9 Story Media Group Comes Up Short Of Expectations Again With ‘Garfield & Friends: Season 3’ Set

Courtesy: 9 Story Media Group

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.  Everybody knows that timeless adage.  Even knowing the hugely important mantra, some out there refuse to acknowledge that famed words of wisdom.  9 Story Media Group is among that mass.  The company has proven that already with the release of the first two seasons of the classic animated series Garfield & Friends on DVD.  Now with the forthcoming release of the series’ third season later this month, the company has once again ignored the noted recommendation.  That is evidenced through the most notable of the set’s negatives, its general presentation.  This will be discussed a little later.  While the general presentation detracts quite a bit from the forthcoming set to a point, it does not make the set a complete loss.  There are at least a couple of positives, the most important being the featured shorts.  This will be addressed shortly.  The set’s packaging couples with its episodes to make the collection at least a limited success.

9 Story Entertainment Group’s forthcoming release of Garfield & Friends: Season 3 is a moderately positive new release from the company, at best.  As with the series’ previous DVD sets released by the company, it is a collection that even with its positives, still leaves audiences wanting for more.  The set’s featured shorts are collectively one of the collection’s rare positives.  The shorts are just as entertaining in this season as in any of the show’s other four seasons.  One of the most memorable and enjoyable of the season’s shorts comes late in the season’s run in the form of the U.S. Acres short “Barn of Fear II.”  This short’s story once takes audiences back to the farm’s haunted old barn.  Orson and company’s ancestors save the day again after Orson’s brothers plot to tie up Orson and his friends and steal their harvest.  Wade’s reaction at seeing the ghosts of the group’s ancestors is classic to say the very least.  The tricks that the ghosts use to save the day, and the reaction of Orson’s brothers at being stopped are just as great. That the writers managed to avoid a certain sense of redundancy with this “sequel” to “Barn of Fear” puts the finishing touch to the short.  All things considered, the short stands out as one of the season’s best moments.

The Garfield short “How The West Was Lost” is another of the season’s most memorable moments.  This episode features returning character Cactus Jake, who was voiced throughout the series by Pat Buttram (Robin HoodThe AristocatsThe Fox and the Hound), out of a job after his ranch is automated.  Jake tries a variety of fields, but to no success.  It shows you can take the cowboy out of the west, but you can’t take the west out of the cowboy.  Thanks to Garfield, Jake ends up getting his job back after Garfield sabotages some of the ranch’s robots to prove mechanization is not the answer to the workplace.  That very adult topic is another example of what made this series so far ahead of it’s time, along with the likes of “TV of Tomorrow” and other shorts.  It is a matter that grown-ups are sure to love.  The comic aspects of the short will appeal to audiences of all ages, meanwhile.  It’s yet another way in which the season’s shorts prove so important to its presentation.  The U.S. Acres short “Secrets of the Animated Cartoon” is yet another unforgettable moment from this season.

”Secrets of the Animated Cartoon” is educational and entertaining.  The very fact that it is meant to be presented as an educational style presentation is itself so funny.  That audiences learn about topics, such as the various types of takes (spit, delayed, double ) the classic falling gag, the running gag, and even the famed breaking down of the fourth wall, is just as great.  It’s such a simple approach to story telling, yet is just so entertaining.  It forms a foundation that will help audiences appreciate any cartoon.  To that end, it just makes for so many laughs.  This is one of the season’s (and series’) best moments overall.  When it is considered along with other memorable moments, such as those in “Count Lasagna,” “Quack to the Future” and “DJ Jon” among so many others, the shorts in whole prove to be the most important aspect of Garfield & Friends’ third season.  They form a strong foundation for the set.  Sadly though, the folks at 9 Story Media Group did not build too well on that foundation in looking at the set’s general presentation.

The general presentation is composed of a variety of aspects, including by relation to the episodes, the actual listing of the episodes.  It should be noted here, that the episodes are listed only on the discs.  They are not featured anywhere in the collection’s packaging.  This is a concern in itself.  Sure, the set is composed of only two discs, but it certainly would have been nice to have had an episode guide in the packaging so as to determine which disc one wants to play.  On a related note, the episode listings that are available on the discs completely omit the U.S. Acres shorts.  Why this course of action was taken is anyone’s guess, but it is misleading.  It’s like someone at 9 Story Media Group thought the Garfield shorts were more important than the U.S. Acres shorts.  That is troubling, since the latter are just as important as the prior.  As the old adage states, “you can’t have one without the other.”

The episode listings that are and are not featured in Garfield & Friends: Season 3 are collectively just one of the important aspects of the collection’s general presentation.  Another equally important aspect to address is the re-mastering of the episodes themselves.  As with the series’ first two seasons, 9 Story Media Group letterboxed this season’s episodes.  That means that yes, there was once again content loss.  Heads and get were cut off, as were other aspects of specific scenes.  Interestingly enough, the company avoided the use of the black bars on the top and bottom of the screen once more in an attempt to try and recreate the series’ original full-screen presentation.  Even with that approach taken, audiences who own 20th Century Fox’s original Garfield & Friends collections will be able to easily catch the content loss.  Case in point is the short “Close Encounters of the Garfield Kind.”  The scene in which the alien is looking into the house allows viewers to see what the alien was seeing through its viewing device.  The shot was much more zoomed in (for lack of better wording), leading much of the picture to be cut off all the way around.  Other shorts feature loss in other ways.  Between that moment and others featured throughout the set, the overall content loss featured in this collection is enough to hurt the collection that much more.  It still is not the last of the concerns raised through the general presentation.  That the show’s opening and closing sequences have been altered, too, detracts from the general presentation even more.

Noting 20th Century Fox’s Garfield & Friends sets again, everything featured in those sets stays true to the original animated series, including even the opening and closing sequences.  This set has completely re-worked both.  Season Three’s closing sequence features Garfield and all of his friends at the bottom of the screen, with Garfield in the center, flanked by all of the series’ other characters fanning outwards.  The show’s credits play above the static picture over a black background that also boasts a spotlight type effect just above the characters.  The show’s theme song plays over the whole of the imagery.  By comparison, the new closing sequence changes this a lot.  Garfield, Jon, Liz, Nermal, and Odie are on one side of the screen while the U.S. Acres gang is on the other side of the screen.  The credits play in the middle of the screen.  Making things even worse is the spit shined look that it all has.  It just looks too perfect.  That original closing sequence does more for viewers’ sense of nostalgia than this re-worked closing sequence.

The opening sequence completely does away with any elements of the original opening from the time – the three Garfields, Orson falling in the mud, the famous cheerleading scene from the short “Basket Brawl,” etc.) and replaces all of that with a whole new opening sequence.  It begs that noted adage again, if it’s not broke don’t fix it.  Why those behind this set’s creation would go to this length is just a headscratcher.  There was no reason to replace the original opening sequence just like there was no reason to replace the closing credits sequence.  To that end, this aspect of the general presentation detracts even more from the set’s presentation.  When the changes to the opening and closing sequences are considered along with the content loss in the actual presentation of the shorts and the concerns in the episode listings, it becomes clear that the general presentation of Garfield & Friends: Season 3 completely fails.  It collectively detracts greatly from this set’s presentation overall.  Thankfully for all of the damage that the general presentation does to the set, it does have at least one other positive to try and make up for all of the negatives.  That one other positive is the packaging.

The packaging used for the third season of Garfield & Friends is much more ergonomic than that of 20th Century Fox’s previously released sets.  Instead of the slim cases housed inside the bigger box approach that 20th Century Fox used, 9 Story Media Group instead used the now more commonly used packaging practice of placing each disc on its own spindle inside the case.  This serves to protect the discs from damaging one another while also saving space.  That reduced capacity can and does also help reduce the price for consumers.  It is an approach that the people at 9 Story Media Group has also used in the DVD presentations of the series’ first two seasons.  Now in defense of 20th Century Fox’s sets, the slim cases also protect the discs from one another in their own way.  At the same time, those slim cases also present episode listings on the casesSo even while 20th Century Fox’s sets take more space on viewers’ DVD/BD racks, they still prove just as good as that of this set if not better.  When all of this is taken into account along with the season’s shorts and all of its negatives, the end result is a presentation that once again falls short of expectations for Garfield & Friends fans.

9 Story Media Group’s forthcoming DVD release of Garfield & Friends: Season 3 is another interesting release from the company, which has also handled the release of the series’ first two seasons.  That the season features lots more entertainment in its featured shorts makes it somewhat enjoyable.  That cannot be credited to the people at 9 Story Media Group, though.  The set’s packaging can be credited to the company, too, though even it has its own concern.  That concern and those raised by the set’s general presentation detract so much from the collection’s overall presentation that the set in whole ends up coming up short of fans’ expectations once again.  The set is scheduled for release Oct. 27.  More information on this and more from 9 Story Media Group is available at:

Website: http://9story.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/9StoryMediaGroup

Twitter: http://twitter.com/9StoryMG

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