Saturday, 16 December 2017

Night Flight Fright

Ruff and Reddy was different from the Hanna-Barbera cartoons that came after it. Like Crusader Rabbit before them, Ruff and Reddy went on adventures that ended with a cliff-hanger. There were two R & R cartoons in a half hour and each adventure went for 13 cartoons.

The first adventure began with “Planet Pirates” and “Night Flight Fright.” Each cartoon was budgeted at $2,700. The second (through thirteenth, actually) had a bit of an advantage money-wise. It started with a 25-second recap of the previous cartoon, so money was saved on animating (and, presumably, inking and painting).

Don Messick opens “Night Flight Flight” by explaining a mysterious flying saucer manned by two strange mechanical space men beamed the sleeping Ruff and Reddy into the craft and zoomed off for outer space. Charlie Shows wrote the dialogue which has his playing take on words: “We hope Ruff and Reddy are ready, ‘cause things look mighty rough.” Messick’s narrator is slow and calm; after all, this is a programme for children.

Now to the present. Ruff opens one eye, looks through the window of the space and thinks Reddy has left the TV on again. There’s a nice perspective Ruff in somewhat of a shadow with his back to us. H-B cartoons didn’t do this kind of thing even in 1958.

There’s a shock take cycle (three drawings on twos) as Ruff realises where they are. Ruff wakes up Reddy who is half asleep and not comprehending what’s going on. He decides to leave the space ship. We don’t actually see it. The camera cuts to an open door (with a looping background of space seen through it) then cuts to Reddy holding onto the edge of the space ship. Ruff finally pulls him back in after a four-drawing cycle of feet animation and more only-the-mouth moves animation.

Back in the spaceship, Ruff is scared off by one of the spacemen (he needs only one in-between to turn from one direction to the other), only to be captured. Says the dog: “Hey, Ruff, will you come back here? I was talkin’ to you. Where’s your polite?” We might ask you the same thing, Reddy. Through great portions of the series, he’s an arrogant blowhard who always thinks he’s right (until he needs to be bailed out from his mistakes). I simply don’t like the character.

Anyway, Reddy finally realises what Ruff is trying to tell him and rushes out of the scene being chased by the spaceman. More brushwork from the studio’s small ink and paint department.

Reddy grabs the cat out of the spaceman’s extended claw, runs into a room and slams the door shut. The design of the robots is pretty cool. And Ed Benedict (or whoever) doesn’t put legs on them so they can be inked to a cel and then just slid across the background without the need to animate them.

The two are in the control room and realise the robot spacemen are outside the door so no one is flying the craft. Reddy takes command. Naturally, he has no clue what he’s doing. But director Bill Hanna does. He cuts to a shot of the control panel for a full five seconds of budget-saving non-animation, with the camera trucking back a bit to simulate movement. The same with the falling spaceship. It’s on a cel tilted back and forth behind overlays of clouds. “Poor Ruff and Reddy,” earnestly explains the narrator. “They’re in double trouble. Millions of miles from home and falling helplessly through space. How will they get out of this spot?”

We’re enjoined to tune into the next episode. Well, since we’re only reviewing the first show of the series, we can tell you Ruff and Reddy end up on the planet Muni-Mula (“That’s ‘aluminum’ spelled backwards,” the narrator informs us), meet up with Professor Gizmo is a manner that makes no sense and they eventually crash their crippled rocket, the S.S. Gizmo (steam ship?!?) on Mt. Cucamonga. Then it’s on to a new adventure.

There are only three music cues used in the cartoon (besides the opening/closing theme). I can’t find the first one in my Capitol Hi-Q collection as I don’t have copies of all the ‘D’ series cues. I’m pretty sure it’s by Spencer Moore. The other two are by Bill Loose and John Seely and were later used in the Huck Hound show.

0:00 – Ruff and Reddy Sub-Main title (Curtin)
0:08 – space mysterioso music (Moore) – Recap, Reddy walks out of spacecraft.
1:26 – no music – Ruff looks out door, rescues Reddy. “I wonder where they’re takin’ us.”
1:58 – TC-219A CHASE MEDIUM (Loose-Seely) – Ruff runs, Reddy rescues him, closes door on control room.
2:35 – no music – Ruff and Reddy in control room.
2:46 – TC-215A CHASE MEDIUM (Loose-Seely) – Spacecraft weaves through clouds. Narrator closes episode.
3:28 – Ruff and Reddy Sub-End title (Curtin).


  1. So you're reviewing the series on a regular basis, huh? What changed your mind? (a break from Yakky Doodle?)

    1. I'm afraid not. As Yowp says, "Well, since we’re only reviewing the first show of the series..."

      It would be nice if Yowp reviewed the whole series, though. Of course, I don't know if Yowp has access to the whole series, and there's no Ruff 'n Reddy DVD, so...

  2. A Hokey Wolf review series would also complete the Huckleberry Hound reviews, and with all of the Jetsons ones reviewed, Flinstones would be next...Steve

    1. As I've said before, the blog is coming to an end. I have a real life and little spare time. I banked six months of posts some time ago and they will run out in the new year.

    2. Well, well always have this to read, and more comments in the comment entries after the blog is at an end. But then there is the Tralfaz blog, but as you said, you have a real life (I two,too)..SC Thanks.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Just as the following H-B cartoons would borrow a lot from what had worked before, whether it was Avery's slow-talking wolf or some aspect of 'The Honeymooners', so does 'Ruff and Reddy' take its narrative and style cues from 'Crusader Rabbit', which had already worked on NBC seven years earlier. (to me, 'Crusader' was a little more tongue-in-cheek, as befitting its Jay Ward roots, though not as much as what was to come in 'Rocky & Bullwinkle', while Bill & Joe's maiden effort was far more visually appealing, but was more straightforwardly written with just little kids in mind, with nothing to keep older kids or adults coming back. As with Ward, they'd learn from their initial work, and do way better with their second made-for-TV effort).

  4. You know, "Ruff and Reddy" would make a great comic strip. And, for a while, the writer and artists wouldn't even need to invent need stories, just adapt the existing stories from the animated series for the strip.

    Oh, how I wish DC would start a line of Hanna-Barbera comics that was faithful to the spirit of the many H-B series, as opposed to the grotesque parodies it's putting out now. Ideally, such a line would even reprint old H-B stories from Western Publishing.

    Thanks, Yowp, for reviewing this short. Very cool music, I must say!

  5. It's funny you mentioned R&R and Crusader in the same sentence. Both appealed to me immensely both when i was little and today and both for the same reasons. I loved the cliffhangers and their characters.