Created by Kate Taylor
Written by Glen BergerJim Conroy
First episode date 29 May 2006
Presented by Jim Conroy
Genre Children's game show
Developed by WGBH Boston
Voices of Jim Conroy
Final episode date 4 November 2010
|Directed by Clifford SaitoAdam DalleyJoe TruesdellPeter LyonsWayne SimpsonDean Raymond Robert V. LangeChris Whitbeck|
Theme song FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman Theme Song
Awards Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Song – Main Title and Promo
Similar Street Genius, Design Squad, Stanley (2001 TV series)
Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman, sometimes shortened as Fetch!, is an American animated television series that was on PBS Kids. It is a reality-game show that is hosted by an animated anthropomorphic dog named Ruff Ruffman who dispenses challenges to the show's real-life contestants. Ruff Ruffman appears to be a Weimaraner. The series ran for five seasons and 100 episodes from May 29, 2006 to November 4, 2010 on PBS, with 30 contestants in that time. In June 2010, WGBH announced that the series would end due to lack of funding. In June 2008, the series received its first Emmy for Best Original Song for its theme.
Fetch! was produced at WGBH Studios in Boston. Seasons were filmed about a year before they aired. Season four was the first season to be filmed in High Definition (HD) in 2009. However, WGBH announced that while casting had already been completed, due to a lack of funding, Fetch! was canceled at the end of its fifth season.
The challenges are filmed mostly in Boston and various other parts of the USA, depending on the challenges, during summertime when the children are out of school. The challenges, which are shot out on the field, are cut documentary-style, very similar to network reality TV shows.
After the Fetchers finish filming the challenges, contestants act in-studio, with the voice of Ruff. Jim Conroy travels to Boston from New York for the two weeks they spend shooting in the studio. The fourth camera simply captures Conroy doing his lines as Ruff in the audio booth. The kids hear him in the studio and he hears their reactions in his headphones. Ruff's lines are the only lines that are scripted out, though he will sometimes ad-lib an answer to a question or comment from a Fetcher. Once the lines are recorded, the show goes into editing, where the challenges are sorted into the show order.
Then they are sent to Jim Conroy in New York City, to voice dialog for Ruff's animation. Once that is complete, it is sent back to WGBH where editors place audio clips of the animated characters. Once all of this is done, the episode is sent to Global Mechanic to animate the show. One out of the four editors have an off-set four-week system in place where one of them is ready to send a cut of a new episode to Vancouver every Friday. This process takes about six months to complete one season of the show.
Studio G set
Studio G is the studio for Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman. Three segments of the show take place in the studio – the intro, halftime quiz show, and "Triumph Tally". In season 1, the contestants recognized that Studio G looked like a garage and asked Ruff why, which in the episode, really annoyed Ruff and told them it was not a garage and that it was "Studio G". Over the course of the show's five seasons, the studio changed. For season 1 and 2 the studio was relatively unaltered, but sizable changes were made to the studio for season 3. The television through which the contestants communicate with Ruff was changed to a more current flat screen TV, and Ruff's owner parked her car, a dusty Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, in the studio. A flamingo and trees as well as a "Studio G" sign and a "wall of fame" displaying past Fetch! contestants were added to the studio in season 2. In season 4, a new remote control Mailbox was placed on the TV Screen, which popped out when a challenge was in the mailbox. Season 5's major renovation occurred during the season finale – it became the Go Get It! studio (Studio P), and was a remodeled version of the Studio G with new carpeting and pink furniture.
Fetch! is a reality-based game show where young contestants take on various challenges to gain points. During these challenges, the contestants must complete a variety of tasks assigned to them ahead of time (and on the fly) by Ruff and surrogates, depending on the situation. There is also an educational component, as contestants often must learn something (i.e. Astronomy, Carpentry, Engineering, Food Science, Biology, Physics, etc.) in order to complete the task.
Not all contestants leave the studio each episode to complete tasks. As determined by the Fetch 3000, the contestants who remain behind in the studio participate in the "Half-Time Quiz Show", in which Ruff asks them up to ten questions with the limited time based on the activities of the contestants out on challenges. Out on challenges, contestants will have the potential to earn up to 100 points. The contestants in the studio will have a chance to win a maximum of 50 in the "Half-Time Quiz Show". The show has a Fetch Fairness Guarantee; that every contestant will "compete for the same number of points" through thirteen challenges and six "Half-time Quiz Shows" before the final episode. Additionally, Ruff assigns "Bone-us" points (usually 5 or 10, but sometimes 15 or 20) to the stand-out contestants. On rare occasions, there is the possibility to earn more than 100 points (outside of any bonuses). The record for most points earned in one episode was 125, by Brian, Noah and Khalil in episode 5, season 1. In Season 4, contestants are able to have 1/2 points (i.e. 515 1⁄2 points). At the end of the season, a final point tally is conducted, with the winner of the tally being declared winner of that season to win the "Grand Prize".
Prizes are not always desirable, and sometimes the prize holder winds up with a "booby prize"; for example, in "Good Dancing and Bad Teeth", Anna and Brian had to dance a waltz in the studio. During the first season, the contestant had the choice of keeping the prize, or giving it to a fellow contestant. During the remaining four seasons, there are two unknown prizes between which the winner chooses. The chosen prize may be "mailed" to the mailbox in Studio G, although occasionally large prizes are hidden elsewhere on the set. In one episode of Season 2, Rosario gave his prize to Nina, and in another he gave it to Madi. In a season 4 episode, Sterling returned his prize to the mailbox.
Cultural references and guest stars
Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman contains a considerable number of direct cultural references for a PBS Kids show. In the season 2 premiere, when Nina does a rather sloppy job at making chocolate candy, Ruff remarks that it is the "Jackson Pollock candy." In the following episode, Ruff mentions that he likes REO Speedwagon. In Season 3, Episode 13, when Sam and Harsha throw sacks in a pail, Ruff makes a comment saying, "I feel like Shaq in the free throw line", making a reference to Shaquille O' Neal. In season 4, Episode 14, when Talia found a horseshoe crab while working on a shrimp boat, a horrified Ruff exclaimed, "Looks like Darth Vader's face with a billion legs coming out of it!" In Episode 17 of the same season, Talia was starstruck when she discovered that she was holding Roger Federer's tennis racket. In Episode 15 of Season 2, when the scuba instructors arrived at the beach, Ruff claimed that they were "faster than Batman" and that he "hoped [Batman] was watching the show". When Rubye and Marc in Season 5 learned skydiving signs, Ruff remarked that one of the signs looked like "one of Beyoncé's dance moves." In Season 2, Episode 4, when Rosario voiced Ruff for the first time, Ruff remarked "Is that Ruff Ruffman or Marge Simpson?" In Season 4, Episode 16, when Ruff called Isaac, who was dressed as an old lady, he accidentally called him Mrs. Doubtfire and then corrects himself and says Mrs. Issacson.
The show also had some guest stars. In season 1, Aaron Carter and the contestants all appeared in his new music video. In season 2, episode 2, Ruff sends Madi and Willie to meet the Blue Man Group, and although he intended for them to meet a "blues" band, Ruff was genuinely impressed. In Season 3, Episode 4, Sam meets Senator Edward Kennedy. In season 5, episode 4, Crush the sea turtle from the movie Finding Nemo makes an appearance via Ruff's Fetch 3000. Andrew Stanton reprises his role as Crush here. In episode 2 of season 4 the host of Design Squad Nathan Ball appeared in a pole vault challenge.
The show had auditions for their sixth season in January 2010, but on June 14, 2010, WGBH Boston announced that Season 5 will be the final season due to lack of funding. On June 27, 2010, Jim Conroy (the voice of Ruff) made the official announcement at the Daytime Emmy Awards ceremony. On his Facebook page he said, "It's such an impossible task going up against Sesame Street, Cyberchase, and The Electric Company. So you have to consider the nomination as a win. Can't complain. PBS gave us 100 episodes and 5 seasons. Many good shows never saw that kind of time." Fetch! aired its fifth and final season in October 2010.
WGBH and Global Mechanic have announced plans to produce a spin-off of Fetch! based on the online game Spyhounds. Details have said that it will feature Ruff, Blossom, and Chet having a new career as super-spies and Ruff's in way over his head. Luckily, he has lots of help: four clever kids, a purple poodle named Trixie, and millions of kids online. The spinoff plans were announced, but were later canceled.
Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius
Later, in May 2014, a new spin-off was announced, called Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius. This spin-off debuted in Fall 2014 and features short animations of Ruff Ruffman, focusing on internet safety.
•No. 1: "Texting and You!" (November 2014)
•No. 2: "Photos and You!" (November 2014)
•No. 3: "Searching and You!" (November 2014)
•No. 4: "Technology and You!" (November 2014)
•No. 5: "Technology and You! Bonus Video: Chicken Island" (January 2015)
•No. 6: "Hang Up and Drive!" (July 2015)
•No. 7: "Hang Up and Drive! Bonus Video: Just Drive!" (July 2015)
•No. 8: "Privacy and You!" (January 2016)
•No. 8.1: "Privacy and You!: Deleted Scene" (January 2016)
•No. 9: "The Internet and Chet" (March 2016)
•No. 10: "Say! Cheese?" (May 2016)
•No. 11: "Getting the Most From the Internet" (June 2016)
•No. 12: "An Orange Dog Goes Green" (January 2017)
•National Science Foundation
•The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations (2006)
•Greendog by Macy's (2006-2008)
•Corporation for Public Broadcasting (2009-2010)
•Chuck E. Cheese's (2010)
•Viewers Like You
The show was instantly a hit with audiences and critics. The New York Times applauded the series, writing "The show’s creators have written in all the sarcasm and smartness of a more sophisticated and harder-edged show, but not in a way that condones such behavior. There’s a kind of genius to the setup." Larisa Wiseman of Common Sense Media gave the series four out of five stars, saying This entertaining PBS series combines the Comedy of a cartoon, the challenge of a game show, and the excitement of reality TV.
To audition for the program, potential contestants were required to be between the ages of 10 and 14 and be able to live in the greater Boston area over the summer, during school vacations, and a few weekends during the school year. Fetchers needed to be able to be filmed without missing school. Auditions were handled by Maura Tighe Casting.
Fetch! has received numerous awards over the years.