The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show (also known as The New Adventures of Tom and Jerry in other countries or referred as Tom and Jerry in the intro and title cards) is an animated television program produced by Filmation for MGM Television in 1980, on the CBS Network for Saturday mornings.
This was the fifth incarnation of the popular Tom and Jerry cartoon franchise, and the second made-for-television production. The series was notable in being the first attempt since the closing of the MGM studio in the 1950s to restore the original format of the cat and mouse team as well as several other MGM characters. After the original 114 theatrical shorts run of the Hanna-Barbera directed Tom and Jerry series, the creators left for other television shows while Tom and Jerry stayed at MGM. The characters were leased to other animation studios who changed the designs, and eliminated all of the supporting characters. The previous made for TV Tom and Jerry Show for the ABC Network in 1975 was produced by Hanna and Barbera, but had made the cat and mouse friends in most of the episodes, due to the reaction against violence in cartoons.
The version by Filmation (Hanna-Barbera's leading competitor for TV animation at the time) was able to restore the familiar slapstick chase format, and reintroduced not only Spike, Tyke, and Nibbles, but also some of the other MGM stars. Half-hour shows would consist of two 7 minute Tom & Jerry episodes, plus one Droopy Dog cartoon in the middle, featuring some other characters such as Barney Bear. Spike from Tom and Jerry was used in many of these Droopy episodes as well, filling in for the other "Spike" bulldog created by Tex Avery for the old Droopy films, who was not used as a separate character here. (Also known as Butch the bulldog, not to be confused with Butch the cat, who is not included either.) The villainous wolf from the classic series was also included, and named "Slick Wolf". Still missing was the "Red Hot Riding Hood" character, who would not reappear due to her sensual aspects, until the following made for TV series, Tom & Jerry Kids, in 1990 as, instead, her lookalike is used. The real "Red" character was yet to require until Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes in 2010.
The show's opening begins with Tom chasing Jerry through a yellow curtain (similar to Chuck Jones opening title). But this curtain collapses as Droopy says "Hi, Folks!". Tom and Jerry continue chasing, with Jerry eating a banana and throwing it in Tom's path. The other stars build a giant "Tom & Jerry" sign. (Similar to the second opening of Tom & Jerry Kids). Droopy is unharmed, Slick has paint toppled on him and is tripped, Spike is knocked off his ladder, and Barney Bear is also tripped with a bucket of blue paint falls on his head. The familiar rotating executive producer credit of Lou Scheimer and Norm Prescott briefly runs as Barney slips on wet paint. All except Droopy are chasing Jerry as the sign is ruined. After this time Tyke and Nibbles play on the ladder, which causes a bucket of red paint to fall on Tom's head. Tyke and Nibbles leave, Jerry whistles at the four that are chasing him, and Droopy gets up and leaves. The four arm themselves with paint and finish the sign but they continue to miss Jerry. The sign is mostly yellow, resembling the same yellow curtain seen earlier, but instead of the letters "O" from Tom, "and", and "J" from Jerry be Blue with otherwise red letters. The entire words are solid red. Tom and Jerry smile, as if they were in the 1975 series, but now Jerry winks at the end. The title only says Tom and Jerry but a narrator announces "The Tom And Jerry Comedy Show!".
After the opening sequence would begin the wraparound segments, hosted by Droopy. He would start by painting the whole background with a single large brush stroke (making stylistic use of Filmation's characteristic "limited animation" technique), and he and the other speaking characters would engage in brief comedic sketches. (Like Droopy's opening poem "Roses are red, violets are blue, paintings my job, that's what I do; cute and somewhat wet").
The closing sequence consists of a slightly different version of the opening theme, with stock footage from two of the episodes. One of the episodes is Tom chasing Jerry in a toy room, followed by a Droopy and Spike constructing a building. The smiley face Filmation logo appears, coming into focus. The familiar M.G.M. lion appears at the very end for MGM Television.
Generally, the animation quality was decent, but not as smooth as the Hanna-Barbera or Jones theatrical animated Tom and Jerry cartoons. The cels from the very beginning of the opening sequence of Tom chasing Jerry towards the screen were reused. This is a common error with Filmation shows as they and Depatie-Freleng were strongly against outsourced animation. (Meanwhile, Hanna-Barbera and especially Rankin-Bass and Ruby-Spears did so quite often.)
In addition to the animation, the show was characterized by very limited music score. The particular genre of music is Ragtime, in an attempt to mimic the classic episodes (which used Swing, Big Band, and Funk music, but not Ragtime). For example, Dean Elliott was active in 1980, but he never worked at Filmation; he was at Ruby-Spears at the time. Unfortunately, Filmation's common music is a very small amount of scores, and almost always synth.
All of these episodes, both Tom & Jerry and Droopy, used the same stock, mostly created new for the series, but consisting of only a handful of largely synthesized tunes, either with minor variations or played at different speeds or pitches. Unlike common Pink Panther by Depatie-Freleng, who had completely lost Pink Panther's soundtrack budget in the mid-1970s, Filmation DID did match the chase scenes, but at several times gave the episodes a very monotonous soundtrack, making these episodes "stand out" to many Tom and Jerry viewers when they aired.
Where the original series and the third series by Chuck Jones would have favorable endings for Tom occasionally, this series followed the second series by Gene Deitch in never having definite "wins" for Tom (although in "When The Rooster Crows", he and Jerry ended off mutual). Also similar to the Deitch films is the character design, in them being drawn similar to the original (actually Tom of the 1950s, with no striped face; The striped face design had not been used by Deitch, not been used by Jones, and was abandoned by Hanna-Barbera themselves as of the mid-1950s), but the result is lower quality. Jerry never had any significant redesigns, but the color is darker. Droopy is the most noticeable change, although unintentional, his face is no longer drooping at times.
The Droopy episodes would usually feature Slick and sometimes Spike being antagonists to Droopy. Barney had miscellaneous roles, such as being the boss of movie studio guard Droopy in "Star Crossed Wolf", and a frightful companion to Droopy in a haunted house in "Scared Bear".
The series officially lasted for two seasons (with the second season consisting of reruns) and the individual episodes were eventually added to syndicated Tom & Jerry packages, and also occasionally appeared on Cartoon Network and Boomerang.
Although the series had a 7.6/10 on iMDB.com, the series, like its predecessor, received negative reviews from fans for its animation, lack of returnee characters like Mammy Two Shoes, Butch, Joan, Quacker, and a few others from the old cartoons, terrible voice acting, music, and sound effects, the poor usage of slapstick and violence, the overall slow and awkward pacing that killed any comedic timing, low budget animation, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera's involvement not being anywhere, MGM outsourcing the animation to Filmation, the one-sidedness of Tom and Jerry's battling rivalry (a mistake that was once repeated during the notorious Gene Deitch-era) and the second season being reruns of the first season.
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