The New Tom & Jerry Show, a Hanna-Barbera-produced made-for-TV revival of the 1940-58/1961-67 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon short series featuring the Academy Award-winning cat and mouse duo happily reunited with its creators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, celebrates the 40th Anniversary of it’s debut on ABC Funshine Saturday Morning, September 6, 1975 as part of The New Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape Show. Piggybacking repeats of Hong Kong Phooey and preceding Krofft Enterprises' The Lost Saucer, the long-popular Tom and Jerry, after years of rivalry, have (in order to appease ABC Standards and Practices!) become the best of friends (and Jerry dons a red bowtie, so the animators would be able to "fragment" his movements), in episodes wherein they roamed the world competing in sports, enduring on-the-job misadventures, running afoul of dastardly villains, solving mysteries and helping others.
Each hour-long telecast of New Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape 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, 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. Though they had a previous 7-year run of their classic animated shorts on CBS Saturday (and Sunday) Morning (September 25, 1965—September 17, 1972), this series on ABC marked the official television debut of Tom and Jerry, as it marked the first time the cat-and-mouse duo appeared in made-for-TV installments.
The first shows on the agenda that week were as follows:
"No Way, Stowaways" with Tom & Jerry
"That Was No Idol, That Was My Ape" with Grape Ape
"The Ski Bunny" with Tom & Jerry
"The All-American Ape" with Grape Ape
"Stay Awake Or Else..." with Tom & Jerry
ABC renewed the show for a second season in 1976-77, whereupon 16 installemts of canine sleuth Mumbly were added to 2 reruns each of Tom and Jerry and The Great Grape Ape to forge The Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape/Mumbly Show. After 2 months, 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 is how it remained until ABC pulled the plug on September 3, 1977, in favor of the first half-hour of a new Hanna-Barbera creation, The All-New Super Friends Hour.
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 on local TV and cable, where it's been making the rounds on-and-off ever since. It has also seen 2 DVD releases (so far!): 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), and "Cosmic Cat And Meteor Mouse" (#80-15) can be found on Disc 2 of Tom & Jerry Deluxe Anniversary Collection (released June 22, 2010). Though it has had a rash of negative publicity through, as fans of the Golden-Age era of Tom & Jerry harshly criticized these Tom & Jerry cartoons 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, I personally myself have developed a never-ending enthusiasm for this particular incarnation, enough to inspire myself to create a web shrine devored to its preservation and perpetuation. (Sorry, haters!)
So here's to 40 funtastic years of New Tom & Jerry and many, many viewers setting their dials for a while, having laughs and wearing smiles. And for the next 40 and beyond, big or small, short or tall, we will all continue to have a ball on The New Tom & Jerry Show!
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Set your dial for a while! Have a laugh! Wear a smile! It's the section for those who grew up watching the 1970s version of T&J! Chasing that rare never-before-photographes Pip Squaker bird? Wish to become Supercape's super deputies? Talk about it here!