I always regarded The Dogfather as one of the weakest series to come out of the DePatie-Freleng studio. It was the last series picked up by United Artists for theatrical release and was, in fact, the last of its kind, coming out in 1974-76 for seventeen shorts.
The cartoons are hard-to-find, rarely being shown on television. However I happened to have the very last short on 16mm. Tom Stathes transferred it to DVD for me and thus I can share the cartoon here.
Note the United Artists logo in the beginning. All DFE theatricals released after 1968 or so always had this logo right before the credits. They remained intact when they first showed up on TV syndication, but after 1983 they were either replaced by a newer, spinning UA logo or just taken out altogether. Since this print is from the original release the logo is intact, as well as the "Rated G" notice in the end.
If there was one bright spot to the otherwise dark age of animation in the '70s and '80s, it was the countless prime-time TV specials that came out. In addition to the TV specials starring the Peanuts gang, we also had the animated Dr. Seuss stories, and of course Garfield.
The first of those specials was Here Comes Garfield, broadcast by CBS on Monday, October 25, 1982 on 8:30 pm E/T. Above is a TV promo from the original airing. Below is a reprint of a newspaper article about the special, printed in The Victoria (TX) Advocate on September 26, 1982.
Garfield's On the Move
United Features Syndicate
Garfield, the cat who prowls through the comics page of some 1,100 newspapers daily and Sunday, including The Victoria Advocate, is extending his territory to television with the airing on his first half-hour, prime time, animated special over CBS.
The show is tentatively scheduled to air during the week beginning Oct. 24.
Born on the drawing board of cartoonist Jim Davis in Muncie, Ind., Garfield began his spectacular scamper through the comics in 1978. Now, in a mere handful of years, he is a legend in his own time and is assured of comics page immortality through the United Feature Syndicate strip. (Jim Davis is the 1982 Reuben Award winner for this year's Best Humor Strip.)
First of the Big Three of Comicdom's cats was George Herriman's Krazy Kat, the gentle creature plagued through a long life (1913-1944) by Ignatz, the brick-throwing mouse, and championed by Officer Pupp. Though the strip never attained immense circulation, a Kat Kult grew up around Krazy that exists to this day.
Felix the Cat took the reverse route to his destiny: He first appeared in animated cartoons, decades before TV. The creation of Australian-born Pat Sullivan, Felix moved to the comics pages in the mid-'20s.
But, paws-down, Garfield is THE cat on the block by any measure.
He has been called "fat, lazy and cynical." Time magazine has said Garfield is "...born thorny and funny, a rogue who somehow never crosses the line into villainy."
Jim Davis, Garfield's creator, credits Garfield's appeal to the strength of the tawny terror's personality. "He makes us feel better about things we have guilt complexes about." says Davis. "Like overeating, oversleeping and not exercising."
Garfield's comics strip world is inhabited by his owner, cartoonist Jon Arbuckle, Jon's slightly flaky roommate, Lyman, and Lyman's scoungy dog, Odie. Odie and Garfield share a precarious, hilarious relationship. And then there's Pookie, Garfield's Teddy bear; Nermal, "world's cutest kitten"; and Arlene, the gap-toothed feline who must be seen to be believed. How many of these characters will we see in Garfield's special on TV? Garfield's not telling. Tune-in and see.
To being Garfield to life on the small screen, Lorenzo Music, renowned but unseen as the voice of Carlton the Doorman, will be Garfield's voive. Recording star Lou Rawls is the lead vocalist for the show. He'll sing "Here Comes Garfield," and also "Long About Midnight," a comment on our hero's late-night snacks.
The sound track is an essential part of "Here Comes Garfield," underscoring much of the animation. The music has been composed by Desiree Goyette and Ed Bogas, and one other song, "So Long Old Friend," was written, and will be sung, by composer Goyette.
To put a television special together requires an immense amount of talent and labor, and Garfield believes firmly in the division-of-work principle. Humans do the work; cats take care of the work breaks. (Garfield slurps coffee and devours lasagna snacks while the humans labor.)
Jay Poynor, the vice president and executive producer of United Media Productions Inc., is executive producer of "Here Comes Garfield."
With the CGI movie coming out, I thought I'd revisit the 1972 adaptation of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, produced by DePatie-Freleng.
I consider this to be the best Seuss special from DFE. The voice acting (primarily by Bob Holt) is top-notch, the design work from Maurice Noble is superb, and the direction from Hawley Pratt does justice to the book. Executive producer David H. DePatie apparently thinks so, too, saying that this is one of his favorite TV specials to come out of the studio.