531. Here Comes Garfield – Phil Roman

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SUMMARY: In Garfield’s first TV appearance, Garfield and Odie end up in the local pound.

WHY IT’S HERE: The Garfield TV specials based on Jim Davis’s brilliant comic strip quickly became popular staples of children’s TV, eventually spawning a spin-off series ‘Garfield and Friends’. Directed by Phil Roman, a veteran of Peanuts TV specials who would go on to direct the majority of the Garfield cartoons, ‘Here Comes Garfield’ was one of only two ‘Garfield’ specials to be produced by Mendelson-Melendez productions, the same company that made the Peanuts shorts, before duties were passed on to Film Roman Studios. Although it is far from the best of the Garfield specials, ‘Here Comes Garfield’ establishes many of the important elements that made the series so enduring, including the great music of Lou Rawls and Desirée Goyette and the voice talents of Lorenzo Music as Garfield. Reading the comic strips, it was hard to imagine a voice for Garfield but Lorenzo Music’s laid-back drawl suits the character perfectly. Since Garfield’s dialogue was always portrayed as thoughts rather than spoken words, there was no need to animate a moving mouth for the character, which must have been a relief but which also works very well, differentiating Garfield and his animal friends from the barrage of anthropomorphic creatures dominating children’s TV. ‘Here Comes Garfield’ establishes the series tone well, with a gentle cynicism offset by a dash of sentimentality. The story does not flinch from the realities of pets being put down if not claimed from the pound, introducing some genuine peril into the story too. All in all, ‘Here Comes Garfield’ was a fine start to a popular TV franchise.

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