Friday, 13 May 2011

The Life and Times of Tom and Jerry - Part 5

Now we're fast approaching towards 2005 where things get rather interesting. Because of almost no dialogue in their theatrical cartoons, Tom and Jerry were easily translated and broadcast worldwide, where foreign countries (including the UK) adored, admired and learnt from the classics. In fact, it was thanks to these two that made a big name out of cartoonist Oscar Martin, who wrote and drew many Tom and Jerry comics for Germany and Spain from the late 1980's (which were later translated overseas by Harvey Comics) before earning the Lifetime Achievement Award for his career as such from Warner Bros in 2002.

So as you can well imagine, places like France, Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom loved T&J so much that there became big demands for more episodes, which gave Warner Bros. Animation plenty to think about...
Thus, in 2001, they released the direct-to-video movie The Magic Ring - which was notable for a few reasons:
  • Not only was it the last Tom and Jerry movie collaborated by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, the former who sadly passed away a few days after its release; but;
  • It was the first time since Filmation's Tom and Jerry Comedy Show that T&J were brought together alongside Tex Avery's characters (Droopy and Spike) along with Butch, Spike and Tyke, Sniffles and Freddie (Alias "Muscles", who was strangely cast as an antagonist despite being "Jerry's Cousin" =P )

However, it seemed that Warner Bros did not learn from the mistake that Turner Entertainment made - though T&J have remained silent since the 1992 movie, this movie suffered a great deal of slow pacing and drawn-out scenes to make it an hour-long movie. In fact, it is scenes like this that made me want to fast-forward the video just so we could get the story moving quicker!!

But do you think because one half of Hanna-Barbera was gone, that would have been the ultimate end of Tom and Jerry...? Not a chance...

Joe Barbera was still involved with whatever else Warner Bros. decided to do with T&J at this point, mostly overseeing or producing each production whenever possible. But the next two movies that came out didn't really "do it" for me, because by this point it was becoming obvious that it would take a miracle to recapture the style of Hanna and Barbera's original Tom & Jerry theatricals.

Four years later, Bill Kopp (Eek! The Cat, Mad Jack the Pirate, Shnookums and Meat, The Twisted Whiskers Show) scripted the next two T&J Movies, Blast Off to Mars and The Fast and the Furry. Now speaking as someone who enjoyed all four shows above that Bill created and wrote for, I tried to enjoy these two movies, but...alas...they both had niggles of their own that cannot be unwatched.

Blast Off to Mars, for a start, had an irritating soundtrack arranged and composed by Steve and Julie Bernstein which, from my memory, wasn't as catchy or bouncy as Scott Bradley's music. Also the art style for the characters just looked....weird. With the nagging outlines, off-model appearances and human hands for T&J. The only interesting thing about this movie was Jerry's unusual alien love interest "Peep"...
However, I was pretty impressed with the big names WB managed to find who were more than happy to voice for this movie - Brad Garrett, Billy West, Jess Harnell, Tom Kenny, Jeff Bennett, Dan Castellaneta, Corey Burton...the list goes on!

The Fast and the Furry didn't really fair much either. The problematic art style was the same, and the soundtrack (or lack of soundtrack in terms of the opening scene) by Nathan Wang wasn't better either. Also, this Wacky Race/Fast and Furious special seemed to rely far too much screen-time either on the other contenders in the worldwide race (which saw plenty of them killed off too soon and gruesomely - a large body count of six, even for a Tom and Jerry movie!) or the moneymaking Producer who decides to change the finishing line every ten minutes...leaving the actual stars almost cameos in their own movie!
Neither weren't the best way of celebrating Tom and Jerry's 65th anniversary, personally speaking...but that was until Tom and Jerry Tales came along, with two new guys on the scene who would buckle the slow decline of lacklustre quality...

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