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Smurfs on DVD: Season 1, Volume 1 • Season 1, Volume 2 • A Magical Adventure

The Smurfs: Season One, Volume Two DVD Review

Buy The Smurfs: Season 1, Volume 2 DVD from Amazon.com Smurfs: Season 1, Volume 2 (1981)
Show & DVD Details

Creator: Peyo / Executive Producers: Joseph Barbera, William Hanna /
Producer: Gerard Baldwin / Story Editors: Len Janson, Chuck Menville

Story: Gene Ayres, Creighton Barnes, Patsy Cameron, Len Janson, Glenn Leopold, Chuck Menville, Frances Novier, Ted Pederson, Duane Poole, J. Michael Reaves, Cliff Roberts, Tom Swale, David Villaire, Marc Scott Zicree / Concepts: Peyo, Yvan Delporte

Supervising Director: Ray Patterson / Directors: George Gordon, Bob Hathcock, Carl Urbano, Rudy Zamora / Assistant Directors: Bob Goe, Terry Harrison

Voice Cast: Don Messick (Papa Smurf, Azrael), Paul Winchell (Gargamel), Michael Bell (Grouchy Smurf, Lazy Smurf, Handy Smurf), Lucille Bliss (Smurfette), Bill Callaway (Clumsy Smurf), Hamilton Camp (Greedy Smurf, Harmony Smurf), Danny Goldman (Brainy Smurf), June Foray (Jokey Smurf), Frank Welker (Hefty Smurf), Alan Oppenheimer (Vanity Smurf), Paul Kirby (Narrator), Lennie Weinrib (Bigmouth), Janet Waldo (Hogatha) / Additional Voices: Walker Edmiston, Dick Erdman, Ken Mars, John Stephenson, Fred Travalena

Running Time: 319 Minutes (20 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated (TV-Y equivalent)
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio), Dolby Digital Mono 1.0 (English)
Subtitles: English (for Hearing Impaired); Closed Captioned, Extras Subtitled
Original Airdates: October 10 - December 5, 1981
Suggested Retail Price: $26.98 / DVD Release Date: October 7, 2008
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s)
Slim four-sided Digipak with embossed cardboard slipcover

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By Kelvin Cedeno

Perhaps it's a personal bias, but animated television seemed to be a greater part of pop culture in the 1980s than any other decade. Shows like "Care Bears", "Strawberry Shortcake", and "Transformers" were wildly successful
and were just as well-known for their merchandising as they were for their content. Another such series is "The Smurfs". Actually starting out in 1950s Belgian comics, the simple blue characters became North American icons in the early 1980s thanks to Hanna-Barbera's hit program. While the fervor has simmered down quite a bit since then, children nowadays who've never even seen a single episode still know what a Smurf is, proving how ingrained these characters are into pop culture.

"Smurfs" deals with small blue creatures that live in an isolated village in the forest. They look similar, if not identical, to each other with the exception of their leader Papa Smurf and lone female Smurfette. Several key members have distinctive personalities that tie into their names, such the know-it-all Brainy or the tough Hefty. The evil wizard Gargamel and his pet cat Azrael are the central villains of the series, determined to destroy every last Smurf in existence. Other characters such as the dim-witted giant Bigmouth and the scheming witch Hogatha also seek to demolish the village and its inhabitants.

Papa Smurfs and the others can’t help but crave the gold coins found in Greedy's tree. The "Spelunking Smurfs" attempt to bring home some of their spoils, but not before Gargamel and Azrael confront them first.

Perhaps the most notable thing when one watches "Smurfs" is how gentle and relaxed it is. Other programs that have reached such a renowned status tend to be flashy and hyperactive. This show, however, is very simple and low-key. That's not to say it's ever boring, for there's quite a bit of action and adventure to be had. These elements are presented in a very straightforward manner that doesn't reek of desperation the way many cartoon shows have.
It helps that the plots aren't formulaic. Each one is diverse, and the concept of Gargamel trying to locate and terrorize the village is kept restrained. Running gags such as Jokey's "surprise" gifts or Grouchy's hatred of everything do admittedly wear thin after a while, but it stands to reason that the producers weren't anticipating people watching several episodes back to back.

Freedom is found in the fact that having so many Smurfs opens up a wealth of possibilities. Each character is essentially summed up by one characteristic. Grouchy is the irritable one, Lazy the slothful one, Handy the constructive one, Smurfette the girly one, and so on. This should pose a concern since character development is vital in keeping an ongoing series fresh. Instead, the creators use the myriad of characters and their simplistic natures to their advantage. With so many characters to juggle, there's no room to truly get to know them. That makes their one-note personalities more acceptable as we see them all in small doses, and their quirks propel the stories forward.

In "Sir Hefty", the Smurfs break their no human rule when a supposed Sir Lancelot arrives to slay their dragon. The mysterious new addition to the clan has trouble fitting in, perhaps because it’s actually "The Fake Smurf."

The show is not without its share of flaws. In true Hanna-Barbera fashion, many of the line readings are rather stilted, and recycled animation is easy to spot. Somehow, these shortcomings only add to "The Smurfs"' charm as opposed to hindering it. There's enough variety onboard to ensure that each audience member gleams something different from the experience. Timeless and earnest, it's a program that works as well as today as it did in the 1980s.

This Season One • Volume Two set finishes off the first season for "The Smurfs," and one can't help but wonder why distributor Warner Home Video didn't simply create a four-disc set in one package instead of two separate two-disc volumes. Other than squeezing out more profit, the only logical reason would be to see how well the first volume sold before moving on. If that's the case, then perhaps other seasons will each be given their own set. Short synopses of this volume's 20 episodes follow. Note that they seem to be placed in production order rather than broadcast order.

Papa Smurf and the others are baffled as to how an egg of such proportion landed in their village. The mischievous imp conveniently waits till after Smurfette puts on his magic dancing shoes to tell her how much they cost. Smurfette berates the baby smurf for playing with potions, not realizing who he actually is. (It's Gargamel!)

Disc 1

The Magic Egg (13:30) (Originally aired October 10, 1981)
When a magic egg that grants wishes is found, the Smurfs tear themselves apart in greed.

Smurfette's Dancing Shoes (23:44) (Originally aired December 5, 1981)
Smurfette makes a deal with an imp to become a perfect dancer, not realizing what's wanted in return.

Supersmurf (12:58) (Originally aired October 17, 1981)
Brainy steals a spell from Papa Smurf to change himself into a superhero and get the village's food supply back from Bigmouth.

The Baby Smurf (12:30) (Originally aired October 24, 1981)
Disguised as a baby Smurf, Gargamel uses a special potion to petrify the Smurfs.

The Fake Smurf (12:58) (Originally aired October 24, 1981)
Hogatha transforms herself into a Smurf, but her plans to destroy the others repeatedly backfire.

Cicero leads Lazy to the world of his dreams in "Paradise Smurfed." One of these Smurfs is not like the others. One of these Smurfs just doesn’t belong. "Sideshow Smurf" has Smurfette and Clumsy working for a task master who lives up to his name.

Paradise Smurfed (12:32) (Originally aired October 17, 1981)
Lazy dreams of a paradise where he never has to work, but it's not what he initially expects.

Sir Hefty (23:39) (Originally aired October 24, 1981)
A dragon terrorizes the village, and Hefty seeks the help of a knight claiming to be Sir Lancelot.

The Purple Smurf (12:57) (Originally aired October 31, 1981)
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Lazy gets bitten by a purple fly and experiences both physical and mental change that affects the rest of the Smurfs.

Haunted Smurfs (12:31) (Originally aired October 31, 1981)
While searching for food for the winter, the Smurfs find themselves in a seemingly haunted castle.

Sideshow Smurf (23:39) (Originally aired October 17, 1981)
Smurfette and Clumsy get captured by a showman named Bombast who forces them to perform.

Farmer Smurf and Harmony Smurf each become a "Foul Weather Smurf" thanks to Handy’s invention. Painter and Poet seek some solitude from the rest of the village in order to stimulate their creative juices. Smurfette finds the abominable snowbeast to be fairly hospitable.

Disc 2

The Magnifying Mixture (12:59) (Originally aired November 7, 1981)
Hefty is accidentally turned into a giant by Brainy, which causes more than a few problems for the village.

Foul Weather Smurf (12:31) (Originally aired November 7, 1981)
Handy creates a machine that can control the weather, but its abuse by the other Smurfs brings about pandemonium.

Painter and Poet (23:42) (Originally aired October 31, 1981)
The titular two feel their talents are underappreciated, so they leave the leave the village in search of inspiration.

The Abominable Snowbeast (12:59) (Originally aired November 14, 1981)
While searching for the flower pollen that can mend Papa Smurf's broken leg, the Smurfs run into an unexpected obstacle.

Gargamel, the Generous (12:31) (Originally aired November 14, 1981)
Gargamel stages various good deeds in order to gain the Smurfs' trust and steal their newly-discovered diamonds.

Papa Smurf is wary of the ball taking Greedy's place on the bed in "Now You Smurf 'Em, Now You Don't." Brainy, Hefty, and Smurfette engage in some late night dancing with a not-so-Papa Smurf after he’s tasted from "The Fountain of Smurf." The young, mistreated prince marvels at "The Clockwork Smurf" created by Handy.

Now You Smurf 'Em, Now You Don't (12:58) (Originally aired November 21, 1981)
Smurfs begin to vanish one by one when they touch a mysterious crystal ball that reveals their desires.

The Fountain of Smurf (22:45) (Originally aired November 7, 1981)
Smurfs 12-Inch Plush Smurfs Smurfette 12-Inch Plush
Smurfs Papa Smurf 12-Inch Plush Harry Potter Kreacher Doll
The Smurfs have to seek out the unlikely help of Gargamel to bring Papa Smurf back to normal after he becomes a Smurfling.

Spelunking Smurfs (12:58) (Originally aired November 21, 1981)
A cavern with frozen food is discovered by the Smurfs, but they come across a startling guardian, as well.

The Clockwork Smurf (22:10) (Originally aired November 28, 1981)
Handy's robotic Smurf creation gains popularity when it saves a prince from his wicked aunt.

The Smurfs and the Money Tree (12:31) (Originally aired December 5, 1981)
In Greedy's yard, Gargamel's mother plants a tree whose contents attract the entire village.

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Supersmurf! This would be one of the rare cases where removal of the glasses really would result in ambiguity. Despite the abundance in mushrooms, Hefty has found another way to increase his size via "The Magnifying Mixture."

VIDEO and AUDIO

"The Smurfs": Season One • Volume Two comes to DVD in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio of its original broadcast. While not great, the transfers satisfy on the whole.
Colors are the strongest aspect and are consistently bright without blooming or bleeding. Sharpness is crisp but doesn't appear artificially so. Intrusions such as speckles and hairs are the main concern as they pop up frequently. Most of these seem to be source-related, though, as other budgetary deficiencies crop up such as stray cel paint. Either way, the show looks better than most other programs of the era that have made it to DVD, and is certainly better than its broadcasts.

There's less to discuss regarding the Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track. It understandably is a front-heavy affair. Speech sounds decent enough, albeit somewhat muffled. While the score and sound effects are slightly more lively, they're still hollow. It's a serviceable track, but not much more than that due to the recording limitations.

Candace Cameron Bure wonders why Smurfs walk around shirtless in "I Smurf the Smurfs." Farmer Smurf looks over the episode listing for Disc Two.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, DESIGN and PACKAGING

The sole feature on this release is a featurette entitled "I Smurf the Smurfs" (16:40).
Many interviewees reflect on the show and offer their opinions on matters ranging from the grammatical use of the word "smurf" to what exactly is found under a Smurf's hat. Familiar television faces such as Candace Cameron Bure ("Full House"), Catherine Hicks ("7th Heaven"), and JoMarie Payton ("Family Matters") are among the participants. Cast and crew members, including Lucille Bliss and June Foray, also weigh in their thoughts from both a personal and professional perspective. While this can't substitute for a true behind-the-scenes featurette, some interesting information is shared, and one would be hard-pressed not to find the opinions of those interviewed entertaining.

Disc One opens with another entry in WB's anti-piracy ad campaign using classic films, this time exploiting The Wizard of Oz. Disc Two contains a Trailers section with ads for the Peanuts Holiday Collection, Scooby-Doo and the Goblin King, Classic Christmas Favorites, "The Wiggles", and Scooby-Doo DVD Game: Funland of Freaky Frights.

The oddly anamorphic menus replicate those found on the Volume One release. All of them are static and seem to feature line art done specifically for these menus. The only one accompanied by sound is the main menu, which features the famous version of the "Smurfs" theme that appeared in later seasons.

Smurfette and Greedy create their own snowsmurf before becoming "Haunted Smurfs." Peace out from Gargamel the Generous!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

"The Smurfs" holds up well in the face of a more cynical generation. While there are rough edges to be found, its original stories and bright characters keep a consistent level of entertainment. This Season One - Volume Two release has above average video and limited audio, but both present the series in its best format to date. While the sole bonus feature is fluffy, it entertains, and with so many other seasons on the horizons, there's plenty of time for meatier supplements. This DVD earns a recommendation to both current fans of "The Smurfs" as well as those who feel nostalgic and wish to revisit their childhood.

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Reviewed October 11, 2008.



Text copyright 2008 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1981 Hanna-Barbera and 2008 Warner Home Video. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.