FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman (2006-2010) is a PBS show that is part game show, part parody of game shows, and part reality TV (the children who take the roles of contestants actually have to go out and do something, ranging from adventures in space camp to working out a "haunted castle", but they also have interactions with the titular dog and each other inside a sort of hub for the show). It is also a Spiritual Successor to ZOOM. The host is Ruff Ruffman, an animated dog who, as it is explained in the catchy opening tune, got bored with normal dog things and decided to host a game show. In his owner's garage. There is the cat, Princess Blossom Pepper-Doodle Von Yum Yum who started season two as Ruff's assistant, and then in season three became his producer. And then starting in season three there is Ruff's assistant Chet, a mouse, who almost never does anything the way Ruff would actually like him to.Hilarity Ensues, but so does education.Each episode generally follows a standard format, with the introduction of the six contestants. These change each season, but are generally middle-school aged kids. Ruff sends some of them (and occasionally all of them) out on various challenges. The contestants who stay behind have to answer trivia questions about the challenges during the Half-Time Quiz Show. At the end of the show, each contestant is awarded points, leading up to the final episode in each season and the crowning of another Grand Champion.A handy animated machine manned by Ruff, called the Fetch 3000, divides the young contestants (excuse us, Fetchers) into three groups: Some of them (the exact number changes from episode to episode, but the "Fetch Fairness Guarantee" ensures that all contestants are given an equal opportunity for points by the end of the show) charge to the front of Studio G - otherwise known as "Ruff's garage", though he always insists that it isn't – to collect their missions from the mailbox, with Ruff's cheery yell of "Now g-o-o-o Fetch!" accompanying them. The chosen group all go off to enjoy their challenges, and the show focuses on them until about halfway through the program, at which point Ruff provides the leftovers with a "Half-Time Quiz Show" with some good opportunities to score points based on what the field Fetchers had been doing. While the kids left over can't score as many points as the away kids, Ruff points out in every episode that every contestant gets the same number of home and away missions, so they all have the opportunity to win the same amount of points by the end of the season. The focus turns back to the kids in the field until they return to Studio G, at which point the Fetch 3000 calculates their scores. Often, at the start of the week, Ruff will send the Fetchers out all together on one big mission.Ruff constantly provides the Fetchers with taunts of a "big prize" to be awarded by the end of the season, but he never tells them what it is and admits on a few occasions that he doesn't know what to give them, either.There is also some sort of unifying seasonal story arc.
This series provides examples of:
Accidental Misnaming: In a challenge on season five, Marc and Shreya meet with a hand model who calls them pretty much any names starting with "M" or "S" other than their own.
Actor Allusion: Part two of the Season 5 opening episode shows a scene with Ruff holding a tiger shark toy. Jim Conroy, Ruff's voice, was also the voice of Kenny on Discovery Kids' animated series Kenny The Shark.
The Archaeologist Was Right: In the Season 4 Finale Uncle Macruffmintosh warns Ruff not to go tobogganing because of a curse the Ruffman family had for 1,000 years placed by an ice fairy. Ruff doesn't believe in this...until he meets up with Racer X/Scruff Ruffman who stole all of Ruff's stuff to take tobogganing lessons to break the curse.
Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: In an episode towards the end of the fifth season, Ruff has his Fetchers become private investigators and they infiltrate the headquarters of P.U.R.R.S., the Pussycat Underground Rather Rotten Society and the group responsible for the rip-off show Go Get It! Inside the headquarters, they discover a grocery list written by one of the members of P.U.R.R.S. that reads Get Milk. Get Tuna. Take Over the World.
Also used earlier in season 5 when Grandma Ruffman has the Fetchers make a picnic basket to keep out squirrels, chipmunks and grizzly bears
Cats Are Mean: Subverted; as season 2 progresses, Ruff slowly loses his stance on cats to where he asks Blossom to come back for the next season.
And in season three, Blossom becomes his boss.
Even Tom and Trixie averted it by turning out to actually be Ruff's long-lost parents in disguise.
Comm Links: The contestant's cell phones fill this role.
Cone of Shame: In one Season 2 episode, Ruff gets one after he hurts himself trying to imitate his "Action to the Maxion" action figure ("the worst toy of the century!").
Continuity Nod: True to form, in later seasons there are stuff that's mentioned in past seasons. The season premier for the 4th Season mentions different objects that Ruff had in his doghouse and mentions other obscure facts from Season 2 and 3 (one of them being that pineapples float).
Cliff Hanger: A couple in season 2, and one at the end of season 3.
Cute Kitten: A few episodes in the series had cat based episodes. Props go to Season 2 when two of the FETCHers had to bottle feed a little kitten and Ruff – who notably hates cats – couldn't resist saying it was cute.
Deadpan Snarker: Jay in Season 3 and the champion for said season was this. After hearing his partners (Noel and Sammy) scream from seeing a rat, what does he do? He gets a call from Ruff and asks him that before he [Ruff] sends a live thing in a box to send him earmuffs.
"Freaky Friday" Flip: In a Season 3 episode, one of the challenges was for two FETCHers (Jay and Noel) to live each other's lives. For Noel, this meant playing guitar and playing lacross. For Jay, it meant placing makeup on Noel's sisters...and wearing a cheerleader outfit.
Genius Ditz: Chet. He made an engine that was powered out of Ruff's leftover pineapple-liver shakes from Season 1...but has no idea how to file.
Although in the Season 2 premiere he admits that the "G" actually means "Garage".
I Spoke That As: In "Dog of the Rings", Ruff's nephew Glen asks for the FETCHers to get the "Majestic Ring Goblet of Infinite Awesomess". However the six find out that inside the goblet were buffalo wings. Jay was the one who explains the reasoning – the goblet was in Wings Castle – while Ruff exclaims that Glen was trying to get a Ring Goblet. Glen then emphasizes that they were looking for the Wing Goblet, not Ring Goblet. It didn't help that Glen was wearing braces, thus it made it hard to decipher whether it was either a "r" or a "w".
I Thought It Meant: Chet has this as his fatal flaw. Whenever Ruff says something to him, he takes it the wrong way. For example, when Ruff was showing images on his projector he asks Chet to blow it up. What Ruff wanted was to enlarge the picture; Chet brought out dynamite to do the job.
It goes into hilarious proportions in Season 5. After Ruff and Blossom lose a game of charades when Ruff couldn't tell that Blossom was a blue jay, Ruff asks Chet if he can do one. In response Chet gets some blue paint and paints a picture of Jay, Winner of Season 3 and paints it blue.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Scruff has this. He says hello to Grandma Ruffman when she appears in one episode, got a replacement trophy for the winner of Season 3 and when Ruff accidentally got sent to prison on Poodle Island, he finds the jail walls of Scruff's cell has pictures of the two when they were young and a poster for Ruff's show. The poster is justified as it actually hides the hole Scruff was digging to escape.
Lampshade Hanging: "Nobody ever walks to a challenge on this show. Have you noticed that?"
LARP: Glen is a LARPer and runs his introductory episode as one.
Latin Lover: In one episode, Ruff gets relationship advice from a disembodied voice with a suspiciously Spanish accent. It turns out to be Felipe, one of Ruff's fleas.
Legacy Game Show Host: Ruff's parents and his grandmother were also once game show hosts. His grandmother was said to be really amazing; she mentioned that she got a small audience of around 30 million viewers a week (but Ruff exclaims that it's more than he gets)
Locked In The Bathroom: Happens to Ruff, Blossom and Chet in a Season 3 episode where one of Ruff's girlfriends lets a giant herd of sheep burst into the doghouse and stay. This trope lasts for the majority of the episode.
Medium Blending: The animated characters that appear via TV to the real-life contestants.
Morality Pet: Ruff may be self-absorbed and look down on his animal assistants, he gives nothing but positive encouragement to the fetchers. (Okay, there was a sarcastic comment ONCE, but that was more like "you're doing this for the points" then a dig at the kid).
Name's the Same: There have been two Brians (one in Season 1 the other in Season 4 spelled with a "y") two Jays (one in Season 3 and one in Season 5), two Sams ("Sam" for the boy and "Sammy" for the girl who were both in Season 3) and two Marks (One was "Mark" and the other was "Marco").
Overly-Long Gag: If Ruff has something bad happen to himself or his body (e.g. stuck in a bee costume because of his weight, paint splattering on his fur, or [as said before] the Elizabethan collar itself), it would often last for either six minutes or less or the entire episode.
Overly-Long Name: Princess Blossom Pepperdoodle von Yum-Yum. Mainly a parody of people who give this kind of name to pet cats.
Lampshaded by Ruff several times, who usually just calls her Blossom or Blossom von Yum-Yum, since according to him, if he took the time to say her full name every time he talked to her, the show would end too quickly.
Blossom's evil sister "Le Purr" also has this. Her real name is Duchess Petunia Cupcake von Yum-Yum.
Paper-Thin Disguise: At the beginning of season 4, Ruff gets a pink cat costume when he tries to bypass the Australian woman who took over his show (because she hates dogs and doesn't allow them in her mansion), but it all failed and he ends up being stuck in the cat costume for the rest of the episode.
Real Life Writes the Plot: In Season 4, Murray was replaced with Tank. The reason was because Murray – a real life Basset Hound – died prior to the Season 4 premiere.
Real Men Wear Pink: Some episodes have boys dressing up in female outfits. Jay in Season 3 wore a cheerleading outfit (but it had shorts) and in the Superhero episode of Season 4, Bryan was with Bethany as part of the "Indestructible Butterflies"
Relax-o-Vision: Seen in one of the wallpapers for the show, featuring a picture of Ruff in a flower field and the message "We are experiencing technical difficulties." Seen on the show as well, in a few episodes where Ruff would have an off-camera scuffle with someone.
Repetitive Name: Ruff Ruffman. It was later parodied in a Superhero episode when Glen asks him to become "Ruffmanman".
Rule of Three: There will be episodes where a team of three have to take a challenge, when all six FETCHers are in a challenge, they're split into three groups of two or vice versa. There's the three main "hosts" of FETCH! (Ruff, Blossom and Chet) and there are three challenges before the quiz at the finale, etc.
Shout-Out: In the intro sequence for the fourth season, Chet the mouse is seen flying around, destroying stuff. Ruff comments on this using a rotating series of phrases and one of them is, "You know, I bet Arthur doesn't have to deal with stuff like this." Arthur is another production of WGBH Boston.
There was also a sly reference to a Sesame Street song at the end of one episode.
The haunted house episode in season 5 has a fair few Scooby-Doo shoutouts. This was lampshaded when Ruff asks if he's allowed to say "Zoinks!".
Many of the episode titles have this. The episode "The Dog Vinci Code" was a direct reference to The Da Vinci Code and "Dog of the Rings" was based on The Lord of the Rings
Sibling Rivalry: The rivalry between Ruff and Scruff creates the challenges for the Season 3 finale.
Similar Squad: Tom and Trixie (and their show: "Go Get It!") in Season 5.
Six Token Band: Justified, as the kids are drawn from the Boston metro area, which is fairly diverse. Usually no mention is made of any of the contestant's ethnic background, other than the occasional mention of ethnic cuisine.
Slow No: At the beginning of the Food Safety episode, Ruff has one when he sees a chandelier fall (which has been released by Chet) and jumps to get his special tortilla chip out of the way before it gets crushed. Complete with a hilariously lower pitch.
Small Name, Big Ego: Ruff, especially in-universe. His own grandma hasn't even watched the show by season 5, instead watching cat-grooming shows and "Go Get It!".
Something Completely Different: The Season 4 premiere, which is about Ruff's adventure to get his job back from a greedy Australian woman who hates dogs.
The Speechless: Blossom and Chet, although Ruff can still understand them. Blossom's head does make a peculiar rattling sound when she nods, though. Chet replies with squeaks.
The Tape Knew You Would Say That: In the second episode of the fifth season, the contestants are on Game Show Island and find a Star Paws tape recorder. The tape contains a message from Ruff's parents and this gag is used a couple of times with Ruff as the message plays.
Theme Tune Cameo: In various places, notably the ringtone on the contestant's cell phones.