Sunday, February 3, 2019

Garfield on the Town (1983)

This is the only Garfield special I have some kind of nostalgic connection to that isn't holiday-themed. One day, when I was in elementary school (I couldn't have been more than nine or ten), I was over at a cousin's house and noticed that he had the VHS. Having been watching Garfield and Friends on Cartoon Network for quite a while at that point, I decided to go ahead and pop it in, which he had no problem with. Since that show was what I was used to, the different format, art-style, and longer running time of the single story told in this special kind of threw me, particularly when the story turned out to be more serious than I expected. I don't remember exactly what my feelings about it were at the time but I have a feeling I felt it was too sappy, like a Disney movie (that was during the period when I wanted from cartoons was either laughter or action). However, I do recall enjoying some parts of it and I always remembered the one moment where Garfield's shadow runs off without him when he's confronted by the cat gang. In any case, I never saw it again until I decided to start reviewing these specials on here, and when I looked it up, I learned that it was actually the second of quite a handful of them. Rewatching it on YouTube, I was able to appreciate this special's story much more than I did as a kid and I can see why this one managed to snag an Emmy, as well as why Jim Davis has always considered this to be one of his personal favorites. In addition, while I think some of the songs are rather lacking, I feel that this one improves upon some of the snags the first special, Here Comes Garfield, ran into, such as the character designs and characterizations, the flow of the scenes, and telling a fairly serious story without getting as downbeat and sad about it as that one did.

After waking up and starting off his day by scarfing down Jon Arbuckle's breakfast when he turns his back, Garfield gets caught up in a playful chase with Odie that all but destroys the house. Irritated, Jon decides that Garfield has become hyperactive and that it's time to go to the vet. Needless to say, Garfield is not happy about this and puts up a fight on the way to the vet, eventually falling out of the car and into the street. Oblivious to this, Jon drives off and leaves Garfield. Initially, he's actually happy about this, thinking that he's free from the annoyances that come with living as a domesticated cat, but it doesn't take him long to realize that he's not cut out for life on the street. That night, he gets into a squabble with a smart-mouthed alley cat and he realizes too late that he's just antagonized the leader of a huge gang of fierce, tough felines. Running from them, he ducks into a rundown building that looks and smells familiar to him. He then meets a female cat, who reveals herself to be his mother, who he hasn't seen in years, and the place they're in is the Italian restaurant where he was born. While Jon searches for him, Garfield is introduced to his extended family, a clan of thin cats who, much to his disgust, live as "mousers" and which include his grandfather, who instantly sizes him up as being soft and thinking he's above living as a mouser. However, the gang of cats Garfield ran into, the Claws, have tracked him down and are ready to level the place in order to get their hands on him. Now, Garfield has to hope that his family won't give him up in order to save themselves and even if they don't, they still may not be pleased with him staying after the trouble he's caused for them.

Like Here Comes Garfield, Garfield on the Town was not only again directed by Phil Roman but it was also produced by Mendelson-Melendez Productions, who were behind the Peanuts specials. While Lee Mendelson would go on to be an executive producer on a number of episodes of Garfield and Friends, this would be Bill Melendez's final involvement with anything related to Garfield, as after this, Roman would create his production company, Film Roman, and produce the specials himself along with directing them. This special is also notable in that Garfield's voice actor, Lorenzo Music, co-wrote it with Jim Davis, and this is the only time he ever did that for anything related to the character.

It's amazing what a difference one special can do for a character's depiction. Here, Garfield is much more in line with the more familiar modern characterization of him (cynical, lazy, and greedy, but still a lovable and decent guy overall), as opposed to his boorish and, in some instances, downright mean-spirited personality in Here Comes Garfield. Initially using the cold floor as an excuse not to get out of bed, Garfield relents when he decides he's hungry and scarfs down Jon's breakfast when he goes to get him some catfood. As in the opening of the first special, Odie comes up behind Garfield and startles him with a bark, but here, rather than throwing something at him, the two of them get into a rambunctious chase that they're both clearly enjoying. Once they're through, they're satisfied with the destruction they've caused to Jon's house, but he isn't having it and Garfield soon finds himself on the way to the vet. He tries every way he can to prevent it, including climbing all over the inside of the car and messing with Jon's seat, and he eventually gets slid out the window when Jon turns a corner. Though he has to avoid becoming flattened by a bunch of cars on the road, once he makes it to the sidewalk, he declares himself free, not only from having to go to the vet but also with having to put with Jon and Odie. It doesn't take him long to realize that life on the streets is no picnic when compared to the one he used to have, as he gets brushed off by a couple of female cats he tries to flirt with and runs afoul of a mean gang of alley cats called the Claws. Garfield may have been bragging earlier about how fun it might have been to get into a fight and what he'd do if anybody gave him grief but even his own shadow bails on when he's confronted by the Claws, forcing him to run for his life.

On the run from the Claws, Garfield ducks into a rundown building, where he meets a female cat who turns out to be his beloved mother. This a rare instance where you get to see Garfield's warm, affectionate side, as he's elated to be reunited with his mother, and his realization that the building is the Italian restaurant where he was born, grew up, and where he acquired his love for lasagna and all things pasta-related. He's then introduced to his extended family, which is less enjoyable for him, as he's aghast to learn that they're all mousers, is ignored by his cousin Sly (to be fair, he's on guard duty at the time), learns that his brother is a sickly and delirious cat, and is chastised by his grandfather, who writes him off as soft and "too proud to work for a living." Things don't get any better for him when the Claws find out he's inside and threaten to tear the place apart if they don't hand him over. Fortunately for him, his family decides to protect him, but after the ensuing fight, which Garfield was too scared to take part in and left most of the cats battered and bruised, his grandfather asks him to leave. His mother is the one cat who takes the sting off of it, as she tells him that he would die if he stayed and that they all envy the good life that he has. Saying that they love each other (it's not often you hear Garfield tell anyone that), they go their separate ways. That night, after having not found his way home, Garfield all but gives up, lying down on the sidewalk, waiting for something to fall on him, when he sees Jon's car drive by. Desperate to get his old life, he runs after the car and is promptly taken home, with a lasagna meal in the backseat for him, and put to bed by Jon. Waking up the next morning, Garfield wonders if he possibly dreamed the whole thing, a question that's answered he catches a glimpse of his mother watching him through the window before walking back to her home. This leaves Garfield feeling happy and warm inside, as he quietly thanks his mother for everything she did for him.

Though he's a lot fatter than when she last saw him, Garfield's mother (voiced by Sandi Huge) recognizes him the minute she lays eyes on him when he ducks into the rundown restaurant. Her maternal affections for him never waned, as she's happy to have him back in her life, as well as that he remembers that they're in the very place where he was born. She proceeds to introduce him to his extended family, whose thin nature she explains as being due to tough times, and unlike her father, she doesn't look down on him for being appalled at the notion of their being mousers. When the Claws show up to take Garfield, his mother, like everyone else, decides to stand and fight rather than sacrifice him for themselves (though, it's odd that she waits for her father to make the decision, which makes me wonder if she would have gone with it had he decided to give him to the gang; kind of doubt it, though). Once the Claws have been vanquished and Garfield's grandfather tells him to leave, his mother doesn't question the decision but she does give him a much warmer sendoff, telling him that it's really for the best, as he's become far too domesticated to make it on the streets. Before they part, she promises him that she'll always be there for him if he needs her and that she loves him, which she proves by making sure that he made it home at the end of the special before heading back to the town.

Among Garfield's extended family is Sly, his cousin, who's too busy acting as a guard to say hello to him when they're introduced and whose only line of dialogue is to warn everyone about the approaching Claws; Raoul (voiced by George Wendt), his very ill brother, who makes a dumb joke when he first sees Garfield ("I've never seen one of them before. Part house, part cat. Must be one of them housecats,") and yet, despite his condition, is able to kick Garfield's fat butt through a hall in the wall and, during the fight with the Claws, he manages to fool the leader and send him flying into a couple of his cronies; and his tough, old grandfather (voiced by C. Lindsay Workman), who tells him that if he wants to stay with them, he'd better forget about the easy life he used to have and become a mouser. He looks down on Garfield so much that, when the Claws show up and demand they hand him over, he actually says, "It's tempting," but decides against it, since Garfield is family. But, after the fight, which leaves a bunch of the cats battered and bruised, his grandfather tells him that he might as well just go home, seeing as how he proved he's not cut out for this kind of life by cowering in fear while everyone else fought.

Garfield runs into the leader of the Claws (voiced by Gregg Berger) his first night on the town, when he makes the mistake of entering the gang's territory and taking an interest in the alley cat's garbage can. Garfield is content to simply leave things be but the alley cat isn't, as he proceeds to insult Garfield, calling him "puffball" and following that up with "lardball." After an intimidation contest between them, Garfield manages to send him running, but when he chases after him, he finds him back up by a lot of mean, rough-looking cats. Garfield promptly retreats, which leads to him reuniting with his mother in the rundown restaurant, but isn't long before the Claws track him down and the entire gang shows up outside of the place. The leader demands that they give Garfield up or they'll tear the place apart, but when his family decides to stick by him, the Claws leader declares it to be a rumble. It's a rumble that they ultimately lose, though, with the leader getting his butt handed to him by Raoul, of all people, and they're forced to retreat.

I haven't mentioned Jon Arbuckle (voiced by Thom Huge) and Odie (voiced by Gregg Berger) until now because their roles are very minor. Jon has the largest part in the story between the two of them, as he's the one who decides that Garfield has become too hyperactive after he and Odie destroy his house during their chase and takes him to the vet. On the way there, Jon has to put up with Garfield's anxiety over the visit, including him climbing all over the interior and playing with his seat. When they turn a corner, Garfield slips out of the open window, which Jon is apparently oblivious to until he almost reaches the vet. Getting no help or sympathy from the vet when he calls to see if anyone brought Garfield in, he puts out a Lost and Found on him, which he initially puts a lot of detail into... until he hears how much it would cost and proceeds to simplify it considerably. Later, he and Odie go out to look for Garfield and find him on the sidewalk, with Jon driving him home with a lasagna meal in the backseat, carrying him into the house, and putting him to bed, pulling the blanket over him and patting him before going to bed himself. Speaking of Odie, his major part in the story is that he's the one who spots Garfield and prompts Jon to stop. Other than that, all he does is take part in tearing up the house in the chase he and Garfield get into, as well as happily waking Garfield up the morning after he's been found. Going back to the vet, this marks the first animation appearance of Dr. Liz Wilson (voiced by Julie Payne), whom Jon would go on to attempt to date now and then. When she answers Jon's phone call about Garfield, she literally just gave a little dog a shot right in the rear and, when Jon tells her that Garfield disappeared and is afraid he could have been hit by a car, she says, "Oh, well, in that case, you don't want a pet hospital. You want a towtruck," before hanging up on him.

While Here Comes Garfield was very much a prototype for how these comic strips would be translated to animation, Garfield on the Town is sort of a middle-ground between it and the more familiar look and feel of these cartoons in a number of ways. First of all, the character designs are more refined here, with Garfield still retaining the stocky, chunky design he had before but with more finesse to it, and Odie not looking as weirdly elongated in the neck area as he did previously. Jon still has that kind of flat look to his face but what offsets that for me this time around is that we now have Thom Huge doing the voice, so it feels more in line with what I'm used to. And while the first special had some designs for the other animal characters that looked real to life, while others were more of the traditional Jim Davis style, all of the other cats here are of the latter persuasion. Secondly, not only are Garfield's jerky personality traits toned down considerably but here, although the human characters look at him as more of a cat than a little person, like they would later, he has the more familiar, anthropomorphic traits of walking and standing on two feet and would rather have human food over cat treats. Third, in going back to the subject of style and design, the look of the special is still done in that style that looks much "harder" than what you would later get when Film Roman began producing them, but it's a step in that direction. And fourth, the core of this special's story is something that's quite touching (though not as downbeat as before), whereas after this, the cartoons wouldn't be meant as anything other than silly fun with the wit that Davis is known for.

The animation is pretty standard for these specials: simple and a bit stiff, but still a notch above the stuff produced by Hanna-Barbera. There are instances of really fluid animation, most notably when Garfield and Odie are chasing each other in the opening and when Raoul is first introduced, but there's nothing on the level of Garfield's opening dance to the first special's theme song. Going back again to the subject of character designs, while the cat characters that are introduced here are definitely of that style that Jim Davis is known for, the main featured ones are not just variations on Garfield's design like those cats in the pound in the first special; they have their own unique look and feel. The best example of this is Garfield's mom. Rather than just designing her as a female version of her son, they gave her a thinner and more elegant body design, with smaller feet and a very light color to her fur, and yet, if look at them side by side, you can see that Garfield did get some of his more distinguishable features from her, such as his stripes, ears, muzzle, and fat tail with black on the tip. The same can be said of Raoul, who definitely looks nothing like his brother, being thinner and longer, with purple fur, frayed ears, and an eye that constantly stays closed. And Garfield's grandfather is so large and majestic that he looks more like a large dog than he does a cat. As for the Claws, they're definitely not cut from the same cloth as Garfield. Not only is the leader a little squirt with purple fur, one gold tooth, and a mane of hair on his head that's akin to a greaser style, but the other members of the gang have unique designs all their own. Some are tall and thin, while others are short and stocky, one has saber-teeth, another has an eye-patch, and one even looks kind of doped up!

Like Here Comes Garfield, the art style for this special starts off with what you typically associate with Garfield: bright colors, a simplistic look to the environments, and shots where there's not much detail, save for some simple foreground elements and a background that's nothing but one color. That slowly but surely starts to change after Garfield ends up stranded in town. It looks innocuous enough at first but, come nightfall, it starts to take on a more sinister vibe, as Garfield finds himself in a rundown area where the sole source of light are some street lights, where there are boarded-up windows and graffiti on the walls, and dark alleys with nasty garbage cans, making him realize that he's very much out of his element. Upon getting chased by the Claws and ducking into the rundown Italian restaurant, it initially comes off as dark and uninviting as the outside, and his mother initially scares him when she first appears, as all he can see are her eyes in the dark. Once they're reunited and he realizes that he's in the very place where he was born, it starts to come off as softer and more inviting, with shafts of light through the windows and other openings giving it something of a magical aura, and when Garfield remembers his childhood there, it's done in a manner where the edges of the frame have a sort of gloss around them. Combined with the nice song by Desiree Goyette that accompanies the scene, it evokes the warm sense of nostalgia that childhood memories often bring up. That said, you never forget that this place has seen better days, with the boarded windows, patches of wallpaper and paint missing from the walls, big holes here and there, and cobwebs strewn throughout, not to mention the malnourished and sickly look to most of the members of his family. As a result, Jon's house looks like a fancy castle by the time we finally get back to it at the end, and they emphasize how this is most definitely home for Garfield, as we get a nice wide shot of Jon driving him home, with a full moon in a lovely night sky, and a very welcoming shot of the front of the house when they arrive there.

A reason why Jim Davis says that this is one of his personal favorites of the specials is that Garfield meets his family, particularly his long lost mother. Indeed, it makes for an interesting, emotional core, in how we get to see where Garfield came from and how he developed his love for Italian food, particularly lasagna (this would be expounded a bit in one of the stories in the later special, Garfield: His 9 Lives). However, what also makes this story significant is how Garfield learns not to take things for granted. In the first special, it was his relationship with Odie, whereas here, it's the comfortable life that he has in general. Upon being stranded on the streets, Garfield initially thinks that he's rid himself of the annoyances of living as Jon's pet, which include having to be taken to the vet, but it doesn't take him long to realize that he's not at all cut out for this kind of life. As a result of his running afoul of the Claws, he unintentionally brings a lot of trouble down on his mother and extended family's heads, and he's too scared to take part in the fight that results. Because of that, and his having become too used to easy suburban life that he finds the idea of being a mouser revolting, he's advised by both his grandfather and mother to just go home, his mother adding that they all envy the nice home and easy life that he does have. After roaming the streets and getting caught in the rain, Garfield is more than happy to be taken home by Jon when he and Odie find him, as he now gets that it's where he belongs and he wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

The opening is fairly similar to Here Comes Garfield, as it begins in the morning, this time starting outside of the house and zooming in towards the window, beyond which Garfield is sleeping in his bed (in a way, this opening shot is something of a reverse of the one from that first special). Waking up with something of a start, Garfield figures he should get up, wake Jon exercise, but then decides that if the floor is cold, even in the most minute way, he's not budging. Touching it, he recoils and proclaims it to be freezing. He proceeds to close his eyes and prepare to go back to sleep, when he's spurred by the one force greater than his hatred of cold floors: hunger. In the kitchen, Jon is preparing his own breakfast, which consists of bacon, eggs, and toast, when Garfield comes bouncing along the counter, holding his bed to shield his paws from the "cold floor." When asked if he's hungry, Garfield nods and Jon pours him a bowl of catfood, only to come back and find that he's instantly scarfed down his entire breakfast. Hiccuping, Garfield says that he couldn't eat another bite, when Odie comes up behind him and barks. Not only does it startle him but Garfield happened to be using Jon's necktie to wipe his face at that moment, his reaction causing him to jerk and really tighten the tie around Jon's neck. As he struggles to loosen it, Garfield intimidates Odie off the edge of the counter and jumps down after him, as the opening credits begin, accompanied by Lou Rawls singing the song, Just Another Crazy Day, emphasizing the chaos that ensues (and which has a sound to it that's a bit similar to the theme song of Here Comes Garfield). The two pets proceed to tear the house apart in their playful chase, leaving holes in the wall from bouncing off it, knocking a lamp off a table, doing the same to jars of coffee, sugar, flour, and tea in the kitchen, and chasing each other through the hallways before ending up back on the counter in front of Jon, who finally manages to loosen his tie. The two of them sit there, with big, dumb grins on their faces, as Jon sighs and laments, "And they say pets are therapeutic."

The damage that Garfield and Odie have caused to the house becomes clear after the opening, as the camera pans across the utterly decimated living room, where everything is either smashed, ripped up, or knocked over. Odie is sitting on a chair, panting happily, when Garfield walks up and makes a precise incision on the seat. Said incision allows a spring right below Odie to launch him up into the air and crash into the ceiling, allowing Garfield to take his spot. Jon comes in and asks where Odie is and Garfield, after innocently humming, "I don't know," and looking around, looks up. Jon does so as well and sees Odie sticking out of the ceiling by his head, albeit still wagging his tail. Jon pulls him out of the hole and he jumps down on the chair next to Garfield. That's when Jon makes it clear that he's not happy about their remodeling the living room, suggesting giving them away at the supermarket, sending them to the pound, or going as far as taxidermy! Irritated that they demolish his house in exchange for his doing everything he can to provide for them, Jon says that Garfield is hyperactive and that it's time for a visit to the vet. Garfield is horrified at the prospect and has to literally be pulled out to the car, as he grabs onto the chair's arm, the outside of the front door, and is shoved through the passenger side window. As Jon drives down the road, Garfield can't sit still, climbing up and hanging upside down from the car's ceiling, grabbing onto his head and covering his eyes, forcing him to pry him off and plant him back in his seat, and then messing with the button to Jon's seat, lifting him up to the ceiling and flopping him back. Garfield then sticks his hand out the window, then his head, and pulls it back in, the fur on the back of his head now flowing out the window. Jon tells him to sit still and Garfield ultimately climbs onto the top of the seat. That's when Jon turns a corner and, while the car moves, Garfield stays where he is in midair, falling to the street.

Lying in the road, Garfield slowly but surely processes what just happened, as he watches Jon drive off without him. Before he knows it, a bunch of cars start driving by him, narrowly missing him, as he exclaims, "Hey, watch it!" and "Cat in the road! Be careful!", eventually retreating to the sidewalk, catching his breath by a street lamp. Once he does, he proclaims himself to be free of the annoyances that come with living with Jon and Odie and proceeds to strut down the sidewalk, accompanied by Rawls singing, Startin' from Scratch. Said song is all about how he's on his own now, that he's completely cool about it, and everyone else best watch out. Stopping to lean up against the wall next to an alleyway entrance, Garfield lets out a howl (or his version of a howl, as he exclaims, "Haroo!"). A purple-colored female cat walks by him and he attempts to flirt with her, only to get hit with, "Take a hike, Jack!" Surprised but not dejected, he lets out another howl, as a second female cat walks by and he asks her, "How about you and me doing something beautiful, darling?", to which she responds, "Can it, creep." Letting out a weaker howl, Garfield asks the third female cat to walk by what her sign is and said cat, who's white with really fluffy fur, tells him, "Suck air, bozo." Rawls again chimes in, describing Garfield as calm, cool, and, as he starts to shiver, "Cold," adding, "And he misses his house." Garfield proceeds to admit to both.

Come nightfall, Garfield is still wandering the streets and has found himself in a really seedy part of town. Despite being clearly freaked out by how dark it's gotten, he says he can take care of himself and that it might be fun to rumble a bit for some exercise... and then, he gets spooked, literally, by his own shadow. Calming down, he decides that he's hungry and wanders down an alleyway. Coming across a garbage can, and becoming happy to find that it's made of metal rather than cheap plastic, he prepares to dig in, only to open the lid and instantly be repulsed by the smell inside. That's when a certain purple-furred, gold-toothed alley cat pops up from behind the can and informs Garfield that said can belongs to him. Not wanting any trouble, Garfield is about to leave, when the cat tells him, "It's not that easy, puffball." That stops Garfield dead, prompting him to look back at the cat and asking him to confirm if that is what he just called him. The cat comments, "Ohh, that offends you? I'm sorry, lardball!", and Garfield decides he's not going to stand for this. The two of them get into a tense standoff, glaring at each other and showing their teeth, when the cat starts hopping up and down in an intimidating fashion that backs Garfield up a bit. Garfield then does the same and manages to intimidate the cat, only for him to come back by making some crazy faces and gestures while hopping. Garfield initially slinks away from this but he manages to give as good as he can get, backing the cat up against a wall while hopping and showing his teeth. With a loud screech (the only time I can think of where Garfield makes an actual cat sound), he sends the cat running for it in the next alleyway.

Declaring it a "piece of cake," Garfield follows the cat into the alleyway, only ti find that he's called in reinforcements: a full-on army of ferocious-looking alley cats. Despite realizing the trouble he's in, when the leader of the gang reveals his claws on at a time, Garfield tries to do the same but finds that his claws won't pop out. Looking at his shadow on the fence, he says, "Well, shadow, I guess it's just you and me. Let's take 'em," only for his shadow to bolt off by itself. He decides that's the best course of action and runs off after his shadow, the gang of screeching cats hot on his tail. His shadow runs into the garbage can from before, knocking it in his path, and he blunders into it in his flight. The gang chases him out of the alleyway, around the corner, and down the sidewalk. Turning another corner, Garfield, looking for a place to hide, ducks through an opening in a boarded-up doorway and leans up against the wall inside. The gang of cats run past the building, as he tries to catch his breath, when he takes a whiff of his surroundings. Commenting that the place has a familiar smell to it, he looks around to see that he's in some kind of rundown kitchen, only to become terrified when a pair of eyes appears in an area of darkness. Garfield sweats bullets as the eyes approach him, only for their owner to reveal herself to be a benevolent-looking female cat, and who knows who he is. Asking her if he knows her, the female cat tells him to think back, and when he does, he realizes that it's his mother. The two of them immediately start rubbing against each other and purring affectionately, his mother commenting, "My, you've gotten fat."

The next morning, Garfield is woken up by his mother, who assures him when he says that he thought he might have been dreaming that it's real, and he follows her over to the center of the room (apparently, the floor is as cold as it was at Jon's house the morning before, as he recoils and moans as he walks across it). He asks her where they are, as the familiar smells around him are driving him crazy, and she says that this used to be his home. Revealing that it was once the kitchen of an Italian restaurant, Garfield starts to remember and is able to name details of the place that are now long gone. She then points to a little bed in the corner with a raggedy blanket and tells him that's the very spot where he was born. Walking up to it and cuddling the blanket, Garfield thinks back to a time when, as a chubby kitten, he ran over to meet a chef who was carrying a tray of lasagna in his hand and rub against his legs. This resulted in the guy falling over and dropping the tray on the floor. After getting a taste of the lasagna, Garfield was immediately infatuated with the dish and proceeded to gulp it down, before heading back over to his bed, where his mom was waiting. This scene is set to the song, Home Again, by Desiree Goyette, a warm, nostalgic song that's all about how Garfield has truly come home. Coming back to the present, Garfield tells his mom that he remembers everything and she asks him to follow her. Curiously, he follows her over to a hole in the wall, which she's able to slip through easily, but him, not so much. His bloated rear end instantly gets stuck and he struggles to get through, unaware that a couple of members of the alley cat gang from the night before are watching him from outside. The two of them laugh, knowing that they've found their target.

Struggling to get free, Garfield finally pops through the hole, tearing off more of the wall in the process, and dusts himself off, commenting, "Much smaller than I remembered it." He joins his mother, who introduces him to a number of cats in the room whom she says are his family, made up mostly of cousins. After noticing how thin they are, and being appalled at the idea of them being mousers, Garfield is taken over to meet the family. They start at the window, where Garfield's cousin Sly is sitting and looking out. Garfield gets no response when he says hello and his mom explains that Sly is currently on duty as their "watch-cat." Hearing a loud, wheezing cough in a box next to him, Garfield is introduced to his brother, Raoul, who makes that "housecat" joke before lying back down to rest some more. Garfield is less enthused about this meeting, which leads into him being introduced to his grandfather, who instantly calls him soft and says that if he wants to stay there, he'd best become a mouser, as his father, great grandfather, and so on were as well. Garfield asks if any of them around and he's told they drop in from time to time, his grandfather adding that he comes from a long line of bachelors. Before the conversation can go on, Sly sounds the alarm, warning them of approaching danger. All of the cats immediately run to their battle stations and Garfield's mother tells him he'd better be prepared to fight, which he isn't too thrilled about. Raoul then motions for Garfield to join the others in the main part of the restaurant and he does, though Raoul has to kick him through the opening in the wall when he gets stuck again. There, all of the cats are looking through the boarded up windows and when Garfield asks his mother what's happening, he's told that it's the Claws. Looking through the window, Garfield sees that the Claws are the gang that he ran afoul of the night before and he starts to shake as they approach the building. His mother wonders what they want and Garfield says that he can probably guess.

This leads into the Claws' theme song, which is basically a West Side Story number with cats. There are actually two parts to the song: Lou Rawls and some backup singers do the part involving the Claws themselves, singing about how bad and tough they are (while they dance in place), while Desiree Goyette and some backups of her own handle the side of the other cats, who sing about how they're going to fight and stand their ground. (In one of the angles on the latter as they sing, you can see a cat who's basically Garfield with all of the fat taken off of him and an oversized head. And no, it's not meant to be him, as he's shown to be cowering on the floor the next time you see him.) Garfield's mother asks the leader what they want and he says, "Lardball." Initially, they don't know who he's talking about, but it doesn't take them long to fix on Garfield, with the leader confirming who he means, adding that either they give him up or they'll level the place. His grandfather is tempted to give Garfield over to them but decides to fight for him, since he's family. His mother tells the Claws that they're going to fight, which Garfield is elated about, much to Raoul's confusion. With that, the Claws leader yells, "Rumble!" and they charge into the place, crashing through the boards in the windows and doorways, and a huge fight breaks out, cats getting thrown every which way and the place literally shaking. One cat tricks a Claw into stepping on a covered part of the floor that's actually hiding a hole, while Raoul manages to distract the leader with, "Hey, isn't that Haley's Comet," and send him flying onto a couple of big Claws moving in on this one cat. As Garfield watches as he cowers on the floor, the Claws are defeated and sent packing, but it's a costly victory, as the cats have been beaten senseless and are licking their wounds. The fight over, Garfield jumps up and sheepishly says, "Hey, I guess we showed them, huh? They won't try that again. Not with this family," but his grandfather simply tells him, "Lardball, go home." With his mother unable to do anything, he leaves the place in a dejected manner, none of the cats saying anything as he does so. However, his mother tells him that he has nothing to be sorry about, that it's best if he goes home, as he wouldn't survive living with them, and that he has a good life that they envy. Before sending him on his way, she tells him she'll always be with him and that she'll be there if she needs him. After saying that they love each other, they part.

That night, Garfield is back where he was the night before: wandering the dark streets, with nowhere to go. Moaning that he's hungry, he decides that he's too tired to be hungry and then that he's too scared to be tired. Trying to whistle, and remembering that cats can't whistle, he lies down on the sidewalk, waiting for something to fall on him, commenting, "I can see the headline now: extremely good-looking cat totaled in piano crash." Wondering what more could go wrong, he gets his answer when there's a flash of lightning and it starts pouring rain, prompting him to grumble, "Nice touch." He gets splashed by a passing car, and then realizes that it's Jon's car. He proceeds to run after it, following it down the sidewalk and around a corner, but he quickly runs out of steam collapses face-first into a puddle. In Jon's car, Odie, who's riding with him, prompts him to stop. Once he does, Odie walks up to Garfield and nuzzles and licks him awake. Sitting up, Garfield brushes against Jon's legs behind him and he looks up as Jon looks down and asks, "Is that you, Garfield?" Garfield happily allows Jon to pick him up, carry him over to the car, and place him in the backseat, where a tray of lasagna is waiting for him. Jon drives him home, as a short but lovely song by Goyette called I'm Home plays, accentuating the feelings perfectly, and upon arriving, Jon carries him into the house and puts him to bed, patting him after he pulls the blanket over him.

The next morning, Odie wakes Garfield up by hopping on him and barking. Garfield grumbles, "Yes, Odie, you found me," and the dog happily scampers off. Looking at himself in a mirror and commenting how bad he looks, Garfield wonders if that experience was real or not. At first, he doesn't think so, but then, he sees a glimpse in the mirror of another cat watching him through the window behind him. Seeing it, he rushes to the window, jumps up on a small cushion there, and catches a glimpse of his mother rounding a corner at the end of the driveway. Knowing that it was real and that she kept her promise, Garfield ends the special by saying, "Thanks, Mom, for everything," as you hear a short reprise of I'm Home.

Some of the songs here are quite well-done, especially the two emotional ones sung by Goyette, but for me, most of them, while not bad, aren't the most catchy or inspiring. Just Another Crazy Day has nothing on Here Comes Garfield, Startin' From Scratch is definitely in one ear and out the other, and the song featuring the Claws and the other cats is just kind of there and doesn't get me all that excited. One thing I am grateful for, though, is that none of these sequences involving the songs goes on for too long, like that one in Here Comes Garfield. Getting to the actual music score by Goyette and Ed Bogas, it's much more memorable. It starts off with a nice, gentle flute piece for the opening where Garfield wakes up and, after the opening credits, you hear a bluesy, lone guitar bit as Jon surveys the damage that Garfield and Odie have done to his house. It gets faster and faster as Jon's irritation grows and it spirals into a chaotic, horn theme for Jon's battle to get Garfield into the car and drive him to the vet. The music that plays when Garfield is wandering the town at night isn't the best but that's not the case with his initial face-off with the leader of the Claws, which is this rather badass electric guitar theme that starts building when they're trying to intimidate each other and goes full blown during their showdown, changing in pitch from harsh to more high-pitched depending on which has the upper hand at the moment. This rocking piece continues into the section where Garfield runs into the entire gang of the Claws and gets chased by them down the street. By contrast, all of the scenes involving Garfield's mother and the place where he grew up have very warm, loving music played to them, a take on the song, Home Again, while each of the family members he's introduced has their own themes. Sly has a soft, vacant piano and flute piece, whereas Raoul has a saxophone theme and his grandfather has a militant, drumbeat that you hear before he starts deriding Garfield. That electric guitar returns for the big brawl between the Claws and Garfield's family, only to be replaced by a trumpet and piano piece for the aftermath and Garfield's basically being banished. Garfield gets a soft, melancholy kind of score when he's wandering the streets alone afterward, transitioning into a faster version of the music for his trip to the vet when he chases after Jon's car and finally, a warm horn piece that plays before and after the song, I'm Home, when he's finally found by Jon and taken home.

Garfield on the Town definitely belongs on the higher end of the scale when ranking these primetime specials, as it gets so many things right. It tells a nice, emotionally-charged story, with some truly touching scenes, in a manner that manages to be both rich and tight, introduces some characters who are just memorable and likable as our main ones, is as nice to look at as any of the others, serves an interesting halfway point between the prototypey nature of the first special and the way Garfield in animation would evolve, has some really nice pieces of music as well as a couple of well-done, heartwarming songs, and ultimately has a good moral that's not pounded into your head. Other than the other songs not being the greatest and the same going for the animation, for the most part, there's nothing to criticize about this one and it's definitely worth checking out for any fan of Garfield or good family entertainment in general.

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