Every few years or so, Warner Bros. will dig up the corpses of Tom and Jerry and make them dance around like rotting puppets. A few years ago it was “Tom and Jerry Tales”. This was a show that managed to perfectly capture the look of the old shorts while completely missing the point of what made those shorts funny. Well now they’ve sprung a new series on us. The Tom and Jerry Show. They have at least given us truth in advertising. This show does feature both Tom and Jerry. That’s about all they’ve gotten right.
Let me start by talking a bit about the animation on this series. It’s bad. It has the look of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” about it, but without the fluid motion. Since it’s animated in flash, they decided not to have outlines around the characters, which makes it feel less like Tom and Jerry and more like South Park doing a parody of Tom and Jerry. It also lacks the extreme takes that the classic shorts have owing to the stiff character designs and motion. Over all it feels cheap and rushed, which is a shame since the original theatrical shorts were a showcase of fantastic animation.
The character designs have been described as different in various articles. I wouldn’t say that. It actually does look like Tom and Jerry, but with the line art layer hidden. The most jarring change to a character is to poor Spike the Dog. For Spikes entire career in film and television he’s been grey. His son was grey. He’s a grey dog. For some reason, they’ve made him the same color scheme as Jerry. I don’t like this decision and I don’t under stand it. Is it to make a link between him and Jerry? We’re they watching dirty prints of the old shorts and get it horribly wrong? No idea. All I know is that it’s like someone at Warner Bros. deciding that Porky Pig is spotted and blue. There was no need for this. If they’d made his character act like an african-american then maybe it would make sense. But no. He’s just Spike.
Now let’s talk about the show itself a bit. There are two shorts per episode, each running 11 minutes long. The first story was about Spike getting blamed for breaking things in the house and Tom getting him into trouble. He succeeds and there is no retribution. The second short is something about them living with a witch and there’s a magic wand, and some kind of lizard, and honestly I quit paying attention after a few minutes. The funny part was that at the seven minute mark I kept saying “This should be over by now.” I was right. It turns out the original shorts ran for seven minutes. In the two cartoons that have aired it just feel like for four minutes the writers were looking around thinking “Well what ELSE can we break?”
The stories don’t sit well with me. I’m sorry, but Tom should have gotten his ass beaten by Spike at the end. There are few Tom and Jerry shorts where Spike is the bad guy. This wasn’t one of them. He was a good dog and he got punished for Tom’s crap. There was no payback. There was no moral. There was no good feeling at the end of the short. I turned to Mike and said the asshole won. Stories like this shouldn’t have an ending like that. Especially not after 11 minutes of watching Spike suffer.
The second cartoon starts and never really gets anywhere. The gags are stretches of the imagination and the plot doesn’t hold together. It doesn’t help that both start with a character being warned not to break stuff and then they break stuff.
If there’s one thing I can point to that I enjoyed in the show, it was the sound design. The sound effects were good and they managed to grab the vocal effects from the old shorts. They have those distinctive throaty yells of Tom’s and that intake of breath that there’s no way I can imitate. I just wish those great sounds weren’t part of the animated equivalent of a pile of horse crap. I’ve stepped in a thee foot high ant bed before and it was a more pleasant experience than watching two beloved characters get dragged through the mud like this.
In closing, stop ruining classic cartoon characters, guys, and go make your own.