“Canvas Back Cat”
Season 5 Episode 8
In case you’re wondering if this cartoon still holds up after all these years, the answer is yes. Yes, it does. And the fact that there’s an episode that involves pro wrestling makes it all the better.
While Garfield and Odie are lounging on the couch, they end up watching the most mindless crap they can find on TV: pro wrestling. Before them stands the jacked-up Masked Mauler, cutting a promo inside the ring, old school style. It’s your typical over-the-top heel promo about how he’s going to demolish somebody. When asked exactly who he’s going to demolish, The Mauler has no idea except that he’s a wrestler so he’s got to have a grudge with someone! The cartoon definitely maintains the television tradition of making their special guest wrestler a masked one. Which is weird, considering there were hardly any popular masked U.S. wrestlers. Seriously, how many Americans can actually remember, or even name, The Masked Superstar, or Mr. Wrestling? Based on TV shows alone, you’d think American wrestling was lucha libre.
Jon Arbuckle, Garfield and Odie’s owner, decides to take them out to dinner because that’s what lonely losers do, And that’s what Jon has always been. Ah, poor Jon. Had he been created during the age of the internet, this guy would be king. He’d probably have millions of followers, and even more likes on Instagram, for simply posting pics of his obese cat and stupid dog. He’d also probably find true love through an online dating site.
At the local pizza parlor, where Jon ends up going, The Masked Mauler just happens to be sitting at a nearby table with the promoter. Have to give the cartoon props for having the Mauler still dressed in his wrestling gear. It’s like one of the restaurant cutscenes out of WWE 2K14. Oh, you want to stage a scene where Daniel Bryan is having dinner at a nice restaurant with Brie Bella that will no doubt help the storyline you’re trying to create? Well, good luck suspending belief when you’re forced to use them in their wrestling gear, since street clothes don’t exist as an alternate attire. Not even for a night out on the town.
The promoter tells the Mauler that he’s shit out of luck in terms of finding opponents because, get this, he’s a straight shooter. He doesn’t follow the script. Damn, even Garfield and Friends won’t sugarcoat the fact that wrestling is fake. It goes to show you why this cartoon still holds up. They weren’t trying to bullshit little kids into thinking that wrestling was real, the way Mama’s Family did. And that show was intended for an older audience. On the other hand, the writers of Garfield and Friends are straight-up dicks for destroying the lives of wrestling-loving children everywhere.
Garfield wastes no time getting Jon into trouble by eating The Masked Mauler’s pizza. The Mauler’s opponent problem seems to be solved, while Jon’s problems, you guessed it, have just begun. The Mauler coerces Jon into a wrestling match with some clever twisting of words. Jon contemplates not only skipping town, but the entire country. By saying little to nothing, Garfield apparently “talks” Jon out of fleeing. Now, Garfield Minus Garfield clearly makes all the sense in the world. Jon is, in fact, crazy.
The match is set and the ring announcer welcomes us to the Spleen Auditorium, where Jon “Turnbuckle” Arbuckle is set to take on the Masked Mauler. Turnbuckle Arbuckle, mind you, still a better name than half of the names on the NXT roster. Garfield and Odie pig out at ringside, while Jon cuts a pre-match promo, replying to Mauler’s threats with, perhaps the greatest pro wrestling response this side of a Jumpin’ Jeff Farmer promo, “Yeah, well, w-w-w-well, same to you, fella!”
The guys makes it to the ring sans entrance music, mood lighting, or even pyro. The ring happens to have only two ropes, which immediately pisses me off for its lack of authenticity. And the damn turnbuckles aren’t even pro wrestling turnbuckles. They’re those rectangular all-in-one turnbuckles normally used for boxing rings. This ain’t New Japan Pro Wrestling. Once the bell rings, Jon immediately faints as The Mauler stalks towards him. The Mauler picks up the comatose Jon and hurls him outside, crashing onto Garfield’s bench, catapulting the chubby cat into the ring. The Mauler gives chase and Garfield literally runs circles around him.
Garfield realizes The Mauler’s allergic to him and with the help of a trusty foreign object, in the form of a blow dryer, he gets The Mauler to sneeze with such velocity that it forces the mask off of his face. Without the mask, The Mauler is nothing more than an amalgam of every stereotypical nerd from Saved by the Bell, only animated. Still don’t know if those are freckles or pimples on his face. And what’s with the big lips? Since when did that become a part of the nerd stereotype? The crowd laughs at The Mauler and sets back his many years of therapy. Isn’t it obvious the poor guy turned to steroids to stand up to all the bullying he undoubtedly endured growing up? Despite being able to kick everyone’s ass in that auditorium, The Mauler runs away, thus forfeiting the match and leaving behind a career that Garfield has unabashedly ruined.