|The Ruff and Reddy Show|
|Also known as||Ruff and Reddy|
|Narrated by||Don Messick|
|Theme music composer||Hoyt Curtin|
|Opening theme||"Here Comes Ruff and Reddy"|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||156 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||4 minutes|
|Production company||H-B Enterprises|
|Original release||December 14, 1957 –|
April 2, 1960
The Ruff and Reddy Show (also known as Ruff and Reddy) is an American NBC Saturday morning animated television series, is one of the earliest Saturday morning cartoons, and the first series made by Hanna-Barbera Productions. The series follows the adventures of Ruff, a smart and steadfast cat; and Reddy, a good-natured and brave (but not overly bright) dog. It was presented by Screen Gems, the television arm of Columbia Pictures. It premiered in December 1957 and ran for 156 episodes until April 1960, comprising three seasons total. It was repeated on NBC Saturday mornings in 1962–63.
Hanna and Barbera created The Ruff and Reddy Show for their cartoon studio, then named H-B Enterprises. The "buddy" theme had previously been explored in their Tom and Jerry theatrical shorts, but unlike Tom and Jerry, Ruff and Reddy aren't foes, but housemates and best friends. The series is notable as one of the earliest original animated television programs, and a pioneering use of limited animation techniques.
In 1957, the animation/director team of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera were terminated from an eighteen-year-long tenure at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer producing the animated Tom and Jerry and Droopy theatrical short subjects. Their staff, composed of 110 inkers, painters, and animators, were also let go. MGM found it more profitable to continually re-release older cartoons than produce new ones. Hanna and Barbera remained a partnership and invested $30,000 out of pocket into a new venture, H-B Enterprises. The duo began work on storyboards featuring new characters, the first among them Ruff, a cat, and Reddy, a dog. Hanna later equated their respective names with he and his partners' dispositions at the period in which they were created. They forged a deal with former MGM colleague George Sidney in which he received a small percentage of the new company in return for acting as a business representative. Sidney arranged for a meeting at Screen Gems, which had at the time been considering re-entering the animation business. Feeling confidence in the Ruff and Reddy characters, the duo presented their proposal, along with a streamlined production budget, employing limited animation.
Back at MGM our budget was lavish enough to allow as many as sixteen drawings per foot of fully animated film. It was a new ballgame for TV. In order to meet our budget for Ruff and Reddy, we had to pare the drawings down to no more than one or two per foot of film.
William Hanna on the show's use of limited animation
Ruff and Reddy, as one of the first original animated series produced for television, pioneered the technique of limited animation. Limited animation would require far fewer drawings, and, by extension, less inking and painting. This method was employed by necessity, as higher budgets had been the cause for the collapse of the theatrical cartoon business. Hanna, in a six-page memo, had attempted to convince his superiors at MGM to employ economized techniques in order to reduce the cost of their short films, but received no response. At that time, he had estimated a six-minute cartoon to cost $17,500 if it employed the limited animation technique (down from the $35,000 budget the duo received at MGM). When pitching to Screen Gems, Hanna had worked down the numbers to a much smaller $3,000, and the duo were very confident the company would respond with great excitement. Screen Gems appreciated the show concept, but explained to the duo that the budget for television, still an experimental medium, would be very stringent. Eventually, the company gave the partnership an option to produce five five-minute segments, with an escalating budget starting from $2,700.
Hanna described the process in his 1996 memoir, A Cast of Friends: "It was essential that we select only the key poses necessary to convincingly impart the illusion of movement in our cartoons." This method often emphasizes close-ups, rather than full or medium shots. All in all, the production process for Ruff and Reddy was not dissimilar from the process used to create theatrical cartoons: a script was written, followed by a storyboard illustrating key poses. Afterwards, a recorded soundtrack with dialogue was used to create a "pose reel," which would give the filmmakers a sense of timing. Watching pose reels during their MGM years had emphasized that simple key poses would be enough to demonstrate humor. Hanna believed the process in line with the nature of television during the period, stressing "intimacy rather than spectacle," represented an entirely different viewing experience (a large movie screen versus a small, standard-dimension television screen).
In addition to the quicker, cheaper production process, Hanna and Barbera made the decision to produce the segments in full color. "It was one of the smartest things we did," Hanna said. "We said, 'Color will be here soon. Cartoons last forever. Let's go ahead and do them in color, and we'll be a jump ahead of the game.'" This strategy paid off in 1954, when color television was beginning to yield some commercial success (introduced in 1957, but just beginning to achieve some commercial success between 1957 & 1960), source citation http://www.earlytelevision.org) . Ruff and Reddy also eschewed lavish, detailed background art for simple, colorful illustrations.
Hanna and Barbera were fond of the "ongoing comedic rapport" of cartoon duos, among them the Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner and Sylvester the Cat/Tweety rivalries of Warner Bros. Cartoons. Their own creation at MGM, Tom and Jerry, had been a variation on this theme. With Ruff and Reddy, they decided to delete the nemesis theme and make the characters best friends instead. "Consequently, this softer relationship placed a greater emphasis on the humor and wit conveyed to the audience through dialogue," wrote Hanna.
Hanna wrote the series' theme music, in his first foray into theme music composition, which would become a staple of Hanna-Barbera for nearly 30 years. His goal to capture the spirit of the characters while also catching the listeners' ear, he penned the lyrics one morning while storyboarding, handing off the sheet music to musical director Hoyt Curtin, who composed the melody. Unlike Tom and Jerry, the two new characters would speak, and the duo held auditions to find voice artists. Mainly selecting those they worked with at MGM, Hanna and Barbera decided to cast Don Messick as Ruff and Daws Butler as Reddy. Messick and Butler became the main long-time voice actors of H&B cartoons. 
The series was set to be the opening and closing acts for a half-hour children's program airing on Saturday mornings. While they had screened the pilot episode prior to broadcast, Hanna later admitted he was nervous as to how the public would respond. He writes in his book that reviews in trade papers were mainly positive, deeming it an "entertaining and clever cartoon program." NBC, following this success, signed the duo to a five-year contract to produce and develop additional animated television series.
NBC paired the opening and closing episodes of the show (usually with a cliffhanger) with live segments and classic cartoons from Screen Gems, including The Fox and the Crow and Lil Abner.
Main article: List of The Ruff and Reddy Show episodes
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||52||December 14, 1957||April 5, 1958|
|2||52||December 13, 1958||April 4, 1959|
|3||52||December 19, 1959||April 2, 1960|
Episodes of the series appeared on the Animal Follies volume released on October 20, 1988, on VHS, and in 1989 on LaserDisc, part of the Hanna-Barbera Personal Favorites home video series, along with Yippee, Yappee and Yahooey, Touche Turtle and Dum Dum, Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy and Snagglepuss. The first episode of the show, "Planet Pirates", was listed on the press release for The Best of Warner Bros.: Hanna-Barbera 25 Cartoon Collection DVD set to be released on May 21, 2013, however due to an inaccuracy on that press announcement, the episode is among several that weren't on the actual set.