Garfield as Himself review by Mike Long

If there's one thing you can count on, it's that almost everything will be in style at least twice, for as they say, "Everything that's old is new again." Such is the case with Garfield. That fat, funny feline was quite popular in the early 80s, and while he never went away completely, his popularity certainly declined over the years. That all changed this summer with the release of Garfield: The Movie. And while that film certainly got mixed reviews, one of the positive side-effects of that release is that some of the older, more positive aspects of Garfield will be released onto a new generation, such as the early TV specials gathered in the DVD release Garfield as Himself.

The Garfield as Himself DVD contains three Garfield TV specials which aired on CBS (?) starting over two decades ago. The set is kicked off by "Here Comes Garfield" (1982). In this story, Garfield (voiced by Lorenzo Music) and his canine housemate Odie (no voice, as Odie doesn't talk) are being very rowdy, so their owner, John (voiced by Sandy Kenyon) sends them outside to play. Once there, they bug their neighbor, who calls animal control. Odie is too dumb to avoid the dog-catcher and is taken to the pound. At first, Garfield is glad that Odie is gone, but he soon begins to feel guilty and heads to the pound to rescue his friend. "Here Comes Garfield" is a nicely balanced show, as it offers an engaging story combined with the sarcastic humor that Garfield is known for. And who can resist the scene where Garfield sneaks into the kitchen to sample all of his favorite foods. The part of the show which seems quite odd and dated today are the songs from Lou Rawls.

Garfield, Odie, and the soulful sounds of Lou Rawls return in "Garfield on the Town" (1983). In this show, Garfield and Odie are being too rowdy once again. Jon (now voiced by Thom Huge) is convinced that Garfield's rambunctious behavior signifies some sort of malady, and decides to take the cat to the vet. On the way there, Jon takes a corner too quickly, and Garfield flies out of the car. (Yes, I laughed very hard at this.) Finding himself in a strange part of the city, Garfield begins to wander. After running into a gang of touch cats, he retreats into a building and is confronted by his past in the guise of his long-lost mother. The first half of "Garfield on the Town" is quite good (did I mention the scene where Garfield flies out of the car), and it's a nice touch that we get to see the origin of Garfield's love for lasagna. However, the second half, which involves a rumble with the tough cats is silly and boring.

Speaking of which, this DVD is rounded out by "Garfield Gets a Life" (1991). In this "a day late and a dollar short" show, Jon decides that he needs to "get a life", and decides to attend Lorenzo's School for the Personality Impaired in order to meet new people. Garfield also feels that he's in a rut and tags along. The bulk of the show is made up of Jon and Garfield attending groups at the school. "Garfield Gets a Life" suffers from two main problems. First, the focus is placed mostly on Jon instead of Garfield. Two, the show simply isn't funny. Garfield has one good line, but otherwise, this "Garfield Gets a Life" needs to be on life-support and signifies where the franchise was in 1991.

So, there you have it. Garfield as Himself features one good show, one OK show, and one bad show, so I guess things average out. The shows were made by the folks who made most of the "Peanuts" specials and that certainly shows in the animation, which runs from highly detailed to very amateurish. I had planned on ending this review by saying that this DVD would appeal only to those who saw these specials when they first aired and want to reminisce. However, my two young daughters both love this DVD and have watched it numerous times. Therefore, it's clear that the humor of Garfield can transcend generations and find a new audience.

Garfield as Himself stretches onto DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The three shows are presented in their original full-frame aspect ratio. The shows look pretty good, although they all display some mild defects from the source material. The colors are good, most notably the contrast between Garfield's orange and black stripes, but the colors are oversaturated at times. ("Garfield on the Town" also contains many dark colors, and isn't as visually stimulating.) There is some minor grain on the image, but the picture remains stable throughout. The audio tracks on the DVD are a Dolby digital mono, which provides clear dialogue and Lou Rawls music, but does contain a hint of hissing. The only extra on the DVD is a brief look at Garfield: The Movie.

5 out of 10 Jackasses

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