Produced and Directed by Phil Roman
November 22, 1989
- Garfield-voiced by Lorenzo Music
- Jon Arbuckle-voiced by Thom Huge
- Odie-voiced by Gregg Berger
- Dr. Liz Wilson-voiced by Julie Payne
- Grandma-voiced by Pat Carroll
Jon finally convinces Liz the Vet to go on a date with him (on Thanksgiving!) but when Jon fails to plan properly all hope of impressing his crush seems to be lost.
I admit calling this special a classic might be a bit liberal here, but it is one Thanksgiving special that has had some staying power. It was repeated for several years and has had some official media releases from video tape to DVD to even an official release on YouTube (as seen by the link below). Classics of any type in my opinion are determined in part by some type of staying power as well as the positive thoughts of the audience and this certainly has plenty of both.
Garfield’s Thanksgiving is a very fun Thanksgiving special. The story itself is less about the holiday and more about Jon nearly screwing up a date with his dream girl Liz the Vet. Something I only noticed as an adult: how empty is Liz’s life that she goes on a date with Jon, a man at this point she barely tolerates, on Thanksgiving? Who goes on a date on any major holiday? No family or friends to hang out with? As of this special she obviously merely tolerates him as a client and has no romantic interest in him.
We get the normal Garfield fat jokes, and our favorite cat is his usual gluttonous self. The special does not talk down the holiday nor does it talk things up. It is more a backdrop for events. It is just a light one-off story set around Thanksgiving that is more sitcom in structure than holiday special. It has more in common with something you might find in an episode of I Love Lucy based on the contrivances than anything else. And that is fine. All that silliness is meant to put you in a holiday mood and here it most certainly does.
The highlight character is Grandma. Jon’s Grandma is among my favorite Garfield supporting characters. She is a tough old bird that is 100% in her grandson’s corner and a regular source of some of the funnier jokes when she is on screen. On the whole, the character gets some deep moments (not here but in A Garfield Christmas especially). Grandma saves the day, a sitcome style resolution, and he must hide her working furiously in the kitchen from Liz in order to continue to impress her.
The animation is not bad. It is nothing spectacular even by television standards, but it is not exceedingly cheap either. The look of it comes off as what you would find in a Sunday paper at the time.
In fact, this is the style and quality they went with when they began the Garfield & Friends Saturday morning series. By the way that show was brilliant. If you can find it watch it. One of the few genuinely funny Saturday morning cartoons that perfectly emulated the source.
The story is light. It moves steadily with no lags in it. The jokes are evenly placed through the story. The characters are not far different from the strip, so you do not feel as if you are getting some bastardized version of the comic strip. Sometimes these specials did not feel right as if something was missing. Not here though.
Garfield’s Thanksgiving is a wonderful entry into the holiday special repertoire. It is a funny half hour that will leave you entertained and anticipating it when the time is appropriate next year. Watch it!