Review by KC Carlson
Oh, what to do… what to do…
One the one hand, the Tom & Jerry Deluxe Anniversary Collection might be an excellent “greatest hits”-type collection for the casual Tom & Jerry fan. On the other, if you’re a serious animation collector, you are going to be extremely frustrated and upset with this collection. On yet another hand (we are talking about cartoons, after all), this could be looked upon as yet another example of the WB recycling previously released material and not applying much quality control. (That’s something that has sadly plagued many previous T&J releases. With two of them, Warners actually had to exchange corrected discs for disgruntled fans.)
First, the basics. The Tom & Jerry Deluxe Anniversary Collection features 30 cartoons in a two-DVD set. The first disc collects 20 of the best from the original “classic” theatrically released cartoons, directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, including seven Oscar winners. The second disc contains ten additional cartoons, the best description of which would be “mixed bag”. They include:
- The two long sequences from Anchors Aweigh (starring Gene Kelly) and Dangerous When Wet (starring Esther Williams) in which Tom & Jerry interact with the stars in musical sequences
- three cartoons directed by Chuck Jones
- one cartoon each from Saturday morning cartoon shows The New Tom and Jerry Show, Filmation’s The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show, The Tom and Jerry Kids Show, and Tom and Jerry Tales
- and a cartoon produced for the Cartoon Network that would also be the last cartoon that Joe Barbera directed before his death.
All but some of the TV show material has been on previous WB Tom & Jerry DVDs. The only bonus feature is a “new” 19-minute documentary called Much Ado About Tom and Jerry that mostly features old interview footage of Hanna, Barbera, and Jones. Collectors will be interested in the few fleeting seconds of some of director Gene Deitch’s work on T&J, none of which is actually on this DVD (although a couple of frames are inexplicably used for DVD menu illustrations).
It seems to me that Disc 1 of this set will ultimately be repackaged by WB as a single-DVD Tom & Jerry “Greatest Hits”, and the few oddball cartoons on Disc 2 are only being offered up as incentive for collectors to buy this particular set. Most of them, though, already have the good stuff here and don’t have much interest in the TV-era material.
Bait and Switch
On the surface, the collection looks like it’s designed for the collector — it has the blah blah blah “is intended for the Adult Collector and May Not Be Suitable for Children” disclaimer on the box — which usually means that the cartoons are not going to be edited. The longer on-screen disclaimer about racial stereotypes (“These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today”) is also present as an impenetrable no-click-through barrier before you can even get to the cartoons. Yet some of the cartoons on this set are still the edited versions. Y’know, if Warners feels that Tom and Jerry is a big cash cow for the kids-only market and wants to edit the heck out of the cartoons to sell to the toddlers, that’s their prerogative (although an artistic travesty) — as long as they are clearly labeled as such. But to constantly jerk around the collectors, promising uncut cartoons, but never delivering — well, they’re perilously close to burning their bridges with that particular market.
Although I gotta say, I don’t believe they’re doing this on purpose. I think that they just have some incredibly poor quality control on these projects. Case in point: Two cartoons — Touche, Pussy Cat! and That’s My Mommy — both advertised as being widescreen, are not. Well, the credits are, but as soon as the cartoon starts, it jumps to badly-framed fullscreen, cropping off some of the on-screen action. Does no one actually watch the cartoons when they put these things together?
Comic book writer and novelist Jamie S. Rich has such a brilliant and succinct rundown of all the specific problems with this collection, he deserves to have more eyeballs pointed towards it. As for my wrap-up? If you want a good Tom & Jerry collection, try one of the first two Tom & Jerry Spotlight Collections.
It’s getting to be an unfortunate happenstance that it just wouldn’t be a WB-produced Tom & Jerry collection if something wasn’t wrong with it. Better luck next time, guys. Really. Please do better next time. (The studio provided a review copy.)