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No. 2098: Mixed Reception

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Mixed Reception

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Strip by: Edwin Chee

{Garfield, Odie and Jon watch TV. Garfield and Odie are on the chair, with Jon leaning forward on the chair from behind standing}
{Garfield looks at Odie and signals a thumb up, while Odie looks at Garfield and signals a thumb down. Jon glanced at them}
{Garfield and Odie resumes the position}
Jon: Addams Family Values.

The author writes:

I bet if I don't reveal what goes into this idea (and why I picked this piece of dialogue), it will take a very long time to figure out. If you don't want to be spoiled, please stop at this paragraph. If you think you figured out, you could compare what you get with the origins of the idea. If not, you could still look at it if you are curious to know. By the way... missing floor in the first panel! It's another example where writing transcripts will make you notice things you wouldn't normally see. (Here's your chance to submit the original with fixed flooring!)

So, when I looked at Garfield and Odie doing this, I immediately thought of Siskel and Ebert, even though I am not exposed to movie critics like them, considering I live outside of America. That doesn't stop me from knowing about them from the internet, so I immediately got the reference while glancing through this comic.

Initially, I wanted to have Jon say what show they're watching based on what the Siskel and Ebert show were called at that time (during 1993, it's called "Siskel & Ebert"), but it would have been an obvious punchline, so I decided on something more obscure based on whatever details I could get from this comic. Firstly, the signals. I think of Odie as Siskel and Garfield as Ebert. The next part is to check a movie where Siskel gave a thumbs down and Ebert gave a thumbs up. It was a bit challenging to search for this, since information wasn't readily available, but that didn't take long to find. Finally, the date. The next challenge is to find a movie that was close to or on the day this comic is published. Luckily, references like this one and this one provided the answer, and it's good timing since that show aired on Saturday. Perhaps the creators were aiming to publish this strip on Saturday, the same day that show aired. With that, the answer was in plain sight: the movie where Siskel thumbed-down and Ebert thumbed-up was Addams Family Values, shown in the Siskel & Ebert show on 20th November 1993 (same day the original was published).

This edit may be simple, but I am proud of the result since several tidbits are well-timed to make this reference an accurate portrayal. Perhaps this is one way Jim Davis avoids contemporary culture, but with the want to make a reference to it.

Original strip: 1993-11-20.