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Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Burns and Allen, Wilder and Pryor, Lemmon and Matthau, Farley and Spade.....just some of the more prominent comedy pairs in the history of film. And the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote will no doubt outlast them all.

Cartoons have always thrived on duos--Tom and Jerry, Sylvester and Tweety, Heckle and Jeckle, and even such modern-day examples as Ren and Stimpy and Beavis and Butt-Head--but the shorts starring the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote are in a class of their own. There is something universal about the humor, a throwback to the days of silent comedies. They defined the "chase" cartoon, even though the first short was made to poke fun at the genre.

The entire Road Runner library has always been owned and controlled by Warner Bros. (the only other major series that can fall under that category is Speedy Gonzales), so it's perhaps no surprise that Warner Home Video always utilized the films for its video releases. In fact, with only very few exceptions, every Warner Home Video line to feature Looney Tunes cartoons has highlighted the Road Runner in one way or another. As far as number and frequency of video releases go, the character's only contender to that coveted "third spot" behind Bugs and Daffy is Tweety.

Looney Tunes videos have been around only just a shade over two decades. In that time, every Road Runner film through 1959 has been made widely available, and almost the entire Chuck Jones output has seen a home video release in some format (while the remainder could easily fill one video). Warner Home Video was evidently so worried about exhausting the entire series so soon that it was the first cartoon series to go into heavy repeats in general video releases (with some shorts even showing up on three different in-print releases at a time!).

So what is it about the Road Runner films? Why would Warner Bros. need to keep these in so frequent of a circulation? Is it because Turner never had any claim on them? Was it to celebrate one of the then-still living masters of animation? Was it to make more money off them after selling the broadcast rights to Nickelodeon and ABC?

Or, could it just be that they exhibit everything that a cartoon should be: visual, funny, and entertaining for all ages?

No matter the case, the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote will continue to entertain for generations to come, and most likely the constantly evolving home video industry will always be up for the chase.


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