The Road Runner Show is a cartoon TV series that compiled short films featuring the titular character and Wile E. Coyote produced by Warner Bros. Cartoon from 1949 to 1964. The cartoon ran from September 10, 1966, to September 2, 1972. Although the cartoon has ended its production in the 70s, it became popular with kids and cartoon fans when reruns were aired on several different networks? What is the lasting appeal of The Road Runner Show to its audience? To know more about its popularity, let’s take a look at the introduction to The Road Runner Show.
Conceptualization and Production
Before the idea for the Road Runner Show was created, the characters Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner have already been conceived since 1948. Both of the characters were created by Chuck Jones, an animation director who is most known as the cartoonist for Looney Tunes, and Michael Maltese, who often collaborated with Jones as a writer for the Merrie Melodies cartoon shorts.
The first 16 shorts of Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner were written by Maltese, although all of the subsequent shorts were directed by Jones. The two characters were originally meant to parody the rivalry between Tom and Jerry, two popular characters created by Hanna-Barbera in the 1940s. However, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote eventually became as popular as the character that they were meant to parody.
Fast and Furry-ous, the title of the first short featuring the two said characters, premiered on September 17, 1949, as a segment in the Looney Tunes cartoon. Today, there are a total of 49 episodes produced for the two characters, with the last episode being aired on June 10, 2014.
The Road Runner Show was created in 1966 as a way for the producers to showcase at least three of the produced episodes in one 30-minute episode. The show has featured cartoons produced by Warner Bros. until 1964, and they have also shown shorts produced by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises from 1966 to 1972 after they finished airing for the Looney Tunes cartoon. In addition, it was DePatie-Freling who produced the intro for the show, the closing credits, and the theme song.
As mentioned previously, the two main characters that appear in all episodes of the Road Runner show is Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner. Wile E. Coyote’s design is based on a coyote, a species of canine that is small but agile. Wile E. is a cunning character that uses complex traps and contraptions to catch his nemesis, Road Runner. However, his nefarious plans often backfire at the end.
The Road Runner is based on the animal of the same name, roadrunner. The roadrunner, sometimes known as chaparral cock or chaparral bird, is a ground bird that couldn’t fly but has long legs that help it run faster than most birds. Like the animal it is based on, Road Runner is fast, and his super-speed allows him to get away from Wile E. Coyotes traps.
All episodes of The Road Runner Show follow the same formula, wherein Wile E. Coyote attempts to catch Road Runner but fails miserably, and the failures often end up with the coyote being injured. The concept is similar to slapstick, although the humor is much more exaggerated since it is a cartoon.
Other Looney Tunes characters would also show up as cameo appearances on the show, but the ones who appear are usually the lesser-known characters, such as Speedy Gonzales, Pepe Le Pew, and Elmer Fudd. There would also be a short segment in the show featuring Tweety and Sylvester, the bird and cat duo that has a similar “friendship” as Tom and Jerry.
The Road Runner Show premiered on September 10, 1966, on CBS. It ran for two seasons on the said network, but in 1968, CBS decided to combine with The Bugs Bunny Show to create The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour. The first 30-minute segment of the show featured the adventures of Bugs Bunny, while the second segment is the usual slapstick formula episode of Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour’s final episode aired in 1969.
In 1971, rival network ABC got hold of the rights to air The Road Runner Show, but instead of airing reruns, they aired newly produced episodes. Unfortunately, ABC dropped the show in 1973 due to complaints that the show is become more and more violent and aggressive, which is too much for children. CBS then continued to air reruns of the show until the 80s.
Despite The Road Runner Show no longer being produced, shorts of Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner were still being created until 2014, but these shorts would often be featured as a segment for Looney Tunes, or as a standalone short for television.