Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rein-Toon-Ation: The Banana Splits in Hocus Pocus Park (1972)

2 years after their NBC series had ended, The Banana Splits returned in an all-new 1 hour movie as part of the ABC Saturday Superstar Movie.

In "The Banana Splits in Hocus-Pocus Park", the boys (Paul Winchell, Don Messick, Allan Melvin, & Daws Butler) are reduced to being tour guides at an amusement park. Forced to reduce their rates down to nothing, they attract one solitary little girl, who ends up being lured into the Forbidden Forest, where the wizards, Hocus & Pocus (both voiced by Howard Morris, although it sounds like Messick takes over as Hocus briefly), capture her. The Splits follow, and so does chaos......

Edit, 2/22/18: The video has been deleted. In its place, we have a compilation of the live-action footage, shot at Kings Island, outside of Cincinnati.

If this was meant to be a pilot for a revival, it failed, obviously. Wikipedia for some reason listed Barry Williams (The Brady Bunch/Brady Kids) as being in the cast, but obviously had this film confused with the Brady Kids pilot that was part of the Superstar Movie series as well. Butler's Bingo voice was a bit off, suggesting that there was a sound mix problem or Butler might've been ill, and either Messick or Morris filled in at some point, I can't be sure.

Rating: C.


magicdog said...

I remember seeing this as a wee one. I had thought how cool it was to see the Splits in animated form for the first (and only) time.

Seeing it again only cements why this possible revival failed - it was boring! The writers spent waaay too much time on the gag of the Splits trying to enter the castle. This got on my adult nerves; it's a shame since the idea was solid. If the movie had been sold, I could imagine the series would have been The Splits and Susie trying to find their way back from the forest and constantly dodging the Witch and Hocus & Pocus - not unlike The Wizard of Oz.

In my Impossibles reboot, I wrote a storyline in which this movie gets a wink and nod by having The Impossibles going into the billboard to rescue a child lured by a wicked witch (Cronella Critch, who was a foe they tangled with in the original series). When they do so, they turn into their original animated selves and essentially have to complete their mission in a classic HB world complete with old sound effects and the original show's depiction of their powers! By the time they return, they play one of the Splits' old tunes and as a topper, sing and reenact the end credits of the Banana Splits show!

hobbyfan said...

There was only one writer---Woody Kling, who was also writing the abysmal Josie in Outer Space series at the same time.

Your idea suggests that it could've been a riff on HR Pufnstuf, which was in reruns at that time and had moved to ABC from NBC for one last cycle. As we saw, Hocus & Pocus ended up helping the Splits after a good deed by Fleegle, and.......!