‘Garfield & Friends: Season Two’ Is Entertaining, But Imperfect

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS/ Paws Inc.

Garfield & Friends is back on DVD again.  PBS Distribution released the second season of the timeless animated series Nov. 5 in a three-disc set through a partnership with Skiprope.  The set’s release comes almost fourteen years after 20th Century Fox released the fifth and last of its Garfield & Friends volumes.  Those volumes are all available through Amazon and other online retailers, and as much as this critic dislikes having to say it, are better investments than this collection and its predecessor in Garfield & Friends Season 1.  That is not to say that this latest collection from PBS Distribution is unwatchable; far from it.  However, it does suffer from one key con – its remastering, which will be addressed a little later.  While the remastering has caused its own share of problems for this collection, the general content makes up for the problems caused by the remastering.  This will be addressed shortly.  The set’s packaging rounds out its most important elements.  It will also be discussed here later.  Each item noted here plays its own important part in the whole of Garfield & Friends: Season 2.  All things considered, they make the set a welcome addition to the library of any of this series’ fans, but only if they cannot get their hands on 20th Century Fox’s previously released Garfield & Friends collections.

PBS Distribution and Skip Rope’s recently released Season 2 set of Garfield & Friends is an entertaining offering for fans of the timeless animated series.  That is due in part to the set’s primary content – the episodes.  Audiences receive in this collection, the second season of Garfield & Friends in its entirety.  All 30 episodes from Season 2 are here from the season premiere to finale.  From the unforgettable “Rip Van Kitty,” — which finds Garfield falling asleep for fifty years, only to wake up in the future which finds Nermal just as cute and annoying as ever, Odie in a wheelchair and an alien invasion in which the aliens look just like Garfield – “Sludge Monster,” which finds Garfield, Jon and Odie staying the night in a “haunted” inn, and “Basket Brawl,” which spoofs the National Basketball Association, placing Garfield against Jon, Odie and Nermal in their attempts to prepare a picnic.  All of the U.S. Acres shorts that accompanied the main episodes are here, too.  Simply put, audiences looking for the second season of Garfield & Friends in its precise chronological order get exactly that here.  That is without question a key positive to the set and makes the set worth owning.  While the presence of Season 2’s full run forms a solid foundation for the set, the actual presentation of those episodes detracts from the set to a certain point.

Much like with the presentation of the series’ first season, this set is also presented in a 16:9 aspect ratio (widescreen).  For those less familiar with aspect ratios, that might not seem overly important.  However, for those who are more familiar with the matter of aspect ratios, this is a bad thing.  That is because in comparison to the original 4:3 presentation – which was used in the sets from 20th Century Fox – the 16:9 presentation does show a certain amount of loss.  There might be more visible in terms of horizontal content, but clearly there is a certain amount of loss in the picture’s vertical presentation.  Heads are cut off along with tops of scenes.  The series’ full-screen 4:3 presentation by comparison actually does give viewers the literal full picture in each episode.  What’s more, the remastering does show through in general, as the picture is much sharper in each episode.  The problem is that the picture is perhaps too sharp.  It is that clean.  There is something special about seeing this series exactly as it aired in its original broadcast.  Sure, some remasterings are good and necessary. Comparing this presentation to the presentation in the 20th Century Fox box sets really does make the earlier presentations that much more charming and appealing in general.  To that end, one cannot help but wonder if the remastering that was done with this set (and its predecessor in Season One) was truly necessary.  Luckily even with that question in mind, this set is not a total loss.  The set’s packaging helps its overall presentation in its own right.

The packaging for Garfield & Friends: Season Two is key to its presentation in that it does admittedly save space on audiences’ DVD/BD racks.  Unlike the Garfield & Friends sets from 20th Century Fox, this set (and its predecessor) compress the packaging by placing each of its three discs on its own plate inside the case.  The third disc is placed in its own spot inside the case.  By comparison, 20th Century Fox’s sets each consist of three discs.  However, the discs are each placed inside their own slimcase inside the bigger box.  This is key to note because the end result is more space taken up on racks than the packaging manner used in this set and that of Season One.  To that end, PBS Distribution and Skiprope have actually done audiences a favor here.

Adding to the positive of the packaging is that the packaging method used here serves to protect the discs from one another just as much as the manner used by 20th Century Fox.  Keeping that in mind, the packaging used for this collection is just as important to consider as the set’s content.  When the packaging and content are considered together, they make the collection in whole a set enjoyable for those who might not already own the previously released Garfield & Friends box sets released by 20th Century Fox and who might be unable to get their hands on those sets.

PBS Distribution and Skiprope’s recently released Garfield & Friends: Season Two box set is a presentation that will appeal to fans of the timeless animated series that who do not already own the series’ DVD sets previously released by 20th Century Fox and those unable to get their hands on those sets, which collectively present the series maybe not in chronological order, but in full.  Audiences do get here, the whole of Season Two in its entirety and in precise chronological order.  They also get positive packaging.  For all of the positives that the set shows, it also does have a negative that cannot be ignored – the general presentation of the episodes.  While it clearly detracts from the set’s presentation, it is not enough to make the set entirely unwatchable.  It just shows that perhaps the remastering was not entirely necessary.  Keeping all of this in mind, the whole of Garfield & Friends: Season Two is enjoyable, but still leaves itself lacking to a point.  Garfield & Friends: Season Two is available now.  More information on the set is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.pbsdistribution.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PBSDistribution.org

 

 

 

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Garfield’s New DVD A Fun Way To Celebrate The Flabby Feline’s Birthday

Courtesy:  Paws, Inc./Dargaud Media/Vivendi Entertainment

Courtesy: Paws, Inc./Dargaud Media/Vivendi Entertainment

Today is a big day in the world of pop culture.  That’s because one of the country’s favorite pop icons celebrates his birthday today.  The icon in question is everybody’s favorite flabby feline, Garfield.  The creation of cartoonist Jim Davis, Garfield celebrates his thirty-fifth birthday today.  As a belated birthday present to Garfield’s fans, Paws, Inc., Vivendi Entertainment, and Dargaud Media will release the latest collection of episodes from The Garfield Show next Tuesday, June 25th

The Garfield Show: Pizza Dreams sees six more episodes loaded with laughs come to viewers.  It also includes a handful of bonus Garfield shorts much in the vein of the “Quickies” shorts from Garfield & Friends.  The set opens with Jon trying once again to put Garfield on a diet on the orders of his veterinarian girlfriend, Liz.  Long-time fans of the Garfield franchises will love the subtle reference to Garfield & Friends when Garfield makes the comment, “Somebody get me an attorney named Murray!”  This same line was used in one episode of Garfield & Friends.  Fans might also notice quite the similarity to another classic Garfield & Friends episode in which Garfield pretends to mail himself off to Abu Dhabi as a prank on Jon and Odie.  This isn’t the first time that The Garfield Show has ever thrown back to Garfield & Friends.  And it likely won’t be the last time, either.  But that the writers behind this show have managed once again to make a relatively new story while paying homage to the show’s predecessor makes this an enjoyable addition to this compilation of episodes.

The Garfield Show pays homage to its predecessor throughout a number of episodes.  That’s shown yet again with this latest collection of episodes.  Though, it does have its share of original episodes, too.  One of the best of this compilation’s best original episodes sees Garfield seeking out a world famous chef that makes “the best lasagna in the world.”  Garfield proves in “Master Chef”, that he will go to any length—including dressing up as a baby—in order to get his paws on the highly desired pasta dish.  In the end, he learns a valuable lesson and secret about the lasagna that will have viewers of all ages laughing out loud.

For all of the laughs that Garfield offers throughout this new compilation, it also offers some very valuable shorts that parents will appreciate.  The shorts included in this set are like those in at least one previous set of episodes.  They are short fifteen to thirty second vignettes that promote important topics for young viewers in a way that will inform and entertain.  This time, the included shorts promote healthy eating, exercise, proper pet care, and other topics.  As short as they shorts are, they make discussing the topics in question easier for parents.  Even more worthy of praise is the fact that here audiences have the laziest of creatures promoting healthy eating and exercise to young viewers.  In its own way, this is hilarious.  But it also shows that those behind the show understand and appreciate the importance of preventing childhood obesity.  It makes this topic and the others broached that much easier for parents to jump into with far less anxiety.  It is for this reason and for the included enjoyable episodes that Garfield fans of any age will want to pick up this new single disc collection.  It will be available in stores and online next Tuesday, June 25th and can be ordered online direct from the official Garfield website at http://www.cafepress.com/garfield.853607724. Fans can also go to the official Garfield website at http://www.garfield.com to get the latest news on Garfield, to play games, and much more.  Fans can also keep up with all of the latest Garfield news on the official Garfield Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/Garfield.

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The Garfield Show Shows More Promise On New DVD

Courtesy: Vivendi/Gaiam/Paws, Inc./Dargaud Media

Courtesy: Vivendi/Gaiam/Paws, Inc./Dargaud Media

The latest DVD release from The Garfield Show hits stores today.  The Garfield Show: Spring Fun Collection—the show’s seventh new DVD compilation–offers audiences six more adventures from the hit CG based show.  It also includes a handful of PSAs for kids that teach everything from the importance of exercise to proper pet care, and even accepting people’s differences.  The PSAs and the episodes all work together to make this latest release another enjoyable set of episodes for any Garfield fan of any age.

The Garfield Show: Spring Fun Collection opens with the episode, “The Big Sneeze.”  Long-time Garfield fans might recognize this episode as it is a subtle throwback to the Garfield & Friends episode, “Nothing to Sneeze At.”  Whereas that episode was centered on Jon’s less than fashionable wardrobe as the source of Garfield’s allergies, “The Big Sneeze” turns the tables.  This time out, it’s Jon who has sneezing problems.  What’s really causing them is left to audiences to discover. The answer to the mystery will have audiences laughing as will the episode’s subtle jokes.  The show’s writers take on the old joke about everything on the internet being true with a comment from Jon as he researches his symptoms.  In the same vein, the writers also take on a classic cartoon bit in the episode, “Stealing Home” which in itself is also a massive throwback to the original Garfield & Friends episode, “Pest of a Guest.”  The classic bit in question sees Garfield turning a trash dumpster into a “home” as a means to get a pesky cat out of his own house.  The use of a trash dumpster is just one variation of the classic cartoon bit.  But having the small confined space made up as if it’s something else goes as far back as certain classic Looney Tunes shorts.  That the writers would take the time to honor animation’s golden era is enough to make any viewer smile. 

The homage to animation’s early days is just one part of what makes “Stealing Home” so fun.  Adding in the reference to the classic “movie” Kung Fu Creatures on The Rampage is a double whammy for audiences.  Not only will old school audiences appreciate the reference to the original show here, but movie lovers will appreciate the somewhat biting commentary about Hollywood’s current fad of re-issuing classic movies to theaters in 3-D, too.  As one can already see, so much is going on in this episode alone.  But somehow, the show’s writers managed to assemble it all together in a script that audiences of all ages will appreciate.  It’s one more part of the whole that audiences will appreciate as they watch it any time they want when they pick up this new release.

The writers behind the episodes are to be commended for honoring Garfield’s roots in this collection of episodes.  They are to be just as commended for making new episodes, too in the form of “Farm Fresh Feline”, “The Bluebird of Happiness”, “The Mole Express” and “Parrot Blues.”  These episodes are more original and will entertain audiences just as much as the set’s throwback episodes.  The “Garfield Shorts” included in the set aren’t necessarily shorts.  They’re not the “quickies” from Garfield & Friends.  But parents will appreciate that they are PSAs intended to entertain and educate young audiences.  They are the icing on the cake that is this single disc compilation.  It’s available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online at the Paws, Inc. online store at http://garfield.com/shopping/dvd_collection/collection.html?cat=5.

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New Garfield Compilation Has Loads Of Laughs And Heart For Families

Courtesy: Gaiam/Vivendi Entertainment

Everybody’s favorite flabby tabby is back yet again.  And it’s just in time for the holidays.  Gaiam-Vivendi will release a brand new single-disc compilation of holiday themed episodes tomorrow.  “The Garfield Show:  Holiday Extravaganza” contains six holiday themed episodes, one of which is a two-part Christmas episode.  Another of the episodes is a bonus episode that’s great for Halloween.  In this new compilation, Garfield, Odie, and Jon head to a haunted house so that Jon can work on a new comic book.  Also in the collection’s sole Thanksgiving episode, the guys have to deal with a certain animal in the style of another classic Garfield & Friends episode.  And, in what is the best of the compilation’s episodes, Odie comes up with a plan to get a group of stray animals adopted for Christmas. 

In the first episode in this brand new compilation, Jon is having troubles writing a new comic book for his boss, Mr. Parker.  He keeps getting distracted because of the phone.  So when he tells Mr. Parker, Mr. Parker tells Jon to go to a house that he just bought.  What Jon doesn’t know is that the house is haunted.  It could be argued that in a roundabout way, this episode kind of pays tribute to Stephen King’s The Shining, what with Jon trying to write in a haunted house.  Anyone who has seen the horror classic might catch the reference.  Except in this case, the story is much more family friendly.  The house does indeed turn out to be haunted.  There’s just one problem.  While the house is haunted, only Garfield and Odie can see the ghost because the ghost in question is a ghost cat.  He explains to Garfield that humans can’t see ghost cats.  But he has to make Jon believe in him so that he can finally be released from haunting the house, and cross over.  Through a series of funny tricks, Garfield finally gets Jon to believe, thus releasing the ghost cat.  Ironically, his new belief also becomes the subject of his new comic book, solving Jon’s writer’s block.

This new compilation of episodes also contains a Thanksgiving episode that’s fun for the whole family.  In “Turkey Trouble”, Jon invites Liz over for Thanksgiving.  He’s ordered a turkey.  There’s just one problem.  Jon discovers that when the turkey is delivered, it’s alive.  This is a throwback to a certain episode from the classic Garfield & Friends animated series.  It just has some minor tweaks.  Jon can’t bring himself to do what needs to be done, so he decides to make his signature spinach lasagna instead.  Meanwhile, Garfield has to figure out how to handle the turkey, eventually managing to take it back to the butcher shop.  But when the guys discover what would happen to the turkey, Garfield sneaks back in later to rescue the turkey.  Of course, the turkey ends up rescuing itself.  Viewers will laugh at how it does, too.  In the end, the guys bring the turkey to dinner, enjoying Jon’s spinach lasagna.  It’s revealed that the turkey will be sent to a petting zoo instead.

“The Garfield Show:  Holiday Extravaganza” has loads of family fun throughout each of its episodes.  As fun as each episode is here, there is one that stands out more than any of the others.  It’s one of the set’s group of Christmas-themed episodes.  The two part episode, “Home For The Holidays” is the best of the best in this compilation.   In this special episode, Garfield learns the true meaning of Christmas after running into Arlene one evening when he and Jon go grocery shopping.  Garfield thinks about what Arlene said to him.  So he and Odie come and surprise Arlene and the stray animals that she is helping with food and bedding.  While they are there, Odie comes up with an idea to get the pets all adopted for Christmas.  While Arlene isn’t sure the idea will work, Garfield compliments him, telling him he thinks Odie’s idea is brilliant.  The group takes on the task.  It means taking the Christmas tree and dinner from their house and taking it to the junkyard where the strays are staying.  They also take a truck and use it to light up a pile of junk at the yard.  The pile has a star on top that attracts people from all over the city.  It’s arguable that there’s a biblical reference with the light shining at the top of the pile, as it looks a little bit like the Star of Bethlehem.  And being that it drew everyone from all around adds to that similarity.  When the people come, they all adopt the animals at the junkyard, including Jon’s mother and even Liz’s parents.  It all makes for one of the show’s most heartwarming episodes so far, and what will be one of the favorite episodes for families in this compilation.

The episodes mentioned here are only a portion of what’s offered in “The Garfield Show:  Holiday Extravaganza.”  This brand new compilation also includes a second Christmas episode that indirectly pays tribute to another classic Garfield & Friends episode, as well as another pair of Halloween episodes.  Whether it be those episodes or the ones listed here, “The Garfield Show:  Holiday Extravaganza” has lots of laughs and lots of heart for the whole family to enjoy this holiday season.  It will be available in stores tomorrow.

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“Summer Adventures” offers lots more laughs from The Garfield Show

Everybody’s favorite orange flabby feline is back.  That’s right.  Garfield is back again.  And he’s brought Jon, Odie and all the others along in the brand new dvd,  “Summer Adventures.”  This brand new dvd presents six more episodes from the most recent Garfield television incarnation, The Garfield Show.  This time out, Garfield helps pizzeria owner Vito save his business as it competes with a mega pizza chain.  He also helps his mouse friend, Squeak, in an original episode.  And in another throwback to the original Garfield and Friends series, Garfield gets some not so good luck when he returns a pot of gold to a leprechaun.  There’s even a bonus episode that will also take viewers back to the original Garfield & Friends series in “Fame Fatale.”

“Perfect Pizza” is the first of the six episodes contained on this single disc compilation.  Much like many of the episodes in The Garfield Show, this episode is a near direct throwback to Garfield & Friends.  It starts off with Jon ordering a pizza for Garfield.  Thinking the pizza is from his favorite pizza place, Vito’s, Garfield is surprised at how terrible the pizza is.  He discovers that the pizza is in fact not from Vito’s.  Rather, it’s from a new competitor, Mama Meaney’s Pizza Palace.  The new business has set up shop right next door to Vitos, and is taking customers away from Vito’s thanks to huge deals and coupons.  After finding out how Mama Meaney’s Pizza Palace mass produces its pizzas, Jon declares that he’s going back to Vito’s.  Mama Meaney (who happens to be a man) tries to lure Jon back with lots of coupons.  But it doesn’t work.  They go back to Vito’s. 

When they go back to Vito’s Eddie Gourmand calls and orders one of Vito’s pizzas.  He tells Vito that if he likes the pizza, he’ll tell all his viewers about it and tell them to buy his pizzas.  So Vito gets Jon to take the pizza to Gourmand.  Jon has to avoid Mama Meaney the whole way to Gourmand’s place.  In a chance mishap, Jon accidentally carries one of Mama Meaney’s pizzas to Gourmand who tastes it and declares how horrible it is.  But then Garfield gives Gourmand Vito’s pizza.  Gourman tells Vito how great it is, thus saving his business, and putting Mama Meaney’s Pizza Palace out of business.  As a reward, Vito tells Jon that they can have free pizza any time they want.  Garfield immediately takes full advantage of that, and digs in.  When Vito asks if Garfield will ever stop, Jon tells Vito, “Sure.  He’ll hit anchovies some time.” 

Long time fans will recognize certain similarities to two classic Garfield & Friends episodes in this one episode.  It combines elements of two episodes from the show’s fourth season in “Supermarket Mania” and “Mamma Manicotti.”  Garfield and Jon have to save a small independent business from a mega-conglomerate in both episodes.  The coupon element comes from the prior of the two classic episodes, while the competing Italian restaurant element comes from the latter of the pair.  Both are equally impressive episodes.  And combined, they make for a fun new episode for The Garfield Show.

“Perfect Pizza” is an enjoyable episode from The Garfield Show.  But it’s not all that makes this compilation of shorts so fun.  In a more original episode, Garfield and his friend Squeak go to Eddie Gourmand’s World of Cheese in the original episode, “It’s a Cheese World.”  This time out, Squeak and his friends see an ad for Eddie Gourmand’s Cheese World theme park.  They beg Garfield to take them.  At first, Garfield declines.  But when Jon finds one of Squeak’s friends eating a piece of cheese that he was going to eat, that becomes an excuse for Garfield to get the mice out of the house.  But to get them into the park, he first has to get them past his friend, Harry.  He tries to hide them under an overcoat, in a pizza box, and even uses an old Looney Tunes style bit that ends up working.  The irony of the mice trying to get in is that Gourmand’s park is failing because it’s made entirely of cheese.  And all the cheese is going bad real fast.  Thinking he’s lost everything, Gourmand isn’t sure what to do until a land developer offers to buy the park.  Gourman agrees, but doesn’t know how to get rid of the buildings until Squeak and his friends offer to take care of it for him.  That leads to a happy ending for all involved.

In one more of this new compilation’s collection of fun episodes, The Garfield Show throws back once again to Garfield & Friends with “Lucky Charm.”  “Lucky Charm” sees Odie discover a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.  Odie brings the pot back to Garfield.  But, he’s not alone.  The leprechaun that owns the gold is close behind.  When Garfield gives the gold back, the leprechaun grants him any wish that he wants.  Garfield wishes for good luck.  At first Garfield’s luck doesn’t seem so good.  But then he wins the lottery and becomes rich.  It could be argued that this is a throwback to the Garfield & Friends episode, “Fat & Furry.”  And the concept of whether Garfield’s luck was good could be argued to have been taken from the episode, “Curse of the Klopman.”  Getting back to this episode, though.  At first, being rich seems great.  But when he has to endure a pair of cats claiming to be long lost relatives, salesmen, and even an IRS agent, Garfield has to find the leprechaun who put the “Good Luck” spell on him so he can get it undone.  The leprechaun does.  But then he himself is hounded by the same IRS agent.  It’s a hint at “The Curse of the Klopman.”

The episodes listed here are just a small sampling of the laughs that fans will get from this brand new compilation.  However, all six episodes contained here make for more than enough laughs for both kids and kids at heart.  It’s a great introduction to the world of Garfield for younger viewers.  And it will take parents back to the days of Garfield & Friends.  While the compilation is titled, “Summer Adventures”, it’s a great addition to any family’s home library for the whole family all year long.

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