They loved it! Thought I was a pro
They got my contract back to find
To their alarm... a dog had signed!"
FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman (2006-2010) is a PBS show produced by WGBH Boston, 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, which was also produced by WGBH. 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.
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.
In May 2014, WGBH announced an animated spin-off with Ruff and Blossom titled Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius, a series of Internet video spots about safety, which debuted in fall 2014. Find the original announcement here and the spots here.
Another spin-off was released in 2017 entitled The Ruff Ruffman Show, this time focusing on Ruff, Blossom, and Chet teaching young viewers about science. In the show, Ruff finds himself setting up a pet-sitting service and bilked into the awkward situation of pet-sitting a rhino. A pair of real-kids helps him through the trials of caring for such an unusual pet by making things using materials you can find around your home or neighborhood. This was followed by three other arcs - one with Ruff in a pursuit of a plushie of himself to give to his grandma, one involving a cook-off and one called "Ask Ruff First." (ARF!)
In 2020, PBS introduced another short-form series, Team Hamster!, in which said hamsters have to solve problems created by Ruff when he screws up in his role as a school janitor.
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.
- Advanced Tech 2000: The Fetch 3000 and the Go Get It 6000.
- Also played with, as there's a Fetch 100.
- Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Ruff is orange with a yellow spot on his stomach. The same goes to his family and relatives.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Ruff's foreign relatives, especially Uncle Macruffmintosh and Rüf the Swedish rock star. Who also embody Bonnie Scotland and Norse by Norsewest, respectively.
- Le Fleape, the flea in Ruff's ear also has this.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Among the items Scruff stole from Ruff in the Season 3 finale were Ruff's bark-a-lounger, Fetch 3000...and his fancy pants. This was all to pay for toboggan lessons.
- Big Eater: Ruff, also Chet as long as it's cheese.
- Book-Ends: Season 2 opens and ends with Ruff accidentally stepping in Blossom's litter box.
- Brand X: Ruff insists that every product on the show be branded with pictures of himself.
- 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.
- Catchphrase: Ruff has several:
- He opens every show with "Oh hi, I'm Ruff Ruffman!" or some variation.
- After giving a preview of the challenge, he calls whichever kids are participating and says, "Your instructions are in the mailbox. Goooo FETCH!"
- Before awarding bonus points:Ruff: But is that all the points a dog can give?
Ruff: What time is it?
Kids: BONUS POINTS!
- 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.
- Chekhov's Gun: "I love public television, and viewers like you. Have I mentioned that this week?"
- 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 premiere 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).
- Cliffhanger: A couple in season 2, and one at the end of season 3.
- Cold Open: Every episode, setting the stage for that episode's challenges.
- Company Cross References: One of the phrases Ruff uses at the end of the Season 4 intro, after Chet the mouse destroys the set for the intro, is "You know, I bet Arthur doesn't have to deal with stuff like this". Both shows air on PBS Kids and are produced by WGBH Boston.
- Content Warning: The Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius spots are rated "HMG: Humble Media Genius - Humor featuring cats, dogs, mice, selfies and some cheese. Strong media literacy throughout."
- Couch Gag: One gets added to season 4, where Ruff's comment on Chet crashing results in different each episode.
- Courtroom Episode: "The People vs. Grandma Ruffman".
- Crossover: Season 4's second episode has a challenge hosted by Nate, the host of fellow PBS show Design Squad.
- 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 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. Brian and especially Julia from Season 1 also had their moments.
- Deliberate Monochrome: In season 3, Ruff paints his entire doghouse interior Dingy Grey (thinking it was ''Singy' Grey, as in singing), which has this effect.
- Disembodied Eyebrows: Ruff hung a lampshade on this. So did one of the contestants in their application video for the fifth season. Ruff told them to not get personal.
- Dogs Are Dumb: He gets a few facts wrong, but Ruff pretty much averts this.
- The NASA episode ramps this Up to Eleven when Ruff thinks the Fetch satellite is faulty, but it's really just a discarded bone in the Fetch 3000.
- And in season 3, he pets his entire house Dingy Grey, thinking it was Singy Grey.
- Downer Ending: The Season 2 episode, "CSI Ruff", where Ruff is arrested for stealing the grand prize and the FETCHers lose their trust in him and call him out for lying to them.
- Duct Tape for Everything: Lampshaded. "We can never use enough duct tape on this show."
- Earn Your Happy Ending: In the season 2 finale, after tense revelations as well as a quarrel and elimination challenges, not only Mike wins that season, but they are friends with Ruff again, who is saved from being arrested.
- Edutainment Show: What else would you expect from PBS kids?
- Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Ruff's nephew Glen (or, as he'd say it, Wuff's nephew Gwen) talks like this.
- Evil Twin: Scruff Ruffman and Le Purrrr, Blossom's twin. (She's a burglar. Think about it.)
- Exact Words: In "Dog of the Rings", Sam and Harsha need to toss bean bags into one of two pails or, as the riddle states, the right pail. After tossing enough to enter one pail they realize they have to get it into the pail on the right.
- Excited Kids' Show Host: Ruff. Very much so.
- Expository Theme Tune: Explains how Ruff got his show.
- Eye Glasses: Ruff, as well as almost his entire family.
- Fat Idiot: Ruff.
- Fear of Thunder: Being a dog, Ruff. He and Blossom are also afraid of vacuum cleaners, though this is also rather Truth in Television.
- Female Feline, Male Mutt: Blossom manages the sass without saying a single word.
- Final Exam Finale: Every season has ended with one of these, including a literal final exam near the end.
- F--: Exaggerated. In the end of an episode, Ruff recieves his test results and he discovers he had a Z minus.
- Follow the Leader: "Go Get It!" is an in-universe example.
- "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 lacrosse. 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.
- The Ghost: Henry, the head of Ruff's network. Ruff communicates with him exclusively over the phone, and we only hear Ruff's end of the conversation.
- GPS Evidence: In Scruff's debut episode, Ruff manages to identify the exact region of Mexico he's in just from his twin's burrito. (Lesser examples are the sombrero and mariachi band, which suggest Mexico in general.)
- Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut: Rüf Rüfmün, Ruff's Swedish rock star cousin.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: Neither Charlene, the poodle Ruff has a crush on, nor Spot Spotnik, his arch nemesis, have ever been seen other than in pictures.
- Hilarity Ensues: In The Ruff Ruffman Show, Ruff starts a pet-sitting service and is tricked into pet-sitting a rhino. Naturally, hilarity ensues.
- Hollywood Nerd: Glen, sorry, Glendalf.
- aka Ultra-Glen aka Long Glen Silver
- Shout-Out: This character's name may very well be a nod to show head writer Glen Berger.
- Hostile Show Takeover: At the end of season 3.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Blossom in season 2. Subverted in later seasons where she becomes Ruff's boss (though she's no less competent for it), and her replacement Chet is a Genius Ditz.
- Improv: Done with most of Ruff's dialogue during the scenes with the kids.
- Inexplicably Identical Individuals: All the Ruffmans.
- Insistent Terminology: It's not a garage!
- Although in the Season 2 premiere he admits that the "G" actually means "Garage".
- Also, the above mentioned 'Fetchers'.
- 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?"
- Large Ham: Ruff himself.
- 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.
- Literal-Minded: Chet has this as his fatal flaw. Whenever Ruff says something to him, he takes it the wrong way. In fact, the events of several episodes would not have even happened had Chet not done so. For example, when Ruff was showing images on his projector he asked Chet to blow it up. What Ruff wanted was to enlarge the picture; Chet brought out dynamite to do the job. Ruff then has to call in his nephew Glen to fix it, but Glen insists that Ruff do him a few favors first, leading into that day's challenge.
- In another example, Ruff and Blossom have locked themselves together to shoot a promotional video, and they ask Chet to retrieve the key so they can separate themselves. Once Chet gets it, Ruff says "Great," leading Chet to toss the key into a grate on the floor.
- 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 a picture of Jay (winner of Season 3), and paints it blue.
- Locked in the Bathroom: Happens to Ruff, Blossom and Chet in a Season 3 episode where Ruff's cousin, Roxie, lets a giant herd of sheep burst into the doghouse and staynote . This trope lasts for the majority of the episode.
- Loophole Abuse: In one season 3 episode, the FETCHers are tasked to make a sand sculpture of the letter "n" that has to be taller than one of them. Once the sculpture was finished, they decided to have the kid being measured jump into the hole made from digging up sand because Ruff never said where he had to be when the sculpture was measured.
- Magical Computer: The Fetch 3000. It can send kids back in time!
- Mangled Catchphrase: Grandma Ruffman has a tendency to butcher Ruff's catchphrases. For example, she introduced a challenge by saying "Go and do the fetch" instead of "Go fetch"; Ruff quickly corrected her on this.
- Medium Blending: The animated characters that appear via TV to the real-life contestants.
- Nepotism: Blossom is Ruff's boss's niece's cat.
- 90% of Your Brain: Explored and subverted in season 2.
- Not So Above It All: Blossom did put in a couple of joke answers to several half-time quiz shows. Even then she's scared of vacuums and will not hesitate to partake in the shenanigans during the Silly Switch.
- Ocular Gushers: Often happens to Ruff whenever he cries.
- Only Sane Employee: Blossom
- 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.
- Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: The Season 2 episode, "CSI Ruff", ends with the FETCHers learning that Ruff stole the grand prize himself. When Ruff tried to cheer up everyone by awarding them points and even having Bridget as the daily winner for the day, the kids call their bluff on him and say that they don't know if they can trust him anymore and the episode ends with them all leaving the set with angered and upset looks on their faces and Bridget doesn't even thank Ruff for her prize, which was a fingerprinting kit. This all unfolded in this hurtful conversation.Bridget: You can drop the act, Ruff. We knew what happened to the grand prize.Ruff: Look if you could let me explain.Nina: That you lied to us and stole the grand prize right behind our backs?!Mike: You thought that this challenge is going to help see who stole the grand prize, and it worked, did it?Madi: It was just a horrible, shocking, thing we all had to do, just to get us points. And you lied to us.Willie: All this, just to crown a winner?Rosario: This all could have been avoided if you just told us the truth. And look at us! We ended up following the rules of a dog game show host and after all these adventures, he turns right around and lied to us, for no reason.Bridget: So there. Sorry if we ever tried to help.Ruff: Fine. Maybe this show is better if I didn't have contestants like you![The FETCHers all gasp and then look downright shocked as they look at one another.]Ruff: Now, I didn't mean...Rosario: Come on, guys. Let's go.[The FETCHers leave the studio]Ruff: Guys! Come back! Nina! [Nina turns to Ruff, who is the last FETCher left in the studio] You guys don't understand.Nina: [turns to Ruff as she leaves with them] I'm sorry. But after all that, I don't know if we'll ever trust you again. [she leaves]
- They all later reconcile with him in the following episode after completing elimination rounds to help prevent him from getting arrested.
- 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. This was later recycled for Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius as well.
- Repeating So the Audience Can Hear: Ruff often engages in this with his speechless sidekicks. Particularly noticeable when it's something urgent and/or panic-inducing.
- Repetitive Name: Ruff Ruffman. It was later parodied in a Superhero episode when Glen asks him to become "Ruffmanman".
- Roger Rabbit Effect
- 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.
- Running Gag: It's not a garage!
- Season 1 often brings up how Ruff has no idea what to do for a grand prize.
- 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 DogVinci Code" was a direct reference to The DaVinci 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.
- Silent Snarker: Blossom.
- Similar Squad: Tom and Trixie (and their show: "Go Get It!") in Season 5.
- Skyward Scream: Done a couple of times.Ruff: (as Ken L. Koff gets away) KEN L. KOFF!
- And there's the one that Sterling does when the train with the other Fetchers leave him and Brian in the rain...and with Ruff's Chinese Food.
- In the Season 3 finale, Ruff screams out Scruff's name when it's revealed that Scruff stole all of Ruff's stuff which included his barkalounger, Fetch 3000 and his fancy pants.
- 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 Season 5 premiere is about getting the six kids who would be on the show.
- 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.
- Blossom is more like The Silent Bob.
- Speed Round: The "Half-Time Quiz Show," where the Fetchers who stay behind face 10 quick-fire questions based on what's been going on out in the field.
- Status Quo Is God: Ruff still runs the show, even though Blossom is his boss.
- Stealth Pun: Studio G (as in, Stu-D-O-G).
- Story Arc: Each season has this. For example, in season four it was the quest for the Helmet of Destiny and season five was the cat conspiracy (see the Take Over the World example).
- Superhero Episode: Season 4's episode "Is It a Bird? Is It a Plane? It's Ruffmanman!"
- Take Over the World: The goal of P.U.R.R.S., the Pussycat Underground Rather Rotten Society.
- Talking Animal: Ruff, as well as any other members of the Ruffman family.
- 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.
- As well as a season one episode with an inventor relative's recording. He laughs along with the kids at Ruff kissing a cat squeeky toy repeatedly.
- Theme Tune Cameo: In various places, notably the ringtone on the contestant's cell phones.
- The Voice: Ruff's owner.
- Title Theme Tune
- Toilet Humor: A few of the challenges involved dog poop, to somewhat comedic effect.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Moo Shu pork for Ruff.
- Volumetric Mouth: Sometimes used by Ruff.
- You Meddling Kids: In an episode in season 5, the kids visit the supposedly haunted Ruffman Manor and discover that The Butler Did It. When they catch him he tells them "And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for you kids and that meddling game show host dog."