November 03, 2018


(ABC, CBS, October 11, 1960-September 2, 2000)

Warner Bros. Animation


For the history of Looney Tunes, check out the post here.

            In the earliest days of television, movie studios sought to make use of the large library of shorts they had already created for the theaters by packaging them for broadcast on the networks. Not only would this provide a second return on their initial investment, but it also meant that studios could avoid the costs of producing anything new. Warner Bros. made their entry into the television animation market with 1960’s The Bugs Bunny Show.

Bugs and friends ready to broadcast on television.

            The Bugs Bunny Show made its debut on October 11, 1960 on ABC. It was a prime-time half-hour anthology series that aired on Tuesdays. Each episode was comprised of three Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies theatrical shorts from 1948-on (everything before then was sold to Associated Artists Productions). As the name implied, “hosting” the show was Bugs Bunny (Mel Blanc) in a series of all-new linking segments that ran with each episode.

The Goofy Gophers politely insisting the other host first.

The premise of the segments was that Bugs and his friends were putting on a variety show before a live audience. Bugs would typically serve as emcee, but other characters could have their turn as well. These segments were written, produced, directed, and storyboarded by Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng, with Robert McKimson later taking over directorial duties. Because of the pedigree of the creators involved, the new segments often matched the quality of the shorts they accompanied. These segments were rendered in color like the shorts, despite the initial broadcasts of the show being in black and white (color television didn’t become the standard until the mid-1960s).

Bugs plugging his sponsor.

For the second season, the bridging sequences were made more elaborate. Each one directly correlated to the shorts shown in a particular episode, and sometimes was used to expand upon their plots or connect them into one long story. These new episodes were also given their own distinctive titles. A total of 52 episodes were made between both seasons, keeping the Warner Bros. animation studio open in spite of the decreased demand for theatrical shorts.

Production art of Daffy fleeing from Taz.

            Mack David and Jerry Livingston wrote and composed the series’ opening theme, “This Is It.” The intro featured Bugs and Daffy Duck (also Blanc) singing the song on stage in a duet before being joined by a chorus of other Looney Tunes characters: Tweety Bird, Speedy Gonzales, Hippety Hopper, Yosemite Sam, Sylvester Cat, Elmer Fudd, Pepe Le Pew, Wile E. Coyote and Foghorn Leghorn. Immediately following the intro, the sponsor of that particular episode would get a mention from the cast. The end sequence showed the curtain dropping on the stage and the copyright information of the aired cartoons highlighted within a spotlight beam. The final episode of the original run aired on August 7, 1962, and the studio closed the following year.

            ABC moved reruns of the show to Saturday mornings immediately following its conclusion, switching it to color broadcasts in 1965. In 1967, the show was moved to Sunday where it remained until 1968. At that point, CBS had acquired the broadcast rights and combined it with their own Warner Bros. anthology series, The Road Runner Show. The new The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour (called “Show” in the on-screen titles) debuted on September 14, 1968. It kept both shows’ individual intros intact with a new bridging segment of Bugs introducing the Road Runner by McKimson. The bridging segments from both shows were edited and combined to link the seven shorts shown each episode. 

CBS Saturday morning ad featuring The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show.

            When ABC acquired The Road Runner Show in 1971, The Bugs Bunny Show returned to its original half-hour format on September 6 featuring additional edits to the bridging sequences and a new selection of shorts. The Bugs Bunny Show returned to ABC on September 8, 1973 for two seasons until moving back to CBS for an all-new The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour on September 6, 1975. When Sylvester and Tweety were given their own show in 1976, their shorts were removed from the Hour rotation. Hour also received a spin-off, The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show, which aired Tuesday nights from April through June.

            On November 19, 1977, CBS added another half-hour, renaming it The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show. It was joined by two companion programs: The Bugs Bunny/Speedy Gonzales/Porky Pig Show and The Sylvester & Tweety, Daffy and Speedy Show. Following Sylvester & Tweety’s cancellation in 1983, those shorts were incorporated into Bugs Bunny/Road Runner. As a result, it was expanded it by an additional half-hour that aired as two separate hour-long programs. That same year, the show was reduced back to 90-minutes, given a new opening sequence, and its bridging sequences were dropped entirely. In 1984, a new intro was created utilizing clips from the various cartoons in order to accompany the new theme song, “It’s Cartoon Gold”, written by John Klawitter and composed by Steve Zuckerman.

            CBS gave up the broadcast rights to the Warner Bros. cartoons in 1985, resulting in the show returning to ABC as The Bugs Bunny/Looney Tunes Comedy Hour. For the first season, cartoons featuring Tweety weren’t shown. Neither were cartoons featuring Speedy; likely due to complaints of racial stereotyping. The following season, the show was cut to a half-hour with Tweety shorts added back into the mix, and it was renamed The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show on September 13, 1986. In the third season, the show was restored to an hour and “This Is It” was reinstated as the opening theme with a newly animated intro reminiscent of the original Bugs Bunny Show. Another new intro sequence would follow in 1992.

            The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show remained on ABC until the end of the century. It was one of the few non “educational and informative” cartoons to survive the new FCC regulations for children’s programming. It was also the last non-Disney program to remain on the network following Disney’s purchase of it in 1996 as their contract to run it had not yet expired. It was integrated into Disney’s One Saturday Morning programming block when it debuted in 1997; however, the “Disney” name was omitted from commercial bumpers aired during the show. In 1999, the show was once again reduced to a half-hour for the final time before it was cancelled due to the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies libraries being made exclusive to Cartoon Network. The last episode aired on September 2, 2000.

With 40 years on the air, The Bugs Bunny Show in all its formats is credited with keeping the Golden Age Warner Bros. cartoons in the American consciousness and inspiring legions of creative people who grew up watching them. The title sequences and some of the linking segments were included as bonus features on the first five volumes of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection. Because of the damage to the negatives caused by CBS and ABC’s edits for later broadcasts, a combination of color footage from what’s left of the negatives and the black and white broadcast prints from the 1960s were used for their presentation. Golden Collection: Volume 2 also features the opening to The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show and the 1988 and 1992 intros of The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show. An episode of The Bugs Bunny Show was included on the 2009 DVD compilation set Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1960s Volume 2 and an episode of The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show was included on the follow-up set, 1970s Volume 2

EPISODE GUIDE (“rev” dates are when re-edited versions of an episode aired):
Season 1:
#1 (10/11/60) – Bugs introduces all of his co-stars, excluding Daffy despite his best efforts.
Shorts: Rabbit Every Monday”, “A Mouse Divided”, “Tree For Two

#2 (10/18/60, rev 11/27/71) – When Rocky and Mugsy watch the show, they realize they can get rich from sponsors by going into the television business.
Shorts: Putty Tat Trouble”, “Wise Quackers”, “Speedy Gonzales
Shorts (’71): Transylvania 6-5000”, “Each Dawn I Crow”, “One Froggy Evening”

#3 (10/25/60, rev 11/20/71) – Pepe Le Pew hosts the show from his apartment in Paris, showcasing all the romance-filled parts of the city.
Shorts: Wild Over You”, “Go Fly a Kit”, “Mouse Warming
Shorts (’71): “Scent-imental Romeo”, “The Cat’s Bah”, “Frigid Hare”

#4 (11/1/60) – Bugs’ attempt to host the show keeps being interrupted by Wile E.’s attempts to nab the Road Runner.
Shorts: To Itch His Own”, “Gee Whiz-z-z-z!”, “Whoa Be-Gone!

#5 (11/8/60, rev 1/1/72) – Daffy tries different outfits in order to be able to host the show, but Bugs informs him none are appropriate for the upcoming cartoons.
Shorts (’71): “Double or Mutton”, “Knighty Knight Bugs”, “For Scent-imental Reasons”

#6 (11/15/60, rev 1/22/72) – Bugs and Daffy’s musical interlude disturbs neighbor Yosemite Sam’s slumber, prompting him to charge into the studio and destroy their instruments.
Shorts: Long-Haired Hare”, “Sandy Claws”, “Mouse Wreckers
Shorts (’71): “14 Carrot Rabbit”, “Long-Haired Hare”, “Claws for Alarm”

#7 (11/22/60, rev 9/25/71) – Daffy disguises himself as Bugs in order to host the show, but unfortunately that happens to be the night a sheepdog decides to visit and catch the bunny-rabbit.
Shorts (’71): “Barbary Coast Bunny”, “Hen House Henery”, “Canned Feud”

#8 (11/29/60) – In Daffy’s latest attempt to host, he kicks all the others off the stage.

#9 (12/6/60) – When it’s Tweety’s turn to host, Bugs hangs his cage high above the stage to keep him safe from Sylvester.
Shorts: Bunker Hill Bunny”, “Each Dawn I Crow”, “Golden Yeggs

#10 (12/13/60) – Yosemite Sam attends the show in order to get Bugs.
Shorts: Which is Witch?”, “Mouse Mazurka”, “Kit for Cat

#11 (12/20/60, rev 9/11/71) – It’s Porky’s turn to host, but he keeps being interrupted by Charlie Dog who wants a new master.
Shorts: Two’s a Crowd”, “All Abir-r-rd”, “The Hasty Hare
Shorts (’71): “Terrier Stricken”, “Dog Gone South”, “Devil May Hare”

#12 (12/27/60, rev 12/25/71) – Foghorn Leghorn thinks he’ll be a better host than George P. Dog, once he deals with Henry Hawk’s pestering hunt for chicken.
Shorts: What’s Up, Doc?”, “Early to Bet”, “Pop ‘im Pop!
Shorts (’71): “To Hare is Human”, “Cheese Chasers”, “What’s Up, Doc?”

#13 (1/3/61) – Sylvester’s hosting duties are interrupted by his and his son’s quest to capture the giant “mouse”, Hippety Hopper.

#14 (1/10/61, rev 12/4/71) – Elmer Fudd decides to use his hosting duties as an opportunity to show off his singing voice, but the notes run away from his sheet music.
Shorts: Ant Pasted”, “The Fair-Haired Hare”, “I Gopher You
Shorts (’71): “The Rabbit of Seville”, “Ant Pasted”, “I Gopher You”

#15 (1/17/61) – Bugs finally gives Daffy some recognition by hosting an all-Daffy tribute episode.
Shorts: Rocket Squad”, “Daffy Dilly”, “Drip-Along Daffy

#16 (1/24/61, rev 2/12/72) – Foghorn Leghorn introduces old-time actress Miss Prissy and proceeds to reenact some of her more famous roles while she introduces the cartoons via crystal ball.
Shorts (’71): “A Fractured Leghorn”, “High Note”, “Hot Cross Bunny”

#17 (1/31/61, rev 1/29/72) – Daffy plays the part of an unseen animator who messes with Foghorn Leghorn when he tries to host.
Shorts (’71): “Sahara Hare”, “The Turn-Tale Wolf”, “The Foghorn Leghorn”

#18 (2/7/61) – Mexicali cats Jose and Manuel host the show only to be heckled into a chase by Speedy Gonzales.

#19 (2/14/61, rev 10/2/71) – Bugs demonstrates how to draw a cartoon character by using Daffy as an example.
Shorts (’71): “Hare We Go”, “A Waggily Tale”, “Just Plane Beep”

#20 (2/21/61) – When Elmer Fudd sees Bugs receives top billing for the night’s opera performances, he decides to let his shotgun explain his displeasure at that.

#21 (2/28/61) – Mac and Tosh, the Goofy Gophers, serve as the host for the night’s festivities.

#22 (3/7/61) – Sylvester regales his son with fairy tales, Looney Tunes style.

#23 (3/14/61, rev 11/6/71) – The Goofy Gophers host again and spend their time politely arguing over who should introduce the next cartoon, prompting Bugs to step in and get the show rolling.
Shorts: Big House Bunny”, “Canned Feud”, “Home Tweet Home
Shorts (’71): “Bully For Bugs”, “Two’s a Crowd”, “Big House Bunny”

#24 (3/21/61, rev. 10/23/71) – When Pepe Le Pew is selected as host over Yosemite Sam, Sam tries to get rid of Pepe in any way possible.
Shorts: Mississippi Hare”, “Terrier Stricken”, “Cheese Chasers
Shorts (’71): “No Parking Hare”, “Mississippi Hare”, “Little Beau Pepe”

#25 (3/28/61) – Daffy misses his chance to host as Taz hungrily pursues him backstage.
Shorts: Hen House Henery”, “Curtain Razor”, “Devil May Hare

#26 (4/4/61) – Rocky and Mugsy hijack the show and Rocky serves as the host.

Season 2:
“Bad-Time Story” (10/10/61, rev 2/19/72) – Bugs selects a book for “Reading Out Loud Night” and walks into a series of fairy tale-inspired shorts.
Shorts (’71): “Bewitched Bunny”, “Robin Hood Daffy”, “Tweety and the Beanstalk”

“Satan’s Waitin’” (10/17/61, rev 12/18/71) – When Yosemite Sam is sent to Hell, Satan gives him a second chance provided Sam wrangles Bugs for him.
Shorts: Hare Trimmed”, “Roman Legion-hare”, “Sahara Hare
Shorts (’71): “Hare Trimmed”, “Roman Legion-hare”, “The Fair-Haired Hare”

“Daffy Doodling” (10/24/61) – Daffy manages to outwit Bugs in order to host the night’s show.

“Omni-Puss” (10/31/61, rev 10/9/71) – Bugs gives a lecture about different types of cats.
Shorts: Mouse-taken Identity”, “Kiss Me Cat”, “Heaven Scent
Shorts (’71): Dr. Devil and Mr. Hare”, “Who’s Kitten Who?”, “Heaven Scent”

“Tired and Feathered” (11/7/61, rev. 10/16/71) – Bugs gives a lecture about different types of birds.
Shorts (’71): Mad as a Mars Hare”, “Tweety’s S.O.S.”, “Chaser on the Rocks

“Man’s Best Friend” (11/14/61, rev 9/18/71) – Bugs gives a lecture about dogs, after dealing with some issues with his projectionist.
Shorts: Sheep Ahoy”, “Chow Hound”, “Pappy’s Puppy
Shorts (’71): “The Windblown Hare”, “Don’t Give Up the Sheep”, “Stooge for a Mouse”

“Ball Point Puns” (11/21/61) – Red and black dancing pens perform a figure skating routine on a piece of paper supplied by Bugs.

“The Unfinished Symphony” (11/28/61) – An annoying fly continually interrupts the show.

“Prison to Prison” (12/5/61, rev 12/11/71) – Bugs pulls out his best Alfred Hitchcock impression to talk about crime.
Shorts: Deduce You Say”, “The Hole Idea”, “Bugsy and Mugsy
Shorts (’71): “My Bunny Lies Over the Sea”, “The Hole Idea”, “Bugsy and Mugsy”

“Go, Man, Go” (12/12/61, rev 3/4/72) – Bugs delivers a lecture about humankind.
Shorts: There Auto Be a Law”, “Wild Wife”, “No Parking Hare
Shorts (’71): “Mutiny on the Bunny”, “There Auto be a Law”, “Bear Feet”

“I’m Just Wild About Hare” (12/19/61, rev 1/15/72) – When Bugs oversleeps it’s up to the show’s announcer to introduce that night’s cartoons.
Shorts: Stork Naked”, “Going! Going! Gosh!”, “Touche and Go
Shorts (’71): “Knights Must Fall”, “Kit For Cat”, “The Leghorn Blows at Midnight”

“Stage Couch” (12/26/91) – His inability to capture Tweety has Sylvester on the verge of a mental breakdown and in need of therapy.

“Do or Diet” (1/16/62, rev 2/5/72) – Bugs hosts with Taz and tries to talk him into adopting a carrot diet.
Shorts: Bedevilled Rabbit”, “Stupor Duck”, “Little Boy Boo
Shorts (’71): “Rabbit Every Monday”, “Bedevilled Rabbit”, “Duck Amuck”

“Hare Brush” (1/23/62) – Harry the Brush explains his role in animating cartoons.

“Is This a Life?” (2/13/62) – Bugs’ friends and foes visit the stage to offer a retrospective of Bugs’ life.
Shorts: 14 Carrot Rabbit”, “Robot Rabbit”, “High Diving Hare

“De-duck-tive Story” (2/20/62) – A look back at Daffy’s attempts to be a super sleuth.
Shorts: Boston Quackie”, “The Super Snooper”, “Dime to Retire

“The Astro-Nuts” (3/13/62, rev 10/30/71) – Bugs dons his Super-Rabbit costume in order to introduce the science-fiction themed cartoons of the night.
Shorts (’71): “A-Lad-in His Lamp”, “The Hasty Hare”, “Hare-Way to the Stars”

“Vera’s Cruise” (3/20/62) – Sylvester relays his globe-trotting adventures in the pursuit of Tweety.
Shorts: Dr. Jerkyl’s Hide”, “Tweety’s S.O.S.”, “A Pizza Tweety Pie”, “All Abir-r-rd”

“Foreign Legion Leghorn” (4/19/62, rev 11/13/71) – Women and kid troubles have driven Foghorn Leghorn from America to join the French military.
Shorts (’71): “High Diving Hare”, “Lovelorn Leghorn”, “Little Boy Boo”

“Watch My Line” (4/26/62) – Bugs and an animator show all the things a simple line can become in a cartoon.
Shorts: A Waggily Tale”, “Scrambled Aches”, “Rabbit Rampage

“What’s Up, Dog?” (7/3/62) – It’s a dog-eat-dog world with a collection of canine shorts.
Shorts: The Awful Orphan”, “Don’t Axe Me”, “Mixed Master

“The Cat’s Bah” (7/10/62) – Pepe le Pew recounts some of his failed attempts at romance.
Shorts: The Cat’s Bah”, “Frigid Hare”, “Little Beau Pepe

“No Business Like Slow Business” (7/17/62) – Speedy and his cousin Slowpoke Rodriguez host the night’s show.

“The Honey-Mousers” (7/24/62, rev 2/26/72) – Finding the viewers in his dressing room, Bugs invites them to watch television with him.
Shorts (’71): “Bunker Hill Bunny”, “Hillbilly Hare”, “Cheese It- the Cat!”

“A Star is Bored” (7/31/62, rev 1/8/72) – Daffy crashes Bugs’ latest lecture on animation, claiming to be a clean-up artist.
Shorts (’71): “Curtain Razor”, “Mouse Wreckers”, “Bewitched Bunny”

“A Tale of Two Kitties” (8/7/62) – Sylvester and his son give a lecture on mice.

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