168. The Bodyguard – William Hanna, Joseph Barbera

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SUMMARY: When Jerry frees Spike from a dogcatcher’s van, the grateful bulldog tells him that any time he needs him he should just whistle, something which Jerry puts to good use in tackling his old nemesis Tom.

WHY IT’S HERE: Several of the Tom and Jerry cartoons of this period had experimented with having the cat and mouse talk to largely unsuccessful results. With ‘The Bodyguard’ Hanna and Barbera brought back Spike the Bulldog from their early cartoon ‘Dog Trouble’ but this time they gave him a voice. In doing so they invented a successfully vocal character who would go on to feature in many future Tom and Jerry cartoons and even a few starring roles of his own. ‘The Bodyguard’ is a great cartoon with a winningly simple premise that has been used in varying forms in many different cartoons. The ‘just whistle’ conceit sets up many instances of hilarious abrupt slapstick as Spike emerges unfeasibly quickly to respond to Jerry’s cries for help. Also notable is the ending in which, like in the same year’s ‘Million Dollar Cat’, Tom sort of wins. It’s an unexpected and brilliantly effective moment in a series at the top of its game.

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