Sunday, February 8, 2009

Banana Splits

The NYT crossword clue was "Fleegle or Drooper."

The answer, of course:
also a dream Scrabble play if it were not two words.

#17 in an occasional series of repressed 70's memories that turn out to be true.

Disclaimer: This is actually a 60s memory. I am splitting hairs. But I get to say what qualifies. The Banana Splits Adventure Hour was off the air by 1970. Cigarette ads lasted longer, and were less confusing.

ADVENTURE! Here are 10 things I learned from adventuring with the Banana Splits.

1. The cast of any TV show should be expected to bust out a musical number/chase scene in each episode. I would have to do a lot more research to identify which cast did this first. Was it the Monkees? Scooby-Doo? The Archies? The Partridges? The Splits? God help us, LIDSVILLE?

If the pioneers are lost to us, the standard they set was lasting. Where once a kids' show could be expected to feature a relay race and/or a pie fight, these LBJ-era programs just needed a dance break.

2. No camera angle is too crazy
Much is made today of "MTV style editing" (hey, pundits, MTV launched 25 years ago. Move on already). The German expressionism of tilted angles, later embraced by the Batman series, got heavy play in the Adventure Hour. See also rapid in-out zooming (also Laugh-In) and the helicopter zoom to a character (let's just say a woolly mammoth made of yarn) on a Scrambler.

3. Hanna-Barbera + the Krofft Brothers = too much of a good thing
Sid and Marty Krofft had their fingers on the pulse of something that was about to sweep through the 70s through brute force, but the cartoon influence of Hanna-Barbera overlaid slide whistles and boing-boings, the brilliant (but too familiar) Daws Butler, and corny vaudeville writing that instantly dated the show by the time Summer of Love was over.

The better way to go would have been to make the Splits hippies with a Muppets level of humor. What's with all the sunglasses? Clearly these dudes are baked.

4. Puppeteers are insane
But you already knew that. I think until just now I had not realized I could trace my puppet anxiety directly back to Sid & Marty.

5. How to be a mascot
This an easy job, even if you can't get a Krofft SuperGig. When in costume, frequently turn your hands over on your wrists like a croupier, then cover your mouth. You are hired.

6. Jan-Michael Vincent
uh-oh, Chongo! I do not remember what the premise of Danger Island was, but it was exciting and Jan-Michael was always swinging from a rope. Judging from the intro, though, it was probably pretty stupid.

You don't get a good look at him here, so punch along the dotted lines and put this pic in your locker.

7. Foreign people are zany
The opening of Danger Island gives you some taste, and it didn't stop there. Arabian Knights was a kind of Jonny Quest rip-off set in Baghdad, whose premise is so complicated, I can't even explain is right now, 2 seconds after reading it. Mostly we liked the idea of I Dream of Jeannie in the daytime.
7a. Apparently, elephants live in Iraq.

I think Hillbilly Bears also falls into this category.

8. I Love Cereal!
sponsored by Kellogg's. Top Kellogg cereals of the day:
Apple Jacks - Cocoa Krispies - Froot Loops - Sugar Frosted Flakes - hell yes, that's what they were called.

9. Someday I will go down one of those giant amusement park slides

Life can seem very exotic when you are this small. I have come to my senses.

10. Buffalo Soldiers
There is no evidence that Bob Marley took his tra-la-la riff from the Splits. But it does allow me to make a Sid & Marley Kroft joke. (honka..honka..). Except if Snorky is not a Rastaman, there is no explaining him.


  1. I was so excited to see this post. I have the theme song on my I Pod and Augusta already knows it by heart. I, too, had dreams of sliding the big slide. That and the amazing amusement park that the Bradys went to.

    What was Gulliver's travels from? And when are you going to do a post about "Sigmund the Sea Monster?"

    And will you go see "The Land of the Lost" movie with me?

  2. Why do I remember watching Banana Splits? Was it syndicated? Help! I wasn't born until 1973 and don't really remember anything until more like 1978...

  3. Why do I remember watching Banana Splits? Was it syndicated? Help! I wasn't born until 1973 and don't really remember anything until more like 1978...

  4. let's not forget sugar smacks and sugar pops. Because really - the cereals haven't been the same since the marketers-to-moms got in on the act.

    one banana, two bananas, three bananas, four...four bananas make a bunch and so do many more...

    tra la la. Baroness

  5. Was that a lion or a donkey ? Thats when the hippies started messing with gen-xes head. But theyre still my favorite hippys. Banana splits rule.


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