In the 1930’s and 40’s MGM was trying to get in on the lucrative animation game. The field was dominated at the time by Warner Brothers with their Loony Tunes shorts, and of course, the iconic cast of animated characters coming out of the Walt Disney Studio. For years they had failed to find the right property to take advantage of the market. It wasn’t until the team of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera approached the studio with their first project that the times did change, at least a little, for the fledgling animation department at MGM. The project was far from an original one even for the time. It was a very basic cat and mouse adventure featuring a cat named Tom and a mouse named Jerry. There would be almost no dialog on the shorts. It certainly didn’t look like much of a hit to the studio brass, but with no better ideas on the way, they went ahead with the new shorts of Tom And Jerry. There’s a reason why the cat and mouse pair is such a classic. It’s because it works. If you can make your characters entertaining and endearing enough, you can have a hit. MGM finally entered the major leagues, and the team of Hanna and Barbera would become one of the most successful animation teams in history. They would go on to create such cherished characters as The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, The Jetsons, and, of course, Scooby Doo.
Tom and Jerry find themselves in Victorian England and at the famous flat on Baker Street where the most famous detective in the world resides. No, we’re not talking about Jim Rockford. It’s Sherlock Holmes and his faithful companion and chronologer Doctor Watson. Moriarity is up to his old tricks, and he’s planning to steal a precious gem. The gem has secret powers that can only be revealed during a lunar eclipse, which is just what is about to happen. Tom and Jerry along with damsel in distress Red, the lounge singer, and a church mouse team together to help the detective stop Moriarity and his gang of thugs.
The cartoon looks and feels more like a Scooby-Doo outing than Tom and Jerry. That’s not really a bad thing. The animation is pretty slick and showcases the more modern techniques. It might look slicker, but I don’t necessarily consider it better. The pace is fast enough to keep the little ones interested for the 49-minute running time. There’s less of the chasing-each-other antics that fans of the series have come to expect and love. There is plenty of the slapstick humor and semi-violent ends that Tom often finds himself in. The voice cast includes Michael York as Holmes and Malcolm McDowall as Moriarity.
The colors are actually pretty good here. The entire image is very bright and sharp. Black levels are above average. The animation is clean and smooth. Certainly, Tom and Jerry didn’t look this clean back in the day. The print is pristine, and I saw no real compression problems.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track does exactly what it was originally intended to do. It delivers dialog and some mid-range music. Nothing to write home about, but nothing to distract. A perfectly average presentation.
A tutorial on drawing Tom and Jerry
With a CGI/live action film coming in the style of the Alvin And The Chipmunks movies, it would appear that Warner has some rather grand plans for the old cat and mouse team. There have been a few new versions of the franchise, and Tom And Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes is the latest of these direct to video releases. Putting the popular cartoon characters together with the famous detective and his world is an entertaining enough idea for fans of the duo. There’s not much here for anyone else, however. “The perfect plan…at least on paper.”