The Bugs Bunny Show is a long-running American television anthology series hosted by Bugs Bunny, that was mainly composed of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons produced for Warner Bros. between 1948 and 1969. The show originally debuted as a primetime half-hour program on ABC in 1960, featuring three theatrical Warner Bros. cartoons with new linking sequences produced by the Warner Bros. Cartoons staff.
After three 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 station broadcasting it: both ABC and CBS have 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/Merrie Melodies library became exclusive to the Cartoon Network family of cable TV networks.
The show's theme song was "The Bugs Bunny Overture (This is It!)", written by Mack David and Jerry Livingston ("Overture/curtain, 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 the bunny and duck onstage (Porky Pig, however, is absent from the procession).
The Bugs Bunny Show proved beneficial to the Warner Bros. 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.
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.
The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour became The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show in 1978 after CBS added another half-hour to the runtime. In 1981, 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 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 "Bugs Bunny Overture" opening was jettisoned altogether; a new title sequence (created from clips of the cartoons) and new theme song, composed by John Klawitter, introduced the show.
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 the Cartoon Network, as it, along with parent Warner Bros. is owned by 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.
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. 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 the color negatives and the black-and-white ABC broadcast prints prepared in the early 1960s.