The Tom & Jerry Show

Joseph Roland Barbera holds aloft and gleefully glances at a transparent inlay of Tom & Jerry!

Tom & Jerry celebrate their 35th anniversary with a debut on Saturday Morning TV in 1975!
Click above to view the full 1975-76 H-B Parade of Entertainment ad!

Having purchased rights from MGM to produce new Tom & Jerry cartoons for TV, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, T&J's brainchildren, screened some of their best MGM theatrical-era T&Js for ABC execs. They laughed heartily at the antics of T&J then sighed because it was a shame that network Broadcast Standards and Practices rule out such violence on Saturday Mornings, and thus begat The New Tom & Jerry Show. But, out of respect for the characters who helped them pave the way for their newfound careers, H&B refused to cure Tom and Jerry of their all-too familiar trait: their uncanny inability to speak. Except for an occasional gulp, chuckle, gasp, pant, shriek and mumble provided by veteran Hanna-Barbera voice actor John Stephenson, Thomas Jasper Cat and Jerome Jinx Mouse were entitled to their right to remain silent. (After all, they did win 7 Oscars, didn't they? It's the least they could do!) And Spike (seen @ right), a recurring regular in the T&J theatrical releases, was also brought back by HB to be a recurring regular on New Tom & Jerry. Trivia footnote: New Tom & Jerry's animation director, Ed Barge, and key animator Ken Muse had a history with Hanna-Barbera and Tom and Jerry: they animated the bulk of the classic Hanna-Barbera MGM T&J shorts in the 1940s and '50s; the late Xerographer Robert "Tiger" West worked for MGM as an assistant on the T&J cartoons between 1950 and 1953.

Saturday, September 6, 1975—a day of INFAMY for diehard Tom and Jerry fans!

Debuting at 8:30/7:30 Central Time, Funshine Saturday Morning, September 6, 1975 on The ABC Television Network was the 60-minute New Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape Show (sandwiched between Hong Kong Phooey repeats and The Lost Saucer, a new sci-fi sitcom from Sid & Marty Krofft, and airing opposite The Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner Hour on CBS and Sigmund And The Sea Monsters [another Krofft vehicle] and Filmation's The Secret Lives Of Waldo Kitty on NBC), wherein each hour-long telecast was split into five segments in a specific format: alternating with three 7-minute New Tom & Jerry segments were two 10-minute ones concerning a 40-foot purple ape, The Great Grape Ape (voiced by the late Bob Holt) and his fast-talking beagle buddy, a carnival hustler answering to the unlikely moniker of Beegle Beagle (voiced by Marty Ingels), or "Beegley Beagley," as G.A. would lovingly refer to him. The Great Grape Ape is so-named for his affinity for, well, grapes; trouble is, whenever he eats any, he goes bananas! This marked Tom & Jerry's return to Saturday Morning TV, after a 7-year run of their classic animated shorts on CBS Saturday (and Sunday) Morning (September 25, 1965—September 17, 1972), as well as the first new T&J cartoons produced by Hanna-Barbera since 1958 (their producing credit for the mid-1960s MGM Tom & Jerry compilation cartoons Matinee Mouse [1966] and Shutter-Bugged Cat [1967], both of which were directed by NT&J animator Tom Ray and featured classic MGM/Hanna-Barbera T&J footage, was merely a homage to T&J's creators, as their wraparound segments were made in Chuck Jones' Sib Tower-12 studios). The only new series put out by Hanna-Barbera Productions for the fall of 1975 (T&J's 35th anniversary year), The New Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape Show kicked off a trend of new Saturday Morning animated shows spawned from Golden Age-era cartoons (What's New, Mr. Magoo?, The All-New Popeye Hour, The New Adventures Of Mighty Mouse With Heckle And Jeckle, etc.). It also marked the official television debut of Tom and Jerry (discounting the preceding CBS run), and it's just as well, what with all-new installments of the cat-and-mouse duo. A total of 48 7-minute New Tom & Jerry cartoons were made exclusively for TV and, along with 32 10-minute Grape Ape cartoons, packaged into 16 hour-long installments of The New Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape Show, which were networkcast firstrun on ABC Saturday Morning over a 15-week period.*

Some New Tom & Jerry cartoons were retreads of the original classic MGM T&J theatricals; e.g., the basis for the first New T&J produced, "Stay Awake Or Else...," was Sleepy-Time Tom (1951). "Mammoth Manhunt" was a combination rehash of both the 1953 MGM T&J cartoon Jerry And Jumbo and 1950's Jerry And The Lion. "The Egg And Tom And Jerry" was most likely remade from the 1949 Academy Award nominee Hatch Up Your Troubles (later made as a 1956 CinemaScope remake entitled The Egg And Jerry). And "The Kitten Sitters," to a great extent, was inspired by Puppy Tale (1954). Why, one New T&J, "The Flying Sorceress," shared the exact same title as the 1956 MGM T&J cartoon...yet took on a whole different story altogether. Others reused animation or models of the classic T&J shorts; for instance, the animation in "The Super Bowler" depicting Tom handling and delivering his bowling ball is heavily based on that in the 1942 classic MGM Tom & Jerry short, The Bowling Alley-Cat. In the scene in the show's opening title sequence, where Tom chases Jerry around the corner to the sleeping Spike, the animation is somewhat borrowed from a scene in the 1945 Oscar winner Quiet Please!. And the female skier seen in "The Ski Bunny" is a dead ringer for Tom's kitten girlfriend seen in 1956's Muscle Beach Tom. Plus, the color scheme for Tom's fur, which was originally dark blue, grey and white in the MGM theatricals, was now grey and white, patterned loosely after Tom's fur color in the Chuck Jones/Sib-Tower 12 T&Js from the 1960s. (Jerry's fur remained the same, however.) However, despite the buddy-buddy chemistry between Tom & Jerry, there were several made-for-TV T&J shorts which stayed extremely true to the age-old cat-and-mouse rivalry that was the epitome of the original shorts; for instance, there were the sports-themed New Tom & Jerries, wherein Tom, a dirty-tricks competitor, cheated his way through various types of sports competition with Jerry ("The Wacky World Of Sports," "The Super Bowler," "The Tennis Menace," and "The Super Cyclists"). There were also a couple regular NT&J installments wherein T&J were pitted against each other ("No Way Stowaways," "The Ski Bunny," "An Ill Wind" and "The Sorcerer's Apprentices"). Surprisingly, despite stiff competition, it became ABC's only new Saturday Morning entry on its 1975-76 schedule to make it to the following fall.

For the 1976-77 ABC Funshine Saturday season (the third and last for The Alphabet Network's Funshine Saturday brand), 16 6-minute segments of The Mumbly Cartoon Show, a new Hanna-Barbera comedy-mystery revolving around the exploits of a snickering plainclothesman detective hound, Mumbly (voiced by the late Don Messick, patterned loosely after Muttley of Wacky Races [CBS, 1968-70] and Dastardly & Muttley In Their Flying Machines [CBS, 1969-71] fame, and a lampoon of Peter Falk's Lt. Columbo) and his schlocky stooge, Shnooker (voiced by John Stephenson, and a takeoff on Telly Savalas' Lt. Theo Kojak), were produced to run with 2 reruns each of Tom and Jerry and Grape Ape sandwiching it. Starting at 8 AM/7 AM CDT, Saturday Morning, September 11, 1976, the revamped Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape/Mumbly Show ran on ABC for 2 months until The Great Grape Ape parted ways with the cast (in order to enable ABC to make room for expanding the 60-minute Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour to an extra 30 minutes [The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Show]) and left behind Tom & Jerry and Mumbly (whose main title theme was almost identical to T&J, which was natural, since they ran together) in the half-hour Tom & Jerry/Mumbly Show. This tame, mild resurrection of Hanna-Barbera's beloved cat-and-mouse creations folded on September 3, 1977, in favor of the first half-hour of a new Hanna-Barbera creation, The All-New Super Friends Hour. Mumbly and Grape Ape, however, were spun off in two new shows on ABC that same fall: the Laff-A-Lympics segment of the 120-minute Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics (Grape Ape was on The Yogi Yahooeys team, while the once law-abiding Mumbly, surprisingly, was on the other side of the fence as an aide of The Dread Baron, team captain of the villainous Really Rottens!) and the half-hour Great Grape Ape Show, which was repeated on ABC Sunday Mornings. The Mumbly Cartoon Show also experienced a second lease on life in reruns, but airings in local markets were spotty at best; seemingly, it gained momentum only on cable (Pumpkin Creek on USA in 1984 and Toon Toast on The Family Channel in 1994). (Notice how both the syndication "neon sign" intertitles for The Great Grape Ape Show and The Mumbly Cartoon Show patterned after that of The New Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape Show.) However, MGM, the copyright holders of Tom and Jerry, would later award rights to crosstown rival Filmation Associates to produce made-for-TV Tom & Jerry cartoons for The Tom & Jerry Comedy Show (CBS, 1980-82) (which made T&J friendly foes again), much to the incensed chagrin of T&J's originators, Hanna-Barbera, who felt any company other than them to produce T&J cartoons seemed unfathomable! 15 years later, though, H-B once again obtained Tom and Jerry's rights from MGM to produce further animated installments of their cat-and-mouse duo, and came out of left field in September 1990 with namesake offspring of the original pair (Thomas Jasper Cat Jr. and Jerome Jinx Mouse Jr.), for a 3-season run of The Tom & Jerry Kids Show on Fox (Jerry Jr. wore a red bow tie, patterning after the neckwear of his doting dad Jerry Sr., a staple of the 1975 series).

After the initial 2-season run on ABC network TV, the 48 New Tom & Jerry cartoons from 1975 (now retitled The Tom & Jerry Show, which featured each 7-minute New Tom & Jerry cartoon framed in-between main and end title credits) were meshed with the backlog of theatrical-era MGM Tom & Jerry cartoons from 1940 to 1967 for syndication, where they played on and off local TV stations for many years (which is how I first came into them; more on that later). In 1986, the 1975 New Tom & Jerry cartoons debuted in cable television on Superstation TBS (then known as Superstation WTBS) on Tom & Jerry And Friends, which showcased both theatrical and made for TV T&J shorts (including Filmation's 1980 Tom & Jerry TV 'toons), and continued to do so through 1989. In 1991 Turner Broadcasting grabbed up all theatrical and made-for-TV Tom and Jerry shorts as part of the Hanna-Barbera library for its new Cartoon Network, launched on October 1 the following year; they even went so far to be good enough as to utilize the backing track to The New Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape Show theme to play during the commercial wraparounds of daily showings of the theatrical T&Js (in May 2005, they were kind enough to re-add the 1975 Hanna-Barbera Tom & Jerry cartoons to their televised rotation of classic T&Js). Between 1997 and 2004, the Canadian all-cartoon channel Teletoon aired the 1975 Hanna-Barbera Tom & Jerry cartoons on its schedule (sometimes as part of its RetroNights package). For this purpose, a whole new package was fashioned, which boasted all 48 7-minute New Tom & Jerry cartoons from 1975 digitally remastered and fully restored from the original film interpositive masters and, for the first time anywhere, packaged in 16 1/2-hour episodes, arranged in original ABC-TV running order, unfortunately, with one drawback: the "floating" Turner logo unnecessarily plastered over the 1974 "rainbow" HB logo and MGM roaring lion title following the show's end credits, instead of just placing it after them! They briefly saw resurgence on Teletoon's after a 3-year absence, on its Saturday night Teletoon Retro block in September 2007, not long before they switched to Teletoon's now-defunct sister channel Teletoon Retro on October 1, 2007 where New Tom & Jerry was seen 3 times daily until 2009. Unlike the Teletoon airings, the 1975 T&J shorts presented on the Turner cartoon channels are the same battered prints shown for many years on local stations, time-compressed and converted to digital videotape; and unlike the Turner cartoon channels, the cartoons have been shown with the main and end title credits intact on TBS and on the Teletoon channels. On Monday, April 2, 2001 @ 10 AM (CST), Cartoon Network's sister channel Boomerang showed them for the first time as part of a week-long T&J marathon celebrating Boomerang's first year on the air (they repeated this every April until 2006); this would give rise to their "reconstructing" The New Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape Show (amazingly, without locating and restoring the original bridging sequences!) by frequently showing the 1975 New Tom & Jerry cartoons in tandem with Grape Ape on its Saturday schedule (from August 2001 to January 2004). Also, individual 1975 Hanna-Barbera Tom & Jerry TV shorts (save for 8) were televised on the side (they briefly returned to the channel in April 2006). This was repeated on Cartoon Network's concurrent weekly sampling of Boomerang on Saturday mornings (sometimes a classic T&J short would be accidentally mixed in!). Tom & Jerry's 1975 personae were seen mingling with other Hanna-Barbera characters in 2 hand-painted limited edition cels designed by the late legendary animator Ed Benedict in 1993: Boston Tea Party and Fastbreak Basketball; Tom and Jerry's appearances in the July 17, 1989 2-hour TNT special Hanna-Barbera's 50th: A Yabba-Dabba-Doo Celebration were also patterned after their 1975 likenesses. 10 episodes of the show have even surfaced as "radio plays" in Germany on LP and cassette. And along the lines of an official home video release, happily, the series premiere of The New Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape Show (show #TJGA-1) is currently available on Disc 2 of Warner Home Video's Saturday Morning Cartoons—1970s Volume 2 DVD set, (released October 27, 2009), complete, uncut, and digitally remastered, right down to the original New Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape interstitials! "Cosmic Cat And Meteor Mouse" (#80-15) can be found on Disc 2 of Tom & Jerry Deluxe Anniversary Collection (released June 22, 2010). The episodes as seen in show #TJGA-11 (aired November 15, 1975) were released as the digital version of Tom and Jerry: School's Out. 2 episodes was released as the digital version of Tom and Jerry: House Pests. Most episodes, save for "Gopher Broke", "Grim And Bear It", "The Flying Sorceress", "The Egg And Tom And Jerry", and "The Lost Duckling", are currently available on Boomerang's streaming service. 45 episodes can be viewed as part of Tom & Jerry Classic - Volume 4 on Amazon Prime's Prime Video streaming platform. Also, the episodes are available for free viewing, all titularly arranged in alphabetical order, on the streaming platform Tubi (except episode #80-34, "The Egg And Tom And Jerry," has, bafflingly, been confusingly substituted with the 1956 MGM CinemaScope release The Egg And Jerry). Hopefully, a Complete Series region 1 DVD set should be in the works for release in the near future...

Not many viewers know that the syndicated Main Titles of The Tom & Jerry Show and The Mumbly Cartoon Show are in actuality retreads of their original television network forebears. For instance, the syndicated 1977 Tom & Jerry Show theme is a re-lyricized rendition of the original Season-2 Main Title of The Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape/Mumbly Show on ABC from 1976, utilizing the same instrumental track. In the same vein, the backing track to the original 1975 New Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape Show had been adapted into the syndicated 1977 theme from The Mumbly Cartoon Show, also with revamped lyrics. (Yes, exactly the same way the syndicated Scooby-Doo Show's Main Title was recycled from the original 1976 Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour theme.) The theme's melody itself derives from "Come On Over," a memorable commercial jingle for the now-defunct Palisades Amusement Park, a phenomenal fun spot New Jersey for 74 years (1898-1971), which was heard on radio and TV throughout the 1960s; its words and music were written by songwriter Gladys Shelley and was sung by Steve Clayton. Thru the years, fans of the Golden-Age era of Tom & Jerry harshly criticized New Tom & Jerry in droves mainly due to the tried-and-true battling buddies T&J being nonviolent friends most of the time, and thoroughly dismissed it as a pale imitation of the originals. It's a rash of negative publicity which continues to thrive to this very day; on The Internet, hardly a conversation in any animation-themed newsgroup, blog or message board goes by without somebody taking cheap shots at the 1975 version of Tom & Jerry. (It can also be said that even those who don't watch this version still take to it with disdain!) In fact, the 1975 Tom & Jerry show may rank second with Scrappy-Doo as the least-favorite effort to spring from Hanna-Barbera's loins among animation fans! Now me, I myself never saw Hanna-Barbera's sadly underrated new version of T&J on network TV as a kid, as I was only 3 going on 4 @ the time it premiered and too young to be aware of the fact it existed; that was before I first saw the 1975 New Tom & Jerry TV cartoons alongside the classic MGM Tom & Jerry shorts in a weekday afternoon slot (Monday-Friday @ 3:30) on the New Orleans ABC (now FOX) affiliate, WVUE-TV, in early 1979 (they later aired locally in The Big Easy on independent-turned-affiliate station WNOL-TV, sans the main and end title credits) and, mainly being a connoisseur of Hanna-Barbera's mid-to-late 1970s work, took a liking to them that has never abated. I later read more about it in Stuart Fischer's book Kids' TV: The First 25 Years that they originally aired on ABC in 1975 on The (New) Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape Show. I remember thinking, "Ah! So that's where they came from!" This is also how I learned of The New T&J's originally pairing with The Great Grape Ape, which I only discovered via repeats on ABC Sunday Mornings! Childhood memories of afterschool viewings New Tom & Jerry (in addition to inspiration by Randy A. Simcox's T&J info site) led to my building this webpage: to show all and sundry that there was someone out there who took interest in them and, to a degree at least, put an end to all the bad press they've been getting. Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against the classic MGM T&Js (there are a few T&J theatrical 'toons which I do like), but, for my cash the 1975 version is and shall forever remain the best version, despite what others think of it! There are 5 reasons which contribute to my being a big fan of the 1975 New Tom & Jerry Show:

  • Those exquisite opening/ending titles accompanied by that wonderful Main Title "Circus Parade" theme song (co-written by the late, very great Hoyt Stoddard Curtin) - the best part of the show!
  • Jerry's red bow tie (a distinguishing characteristic of many "tie-wearing" HB toons). He looks better in it!
  • The Yogi Bear/Boo-Boo-esque camaraderie developed between Tom and Jerry.
  • That jazzy underscore (also courtesy of the phenomenal Mr. Curtin).

And, undoubtedly the best reason of them all:

  • Tom and Jerry exhibiting the slapstick mid-1970s Hanna-Barbera style at its highest! Very fascinated to see T&J brought from their theatrical past and re-added to Hanna-Barbera's then-current stable of television cartoon characters.

That said, The New Tom & Jerry Show deserved far better than it received. In the days of political correctness, this was the only way Hanna-Barbera could return Tom & Jerry to TV, and that's exactly what they did! But then, P.C.-ness has nothing to do with my fascination for this series. I believe it was Dan McCormick, devotee of The Adventures Of Hoppity Hooper, who said it best when he declared, "there are other enchanting worlds...which have not been given the recognition they deserve." Such a world is The New Tom & Jerry Show: just because a Tom & Jerry cartoon, be it old or new, is nonviolent does not mean it cannot be watched and enjoyed. And a final word to those of you diehard devotees of Hanna-Barbera's classic MGM Tom & Jerry theatricals from 1940-58 who decree any version out of the realm of this scope as inferior, and plan to raise a big stink should CN or Boomerang ever decide to put  the 1975 H-B New T&J made-for-TV shorts back on the air (even temporarily), just remember 2 important things: 1) Your TV set has an "Off" button and a remote control! 2) You don't have to watch the 1975 H-B New T&J cartoons if any hint of their probable return to cable and satellite (and/or release on DVD!) makes you squirm! I am, have for 43 years been, and will always be, a 1975 Tom and Jerry fan no matter how many objections. And I've zero regrets. Whatever you say or think of this incarnation, it does have a distinction of being the first animated TV show based upon Tom and Jerry. And also, I like the symmetry of it: Tom and Jerry, the first ever creations of William Denby Hanna and Joseph Roland Barbera, starring in their first ever exclusive television series executive-produced by Willy and Joe, and in T&J's 35th anniversary year: 1975. Sorry to put a damper on the old hate parade, but just because something isn’t to your taste doesn’t mean it isn’t something of merit to others…

*Although there were 16 New Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape Shows in all, the reason that it aired first run for 15 weeks can be attributed to the fact that, in late November 1975, 2 firstrun New Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape Shows were telecast on ABC on 2 different days in the same week. One was shown @ a special day and time: Noon (EST), Thursday afternoon, November 27, 1975, a Thanksgiving, as part of ABC's Thanksgiving Funshine Festival; the other was shown at its regularly scheduled time 48 hours later.