Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Nostalgia Bomb! - Garfield's Halloween Adventure

What was it?

Garfield's Halloween Adventure was the fourth Garfield television special directed and produced by Phil Roman and written by creator Jim Davis. It was the second Garfield program created by the Film Roman company after Garfield in the Rough. The previous two specials, Here Comes Garfield and Garfield on the Town, were developed by Peanuts TV special producers Mendelson-Melendez.

The show featured the usual cast of Lorenzo Music as Garfield and Gregg Berger as Odie, with a brief appearance of Thom Huge as John Arbuckle, and included C. Lindsay Workman in the role of the Old Man. The music was handled by the usual writing team of Ed Bogas and Desirée Goyette and performed by velvet crooner Lou Rawls.

This time around Garfield convinces Odie to go trick-or-treating with him, a ploy to help the devilish orange cat garnish twice as much candy, candy, candy! But his greed leads him to a brush up with more than just kids in spooky costumes!

When was it available?

The Halloween special first aired on October 30th, 1985 and was followed promptly by an airing of It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, which was typical of CBS during this era. I can confirm for certain that it ran up until 1989 and I'm sure it was played for many years after that, but I don't know when the special officially stopped airing on CBS. It's likely it ceased to be shown in 2000, which was the year that A Garfield Christmas was last seen on live television.

It was released individually on VHS in 1992 and later on DVD in 2004 with specials A Garfield Christmas and Garfield's Thanksgiving. It was later released again on DVD in 2014. This release had the same specials listed in the 2004 disc, but included Garfield on the Town and Garfield in Paradise. It also has a new individual DVD release from 2018.

Image result for garfield's halloween adventure dvd

What about today?

You can stream Garfield's Halloween Adventure on Amazon Prime, which inexplicably has it listed as available since 1996. It's also on iTunes and probably any other streaming service you can think of. The easiest place to watch it, however is on YouTube. You won't get quite the same visual fidelity, although I'm sure it can't be that far off, but one thing you can get on YouTube is an airing of the show with it's original commercials intact!

As is always the case with YouTube links, I can't attest to how long this one will be live, but there are several versions of it floating around.

Oh, and there's that 2018 DVD!

Why do I remember it?

Garfield's Halloween Adventure was required viewing for any Halloween celebrations when I was a kid. I mean, it aired in conjunction with It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown every year! That's high marks.

I wrote about A Garfield Christmas last year, so I knew I had to give the Halloween special the same treatment, but the story is pretty much the same here. Inexplicably, CBS just dropped this show off it's Halloween specials list and it suddenly became difficult or expensive to find on home video.

Luckily, nowadays, it isn't difficult to get your hands on a copy of Garfield's Halloween Adventure, but why the Charlie Brown specials still air and not these is mind-boggling.

One thing I will say about Garfield's Halloween Adventure is that it is legit scary for kids. I believe Jim Davis has said in interviews that they sought to make it something that would genuinely frighten children and they certainly succeeded. Even for this 30-something grown man there is some creepy stuff to be found in this special.

From the monstrous trick-or-treaters Garfield and Odie encounter, to the Old Man covered in warts telling his ghostly tale, and finally the pirate ghosts searching for their hidden treasure, this isn't a light-hearted affair. I considered letting my five year old watch it this year, but decided against giving him those nightmares just yet (although I'm certain I would've watch it at that age).

Image result for garfield in disguise

As was usually the case with Garfield specials, the music here is on-point. I personally prefer the songs in A Garfield Christmas, but that's not to slight the great Halloween-y tunes present in this show. Lou Rawls' voice is perfectly deep to deliver these tracks and I'm glad that they really leaned into the spooky mood.

The TV special was adapted by Jim Davis into a book that was published in 1987 under the title Garfield in Disguise, which was also the working title of the TV special. The story is pretty much the same, but with some slight changes and a different ending tacked on. In the book, Garfield steals a pirate's treasure ring and the ghostly spooks chase after he and Odie until they return it. It was apparently story-boarded and considered for the TV show, as well, but was ultimately dropped, likely to make the 24-minute run-time required for a half hour slot.

I can't let October slide by without taking in Garfield's Halloween Adventure. I hope someday that it makes it back to broadcast television, but regardless it will always be a blast from my past!

Hope you enjoyed,