Garfield and Friends Volume Three

In volume three of CBS's 1987 to 1994 Saturday morning mainstay, Garfield and Friends, naps are taken, Lasagne is eaten and sunspots are avidly sought. Lead writer Mark Evainer rarely departs from the tried-and-true Jim Davis formula that made Garfield at one time the world's most widely syndicated daily comic strip and a suction-cupped plush fixture in the rear windows of station wagons everywhere. Odie the mutt plays the good-willed fool, the contemptibly adorable Nermal is now and then mailed to Abu Dhabi and Garfield's hapless owner, Jon Arbuckle, remains a sexually frustrated cartoonist who spends remarkably little time cartooning. The animated comedy here is sometimes surprisingly unanimated, more often situational than slapstick, and the pacing is slow by the standards of children's programming then or now. But therein lies much of the show's lasting charm. The rest can be attributed to the drowsy baritone of Lorenzo Music, the animation workhorse who voices the lead role, and who you might recognise as the voice of the Bill Murray character, Peter Venkman, in The Real Ghostbusters cartoon of the same era. Murray, the voice of Garfield in the 2004 live-action/computer animation flop, clearly adopted Music's delivery for that role in a performance that uncannily amounted to Murray doing Music doing Murray. The "Friends" of the series title are the barnyard critters of U.S. Acres, or Orson's Farm, as it was known when broadcast internationally. While Garfield, Jon, and Odie stick for the most part to the quotidian, Orson Pig, Wade Duck and Roy Rooster venture far more often into the fantastic, restaging familiar myths and stories ("Robin Hog," "Orson in Wonderland," "Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Wade"), and offering with "Cornfinger" an impressively faithful eight-minute adaptation of Goldfinger. Garfield, though, remains forever fixed to the car window formula: "Hey, eating and sleeping may be boring, but at least I got steady work." (Fox)