Fox // 1988 // 128 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Aaron Bossig (Retired) // March 21st, 2007
He's furry! He's fat! He's all that -- and more!
Six years after the passing of Lorenzo Music, longtime voice of our favorite orange cat, more Garfield DVDs are being released. What can these new discs offer that the five-volume TV show collection cannot? Apparently, nothing.
Garfield, the daily comic strip, appears in thousands of newspapers across the world. The strip usually makes a joke about its feline title character eating too much, sleeping too much, or harassing the family dog. The three-panel format doesn't allow for much depth or experimentation. When stretched into the Saturday-morning cartoon Garfield and Friends the orange cat gets a chance to explore more complex issues...like TV.
This compilation contains 15 Garfield and Friends cartoons:
* "How to Drive Humans Crazy"
* "Canned Laughter"
* "A Vacation from His Senses"
* "The Automated Animated Adventure"
* "The First Annual Garfield Watchers Test"
* "Cartoon Cat Conspiracy"
* "For Cats Only"
* "Mistakes Will Happen"
* "A Tall Tale"
* "The Multiple-Choice Cartoon"
* "Learning Lessons"
* "Annoying Things"
* "It Must Be True!"
* "T.V. of Tomorrow"
* "How To Be Funny"
Don't expect any true "behind the scenes" content. You'll find no Jim Davis interviews, storyboards, or unused cartoons. This DVD contains no extra features of any kind. Garfield and Friends: Behind the Scenes is simply a collection of several cartoons from the series, nothing more, nothing less. In other words, it's a lame "Best-of" collection intended for people too cheap to buy the season sets or possibly as a cheap gift for a young Garfield fan.
"Best of" collections are generally not considered to be a good way to present a TV show on DVD. This particular DVD is an excellent example. Unlike lesser Saturday-morning cartoons, Garfield and Friends was written to develop running gags and establish some basic continuity. Some of the episodes on the disc feature cameos by The Buddy Bears and Cactus Jake. If you haven't seen earlier episodes, these characters mean nothing and any jokes about them fall flat. I can understand a studio wanting to sell a cheap compilation disc at a bargain price, but in this case, it comes at the expense of what made the show so witty. What was originally an effort to make a well-written cartoon gets reduced to a collection of sound bites.
The DVD cover labels Behind the Scenes an "exclusive DVD." Exclusive to what? Exclusive to the bargain bin at Target? Exclusive to anyone with $9.99? Garfield and Friends has already been released on DVD in fantastic season sets. There is nothing that can be found on this disc that isn't in the season sets. Truthfully, what's being excluded would be a majority of the Garfield cartoons that could have appeared on this disc, but did not.
Not even considering the content on the disc, the presentation of the cartoons leaves something to be desired. Most of the colors seem a bit muted for a Saturday-morning cartoon, while in a few areas, the brighter colors bloom wildly. This is most noticeable during the opening sequence, in which the "and Friends" part of the title has a pixilated neon look to it. I wasn't expecting Garfield to be a reference-quality disc, but it just seems like time was not kind to the source material.
As an additional annoyance, every single cartoon is preceded by the full title sequence and followed by the full credits. This is true regardless of whether you are watching one single cartoon or the entire disc at once. With over a dozen cartoons on the disc, I can't imagine wanting to see the credits sequence over and over again.
The only redeeming thing I can say about Behind the Scenes is that while it is merely a compilation disc, it is a very good assortment of episodes. The cartoons chosen for this disc are the cream of the furry crop. If I were trapped on a desert island and could only take a dozen Garfield cartoons with me, this disc would be a good pick. However, the only cartoons on here are full-length Garfield cartoons. There are no TV Specials, no Quickies, and no U.S. Acres/Orson's Farm cartoons. I have to wonder why -- they're just as funny as the Garfield cartoons.
It might seem a bit pedantic to fuss over presenting a Saturday morning cartoon show in its most authentic form. However, I just don't understand the purpose of this disc. Previously, "Best-of" collections were used to test the market before a full-season set of a TV show would be released. If a small number of people bought the cheap disc, it would be a reasonable assumption that more people would buy the better set. Why release a good set first, and then throw a compilation disc out after the fact? Yes, it's cheap, but it's not like the season sets were that expensive.
The accused is found guilty of misrepresentation. What is labeled as a fresh look at Garfield is, in fact, just a repackaging of what's already on the market.
Review content copyright © 2007 Aaron Bossig; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Spanish)
Running Time: 128 Minutes
Release Year: 1988
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* DVD Verdict Review: Garfield and Friends, Vol. 1
* DVD Verdict Review: Garfield and Friends, Vol. 2
* DVD Verdict Review: Garfield: Cat Tales Gift Set