The Ruff and Reddy Show

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The Ruff and Reddy Show
Ruff and Reddy.jpg
The show's title card.
Genre Comedy
Format Cartoon series
Cliffhanger
Written by Joseph Barbera
Charles Shows
Directed by William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Bob Hultgren (NBC sequences)
Presented by Jimmy Blaine (original run)
Robert Cottle (reruns)
Voices of Daws Butler
Don Messick
Narrated by Don Messick
Theme music composer Hoyt Curtin
Opening theme "Here Comes Ruff and Reddy"
Composer(s) Hoyt Curtin
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 50 (155 Segments) (List of episodes)
Production
Producer(s) William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Hanna-Barbera Productions
Screen Gems
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Picture format Color
Original run December 14, 1957 (1957-12-14) – April 2, 1960 (1960-04-02)
Chronology
Followed by The Huckleberry Hound Show (1958-1962)

The Ruff and Reddy Show (also known as Ruff and Reddy) is an American animated television series created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera for NBC. The series follows the adventures of Ruff (voiced by Don Messick), a straight and smart cat, and Reddy (Daws Butler), a good-natured, brave dog. Ruff and Reddy was the first television series produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions; it was presented by Screen Gems, the television arm of Columbia Pictures (now Sony Pictures Television). Ruff and Reddy premiered in December 1957 and ran for fifty episodes until April 1960, comprising three seasons.

Hanna and Barbera created the series as the first of their fledgling television operation, first named H-B Enterprises. The "buddy" theme had previously been explored in their Tom and Jerry theatrical short subjects, although Ruff and Reddy lacks the element of the two being enemies. The series is notable as one of the earliest original animated television programs, and a pioneering use of limited animation techniques.

History[edit]

Background[edit]

In 1957, the animation/director team of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera were terminated from an eighteen-year long tenure at MGM Studios, producing the animated Tom and Jerry theatrical short subjects.[1] Their staff, composed of 110 inkers, painters, and animators, were also let go. MGM found it more profitable to continually re-release older cartoons than produce new ones. Hanna and Barbera remained a partnership and invested $30,000 out of pocket into a new venture, H-B Enterprises.[2] The duo began work on storyboards featuring new characters, the first among them Ruff, a cat, and Reddy, a dog. Hanna later equated their respective names with he and his partners' dispositions at the period in which they were created.[3] They forged a deal with former MGM colleague George Sidney in which he forged a small percentage of the new company in return for acting as a business representative.[3] Sidney arranged for a meeting at Screen Gems, who had at the time been considering entering the animation business. Feeling confidence in the Ruff and Reddy characters, the duo presented their proposal, along with a streamlined production budget employing limited animation.[4]

Animation[edit]

Back at MGM our budget was lavish enough to allow as many as sixty drawings per foot of fully animated film. It was a new ballgame for TV. In order to meet our budget for Ruff and Reddy, we had to pare the drawings down to no more than one or two per foot of film.

William Hanna on the show's use of limited animation[5]

Ruff and Reddy, as one of the first original animated series produced for television, pioneered the technique of limited animation. Limited animation would require far less drawings, and, by extension, less inking and painting. This method was employed by necessity, as higher budgets had been the cause for the collapse of the theatrical cartoon business.[4] Hanna, in a six-page memo, had attempted to convince his superiors at MGM to employ economized techniques in order to reduce the cost of their short films, but was never responded to.[4] At that time, he had estimated a six-minute cartoon to cost $17,500 if it employed the limited animation technique (down from the $35,000 budget the duo received at MGM). When pitching to Screen Gems, Hanna had worked down the numbers to a much smaller $3,000, and the duo were very confident the company would respond with great excitement.[4] Screen Gems appreciated the show concept, but explained to the duo that the budget for television, still an experimental medium, would be very stringent. Eventually, the company gave the partnership an option to produce five five-minute segments, with an escalating budget starting from $2,700.[6]

Hanna described the process in his 1996 memoir, A Cast of Friends: "It was essential that we select only the key poses necessary to convincingly impart the illusion of movement in our cartoons."[6] This method often emphasizes close-ups, rather than full or medium shots.[7] All in all, the production process for Ruff and Reddy was not dissimilar from the process used to create theatrical cartoons: a script was written, followed by a storyboard illustrating key poses.[5] Afterwards, a recorded soundtrack with dialogue was used to create a "pose reel," which would give the filmmakers a sense of timing.[5] Watching pose reels during their MGM years had emphasized that simple key poses would be enough to demonstrate humor. Hanna believed the process in line with the nature of television during the period, stressing "intimacy rather spectacle," represented an entirely different viewing experience (a large movie screen versus a small, standard-dimension television screen).[5]

In addition to the quicker, cheaper production process, Hanna and Barbera made the decision to produce the segments in full color. Despite the fact that most television programs of the period were created and broadcast in black and white, "Joe [Barbera] and I could see color programming looming on the television horizon," said Hanna.[6] Ruff and Reddy also eschewed lavish, detailed background art for simple, colorful illustrations.[7]

Writing and music[edit]

Hanna and Barbera were fond of the "ongoing comedic rapport" of cartoon duos, among them the Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner and Sylvester/Tweety rivalries of Warner Brothers cartoons.[8] Their own creation at MGM, Tom and Jerry, had been a variation on this theme. With Ruff and Reddy, they decide to delete the nemesis theme and make the characters best friends instead. "Consequently, this softer relationship placed a greater emphasis on the humor and wit conveyed to the audience through dialogue," wrote Hanna.[8]

Hanna wrote the series' theme music, in his first foray into theme music composition, which would become a staple of Hanna-Barbera for nearly 30 years. His goal to capture the spirit of the characters while also catching the listeners' ear, he penned the lyrics one morning while storyboarding, handing off the sheet music to musical director Hoyt Curtin, who composed the melody.[8] Unlike Tom and Jerry, the two new characters would speak, and the duo held auditions to find voice artists. Mainly selecting those they worked with at MGM, Hanna and Barbera decided to cast Don Messick as Ruff and Daws Butler as Reddy.[9]

Reception[edit]

The series was set to be the opening and closing acts for a half-hour children's program airing on Saturday afternoons.[6] While they had screened the pilot episode prior to broadcast, Hanna later admitted he was nervous as to how the public would respond. He writes in his book that reviews in trade papers were mainly positive, deeming it an "entertaining and clever cartoon program."[9] NBC, following this success, signed the duo to a five-year contract to produce and develop additional animated television series.[9]

Episodes[edit]

Other appearances[edit]

The Ruff & Reddy Show in other languages[edit]

Home video releases[edit]

The first episode of the show, "Planet Pirates", was listed on the press release for the The Best of Warner Bros.: Hanna Barbera 25 Cartoon Collection DVD set to be released on May 21, 2013. However due to an inaccuracy on that press announcement the episode is among several that weren't on the actual DVD set. [10]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]