Tom and Jerry: Fur Flying Adventures Volume 2
by Jef Burnham
Available to own on DVD July 5, 2011 from Warner Home Video.
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Each installment of Warner Bros.’ Fur Flying Adventures DVDs offers 14 Tom and Jerry shorts, both old and new, to delight children at right around $10 a piece. And while this particular release contains a truly commendable number of classic Tom and Jerry shorts, I have some major reservations about recommending it.
The classic cartoons included in this set are “The Hollywood Bowl” (1950), “Saturday Evening Pass” (1950), “Tops with Pops” (1956), and 7 wonderful shorts from the Chuck Jones era. Unfortunately, the inadequacies of this disc make enjoying some these gems virtually impossible. “The Hollywood Bowl” has some serious interlacing issues, and a number of the shorts’ soundtracks were improperly mixed in their transfer to this particular DVD. What’s more, the Cinemascope entry, “Tops with Pops,” is inexplicably presented in non-anamorphic widescreen, meaning that it will not automatically conform to your widescreen television, hovering in the center of the screen with black bars on the top, bottom, and sides of the image. And blowing the image up so that the sides of the short reach the sides of your screen obviously results in a loss of picture quality. Curiously, this problem is not endemic of the entire disc as all other widescreen entries are presented in anamorphic widescreen.
In addition, there are but four Tom and Jerry Tales shorts included on this disc— the first being the second short featured and the others playing consecutively at the close of the disc. But their under-representation here is by no means a drawback in my mind, as I find the Tom and Jerry Tales to be generally utterly unbearable. And the particular entries of this modern incarnation of the dueling duo included in this set are certainly among the most inane shorts they’ve ever been cast in. Rather than simple, cat-and-mouse conflicts perpetuating the events of these shorts, Tom and Jerry’s altercations are instigated by the likes of Thomas Jefferson, the Wright Brothers, a couple of witches, and Van Helsing— as though a cat would never chase a mouse unless involved in some sort of significant historical or supernatural event.
Admittedly, Fur Flying Adventures Volume 2 has its fair share of high points. The abundance of Chuck Jones-era shorts alone would typically be enough for me to recommend the disc, but there is this little issue of Warner Home Video’s previous Tom and Jerry releases to consider. The three volumes of the Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collection, as well as the Chuck Jones Collection, are all competitively priced (you can currently pick up each set for around $10 on Amazon), they contain more shorts, and they are of a consistently higher technical quality. As such, if you want to support Warner Home Video’s Tom and Jerry releases (and I wholeheartedly suggest you do), it is really in these collections, not the Fur Flying Adventures, that you should invest your time and money.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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