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"Tom and Jerry: Fur Flying Adventures Vol. 2" is a Failed Flop

Also, what the heck's happening on that DVD cover? Is Jerry suddenly huge and going to catch a tiny Tom in his fishing net?How many different ways can Warner Home Video package classic Tom and Jerry material for DVD? They’ve done Spotlight Collections, a dedicated set for the Chuck Jones shorts, a “deluxe anniversary” boxed set, and a multi-volume “Greatest Chases” series, plus the Tom and Jerry Tales DVDs. There’s also a Golden Collection coming soon to DVD and Blu-ray. However, someone at Warners has apparently decided that five different branding labels for the franchise isn’t sufficient, because there’s now a sixth one, “Fur Flying Adventures,” whose second volume was released earlier this month. Unfortunately, “Fur Flying Adventures” seems to be following in the footsteps of the “Greatest Chases” series by collecting a cross-section of Tom and Jerry cartoons on single discs with no extras. Like those “Greatest Chases” DVDs, it’s hard to see the point when the Spotlight Collections and other boxed sets do a better job collecting and presenting the same material. Both “Greatest Chases” and “Fur Flying Adventures” end up looking like pretty poor attempt to get people to inadvertently double-dip for the same material. Or, as the case may be, for noticeably worse presentations of the same material.

The Hanna-Barbera theatrical shorts are represented by “Tops with Pops,” “Tom and Jerry in the Hollywood Bowl,” and “Saturday Evening Puss.” This second volume got off on the wrong foot immediately by presenting “Tops with Pops” in a full-frame widescreen, leaving a tiny image in a sea of black bars on my HDTV. Warner Home Video has a depressing ability to screw up aspect ratios on their DVDs, and despite complaints about this reaching as far back as the original DVD releases of Justice League, they still insist on doing things like this. It’s even more inexplicable when there are other shorts on this disc that are presented in anamorphic widescreen (and still others that were in widescreen on earlier DVDs, but become full-frame for this one). Video quality is fair, but I don’t have much basis for comparison since I remember these shorts looking grainy and a little faded when I saw them as a child.

A Toonzone Throwdown Top Pick! looks better than what’s included on this DVD. For that matter, “Is There a Doctor in the Mouse?” looks like it was presented in a remastered anamorphic widescreen on that Chuck Jones disc, but it’s a faded full-frame print on this disc. I can’t imagine that it actually saved Warner Bros. money to put the lesser version of the short on this disc when they already spent the time and money to remaster it for the Jones set. Many of the other Chuck Jones shorts are in anamorphic widescreen, which makes decisions like this seem almost capricious or random. Yet another instance of Warner Home Video’s odd determination to be as inconsistent and non-sensical as possible when it comes to aspect ratios on their DVD releases.

Finally, several shorts are included from the recent Tom and Jerry Tales reboot: “Monster Con,” “The Declaration of Independunce,” “Kitty Hawked,” and “Which Witch.” The good news is that these shorts mostly capture the spirit of Tom and Jerry, although the much more limited TV budgets of today make them suffer in comparison to the Chuck Jones shorts, let alone the sumptuous full animation of the Hanna-Barbera theatrical shorts. These shorts are also the ones most likely to drift from the formula, and not always to good effect. Some of the variations just reveal how incredibly threadbare Tom and Jerry are as characters. They’re at their best as two characters whose only driving motivation is to antagonize each other, and are generally not helped by ladles of storyline or setup. Unfortunately, both come in abundance in these shorts and none of it really makes the shorts any funnier. If anything, quite the opposite, since the punch-lines they set up aren’t any funnier than the purer anarchic violence of the earlier shorts.

My real reaction to this release isn’t printable. This DVD is a poorly assembled cash grab and worthy of nothing but derision. I suppose if you find yourself with a few bucks burning a hole in your pocket and a powerful hankering for a Tom and Jerry fix, Tom and Jerry Fur Flying Adventures Volume 2 will scratch that itch, but that’s about as far as I’m willing to go. Almost any other of the bigger home video releases will give you much more bang for your buck, both in terms of the number of shorts offered and in quality of their presentation.

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