Holiday traditions, growing up in the 1980’s, usually involved watching a Holiday cartoon on TV, a week or two before the actual holiday. For me and Halloween, this included the 1985 CBS Special, “Garfield’s Halloween Adventure”. It still remains one of my favorite cartoons; in the process of re-watching this, I found out that it won the 1986 Primetime Emmy Award for “Outstanding Animated Program”. There’s… DRAMA! And… HIJINKS! And…. CANDY, CANDY, CANDY, CANDY!!! Stay tuned!
We start with Garfield doing what he does best: sleeping. The TV, which was on, is on WBOR, off-air for the moment.
For you youngsters, TV stations back in the ’80’s actually did not stay on for 24 hours; they signed off, as early as 11 PM, and stayed off until at least 5 AM.
WBOR then signed on for the day, starting with the very loud “The Binky the Clown Show”, scaring Garfield out of his sleep. Binky demands that the kids watching the show do jumping jacks to warm up; Garfield, still in that hazy half-awake state, obliges at first, then angrily turns off the TV, then turns it back on when Binky reminds everyone that today is Halloween. The opening credits roll as Garfield sings about candy (the normal singing voice of Garfield is legendary Jazz singer, actor, and producer Lou Rawls).
After a break, Garfield wakes up from a nap, excited about Halloween and the prospects of candy… candy, candy, candy. He puts his blanket on his head and slinks away.
Jon Arbuckle is sitting at the kitchen table, gutting a pumpkin to make a Jack O’ Lantern. Garfield, of course, scares Jon, causing the pumpkin to land on Jon’s head. Pumkinhead Jon asks Garfield if ‘he is practicing for tonight”. Garfield goes into a funny, Allen Iverson-esque rant about “practicing”.
Odie makes his first appearance in the episode… and promptly end up with the pumpkin on his head, some how.
Garfield begins plotting: find costumes for himself and Odie, go Trick or Treating with Odie, and get double the amount of CANDY CANDY CANDY. However, Garfield stops mid-rant to wonder if he’s being too greedy, regarding candy (answer: hes not). It leads to Garfield “Breaking the Fourth Wall”, the first of many times, by telling some cheesy jokes about Odie. I do like that Garfield Breaks the Wall, often, during his cartoons.
This is the point where I noticed something interesting: the animation has two distinct features. When it comes to Garfield, Odie, Jon, and most other ‘living’ characters, the animation is sharp, focused, and pretty clear. Wen it comes to background characters, background scenery, and ‘non-living’ characters, the animation is unclear, unfocused, and, in some spots, almost bad. If you can watch the cartoon, take a look at the “Spooky Mansion”, for example.
Garfield and Odie head to the attic, in search of costumes. Jon is possibly a hoarder because there were many chests and boxes full of everything, from cloaks and hats to glasses and play-swords. The song “What Should I Be?” filled the next few minutes of the search (sung by Lorenzo Music, the voice of Garfield – when Lou Rawls was not singing – throughout this episode). Costume parts in hand, Garfield and Odie leave the attic.
Jon was eating lasagna (MISTAKE!) when the 2 returned, in pirate costumes: “Orangebeard the Pirate Captain” (with one “peg leg”) and “First Mate Odie the Stupid”. That lasagna? Stolen, via wooden sword point and peg leg, by Garfie… er, “Orangebeard”.
It’s now evening and kids are out Trick-or-Treating. Garfield is enjoying himself, Odie is scared of everything until Garfield assures him that all of the ‘creatures’ that he sees are kids in costumes (he grabs a kids mask and moves it off of a kid, before letting it snap back into place). This leads to one of the more well known Garfield songs, “Scaredy Cat”(Lou Rawls sings).
Methinks that the 3 encounters in “Scaredy Cat” did little to cure Odie’s unease.
The duo gains bags full of candy – with Felony Earner Garfield pulling ANOTHER sword on someone, this time a woman – but decide to make another stop: across the river. Garfield has a brief “greed” crisis but rapidly gets over it; it IS Garfield, after all. They find a conveniently placed boat and cross the river. Let me rephrase that: they float way down the river, before finally crossing the river and landing at a rickety dock.
At the end of the road from the dock, there was a very spooky-looking house, complete with complimentary lightning and thunder.
TIME TO INVESTIGATE!
Here is another instance where the background scenery is not well-drawn but the foreground and character animation are excellent.
Garfield and Odie walk up to the porch; Garfield wants to make a dramatic entrance (by kicking the door open) but it backfired (he nearly broke his foot). Using the more subtle approach (they slowly, creakily, opened the door), they entered upon a large, sparse living room. There was a fire going in the fireplace, with a recliner facing the fire. As they circled around to the front, Garfield and Odie see an old man sitting in the chair.
An old, creepy man.
He tells the duo that the house is haunted: 100 years ago, a group of pirates, chased by authorities, hid at the house. They buried a ton of gold and treasure and vowed to return for the gold, even after death; they signed the vow in blood. Spooked but unconvinced, Garfield and Odie started to leave when the man told them that the story was true:
He was the Cabin Boy on the Pirate Ship. [/thunder and lightning]
When they turned around to tell the man that they weren’t going to disturb him any longer, the man was gone.
So was their boat.
And the candy.
Midnight strikes on the giant grandfather clock. Garfield and Odie see a glow on the horizon. A Ghost Pirate ship.
On the surface of the river, bubbles form and the forms of 3 pirates materialize. Garfield and Odie smartly run… but back into the house. They hide in a small cupboard as the pirates come into the house. They enter the floor through cracks and pop open floor boards. A large treasure chest floats up and lands on the unbroken floor; the top opened and was loaded with gold.
The story was true!
So was the danger that Garfield and Odie were in.
Odie fell victim to the very classic trope(?) of “Giving Away Your Position With An Ill-Timed Sneeze”. Pirate Ghosts alerted.
There’s a mad dash out of the house: Garfield and Odie, running towards the dock, and the Pirate Ghosts, in hot pursuit. They (the living) dive into the water, avoiding capture by the dead. However, Garfield forgot that he can’t swim; understandable, in that instance – I’m pretty sure that I would “forget” that I couldn’t swim, if being chased by Pirate Ghosts. Or Pirates. Or Ghosts. Anyhow, Odie pulls Garfield back to the surface and this time, they cross the river, back to their own side. Garfield is grateful for the live-saving.
They trudge towards home, Garfield lamenting how the night went, when Odie excitedly starts jumping up and down. Their boat – complete with their candy – is a few feet ahead, on the shoreline. The journey home just got a lot easier!
They arrive home, where Garfield makes “the ultimate sacrifice”: since Odie saved his life more than once, he gets half of the candy. Odie bounds off, after licking Garfield. An exhausted but wired Garfield turns on the T.V.:
Wiredness GONE. Garfield decides that it’s time to call it a night and lays down, using the candy bag as a combination body pillow – comforter.
This is such a fun cartoon. You have sweet moments between Garfield and Odie (and Jon) and moments of “classic” Garfield: greed, selfishness, and bluster. I’m not always a fan of the songs in ‘Garfield’ cartoons but these didn’t interrupt the story flow too much. And it’s a rare thing when both protagonists (Garfield and Odie) and antagonists (Ghost Pirates) get what they want (candy and 100-year-old gold). A great cartoon tradition for a Halloween season!
Hope you enjoyed the recap!