Friday, December 16, 2016

Christmas Movie Marathon Day 21

          I'm trying something different to get in the holiday spirit this year. Every day, from now through Christmas, I will be watching a different Christmas movie or television special. I have compiled the list of features ahead of time and am drawing one, at random, from my Christmas stocking everyday to determine what gets watched. Thank you for joining me in this endeavor. Here we go with day twenty-one.

A Garfield Christmas Special (1987)

           A Garfield Christmas Special was released near the end of the boom years of Garfield-mania. This is a special that I used to watch damn near every year when it would air as part of CBS holiday programming schedule. As Garfield's shine continued to diminish throughout the nineties this special fell out of rotation until, like his Halloween special, it seemingly has left the airwaves forever. My parents found it on DVD a few years back and I know I have watched with them once since then; though, it has still been a while since I last viewed it. Does it hold up or is there a good reason that CBS stopped airing it (other than the fact that Garfield's popularity is in deep decline).


           The special opens with Garfield dreaming about a spectacular Christmas full of lasagna and hi-tech present building machines. Woken from this lovely dream, Garfield is informed by Jon that it is Christmas Eve morning and they are all headed out to his parent's farm house in the country to celebrate Christmas. Garfield is skeptical of this plan as he would rather stay where his bed is for Christmas. However, upon arriving at the farm, Garfield soon forms a close relationship with Jon's grandmother. While Garfield is sitting in her lap, she tells him about her recently past husband and how she always misses him most at Christmas.

This scene is touching but is also a huge tonal shift.

           Later, Odie leaves the farm house to head to the barn in the middle of the night. Garfield follows him to find out what he is up to. However, it looks as though Odie is just messing with some random parts. After Odie heads back to the farm house, Garfield is about to leave as well when a box falls on top of him. He finds something of interest inside the box and then heads back inside.
           The next morning, everyone is gathered around the tree to exchange gifts. It seems that all the gifts have been handed out when Garfield announces that there is one more. He retrieves the objects that he found in the box last night and gives them to Jon's grandmother. They are love letters written to her by her deceased husband back when they were courting. She proclaims it the best gift she could have been given. Odie then drags Garfield back to the tree and unveils the gift he made for him. It is a back scratcher. Garfield loves it and then delivers the emotional message of the special.

It is kind of a cop out to have your main character say the message of the special straight to the viewer.
Final Thoughts

           After viewing the special, I can understand why it has dropped out of rotation. While it does have moments here and there, the special is pretty thin. It relies heavily on Garfield issuing biting sarcastic comments. Fun for a few viewings, but not the stuff that holiday traditions are made of. Further, the animation quality is pretty rough. It is worse than Garfield and Friends, the weekly series that followed it. It is a sad day when a television special has worse production values than a weekly series with tighter deadlines. I'm glad I watched this one and it does remind me that Garfield used to actually be amusing, but I feel like this will end up as an every couple of years viewing rather than an annual tradition. Join me again tomorrow, if you feel like it.

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