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Banana Splits: Costumed Cartoon Hosts & Bubblegum Rockers Return!

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It's reassuring that in this age of soulless CG characters and pre-teen stars that are too school for school, there's room once again for crazy real-live costumed characters. I'm not talking today's scrubbed clean pre-school fare like Teletubbies, I'm talking the anarchic animals of indistinct origin; the Banana Splits.

In the 60's and 70's, Hanna-Barbera ruled the roost of “limited” recycled and re-recycled animation. HB hired the infamous puppet designers Sid & Marty Krofft (just before they created H.R. Puffnstuff) to create a quartet of human sized puppet characters for a new show; “The Banana Splits Adventure Hour”.

BananasplitsPremiering on Saturday mornings in 1968, each hour long episode was a collection of low-rent animated and live action HB fare. The Banana Splits performed a bubblegum pop song every week, had schticky exchanges, and introduced cartoons. I most remember them from the later syndicated version of the 70's.  Each daily episode was cut down to 30 minutes from the original hour, leaving little time for the Splits' antics.

The characters returned a few weeks ago with new adventures on Cartoon Network as well as “multi-platform” releases on DVD, internet, even a couple of theme parks. I bear the Splits no ill will, heck... I watched them every day after school. The question that I have is about who's really supposed to care? It's not like the Splits were characters with any actual personality – they were just goofy avatars to put in between cartoons. There must be some reason that they haven't been on TV much in the last two or three decades.

Bingo_readingI checked out some of the webisodes on the official website linked below, and can't say I was all that interested. I realize that I'm not the target market, but will kids be drawn to the Banana Splits any more than any other random costumed characters? Of course it's easier and cheaper for Cartoon Network to bring back the Splits (since they own the HB catalog and characters) rather than develop something new and unproven. It's a lot less imaginative approach too.

It was a nostalgic kick to see the Splits reproduced so faithfully (down to their voices and the look of their 2D clubhouse set), rather than some “Xtreme Splitz” nightmare that I'm sure was on the whiteboard at some point. I guess that I just want more “character” out of my costumed characters. [thanks for the tip, Bill DAugustine!]

Official web site
Fan site with tons of info on the costumed crew

related:
Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp
Smurfs Turn 50
Presto Magix - cartooning for the artistically declined
Red Raven - Animated Cartoons on a Record!

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