First watched : Uncertain
Banana Splits was another Hanna -Barbera production mixing live action with animation. The show presented two new cartoon series and a live action serial with comic links provided by four guys in outlandish animal costumes, the Banana Splits. Ideas were borrowed from everywhere. The Splits "performed" as a band in a not too subtle dig at The Monkees. Snorky the elephant - my favourite - could only communicate by honking a la Harpo Marx and the manic presenting style apparently owed a lot to Rowan and Martin's Laugh -In.
I didn't get any of that at the time of course; I just thought it was great fun. The cartoon series were my first introduction to two pieces of classic literature. Arabian Knights owed very little to the original stories ; it was just a relocated superhero adventure with a team consisting of a dashing young hero, a femme fatale princess, a muscle man, a magician and most memorably a guy who could turn into an animal - "Size of an elephant !". The Three Musketeers was a little more faithful to its source material though had me constantly scratching my head at the title as there were clearly four of them; my favourite, for no reason I can recall was Aramis. There was briefly a third cartoon - which I still remember - called Micro Ventures about a team of scientists shrunken to study insects the better but it was decided that wasn't working so it was pulled after four episodes. The decidedly un-pc live action serial Danger Island didn't interest me as much but is notable for starring a young Jan-Michael Vincent as its hero and being directed by Richard Donner, cutting his teeth before Superman and Lethal Weapon.
The musical interludes were stylistically varied as they would be with Barry White providing the song one week and Gene Pitney the next. They would start with a few cursory shots of the "band" pretending to play their instruments then follow them as they wandered around a local amusement park high-fiving the kids and trying out the rides. The seminal opening titles had them riding beach buggies to the strains of that song and you wonder how many of today's fiftysomething quad bikers are humming that to themselves as they crest a hill.