A Garfield Christmas

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A Garfield Christmas Special
Created by Jim Davis
Written by Jim Davis
Directed by Phil Roman
George Singer (co-director)
Starring Lorenzo Music
Thom Huge
Gregg Berger
Julie Payne
Pat Harrington Jr.
David L. Lander
Pat Carroll
Theme music composer Ed Bogas and Desiree Goyette (music and lyrics)
Lou Rawls, Thom Huge, Gregg Berger, Desiree Goyette and Lorenzo Music (vocals)
Country of origin United States United States
Original language(s) English
Production
Producer(s) Phil Roman
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Film Roman
United Media
Paws, Inc.
Release
Original network CBS
Original release December 21, 1987
Chronology
Preceded by Garfield Goes Hollywood
Followed by Happy Birthday, Garfield

A Garfield Christmas Special is a 1987 American animated television special based on the Garfield comic strip, created by Jim Davis. It is directed by Phil Roman and stars Lorenzo Music as the voice of Garfield the house cat, as well as Thom Huge, Gregg Berger and Julie Payne. The special is about Garfield spending Christmas with the Arbuckle family on their farm, and discovering the true meaning of Christmas.

Davis, who wrote the teleplay, cited it as semi-autobiographical. The special was first broadcast December 21, 1987 on CBS and was often rebroadcast in subsequent years at Christmastime. It was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program and has been released on DVD.

Plot[edit]

In a dream, Garfield is awakened by his owner Jon dressed as an elf, who feeds him a large amount of lasagna before giving him his gift, a robotic Santa Claus which reads minds and produces whatever Garfield wants. When Jon actually wakes up Garfield, he tells him that it is "Christmas Eve morning" and they and Odie are going to the countryside to celebrate Christmas with Jon's family on their farm. Garfield is annoyed that they always go to the farm and the family never comes to Jon's house. During his drive to his family's farm, Jon talks about Christmases he had when he was a boy, with his parents, brother Doc Boy, and Grandma, while Garfield listens with great cynicism.

Upon arriving, Grandma and Garfield quickly grow a special bond. While Jon, Garfield, and Odie take a walk, Grandma spikes Mom's sausage gravy with chili powder, bragging that her sausage gravy just won the Greene County Fair. Jon and Garfield return for dinner, while Odie works on something secretive and then sneaks back into the house. After dinner, they decorate the tree. Jon has Garfield to put the star on, as no one else can reach the top of the tree. As the family sings Christmas songs, Grandma tells Garfield about her beloved and deceased husband, whom she especially misses at Christmastime because of his unspoken, but obvious, love for the holiday. Afterwards, Mom asks Dad to read a book called Binky: The Clown Who Saved Christmas. Dad is reluctant, as he is tired of reading it every year, but gives in. At night, Garfield notices Odie's suspicious activity and follows him to the barn, seeing Odie making something out of a piece of wood, some wire, a plunger handle, and a hand rake. While there, Garfield stumbles upon some old letters and realizes they must be 50 years old.

On Christmas morning, just when it seems like all the presents have been opened, Garfield gives Grandma the letters he found in the barn. These letters were love notes written to Grandma by her husband from when they first met each other and married. Garfield also finds out that Odie has been busy making his ultimate Christmas gift: a homemade back scratcher. This is a rare glimpse at Garfield's other side, as Garfield learns one of the true meanings of Christmas: "It's not the giving, it's not the getting, it's the loving!", and gladly thanks and embraces Odie for the gift he made.

Songs[edit]

Production[edit]

Pat Carroll voiced Grandma.

In writing the teleplay, Davis based it on experiences he had celebrating Christmas with his family on their farm in Indiana, with many Arbuckles modeled after Davis family members.[1] Davis' real-life brother was known as Doc Boy.[2] Davis referred to the story as "very autobiographical," adding "That was my Christmas on the farm."[3] However, he noted Grandma was an entirely fictional character, added for the emotional subplot of having time with loved ones at Christmas.[3]

Grandma was voiced by Pat Carroll, who at the time was becoming increasingly popular in voice work. After the 1970s, she was working on Legends of the Superheroes and Pound Puppies.[4]

Broadcast and release[edit]

The episode first aired on December 21, 1987.[5] According to Bustle, the special was rebroadcast every year until 2000.[6] It often played along with the 1965 Peanuts special A Charlie Brown Christmas.[1]

In 2004, A Garfield Christmas was released on the DVD Garfield Holiday Celebrations, along with Garfield's Halloween Adventure and Garfield's Thanksgiving.[7] It appeared 23rd in TV DVD sales for the week of November 10, 2007.[8] In 2014, Entertainment Weekly reported copies of the DVD "were selling on eBay like rare collector’s items."[9] Garfield holiday-themed specials, including A Garfield Christmas, were also receiving millions of views on the website YouTube.[2] It was consequently re-released on another DVD compilation, The Garfield Holiday Collection, on November 4, 2014, sold only by Walmart, and was also made available for digital download on November 11 that year.[9]

Reception[edit]

The special was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program at the 40th Primetime Emmy Awards.[10]

In 2004, TV Guide ranked the special 10th on its 10 Best Family Holiday Specials list.[11] In 2013, Scott Neumyer of Parade called it "a delightful little short featuring everyone’s favorite cantankerous orange cat."[12] That year, Jef Rouner of the Houston Press described the episode as "depressing" and mostly unfunny, remarking that since Grandma cannot hear Garfield's thoughts, "what we're watching is a sad old widow so desperately lonely without her late husband that she has begun talking out loud to a visiting cat."[13] In 2014, Johnny Brayson of Bustle called it "a bona fide classic".[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Adams, Erik (10 December 2014). "A Garfield Christmas is a sincere Christmas card from the comics’ most cynical cat". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 6 November 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Nicholson, Amy (26 November 2014). "Garfield Creator Jim Davis Explains Why Cats Rule the Internet". The Village Voice. Retrieved 6 November 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Huver, Scott (10 November 2014). "'GARFIELD' CREATOR JIM DAVIS REMEMBERS BRINGING HIS FAT CAT TO TV". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 6 November 2016. 
  4. ^ Thomas S. Hischak, Disney Voice Actors: A Biographical Dictionary, McFarland & Company Publishers, 2011, p. 39.
  5. ^ Vincent Terrace, Television Specials: 5,336 Entertainment Programs, 1936-2012, 2d ed., McFarland & Company Publishers, 2013, p. 162.
  6. ^ a b Brayson, Johnny (8 December 2015). "42 Christmas Movies Streaming Right Now, From ‘Home Alone’ To ‘Love Actually’". Bustle. Retrieved 6 November 2016. 
  7. ^ "Garfield Holiday Celebrations". Garfield.com. Retrieved 27 October 2016. 
  8. ^ "Top TV DVD Sales," Billboard, November 10, 2007, p. 71.
  9. ^ a b Jue, Teresa (4 November 2014). "Jim Davis talks 'Garfield' origins, holiday specials, and calls Garfield 'a human in a cat suit'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 27 October 2016. 
  10. ^ "A Garfield Christmas Special". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 6 November 2016. 
  11. ^ TV Guide Guide to TV. Barnes and Noble. 2004. p. 574. ISBN 0-7607-5634-1. 
  12. ^ Neumyer, Scott (15 October 2013). "10 Awesome Christmas Specials on Blu-ray & DVD". Parade. Retrieved 6 November 2016. 
  13. ^ Rouner, Jef (13 December 2013). "Top 5 Most Depressing Christmas Episodes on Television". Houston Press. Retrieved 6 November 2016. 

External links[edit]