I was scrolling through DirecTV channel guide and saw “Tom & Jerry” listed on Boomerang. I haven’t seen an episode in a while, so I figure this is as good a time as any to revisit these two.
TV Guide Description: Cat Tom and mouse Jerry try to outwit each other.
MGM Cartoon – Technicolor
Running Time: 7 minutes (It legit took me 20x longer to find out everything and write it than it did watching this episode.)
Directed By: William Hanna and Joseph Barbera
Realized I didn’t know that much about Hanna & Barbera, so off to Wikipedia I went. (Yes, I know it’s not an academically sound research tool). A couple of things I found interesting:
- Hanna & Barbera met in 1937 at MGM as animators. They co-founded Hanna-Barbera in 1957. Most of their collaborations featured a duo or focused on friendship (Fred & Barney, Dick Dasterdly & Muttley, Scooby & Shaggy, Yogi & Boo Boo and so on)
- Tom & Jerry went on to win seven Academy Awards in the Best Animated Short Film Category and eight Emmys
- William Hanna lived in Watts and went to Compton High School. He was married for 64 years
- Joseph Barbera grew up on Delancey Street in Manhattan
Anyway, on to the show.
“Pecos Pest” (1955)
Jerry receives a Western Telegram from his Uncle Pecos from Texas, announcing that he would be stopping by Jerry’s place “in the big city”, before his big tee-vee performance the following night.
Literally 0.5 seconds later, there’s a knock on the door and Uncle Pecos. First of all, my dude… how are you even gonna do Jerry like that? This is the exact reason why people sit in their pajamas, and don’t answer the door when folk show up uninvited. You don’t know if he was in town, or if he had a romantic situation going on. Just showed up. Why even send the telegram in the first place? Rude!
Off the bat you know Uncle Pecos is problematic. He barges in, doesn’t ask how Jerry is doing… we don’t get any backstory. Is this Jerry’s Uncle on his Momma or Daddy’s side? Is it a real Uncle or a play-play Uncle? When was the last time they’ve seen each other? He didn’t bring a bottle of wine. Nothing. Ugh.
Uncle immediately starts rehearsing for his following night’s performance by playing “Frog Went a Courtin”…. on his GIT-TAR.
I knew this song because I probably saw this episode no less than 453 times when I was a kid. But now I was wondering, is that really a song? And what the hell is a “crambone”? Let’s take the latter first, there is no Merriam-Webster definition that I found, to describe “crambone” — all references point back to this Tom & Jerry episode. Urban Dictionary says it means someone “silly”. I’ll accept it, first mystery solved.
Surprisingly, “Frog Went a Courtin” IS a real song. Who knew? It was sung by character actor Shug Fisher who also appeared in “Gunsmoke” and “The Beverly Hillbillies”. (All of this will be relevant when you play trivia one day. Trust me.)
Anyway, back to the song. The earliest version “The Frog cam to the Myl dur” dates back to 1548, I shit you not. That alone was fascinating. Come to find out, (once again via Wikipedia, so take it with a grain of salt) that it refers to the Scottish Queen Consort, Mary of Guise wanting to marry her daughter, Princess Mary (aka, Mary Queen of Scots) to French Prince Louis. (I was consumed with the history of English/Scottish/French royalty for a few years, so finding out the history of this song was cool.)
Before I get back to the cartoon, I’ll do a deep dive and tell you that Mary Queen of Scots was played by Samantha Morton in the 2007 film, “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”. Samantha Morton also most recently played Alpha, on one of my favorite shows, “The Walking Dead”, (in case you don’t know 433 year old royal history or missed the last episode of the Walking Dead… SPOILER ALERT)… both Mary Queen of Scots and Alpha met their fates in exactly the same fashion. Whoa, I know! Dots connected!
But, I digress. Back to the cartoon.
Uncle Pecos starts playing aggressively (or passionately, he’s an artist and he’s sensitive about his isht) and one of his guitar string pops. He has no backup string, doesn’t think to go out and buy a new one. No, he marches out to the living room to mess with Tom, who is sleeping, not bothering anyone and yanks one of his whiskers out.
Wait a minute. What the hell? That’s assault. Tom is startled awake and is legitimately, like… “yo, back up off me and catch these hands”. Jerry rushes in, and instead of apologizing to Tom for his Uncle who is totally out of order, he proceeds to assault him some more by spraying toothpaste in his face. Did they ever try to talk these things out before they escalated? A “my bad, I’m sorry” coulda gone a long way in that scenario. Except….
Uncle Pecos keeps playing his song aggressively, keeps popping the string and keeps running up on Tom to yank another whisker out of his face. After the first time, Tom is understandably now terrified of Uncle Pecos and instead of trying to give him the beat down (violence isn’t the answer), he starts running from him. At one point, Uncle Pecos came after Tom like Jack Nicholson in “The Shining” with an ax and demanded a whisker. Tom was defeated, plucked it out himself and handed it over.
Finally, Uncle Pecos takes off for his performance. Jerry & Tom are sitting on the couch watching, and Tom is looking super salty with an almost bare face. Uncle Pecos pops his string again (seriously dude?) and Tom starts laughing his ass off, like “ha-ha #@#(@**!”, when all of a sudden Uncle Pecos reaches through his screen and plucks off his remaining whisker.
Uncle Pecos needs anger management classes and Tom should file assault charges.
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