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Tom & Jerry Tales: Volume 2

Warner Bros. (September 23 2006), Warner Home Video (May 15 2007), single disc, 87 mins plus supplements, 1.33:1 original full frame ratio, Dolby Digital Surround, Rated G, Retail: $14.98

Guest reviewed by Roberta E Norman.

Storyboard:

Tom and Jerry continue their comical antics together in this all-new DVD.

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The Sweatbox Review:

Tom And Jerry Tales: Volume 2 follows the Volume 1 DVD and offers 12 animated shorts including Fire Breathing Tomcat, Medieval Menace, The Itch, Digital Dilemma, Hi Robot, Tomcat Jetpack, Piranha Be Loved (By You), Spook House Mouse, Abracadumb, Octo Suave, Beach Bully Bingo and Treasure Map Scrap. The first on the DVD, Octo Suave, should actually be seen last, because it, in my opinion, left a horrible impression and a bad taste in my mouth. My personal favorite (and I don’t really know why) was Hi, Robot, although Jerry put on an incredibly cute act in Abracadumb. I also suggest watching The Itch, especially if you are a fan of the band Spinal Tap, because there seems to be a strange likeness between them and the rat band on stage. They in turn sing a ridiculous song (I’ll call it The Itch – I’m very creative!) that is a take on Ring Around The Rosey, but happens to be the hit of the village.

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The back of the DVD case reads as follows: “…appeal to a whole new generation of tech-savvy kids”. I was thinking there would be a lot of digital gadgets, technology, or whatever. Instead, we get one episode, Digital Dilemma, where Tom builds his own computer, gets sucked in (along with Jerry of course!), “surfs the web” and somehow ends up with several clones. Although un-credited, I am certain that Bobcat Goldthwaite provided the voice of the bully cat in Beach Bully Bingo. Also, now don’t quote me on this, but I think they took clips from Jimmy Durante and used it for Spike. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but listen in the episode Tomcat Jetpack for this…it’s uncanny!

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The character design is the same as in Volume 1. Jerry’s thick eyelashes along with his personal mannerisms in the episode Octo Suave were lacking the testosterone needed to remind me that he is a male. Other than that I can’t complain anymore. Let’s focus more on the issues at hand…

Like color! This was undeniably a problem. The characters (mainly just Tom and Jerry, but mostly Tom) were too bright and chromatic at times. In fact, the backgrounds were often painted so dark, detailed, and dreary that in contrast Tom appeared more blue than gray. But I do not want to lay blame on the background; rather I think it is the fault of the characters for this oddity. Tom clearly looked misplaced in wooded scenery, because of his “modern” solid-colored body against the dim-textured backdrop. In the episode Tomcat Jetpack I noticed quite the opposite. Tom was soaring through the sky, which by the way was also unnecessarily bright, and it simply drowned him out. I do miss the hand-painted watercolor backgrounds of yore, but that is rare to find in any remake, so I cannot really complain about that.

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The artists did actually attempt to bring that essence to the computer in several ways: although the water is CG it is often very pretty and looks well done for a TV/DTV release, the trees have simulated brush strokes (I thought that was a nice touch), and the pretty scenery at the ending of the episode Beach Bully Bingo was refreshing. Even with the extra effort put into the background, the characters seem to kill the effect. For example, in the episode The Itch they are standing on tall grass, yet their feet are flat on the ground with no overlapping. Maybe I’m being too critical, but I feel attention to detail shows passion in such a tedious line of work, and more importantly the viewers usually do notice and care about them.

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What went wrong? I know I can list more bad than good when writing this, but I’ll try to keep it short. First and foremost for animated shorts like these is the comedy! Unfortunately, I only found myself laughing three times in 12 episodes (if nothing else, be sure to check out the funny-looking village mouse in The Itch, pictured above, because it cracked me up)! I thought it seriously lacked what is needed for its audience (children) with short attention spans. I also felt that there were several homosexual tendencies throughout. Although it was common back in the day for Bugs and Daffy to share a heterosexual kiss on the mouth, times have changed and I find some of this pushed-over-the-edge (apparently no longer required) comfortable testosterone-deficient zone slightly disturbing. Besides Jerry’s feminine features he also carried a creepy laughter (you could say this is because of his size, but I beg to differ – in the episode The Itch there is a rat about his size with an extremely deep voice), and in the episode Octo Suave a male octopus proposed to Tom and he accepted! In Beach Bully Bingo, a buff cat in red Speedos has a right earring; and of course the usual “let’s dress Jerry as a female and woo the male rats” can be expected.

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In our day and age, especially with ratings and ill-fated lawsuits, companies should be conscious of the content they display. I wanted to point out that Tom and Jerry were never really friends, oh, but here they are! You can catch them boating together, playing cards, and even sharing meals! It was peculiar. I was also disappointed with the abrupt endings, which left some plot holes here and there; nothing was ever really resolved. Almost every time an episode ended I said, “That was it? It’s over?” The differences between the episodes is confusing, like in one episode Jerry is using a thimble as a cup to drink from, then the next episode a thimble is bigger than he is. Also, Tom and Jerry go deep-sea diving without equipment but in another episode they cannot breathe underwater at all! I know, I know…it’s just a cartoon! Let me take a second to collect my thoughts…

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Here are some good points: I was excited when I saw the episode Fire Breathing Tomcat, because it was the first sign of slapstick comedy! I was impressed with some of the thought that went in to designing the props and such, like a dollar bill as Jerry’s living room rug. See? I’m not all cruel!

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Is This Thing Loaded?

As with Volume 1, the features are slim! You have the options to Play All or pick the episode of your choice. Last, but not least…in fact it’s the best feature (and that’s saying something), are the trailers for What’s New Scooby-Doo: Season 2, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo: Volume 6, and Cartoon Network DVD – Ed, Edd And Eddy: Season 2. Pretty much it…don’t expect a lot.

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Case Study:

Warner did a decent job with a colorful cover. It certainly is appealing, with Tom and Jerry’s names in lights! It also has a list of the episodes on the back, along with two stills. It’s just a single disc, so the inside isn’t so enticing, but the artwork certainly does its trick.

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Ink and Paint:

As I said with Volume 1, the colors are a little horrendous. Especially the contrast of the bright and chromatic characters against the sometimes beautiful, but dull backgrounds. If they had only toned it down a bit, it wouldn’t have given me the eyestrain I have now!

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Scratch Tracks:

Dolby Digital Surround Sound definitely offers quality. Yet again, the music was well-placed and fit the animation very well. I believe the music and soundtrack were some of the best parts of the entire DVD. You can also choose from two languages, English or French, but they didn’t provide subtitles for the hearing-impaired.

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Final Cut:

Seriously, I don’t hate it. Give it a try for yourself. After all, your opinion is what really counts!

Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?

MAIN FEATURE
SUPPLEMENTS
VIDEO IMAGE
SOUND TRACK
OVERALL DVD

 

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