand the Banana Splits, we need to go back to the 1960s, when Hanna-Barbera Productions was creating popular cartoons like The Flintstones and The Jetsons. Sid and Marty Krofft, who would later go on to create their own successful TV shows, were working as puppeteers for Hanna-Barbera. The Krofft brothers developed the concept of the Banana Splits, which would feature costumed characters performing music and comedy skits.
The original concept for the Banana Splits was inspired by a troupe of performers who had worked on a children's show in Australia called "The Tarax Show." The Krofft brothers took this idea and expanded it, creating four costumed animal characters who would perform songs and sketches in a psychedelic world.
The format of the show was loosely based on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In Apparently the Splits appeared on one episode of that show.
According to Wikipedia (yes, I actually do some research for this stuff... sometimes!) the programme was originally to be called “The Banana Bunch” but there was a conflict with the name of a children’s book and so “The Banana Splits” was chosen instead.
In America was actually known as “The Banana Splits Adventure Hour” following on that strange tradition of calling programmes by different names in the USA and the UK eg Boss Cat/Top Cat.
I bet you can't watch this without
b) singing along
c) getting that tune stuck in your head for the rest of the day!
One of the most memorable aspects of The Banana Splits was its cast of characters, each with their own distinct personalities.
The names of the four main characters of the Banana Splits were Fleegle, a beagle; Bingo, a gorilla; Drooper, a lion; and Snorky, an elephant. Each character had its own personality and quirks. Fleegle was the leader of the group, while Bingo was the fun-loving prankster. Drooper was more laid-back and often played the guitar, while Snorky communicated through honks and gestures.
In addition to the main characters, the Banana Splits featured a range of supporting characters, including a group of mischievous human boys known as the Sour Grapes Bunch and a witch named Witchiepoo, who appeared in animated segments.
Format of the Show
The Banana Splits was a variety show that featured musical numbers, live-action skits, and animated segments. The show would start with the characters performing a song, followed by a live-action skit. The skits often involved the Banana Splits getting into trouble or going on wild adventures. The show also had animated segments, such as "Arabian Knights" and "The Three Musketeers."
One of the most notable features of the Banana Splits was its use of music. The show's catchy theme song, "The Tra La La Song," became a hit and was covered by many other artists. The Banana Splits also featured original songs written specifically for the show, such as "Doin' the Banana Split" and "Wait Til' Tomorrow."
And the animated segments included classic cartoons like "Arabian Knights" and "The Three Musketeers."
The Arabian Knights
You must remember “The Arabian Knights”...If it doesn’t ring a bell, how about a character who went round saying things like “size of an elephant”?
That was the shapeshifter Bez… and upon completing the phrase he would immediately transform into the aforementioned animal and generally bash the baddies!
"The Arabian Knights" was a segment of the Banana Splits TV show that lasted around 9-10 minutes per episode. It was set in Baghdad and followed the adventures of Prince Turhan and his group of friends.
Prince Turhan is the prince of Baghdad and rightful heir to the throne of the Sultan. He is brave, bold, an agile acrobat, an athlete, and a master swordsman. He gathers a small group of friends to lead a revolt against the tyranny of Bakaar and reclaim his throne to restore peace and prosperity in his state. His friends include Fariik (a magician), Nida (a master of disguise and martial arts ninja) and Zazuum (a donkey). They all work together to fight against the evil Bakaar's soldiers and other villains who try to do them wrong.
Popularity of the Banana Splits
The Banana Splits first aired in 1968 and ran, amazingly, for only for two seasons (so it's the Fawlty Towers of the genre if you like!). The show rapidly became a cultural phenomenon which has endured ever since. The Banana Splits was so popular that it was syndicated around the world and even spawned a spin-off show called The Banana Splits and Friends Show, which aired from 1972 to 1979. I wonder what today's younger generation would make of it???
The Link Between "The Banana Splits" and "The Omen"
How about if I add some more titles whihc share the same link...
Superman: The Movie (the one with Christopher Reeve)...
The Lethal Weapon films...
Amazingly the director of all of those films, Richard Donner, also directed the first series of The Banana Splits. Now tell me honestly, did you guess that?