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Banjo Frenzy is the pilot episode of Happy Tree Friends, created in 1999. The animation and writing are fairly primitive compared to what the series would later become.
Before there was Cuddles, Giggles, Toothy, and Lumpy, three cute creatures sat around a campfire with a banjo dinosaur that don't take well to criticism. Watch Banjo Frenzy, the seed that blossomed into the bloody good time we all come to love!
The episode begins with a blue dinosaur playing a song on his banjo for three young animals: a yellow rabbit, a light blue squirrel, and a purple beaver. Suddenly, one of the strings on the dinosaur's banjo breaks, saddening him, and making the three animals laugh at and mock him.
Infuriated, the dinosaur swings the banjo at the chipmunk, slicing her head off. As the other two animals look on in horror, the dinosaur slices the rabbit in half, slices off the beaver's head, and then begins bashing at their remains with a crazed look.
The beaver's head, which is still alive, retaliates by biting one of the dinosaur's feet, making the dinosaur scream loudly in pain, ending the episode.
- The squirrel is beheaded and thrown into a fire.
- The rabbit is sliced vertically in half.
- The beaver is beheaded, but his head is somehow still "alive". (Debatable)
- The dinosaur's foot is bitten by the beaver's decapitated head.
- A string breaks on Lumpy's banjo.
- The dinosaur's nose disappears several times, including when he slices the rabbit's body in half, before he smashes the squirrel's head off, after decapitating the beaver, and when he cuts off the beaver's right arm.
- The rabbit's left half falls behind the beaver, but not above him.
- The rabbit right half falls in front of the squirrel's corpse but not above her.
- The green oval on the dinosaur's stomach disappears while he is smashing the beaver to bits. It is also absent when he laughs maniacally.
- When the dinosaur decapitates the beaver, his head flies behind the dinosaur. However, when he laughs crazily, the beaver's head is right next to him.
- When the dinosaur smashes the beaver to bits with the banjo, both of the beaver's legs fly behind the dinosaur, but when the beaver's head bites the dinosaur's foot, the camera shows one of the legs behind the log he was sitting on.
- When the beaver is being smashed to scraps by the dinosaur, his brain and both of his eyes fly behind the dinosaur. However, his head is seen with both eyes in and his brain inside it when he attacks the dinosaur.
- The title card says "The Happy Tree Friends Bonanza". This may suggest that this was the show's working title throughout production of the series.
- The characters that appear in this episode are all early concepts of Cuddles, Giggles, Toothy, and Lumpy, the show's four primary characters.
- This episode makes Giggles the first character to die in the entire series.
- The dinosaur represents an early concept of both Lumpy (appearance) and Flippy (personality).
- In Wrath of Con, Cub can be seen wearing a mask that resembles Lumpy's original appearance.
- Giggles looks extremely different in this episode compared to future episodes. In this one, she is a light blue squirrel.
- When the dinosaur kills everyone, a can with the visible label "soup" can be seen flying into the air.
- The squirrel's eyes are larger than the other characters'.
- The way the rabbit was killed is similar to his (Cuddles) death in Aw, Shucks! and Mime's death in Something Fishy.
- The characters from this episode also appear in Spin Fun Knowin' Ya.
- As shown from early concept arts of this episode, the dinosaur was originally a bear, which also had a flipped-out form, possibly meaning that the bear was an early version of Flippy.
- The tune that Lumpy plays on his banjo before the string breaks as well as what continues as he enters his rage is the famous "Duel Tune" from the well-known 1972 film Deliverance, which can be heard here.