DVD Review: Tom and Jerry: Fur Flying Adventures (Volume 2)

A cat chasing a mouse is as simple as it gets in animation. For over 60 years, this concept has worked for Tom and Jerry. Ever since their start as a theatrical cartoon at MGM, they’ve been a hit with generations of kids. Why? The lack of words to understand and lush musical scores don’t alienate a four year old. The speedy visuals and orchestrations just gets the young ones excited. Tom and Jerry: Fur Flying Adventures, Volume 2 is a compilation featuring 14 cartoons from the earliest to latest incarnations of their eternal chase.

“Saturday Evening Puss,” “Tom and Jerry in the Hollywood Bowl” and “Tops with Pops” are from the era when William Hanna and Joseph Barbera were in control. They had the fat budgets to make the series an Oscar favorite. “Hollywood Bowl” has Tom conducting an orchestra while Jerry destroys the music. Mammy Two Shoes, the black maid, is featured in “Saturday Evening Puss.” It sounds like they went with the newer vocal performance that’s mixed so low, they might have just turned off the audio. Once more the 13 shorts made by Gene Deitch in Czechoslovakia are ignored. Why can’t these get on DVD? They run them on Boomerang with the others so it’s not like they’ve been locked in the vault away from little eyes. A majority of the shorts are from the Chuck Jones era. They include “Of Feline Bondage,” “The A-Tom-Inable Snowman,” “Surf-bored Cat,” “Snowbody Loves Me” “Duel Personality,” “Is There a Doctor in the Mouse?,” and “The Haunted Mouse.” Chuck did his best to revitalize the duo with Maurice Noble’s visual input.

The final four shorts were made for Tom and Jerry Tales that aired on Kids WB. Visually the animators were more influenced by the model designs of Chuck Jones than Hanna-Barbera. When placed next to the other shorts, these modern shorts come off as complete filler. “Monster Con” has Tom being an assistant to Van Helsing. They arrive at a rundown hotel for a Monster Convention to take out Dracula and Frankenstein. Jerry causes more trouble than the feared creatures. This must have been greenlit when creative executives swore Van Helsing would be a hit. “Declaration of Independunce” kicks up the impossibility factor when Tom folds the famous document into a paper airplane. Parchment doesn’t have a good fly factor. “Kitty Hawked” makes it seem like Jerry contributed to the Wright brothers. “Which Witch!” forces Tom to collect a mouse for his witch owner. Eventually the mouse and cat find themselves as pawns being used by two witches. It’s the best of the new quartet. The biggest let down of these shorts isn’t the animation. The sound mix sounds rough. It’s almost like the temp track with a cheesy synth orchestra and barely tweaked sound effects.

Tom and Jerry: Fur Flying Adventures, Volume 2 is more for little kids that want a DVD for the car. It’s a fine mix of action from over the decades. These aren’t the controversial episodes. The new shorts will remind kids why it’s tricky to revive a beloved series. The hardcore animation collector already has the prime titles on the more complete collections. They’re eagerly awaiting the upcoming Blu-ray releases of Tom and Jerry. This is a strictly for those that merely want to watch the eternal chase.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. “Top with Pops” was made in scope, but is merely letterboxed for this presentation. The transfer quality varies with the age. The audio is Dolby Digital mono for the early cartoons while the more recent ones are Dolby Digital Surround. There’s a Spanish dub track. The subtitles are in English, Spanish and French.

No bonus features.

Tom and Jerry: Fur Flying Adventures, Volume 2 is fine for throwing into the DVD player for the little ones. The shorts sample from three eras and mix them up in the play all order. You won’t mind watching a four year old drag this DVD to the player.

Warner Home Entertainment presents Tom and Jerry: Fur Flying Adventures, Volume 2 Directed by: William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Starring: Tom, Jerry and Spike. Boxset contents: 14 shorts on 1 DVD. Released on DVD: July 5, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.

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