Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Flippin' like a pancake, poppin' like a cork...


I know conversations about children's television have been done to death for those of us in our thirties and forties, but having just bought the box set of the Banana Splits we going ot have to break all the rules and discuss it.

Did you watch it? I loved it, right from the theme tune at the beginning with the buggies and the big slide at the theme park to the very end. But looking at it now, about 70% of it went right over my head. For example, are they meant to be firemen working in a fire station? They wear fireman's hats...

It is essentially bonkers. It's psychedelic beyond belief and when the 'they were all on drugs' cliche is trotted out on talking heads shows by those too young to remember Kid's TV's golden age, I think in this case they really were. It was made in California in 1969. It's not Torchy The Battery Boy so it's perfectly possible.

The headache-inducing pace of the show and sick-making camera angles are insane. It's perfect for kids because it's fluffy animal characters with funny faces (I used to work with someone who was the spit of the one with the big teeth) doing slapstick. And there's lots to catch the eye if you find your mind wandering: the mailbox monster, the thing in the cuckoo clock, the moosehead with flapping antlers, the Sour Grapes girls. And then there the cartoons.

Always love the Arbaian Knights, and I love it that the evil tyrant their united against looks like a Mongol emperor rather than some nasty Arab. And most of the villains have green faces. The same goes in alternate animated insert The Three Musketeers. I never understood why it was called this as there are four of them, plus that really irritating little American pipsqueak called Tooley that they always end up laughing at. My brother and I hated him.

The real bore of the week though is Danger Island. I'm only a few episodes in and I don't recall this at all. Loads of Mexican pirates attacking an elderly man and his suspiciously nubile crew. It's all staged and silly and filmed on a small pond. But it is episodic, not that that would have sunk in when I was a tot.

Anyhoo, I still get goosebumps at the theme tune. I reminds of going to my grandma's on Saturday morning. Whizzer & Chips (then Jackpot then Look-In as the years went by), cherry Corona (nastily sweet) and the Banana Splits. I dreaded it ending because not only was it followed by adult comedy drama Mr Deeds Goes To Town (boring!), but it meant we had to go out for a walk. Now of course I don't have to do any of things, but sometimes I wish we did.

The only thing about I don't remember and am not keen on the Monkees-style songs. No one can name a Banana Splits song can they? I wonder how long that lasted.

Anyway, I only watched four episodes and I'm quite exhausted. Someone tell me, I'm sure there was a cartoon insert about a scientist and crew shrunk to a microscopic size?

14 comments:

Chris Hughes said...

Oh man, I could just go a beaker of Corona Cherryade right now.

That Three/Four Musketeers thing always annoyed me too. Anyway, yes I loved the Banana Splits, and as is often the way with these things, for me it's entirely redolent of the late 1970s rather than the era it was actually made in. Likewise the Beatles cartoon series.

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Peter said...

Yeas, there was a Fantastic Voyage-style cartoon in there too. Still love the Splits today - my highlight being when they used to open a cupboard door to reveal a Mexican girl who would sing then have the door slammed back in her face.

Five-Centres said...

Yes Peter, I'm waiting for that girl to appear!

Wil said...

The least seen animated bit was called Micro Ventures. They all sat in a yellow Mini Moke sort of affair and got shrunk under a hair dryer lamp thing (the Micro Reducer!). The Banana Splits and HR Pufnstuf were my introduction to colour TV back then when American culture seemed exciting and new and I'd spend as much time pouring over the ads in infrequently got US issues of The Amazing Spider-Man than would on his adventures.

Five-Centres said...

Hostess Fruit Pies! Sea Monkeys! Twinkies! Clark bars!

I'm with you all the way, Wil.

Simon said...

La La La, La La La Laaa etc.

I might just have to treat myself to that box. And I'd still love a beach buggy.

Mondo said...

I used to love the Spilts, but
never realised they were meant to be an emergency service? But I never knew Scooby Doo was Great Dane for yonks.

If it wasn't screaming enough, they aired when colour TVs were just coming in, so everyone cranked the colours to maximum. Is Danger Island the 'Uh Oh Jungo' section? Watch out for a super funky number Doing The Banana Split - it's written by Barry White. All true.

Do you remember the ITV rip off. Animal Kwackers. The drummer is Peter Eden who discovered Donovan and produced loads of 60s pop tunes. He's a Southender, who I bump into from time to time. I did bit a bit on him here with a couple of his productions if you fancy a peep.

We had a Corona lorry that did coal-style deliveries

Five-Centres said...

I do remember Animal Kwackers vaguely, but had no idea they were a British Splits.

I was waiting for Uh-oh jungo! but so far nothing. Perhaps that comes later.

I love it that you didn't realise Scooby Doo was a great dane. That coming from me who didn't realise Basil Brush was a fox until I was about 25.

Clair said...

I like the way Scooby-Doo had Scrappy as his nephew, not as his son, presumably as it was too awful to contemplate that Scooby had had it away with a lady doggy.

Bright Ambassador said...

The theme tune to Da Splits automatically makes me feel happy. I never cared much for the cartoons though, I just wanted maximum Splittery.
I also used to work with a woman who looked like the gorilla. She got sacked for punching a bloke in the face - he was asking for it though.
Where's The Sour Grapes?

Animal Kwackers was the work of Satan. And their theme tune, I always thought, was a pretty heavy question to ask Ver Kids: 'Do you believe in rock and roll?' I know the answer to that question now, but not when I was terrified of the sight of them aged six.

Matthew Rudd said...

"Rory Rory tell us a story..." We had a lad called Rory in the year below us. God knows just how sick he got of kids singing that at him.

Ishouldbeworking said...

Weren't you just a bit scared of the 'lion' one, who looked like he'd had his mouth sewn up?

No? Just me, then....

Emma said...

Christ, I'd forgotten Corona did Cherryade. Bring back pop lorries on estates!

Tooley came somewhere between Scrappy Doo and the Rentaghost pantomime horse (or possibly Hartley Hare) in the Biggest Irritant in 70s Childrens TV pantheon.

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