It’s probably a pretty daunting task to set out and make a holiday special based on a popular comic. Let’s face it: the granddaddy of all TV specials is A Charlie Brown Christmas and it’s unfair to hold anything to the standards it sets. If you said Peanuts was the most popular comic strip of all-time, you could also argue that Garfield is the runner up. And while the two Christmas specials are more than 20 years apart, they each bring their own take on the holiday with care and special charm.
Growing up, I was a fan of the Garfield and Friends TV show. It wasn’t particularly special, but I did enjoy it. A Garfield Christmas Special takes place in the same universe, minus the U.S. Acres stories that made up the Friends aspect of the show’s title. I can’t say I ever really read the comic, but it seems as though time has been particularly unkind to the strip about a fat cat that loves lasagna, to the point that it has become a popular meme that showcases how bland it is.
This special is kind of forgettable, though it does have certain sweet moments. As with every Christmas, John Arbuckle packs his car with presents, Garfield, and Odie and heads to his parents’ farm to celebrate the holiday with his family. John might be the most bland character every animated and his family, aside from his grandmother is no different. The grandmother steals the show and has a very wonderful moment, as she remembers her late husband and talks about how he loved Christmas. It’s interesting that, in a kid’s show like this, the special delves into the bittersweet emotions that can crop up around the holiday, especially for our older relatives. It’s a touching moment and a highlight of the special
A Garfield Christmas Special was never appointment viewing the way Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer or A Charlie Brown Christmas became in my household, but I do have fond memories of it and a Christmas completionist can spend their time in worse ways than with this one.