In 1987, and at the height of his career, A Garfield Christmas hit the air on CBS and quickly took a spot on the shelf of Christmas classics.
The Garfield comic strip, which debuted in 1979, had become a worldwide hit and the creator, Jim Davis, decided that it was time to bring Garfield to life. So in 1982, Garfield came to television with the special, Here Comes Garfield. It was a hit. Kids everywhere wanted more so every year a new Garfield special was made until Davis felt it was time for his cat to have his own tv show. Garfield and Friends ran from 1988-1995.
Since then, the franchise has gone crazy. Everything imaginable was made in to Garfield merchandise, including two feature films, and Jim Davis has become so busy with the business side of things that he no longer draws the strip. His company, PAWS, has a roster of Jim Davis wannabes that draw like him but miss the heart of the character. The strip hasn't been the same in years and I don't think it ever will be again. See previous post.
A Garfield Christmas invokes everything that I love about Garfield. He is a smart-alec cat who hates dogs and mushy stuff but really is a pushover when it comes to family and friends.
The sarcastic humour of the strip is translated well here without becoming rude or annoying, and Garfield gets many memorable lines: "Whoever invented Christmas trees should be drug out on to the road and shot."
This special also explores the relationship Jon has with his family. The family dynamics and traditions around Christmastime are such that we can all relate. Sadly, the Arbuckle family is never seen in the strip nowadays.
Jon, Garfield and Odie are headed to the farm for a Christmas with the Arbuckles. Jon is so excited to be a part of his childhood traditions. Garfield plans to bring everyone down with his bad attitude for being brought to the farm against his will but when Odie gives Garfield an extra special Christmas gift Garfield has a change of heart. It is here that Garfield says a line that will forever be a Christmas classic:
"It's not the giving, it's not the getting. It's the loving. There, I said it. Now get outta here."
Find this special on Garfield Holiday Celebrations