Another budget-priced collection of animated shorts from Warner Home Video, Tom and Jerry: Around the World contains 22 cartoons for a total running time of nearly three hours. Most of the shorts are taken from Tom and Jerry Tales, a television show which ran from 2006-08. There are eight shorts from each of the show’s two seasons. The remaining six shorts were theatrical releases originally, ranging in release date from 1944 to ’53. Two of these won Oscars for Best Animated Short, “The Two Mouseketeers” (1952) and “Johann Mouse” (1953).
The collection’s theme, suggested by the title, is travel. The settings for the various episodes span a variety of locations. Sometimes it’s more about who has traveled to see Tom and Jerry, as in “Martian Mice” when the duo is confronted by aliens. Another sci-fi themed short is “Invasion of the Body Slammers.” Both Tom and Jerry meet their doppelgängers by way of an alien that can assume any form. “Freaky Tiki” finds the cat and mouse on a Hawaiian island, dealing with a volcano. Continuing the island theme is “Din-O-Sores,” which (as the punning title suggests) adds dinosaurs to the mix.
All of those are Tom and Jerry Tales segments, which are less consistently entertaining than the earlier Hanna-Barbera classic shorts. I think many of today’s kids prefer the cleaner, somewhat more modern look of the recent cartoons. But looking past any technical imperfections in the presentation of the ‘40s and ‘50s shorts, they are generally more inventive. “The Two Mouseketeers,” with elements borrowed from The Three Musketeers and a period piece feel, pits Tom against Jerry as well as Nibbles the mouse. A sword fight erupts over a lavish banquet Tom is charged with protecting. This was the first of a quartet of popular “Mouseketeers” shorts. Another of those is featured on this DVD as well, “Royal Cat Nap.”
Tom and Jerry: Around the World is not really for collectors, but more squarely aimed at parents looking for a sampler for the kids. But be careful, there are a ton of Tom and Jerry DVDs available. Some of them are more comprehensive and can be acquired at a cheaper price than this new release. There are titles that organize the material in a more coherent manner, collecting only vintage shorts on some while reserving newer shorts for their own collections. So if the mixing of old and new doesn’t bother you, Around the World might be just fine. But keep an eye out for other in-print titles that might suit your needs better.