The Holidays may be over, but DadisthenewMom presents a YoungestBrother reivew of a holiday classic.
I guess I’m the Garfield expert in my family, and being the authority on this subject, I’ve been tasked with writing a review of The Garfield Christmas Special. It should be noted that attempts to find coherence in the following word pile will be futile.
So let’s start with some background information. Before writing this, I was under the impression that this was the only Garfield television special ever made, which was surprising, given the strip’s popularity, and that Charlie Brown has had tons of them. What made it even more surprising was that Garfield and Friends, the syndicated TV show, ran for seven seasons. It turns out that there were over a dozen Garfield specials produced, yet this is the only one that people have actually heard of. After watching The Garfield Christmas Special, I can see why that is. Even without having ever seen any of the other ones, I can tell you that they’re probably terrible. An examination of The Garfield Christmas Special will tell us why.
I know many people who have very fond memories of The Garfield Christmas Special, and not without good reason, but it’s definitely not in the same league as something like How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Personally, I have very few memories of it. I can remember watching it over ten years ago, but I’ve retained so little that I might as well have never
seen it. While watching it this time, the only thing that really jogged my memory was Garfield climbing the tree to put the star on top. I can vividly remember watching the tree shaking back and forth and being nervous that ornaments were going to fall off.
The easiest (read: laziest) way to analyze this thing is to pick it apart by going over a checklist of the good and the bad:
- Music – The music in this thing is baffling. There are three or four original songs written for this special, but I don’t know why they exist. It’s not bad or annoying; more confusing, than anything. The only thing I do know about it is that it detracts from the show.
- Animation – We’ve all seen cheap animation before, and while this certainly isn’t the cheapest I’ve seen, it’s not about to win any awards. It’s got that standard I’m-Painfully-Aware-That-I’m-Watching-A-Television-Special-Because-This-Was-Clearly-Drawn-By-Polio-Stricken-Koreans look to it, and I don’t need to tell you that that’s not enjoyable to look at.
- Plot – The plot is that Christmas happens. On Christmas Eve, they eat. Then they go to bed. The next morning they open presents. Roll credits. The entire time I was watching it, I had a weird detached kind of feeling, and I’m just now realizing that it’s because there isn’t a plot. The thinking behind this special was to show Garfield experiencing Christmas. The entertainment value would be derived from watching what he or anyone else did or said in any given generic Christmas situation. You might be thinking that Garfield’s present to Grandma, and everything that involved, was the plot, but that’s not true. That’s one small thing that happens, and it accounts for about three or four minutes of the show.
- Jon and Doc Boy – I very much identify with Jon and Doc Boy, because they’re overgrown manchildren who spend most of Christmas forcing their parents to continue following the same traditions they did when they were six. This is exactly what Christmas is like for me.
- Odie secretly making a present for Garfield – Throughout the 20 minute show, Odie goes into the barn a couple times to secretly make a scratching post for Garfield. This is mild entertainment at its most mild.
- Garfield’s present to Grandma – This is generally the first thing that comes to mind when people think of The Garfield Christmas Special, and it’s certainly the best thing about it. I have to admit that it got a little dusty in my apartment when Grandma was talking about her dead husband. Maybe because it just comes out of nowhere. One minute they’re singing some lame generic Christmas carol, and the next an old woman is looking out the window from her rocking chair and lamenting the sorrows of old age. On Christmas morning, Garfield gives her some old love letters he found that were from her late husband. I’d describe it as heartwarming, but I’m not a one-word review excerpt appearing in the trailer for a movie about a heroic dog
A simple perusal of these lists will tell you exactly why no one remembers any of the other Garfield specials: The things that were good were small and very specific, while the foundations of the program – the music, animation and plot – were crap. It’s very likely that the other specials had these same problems, but failed to have any small good or
memorable moments like this one did, and that’s why no one remembers them. Overall, I’d say it’s worth a watch. The bad parts don’t ruin it, and there are enough good parts to keep you going through its very short runtime.
Rating: 4 out of 6 Lasagnas.