Get set for the first Garfield & Friends collection, featuring 24 episodes of the hilarious animated Saturday Morning TV series starring that fat and sassy feline who lives for lasagna and can't stand diets, exercise and Mondays! Along with his not-too-bright pooch pal, Odie, and gullible owner, Jon, Garfield coughs up a hairball of humor that every human will love. Each episode contains a Garfield sandwich, featuring two slices of Garfield & Friends and a chewy center of U.S. Acres, the show featuring Garfields farm-fresh friends, also created by comic genius Jim Davis.
, the newspaper cartoon strip by Jim Davis, was such a hit when adapted to occasional animated specials on CBS in the 1980s that the network built a Saturday morning series, Garfield and Friends
, around the portly, sardonic cat. The new show, wrapped within its winning programming formula, also proved successful. Episodes of Garfield and Friends
featured two eight-minute stories starring Garfield, the airhead pooch Odie, and their owner, bachelor Jon Arbuckle, that were joined by one short, delightful new cartoon called U.S. Acres
, concerning the misadventures of a group of barnyard animals led by a clever pig called Orson. Garfield and Friends
expanded to an hour by season 2 and lasted seven years; several members of the vocal cast also had leading roles on U.S. Acres
, and both shows attracted such celebrity guests as Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, and Debra Messing.
As with the CBS specials, Garfield and Friends fortunately found Jim Davis in a hands-on, production capacity. But if the new shorts prove not quite as soulful as those longer, prior productions, they are nonetheless witty, well-written, and spirited. The 24 episodes (48 individual Garfield 'toons in all) included in Garfield and Friends, Volume 1 are full of fresh ideas and good laughs. Among the highlights are "Box o' Fun," in which Garfield proves to have a Snoopy streak when an ordinary cardboard box becomes (courtesy of Garfield's imagination) a vessel for numerous, wild-eyed adventures. In "Nothing to Sneeze At," Liz the veterinarian consents to a mercy date with Jon, only to find Garfield jealously tagging along. The slapstick "Magic Mutt" finds Garfield and a dog dueling in a magic shop, turning one another (and poor Jon) into a variety of animal and human forms. About U.S. Acres: It may take an episode or two to catch on, but once it does, the show proves to have a sweet sophistication similar to Garfield. --Tom Keogh