The Bugs Bunny Show
|The Bugs Bunny Show|
|Also known as||
|Theme music composer|
|Country of origin||United States|
Friz Freleng |
|Running time||Various; 22 to 66 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Warner Bros. Cartoons|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
ABC (1960–67, 1973–75, 1985–2000) |
CBS (1967–73, 1975–85)
Filmed color: (1960–62) |
broadcast: B&W (1960–72); color (1973–2000)
|First shown in||United States|
|Original release||October 11, 1960– September 2, 2000|
|Related shows||The Porky Pig Show, The Road Runner Show|
The Bugs Bunny Show is an animated television anthology series hosted by Bugs Bunny, mainly composed of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons released by Warner Bros. between August 1, 1948, and the end of 1969. The show originally debuted as a prime time half-hour program on ABC in 1960. Each episode features three theatrical Warner Bros. cartoons, with new linking sequences produced by the Warner Bros. Cartoons staff.
After two seasons, The Bugs Bunny Show moved to Saturday mornings, where it remained in one format or another for nearly four decades. The show's title and length changed regularly over the years, as did the network: both ABC and CBS broadcast versions of The Bugs Bunny Show. In 2000, the series, by then known as The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show, was canceled after the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies libraries became the exclusive property of the Cartoon Network family of cable TV networks in the United States.
Broadcast and format history
The Bugs Bunny Show in prime time
The original Bugs Bunny Show debuted on ABC prime time on October 11, 1960, airing on Tuesdays at 7:30 PM EST, under the sponsorship of General Foods (Post cereals, Tang, etc.). Newly produced linking segments were done for each episode by the Warner Bros. animation staff. Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng produced, directed, and created the storyboards for the earliest of these, with Robert McKimson later taking over the direction while Jones and Freleng continued producing and writing. The wraparounds were produced in color, although the original broadcasts of the show were in black-and-white. A total of 52 episodes were made.
The show's theme song was "This Is It", written by Mack David and Jerry Livingston ("Overture/turn the lights/this is it/the night of nights..."). The opening title sequence, animated by Freleng unit animator Gerry Chiniquy, features Bugs and Daffy Duck performing the song in unison. For the final chorus, a lineup of Looney Tunes characters joins Bugs and Daffy onstage (Porky Pig is absent from the procession).
The Bugs Bunny Show proved beneficial to the Warner Bros. cartoon staff, as it allowed the studio to remain open despite the shrinking market for theatrical animated shorts. The final first-run episode of the original Bugs Bunny Show aired on August 7, 1962, and the Warner Bros. animation studio closed the following spring.
The move to Saturday mornings, 1962–1985
ABC began re-running The Bugs Bunny Show on Saturday mornings in mid-August 1962 until September 1967 when it was moved to Sunday mornings for the remainder of its run. The series was rerun in color beginning in 1965, and remained on ABC until September 1968. At this point, the series switched to CBS, where it was combined with The Road Runner Show (which had aired on CBS since 1966) to create The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour. The standard Bugs Bunny Show opening and the announcer's introduction of Bugs Bunny ("that Oscar-winning rabbit!") were directly followed by the rabbit's saying, "...and also starring my fast feathered friend, the Road Runner", after which The Road Runner Show's theme was played. The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour combined re-edited bridging sequences from both shows to link the seven cartoons featured in each episode. The bridging sequences would be edited further in later versions of the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour. The verse in the This Is It theme song "The night of nights" was retained, despite the fact the show was no longer broadcast in prime time.
In 1971, The Road Runner Show moved to ABC, and a reconstituted half-hour Bugs Bunny Show aired on CBS, featuring re-edited versions of the bridging sequences and a different grouping of cartoons. In 1973, The Bugs Bunny Show returned to ABC for two seasons, only for CBS to re-acquire both shows and bring back The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour in 1975. In 1976, Sylvester and Tweety were featured in their own Sylvester and Tweety Show for one year, necessitating the removal of most of the Tweety and/or Sylvester cartoons on Bugs Bunny/Road Runner that season. Also that year, a weekly half-hour prime-time edition of The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show briefly aired on CBS' Tuesday night schedule from April through June.
The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour became The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show in November 1977 after CBS added another half-hour to the runtime. In 1982, a companion Sylvester & Tweety, Daffy, and Speedy Show was added to the CBS schedule, which included a number of later cartoons produced by a reestablished Warner Bros. Cartoons studio from 1967 to 1969. The following year, this new companion series was canceled, and its cartoons were incorporated into The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show, which was broadcast as two separate hour-long programs on Saturday mornings. In 1983, CBS returned the show to 90 minutes, the bridging sequences were dropped, and the show's opening titles were re-animated. The following year, the "This Is It" opening was jettisoned altogether; a new title sequence (created from clips of the cartoons) and new theme song ("It's Cartoon Gold"), composed by Steve Zuckerman with lyrics by John Klawitter, introduced the show.
Final Saturday morning years, 1985–2000
CBS gave up the rights to broadcast the Warner Bros. cartoons following the 1984–85 season, and as a result, the show moved back to ABC, where it became The Bugs Bunny/Looney Tunes Comedy Hour. Cartoons featuring Tweety or Speedy Gonzales were not broadcast on ABC during the 1985–86 season, the latter presumably due to Mexican stereotypes. The following year, however, Tweety cartoons were added to the program, which was reduced to a half-hour and renamed The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show. Beginning with its third season, The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show was expanded to a full hour, and the original "This Is It" theme was reintroduced, accompanied by a newly animated introductory sequence. Another version of the "This Is It" opening sequence was done in 1992.
Though the program did not qualify for the educational/informational designation, it nonetheless remained on Saturday mornings after the new designation debuted in 1996, one of the few non-E/I programs to survive the rules changes. That same year, ABC was bought by The Walt Disney Company, and The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show was the only non-Disney cartoon to remain on the lineup, due to their contract not being up yet, and was in the first few years of the Disney's One Saturday Morning block starting in 1997 (with "Disney's" omitted from the logos on the Disney's One Saturday Morning bumpers during the show.) The show also continued airing despite Time Warner's purchase of Turner Broadcasting, which included Cartoon Network, that same year. The program was often paired with ABC's in-house Schoolhouse Rock! shorts during this time.
The hour-long Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show remained on the air until 1999, when it was again reduced to a half-hour. In 2000, Warner Bros. made the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies film library exclusive to Cartoon Network, as it, along with Warner Bros., is owned by what is now WarnerMedia (formerly Time Warner). As a result, The Bugs Bunny Show ended its four-decade-long network run, one of the longest runs in the history of United States network television.
This show is credited for keeping the Warner Bros. cartoons made during the Golden Age of American animation a part of the American consciousness. Indeed, the show ran for more than four decades, and helped inspire animators, comedians, historians, and others who watched Saturday morning television.
The "This Is It" song's fame is such that it has been used elsewhere such as in the Canadian province of Ontario where it was used in a TV commercial promoting the various performing arts tourist attractions where artists of various disciplines sing separate lines of the song. In "The Opera," an episode from the fourth season of the US sitcom Seinfeld, Jerry sings "This Is It" to Elaine while both characters are waiting outside the theater, causing Elaine to exclaim, "You know it is so sad, all your knowledge of high culture comes from Bugs Bunny cartoons."
When Warner Bros. released its video series "Golden Jubilee", featuring the classic cartoons, the opening sequence shows the Tasmanian Devil maniacally riding a motorcycle down a city street, chased by a police car. He makes a sharp turn into a theater, where the rest of the Looney Tunes are performing to the Bugs Bunny Show tune.
Title sequences and some linking material from the original Bugs Bunny Show are included as bonus features on each volume of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD collection (with the exception of Volume 6). As the original color negatives were cut up by CBS and ABC to create later versions of the show, the linking sequences are presented on DVD using a combination of footage from both what's left of the color negatives (some of which were used in later incarnations, thus helping to preserve them) and the black-and-white ABC broadcast prints prepared in the early 1960s.
On the Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 2, the opening to the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show (with the announcer calling it the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour) and two openings to the Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show (the 1988 opening and the 1992 opening) were released as special features.
In 2009, an episode of the Bugs Bunny Show was released as part of a DVD set entitled Saturday Morning Cartoons 1960s: Volume 2. Saturday Morning Cartoons 1970s: Volume 2 includes an episode of the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show.
- The Bugs Bunny Show, October 11, 1960 – September 8, 1968 (in color starting September 10, 1966) (ABC)
- The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour, September 14, 1968 – September 4, 1971 (CBS)
- The Bugs Bunny Show, September 11, 1971 – September 1, 1973 (CBS)
- The Bugs Bunny Show, September 8, 1973 - August 30, 1975 (ABC)
- The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour, September 6, 1975 – November 12, 1977 (CBS)
- The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show, November 19, 1977 – September 7, 1985 (CBS)
- The Bugs Bunny/Looney Tunes Comedy Hour, September 7, 1985 – September 6, 1986 (ABC)
- The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show, September 13, 1986 – September 2, 2000 (ABC)
- Senior Directors: Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Robert McKimson
- Co-Directors: Hawley Pratt, Gerry Chiniquy, Art Davis, Abe Levitow, Maurice Noble, Alex Lovy, David Detiege, Rudy Larriva, Tom Ray
- Stories, Animation, layouts, and backgrounds: Members of Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Local 839
- Voices: Mel Blanc, Jeff Bergman, June Foray, Arthur Q. Bryan, Daws Butler, Bea Benaderet, Paul Frees, Marvin Miller, Hal Smith, Larry Storch, Barbara Cameron, Julie Bennett, Sara Berner, Robert C. Bruce II, Paul Julian, Dick Beals, Stan Freberg
- Music: Carl W. Stalling, Milt Franklyn, John Seely, William Lava, William L. Hendricks, Walter Greene, Eugene Poddany, Doug Goodwin, Rob Walsh, Quinn Amper, Fred Strittmatter, Dean Elliot
- The Bugs Bunny Show Opening and Closing Theme: "This Is It" by Mack David & Jerry Livingston
- Film Editors: Treg Brown, Hal Geer, Fred Farrell, Chuck McCann, Jim Champin, Lee Gunther
- Producers: Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, David H. DePatie
- Executive Producers: Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, David H. DePatie, William L. Hendricks, Peter Morales, Andrew Stein, Hal Geer, Steven S. Greene, Kathleen Helppie-Shipley, Jean H. MacCurdy, Lorri A. Bond
- Maltin, Leonard (1980, rev. 1987). Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons. New York: Plume/Penguin Books. Pg. 274–275.
- McCorry, Kevin (2007). "The Bugs Bunny Show Page."
- Barrier, Michael (1999). Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in its Golden Age. New York: Oxford University Press. Pg. 562. ISBN 0-19-516729-5.
- The Bugs Bunny Show: A Tale of Two Kitties – TV.com
- McCorry, Kevin (2007). "The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour Page."
- Beck, Jerry and Will Friedwald, Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: The Complete Illustrated Guide to the Warner Bros. Cartoons, Henry Holt, 1989
- McCorry, Kevin (2007). "The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show Page."
- "Looney Tunes on Television", a website dedicated to the Looney Tunes television broadcast history, and maintained by Kevin McCorry and Jon Cooke. Archived 2011-10-08 at the Wayback Machine.
- Beck, Jerry. "Cartoon Research FAQ". CartoonResearch.com. Retrieved May 16, 2010.