Warner Home Video has release another collection of classic cat and mouse animated shorts with Tom and Jerry: In the Dog House. This 2 hour and 40 minute DVD contains 22 cartoons. They are a mixture of vintage shorts dating back to the 1940s and newer ones from Tom and Jerry Tales (2006-08). Young viewers are likely to be unconcerned with what era each short came from. Older viewers will appreciate the deeply nostalgic pleasure of revisiting the older cartoons.
As hinted at in the title, this collection’s theme involves dogs. Specifically Spike the bulldog and his son Tyke, who provide plenty of trouble for Tom and Jerry. Though not included here, Spike made his Tom and Jerry debut in 1942’s “Dog Trouble.” Also missing from this set is Tyke’s first appearance, which was in 1949 with “Love That Pup.” Despite not being a comprehensive collection of Spike and Tyke appearances, the DVD focuses heavily on shorts involving one or both of these canines.
The earliest short found on In the Dog House is “The Bodyguard,” from 1944. Of course in those days, Tom and Jerry shorts were screened theatrically. These earliest cartoons were directed by the duo that created the characters, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. They were produced by Fred Quimby. Roughly half the shorts come from this period, spanning the mid-‘40s to the late ‘50s. Starting with 1957’s “Tom’s Photo Finish,” Hanna and Barbera took over production duties for the last few Spike-oriented shorts of that decade.
The music and overall look of the Tom and Jerry Tales cartoons are considerably different. The WB Network series ran for two seasons. Maybe it’s just because these weren’t the Tom and Jerry shorts I grew up with, but they seem less timeless than the classics. Take “DJ Jerry” for example, which is probably the most obvious case of a deliberate updating of the style. Seeing Jerry spinning hip-hop records at a nightclub is just kind of weird. But then again, it’s pretty funny to see the racket drive Tom crazy. Again, the target audience of this release isn’t likely to complain. If anything, they might ask why some of the shorts are so grainy and flecked with little dirt spots.
For a budget-priced single DVD collection of Tom and Jerry shorts, In the Dog House serves up a pretty generous amount of material.