Bugs and Daffy's Carnival of the Animals (originally aired as Carnival of the Animals) is a combination animation/live action television special, starring Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, and directed by Chuck Jones. Premiering on CBS on November 22, 1976, and consisting entirely of new animation, this prime time TV special represented Bugs Bunny and company's first foray into prime time television since the early 1960s. Carnival of the Animals was purposely cast in the successful mold of Jones' own earlier musical cartoons – Rabbit of Seville, Long-Haired Hare and Baton Bunny – and set the familiar showbiz rivalry between Bugs and Daffy against the orchestral backdrop of musician Michael Tilson Thomas, in a performance based on the music of Camille Saint-Saëns and the poetry of Ogden Nash.
Prime-time television would seem to be the natural place for the adult humor of Warner Bros.'s classic cartoons, as was exemplified by the success of The Bugs Bunny Show that aired Tuesday evenings on ABC in the early 1960s. However, in the mid-1960s, the Warner Bros. cartoons had become established as kiddie entertainment. By 1968, executives at CBS were convinced that all animated material, no matter what its original intended audience had been, belonged exclusively on Saturday mornings. However, the popular characters of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies intentionally had enduring adult appeal from the first, and with the success of other prime-time television specials, such as Charlie Brown, in the mid-1970s, network programmers were finally convinced to give the Warner Bros. animated characters another chance in prime time.
According to animation historians Kevin McCorry and Jon Cooke:
Cartoon characters, appearing in holiday-related, half-hour features, could be relied upon to garner respectable ratings and advertising revenue. Further, with the reduction of regular series episodes per season to below 26, specials were needed to fill the gaps in the 52 weeks that constituted a television season.
This special marked the first time since Warner Bros. had closed their studios in 1964 that Bugs Bunny had appeared on-screen with new material. (Bugs, unlike most of the other regular Looney Tunes characters, had not appeared in any of the outsourced productions distributed under the Warner Bros. banner from 1964 to 1969.)
Bugs & Daffy's Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens
Conductor: Michael Tilson Thomas
Lyrics by: Ogden Nash
Mel Blanc as: Bugs Bunny & Daffy Duck
Production Design: Herbert Klynn
Produced, Written & Directed by: Chuck Jones
Duo-Pianists: Zita Carno and Kathryn Ando
Master Animators: Phil Monroe, Ben Washam, Manny Perez, Tom Ray
Special Animation: Lloyd Vaughan
Key Assistants: Marlene Robinson, Jean Washam, Judy Drake, Bob Tyler, Grace Stanzell
Animated Musical Sequences Directed by: Herbert Klynn
Herbert Klynn's Associates - Production & Color Design: Barry Goldberg
Bugs and Daffy's Carnival of the Animals is available, as all TV specials are, on VHS, but this television special was also released on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 5 DVD along with Bugs Bunny's Bustin' Out All Over and Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales.