Despite the earlier cartoons of the original Hanna-Barbera era of Tom and Jerry being well-received from critics and viewers, the cartoons from late 1955-1958 (also known as the CinemaScope era), while not abysmal, weren't viewed as positively as the earlier cartoons, mainly due to weaker plots and lower quality animation, brought in as the result of the budget-cutting problems at the time. This article will be talking about the Tom and Jerry cartoons from That's My Mommy to Tot Watchers.
Likely due to executive meddling, all of the cartoons had to be made in CinemaScope format instead of Academy format. While the previous CinemaScope cartoons produced under Fred Quimby's production (Pet Peeve, Touche, Pussy Cat!, Southbound Duckling, Pup On A Picnic, and Tom and Cherie) have higher quality animation, budget cuts resulted in the animation taking a nosedive, resembling to that of an early Hanna-Barbera television cartoon of the 1950s and 1960s.
In addition, MGM requested William Hanna and Joseph Barbera to create remakes of the previous cartoons for the CinemaScope format, to poor results.
By around Barbecue Brawl, the Tom and Jerry title cards as seen in the opening and closing title sequences appear to look cheap and simplistic with notable use of flat colors and poorly-rendered typography, as pictured above.
Various bad to mediocre shorts in this era, such as the CinemaScope remakes of the past cartoons (Tops with Pops, Feedin' the Kiddie, and The Egg and Jerry), Busy Buddies, and Blue Cat Blues, the latter being the worst offender of the bunch.
Notably weaker writing. The gags also went from brilliant and cunning to tired and overused. For example, The Vanishing Duck is a watered-down rehash of The Invisible Mouse which was produced 11 years prior.
Most of the newer side characters introduced in these shorts like Jeannie and the king from Royal Cat Nap ending up being unlikeable due to the very little development they have other than their extremely bad qualities.
Quacker, while still a likable side character, became more dumb and annoying than he was before, as evidenced in That's My Mommy and Happy Go Ducky.
The cartoons becomes a bit more one-sided by usually forcing both Tom and Jerry to either win or lose in the end, instead of either Tom or Jerry claiming a victory and the other to lose in the end. Often times, only the side characters win in the end instead.
The Spike and Tyke spin-off cartoons made during this era, while positively received, failed to make it past two cartoons, likely due to budget reasons or due to low financial success of such shorts.
When these cartoons are shown on television (and sometimes on VHS) during the standard-definition television era, these shorts appear to have been cropped to 4:3 via pan-and scan from their original CinemaScope widescreen versions in order to fit the 4:3 television screens, resulting to the loss of certain important visual elements in some scenes. For example, in the pan-and-scan TV/VHS version of Timid Tabby, in one scene where Cousin George changes the channels on the TV set, Jerry appears to be cropped out in certain shots because of the 4:3 pan-and-scan format, making it seem as if Cousin George is browsing through a blank TV channel in one shot.
The music, voice acting, sound effects, and animation (while subpar) are all still way better than in the following era.
The series had massively improved and became highly creative again once Chuck Jones had took over.
There's still some good and/or decent shorts, such as Muscle Beach Tom, both of the Spike and Tyke cartoons, Timid Tabby, Tom's Photo Finish, Mucho Mouse, Barbecue Brawl, and That's My Mommy.
Some of the one-off characters introduced in the shorts in this era, such as the titular witch from The Flying Sorceress and Tom's lookalike cousin George from Timid Tabby are decent one-off additions to the main cast.
The human characters started having visible onscreen faces beginning with The Flying Sorceress, which is a refreshing change from the previous Tom and Jerry cartoons where most of the human characters such as Mammy Two-Shoes have their faces remain unseen.