Happy Birthday, Garfield is an hour long documentary special covering the 10th anniversary of Garfield. It is also the eighth Garfield television special. The only home video release of the special thus far has been on VHS.
Clips from various TV specials are shown, with an announcer mentioning Garfield’s accomplishments therefrom. The announcer then proclaims that Garfield is about to take on “his greatest challenge”- his 10th birthday party. A song cue, featuring more TV special clips, comes up, finishing with Garfield’s catchphrase “big fat hairy deal”.
The announcer mentions some parts of the 10th anniversary special, and then introduces Jim Davis (who is walking outside in Muncie, Indiana) as the host for the evening. Jim Davis greets the audience and invites them into the Paws Inc. studio. He discusses the history of Garfield (particularly the “Darwinian evolution” of the title character’s appearance), describes the main characters, and demonstrates how to draw the characters. Davis goes over the process (at the time) of producing the comic strip. Davis mentions that what he likes best about doing the comic strip is getting people to laugh, or at least smile.
Clips from an early animation segment from 1980, TV specials, and Garfield and Friends are shown throughout.
Jim Davis notes that he benefits from both Garfield merchandise and animation, as both portray the character in different dimensions. He then lets Phil Roman take over to show an example of animation being done for Garfield Goes Hollywood. Roman goes over animation topics- such as the making of storyboards via the script, character model sheets used as references for the animators, and bar sheets that assist in timing and pacing- as well as a behind the scenes look of production crew members at work. The final result is shown with a scene from Garfield Goes Hollywood.
The TV special version of Garfield: His Nine Lives is previewed with part of the Cave Cat segment. Davis then tells the audience of Garfield’s first appearance on Saturday morning TV- Garfield and Friends- which leads to a voiceover recording session featuring Lorenzo Music as Garfield, Gregg Berger as Odie, and Thom Huge as Jon Arbuckle.
Songwriters Ed Bogas and Desiree Goyette are then featured, with Davis asking them to come up with a theme song for the upcoming Babes and Bullets special in fifteen minutes (for fun). Davis provides details of the special to Bogas and Goyette to let them develop the song (which Davis notes should be bluesy). After fiddling around with the idea, the duo soon performs a demo of the song.
Several Garfield quickies from Garfield and Friends are previewed, two of which are represented during the voiceover session.
Jim Davis mentions that the Garfield comic is read worldwide in different languages. He then shows a few examples of Garfield specials dubbed in other countries, with clips of Here Comes Garfield in Spanish and Garfield Goes Hollywood in German.
Davis then talks about people involved in the comic industry, including Brad Anderson (who has provided a drawing of his character, Marmaduke, with Garfield), as well as Dik Browne (Hagar the Horrible), Mike Peters (Mother Goose and Grimm), and Lynn Johnston (For Better or For Worse), all three of whom have a conversation with Davis to trade stories and tips. Numerous other comic artists are featured at a charity event, in a montage sequence.
Davis notes that he enjoys public reaction to his character, which leads to footage of what various people have to say about Garfield.
Another Garfield quickie is shown.
Part of an episode of Garfield and Friends (Garfield's Moving Experience) is featured.
Jim Davis notes how far Garfield as gotten in the newspapers (from 41 to over 2,000 in a decade), then shows three of his favorite strips (all featuring voiceover). He then mentions the “first full-length feature film”, the now cancelled Garfield's Judgment Day, which is followed by Lou Rawls and Desiree Goyette signing a song for the film.
A montage of costumed versions of Garfield and Odie in various activities (such as golfing and hanging out at the beach) is shown, representing “the good life”. Garfield is then shown having a birthday party with Jim Davis, his then wife Carolyn, and others. Two more Garfield quickies are shown.
Davis goes over numerous artists who work on Garfield artwork and animation. “What Should I Be?” from the Halloween special is then played.
Davis, now in a hot-air balloon, concludes the special by thanking the audience and hoping to see more of them; he now plans to get a break from the fat cat. The balloon takes off, with Davis waving goodbye. A costumed Garfield then pops up from behind (“Oh no…What are you doing here?” Davis asks before shrugging and waving again). The balloon itself has Garfield’s head design.
- Jim Davis
- Phil Roman
- Ted B. Miller
- Shannon Meyer
- Lorenzo Music
- Thom Huge
- Gregg Berger
- Desiree Goyette
- Ed Bogas
- Lynn Johnston
- Dik Browne
- Mike Peters
- Bill Hoest
- Ralph Smith
- John Cullen Murphy
- John Prentice
- Bill Gallo
- Dick Hodgins
- Fred Lasswell
- Curt Swan
- Bud Sagendorf
- Johnny Hart
- Tom Armstrong
- Lou Rawls
- Jim Clements
- Dave “Doc” Davis
- Gary Barker
- Vicky Scott
- Kevin Campbell
- Larry Fentz
- Mike Fentz
- Mike Farris
- Doug Frankel
- Bob Scott
- Ralph Eggleston
- Bert (from Garfield Goes Hollywood)
- WBOR Announcer (from Garfield Goes Hollywood)
- Trainer (from Garfield Goes Hollywood)
- Fish (from Garfield Goes Hollywood)
- The announcer heard in the beginning is Gregg Berger.
- Part of the animation clip from Fantastic Funnies is featured early in the special.
- Comic strips are featured with unique voiceover from Lorenzo Music, Thom Huge, and Gregg Berger.
- Garfield and Friends, then unreleased, is featured in preview clips, consisting of Quickies and parts of episodes.
- The background music and sound effects from the Garfield and Friends clips tend to be different from what appeared in the final versions.
- Desiree Goyette and Lou Rawls signing the Garfield's Judgment Day song appears to be the only known release of anything from the cancelled film.
- The version of Here Comes Garfield played during the “living the good life” montage is from the TV special. Sounds of Garfield yawning from the special are intact.
- What Should I Be? (instrumental version; original version from Garfield's Halloween Adventure)
- The Wizard of Love (from Garfield Goes Hollywood)
- We Got It Good, And That Ain’t Bad (sung by Lou Rawls and Desiree Goyette; from Garfield's Judgment Day)
- Here Comes Garfield (sung by Lou Rawls; from Here Comes Garfield)
- What Should I Be? (from Garfield's Halloween Adventure)
- Here Comes Garfield (instrumental version) – featured during the end credits