Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman

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Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman
FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman logo.png
Genre Children's game show
Created by Kate Taylor
Developed by WGBH Boston
Written by Glen Berger
Jim Conroy
Directed by Clifford Saito
Adam Dalley
Joe Truesdell
Peter Lyons
Wayne Simpson
Dean Raymond Robert V. Lange
Chris Whitbeck
Presented by Ruff Ruffman
Starring List of contestants
Voices of Jim Conroy
Narrated by Ruff Ruffman
Theme music composer Terry Tompkins, Rocco Gagliese, Steve D'Angelo for Eggplant LLC
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 100 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Kate Taylor
Producer(s) Paul Serafini
Marcy Gunther
Eric Handler
Alan Catello Grazioso[1]
Location(s) Boston, Massachusetts, and other parts of the USA
Editor(s) Arnie Harchik
Jessica Rueter Andrews
Lisa Wolf
Kathyrn Farrelly
Jennifer Lorenz
Joe Headrick
Arnie Harchik
John Warren
Mark Geffen
Maureen Barillaro
Karen Silverstein
Camera setup Mark C. Helton
Dan Lang
Stephen McCarthy
Multi-camera (For Studio Segments)
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) WGBH-TV
Distributor WGBH-TV
Original network PBS
PBS Kids Go!
PBS Kids
Picture format Closed-Captioned, Color, High Definition
First shown in United States
Original release May 29, 2006 (2006-05-29) – November 4, 2010 (2010-11-04)
Followed by The Ruff Ruffman Show
External links

Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman, sometimes shortened as Fetch!, is an American animated television series that was on PBS Kids. It is a reality-game show that is hosted by an animated anthropomorphic dog named Ruff Ruffman who dispenses challenges to the show's real-life contestants. The series ran for five seasons and 100 episodes from May 29, 2006, to November 4, 2010, on PBS, with 30 contestants in that time. In June 2010, WGBH announced that the series would end due to lack of funding. In June 2008, the series received its first Emmy for Best Original Song for its theme. It's currently airing reruns on the PBS Kids 24/7 Channel.


Fetch! was produced at WGBH Studios in Boston. Seasons were filmed about a year before they aired. Season four was the first season to be filmed in High Definition (HD) in 2009. Due to a lack of funding, WGBH announced that Fetch! would be canceled at the end of its fifth season, even though casting had been completed.

The challenges were filmed mostly in Boston and various other parts of the USA, depending on the challenges, during summertime when the children are out of school. The challenges, which were out on the field, are cut documentary-style, very similar to network reality TV shows.

After the Fetchers finished filming the challenges, contestants acted in-studio, with the voice of Ruff. Jim Conroy traveled to Boston from New York for the two weeks they spent shooting in the studio. The fourth camera simply captured Conroy doing his lines as Ruff in the audio booth. The kids heard him in the studio and he heard their reactions in his headphones. Ruff's lines were the only lines that were scripted out, though he would sometimes ad-lib an answer to a question or comment from a Fetcher. Once the lines were recorded, the show went into editing, where the challenges were sorted into the show order.

Then they were sent to Jim Conroy in New York City, to voice dialog for Ruff's animation. Once that was complete, it was sent back to WGBH where editors placed audio clips of the animated characters. Once all of this was done, the episode was sent to Global Mechanic to animate the show. One out of the four editors had an off-set four-week system in place where one of them was ready to send a cut of a new episode to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada every Friday. This process took about six months to complete one season of the show.[2]

Studio G set[edit]

Studio G is the studio for Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman. Three segments of the show take place in the studio – the intro, halftime quiz show, and "Triumph Tally". In season 1, the contestants recognized that Studio G looked like a garage and asked Ruff why, which in the episode, really annoyed Ruff and told them it was not a garage and that it was "Studio G". Over the course of the show's five seasons, the studio changed. For season 1 and 2, the studio was relatively unaltered, but sizable changes were made to the studio for season 3. The television through which the contestants communicate with Ruff was changed to a more current flat screen TV, and Ruff's owner parked her car, a dusty Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, in the studio. A flamingo and trees as well as a "Studio G" sign and a "wall of fame" displaying past Fetch! contestants were added to the studio in season 2. In season 4, a new remote control Mailbox was placed on the TV Screen, which popped out when a challenge was in the mailbox. Season 5's major renovation occurred during the season finale – it became the Go Get It! studio (Studio P), and was a remodeled version of the Studio G with new carpeting and pink furniture.



Fetch! is a reality-based game show where young contestants take on various challenges to gain points. During these challenges, the contestants must complete a variety of tasks assigned to them ahead of time (and on the fly) by Ruff and surrogates, depending on the situation. There is also an educational component, as contestants often must learn something (i.e. Astronomy, Carpentry, Engineering, Food Science, Biology, Physics, Mathematics, etc.) in order to complete the task.

Not all contestants leave the studio each episode to complete tasks. As determined by the Fetch 3000, the contestants who remain behind in the studio participate in the "Half-Time Quiz Show", in which Ruff asks them up to ten questions with the limited time based on the activities of the contestants out on challenges. Out on challenges, contestants will have the potential to earn up to 100 points. The contestants in the studio will have a chance to win a maximum of 50 in the "Half-Time Quiz Show". The show has a Fetch Fairness Guarantee; that every contestant will "compete for the same number of points" through thirteen challenges and six "Half-time Quiz Shows" before the final episode. Additionally, Ruff assigns "Bone-us" points (usually 5 or 10, but sometimes 15 or 20) to the stand-out contestants. On rare occasions, there is the possibility to earn more than 100 points (outside of any bonuses). The record for most points earned in one episode was 125, by Brian, Noah, and Khalil in episode 5, season 1. In Season 4, contestants are able to have 1/2 points (i.e. 515​12 points). At the end of the season, a final point tally is conducted, with the winner of the tally being declared winner of that season to win the "Grand Prize".

Prizes are not always desirable, and sometimes the prize holder winds up with a "booby prize"; for example, in "Good Dancing and Bad Teeth", Anna and Brian had to dance a waltz in the studio. During the first season, the contestant had the choice of keeping the prize or giving it to a fellow contestant. During the remaining four seasons, there are two unknown prizes between which the winner chooses. The chosen prize may be "mailed" to the mailbox in Studio G, although occasionally large prizes are hidden elsewhere on the set. In one episode of Season 2, Rosario gave his prize to Nina, and in another, he gave it to Madi. In a season 4 episode, Sterling returned his prize to the mailbox.

Cultural references and guest stars[edit]

Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman contains a considerable number of direct cultural references for a PBS Kids show. In the season 2 premiere, when Nina does a rather sloppy job at making chocolate candy, Ruff remarks that it is the "Jackson Pollock candy." In the following episode, Ruff mentions that he likes REO Speedwagon. In Season 3, Episode 13, when Sam and Harsha throw sacks in a pail, Ruff makes a comment saying, "I feel like Shaq in the free throw line", making a reference to Shaquille O' Neal. In season 4, Episode 14, when Talia found a horseshoe crab while working on a shrimp boat, a horrified Ruff exclaimed, "Looks like Darth Vader's face with a billion legs coming out of it!" In Episode 17 of the same season, Talia was starstruck when she discovered that she was holding Roger Federer's tennis racket. In Episode 15 of Season 2, when the scuba instructors arrived at the beach, Ruff claimed that they were "faster than Batman" and that he "hoped [Batman] was watching the show". When Rubye and Marc in Season 5 learned skydiving signs, Ruff remarked that one of the signs looked like "one of Beyoncé's dance moves." In Season 2, Episode 4, when Rosario voiced Ruff for the first time, Ruff remarked: "Is that Ruff Ruffman or Marge Simpson?" In Season 4, Episode 16, when Ruff called Isaac, who was dressed as an old lady, he accidentally called him Mrs. Doubtfire and then corrects himself and says Mrs. Issacson. In Season 5, Episode 18, when Joe explained to the FETCHers, he told Michelle about the book she read. Michelle said: "I believe that was Green Eggs and Ham."

The show also had some guest stars. In season 1, Aaron Carter and the contestants all appeared in his new music video. In season 2, episode 2, Ruff sends Madi and Willie to meet the Blue Man Group, and although he intended for them to meet a "blues" band, Ruff was genuinely impressed. In Season 3, Episode 4, Sam meets Senator Edward Kennedy. In season 5, episode 4, Crush the sea turtle from the movie Finding Nemo makes an appearance via Ruff's Fetch 3000. Andrew Stanton reprises his role as Crush here. In episode 2 of season 4, the host of Design Squad Nathan Ball appeared in a pole vault challenge.[3] In episode 17 of season 4, Gary Sohmers, an appraiser for 13 seasons of Antiques Roadshow (U.S. TV series), made his appearance challenging two of the contestants to explore Brimfield Antiques and Collectibles Show in Brimfield, Massachusetts.[4][5]


Season Episodes Season premiere Season finale Winner
1 20 May 29, 2006 June 29, 2006 Anna Sheridan
2 20 May 28, 2007 June 28, 2007 Mike Spence
3 20 September 29, 2008 October 30, 2008 Jay Anderson
4 20 September 11, 2009[6] October 15, 2009 Liza Giangrande
5 20 October 4, 2010[7] November 4, 2010[8] Marc Frongillo

Cast Members[edit]

  • Season 1: Khalil, Anna, Brian, Julia, Noah, & Taylor (from ZOOM)
  • Season 2: Bridget, Mike, Madi, Rosario, Nina, & Willie
  • Season 3: DJ, Harsha, Jay, Sam, Noël, & Sammy
  • Season 4: Sterling, Liza, Bethany, Isaac, Brian, & Talia
  • Season 5: Emmie, Jay, Marc, Marco, Rubye, & Shreya


The show had auditions for their sixth season in January 2010, but on June 14, 2010, WGBH Boston announced that Season 5 will be the final season due to lack of funding. On June 27, 2010, Jim Conroy (the voice of Ruff) made the official announcement at the Daytime Emmy Awards ceremony. On his Facebook page, he said, "It's such an impossible task going up against Sesame Street, Cyberchase, and The Electric Company. So you have to consider the nomination as a win. Can't complain. PBS gave us 100 episodes and 5 seasons. Many good shows never saw that kind of time." Fetch! aired its fifth and final season in October 2010.



WGBH and Global Mechanic had announced plans to produce a spin-off of Fetch! based on the online game Spyhounds. It would feature Ruff, Blossom, and Chet having a new career as super-spies, and Ruff is in way over his head. Luckily, he has lots of help: four clever kids, a purple poodle named Trixie, and millions of kids online.[9] The spinoff plans were announced but were later canceled.[citation needed]

Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius[edit]

Later, in May 2014, a new spin-off was announced, called Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius.[10] This spin-off debuted in Fall 2014 and features short animations of Ruff Ruffman, focusing on internet safety.


•No. 1: "Texting and You!" (November 2014)

•No. 2: "Photos and You!" (November 2014)

•No. 3: "Searching and You!" (November 2014)

•No. 4: "Technology and You!" (November 2014)

•No. 5: "Technology and You! Bonus Video: Chicken Island" (January 2015)

•No. 6: "Hang Up and Drive!" (July 2015)

•No. 7: "Hang Up and Drive! Bonus Video: Just Drive!" (July 2015)

•No. 8: "Privacy and You!" (January 2016)

•No. 8.1: "Privacy and You!: Deleted Scene" (January 2016)

•No. 9: "The Internet and Chet" (March 2016)

•No. 10: "Say! Cheese?" (May 2016)

•No. 11: "Getting the Most From the Internet" (June 2016)

•No. 12: "An Orange Dog Goes Green" (January 2017)

The Ruff Ruffman Show[edit]

On July 30, 2017, PBS Kids and WGBH announced that Ruff Ruffman along with his two assistants Blossom and Chet will be making a comeback in a new digital series called The Ruff Ruffman Show, where they answer questions from real kids, take on challenges and learns the value of perseverance—all while modeling science inquiry skills. The digital series premiered on September 28, 2017. [12]


Critical reception[edit]

The show was an instant hit with audiences and received critical acclaim. The New York Times applauded the series, writing "The show’s creators have written in all the sarcasm and smartness of a more sophisticated and harder-edged show, but not in a way that condones such behavior. There’s a kind of genius to the setup."[13] Larisa Wiseman of Common Sense Media gave the series four out of five stars, saying this entertaining PBS series combines the comedy of a cartoon, the challenge of a game show, and the excitement of reality TV.[14]


To audition for the program, potential contestants were required to be between the ages of 10 and 14[15] and be able to live in the greater Boston area over the summer, during school vacations, and a few weekends during the school year. Fetchers needed to be able to be filmed without missing school. Auditions were handled by Maura Tighe Casting.


Fetch! has received numerous awards over the years.[16]

  • APEX 2009: Grand Award for The Ruff Guide to Science
  • U.S. International Film and Video Festival 2009: "Certificate for Creative Excellence" in the Children's Programming category
  • 2009 Daytime Emmy Nominations: Outstanding Children's Series, Outstanding Writing in a Children's Series, Outstanding Achievement in Main Title and Graphic Design
  • iParenting Media Award 2009: Winner – Television "2009 Best Products"
  • Parents' Choice Awards 2009: Silver Honor Winner: TV show
  • WorldFest Houston 2009: Gold Remi Award "TV Series – Family/Children"
  • WorldFest Houston 2009: Platinum Remi Award "TV Series – Family/Children"
  • MITX Award 2008: Winner – Best Kids, 'Tweens and Teens site
  • 2008 Daytime Emmy Award: Outstanding Original Song – Children's And Animation – Fetch! Theme Song
  • 2008 Daytime Emmy Nominations: Outstanding Writing in a Children's Series, Outstanding Original Song – Children's And Animation – Fetch! Theme Song, Outstanding Achievement in Single Camera Editing
  • U.S. International Film and Video Festival 2008: First Place "Gold Camera Award" in the Children's Programming category
  • Clarion Award 2008 Competition: Winner – Television Special Audience Program
  • Parents' Choice Awards 2008: Silver Honor Winner: Web site, Recommended Award Winner: TV show
  • WorldFest Houston: Gold Remi Award for "TV Series – Family/Children"
  • iParenting Media Award 2008: Winner – Television "2008 Best Products"
  • PRIX JEUNESSE 2008 Festival: Runner-Up Fourth Place – Ages 7–11 Non-Fiction
  • New York Festival International 2008: Bronze World Medal in Youth programs
  • 2007 Daytime Emmy Nominations: Performer in an Animated Series, Original Song – Fetch! Theme Song
  • U.S. International Film and Video Festival 2007: Second Place "Silver Screen Award" in the Children's Programming category
  • Clarion Award 2007 Competition: Winner – Television Special Audience Program
  • Parents' Choice Awards: 2007 Gold Award Winner
  • WorldFest Houston: Bronze Remi Award for "TV Series – Family/Children"


External links[edit]