A cat and mouse, a stoner and a dog and a bunch of robots battle it out for supremacy. Which cartoon is actually more than meets the eye?
Tom and Jerry are one of the most beloved duos in cartoon history. The two have been as close as a cartoon can be to brilliance winning seven Academy Awards, including one for the masterful The Cat Concerto. I have often pondered the dynamic of the cartoon as it positions the mouse as the antagonist, yet strongly he remains the hero of the tales. On the other side, the protector of the house, the cat, is often seen as the villain. It juxtaposes real world attitudes towards cats and mice and, yet still, it works.
Tom and Jerry Tales is NOT a release of the older cartoons. Those can be found on wonderful releases such as the Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collection, which includes the aforementioned The Cat Concerto. This release is a new version, meant to introduce a new generation of kids to the cartoon violence of the cat and mouse duo. The new show debuted in 2006 and lasted until 2008, utilizing the original style of the classic shorts, including the violence.
How does it hold up? The first episode on the DVD is The Declaration of Independence, where Tom plays the cat of Thomas Jefferson and while trying to rid his home of Jerry and accidentally throws out the Declaration of Independence, having to spend the entire episode getting it back. Jerry uses Butch the Dog to foil Tom and ends up being the one to return it in the end. As with all the cartoons, Tom is simply trying to follow his master’s orders and Jerry thwarts him.
The next episode remains in the historical context as the Wright brothers send Tom to get rid of Jerry and Jerry ends up helping the brothers discover flight. Beginning in the first episode, when Butch the dog talks, and through this start of this episode, where an elderly mouse is talking to young mice about history, I found what I dislike about these shows. Tom and Jerry is about the chase and the violence and is best seen as a silent film with the orchestral music accompanying it. The talking really takes a lot away from the episodes.
Maybe this is my being crotchety because the voiceover helps a great deal with the educational level of the show. In between the cartoon violence and humor are lessons about history that adds value to the shows. The shows also contain a bit of moral play that was noticeably absent from much of the original series. I understand that my complaints are about a television show for kids being good for kids, but damn it I loved the mindless violence of the old cartoons. That said; this was a decent series for your younger kids.
While Tom and Jerry was the more prestigious cartoon, Scooby-Doo trumps them in the area of overall popularity. I dare you to find one person who has never seen Scooby-Doo. I have heard complaints that argue Scooby-Doo went from being the beloved “man in a mask” mystery show to being about real monsters and ghosts. I think the show fell way before that when they eliminated the gang and just focused on Shaggy and Scooby. Sure, those were the two more popular characters but the dynamic of the group of friends is what made the show great. I also loved the team-ups with people like Batman & Robin and The Harlem Globetrotters.
I was pretty happy when I slapped this DVD in and saw the familiar faces of Fred, Daphne and Velma along with Shaggy and Scooby. Scooby-Doo: Where Are You! includes the first four episodes that originally kick started the franchise. Those episodes: What a Night for a Knight, Hassle in the Castle, A Clue for Scooby-Doo, and Mine Your Own Business – created a franchise so loved by its legions of fans that, when they tinkered with it, fans ended up loathing a little puppy named Scrappy. Luckily, there is no Scrappy-Doo here, just the foundation that would create one of the best cartoons from my childhood.
The episodes contain a laugh track and feature the gang trying to solve mysteries. The humor is as corny as anything you will see but that is all part of the charm of these cartoons. The mysteries are all done on a level that a five-year old can follow the clues, which is also a plus for the show. I refuse to count off for any of the silly spots in the storyline either. I also refuse to complain about the grain on the picture as well. Cleaning this up would be wrong on a number of levels.
The images from these first few episodes are iconic in and of themselves. The black knight from the first episode is something I have always pictured in my mind throughout years of watching this series. The scary ghost from the ship chasing the kids “Abbott and Costello Style” is another scene I always remember. I’m sure part of it is the introduction video to every episode containing these scenes, but it had to start somewhere. This might be one of the best DVDs to pick up to relive your childhood, especially if you are in your thirties. It doesn’t get any better than classic Scooby-Doo.
While Tom and Jerry and Scooby-Doo were original ideas, The Transformers came along in the eighties where it was more important to tie in a cartoon with a hot new toy. As a child, I bought into it. I bought the toys, the comic books and watched the cartoons. G.I. Joe, He-Man, The Transformers – I loved toys that tied in with kick-butt cartoons. Of course I, being a crotchety old man, laments that The Transformers I loved are what is now classified as “Generation One.” This series is a reboot kick started in December 2007 on The Cartoon Network, presumably to coincide with the live action movie.
The opening song of the new show has the same lyrics as the old show but sounds like it was sang by a religious pop band. Yeah, it’s bad. Then the show starts and we get anime style animation. The Autobots in this version are pretty much superheroes who fight both Decepticons and regular super villains. The style of cartoon reminds me of Teen Titans and it really doesn’t do the Transformers justice. The skinny style of the animated characters betrays the monstrous look of the robot warriors. The horrid jokes and silly action sequences proves this update is only concerned with young children. It never really held my attention, but that is probably because I hated the animation style and felt it didn’t match the cartoon.
As for the smackdown, Scooby-Doo wins in a landslide. There is nothing better than the classic Scooby-Doo cartoons. Tom and Jerry never matches up to the originals but is a closer proximity to what made the classic cartoons great than the abysmal Transformers reboot.
Neither Tom and Jerry nor The Transformers contain extras. Scooby-Doo contains a bonus episode called Shags to Riches. This is the first episode of the show, Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!. It debuted in 2006 on The CW and is not drawn in the classic style, instead animating the characters to look like the movie characters. The animation style sucks. Watching this on the DVD that includes the classic shows that started it all is disheartening.