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Garfield and Friends Turned Me in to a Garfield Fanatic

First appearing in 1978, Jim Davis’s Garfield, about an orange gluttonous cat that hates Mondays and loves Lasagna, is something of a pop culture icon. In fact, that’s a complete understatement when you consider how much profit one single item of his merchandise raked in during the eighties. I speak, of course, of the Garfield suction Cup doll that hung on millions of car windows and homes all over the country. So, in retrospect, giving the lovably lazy feline his own animated series was something of a no brainer.

This was especially true after Film Roman helped the fat cat become a holiday mainstay, funding many of his timeless animated adventures including Garfield’s Halloween Adventure and A Garfield Christmas. Garfield and Friends aired on CBS on Saturday morning, presenting audiences with the same format we saw in previous animated adventures, but with a shorter format and an expanded cast of characters. Yep, this time it wasn’t just Garfield’s show, he shared the series with U.S. Acres, another very funny series of animated shorts by creator Jim Davis, chronicling the misadventures of a bunch of eccentric farm animals.

Thankfully, Garfield and Friends was not a step down in quality from Film Roman’s previous outings, as the studio and CBS maintained much of the successful formula that made those TV specials so great. This included the excellent animation in the style of Davis, and the wonderful voice work from the entire cast. Thom Thuge returned as Garfield’s long suffering owner Jon Arbuckle, the bachelor and cartoon artist who had to frequently deal with Garfield’s massive cravings and poor treatment toward Odie. Gregg Burger also returned as the lovable Beagle Odie.

Best of all, Lorenzo Music reprised his role as the quintessential voice of Garfield, giving a trademark portrayal of the character that was impossible to rival. Consistently funny, the show even dabbled in adult humor now and then, with Garfield often prone to declaring “Whoever invented tooth paste should be drug out in to the street and shot.” The wry humor and sharp wit by writer Mark Evanier bordered on edgy quite often, actually, and dared to challenge a lot of conventions that would later influence shows like Animaniacs and Freakazoid.

Evanier’s comedy is timeless, and you’d be hard pressed not to chuckle at least once during an episode. U.S. Acres was equally twisted and was often seen in between the Garfield book ends. Run mainly by a noble pig named Orson, most of the episodes revolved around the hilarious and eccentric animals from the farm and were adapted from Davis’ original comic strips without missing a beat. Some of the more interesting characters (to name a few) included Sheldon, a half hatched chick living in his egg shell; Bo and Lanolin, a laid back lamb and angry ewe with wildly differing temperaments; and Wade, a duck with a phobia of everything who wears a rubber duck raft around his waist.

One of the highlights of Wade’s character is that his raft shares every facial expression he does. Despite never receiving its own spin off, U.S. Acres was a wonderful compliment to the series, making Garfield and Friends a true showcase of Davis’ talent and humor. Despite doing well in the ratings, Garfield and Friends lasted for seven whole seasons, CBS ultimately chose not to renew after season seven and the series ended in 1995. The station then made a very quick format change from Saturday morning animation to running nothing but news which is a shame since Garfield and Friends really is quite brilliant and could have lasted well over a decade.

It isn’t just a fun series for fans of the comic strip, but for fans of top notch animation and excellent humor.

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Benjanime Posted on Oct 06, 2023 at 06:56 PM

Honestly I miss the older humor compared to what we get now, being mostly cookie cutter strips for a single punchline at the end that rarely even gets a chuckle out of me anymore

Mr Magic Posted on Oct 06, 2023 at 05:39 PM

Just like the comic strip, I always have fun with it. And I'm proud to say that I have the entire series.

Vaporman87 Posted on Oct 06, 2023 at 04:20 PM

Garfield was always a personal favorite for me. I tried many times to learn to draw Garfield, never with much success. Jim's lines were always so precise, whereas mine were just too fluid and all over the place. Thanks for this great read!

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