After Viacom acquired Paws Inc. Jim Davis’ orange feline icon has been getting his due on DVD thanks to PBS of all places. For the last few years, PBS has taken it upon themselves to give Garfield fans the treatment of the character that they’ve been asking for, for a long time. The long hard to find releases of the original series are now readily available in crisp transfers. Thankfully, the series is about as good as ever. Even without the nostalgia goggles, “Garfield and Friends” is hilarious and Garfield at his best.
“Garfield: Garfield And Friends, Season 3” contains all eighteen episodes from the season, uncut, and it features the unfairly forgotten “US Acres,” the barnyard shots that played in between Garfield shorts on the program. At seven hours total, Season Three includes some great episodes and the same sharp wit that made the Saturday Morning series so edgy. Garfield’s humor is thankfully tailored to just about everyone, even if kids will primarily enjoy it, and the animation compliments the newspaper strip’s style brilliantly.
I’m still a huge fan of the series, as I’ve always had a weakness for Garfield, and it’s great to see the show once again. There doesn’t seem to be any changes to the original episodes, thankfully, and nothing seems to be lost in the new release. The release from PBS doesn’t include much for fans that love their bells and whistles. The discs come in standard gray shell casings, while the DVDs feature zero extras, or even a list of episodes for exploring. That said, it’s tough to really say no to the set, considering how tough it’s been to find the episodes on physical media for purchase.
Perhaps we’ll get an HD Blu-Ray release of the individual seasons down the line, but I wouldn’t place any bets on that possibility. Upping the ante on the “Garfield” releases, PBS delivers the “Garfield Cartoon World: Two Movie Collection” DVD, over two hours of with a pair of CGI Garfield movies. While the CGI Garfield just isn’t for me, there’s a lot of value to the newer generation that appreciate and enjoy Garfield with less nitpicks. These movies don’t have the same comic timing and wit that “Garfield and Friends” does, but it’s at least faithful to the material, and they’re written by original creator Jim Davis.
In “Garfield Gets Real” Garfield (voiced by Frank Welker) is fed up with living and working in his cartoon world, and dares to explore the “real” world outside the funny papers. When Garfield decides to take advantage of a tear in the viewing screen to his comics, he’s immediately sucked into the “real” world, where he now operates under normal laws of physics – unlike when he was a cartoon character.
“Garfield Gets Real” is surprisingly somber and not much fun, but the animation is charming, while Frank Welker is always good. “Garfield’s Fun Fest” isn’t all that good and wastes the opportunity to give us something much more raucous and entertaining. Garfield and Jon still work at Cartoon World, a factory that produces comic strips by filming the cartoon characters live. It’s a special time at Cartoon World, because the annual Fun Fest talent competition is coming up, and everyone wants to get in on the act.
“Garfield’s Fun Fest” is further realization of the goofy “Cartoon World” concept and it’s a shame that the movie is so hopelessly clunky and dull. I wish we could get some of the old Garfield back who quips and gives his owner Jon a hard time.
The DVD from PBS doesn’t include any extras, but there’s at least the pair of movies at a modest pricing.
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