The little guy, not only defying but outmatching a clumsy murderous aggressor, is a theme at least as old as David and Goliath, and whether it’s British POWs tunneling away from the Nazis or a miniature Sylvester Stallone somehow defeating a physically superior Carl Weathers, we always take heart from these tales and feel good about ourselves and buy the T-shirt

Perhaps what distinguishes “Tom and Jerry” from the rest of the tradition is a fact “Simpsons” writers have grasped and satirized in their “Itchy & Scratchy” cartoons: Jerry doesn’t only defeat Tom, he tortures him. He draws the punishment out. He digs a grave, throws Tom’s corpse in and then pees on that grave.

What we have at the heart of “Tom and Jerry” is violence for the sake of violence, mayhem and gouging and slashing and electrocuting. These cartoons made the Greatest Generation laugh.

Grade: B-

Tom & Jerry: Tales, Vol. 4 is currently available.