DVD Review: Tom and Jerry: Fur Flying Adventures, Volume 2

Hi all…

Tom and Jerry have had long and fruitful lives as cartoon characters. The titular cat and mouse began in a series of animated cartoons created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera for MGM in 1940 and have evolved several times over the last 70+ years. It’s a familiar recipe for cartoons – take one lovable scoundrel, introduce a second scoundrel to the same environment, and see which scoundrel wins. Last I checked, it’s a dead heat and neither cat nor mouse has gained the upper hand.

I believe I’ve seen most, if not all of the Tom and Jerry cartoons at one time or another. Even in my 40s, I still watch cartoons with my kids and the classics like Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, and Scooby-Doo seem to beat most current cartoons hands down. But I’m starting to grow tired of Warner Brother’s current attempts to milk the franchise on DVD for more money with single-DVD collections of the Tom and Jerry shorts. Every few months, there’s a new release.

Now I have to say I’m eagerly anticipating the Tom & Jerry Golden Collection: Volume One when it arrives on Blu-ray in October 2011. Apparently the new collection features the first 37 shorts, restored from the best 35mm originals they could find, in beautiful 1080p HD with Dolby 5.1 sound. And the rumor is that the new collection will show the original cartoons un-edited and un-censored. That collection is currently available for pre-order at Amazon today and I’ve already got my order in.

However, Tom and Jerry: Fur Flying Adventures, Volume 2 seems to be a hodgepodge collection of 14 shorts from three very different eras of Tom and Jerry production and the quality of the transfers leaves quite a lot to be desired. My personal favorites are the original Hanna-Barbera shorts from the 1940s & 50s and those from when Chuck Jones was working on them in the mid-1960s, not the shorts from the later series Tom and Jerry Tales.

The DVD includes the following shorts:

  • Tops with Pops (1957 – Hanna-Barbera)
  • Monster Con (Tom and Jerry Tales 2007)
  • Tom and Jerry in the Hollywood Bowl (1950 – Hanna-Barbera)
  • Of Feline Bondage (1965 – Chuck Jones)
  • Saturday Evening Puss (1950 – Hanna-Barbera)
  • The A-Tom-Inable Snowman (1966 – Chuck Jones)
  • Surf-bored Cat (1967 – Chuck Jones)
  • Snowbody Loves Me (1964 – Chuck Jones)
  • Duel Personality (1966 – Chuck Jones)
  • Is There a Doctor in the Mouse? (1964 – Chuck Jones)
  • The Haunted Mouse (1965 – Chuck Jones)
  • Declaration of Independunce (Tom and Jerry Tales 2007)
  • Kitty Hawked (Tom and Jerry Tales 2007)
  • Which Witch (Tom and Jerry Tales 2007)

Several of the transfers of the shorts really didn’t come across well at all, with obvious scratches and a jittery picture. It was especially noticeable in some of the shorts from the ’50s and ’60s. The newer Tom and Jerry Tales shorts had a nice, clean transfer with little extra movement beyond what the creators wanted. You do get to see favorites from the original shorts, including Spike and Tyke, Butch, Lightning, and Topsy. Of the classics included, I think “Tom and Jerry in the Hollywood Bowl,” “Saturday Evening Puss,” and “The Haunted Mouse” are my favorites.

Unfortunately you also get to see ill-conceived shorts from Tom and Jerry Tales like “Monster Con” which pairs Tom up with Van Helsing as they go monster hunting at a monster convention. Like most of the newer Tom and Jerry cartoons, these seem to be poor, shallow imitations of the earlier era of shorts.

Beyond the Tom and Jerry cartoons themselves, there are no extras except for a few trailers for other Warner Brothers-produced shows such as The Looney Tunes Show (which fails except for the brilliant 3D Road Runner/Coyote cartoons) and a collection of Snoopy’s adventures in Happiness Is… Peanuts: Snoopy’s Adventures.

If you’re a fan of the classic Tom and Jerry cartoons, I’d seriously skip Tom and Jerry: Fur Flying Adventures, Volume 2 and save your money for the upcoming Tom & Jerry Golden Collection: Volume One to be released in October 2011.

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

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DVD Review: Tom and Jerry Volume 1: Fur Flying Adventures

Hi again!

When I was a kid, Tom and Jerry cartoons were already in syndication and played regularly on Saturday mornings. That was back when there were only a handful of channels, not hundreds of channels like we have now. And back then I wasn’t much of a discriminating cartoon watcher. Whether it was Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, Woody Woodpecker, Captain Caveman, Scooby-Doo, The Super Friends, or many others, I was typically glued to our old black and white TV with my bowl of Fruit Loops every Saturday morning.

Now as a parent, there are many more choices in the digital wasteland of television. A few new cartoons still get my attention now and then, such as 2011’s Young Justice and the continued Clone Wars adventures, but I can’t say that I really like shows like Spongebob Squarepants or Phineas and Ferb as an adult. As a result, I’ve found myself looking at older cartoons on DVD as a solution when we’re looking to watch something as a family.

Tom and Jerry Volume 1: Fur Flying Adventures collects fourteen different Tom and Jerry classics on one DVD for about an hour of cartoons. Most of these episodes were from the original Hanna-Barbera era from 1940-1958, but a few are from the Chuck Jones era (1963-1967) after he left Warner Bros. Cartoons in 1963.

Episodes on the DVD include:

  • Barbecue Brawl (1956)
  • Happy Go Ducky (1958)
  • Hic-cup Pup (1954)
  • Little Quacker (1950)
  • Rock ‘n Rodent (1967) (Chuck Jones)
  • Neapolitan Mouse (1954)
  • Pet Peeve (1954)
  • Pup on a Picnic (1955)
  • O-Solar Meow (1967) (Chuck Jones)
  • Robin Hoodwinked (1958)
  • Guided Mouse-ille (1967)
  • Timid Tabby (1957)
  • The Vanishing Duck (1958)
  • That’s my Mommy (1955)

It was fun watching these with my daughters. We especially enjoyed the shorts with “Ducky” – the baby duck that somehow gets into all kinds of trouble with Tom, who of course wants to eat him. I still remembered “Little Quacker,” “The Vanishing Duck,” and “That’s My Mommy” from my own childhood. And it’s definitely fun to revisit those days every now and again.

One that I didn’t remember seeing was “Robin Hoodwinked,” which included Tuffy, Jerry’s younger sidekick destined to get into trouble and somehow survive it all. It was fun seeing Jerry and Tuffy (in his cute diaper) rush into Nottingham Castle to save the captured Robin Hood and help him escape.

Also included on the DVD are a couple of trailers for more recent Warner Brothers productions, including Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated (the latest Scooby-Doo animated series to hit the air) and Tom & Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes, which was released just a few months ago. We enjoyed the new series and the new film, which brought some of our favorite characters back into the limelight.

If you’re looking for a great way to keep your kids occupied for an hour, I’d definitely recommend picking up Tom and Jerry Volume 1: Fur Flying Adventures on DVD. If you’re looking for a larger, more organized collection of Tom and Jerry shorts, there are other options available to you including the Tom and Jerry: Spotlight Collections and Tom and Jerry: The Chuck Jones Collection.

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up this DVD and other Tom and Jerry classics at Barnes & Noble:

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DVD Review: Yogi Bear’s All-Star Comedy Caper

Hi again…

Yogi Bear… The name brings back images of a goofy bear stealing picnic baskets from visitors to Jellystone Park with his pal Boo Boo. “Smarter than the average bear,” Yogi and Boo Boo would work to outsmart Ranger Smith while filling their bellies. And though I enjoyed many of the Hanna-Barbera cartoons from the era of Yogi, it wasn’t one of those that left a lasting impression.

Yogi was never alone in the Hanna-Barbera universe. He shared adventures with Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss, Quick Draw McGraw, and many other characters starting in 1958 and has appeared in multiple television shows in the years that followed. The latest Yogi Bear live-action/animated film from Warner Brothers is just the latest in an attempt to revive his career.

With Yogi Bear making his way onto modern 3D movie screens a week before Christmas 2010, I had to wonder if we might see some of the older Yogi titles being re-released on DVD or Blu-ray to help spread the word. As if the folks at Warner Brothers were listening to my thoughts, they released Yogi Bear’s All-Star Comedy Caper on DVD in early December.

In the All-Star Comedy Caper, Yogi and Boo Boo have escaped from Jellystone Park to visit their friends in the “Big City” at the same time that his friends from the “Big City” (Huckleberry Hound and so on) made a special trip to Jellystone to see them! Oops. As you might imagine, Yogi quickly finds himself in trouble. He tries hiding while posing as Santa Claus in a department store. It’s there he and Boo Boo meet Judy Jones, a little girl more than a little upset with her father who doesn’t have time for her. Of course, Yogi and Boo Boo want to help restore her faith in Christmas if they can and the trio run off together.

Judy’s dad – the millionaire businessman J. Wellington Jones – isn’t amused and starts to look for his daughter, who has obviously been kidnapped! Soon Yogi, Boo Boo, and Judy are on the run from the police as well as Ranger Smith, who has come to the city to find Yogi. When the bears offer to return Judy to her home, she doesn’t want to go home…

About this time Huckleberry Hound and the gang find Yogi and Boo Boo and offer to help find Judy’s way home. They search everywhere and run into other animated characters such as Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, Pixie and Dixie, Magilla Gorilla, Wally Gator, and Yakky Doodle. But nobody can seem to find the little girl’s house.

When the police and the Ranger finally catch up with Yogi, Boo Boo, and Judy, they are none too pleased. But Judy announces that she hadn’t been kidnapped and that she’d run away, which makes her father understand why he needs to spend time with her. Daddy springs Yogi and Boo Boo from the back of the paddy wagon and drops all charges against our heroes. And Yogi, Judy, and the gang celebrate a Christmas in the park and brighten everyone’s holiday spirit.

Really it’s a cute story that drives home that spending time with your kids during the holidays (and the rest of the year too) is important and should not be forgotten in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Also included on the DVD is the short “Yogi’s Birthday Party” in which Ranger Smith, Boo Boo, and Cindy Bear help throw Yogi a surprise birthday party. To keep him in the dark, poor Yogi thinks he’s going to have to perform some kind of act in front of a television audience and he goes out of his way to figure out what he’s good at!

Though it was fun to see Yogi and the gang, I have to admit I really enjoyed seeing Snagglepuss after all these years. His catchphrases “Exit, stage left!” and “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” have stuck with me and seemed to resonate with my daughters as well. So maybe I’ll have to see about finding some other Hanna-Barbera cartoons on DVD to fill a small void in my cartoon collection!

If you’re looking for a fun Christmas-themed special with characters that haven’t been seen on TV for a while, I’d definitely look for Yogi Bear’s All-Star Comedy Caper on DVD. It’s short and fun and should keep younger viewers entranced for a little while!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up this and other holiday-themed DVDs below!