TWINSANITY!

Where Cartoons and Comedy Collide!

Brain Candy: Aw, Nutz!

Back in 2008, Tom Ruegger (producer of such Warner Brothers hit series as Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs!) pitched an idea for a potential new series that would feature the Looney Tunes characters interacting with classic characters from the Hanna Barbera studio (this became possible due to WB absorbing H-B studios in 1999). The series, had it happened, would have been called Mixed Nutz.

mixed nutz 1

This is just a sample of the fun that might have been.

Mixed Nutz - scooby and daffy haunted house lighter bg

This idea is certainly an interesting one, and it’s almost a shame that WB ultimately passed on it. However, despite the novelty of seeing the Looney Tunes interacting with H-B’s stars, I can’t get too excited about such a prospect. While I wouldn’t turn my nose up at this particular idea, I’m not sad that it didn’t happen.

The both of us are HUGE Looney Tunes fans, and unless you’re visiting this site for the very first time, you already know that. And while I like Hanna-Barbera cartoons OK, for the most part, I’ve never felt like H-B was ever on par with Looney Tunes. When I initially read about this series prospect, all it did was make me think about how much more awesome a Looney Tunes/Disney syngery would have been.

WB logo with Bugs

The_Walt_Disney_Studios_logo

This is the cartoon collaboration that everyone wants to see! You want a WB/Disney show. I want a WB/Disney show. He wants a WB/Disney show. She wants a WB/Disney show. They want a WB/Disney show. EVERYONE wants to see a WB/Disney collabo!

TV Executive: We’re making a cartoon where Bugs teams up with Yogi Bear.

meh emoji-38-512

Oh? Eh, that could be good, I guess.

TV Executive: We’re making a cartoon where Bugs Bunny teams up with Mickey Mouse.

Yeah, baby!

Bugs, Daffy and Porky teaming up with Mickey, Donald and Goofy? You’ve got my attention! Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck hanging out with Lola Bunny? Yes, please! Pete teaming up with Yosemite Sam? When and where? Chip ‘n’ Dale and Humphrey the Bear fleeing from Taz? I’m listening! Daffy Duck hanging out in Duckberg? Sign me up!

Imagine an entire series (or series of shorts like this):

 

Oh Hell Yeah

Listen, I’m OK with Hanna-Barbera. Some of their cartoons have been entertaining. I won’t deny that. But Looney Tunes are in a different class entirely. It’s like the video game Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe.

Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe

Sure, it was a cool idea, and the game at least had the potential to be awesome (DC putting unnecessary restrictions on their heroes aside), but the game mostly just made me long for the fighting game team-ups that fans really want: Marvel VS DC, or Mortal Kombat VS Street Fighter, neither of which will likely ever happen outside of M.U.G.E.N.

The only thing that the prospect of Mixed Nutz did for me was make me want to see WB team up with Disney for a comedy cartoon series. I’d watch the heck out of that. Unfortunately, getting rival companies to work together is like pulling teeth: very hard. Such a series would likely be stuck in development hell for several years.

angry-almond-nut-character-cartoon-vector-18728354

“Aaaaaww, NUTS!”

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Cartoon Country: 101 Dalmatian Street

Back in March, Jason did a Peeks for Disney’s new British/Canadian animated series, 101 Dalmatian Street.

 

101 Dalmatian Street

Well, now that we’ve since seen some episodes via clips on the internet (since we still have no frelling idea when this show is coming to the U.S. !), we’re able to cover it on Cartoon Country!

Dave Madden_zpstuy17pah

Huzzah.

If you read Jason’s Peeks (or are lucky enough to live in one of the countries that’s actually started airing the show), you know the premise: set some 50 or 60 or so years after the 101 Dalmatians book/movie, this series focuses on a new Dalmatian family: A London dog named Delilah (who’s a descendant of Pongo and Perdita from the original 101 Dalmatians) who marries an American dog named Doug. Each of them have a litter of pups from their previous marriages (don’t ask how dog marital issues work), making a total of…wait for it…101 Dalmatians in total, all of whom live together in a rowdy house in swingin’ Camden town. However, the lead characters of the show are not the parents, but rather the 2 eldest pups, teen Dalmatians uptight, pedantic Dylan (Delilah’s biological son) and free-spirited, fun-loving, mischievous Dolly (Doug’s biological daughter) who look after the house and their 97 younger siblings while their folks are at work during the day (Doug works as a fire dog while Delilah works as a nurse, respectively).

Doug & Delilah

“Puppies, we’re hoooome!”

Now, you’re probably wondering:

Question_Block_Art_-_New_Super_Mario_Bros

Um, so dogs have day jobs in this world??

Well, yes, but don’t get the wrong idea, this isn’t some alternate reality where animals are just stand-ins for humans.

Zootopia

Zootopia this ain’t!

The animals still live alongside humans on the show, and the domestic ones are still pets. You see, the Dalmatians’ owner is an eccentric billionaire named Dodie (after the original book’s author, Dodie Smith) who left the house to the family after retiring to live on an island. The house is technologically advanced and full of gadgets and gizmos designed to give these dogs whatever they need (given how the animals’ speech only sounds like animal noises to people on this show, I imagine the Dalmatians ordering takeout on the phone must be an interesting experience). As you can imagine, a house full of rowdy dogs with no live-in master is a mailman’s nightmare.

One touch that I like is how all of the Dalmatians in the family have ‘D’ names, and that’s not just because that’s the first letter of my name. Not only that, but Disney managed to come up with a ‘D’ name for each and every member of the family. All 101 of them.

Loretta.PNG

“Oh no they di-in’t!”

Oh yes they di-id! Here’s a little ditty someone came up with listing all of their names, so I don’t have to. (Warning: this song is an earworm. It’ll be stuck in your head for days.)

Wow, just wow. Now that’s dedication. I doubt Peyo Culliford ever sat down and said “I’m going to come up with a name for all 100 Smurfs.” Disney can be quite meticulous when they want to be. I marvel at the fact they still chose to go with 101 dalmatians when they didn’t have to. They could’ve easily taken the lazy route and said: “101 refers to the street number on the show, not the number of dogs.” Heck, that’s what I would’ve done, but I’ve been declared legally lazy by a doctor.

101 Dalmatian Street

They gave themselves an out, and still chose not to use it! That’s bold.

Another cool thing about this show is its’ aesthetics, especially when it comes to the Dalmatians themselves. Instead of all the dogs being uniform, like androids, each of the main characters have physical distinctions which makes them stand out design-wise and gives you a little insight to their personalities. I’ll give a brief (?) run-through of all of the named Dalmatians who are actual characters on the show; I can imagine what sort of characters some of the background puppies have, going by some of the names, but I’ll leave that to the inevitable string of fan fiction writers.

DYLAN

Dylan_Sitting_PoseDL

Likable nerd Dylan is voiced by Josh Brener, whom you may know as Nelson “Big Head” Bighetti on HBO’s Silicon Valley. Dylan loves astronomy and aspires to be the first Dalmatian in space, as evidenced by the star tag on his collar and how the spots on his left ear are in the shape of the constellation Canis Major, aka the Dog Star.

mortimer-snerd

“Duh, I did not notice that! But um, what’s a major canis?

DOLLY

Dolly_Sitting_PoseDL

Dolly is voiced Michaela Dietz, perhaps best known to cartoon fans as the voice of Amethyst from Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe. She loves to skateboard (among other things), as noted by her Sk8er style ring-shaped collars and sock-like marking on her front paws. She also really wants to make “Bow-Whocka-Wow!” into a catchphrase.

DOUG

Doug_1.octet-stream

As previously stated, dad Doug is a fire dog, note how his tag resembles a fireman’s uniform shield. Personality-wise, Doug is a big, loving, sensitive teddy bear of a guy…

John_Candy

Think John Candy as a Dalmatian.

DELILAH

Delilah_Ref_ImageDL

 

Delilah the organized, orderly mom of the family (or should I say ‘mum’, since she’s British and the show is set in London?) shares Dylan’s black left ear and white right ear. As previously stated, she works as a nurse, note how her tag resembles a nurse’s badge.

DANTE

Dante

“Life? Don’t talk to me about life!”

Dante (named after the title character in Dante’s Inferno) is the life of the party, if said party were being held inside a Doomsday bunker. I like how he’s a reverse Dalmatian (black with white spots instead of the usual opposite, save for the blue spots on his right ear), however, his voice and personality aren’t exactly what I was expecting. Dante’s very paranoid and gloomy (surprise, surprise!), which is to be expected, but I thought he’d be calmer and more aloof…

Jade_Catkin_ID_S1E11

…Like a male, canine version of Jade Catkin from Littlest Pet Shop…

Steven Wright

And speak in a Steven Wright-esque deadpan.

DEEDEE & DIZZY

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Deedee & Dizzy are hyper, excitable twin pups (FTR, Dizzy is the one with the bandit mask style marking around her eyes, while Deedee wears a Dolly-esque set of ring-like collars and black sock-like marking on the toe tips of her paws). They are irremediably cute and desperate to please, though they hinder things as often as they help. So they’re like actual younger siblings.

DAWKINS

Dawkins

Dawkins is the brains of the house, able to operate most of the house’s tech as well as inventing some of his own. You can tell he’s really smart because he owns a laptop and by the atom design on his collar. Dawkins must be one of Delilah’s pups since he refers to Doug by his first name rather than “Dad” for reasons unknown. I guess as an intellectual, he doesn’t have time for such sentiments.

DIESEL

Diesel

Not the sharpest pencil in the box, Diesel has a mania for dirt and digging, as is evident by the chunks or dirt which adorn his body. He’s also distinguishable by his monobrow and blank expression, which I’ve only ever seen on one other character.

ed

“I’m hungry!”

DESTINY, DALLAS & DEJA VU aka TRIPLE D

Triple D

These hyper-adorable, high-end, full-on diva triplets have “Future Plush Toys” stamped all over them. They’re the only family members aside from the parents who have jobs: they work as models for magazines and in commercials. This makes them a little vain and high-maintenance, but they’re bringing home some bacon, so if they have a bit of attitude (which they do) it’s understandable. Their dialogue typically consists of the 3 of them saying a single line which each of them sharing in the sentence; one will start, another will say the middle and the third will finish it up. The Disney Wiki claims that each of them has a distinct personality–with Destiny being the smartest of the 3, Dallas being the fashionista who loves dressing up and Deja Vu being the somewhat spacey follower, but I have yet to see evidence of this. FTR, you can tell which is which by their jewel-encrusted collars: Destiny’s is decorated with hearts, Dallas’ with diamonds and Deja Vu with circles with an ‘X’ over them.

DEEPAK

Deepak 2

Deepak is named after author and existential philosopher Deepak Chopra. Note how the markings on his head and his collar make the shape of a Yin-Yang symbol. He’s very New Agey but a bit of a Nervous Norvus, often slipping into panic mode when things go awry and having to meditate hard to calm himself down, or tending to try and embrace his inner cat, despite his being a dog.

Deepak

“This is my existence. The dichotomy of order and chaos. The fierce, raging Yang locked in eternal struggle with the gentle, sobering Yin.”

two_face

“Brah, I can soooo relate!”

Shirley the Loon

Jason says he would’ve made Deepak female and more like Shirley the Loon, and I could definitely see that.

 

D.J.

DJ's_Picture

Yup, his name is D.J., and he’s an aspiring DJ. They don’t all have to be complicated.

DELGADO

Delgado

Your eyes don’t deceive you; Delgado’s got no hind legs, he rolls around in a makeshift wheelchair (’cause progressiveness and representation are kewl!). If he has any grievances about his condition, he has yet to be shown voicing them; rather he seems to enjoy his situation as it allows him to zip around at high speeds, his passion. He tries to impress Dolly with his speed prowess; his idolization of her is further represented by him having the same black sock markings on his front legs as her.

DA VINCI

Davinchi1

Despite the name, DaVinci is a girl. No prizes for guessing, she’s an artist, as evidenced by the spots on her pelt in other colors besides just black. According to Dylan, her colored spots are the results of paint blobs permanently drying on her fur, not because she’s a mutant who’s half clown.

DOROTHY

Dorothy

Dorothy is the youngest pup. She has no spots and a pink collar with a bone tag on it. She’s also the only character in the main cast whom I’m not really crazy about. She’s basically a baby, great. But unfortunately, she embodies all the reasons why I usually don’t like baby characters on shows. Mainly because they’re not funny! The original incarnations of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm weren’t funny. Baby Smurf wasn’t funny. Jack-Jack from The Incredibles isn’t funny (no, being ridiculously over-powered and annoying does not equal comedy) and sorry, but Dorothy is not funny! There are of course some notable exceptions, such as Stewie Griffin or Lily Loud, but for the most part, baby characters are not funny.

Now I know some of you are going to say to me: “Come on, Damon. How can you be so down on Dorothy? She’s so cute!”

-Yeah, but she’s not funny.

“She has such a cute little laugh!”

-She’s not funny.

“She’s so precious and adorable!”

-She. Isn’t. Funny.

Look, I have nothing against cute characters or little characters, but they have to be more than just cloyingly cute. An example of a ‘youngest kid’ character done correctly is Chelsea from Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse.

chelsea_2

Yes, a lot of Chelsea’s shtick revolves around her being the youngest and aggressively cutesy, but the difference is that Chelsea has a personality and does things. She’s not just there to make the audience go “Aaaaawww” and send the other characters into a blind panic when she goes missing. I challenge anyone to describe Dorothy using an adjective besides ‘cute’, ‘adorable’ or ‘precious’; you can’t, because she doesn’t do anything.

One viewer thought that Dorothy was supposed to be Oddball from the movie 102 Dalmatians because she has no spots (though–spoilers!–she gets spots at the end). I actually think that would’ve been a better idea for a character; they could’ve exploited her oddness beyond just having no spots to an all-around eccentricity, like female version of Gonzo from the Muppets. Now that would’ve been a character I could get behind.

There are also a set of wacky neighbors, including a snooty neighbor dog named Clarissa who looks down on the ‘ruff-raff’ for not having an owner, even though they do, she just doesn’t live with them, a police officer horse, a stray dog, a squirrel and a rat who live life on the streets and a husky whom Dolly has a crush on (though he might be more interested in Dylan–yeah it looks like they’re going there!). And we get treated to scenes like this:

Aack! Cute puppy overload!

-Now, it’s time to address the elephant in the room.

elephant-vector-clip-art-3279552

“S’up, y’all!”

The question many fans are asking (though not me personally, for reason I’ll get into)…

Cuella De Vil

Where is Cruella DeVil??

Well, keep in mind that this show takes place about 50 years after the movie, so Cruella would have to be pushing 100 by the time of this series…but the producers haven’t forgotten about the DeVil legacy; for the 2-part season finale, we get an appearance by a descendant of Cruella’s, one Hunter DeVil, who is, well, a hunter. Fair enough, it is the brand and that’s what the audience will/would be expecting, but (and I know this is an unpopular opinion) I personally like that there is no real villain on the show. One of the things I like about 101 Dalmatian Street is how it’s not an adventure show, just a pure comedy; no villain-dodging, just wacky shenanigans. I figured we’d get a DeVil, but I hope this character is just someone they encounter every so often and not a regular foe to defeat. There are other things I’d like to see the writers do on this show first…

Dorothy

…Like giving Dorothy a personality, for one.

 

 

 

The Cartoon Couch: Cartoon Planet

On today’s Cartoon Couch, we look back at the forgotten series from the old days of Cartoon Network.  A little gem known as Cartoon Planet.

 

cartoonplanetlogo

If anyone had told me fifteen years ago that I’d be remembering this show fondly, I’d have told them that they were crazy. The thing is, much like The Banana Splits (which Damon already wrote about in an earlier post), I have a greater appreciation for this show now than I did when it was in production. When Cartoon Planet was on the air, I dismissed the show because it was goofy and ridiculous, but now I enjoy it…because it’s goofy and ridiculous.

Cartoon Planet began as an hour-long block of cartoons hosted by Space Ghost, Zorak, and Brak. They would introduce full cartoons from the Turner Entertainment library, such as old theatrical shorts and Hanna-Barbera cartoons, including the original 1960s Space Ghost episodes. The host segments were often original songs and ad-libbed skits. New material ceased being made in 1997, and most of the songs and skits were re-packaged into 22 half-hour episodes without classic cartoon clips.

There’s no need to go into detail about the cartoons themselves, since they were the same shorts that from the Turner library that were airing on Cartoon Network the other 23 hours of the day. The cartoons weren’t bad, but since there were no original cartoons shorts made for the show, we don’t need to discuss them here. The real attraction was the host segments.  Here’s a taste of the intro:

If you’re like me, you were probably wondering “Why Brak and not Moltar?” It’s likely because Andy Merril (the voice of Brak) was one of the show’s producers, so it’s no surprise that he’d want to voice his character from Space Ghost: Coast To Coast on the show. Also, Moltar already had a gig as the original host of CN’s Toonami program block. However, this fact was joked about on an episode of Space Ghost: Coast To Coast; Moltar is flipping through channels in the studio’s control room. He comes across Cartoon Planet and says:

Moltar

“What’s this garbage? And why am I not in it?”

Each episode included segments such as “Brak’s School Daze,” “Zorak’s Horror Scopes,” “Poets’ Corner,” “Brak’s Monday Ratings Report,” “The Top 5 Cartoon Countdown” (discontinued in 1997 after the show’s Saturday-morning slot was shortened to a half-hour), “Vacation Spots Around the Universe” (pieced together from clips of Ultra 7 episodes), “Messages from Outer Space” (also from Ultra 7, featuring the Hot Dog Men), “Mailbag Day”, readings from “The Cartoon Planet Storybook,” messages from Count Floyd (Joe Flaherty’s local public-access television cable TV horror movie host from SCTV; the segments were originally shown on Hanna-Barbera’s The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley), “Learning to Talk Italian,” Nuggets of Joy from Zorak,” “Zorak’s Helpful Hints,” and “Cooking with Brak.”

The show also had short live-action segments featuring producer Andy Merrill wearing an ill-fitting Space Ghost costume doing various things like visiting a petting zoo, getting a haircut (although he kept his mask on), playing tennis, or visiting a gift shop. Intros of the show during the early years featured Merrill in the costume dancing (rather badly) to the mambo-style theme music, or sitting in a chair reading a newspaper, falling asleep to lullaby music.

You know that you’ve got good stuff when more people are tuning in more for the host segments and wraparounds than they are for cartoons that they’re hosting. You can tell that George Lowe, Clay Martin Croker and Andy Merrill were having a good time on the set. I can imagine them cracking each other up in the table reads. It’s nice having a job that you enjoy.

At the time, head writer/producer Pete Smith described Cartoon Planet “as a cross between The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Electric Company, and recess at the Richard M. Nixon School for Wayward Boys. …Cartoon Planet skillfully steers clear of any semblance of sophisticated humor. Forced by network muckity-mucks to air his dirty spandex in front of millions of impressionable young minds, Space Ghost dragged a reluctant Zorak and a confused Brak into the treacherous waters of sketch comedy.”

Unfortunately, due to licensing issues involving the clips used on the show, Cartoon Planet has yet get a DVD release.

Incidentally, Cartoon Planet was one of several names that we considered for this very website. We didn’t go with that because Cartoon Network legally owns the name.

In 2012, Cartoon Network attempted to revive Cartoon Planet (originally to commemorate CN’s 29th anniversary and was called “Best of CN”).

Cartoonplanet_2012_logo

 

However, this new version wasn’t as good as the original. For one thing, George Lowe was semi-retired from voice over work by this time and didn’t participate, leaving Brak and Zorak to host the show by themselves. It was like having a reunion tour with only 3 Beatles; you need all of the parts or it’s a different thing entirely. While it was good to see Brak and Zorak again, I missed Space Ghost. Without the show’s anchor, something was missing.

For another, soon afterwards Cartoon Network said “Screw tradition” and turned the show from a celebration of the network’s past into a dumping ground for the network’s then current shows such as Johnny Test, The Amazing World of Gumball, MAD and worst of all, The Annoying Orange.

emoticons_disgust-512

“In a word, Yuck!”

I already discussed this boneheaded decision made by CN’s execs in a post from a couple of years earlier titled Cartoon Planet In Crisis, so there’s no need to repeat myself here. This version quietly went away shortly afterward. No one misses it much.

Tragically, Clay Martin Croker (the voice of Zorak) unexpectedly passed away in 2015, so a revival of Cartoon Planet seems unlikely. Even if George Lowe were to come out of retirement to do it, they’d still be a man short. Sure, the producers could conceivably hire someone else to voice Zorak, but that should only happen if said replacement were someone who has a natural rapport with the other cast members and writers.

At least some of the skits and wraparounds are available for viewing on sites like YouTube and Dailymotion. I say we should just watch those and remember what we once had.

Mug of beer

Pourin’ one out for Cartoon Planet and for Clay Martin Croker. We miss ya, man!

So let’s end this on a high note. I give you one of the greatest things to come from Cartoon Network. Period. Kick it!

Unpopular Opinions: Quack Pack Triplets

Today’s Unpopular Opinion is about Disney’s resident triplets, Huey, Dewey & Louie.

DT2017_-_Huey,_Dewey,_and_Louie

-First, let me preface this by saying that I’m digging the current DuckTales series, and I have absolutely no problem with the way the triplets are characterized on the show. I had to get used to their voices (Danny Pudi as Huey, Ben Schwartz as Dewey and Bobby Moynihan as Louie, respectively), as they’re supposed to be 10-year-olds but they sound like 20-something dudes, but I’m fine with how they’re characterized here. (I kind of wish the writers wouldn’t favor Dewey so much, but that’s a different vent unto itself.)

Which brings us to today’s Unpopular Opinion: while I don’t mind the way the characters are portrayed in the 2017 DuckTales series, I think Disney was a little too quick to abandon the personas they developed for the triplets in the previous Duck series, Quack Pack.

hueydeweylouie-quackpack

I didn’t think the Quack Pack versions of Huey, Dewey and Louie were that bad!

Whaaaat

No, really, I’m serious. Hear me out.

Before I speak my piece (to prove I’m not crazy), a little history:

Initially, Donald Duck’s nephews were uniform, like army ants, indistinguishable and indivisible.

Return_to_Plain_Awful_-_Huey_Dewey_and_Louie

Beginning with the 1987 DuckTales series, the Mouse House decided to designate a specific color to each triplet in order to distinguish between them. From that point on, Huey was always dressed in red, Dewey in blue and Louie in green.

Hueydeweylouie

Here’s a nifty way to remember: The brightest HUE of the three is red, the color of DEW is blue, and that LEAVES Louie, and leaves are green.

Cool, but the characters were still basically the same; that changed with Quack Pack.

titanic_sinking_by_esai8mellows-d4xbme8

AKA the Titanic of Disney Afternoon shows.

Now, when I say that the Quack Pack characterizations of the triplets weren’t that bad, I’m not defending the show. I know the nicest thing anyone can say about Quack Pack is that it was a train wreck, but given it’s tumultuous history, it had no choice to be: it was the victim of 2 warring producers, one of whom wanted the show to be continuation of DuckTales, set in Duckburg with Scrooge, Launchpad, Doofus et al, while the other producer absolutely hated the Carl Barks continuity and wanted the show to be more reminiscent of the old Donald Duck shorts, in which Don and the main ducks predominantly interacted with humans. So the show had no choice but to be a disaster area from the get-go.

Quack Pack Triplets Sneak

But the individual personalities the writers gave the triplets were not bad:

-Huey the vain clothes horse who considers himself to be God’s gift to the opposite sex…

Style: "red_dwarf2"

Think the Cat from Red Dwarf, only a kid, and a duckling.

Dewey the brainy one who was into all things geeky…

Simon

blue-ranger2

Geeky brainiacs sure seem to like the color blue, don’t they?

…And Louie the happy-go-lucky, somewhat thick slob who’s good at sports. Those were all decent characterizations, and in the hands of capable writers, they could’ve worked. The problem was that behind the scenes, things were a dumpster fire, plus the show’s producers tried way too hard to make the show “hip” and “cool” and “modern” (this ain’t your daddy’s Donald Duck!) and turn the triplets into “totally cool 90’s kids”, and it was LAME!

90's_kid

“DUUUUDE! The 90’s were Totally TUBULAR!”

So while I’m totally OK with the personas the triplets have currently, I don’t think the Quack Pack takes on the characters were bad either. They certainly weren’t the worst thing to come out of that show, not by a long shot.

-Of course, the 2017 show finally gave us the boys’ mom, Donald’s twin sister Della Duck, in the flesh..

Della Duck 2

And gave us a heartfelt reunion between Della and her boys (whom she wanted to name Jet, Turbo and Rebel)…

ducktales-season-2-episode-12-nothing-can-stop-della-duck

That’s an admittedly tough act to follow.

 

Nerdvana: Respect the Splits

In February 2019, Warner Bros. Television Group’s Blue Ribbon Content announced that it is producing a film version of Hanna-Barbera’s The Banana Splits.

Banana Splits 2

The film will venture into a horror-like setting, scheduled to be released through Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and to air on Syfy in the United States in 2019. According to the synopsis, a boy named Harley is spending his birthday with his family at a taping of the TV show. The outing takes an unexpected turn that involves a rising body count.

So basically it’s like Five Nights at Freddy’s

five-nights-at-freddys

…but with the Banana Splits.

thumb-down-smiley

Do. Not. Want.

I’m generally not a nostalgic person, but I’d rather not have some folks’ initial exposure to this franchise be some Asylum-esque abomination. So in response to the announcement of this thing, I’m devoting today’s Nerdvana to the Banana Splits. The REAL Banana Splits.

Banana Splits 3

Trivia Time: In his autobiography, Joe Barbera said that the show was to be called The Banana Bunch, but they could not get permission from the author of a children’s book by that title.

I can’t think of a better way of kicking things off than with that earworm of a theme song. Drop it!

 

Awww yeah. That’s the stuff!

The Banana Splits starred in The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, an hour-long, packaged television variety program featuring the Splits, a fictional rock band composed of four funny animal characters. The costumed hosts of the show were Fleegle (guitar, vocals), Bingo (drums, vocals), Drooper (bass, vocals) and Snorky (keyboards, effects). The group were created to be reminiscent of The Monkees.

The Monkees 2

Figure out for yourself which one was supposed to be Bingo.

In 1967, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera approached Sid Krofft and Marty Krofft to design costumes for a television show which would feature animated and live-action segments, with the whole show hosted by a bubblegum rock group of anthropomorphic characters. The format of the show was loosely based on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. The Banana Splits Adventure Hour premiered on NBC on September 7, 1968 and ran until September 5, 1970, and in syndication from 1971 to 1982. The series’ sponsor was Kellogg’s Cereals.

The show’s live-action segment Danger Island, a cliffhanger serial, as well as the short-lived Micro Ventures, a part-live action, part-animated series consisting of only four episodes, ran alongside the animated segments Arabian Knights and The Three Musketeers. Actors Jan-Michael Vincent (billed as Michael Vincent) and Ronne Troup appeared in the live-action component Danger Island. All the live-action material filmed for the series’ first season, including the Banana Splits and Danger Island segments, was directed by Richard Donner.

But we’re here to discuss the show’s main attractions: the Banana Splits themselves. Break it down!

FLEEGLE (voiced by Paul Winchell)

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Fleegle was the only Banana Split who was a domestic animal rather than a wild animal and the only Split who didn’t wear sunglasses, but he acted as the de facto leader of the group. His distinctive lisping madcap voice was provided by legendary ventriloquist and voice actor Paul Winchell.

-Did you know that Disney animation voice actress staple April Winchell is the daughter of Paul Winchell? Well, now you do.

BINGO (voiced by Daws Butler)

Bingo

The cheeky gorilla and resident cut-up of the Splits was voiced by animation voice legend Daws Butler. His giant grin could never be duplicated…except by one other musician.

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“Banana-Licious, baby!”

DROOPER (voiced by Allan Melvin)

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Drooper the lion’s laid-back Southern drawl, provided by actor Allan Melvin, is said to have been based on that of The Monkee’s Michael Nesmith.

Mike Nesmith

So Drooper was partially based on my favorite Monkee? Just one more reason for me to like these guys!

SNORKY (no voice actor)

Snorky New Style

Snorky the elephant never spoke, communicating only via beeps and honking sound effects. He’s cleaned up considerably since his original appearance…

Snorky Original

…When he was considerably shaggier, looking more like a woolly mammoth. But hey, it was the late ’60’s, lots of folks back then went through a hippie phase.

You would think that Snorky’s inability to speak (which automatically meant that he couldn’t participate in any verbal humor) would mean that he was less popular than the other Splits. But no…

Coldplay Paradise

…The band Coldplay clearly remembers Snorky well. Check out the pachyderm on the far left. Look familiar?

In addition to engaging in wacky sugar-high levels of slapstick, the Banana Splits also performed pop music. The show’s theme song, titled “The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)”, was written by N.B. Winkless, Jr., who also wrote the the “Snap, Crackle, Pop” jingle for Rice Krispies cereal, among other things. The song was released as a single, attributed to the Banana Splits, and peaked at number 96 on Billboard’s Top 100 in February 1969.

The Banana Splits’ bubblegum pop rock and roll was provided by studio professionals, including Joey Levine (“I Enjoy Being a Boy”, “It’s a Good Day for a Parade”); Al Kooper (“You’re the Lovin’ End”); Barry White (“Doin’ the Banana Split”); Gene Pitney (“Two Ton Tessie”) and Jimmy Radcliffe, who provided his songs (“I’m Gonna Find a Cave”, “Soul”, “Don’t Go Away Go-Go Girl”, “Adam Had ‘Em” and “The Show Must Go On”) but did not contribute vocals to Splits recordings.

Here’s a sample of the Bananas’ music prowess.

 

Admit it, if you didn’t see the giant felt mascots frolicking around, you’d swear that was Cream or Donovan or The Association.

The Banana Splits even spawned a dance craze, or they tried to, anyway. Here they are busting a move with their rivals, the Sour Grapes Bunch.

 

In 2008, Warner Bros. announced a multi-platform release featuring new comedy shorts and music videos; this debuted on Cartoon Network starting on September 2, 2008. The relaunch included a live show and a website, as well as a CD and a DVD featuring 13 new songs, released by Universal Records. In addition, a child-themed area named Banana Splitsville was placed at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina’s Hard Rock Park rock-and-roll theme park, which later became Freestyle Music Park before closing permanently in 2009. (So it went splitsville. Sorry, couldn’t resist.) For the new shorts, Fleegle was voiced by Bill Farmer (yes, for a time, Fleegle and Goofy had the same voice actor), Bingo by Frank Welker and Drooper by Carlos Alazraqui.

Comedian Portraits At The Ice House - May 20, 2010

Yes, the man who voiced played Rocko, Deputy Garcia on Reno 911! and the Taco Bell Chihuahua was once the voice of a Banana Split. I told you these guys had celebrity cred.

 

 

Now you’re free to disagree with me, but I thought these were pretty cool; they captured the original series’ manic glee and joyful goofiness perfectly. Years back I posted an idea for a Cartoon Network program block called HBTV, which was basically DC Nation but for Hanna-Barbera properties, and these shorts would’ve made great filler segments for said block. Pity nobody at CN is willing to try this.

The Banana Splits proved popular enough for H-B to try to repeat their success with lame knockoffs like The Cattanooga Cats

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…And The Skatebirds.

Skatebirds

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HARD PASS.

Seriously, GTFOOH with those poseurs and wannabes. There will only ever be one set of Banana Splits.

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RESPECT THE SPLITS. RESPECT THEM!