Big Ideas : A NEW New Tom & Jerry Show
Have you guys been enjoying the new Looney Tunes Cartoons show on HBO Max?
I know I have; it’s old-school cartoon cool, done in a beautiful new art and animation style which manages to pay tribute to the classic style, put a slightly modern twist on it and remain timeless.
To my pleasant surprise, many people on the internet seem to be digging the show as well, but one comment in particular caught my attention. Someone on the interwebz said:
“I wish Warner Brothers would give Tom and Jerry this kind of treatment.”
Now I think that’d be a cool idea: why not do a Looney Tunes Cartoons type show for Tom & Jerry? I know there’s a Tom & Jerry movie coming up, but that’s supposed to be one of those live-action/animation hybrids, where it’s live-action humans everywhere and a CGI Tom and Jerry doing Tom and Jerry stuff. Not exactly feeling that.
More recently, there’s been Tom & Jerry Tales…
…And The Tom & Jerry Show…
…Which, while not terrible, were met with mixed reception. Those shows at least tried to recapture the spirit of the original shorts, I’ll give them that, but that might have been part of the problem.
They’ve also appeared in a number of DTVs, usually consisting of them crossing over with some other show, movie or pop-culture character like Jonny Quest and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
More recently, a thread popped up on the Anime Superhero forum, where a poster opined the following:
“Warner Bros really should reinvent Tom and Jerry, they need to retire the 1940’s Cat chases Mouse humor. Like reimagine the entire cast with new personalities and have Tom and Jerry talk more often and give it humor similar to shows such as Adventure Time, Gravity Falls, SpongeBob SquarePants, Invader Zim and The Amazing World of Gumball. This would really improve the cartoon for modern times and it would be very entertaining.”
OK, I get the thought of modernizing the characters a tad and expanding their horizons a little more, but “make it similar to Adventure Time, Gravity Falls, SpongeBob Squarepants, Invader Zim and The Amazing World of Gumball?” What does that even mean? Those shows aren’t even similar to one another, and none of them possess any correlation with Tom & Jerry. Make Tom & Jerry like those shows how, exactly??
This same fellow goes on to say:
“The old cat chases mouse formula has been done so much its like beating a dead horse. Warner Bros had the nerve to keep them outdated and unfunny.”
“I don’t understand why that would hurt Tom and Jerry, Nothing wrong with Tom and Jerry feeling like The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack or Regular Show. Just better to move up with the times rather than being trapped in the 1940’s.”
Again, I’m not sure where this kid is coming from with “feeling like The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack or Regular Show“. What are you saying?
Turn Tom and Jerry into 20-something slackers, have them play video games and shout “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” from time to time? The problem with that is that if you try to modernize them too much, then the characters would cease to be Tom & Jerry. Updating characters doesn’t just mean strapping guitars around their waists and have them spouting out a bunch of soon-to-be dated buzzwords, and you can’t stop the characters from chasing and trying to outshine and out-maneuver one another, because that’s who they are and what they do. Tom and Jerry are a CAT and a MOUSE, so they have to act like a cat and a mouse. You take that dynamic away, and they’re not Tom & Jerry anymore. You’d end up with something like Yo, Yogi, and NO ONE wants another Yo, Yogi.
That said, I still think a new Tom & Jerry show could be done. If Warner Bros. gave me the keys to the Maserati and asked me to make a new Tom & Jerry show for HBO Max, here’s how I personally would do it. NOTE: I’m not saying that my way is the best way or the only way, but it is a way. Hear me out. Here’s my pitch:
For one thing, I would take a cure or two from 1975’s Tom & Jerry Show.
Yeah, I know that this show caught a lot of flak for downplaying the mutual animosity between the 2 characters and essentially making them friends, but this show did do some things right: to compensate for the lack of feuding, the writers introduced some silly but funny jokes and shticks that I admit did make me laugh sometimes, and it didn’t entirely remove the slapstick, especially in regards to Tom, who of the duo was basically the more unlucky and prone to be the butt of physical comedy, which has always been the case. I wouldn’t change that, however, I wouldn’t stop them from doing chase gags (because as previously stated, they are a cat and mouse, so they can’t stop doing cat and mouse things) and I wouldn’t put them in random situations that any person could get into (more on that later).
I also would take a couple of cues from Tom & Jerry: The Movie.
I know, I know. Hear me out!
I’m NOT suggesting having the characters don straw hats and canes and sing muscial numbers about the magic of friendship…
No. No. Perish the thought. But there were one or two salvageable ideas from that film, believe it or not. For one thing, I don’t consider it blasphemous to have Tom and Jerry talk, at least sometimes. I’m not suggesting having them speak nonstop like in the Tom & Jerry comics…
Just have them say a few words at a time to pepper and punctuate some scenes, like in several of the original shorts. Yes, Tom and Jerry did talk sometimes in their original cartoons, people tend to forget that. Just do it that way, only a tad more frequently.
I’d also do away with putting the characters in random setting and situations all the time. Another thing I didn’t mind about the movie was how it tried to establish a concrete setting for the characters. Like I said above, I’d stop putting them in human-like situations. I’d keep Tom and Jerry as house pets, but I’d expand the cast to include other characters for them to bounce lines, jokes and stories off of…
…Not just Spike.
In the movie, they ended up living with a girl named Robyn Starling and her gazillionaire adventurer dad….
I’d do something similar to that, combined with Rick and Ginger, the couple who owned Tom and Spike in several episodes of The Tom & Jerry Show, but I’d expand that. The example I cite for this is Harvey Comics’ Little Dot.
Harvey Comics knew they couldn’t have every story just be Dot going ga-ga over spots, so they expanded her comics to depict her indulging in shtick and shenanigans with her assorted kooky relatives.
I’d do something like that: have Tom and Jerry live in a big house/mansion with a wacky family, each of whom has his/her own shtick that can make for entertaining shorts and stories, that way you have more characters to play off of and react to Tom & Jerry and the cat-and-mouse chasing shtick doesn’t need to be thrust into the foreground and done to death. (Have one of the kids be a child prodigy who sometimes uses Tom and Jerry as guinea pigs for their experiments, for example). BTW, you’d be able to see all of the human characters, including their faces. Plus you could add Spike, Tuffy, Butch and/or some of other pets to be in orbit around Tom and Jerry as well.
Basically a more opulent Loud House, with Tom and Jerry (and possibly Spike and Tuffy) as the pets, doing their usual shtick amid or in conjunction with the family’s antics.
Heck, just to pay homage to the old cartoons, why not add classic MGM characters like Droopy…
And Barney Bear in there as well, either as added attractions, or just random weirdos who turn up in the Tom & Jerry shorts from time to time.
Structurally, the show would be similar to Looney Tunes Cartoons, with 2 or 3 main shorts ranging from 1 to 6 minutes in length, with blackout gags and skits in between. You want to keep the stories and plots short and simple because it’s freaking Tom & Jerry. Like the Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry’s shtick and style of humor don’t lend themselves to drawn out or complicated plots, that’s why those DTVs didn’t work for me.
-Anyways, that what I’d do.
So there you go, Warner Brothers. A way to do a new Tom & Jerry show a la Looney Tunes Cartoons for HBO Max.