Forget next year’s hybrid film: here’s a genuinely fresh take on Tom & Jerry.
In India, the famously dialogue-light characters have acquired a new dimension: a local-language voiceover that narrates each episode. The narrator is featured in the fourth season of The Tom and Jerry Show, which is currently airing in the country on Cartoon Network (in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu).
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In episodes seen by Cartoon Brew, the narrator gives a lively but broadly straightforward description of the on-screen action (“Somebody help Jerry, Tom swallowed him, now cat knows the flavor of a mouse.”), sometimes addressing the characters directly, and throwing in the odd witty quip or imaginative flourish. For example, when Tom is confronted with a pesky crab, the narrator exclaims, “The lazy Tom will have to learn martial arts to fight the crab!”
The added voiceover, which Cartoon Network’s parent company Warnermedia calls a “thoughtover,” appears to be going down well with local audiences. Warnermedia notes that since the season’s premiere in November, the show has claimed eight of the top 20 slots, including four of the top five. The local programming team is now looking to add the “thoughtover” to previous seasons.
“We think that cartoon fans will love this layered style of storytelling in India and the initial ratings back this up,” said Leslie Lee, Warnermedia’s head of kids for Asia Pacific. “While the show retains the full flavor of the original, an added local spice has been added to the mix. Fans are laughing in that unique way that only Tom and Jerry fans do, and that’s very gratifying for us in the curation business.”
Talking isn’t entirely unheard of in Tom & Jerry. One 1956 short, Blue Cat Blues, even comes with a pseudo-narration from Jerry himself, who speaks through a kind of film noir-ish inner monologue. But dialogue is certainly rare, and as far as we know, this kind of localized commentary is unprecedented.
The Tom and Jerry Show is the most recent series to star the violence-loving cat-and-mouse duo, who were created for theatrical shorts by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera 80 years ago at MGM. In the U.S., the show premiered on Cartoon Network in 2014, before moving to Boomerang. It is produced by Warner Bros. Animation.