Bugs Bunny and the Roadrunner

I recall a morning I once knew quite well, cold and dark. A morning
punctuated by the “ant races” created by a television screen without
programming which to receive, eventually replaced by a picture of
little concentric circles with a Native Chief emblazoned in the
bottom corner. It was the exciting time, just prior to Saturday

I see some cartoons today, mostly by mistake. Lisa and I always see
the tail end of one cartoon as it is on before the “Sunday Show” on
CBS. Cartoons today seem to me like sit-coms of the 1990’s as they
are formulaic, uniform and simple. The quality of the video also
seems jerky and cheap. Worst of all, they aren’t funny unless you
watch “the Simpsons” or “Modern Guy” which really aren’t cartoons but
shows that use the cartoon format because they can get more content
past the censors, the production costs are more consistent and the
cartoon actors never age, like Bart Simpson.

I awoke those early mornings of television because I knew those ant
races preceded “The Bugs Bunny and Road Runner Show.” These cartoon
shorts were actually created by Warner Brothers for movie theaters,
which explains the high production values. In other words Bugs walks
smoothly and his mouth moves in time with his words. The separate
cartoons were linked into a seamless show with new introductions and
segues by the host, Bugs Bunny with help from Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd,
Foghorn Leghorn and others.

I read in “Readers Digest” once, that the “Bugs and Road Runner Show”
was used as teaching tool in some colleges and often discussed as a
production with many layers of comedy. Physical comedy is easily
understood by children while more sophisticated humor and some irony
gave the adults something to watch. I believe much of my own sense of
humor mirrors Bugs Bunny although I borrow from Daffy Duck and
Yosemite Sam, on occasion.

“This is it” was the tune that began each show. I never realized it
until recently, but I learned much classical music from Bugs. They
used orchestral music during production and even went so far as to
create their own opera. Even today I will sometimes hear some music
and think to myself, “oh, Bugs Bunny music” when in reality the music
is several hundred years old and from a genre more sophisticated than
the one I occupy.

1969 was the year and a farm outside Viking was the place. My brother
and I would grab the blankets from our bed and hustle downstairs;
sometimes there was the smell of percolator coffee. Darrel knew how
to manipulate the worn on/off switch on the television which meant he
was a wizard as that switch was a mystery to me. The ant races made
the room seem colder while the test pattern with the Indian Chief
gave me hope. Then it happened, an announcer boldly stated “and now
the Bugs Bunny and Road Runner show!” Bugs marched on from stage
right with hat and cane followed by the carefully drawn cast and
crew. It was a rocket sled ride of comedy, the irony I didn’t
understand and the delicious self-satisfaction of a place where the
rabbit was the smartest guy in the room and the road runner never
became the coyote’s dinner. Man, those were good times-do they ever
get any better?

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