Garfield’s Thanksgiving Breakdown

I mentioned before that the Garfield Holiday Celebrations Disc had 3 holiday specials on it: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

I will readily admit that I am not nearly as familiar with the Thanksgiving one as I am with the other two, mostly because I had never seen it until I got this dvd a few years ago. I also remember watching it once or twice and then deciding that it was not nearly as good as the other two that I loved.

You would think that a holiday that is almost-solely about eating would be perfect Garfield material, and I guess it is, but this one just isn’t as good as it should have been.

But! With Thanksgivins coming up fast (my family already celebrated it, so this is kinda weird for me), there’s no time like the present to give it another spin…

once again, the dvd case

I figured I’d show the dvd case again, just in “case” you are looking for it in the store. This picture was taken in low lighting, using a backdrop of Mardi Gras throws, with an Olympus Stylus 790 SW. In other words, I spent about 2 seconds on it.

Episode Menu

One thing that is funny, to me, is that the titles for these Garfield holiday “celebrations” took someone almost as much time to think up as it took me to take that picture of the dvd case. “Garfield’s Thanksgiving” could only be topped in blandness by “Garfield Thanksgiving”. The apostrophe-S gives us at least a little bit of a clue as to what we are in store for. We’re going to see what Garfield’S Thanksgivins is like this year which, if you judge from this menu picture, is going to be naughty for Garfield and Odie is probably gonna get kicked off the table a few times. It looks like Garfield is fixin’ to throw a wad of paper at ol’ Odie. Innocent Odie does not expect a thing of course.

title screen

Here we get confirmation of this bad title with a bad title screen.

There’s a short exposition scene before this that sets up the plot. I didn’t include any screencaps of it because it is basically just Garfield, monologuing. But we do get to see the scene shown in the episode menu screen: it is Garfield, and he’s not about to kick Odie off the table. He has torn up a note on the calendar that reminds Jon that Garfield’s visit to the Vet is today (Wednesday. And the vet is Liz, Jon’s would-be girlfriend). When Garfield tears off the Wednesday note, we learn that tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Unlike Halloween, Garfield is well aware of what Thanksgiving is, so he and Jon are off to the store to get “lots of good things to eat”. Then this title screen comes up and a song sung by Lou Rawls about doing dances named after Thanksgiving foods. I would love to know how to do the Cranberry.

“This isn’t the way home!”

On the way home from the store, Garfield notices that Jon is going a different route. He tells Jon, “This isn’t the way home!” Jon replies, “We’re going to the Vet, Garfield.” I can never figure out if Jon can hear Garfield or not, because right here he totally answers him. I guess it’s like the baby on that one show, where it really doesn’t matter and it does not pay to overthink it.

Garfield’s plan of eliminating a date on the calendar hasn’t worked. Not only that, but why is Jon not worried about making a lengthy stop at the Vet when there is clearly milk in the car??? This man has lost his marbles. Our first clue to this was when it was brought up that he has such Thanksgiving staples as “cole slaw” and “cumquats” in his grocery store loot. Who the hell serves either of those things at Thanksgiving??? Jon is a modern guy and maybe in the 80s those things were what modern city guys ate on Thanksgiving. I’m glad that trend didn’t catch on.

the Vet waiting room

At the Vet, in the waiting room, there are a bunch of weirdos. This is proof that Jon either lives in the city, or WAY out in the middle of nowhere, but since there are no horses at the Vet, I’m guessing the city.

And I’m no vet, but I’m thinking that whatever is wrong with that bass, keeping it out of the water like that isn’t helping.

Scaredy Cat (sorry for that one)

Garfield does not enjoy visits to the Vet. I have never enjoyed going to the doctor, so I can empathize.

“That’s DOCTOR Liz, asshole!”

Jon enjoys visits to the vet, because he can flirt with Liz. Once again, I can never really figure out if he and Liz are together or not. In some episodes it seems like they are a couple, but in this one she’s quite surly with him and has no patience for his awkward advances. I can empathize with this too.

I actually laughed out loud when Jon said, “How bout a date?” and Liz quickly responds with, “I’d rather die.”

oldest trick in the book

This Jon. Flailing around because he is stupid and tried the ol’, “I’m gonna hold my breath until you say you’ll go out with me” trick. It doesn’t work. Liz, worldly intelligent gal that she is, is not impressed by such antics.


I’m using this shot to illustrate two points that are made very quickly here:

1. Garfield must go on a diet. Vet says so.

2. Liz agrees to go out with Jon, after he passes out from holding his breath. She explains, “I can’t stand to see a dumb animal suffer.” The date is set up for her to come to his house for Thanksgiving Dinner the next day. Thanksgiving.

“That’s it???”

Upon arrival home, Jon has dinner, and gives Garfield the dinner that has been prescribed for him for his diet. A lettuce leaf in a bowl. Again, I completely empathize with this. Here it is, the very kick-off point of the Holidays, and Garfield can only eat twigs and berries. I have cheated lately, I’m not gonna lie, so we can only expect the same from a cartoon cat whose main purpose in life is to eat as much as felinely possible.

Odie the Fierce

As we expected, Garfield has tried to sneak a snack. I could tell Jon that forcing Garfield on a diet is not gonna work, Garfield has to want to lose that weight more than he wants to eat tasty treats… and the motivation for a housecat to lose weight isn’t much at all.

Jon has employed Odie to help keep Garfield’s appetite in check, by being a literal whistleblower every time Garfield tries to be sneaky and get something out of the fridge.

talking scale

This scene would have been Animal Crack-Ups to people in the 80s.

It features a talking scale. Talking shit was a HUGE deal in the 80s, if you were not alive back then, or don’t remember. Everyone’s everything would talk to you: cars (inspired by Night Rider and Street Hawk, no doubt), scales, microwaves, etc. Everything had to talk. I think people had seen too many movies and thought that talking appliances was really futuristic.

This particular scale gets mouthy with Garfield and he smashes it. Again, I bet 80s folk loved that shit. The whole joke revolves around Orson Welles and Citizen Kane, which is a fairly lofty joke for the ages that this cartoon is aimed at (and that ain’t early-30’s movie buffs, either).

whistleblower Odie strikes again

This is the 2nd scene where Odie busts Garfield trying to sneak a snack. This gag is kind of a Scooby-Doo style “which-jar-is-Odie-in” deal. Of course, he is in all of them, though I don’t know why Garfield would want a snack of flour or salt, unless he’s really just that desperate for something other than lettuce.

Thanksgiving Morning

It’s Thanksgiving Morning and Jon is in a great mood, excited that he has a date with a “dreamboat” for dinner tonight (I’ve never heard anyone refer to a woman as a “dreamboat” before, I thought that was only reserved for Hardbody dudes).

We know, already, that this dinner is going to be a disaster by this line:

Jon: “Liz is gonna be here in 3 hours. I better get the turkey out of the freezer.”

Jon, you should have gotten the turkey out of the freezer like 2 days ago. You are royally screwed.

“Turkey on a stick”

If I had waited, I would have seen that the cookbook tells Jon this exact thing, which he shrugs off as “a minor technicality.” Garfield says, “Yum yum, turkey on a stick.” Garfield, you are just too much.

“If I can’t have Thanksgiving, no one can!”

Jon throws a bunch of veggies in a pot, pours a little water on them, then leaves to get ready for Liz. Garfield says, “What good is Thanksgiving if you’re on a diet???” I heard that, brother.

He dumps a bunch of garlic on the veggies in an effort to ruin everyone else’s Thanksgiving, but little does he know, that Jon’s cooking abilities will do that just fine by themselves, without added die-a-boe-lick-ell sab-a-tay-jee.

Jon then tries on a bunch of outfits for Garfield. These are a few of my favorites:

the informal look

“the high roller”

Disco Jon

the Popeye look

the artsy look

the monkey look(?)

Just a quick word about these:

I guess disco was still so recent that a lot of people would still have these clothes, but it’s probably more of a testament to how dorky Jon is that he is still hanging on to that disco outfit.

The “high roller” is obviously based on the tv show “Dallas”.

I like that his informal look includes a hat with wings. I think Rusty wears a hat like that in European Vacation.

You can make your own joke about the gorilla costume, though I will say that if he had worn that, it would have made for a better episode.

I think I probably would have gone for the Popeye look, out of these.

“Nice polka dot boxer shorts.”

Liz is, again, a modern lady. If she wasn’t, she may have taken Jon answering the door in his underwear as sexual harassment and either run away, or reported it to Human Resources.

Jon finally settled on the “normal” look, but he forgot his pants.

“Maybe this diet has been too hard on you…”

Jon puts on pants and Liz has a seat with the pets. Garfield feigns illness, presumably based on the diet. Liz examines him and decides to take him off the diet. He is ecstatic… until he realizes that he has sabotaged the meal.

“Have cooking utensils, will travel”

Upon realizing that he has completely botched the dinner, JOn calls Grandma up. She roars in on her motorcycle to save the day.

Grandma is a character that would rarely show up in Garfield cartoons (in fact, I think her only appearances are in this and the Christmas special) and I have never seen her in the comic strip.

You’re supposed to love grandma, and I do. Her scrappy character and olde thymey witticisms really endear her to me. Plus she is the Green County Gravy Champion. I looked up Green County and have determined that the Arbuckles live in Wisconsin, Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, or Virginia. I wish I could say that I thought they were in Mississippi, but Grandma is no Country Grandma, and Liz is way too sarcastic and cynical. I’ve always thought of the Arbuckles as a midwest kind of family, so I’m gonna say Missouri. That’s midwest, right? In the Christmas Special, they hafta drive a long way to the ol’ Arbuckle farm homestead, and it’s really cold and snowy (Mississippi is out). I refuse to believe that Garfield lives in St. Louis though. So maybe Wisconsin. They seem like cheesers, I guess.

“How’s dinner coming?”

Grandma tells Jon to leave the kitchen and “go spark your ladyfriend”. I love grandma!!!!

Jon tries to do just that and Liz asks him how dinner is coming along. Apparently she was taking a nap when Grandma blazed through the door, cackling like a madwoman.

So Jon is still going to try and convince Liz that he prepared the dinner, when it’s Grandma making her own Keebler magic in the kitchen.

“Is it an object, like my chair?”

Jon tells Liz, in an attempt to prove how thoughtful and caring he is, “Ya know, before Thanksgiving dinner, I always like to reminisce on the true meaning of Thanksgiving.”

Liz looks at him all deadpan and says, “Are you serious?” Liz definitely isn’t from Mississippi with cynical one-liners like that.

Meanwhile, Grandma goes to work in the kitchen.

Jon talks about T-giving history, putting Liz to sleep

“Nice touch”

Grandma gets the dinner ready and puts it all on the table. Garfield sees it and utters one of his catchphrases: “Nice touch.”

I don’t know who decided that “nice touch” was a good catchphrase for Garfield, but hopefully they are currently unemployed before they start dumping bad catchphrases into other classic holiday specials. For some reason, in every Garfield holiday special, Garfield finds a reasons to say “Nice touch”. And I hate it.

Grandma tells Garfield goodbye and leaves out the back door so that Jon can pretend like he prepared this meal all by himself and Liz will be impressed. Grandma flippin rulez.

Garfield goes and gets Jon and Liz and Liz is appropriately impressed. Here they are having a prayer while a really bad song plays. I guess this is supposed to be touching, but it kinda fails, unlike the Halloween special (which is actually kinda scary) and the Christmas special (which is actually kinda touching). Hard to believe nowadays that there’s a shot of people praying before a meal on a tv show.

They are also following the tv rule of “no one sits at a table with their back to the camera”. Which is stupid, as it makes no sense for everyone to be on one side of the table.

Anyways, thanks Grandma for taking care of Jon, even though he’s a bumbling square.

Time to dig in to the feast that Grandma has prepared! The pets are sitting at the table (being a vet, I guess Liz doesn’t mind that sort of thing). Garfield gets to eat Thanksgiving like a real person and Odie, of course, just licks everything.

“Same time next year?”

Jon gets a smooch on the cheek after the meal!!! The way to a vet’s heart is through her stomach, clearly.

Jon tries to get the boys up for a walk. When Odie is too full from dinner to walk, he puts him on a diet, “starting immediately”. Garfield, of course, shows up with the whistle….

… and makes Odie do push ups. I included this shot specifically for Jonathon Cabot, who would be proud of this moment… except that Odie has chosen a couch to do his pushups on, which is completely unsuitable for pushups.

The End.

Zoom out, and it’s over. Like I said, it’s not as good as the other holiday celebrations, or even as good as “Garfield in Paradise”, but it will do for a Thanksgiving special, for which there are slim pickin’s.

Good to see Jon getting some lady action, and it’s always good to see Grandma. Plus, the theme of this special fits here because it’s about getting in shape during the holidays and how much of a pain in the ass that is.

Hope you enjoyed it, and I may take tomorrow off since this took so long, so I’ll see you all on Wednesday, Thanksgiving-Eve and the day that the first half of “Garfield’s Thanksgiving” takes place on.

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12 Responses to Garfield’s Thanksgiving Breakdown

  1. 1148BucksX2 says:

    “Nice touch” does seem a little out of context here, sort of like when Inspector Gadget used to answer questions with “I’m ALWAYS on duty”, although in no way was it a satisfactory reply to the query.

    (For the record, I did like the use of the catch phrase in the Halloween special, when Garfield broke the fourth wall to comment on the appropriately timed flash of lightning and crack of thunder as they first set eyes on the decrepit old house across the river.)

    • I pretty much like everything about the Halloween and the Christmas Garfield holiday “celebrations”. The “nice touch” just didn’t seem to work here and that they were just forcing it in there because they felt obligated to.
      I just don’t think that whoever came up with “Nice Touch” as a catchphrase for a sarcastic cat who likes to eat a lot has their head screwed on straight. I mean, it just doesn’t sound like a catchphrase at all. It’s no “Don’t have a cow, man”, that’s for sure.

      Inspector Gadget was added to Amazon Prime videos not long ago, so I’ve been enjoying some of that action.

      • 1148BucksX2 says:

        I hear you on that one. I’m not too proud to admit that I spent many weekend hours immediately after last deployment sipping beers and making macrame jewelry while watching the entire 65 episode run of Jem.

        (In a word, outrageous.)

      • Was it good? They recently put the whole series on some internet video place, like netflix or amazon prime, and I’ve been considering checking it out. The only thing that I vividly remember was that the bad guy band was called “the Misfits”, but they obviously had nothing to do with the “real” Misfits.

  2. I can never figure out if Jon can hear Garfield or not, because right here he totally answers him.

    I’m sure you’ve seen these, but just in case…

    “Garfield Minus Garfield is a site dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb.”

    • While I’m not opposed to the Garfield Minus Garfield stuff (I think it’s pretty clever, actually), I am opposed to a lot of the anti-Garfield sentiment that I’ve seen expressed in a lot of places over the past few years or so. I assume most of it is written by snarky under-25-year-old “hipsters” who don’t know shit about shit.

  3. Brandon says:

    I was a kid in the 80s and early 90s when Garfield was king. I have this same DVD set and pull it out every holiday to watch the appropriate cartoon. Like you though, I had never seen or heard of the Thanksgiving cartoon until I get this DVD. It really has very little Thanksgiving-y things going on. It could have been about any dinner date. While I can see Jon as the dork who would ask a woman on a first date to Thanksgiving dinner, why did Liz accept? And I think they need to check a limb because they favor each other way too much (maybe they do live in Mississippi after all, heh. I kid. You can look at their Thanksgiving spread and tell they’re Yankees). I only recall seeing Liz in one other Garfield form and that was the crappy movie. At least she was played by Jennifer Love Hewitt in that. In fact, I think the movie took a lot of its plot from this special.

    • Oh man, I nearly fell out of my chair when you pointed out that Liz and Jon look alike and hinted at inbreeding! That is awesome.

      Was Liz in the movie? The one with Bill Ghostbustin-ass Murray as Garfield? I know I saw that, and I remember thinking it was not good but not as bad as it could have been, but I guess I didn’t pick up on the fact that Jennifer Love Hewitt’s character was named Liz.

      And yeah, their Thanksgiving spread is definitely yankified and “safe”. Tell-tale sign? No greens.

      • Brandon says:

        Yep, the one he regrets. I agree with you take on the movie too. Certainly not good, but I might nap to it on a Sunday afternoon if it was on TV. I had to check iMDB to confirm that she was in fact Liz. I remembered she was Garfield’s vet. You’re right, no greens. I’m sure that’s also stuffing, not dressing.

  4. If I was Mr. Murray, I’d be way more ashamed of “Larger Than Life” than the Garfield movies (he did two of them. I never saw the second one, but apparently money talks and whatnot).

    And you are definitely right about it being stuffing and not dressing.

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