Cartoon Review: A Garfield Christmas

Posted: December 10, 2010 in Cartoon Review, Holiday, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A Garfield Christmas Special (1987 Dir. Phil Roman)

Some of you may remember back in November I ran a review for the Garfield Thanksgiving Special. In that review, I called it the most hateful thing ever connected to Thanksgiving. I meant it then and I mean it now. It was evil, hateful, lacking in any kind of morality and not funny. It told us that deceit and lies were great things that should be rewarded. Well now it’s December, and now we’re looking at a Christmas Special. Will it be as bad? Who can say? I’m pretty sure that it will be though, I mean it is Garfield after all. I’m guessing it will be self-serving, cynical, and will try ham-fisted emotional manipulation. There will probably be some songs that make you want to pour Clorox right into your ear to try and cleanse your brain of their memory. Let’s see if I’m right!



Think of all the widows and orphans those jewels could feed. Now think of them starving to death because Big G would rather eat the jewels than help another living being.

The show starts off innocently enough, if a bit strangely. Jon wakes Garfield up and gives him half a dozen platters of lasagna in order to build up enough strength to get to the tree. Jon is dressed like and elf, in green tights with bells that jingle and stuff. Garfield is then given his present, which turns out to be a mind reading, gift-giving machine that pops out any present you think of. Garfield gets a pile of jewels, announces that this is what Christmas is all about, and a song about ‘how great greed is’ starts. It was 1987 folks, greed was good and sex was still cool so long as you wore a condom. As the song (and the opening credits) end, so does Garfield’s dream. It’s only Christmas Eve, and instead of getting a gift-giving machine, Big G is being taken to the farm. Jon is way too enthusiastic about this trip, like disturbingly so. I must say that for once I agree with Big G. He complains a little about having to go to the farm to see Jon’s relatives. I can’t help but wonder why Jon has decorated his house, complete with a tree that has gifts deposited below it, if he’s just going to the farm? Sadly, we’ll never know because it’s at this moment that a commercial break totally rips us from the story, shattering narrative flow.


The Crying Indian… couldn’t have been a Crisco ad, could it?

Oh dear lord it’s the Crying Italian Indian Commercial! Yeah, little know fact, Iron Eyes Cody wasn’t an Indian at all. He played them a lot, which is like me playing a Mexican, but he was a second generation Italian American. Anyway, the idea is that this spirit of the land or whatever is tryuing to get somewhere and finds litter and pollution at every stage of his journey. Frankly, I feel bad about putting this stereotyped thing in here, but it’s what I was given. Watch it here, if you’ve never seen it.


All I can think is that there is a girl under the dash and we’re seeing Big G’s “O face”.

When we come back, a song has begun. Jon works his way into the song by being the sort of dork you just want to hit with a 1985 Sears Wishbook to make him come to his senses. There were songs in all of these shows of varying quality. This one is actually kind of clever though. Jon talks about how much fun he had getting ready for the holiday and Garfield attributes each kind of set up as a kind of job. Decorating the tree = Gardening. Putting up the lights = Electrical contracting. It’s kind of clever, and they don’t draw it out so it doesn’t get too annoying. Some of the songs are too long and annoying, but this one song is okay. Just remember though, I’m not saying this one song redeems this in anyway. It’s a nice song is all, nothing special. Once we arrive at the farm though, things go down hill very quickly.


If only Jon had given the cord one good hard yank at the right time, we never would have had to endure Dock Boy.

Jon is greeted by his mother, who seems to have no eyes. She just has these little slits that rest above her nose. I wonder what kind of farm accident robbed her of her sight, and if she now has radar sense like Daredevil. She takes his gifts from him and he just stares at his hand for like five seconds while wondering what he’s supposed to do next. I don’t know what the joke here is supposed to be. The accident that took mom’s eyes, is it supposed to have crippled her as well? Dad looks okay, but when Jon greets his brother things go hideously wrong. He calls him Dock Boy and asks “How’s my favorite brother?” to which Dock Boy snaps ”Don’t call me Dock Boy, and you’ve probably forgotten I’m you’re only brother.” Now everyone calls the guy Dock Boy, so why can’t Jon? And why does Jon actually look kind of nervous and embarrassed when he admits that yes, Dock Boy is his only brother. Was there another child? Did Jon have an older brother that was killed in the same accident that took Mom’s sight? Did that older brother only “die” in as much as they no longer talk about him? Is he actually wandering the Canadian wilderness wondering how he got these metal claws that pop out of his knuckles? So many questions. Like, you know, seriously, Zeist? Who came up with that one? It’s worse when they later tried to claim they come from the future. Or was it the past? See? Took a bad idea and made it worse.


WHERE ARE HER EYES?

After this terse greeting is exchanged, we get the bit that makes Syd cringe whenever this special is on. A voice from off screen announces that they shouldn’t mind her and that can visit until their lips fall off for all she cares. She’ll just sit in the dark alone until someone comes over to see grandma. She then goes on to claim no one gives a hoot about an old woman anyway. Syd cringes because she looks at me every time and says “How did they get my grandmother to be in their show?” After Jon comes over to play into her passive aggressive bullshit, she shows how in shape she is by offering to take a sucker punch to the gut. She then mentions how many sit-ups she does and all that. I hate grandma. She’s such a hideously annoying cliché. What make her annoying is we’re supposed to be surprised, but all grandmothers act like this on TV. I keep expecting for her to ride up on her Harley and yell, “I’m gonna haul ass to Lollapalooza!” Worse yet, she’s a hateful passive aggressive monster to boot. She;s also really mean to Jon’s mom. In like a “Let’s just take the old bat outside and give her both barrels in the back of the head.” sort of way. She clearly thinks she knows best, but as everyone hates her, clearly she don’t. It’s things like this that make me reevaluate my views on genocide.


When someone said they were going out for Kevorkian machines, she asked for them to get her one. Anything to get out of this special.

Anyway… the dinner is prepared, and while this goes on Odie acts decidedly weird. He gathers supplies through out the show, which will have a pay off at the end. Dock Boy is asked to say grace and won’t say it until grandma hits him in the head with a gravy ladle. In the long shots you can see that Dock Boy is so into being on the dinner table he’s leaning his elbow into the gravy and Jon has already got his hand around the turkey. Either this family fights for every morsel of food, or there is some crappy animation work being done here. Me? I vote for a fistfight over the dinner rolls. So Dock Boy prays right? He then won’t shut up again until hit with the same ladle by grandma, which proves to me that he’s been beaten, whipped and humiliated for years until this point where he needs to be physically abused for him to start or stop any task. While it might look sort of amusing, really this is a hateful family of rednecks who have poor sanitation, beat their kids and even worse… waste and abuse food.


The deplorable sanitation at the Arbuckle house.

Dinner is eaten, and there are some jokes which aren’t very funny about how Mom makes too much food despite having no eyes. She made 4 kinds of potato and 6 different pies, you see. Instead of just saying there’s too much, they have to mention every item of food that was made. It’s like reading one of those old books were they felt compelled to list everything on offer at a buffet. It’s a wonder any one at this table isn’t as huge as a blimp. I wonder if the food is just hideously bad, and they avoid eating most of it, or if they just get overwhelmed and stuff napkins in their ears. There are some bits about Big G and Odie being fed at the table, which adds in a hideous joke about Grandma eating for two. You can tell how bad the joke it, even the drawing of the person she talks to recoils in horror at the idea of her getting her groove on and becoming with child. This goes on for a while longer, maybe a minute, maybe a month. It’s hard to tell with all the screaming of my fellow viewers. The pain is bad, but I can withstand this. My captors seem unaware that I survived Hercules and the Captive Women. I can hear the plaintive cries from other cells though, maybe the others aren’t as strong. Maybe they’re going to subject us to some kind of face off. Anyway, Odie does some more acting weird and then they start to trim the tree.


I mean look! Jon is stroking that turkey, Dock Boy and Grandma have their arms in that bowl, Mom’s trying to elbow the bread rolls off the table… wft?

The trimming of the tree hits the same old stupid joke about them putting the start on the tree last and how it wouldn’t be Christmas if they put the star on first before putting the tree up. Why won’t it be Christmas? Who decided this crap? You ever notice it’s never the person who has to do the hard work on the holiday who insists this horseshit be done in the hardest way possible? Jon gets the brilliant idea of asking Big G to clime the tree and put the tree on the top. Garfield agrees, gets the star to the top, but it proves to be a pyrrhic victory at best. Garfield gets vertigo, falls out of the tree and half the decorations come crashing down around him. So, they have to redecorate anyway. Brilliant plan Napoleon! After a four hour cut scene of them re doing the tree, the get things in order. They light the tree, everyone says “oooo” and for the third time on this DVD Garfield turns to the audience, shattering the fourth wall and says “Nice Touch” as if it’s the first time he’s said it. In a startling break of tradition, instead of happening at the 20-minute mark it happens at the 12 minute 40 second mark. Not much of consolation though, as I still have to sit here and watch this thing.


Do these people not own a stepladder? Or even a chair?

Another song starts, after a couple of false starts. Dock Boy tries to play O Christmas Tree, but he’s no good at it. Then Grandma starts playing and in a hilarious turn she plays it as a jazzy number. See, it’s funny because old people are supposed to be slow and not like noise and generally sit quiet while waiting for death and grandma doesn’t do this. It would be funny, if that were true about old people and if every damn show on TV in the 80s didn’t pull this same character of a kick-ass old person. Anyway, Jon’s mom starts playing, using sheet music despite the fact that she clearly has no eyes. I’m not exaggerating. Look at the character model for every other person on this cartoon and then look at mom. Everyone else has large globular eyes, while mom has slits where her eyes used to be. The song goes on too long, but Big G walks off to sit with Grandma.


And the walls of Jericho came a’tumblin’ down

About the only scene that doesn’t make me want to stab my eyes out with an old pair of chopsticks I’ve been sharpening for the purpose starts now. Grandma has a moment with Garfield where she reminisces about her great love for Grandpa, his love for Christmas and how much she misses him now that he’s gone. It might strike some as a little schmaltzy, but I feel it’s the only piece of the cartoon that carries even the tiniest bit of emotional weight. It’s the only time in the show that anyone shows even the tiniest it of humanity, the one time that a hand is held out to us, asking us to understand. Sadly, it’s a character I hate, but since I hate them all, maybe I can hate her a little less. She made me feel human for 10 seconds, she gets a pass. But then the song comes back in and I want to commit mass murder. I hate this song, but we go to commercial before I can get a good rage on.


One single scene in the whole thing that doesn’t make you want to kill yourself.


Drink this or we’ll kill you!

Jim Henson did a series of very short ads for Wilkins Coffee, which boarder on the edge of threats. I mean, these commercials all but say that if you don’t buy Wilkins Coffee, they’ll send some guys to your house. Here’s another set which just comes down hard on the guy who doesn’t like Wilkins Coffee. Cannons, handguns, bombs, every sort of murder and pain is thrown at the guy who doesn’t like Wilkins Coffee. They’re sort of horrifying really, but then everything has been lately. Someone is sobbing in G4, he’s been screaming about a Bat credit card, but now he’s just crying.


Same joke different show. Ah, what the hell… Pimping! It just ain’t easy.

Retuning from the commercial break we’re jarringly brought back to the so-called comedy. I can hear those sharpened chopsticks, they’re calling to me. They want to pierce my corneas, they say they love my retinas and must dig deep into them. I’ll be with you soon my lovelies! They can’t hold me forever, I’ll find freedom one way or another. Anyway, we’re asked to endure more forced comedy when Dad reads Jon and Dock Boy a book that evidently he’s been reading every year for decades. It’s a stupid kid’s story, and he clearly hates it. He’s tired of reading this story to his kids, who are clearly in their thirties. He would much rather run off to Vegas with that hot new waitress at the diner. His ambitions for a better life have been squashed though and all he can do is sigh and accept his lot. When his two kids, both in their 30s, get excited, you watch his soul die a little. I can sympathize. All day long I hear the sobs of the prisoner in the next cell over in B12. I’ve tried reaching out, but he keeps crying about Gamera and that he wants his bots. I don’t know what they’ve been doing to him, probably forcing him to write reviews as well.


The Japanese animators, out of boredom, put in a tentacle rape scene. This understandably shocked and horrified the American cartoon actors.

Odie then acts strange some more, putting together some kind of torture device he intends to use on his captors before putting into effect his plan to take over the world. Then Garfield finds some letters that seem to be 50 years old. This will cause me some trouble later, but I’ll talk about that when it comes. There is a not even in the slightest bit funny about Jon and Dock Boy waking up their parents at 1:30 in the morning asking if they can open their gifts because it’s technically Christmas Morning. I nearly got myself with the chopsticks at this point but the guards noticed, grabbed my arm and deflected the tip. I can still see, but that is no relief because this cartoon is still on. It’s not as offensive or hateful as the Thanksgiving special, it’s just amazingly stupid. It makes you want to do horrible things to yourself, but they’ve taken my chopsticks from me.


It’s like Night of the Living Dead, only they’re after presents instead of the flesh of the living.

Presents are then opened in a single shot that doesn’t do anything for me. Mom announces that it was a nice Christmas and Garfield announces that it’s not over yet. I thought at first he was pointing out that they hadn’t been to church, or that the day wouldn’t be over for many hours, but instead he goes and grabs those letters he found. It turns out that those are letters that Grandpa sent to Grandma when they was courtin’ a long, long time ago. 50 years isn’t actually that long ago really. Not when you consider that they would had to have gotten hitched almost immediately after the receipt of those letters so Grandma could get knocked up so that either mom or dad (it’s never clear whose parent she is) can have Jon at 20 so that he could now be just 30. I’ve always had Jon pegged at 35 though. It’s almost not long enough really. Grandma then announces that these letters are the nicest present she ever received, totally blowing away that bowling ball sitting next to her. Someone went to a lot of trouble to get the bowling ball, and the cat gets all the credit for stumbling over a pack of letters with no effort at all. Grandma doesn’t even take a moment to stop being hateful to Jon’s blind mom either. I’ve changed my mind, I want to jam Grandma’s eyes out with the chopsticks.


Um… does any one else feel just a little creepped out by this?

So then Odie finally shows the present he’s been working on. It turns out to be a butt scratcher. Garfield then announced the present to be the best ever, pushing aside the catnip mouse. Odie at least put some thought and effort into the gift, unlike some people we could mention. Big G then makes a gesture towards not being totally self-serving, which comes off as fake and hollow as a Platinum Dunes remake. I hate the emotional manipulation, I hate the cynicism, and I hate Christmas. Odie scratches some, to a beat no less, and that starts up a song that makes me think that perhaps my eyes were the wrong place for these lovely sharpened chopsticks. Clearly, I should have been aiming at my ears. If I jam them in just right I won’t have to hear the rest of this song. I’m slightly hesitant because it would mean this song would be the last thing I’d hear though. I really hate how they say things like “A little over-eatin’ never did you any harm despite the lie of that statement. I think the last 20 years or so has shown the huge harm over eating does. It’s so stupid. While reeling from the stupidity, the show just suddenly up and ends.


No, really, WHERE ARE HER EYES?

This was still pretty bad. Not as bad as some, but bad and hateful. I’m not sure what I was expecting exactly, but maybe it would have been nice to have mom’s blindness explained or something. Maybe she was forced to read the script for this and had her own pair of chopsticks or something. It’s pretty useless really, and seems to avoid the idea of having any charm until it suddenly changes gears and tries for humanity. It’s pretty bad and makes me want to retch. Why are these people forcing me to watch these things? Why won’t they release me? Zeist… the hell? I can’t answer these questions, but at least I’m done with Garfield for this year.

Official Score:
-25 Degrees on the Graffiti Bridge Scale.

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Comments
  1. Ginger says:

    Garfield’s a prick. And you make good points about the Arbuckle family being terrible. No WONDER Nermal left the Arbuckle farm!

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