They say you can’t turn back the clock. Sometimes, that really sucks. Like when I pressed “play” to watch Garfield and Friends, Behind the Scenes. There was a time in my life when I lived and breathed Garfield, and everything Jim Davis touched glittered like a clear, starry night to my eyes. I’m exaggerating, but the point is I used to really like the comic.
Well, that was age seven, and this is now. My mature, adult brain just cannot compute why this comic strip still runs in the dailies, and still sells off store shelves. So you can guess that I wasn’t too keen on watching nearly two hours’ worth of the animated Garfield cartoon.
This one-disc DVD release offers up 15 episodes, which – according to the packaging – were hand-picked by Jim Davis himself. Why it’s called Behind the Scenes, I have no idea, because all we get are the episodes, with zero special features. Another weird thing about this release is that none of those farm-animal characters appear in any of the episodes. You know, the ones who I’m fairly certain are supposed to be the titular “friends”? Like the pig, and the walking egg. Where are Garfield’s friends? So sad. Ok, some of his buddies are here, including Jon, Odie and Nermal, the self-proclaimed world’s cutest kitten. Speaking of Nermal, did you know he’s a dude? I was shocked to hear Garfield referring to that kitten as masculine, because for nearly my entire life I thought that thing was a girl. So now I’m in therapy. Thanks a lot, Mr. Davis.
Enough about me, back to the episodes. Each one runs about eight minutes, counting the 50-second intro. They present amusing situations for Garfield to be his bad, sarcastic self. For instance, the first episode, How to Drive Humans Crazy, has the flabby tabby doing a guest lecture at cat orientation, something apparently all cats go through at four months old. He teaches a roomful of cats-in-training rules like “never claw what they want you to claw” and, “if it’s on sale, we don’t eat it.” That’s some hilarious stuff, right there. Other episodes similarly fail to bring the funny. There’s the one where Jon decides to build a stand-up comedy robot, and it goes berserk, but Garfield saves the day by constructing a heckler robot. Brilliant!
The animation is pretty bad, too. You can tell they skimped on the little things, like detailed character movement, or including Odie’s ears. Well, the ears are there almost all of the time, but there is a bald Odie scene, and it’s not pretty.
I’m having a momentary feeling of guilt, for denigrating something Garfield, whom I used to care so much about. I’d better write something positive, stat. Lorenzo Music, who voices the big, orange star, sounds a little like Bill Murray doing Garfield, and anything that reminds me of Bill Murray is a good thing.
Watching this DVD, I really did want to turn back my clock. I wanted to be young again, and really enjoy every moment of these episodes. I wanted to laugh at Garfield’s sarcasm, smile when Jon did something foolish, and – while I was back in 1988 – change my mind about trading my Snake-Eyes G.I. Joe action figure for that Snickers bar my friend was pushing. The Snickers was delicious, but the experience was fleeting, just like my love of Garfield.
Garfield and Friends, Behind the Scenes is presented in 1.33:1 full-screen format, with all 15 episodes on one disc. The transfer is pretty ugly, particularly on the opening title sequence of each episode. Overall, colours are inconsistent, the picture is fuzzy, and there are source artifacts, and compression issues on shots with rapid motion.
The disc’s menus are static, and not scored.
Audio is either English mono, or Spanish mono. Watching the episodes in Spanish makes them funnier, but only if you don’t understand the language. I suppose the mono track does the job, as all of the show’s dialogue and cartoon sound effects are clearly audible. It all sounds a little flat, though.
Subtitles are available in English and Spanish.
“Special features? We don’t need to show you any stinking special features!” If this release came with an audio message from Fox, that’s what I think it’d say. Again, why call this Behind the Scenes when it’s anything but?
Back in my elementary school days, I enjoyed watching Garfield and Friends. If you have kids who like this fat cat, then they might appreciate this DVD. For your sake, given the poor quality of the presentation, I hope there’s a better release of this show available.