Original Air Date:
Characters & Voices
Fleegle - Paul Winchell
Drooper - Allan Melvin
Bingo - Daws Butler
Snorky - Don Messick
Few shows are remembered as fondly as The Banana Splits. Combining live action, costumed hijinks, classical animation, and rock music with pre-teen psychedelic imagery at a break-neck pace, this show spoke to a new generation of TV babies, and they listened...
The Banana Splits themselves were an ersatz rock band made up of a dog (Fleegle), a lion (Drooper), a gorilla (Bingo), and a small elephant (Snorky). The band was designed to resemble the Monkees (who were designed to resemble the Beatles) and they hosted the show by appearing in live-action bumpers between the components of the program. They usually appeared in "music videos" showcasing their antics in theme parks or in short sketches filled with playful puns.
"Q: What's yellow and manages a baseball team?
A: Yogi Banana!"
The show itself resembled the prime time comedy hit Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In with its frenetic pacing, psychedelic graphics, and short comedy blackout sketches, mixed in with longer episodic features.
For many, the most memorable feature segment was Danger Island. A live-action segment filmed on location, it featured the shipwrecked Professor Irwin Hayden and his crew as they outran dangerous natives, killer animals, and murderous pirates. The action-packed show featured a young man named Michael Vincent, who would come to be known as teen idol Jan-Michael Vincent, and many of the episodes were directed by Richard Donner, who would later helm the Lethal Weapon saga.
Another segment was The Three Musketeers, which was based on the classic novel, with Porthos, Aramis, Athos, and young D'Artagnan dueling through various adventures in the service of their Queen. A new character, Tooly, was added to serve as a link between children and the Musketeers, showing how exciting their adventures could be.
And let's not forget the Arabian Knights. Led by Prince Turhan and Princess Nidor, this odd group of heroes did battle with the evil Bakaar to try to recapture Turhan's throne. Bez, Farik, and Raseem were the three magicians who assisted the royal duo through an array of magical spells. Along for comic relief and a well-placed mule kick was Zazu the donkey.
The Micro Venture used real microscopic life as a background. Professor Carter and his children Patsy & Tommy were shrunk down to microscopic size so they could examine cellular life from the cell's point of view. The threesome also ran across giant animals and insects, often forcing them to speed away in their microscopic dune buggy.
Old episodes of The Hillbilly Bears, a component of The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show, were thrown in for a dose of comedy, and when the series went into syndication as The Banana Splits and Friends, reruns of The New Adventures of Huck Finn brought more live-action danger to the mix.
Spawning a myriad of toys and games, The Banana Splits Adventure Hour was a landmark moment in children's TV—the show was a herald of the new youth culture that was poised to invade the living room, and helped shape an entire generation...
Or, as Fleegle would say:
"This meeting of the Banana Splits is now adjourned!"