This is it, the night of nights!
No more rehearsing or nursing a part
We know every part by heart!
Overture! Curtain, lights
This is it, to hit the heights!
And oh, what heights we'll hit...
On with the show, this is it!
Tonight what heights we'll hit...
On with the show, this is it!
This anthology series, packaging the classic Looney Tunes cartoon shorts, aired on ABC and CBS (bouncing back and forth between the two) under various titles for forty years (1960–2000), thereby making it the longest-running American animated program of any capacity to date. If the current rights-holders for these cartoons allowed it (they don't), then they likely would still have been on network TV well into the 2000s.
Beginning during the era of local kids' shows, this series was an all-animated variant on the format, combining the classic theatrical shorts with newly-produced bridging material. Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck introduced the shorts, all of which were in color and originally released after August 1948,note while various animated antics happened in between. The basic format didn't change much.
Originally airing in prime time before moving to Saturday mornings, the show was generally an hour in length (though some incarnations were only 30 minutes, while others ran as long as 90 minutes), and Looney Tunes shorts were slightly shorter than the standard Saturday-Morning Cartoon shorts, so you could see a lot of cartoons in that hour. Many of these cartoons were either originally aimed above the average age of the audience of the show, but there was something for everyone.
Incarnations of this show:
- The Bugs Bunny Show (ABC). The only incarnation of the show to feature original content by the gang at Termite Terrace (still in operation until 1963). First-run episodes ran in primetime 1960-1962, with repeats airing on Saturday mornings from then until 1968. Rearranged episodes aired on CBS from 1971 to 1973, and then back on ABC from 1973 to 1975.
- The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour (CBS). When The Bugs Bunny Show moved to CBS in 1968, it was combined with the network's already-existing block of Looney Tunes shorts, The Road Runner Show (see below), using wraparound material from both shows as well as some new material. First-run episodes run from 1968 to 1969, with reruns airing until 1971, when The Road Runner Show was split back off and moved to ABC. A new version aired from 1975 (when both shows returned to CBS) to 1978 and included several shorts not broadcast in the previous incarnation.
- The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show (CBS). The name change reflected the show's increase in length from 60 to 90 minutes. Aired from 1978 to 1983 as a 90-minute block, then aired as two separate hour-long programs in 1983, and reverted to 60 minutes from 1983 to 1985. It notably included newer shorts originally made as segments of the late-70s/early 80s primetime specials mixed in with older shorts. In 1983, the wraparound segments were discontinued.
- A 30-minute primetime version aired with this title during the 1975-76 midseason to patch a hole in the schedule.
- The Bugs Bunny/Looney Tunes Comedy Hour (ABC). The show jumped back to ABC in 1985, airing as an hour long block. Included shorts of every notable Looney Tunes character regardless of which previous block they were included, except Speedy Gonzales and Tweety, for reasons unclear. The latter was particularly conspicuous in his absence, leading to a surprisingly large amount of public commentary for the pre-internet age. That's what led to:
- The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show (ABC). The name was changed when Tweety shorts were added to the mix in 1986, which also saw the restoration of the original opening theme in 1988 (the closing theme was reinstated in 1985). Always considered the most important block because of its Saturday morning major network time slot, it was always given the creme de la creme of the shorts. The final seasons were uncomfortably wedged into Disney's One Saturday Morning after WB's greatest animation rival purchased the network; block idents during the program did not have Disney branding. It was only cancelled when Cartoon Network (and its sister channel, Boomerang) gained the sole rights for broadcasting the Looney Tunes shorts.
- Bugs Bunny and Friends (MeTV). In 2021 MeTV resurrected the tradition of showing classic cartoons on Saturday mornings, with three hour-long blocks of Popeye and Pals, The Tom and Jerry Show (which also features other MGM cartoons) and Bugs Bunny and Friends, a straight-up revival of the series which even uses the original "This Is It" intro. Like most showings of Looney Tunes on Boomerang, the show uses pre-1948 shorts that the original series never aired. (Note that all three of those cartoon series are now owned by Warner Bros.)
Other Saturday morning Looney Tunes anthologies:
- The Porky Pig Show (ABC). 1964-1966. Featured other cartoons not used in the Bugs Bunny package, with the first always starring Porky. It would become a syndicated after-school package, known as Porky Pig and Friends, continuing to be made available to local stations well into the 80s. Notably, the syndicated version included hand-redrawn color versions of some of Porky's early black-and-white cartoons, though the quality of the outsourced work was shoddy.
- The Road Runner Show (CBS). CBS picked up a block, featuring the titular super-speedy bird. Ran from 1966 to 1968, when it was combined with The Bugs Bunny Show. Repeats aired on ABC from 1971 to 1972.
- The Daffy Duck Show (NBC). Aired from 1978 to 1981. NBC got in on the Looney Tunes anthology action, taking what was available, which included a lot of the duck's shorts with Speedy Gonzales from later in the run of theatrical shorts.
- The Daffy/Speedy Show (NBC). Aired from 1981 to 1982. The above series is renamed to emphasize Speedy's presence.
- The Sylvester & Tweety Show (CBS). Aired from 1981 to 1982. The 90-minute CBS block was split to bookend the Saturday morning lineup, with a 30-minute early show spotlighting the cat and bird duo, while the remaining 60-minute block, still called The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show anchored the end of the lineup.
- The Sylvester & Tweety/Daffy & Speedy Show (CBS) After NBC ended their separate block, those shorts were added to the early CBS block, which expanded its name to include both spotlighted duos. CBS dropped having a second block in favor of just the 60-minute Bugs Bunny block in 1983.
- The Daffy Duck Show (Kids' WB!). A Saturday morning version of the weekday afternoon block Bugs 'n Daffy that aired in 1997 as a Mid Season Replacement for Freakazoid!, it featured two Daffy shorts, one short starring another character, and a "Hip Clip" excerpt from another short. Like its weekday counterpart at the time, it was able to use pre-1948 shorts as their distribution rights had come back into Warner Bros.' possession following the merger with Turner the year before. Only 13 episodes were aired, as its purpose was to fill the schedule while acting as a promotion for Space Jam until the 1997-98 TV season began.
- The Cat&Birdy Warneroonie PinkyBrainy Totally Looney Big Cartoonie Show (Kids' WB!). Looney Tunes shorts appeared (as filler) in some episodes of this 1999-2000 series which mostly complied shorts from Warner's 1990s TV series.
This series (and bridges) provides examples of:
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The German version, Mein Name ist Hase, used this theme.
- Animated Actors: Everyone.
- Animated Anthology
- Bowdlerize: This happened to the more violent stuff like whaps on the head and guns being shot, especially on The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show, where the cartoons were transferred to videotape and easier to edit.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall
- Bullet Dodges You: In one episode, Yosemite Sam tries to shoot at Pepé Le Pew, but the bullets get repulsed by his stench and scurried right back into Sam's pistols.Sam: I hates cowardly bullets!
- By the Lights of Their Eyes: In "Do or Diet", Bugs has the stage lights turned off to show how carrots are good for your eyes. The result is Bugs' eyes appearing in the dark, only for the eyes of the Tasmanian Devil to join his.Bugs: See? I can see you, but you can't see me.Taz: I can see you.Bugs: Oh, you eat carrots?Taz: No, I eat rabbits!
- Christmas Episode: Largely averted, as the only overtly Christmas-themed Looney Tunes or Merrie Melodies short that they could run from after 1948 was the 1952 Sylvester & Tweety cartoon "Gift Wrapped". Even after recycling the three new shorts from the 1979 TV special Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales in the 1980s and 1990s, that still left two or three openings, which typically didn't even go to winter-set cartoons. The Sylvester & Tweety short "Sandy Claws" was aired in a couple of Christmas episodes, even though its title was just a pun reflecting its beach setting.
- Canadian broadcast network Global aired a special Christmas-themed episode of The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show annually in the mid-late 1990s, as part of their annual Global Christmas Special marathon of holiday cartoon specials in late November. This included "Gift Wrapped", all three shorts from Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales, and three winter-set cartoons ("The Abominable Snow-Rabbit", "Riff-Raffy Daffy", and "Two Scents Worth").
- Comedic Spanking: At the end of "Tale of Two Kitties", Sylvester drags his son offstage to give him a spanking for muting out his stories about fatherhood so he can tell the audience their embarrassing truths. After a short break, Junior walks onstage with a pillow tied over his sore rear.Bugs: Uh, while Sylvester and his son are playing patty-cake, let's have a peek at next week's show.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: In the earliest episodes, Daffy's vocals stood out more during the final line of "This Is It".
- Episode Title Card: The first season of The Bugs Bunny Show didn't have individual titles, but the second season had titles with cards at the beginning.
- Evolving Credits: The "This Is It" opening went through a few changes over the years.
- For The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour, new animation was created to create a transition between the "Bugs Bunny" and "Road Runner" intros, with Bugs introducing the Road Runner.
- In the early 1980s, the opening was rotoscoped so that, instead of a vaudeville stage, the characters are wearing tuxedos in a glitzy variety show set. Also, Speedy Gonzales was replaced in the marching procession of Looney Tunes characters by Sylvester Jr., while Pepé Le Pew was replaced by the Road Runner. The "Road Runner" theme was accompanied by a new selection of clips. This version was also used for The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show from 1988 to 1992.
- In 1992, The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show introduced a completely reanimated version of the theme with the updated Darell van Citters character designs. Pepé and Porky Pig replaced Hippety Hopper in the line of characters marching.
- The Friends Who Never Hang: A few of the wraparounds were utilized to pair up Looney Tunes regulars who seldom if ever interacted. One case had Yosemite Sam fighting for the spotlight against an oblivious Pepé Le Pew.
- Halloween Episode: Only really a presence in the ABC years. "Broom-Stick Bunny", "Corn On The Cop", and "Devil's Feud Cake" were commonly run in late October, among other supernaturally tinged shorts, though ABC didn't stick solely to this range for said episodes. Like with "Sandy Claws" at Christmas, you could occasionally see "Trick or Tweet" on Halloween episodes, despite the title just being a non-seasonal pun.
- High-Pressure Emotion: One episode of The Bugs Bunny Show has Porky Pig do this when driven up the wall by Charlie Dog (as part of a reprise of their "Labrador Retriever" exchange from the short "Often an Orphan").
- Hit Flash: In the outro for The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour, this happens when the car Bugs is driving through the desert collides with the boulder the Coyote is holding during his flight.
- Hostile Show Takeover: One episode of The Bugs Bunny Show has Daffy do this. Another had Rocky and Mugsy take over.
- Another episode had an unintentional example when Pepe Le Pew becomes the guest host after Bugs and the intended emcee, Yosemite Sam, get driven away by his stench.
- Legion of Lost Souls: The episode "Foreign Legion Leghorn" had Foghorn Leghorn in the Legion, with older cartoons serving as flashbacks showing what drove him to join.
- Limited Animation: Much of the animation made for the compilations, especially for the original 1960s incarnations, was like this due to the move to television. The title sequences for the various shows would be animated in a similarly stiff fashion until the 1992 revamp gave them a much-needed Animation Bump.
- No Fourth Wall/2-for-1 Show: The bridge sections. This show as a whole is for our benefit.
- Noisy Shut-Up:
- In one show, Daffy interrupts Bugs' monologue by putting on a song-and-dance act, prompting Bugs to pull out a megaphone and shout "DAFFY!!" to get him to stop.
- In "The Honeymousers", Bugs invites the viewer into his dressing room to watch his favorite sitcom. At one point, he gives "you" carrots to eat, but he can't hear himself talking over the loud chewing, so he shouts "QUIET!" and swaps out the carrots for marshmallows.
- Non-Indicative Name:
- ABC tended to ensure that The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show always featured at least one cartoon each starring Bugs Bunny and Tweety, but for the half-hour length episodes of the final 1999-2000 season, that was no longer a constant guarantee. Six of the final 14 episodes only featured cartoons starring one of the two title characters, and the February 5, 2000, episode featured neither.
- One of the Teletoon episodes features nothing but Bugs Bunny cartoons.
- On the Next: The Bugs Bunny Show featured a montage of short clips from the cartoons featured on next week's show.
- Overcrank: The episode "Bad-Time Story" features Bugs demonstrating how a cartoon character zips out of a scene by doing one in super slow-motion.
- Self-Backing Vocalist: "This Is It" is performed by Bugs Bunny (Mel Blanc) and Daffy Duck (Mel Blanc) as a two-part harmony.
- Thanksgiving Episode: Averted. There were never many Thanksgiving shorts to pick from even if you included pre-1948 cartoons, and even 1949's Holiday for Drumsticks tended to air outside of November.
- Theme Tune: "This Is It" was the main theme from 1960 to 1984 and 1988 to 2000, but the Road Runner segment had its own theme music. From 1968-71 and 1975-84, the two were combined.
- Although the show had Evolving Credits visually, the original 1960 audio of "This Is It" was never updated or re-recorded, and it continued to be heard even after Mel Blanc's death in 1989. (In the last years of the show, the theme was extended with a new beginning and ending.)
- In 2001, about a year after the show ended its final run on ABC, a faster-paced instrumental version was used for Cartoon Network's new anthology series titled The Looney Tunes Show.
- For the 1984-1985 season only (the final CBS season), an all-new song, "Cartoon Gold," was used. Another opening sequence, using music from the Looney Tunes open and closing themes, was used for the early years of the ABC return (1985-1988).
- Theme Tune Roll Call: "Cartoon Gold" from the final season on CBS (1984-5) lists off several characters, each delivering their respective Catchphrase (save for Porky Pig and Yosemite Sam, the latter of whom never really had a catchphrase); all characters except Elmer, Speedy, and Sam use footage from the opening of The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie:There's Porky Pig ("Th-Th-Th-The name's P-Porky Pig.")
And Daffy Duck ("You're despicable!")
There's Tweety Bird ("I tawt I taw a putty tat.")
Bugs Bunny's luck ("Eh, what's up, Doc?")
And Elmer Fudd ("Be vewy, vewy quiet.")
Sylvester the Cat ("Sufferin' succotash!")
Speedy Gonzales ("Arriba, arriba, arriba!")
That's Sam in the hat ("That snaggletoothed varmint!")
- Wrap Around Background: There is no backstage.