STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $14.98
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes

The Pitch

Kids still like cartoons with grievous bodily harm, right? Cool-io, just checking…

The Humans

A predominantly feline VS murine main event, with some supporting canines, a female pet-owner’s lower half, and assorted toons.

The Nutshell

THE prototypical mammal “pals” chase, trick, and maim each other like… well, THE proverbial cat and mouse. Seriously? You don’t know who Tom and Jerry are? I weep for your childhood.

No one was shocked to discover that Spike’s death was of the auto-erotic asphyxiation variety, but Eddie Valiant suspected foul-play, all the same.

The Lowdown

For the 1st time in over a decade, the sextagenarian cat & mouse duo returned to television in 2006 in a new show… and in the format for which they are known and loved: the animated short.  This DVD collects a handful of often hit and sometimes miss. Forget the bizarre Czech Tom and Jerry of the 60s, the pacified/pussified friendly versions during the 70s and 80s, the Muppet Baby cash-in of the 90s (TOM & JERRY KIDS), and the “why are they talking?” film entries and direct-to-video output. Not since Chuck Jones took a stab at this famous pair over 40 years ago has this property been as fun and true to form as seen here.

Don’t whip out that “traditional marriage sack” too prematurely, Borat… BAYWATCHing feline Casanova (hey man, that’s where it’s at), Tom, is on the prowl.

You’ll notice some modernizations and references (ala Animaniacs or Tiny Toons) in the surroundings/gags/inciting incidents, but the primal premise (hate crime!) is indeed intact in TOM AND JERRY TALES. The spirit of Hanna Barbera’s simple and manic conflict has been restored in this franchise, with only the spark (genius and artistry) shining slightly less bright in the process. Droopy, Spike, Tyke, and Tuffy (and even a guest appearance by Tex Avery himself) drop by for the reunion festivities, but… the Political Incorrectness of the early 20th Century (Mammy, blackface explosions) has been avoided altogether this round. So no need for shameful, history-erasing edits.

To be honest, the adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, DAGON, was severely lacking in the “Cat on Mouse Action” category.

In the various scenarios (Monster Convention, lifeguard try-outs, tennis lessons, etc) the combative pet and vermin adversaries are finally up to the old tricks us toon-lovers grew up on. In a post Itchy & Scratchy (or Happy Tree Friends for the torture porn generation) world, there’s a bit less gun/knife/axe/TNT play compared to the toons of my classically-trained youth, but for a surprising Y-rating on the tube, there’s still plenty of skinnings, dismemberments, and concussion-causing cartoon chicanery. Tom and Jerry aren’t quite the same as they were in the 40s and 50s (it would probably take a maverick like John K. to get close), but I’ll gladly swallow a watered-down clone from the fun-intentioned Cartoon Network over the abominations once tainted by the meddling A.C.T. (and the subsequent “Children’s Television Task Force”). On the other hand, I’m also XTREME-ly grateful we didn’t get anything resembling LOONATICS: UNLEASHED.

“Droopy” did not get the moniker from his demeanor or singular facial expression, but due to the stowaway in his banana hammock.

The Package

Inside are 4 themed groups, containing 3 shorts each (12 toons for those hit too many times in the head with an anvil/safe/piano) for a total of 88 minutes (just about feature length). In the days when you can grab 3-4 times as much material of The Batman or Ben 10 shows in a set for the same price (and from the same distributor), I hate to say it (yet I shouldn’t be surprised), but the WB’s a bit money-hungry here. Considering there were only 2 seasons of T & J TALES (26 ½ hour eps, 13 per season), they could have released all of them by now, but opted to stretch it out within these leaner volumes. To further compare, the classic and superior Spotlight Collections of the T & J theatrical shorts (buy ‘em here, here, and here) clock in at 4-5+ hours apiece. Since the T & J TALES contain an irreverence and energy not seen in decades, it would have been nice to include some storyboard to final film comparisons (or pencil tests, or unused gags, etc). The only options here are “Play All” or “Episode Selection”. Rats.

Enzyte, the once-a-day tablet for natural Cheshire Cat enhancement.

7.5 out of 10 (Toons)

4.5 out of 10 (disc)

Dogs and cats…

… living together…