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RUNNING TIME: 550 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
It’s Garfield. He has some friends. They have a show. Not really sure what a pitch for this would have consisted of.
"How do you think I ended up with so much money?"
Garfield, Jon, Odie, Nermal, Floyd, Penelope, Binky, Orson, Wade, Sheldon, Booker, Roy, Lanolin and Bo.
Again – it’s Garfield. Everyone knows Garfield’s “nutshell.”
Nicely done, if I say so myself. The cover is a vibrant orange and the artwork on front was created specifically for the case – which shows a lot of effort. Not to mention when you look at each of the three slimlines in the outer case, they all have different pieces of art, as well as the discs themselves. Wonderful job of utilizing the real estate. The audio track is Dolby Digital Mono, which really doesn’t matter because this show really doesn’t showcase anything requiring any more effort. The video transfer is slightly washed out and sometimes the title screen was way out of phase creating the “sparkly” effect you’ll sometimes see when video is too “hot,” but it’s only occasional and doesn’t really take anything away from the viewing, if it’s even noticed at all. I wish I could comment on some special features, but alas there are none. So we move on…
"You see these? They’re feet. Next time those lasagna noodles are overcooked they’ll be directly in your ass. Kapeesh?"
Garfield and Friends is one of those shows that I remember from my childhood and therefore holds a special place for me. I’ve always been a fan of the Strip, even when I was younger and didn’t really “get” the jokes I always appreciated Jim Davis’ simple but effective artwork. Something about those big oval eyes was appealing to me on an aesthetic level. Question was – could a 3-Panel comic strip be successfully adapted into a half hour television show? Well, that’s a question I would ask today anyway – I was 8 when the show premiered. Obviously I wasn’t too concerned with successful adaptation.
The look on Roy’s face is what’s most disturbing about this scene.
So anyway, I was looking forward to the review so I could take a look at these with a more critical eye and see if it still held up after all these years. Surprisingly – it does. In all 25 episodes contained in the set the jokes were still funny, the writing was fluid (if not a little repetitive) and I still enjoyed it as much as I did when I was 8. Well, maybe a little more now since I can appreciate the little intricacies that I didn’t even notice back then. For example, one of the things that makes this show so special is the self-awareness. The writers weren’t afraid to break that 4th wall, and that’s something you hardly ever see in cartoons. Characters would address the camera, they talked about the studio execs, had episodes interrupted by Standards & Practices “people” and complained about how much screen time they got. It seems a little gimmicky (and Lord knows Wes Craven caught hell for it) on paper but it was written and executed very, very well.
"Ladies and gentlemen of PETA…in regards to Nermal, listen I can’t control Garfield. I can barely feed him. I know he’s treated unfailry but I’m not the one doing it. Put Garfield on trial! I make $100,000 a year and I can’t even afford a haircut! Please, PLEASE take him!"
And then there was U.S. Acres. I like Garfield. I’ve always liked Garfield. But I love U.S. Acres. This was one of the smartest Non-Looney-Tunes cartoons on the air on Saturday mornings. When I talk about breaking the 4th wall, U.S. Acres did it better than a lot of other shows I’ve seen (animated or otherwise). I mentioned earlier about successfully adapting a 3-panel strip into a half-hour show. They didn’t try to. Garfield and Friends was set up with the following structure: Garfield short, U.S. Acres Short, Garfield Short. They threw in the occasional “Quickie” for each of the properties here and there but that’s the basic structure. Honestly, I don’t think a half-hour of Garfield would have worked. Even if they went the Spongebob route and broke it up into two or three different segments. The addition of U.S. Acres to the program shook it up a bit and gave it a variety show feel. Some of the show’s best moments came when the two properties would inter-mingle with each other. Like when Garfield mailed Nermal to Bo, or when Orson wondered if Garfield would approve his budget for a certain episode. I’ve spent this entire review trying to put my finger on what it reminded me of and I finally figured it out – The Muppet Show. Now, I’m not comparing the two on any level of genius, because Henson’s universe wins hands down, but the flow and the tones are similar. Oh, and it does need mentioning that outside of the States, U.S. Acres was called Orson’s Farm. Apparently a lot of the original domestic prints were lost or damaged because on quite a few episodes, the title plate for U.S. Acres does, in fact, say “Orson’s Farm.” Doesn’t affect anything, just thought it was an interesting little tidbit.