Tom and Jerry was created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, considered by many the greatest cartoonists in the history, and its production involved a lot of people including Chuck Jones and Fred Quimby, the most important members of the crew after Hanna and Barbera.
Basically, the show is about a cat called Tom whose passion is chasing a mouse called Jerry. However, Jerry isn't a typical mouse. He is very smart and knows how to hide from Tom. Using several dangerous tools, weapons and artifacts, such as guns, axes, knifes and explosives, the cat and the mouse try to get rid of each other.
While it may sound to many like a pointless action show at a first glance, the show is more than just seeing two animals trying to kill each other. The smart way in that the pursuits are handled make this apparently "pointless" show in a funny comedy which is, at the same time, packed with a good (but still healthy and suitable for all ages) amount of action and adventure.
This show has managed to become one of the most famous and influential shows in the history of cartoons. Being produced between 1940 and 1980, with a massive production between 1941 and 1967, a whole generation grew up watching Tom and Jerry, becoming a classic.
Something strange of Tom and Jerry is that the main two characters (Tom & Jerry) almost never speak, and when they do, it's usually something like "Aha!", "Don't believe him", or simply a loud scream. Because of this, the show is almost entirely based on its visual quality and the characters movements. Also, the show needed good sound effects and background music. In the Gene Deitch's episodes, the lack of music was an important factor that greatly decreased the quality of the episodes.
Tom and Jerry has had three great stages:
1. William Hanna and Joseph Barbera's Stage (1940-1958; Seasons 1 and 2)
2. Gene Deitch's Stage (1961-1962, first part of season 3)
3. Chuck Jones' Stage (1963-1967, second part of season 3)
These stages had several differences between them. The first stage is the best known one. We can see that Tom is quite thin, his fur is of a light blue-gray color while Jerry has small ears and eyes. The very first episodes had a regular animation quality due to the techniques used in the '40s. Gene Deitch's stage is known as the weakest one. The changes in the animation, sound, and they way in which each episode was focused in the characters in place of the plot was what made the audience dislike the show. Chuck Jones' Stage was visually very different from the other two. Tom was thicker, of a darker blue-gray and tom had bigger ears and eyes. However, the way in which the episodes were focused was very similar to Hanna-Barbera's.
Some Tom and Jerry shorts are censored to this day. Like any cartoon from the 1940s, racism was prominent. This is true for people outside of the U.S.A. or minorities in the U.S.A. It was common practice to bash Germany and Japan during war times. These outdated scenes have been cut. Whenever Tom, Jerry, and Spike got dirty: their faces became black, they were given giant human lips, and they all of a sudden had bows in their hair. These scenes have been cut also. Tom's original owner is Mammy-Two-Shoes who is a large, abusive, Aferican-American woman who talked with a thich accent and used slang. Sometimes the scenes where Mammy hurts Tom have been deleted. But most of the time these episodes have been omitted altogether because the character ended up racially stereotyped. In the 1960s, the episodes were kept but Mammy became Irish. Decades later, she was restored to African-American but with a lighter accent.