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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.
- Giggles is beheaded and thrown into a fire.
- Cuddles is sliced vertically in half.
- Toothy is beheaded, but his head is somehow still "alive".
- Lumpy's foot is bitten by Toothy's decapitated head.
- Lumpy's nose disappears several times, including when he slices Cuddles' body in half, before he smashes Giggles' head off, after decapitating Toothy, and when he cuts off Toothy's right arm.
- Cuddles' left half falls behind Toothy but not above him.
- Cuddles' right half falls in front of Giggles' corpse but not above her.
- The green oval on Lumpy's stomach disappears while he is smashing Toothy to bits. It is also absent when he laughs maniacally.
- When Lumpy decapitates Toothy, his head flies behind Lumpy. However, when Lumpy laughs crazily, Toothy's head is in front of him.
- When Lumpy smashes Toothy to bits with the banjo, both of Toothy's legs fly behind Lumpy, but when Toothy's head bites Lumpy's leg, the camera shows one of the legs behind the log he was sitting on.
- When Toothy is being smashed to scraps by Lumpy, his brain and both of his eyes fly behind Lumpy. However, his head is seen with both eyes in and his brain inside it when he attacks Lumpy.
- 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.
- 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).
- Cub wears a mask referencing Lumpy's original concept art in Wrath of Con.
- Giggles looks extremely different in this episode compared to future episodes. In this one, she is a light blue skunk/squirrel.
- When Lumpy kills everyone, a can with the visible label "soup" can be seen flying into the air.
- Giggles' eyes are larger than the other characters'.
- Cuddles' death is similar to his death in Aw Shucks! and Mime's 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.
- This episode stars the four primary characters (who have also appeared in most commercials and advertisements).