It's here, it's here! Halloween has arrived, and with it, boatloads of candy and plenty of excuses for people to dress like zombies. I bought a bag of fun-sized Snickers to hand out to all the little beggars, but the move proved to be a mistake since Snickers are my favorite candy. Now all the kids will get are my haunted discarded wrappers. If they hang around long enough I may regurgitate some of the candy into their treat bags, because I don't want to gain thirty pounds merely because the grocery store was having a two-for-one special.
Perhaps the greatest thing about the holiday are all the opportunities to watch scary movies and spooky television specials. I might be too old to go knock on my neighbor's door dressed like Frankenstein, screaming 'I GOT NO BRAINS SO FILL ME HEAD WITH TOOTSIE ROLLS', but you're never too old to watch television. Hell, when you get older, that's about all you'll do. I grew up cherishing those wonderful nights where the networks would show all the classic Halloween cartoon specials. For me, those nights were always an event. They still are today, but those dastardly networks rarely go through the trouble anymore.
I'm not really sure why that is - I'd hate to think that every network out there is so competitive that they wouldn't want to uphold a terrific holiday tradition just because their Nielsen ratings might slip a few points for one night out of the year. I've always lived under the assumption that holiday specials were forever. I picture myself as an eighty-year-old keeled over in a rocking chair watching Charlie Brown while hacking up blood and pissing myself. It's one of my happiest daydreams, and I don't want to see it soiled just because television's head honchos can't see the merits in prime time animated story glory. Screw that! Since you probably aren't gonna have a chance to see it on tv this year, I'll do it myself and hope that's enough.
Garfield's Halloween Adventure was my second favorite spooky special. You can probably guess my first, but if ya can't, just check back here tomorrow. It's a story about the world's funniest cat dressing up as the world's stupidest pirate and going out to collect the world's sweetest candy. It's a Very Special X-E Review. It's Halloween!
If by some strange chance you've never heard of Garfield, let me explain the legend. He's a cat who thinks aloud, likes lasagna, and apparently was the source of most of Carrot Top's material. The success of the comic strip wasn't so much because Garfield was a cute cat, but moreover because he's supposed to represent the zillions of fat, lazy Americans who were just screaming for a leader. He's awakened from the day's first of many naps by a screaming clown named Binky on the television set. Before scratching or shitting on the tv set in protest of the interruption, Binky relays a message that Garfield finds most interesting: today is Halloween, and all the free candy in the world is his for the taking.
Garfield thanks that big cat in the sky for being able to interpret English - now he knows why all these kids are dressing up like idiots year after year. Free candy! Free Twix! Free Kit Kats! Free pennies! Course, the people who hand out pennies tend to end up with the most shaving cream and egg yolks on their cars.
That morning, our heroic cat practices his oogly woogly face on Jon, his master and dictator. Jon's an interesting character. He has no friends, only talks to a dog and cat, and hasn't changed his clothes in 26 years. His eyes are also roughly the size of an ape's torso. He and Garfield engage in conversation regularly, but it's sort of limited since Jon can't hear the cat's psychic talk. They seem to manage just fine, but I think the relationship is some sort of anomaly, because whenever I try talking to my cats, their only response is an attempt to eat my shoelaces. Jon knows he has a magical cat, so he gives his blessing for Garfield to go out trick or treating.
He enlists the help of Odie, the only dog in the world who enters a room accompanied by his own theme music. I don't have an audio clip, but it goes something like this: duh nuh nuh nah, nuh nah, nuh nah, nah nuhhhhh. Make a note of it. Garfield typically doesn't enjoy Odie's company, because he's got this huge ass tongue and he's not afraid to use it. Cats clean their own asses and they don't like others invading on their personal space. Still, he sees the merits in sharing the Halloween activities with Odie: two trick-or-treaters equals twice the candy! It's been said that dogs die if they eat chocolate. Garfield considers this an extra bonus.
Personally, I've had dogs who ate chocolate without dying. Then again, I did try to kill them after seeing said chocolate digested and crapped out on the kitchen table. It wasn't so much that the dog shit out the chocolate in the house - I was pissed more because it went through all the trouble of climbing on the coffee table to do it first. I didn't think Odie would lead to a paragraph about dog shit, but in retrospect, the progression there is fairly natural.
The animals head up to Jon's attic, where he's stockpiled loads of old costumes in a big trunk. I don't think there's been a television program continuity in history where the homeowners didn't have a trunk full of disguises in the attic. You never see a bathroom in these places, but fuck me if the trunk isn't always there like some grand celestial entity.
Garfield tries on an array of outfits, from kings to vampires, all the while singing some song which admittedly went in one of my ears and out the other, to be forgotten year after year until the day I die. I was always a big fan of this scene though - I always enjoyed how large Garfield's head grew when he dressed up like a vampire. After picking out their costumes, the duo runs back downstairs to give Jon a screening test. We never learn how they got up into the attic in the first place. I know Garfield's a special kind of cat, but c'mon, he ain't that special. THIS SHOW ISN'T LOGICAL PLEASE GO TO MY PETITION ON PETITION.ORG AND SIGN IT TO MAKE THEM REDO THIS SCENE AND ADD A CAT-SIZED CATAPULT, WHICH I CALL A CAT-APULT, THAT SENDS GARFIELD UP THERE AND FILLS IN ALL THE GAPS. Thanks!
Garfield and Odie dress up as pirates, with Gar calling himself 'Orange Beard,' and Odie 'The Stupid Dog.' It's nighttime now, and they're both ready to collect their rightful bounty. Jon tells them to have a good time, since he's owned these two for a while now and is thusly desensitized to the idea of a dog and cat going trick or treating. Personally, I just think he's the type who can't masturbate in front of anyone, even a cat. Garfield can go out and choke on some Mary Janes, Jon can stay home and choke the chicken. The only fair compromises are give and take.
I should mention that Garfield spends most of the show's duration speaking in 'Pirate Talk.' You know, stuff like 'argh me Odie, fetch thy some vanilla from the sea' and all that crap. It gets annoying after five seconds, but I loved it as a kid. I was tempted to finish up this review using Pirate Talk, but methinks you sir find yeself a wee bit tired flabbergasting that entailment after gar smidgen of slices on thee sundial. I'll bite my virtual tongue for your sake.
So they go out onto the streets, and Odie is a little scared of all the ghosts and goblins roaming the neighborhood. Garfield reassures him by singing the infamous 'I'm Not A Scaredy Cat' song - the special's primary theme. It's Lorenzo Music to my ears. The kids in Garfield's neighborhood have the stupidest costumes I've ever seen. What the Hell is that kid above supposed to be? "HI I'M OLD MAN UNDER ROYAL BLUE CLOAK, BOOOOOOOO WOO HOO HOO!" Still, I have no right to say anything. One year I wore an oily flannel shirt and eyeliner and told people I was a dead mechanic. Another year I wrote 'hello' on my forehead in magic marker and said I was 'The Walking Greeting'. All in all, Old Man Under Royal Blue Cloak would've kicked my ass in a costume contest. I just hope the prize wasn't a trophy, because good god is my mantle empty!
Candy candy candy candy candy candy. Lonely Tylenol is a palindrome.
When I was still of trick-or-treating age, I think the thrill of the candy hunt far outweighed actually eating the stuff. It was like gang warfare - groups of 4-6 kids teaming together against other groups of kids to see who could nail the best assortment, oftentimes trading information on which houses were giving out the holy blowpops, or which houses were giving out crappy boxes of raisins. It seemed that every year, one house would go the full mile and give out the trick-or-treater's Holy Grail: a popcorn ball.
Now, I don't particularly like popcorn balls. I'll eat them, but they're not something I've ever woken up in the middle of the night craving or pining for. Still, there was something about getting one of those things on Halloween that just seemed magical. Thing was, the house giving them out only had a limited supply, of course, since they were far larger than the normal giveaways and likely a lot more pricey. Our goal, each year, was to find and conquer the Popcorn Ball House. It was a subversive game of cat and mouse, the scope of the hunt far larger and far more intense than any of us kids had previously encountered. Once we had a popcorn ball in our hands, all was right with the world, and we were among the elite. If we failed, and only the other kids had popcorn balls? Well, there's a reason to stick a knife in an outlet. No sense in going on. We were beaten and bloodied and without the pristine taste of corn kernels and fermented honey.
But oh, on those years where we managed to find and attain the popcorn balls...my how bright the stars shined then. I can still taste the paper wrapper, honey-glued to the ball so hard that I had no choice to eat it as well. I'm pretty sure I saw a popcorn ball fly into Garfield's treat bag in this scene. I don't think he noticed, but once he does, I'm sure he's gonna be one happy cat. He might be so happy that the happy levels take him over, effectively splitting his body into completely separate beings, creating two happy cats. I miss popcorn balls. I really do. I mean really. Real real really. Somebody send me one. Somebody send me five.
Okay, here's where things start getting all weird and supernatural. For some reason, Garfield and Odie hop into a boat and go across the sea. I'm not sure why. I guess they were taking their pirate costumes too seriously. They end up on some island, and their boat immediately swims away without them. So now they're all stranded and stuff. There's one house that seems to be inhabited on the island, but it's real spooky looking and seems to be siphoning a whole lot of lightning. Still, without any other available recourse, they go inside and hope for the best.
And it's inside that spooky house where we find the only truly frightening thing in Garfield's Halloween Adventure: the creepy old man from hell!
Now put yourself in a six-year-old's shoes, as I so often do. C'mon, you know you'd be scared of that. Old men are scary in general - I'm 23 now and I still can't look at one without wishing he was younger and thus less scary. But when you're a kid and the old man is as menacing as the guy above, well, toothpaste don't you put the squeeze on me! The crazy old guy starts telling Garfield and Odie a story about pirate ghosts who haunt the island looking for lost treasure. I don't think it's wrong for me to call the old guy 'scary,' because after all, he's telling this chilling tale to a dog and a cat. Just as suddenly as he appeared, the (crazy) old man vanishes into the night.
Sure enough, the ghosts appear and scare the shit out of our heroes. They used to scare the shit out of me, too. They had this neat glowing effect which seemed really cool back in a time where cartoons were far more basic, making them appear way more spooky than they would if they were painted, I dunno, forest green.
Fortunately, the pirate ghosts find their treasure, and choose to leave the animals alone. Even better, Garfield's boat has mysteriously returned with the treat bags full of candy intact. Triple super mega happy ending here, folks. We're not quite done yet, though. After the long sail back to Jon's house, an amazingly tough feat considering that a cat had to row that boat, the two have a chance to reflect on the night's activities....
Garfield knows it's abnormal for him to do so, but in the spirit of Halloween, he hands Odie his share of the candy. Odie thanks him by slobbering all over his face approximately forty times in probably the only instance of an acceptable repeated animation sequence. The cat, the dog, and the Jon all go to sleep with sugar plums in their head or some shit. It's been a fantastically adventurous and satisfying Halloween for everyone involved. It's also one of your best ways to spend thirty minutes this season.
Overall: I guess you wouldn't like the show all that much unless you grew up watching it like myself. I really hope the television networks get a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Be or something so they get into the spirit of things again. If I ever have kids, I'd hate to bring them up in a world where they couldn't spend a Thursday night near Halloween watching an orange cat fit himself with a wooden pegleg.