The Bugs Bunny/Looney Tunes Comedy Hour

The Bugs Bunny Show

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.

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. 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.

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.

The move to Saturday mornings, 1962 - 1985

ABC began re-running The Bugs Bunny Show on Saturday mornings in August 1962. 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 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. In addition, new Warner Bros. cartoons produced by DePatie-Freleng from 1963 to 1967, were added to the show at this 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.

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.

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 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 "Bugs Bunny Overture" theme was reintroduced, accompanied by a newly animated introductory sequence. Another version of the "Bugs Bunny Overture" opening sequence was done in 1992.

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.

Legacy

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 "Bugs Bunny Overture'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.

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.

Formats

  • 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 13, 1975 - September 2, 1978 (CBS)
  • The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show, September 9, 1978 - 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)

References

External links

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