Jay Bastian, Vice President, Series at Warner Bros Animation, recently sat down for an interview with Toonzone.net to talk about the new Tom and Jerry Show which premieres in the US on Wednesday. Bastian talks about his past projects, the role of violence in the new series, and hearkening back to the classic era of Tom and Jerry.
Bastian has been attached to dozens of other animation projects ranging from The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy to Young Justice. He was also attached to the Looney Toons Show, another classic series revival, which is either encouraging or disheartening depending felt about the show.
As for maintaining that classic feeling, Bastian emphasizes that his team is working hard to get that '40s-'50s Tom and Jerry feel right.
TOONZONE NEWS: One risk I think you take whenever you're going to work with an established property like Tom and Jerry or the Looney Tunes characters is that you're automatically going to invite comparison to the originals.
JAY BASTIAN: Absolutely.
TOONZONE NEWS: It certainly sounds like that's something that you are already taking pretty seriously in the production.
JAY BASTIAN: It is a massive responsibility, I think, and you want to do it right. I worked on The Looney Tunes Show here, previously, and I think that was the first time that I really worked on a big production of classic characters. Before that I'd always worked on original characters at Cartoon Network. You want to be true to who these characters are, even if for example, on The Looney Tunes Show, you're pushing them into a different situation. We were pushing them to a more traditional sitcom-type situation. But you don't want to feel that, "That's not really Daffy Duck" or "That's not really Bugs Bunny." You want to be true to the characters. For The Tom and Jerry Show, it's much closer to the classic feel. I think they look a little new, but at the same time, it's very much the classic look and feel of Tom and Jerry that we're creating for the show.
And for a series that is almost defined by its violence, Bastian acknowledges that they've already discussed it with Cartoon Network. The good news is the network, as well as Bastian, seem to understand that some level of violence is necessary for a legitimate Tom and Jerry TV series. Plus they were even took a PG rating at the risk of alienating slightly younger audiences to stay true to the show's roots.
TOONZONE NEWS: You've touched on this a couple of times already, but violence has always been a prominent part of Tom and Jerry. I think you're old enough to remember back when they aired all those really horribly bowdlerized Looney Tunes cartoons out of concern for all the violence in them.
JAY BASTIAN: And they were RIDICULOUS choices, too! Elmer could shoot Bugs in the face, but they'd freeze-frame on the cloud of smoke? Instead of seeing the firing? I didn't even understand the choices they were making (laughter).
TOONZONE NEWS: Yeah, I know what you mean. Has the violence been a concern? Has that come up and been something that you've had to dial back, or maybe even dial up in some cases?
JAY BASTIAN: It came up right away, with Cartoon Network, and we all agreed that the only way to do Tom and Jerry is to have a certain level of violence. With standards and everything the way it works now, it is technically a PG show, but it's not like we're trying to push the envelope. We just want to make it feel like real Tom and Jerry and not some softened, lesser version of it.