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Case Number 13252

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The Smurfs: Season One, Volume One

Warner Bros. // 1981 // 345 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // March 19th, 2008

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All Rise...

According to an online tool that tells you your Smurf name, Judge Kent Dixon is "Itty Bitty Smurf," but the rest of his family are "Sunshine Smurf," "Baby Cakes Smurf," and "Mojo Smurf," so he really shouldn't complain!

Editor's Note

Our reviews of The Smurfs: Season One, Volume Two (published October 30th, 2008), The Smurfs: True Blue Friends (published March 16th, 2009), The Smurfs: A Magical Smurf Adventure (published July 19th, 2011), The Smurfs (Blu-ray) (published November 30th, 2011), The Smurfs Holiday Celebration (published November 30th, 2011), The Smurfs: Smurfy Tales (published August 12th, 2009), and The Smurfs: World Of Wonders (published November 27th, 2009) are also available.

The Charge

Gargamel: Ooo, those goody-goody Smurfs make me sick!
Azrael the Cat: Reow-row-row-reowww!

Brainy Smurf: Is it much further, Papa Smurf?
Papa Smurf: Not much further my little smurfs.
Jokey Smurf: (different location) Is it much further, Papa Smurf?
Papa Smurf: Not much further my little smurfs.
Grouchy Smurf: (third location) Is it much further, Papa Smurf?
Papa Smurf: (exasperated) Yes…it is!

La la la-la la la,
Sing a happy song.
La la la-la la la,
Smurf your whole day long.
-The Smurfs theme song

Opening Statement

They're small, blue and take you on a magical trip to an enchanted place. No, I don't mean Morpheus' pills from The Matrix! I'm talking about The Smurfs! With the recent trend toward releasing classic animated series on DVD, we were bound to see The Smurfs parade their little blue butts into living rooms around the world. As Warner Bros. first official DVD release for the Smurfs franchise, The Smurfs: Season One, Volume One does a solid job of delivering an '80s Saturday morning treasure.

Facts of the Case

Join Papa, Smurfette, Lazy, Handy, Brainy, Clumsy, Tailor, Farmer, Dreamy, Harmony, Painter, Hefty, Vanity, Jokey, Poet, Grouchy, Baker, Greedy, Slouchy, and their assorted kin and relations in their hidden Smurf Village, as they engage in smurfy activities and avoid their enemies Gargamel the wizard and his pet cat Azrael.

I'm not sure why Warner Bros. decided to take this approach, but The Smurfs: Season One, Volume One includes only the first 19 episodes of season one, distributed over two discs as follows:

Disc One:
• "The Smurf's Apprentice"
• "The Smurfette"
• "Vanity Fare"
• "King Smurf"
• "The Astrosmurf"
• "Jokey's Medicine"
• "St. Smurf and the Dragon"
• "Sorcerer Smurf"
• "The Smurfs and the Howlibird"

Disc Two:
• "The Magical Meanie"
• "Bewitched, Bothered and Be-Smurfed"
• "Smurf-Colored Glasses"
• "Dreamy's Nightmare"
• "Fuzzle Trouble"
• "Soup A La Smurf"
• "All That Glitters Isn't Smurf"
• "Romeo and Smurfette"
• "The Hundredth Smurf"
• "Smurphony in 'C'"
• Bonus Episode: "The Smurf Springtime Special"

The Evidence

As I did some websmurfing, I discovered that as of this year, The Smurfs are celebrating the 61st anniversary of their first appearance in the comic strip "Johan et Pirouit." Created by a Belgian artist named Pierrot "Peyo" Culliford, the Smurfs have gone on to appear in a line of more than 400 PVC figurines and other toys, an animated TV series, puzzles, stickers, dolls, clothing, music albums, books, comics, video games, and a wide variety of other smurfy merchandise.

Back in 1980, still recovering from the life-changing experience that was Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, I'm amazed that I remember the premiere of the Hanna-Barbera animated series The Smurfs. Raised on Looney Toons, Superfriends, and more obscure shows like Thundarr the Barbarian and Blackstar, by 1981 I was on the cusp of puberty and had started to lose interest in all things animated. Little did I know I'd return to the fold in early adulthood, and now it's usually me who wants to watch the animated films on our home theater. Now that I'm older and have children of my own, I am excited to share many of the Saturday morning favorites from my childhood with my children.

There's no way I could have realized this at the time the show aired, but now that I am involved in professional voice work myself, I recognize and appreciate the legendary names that have lent their talents to various productions over the years. The list of voice actors from The Smurfs reads like a veritable who's-who of legendary animation voices, including Don Messick, Paul Winchell, Frank Welker, Michael Bell, June Foray, and dozens of other lesser-known names.

This caliber of talent established the show's high quality from the beginning and complemented with the enjoyable writing and high-quality animation, The Smurfs still stands out as a quality animated production. Proving that animated series are often worthy of industry recognition, The Smurfs won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Entertainment Series in 1983, joining fellow Emmy recipients like Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, and Sesame Street.

Warner Bros. have done an excellent job with this release. From the moment the opening menu hits the screen and the theme song plays, it's hard for those who grew up in the '80s not to be pulled back into happy Saturday morning childhood memories. It's hard to believe this show is now more than 25 years old. The image quality is solid, vibrant, and colorful, with only minor signs of dirt or other artifacts throughout the episodes. Largely dialogue-based, the audio presentation on The Smurfs: Season One, Volume One is anchored in the front of the room, but the mix remains clear at all times, with an excellent balance between dialog, music and sound effects.

The "Smurfs Music Video" is a somewhat oddly compiled mix of random episode clips intercut with video transitions and what also looks like concept drawings or coloring pages of concept drawings and a picture of Smurfette…not much rhyme or reason to this feature. As nostalgic fans of '80s animation would likely agree, a retrospective of the show, including interviews with members of the production team or even a short history of the Smurfs merchandising empire would have been a welcome addition for parents and now-adult fans. The 24-plus minute "The Smurfs Springtime Special," a springtime and Easter-themed episode on disc two, is the only other bonus feature included in the set.

As a side note, Warner Bros. has launched a dedicated Website for the Smurfs DVD release that's fun for kids and amusing for adult fans who want to reminisce. On the site, you'll find video and wallpaper downloads, as well as a link to…wait for it…a Smurfs MySpace page. Yes, I'm serious.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Once again, the partial season release rears its ugly head! Stopping for a moment to do some simple math, if Warner Bros. decide to release the entire series in partial-season sets of roughly 19 episodes each, completists will wind up with roughly 22 two-disc sets in their library! In my mind, that's not a very smurfy thing to do to fans.

Closing Statement

With 418 episodes spread over nine seasons between 1981 and 1990, you don't need a crystal ball to surmise that there are more DVD releases of The Smurfs on the way. Aside from the strong recommendation that Warner Bros. gives its heads a shake and starts releasing complete seasons of the show, I think fans are in for an exciting resmurfalization of this beloved animated classic.

The Verdict

This is without a doubt the most smurftastic release I have ever smurfed. Only a real son-of-a-smurf would review this set without telling you to get off your smurf and buy it for the '80s fan in your life.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 79
Audio: 79
Extras: 40
Acting: 100
Story: 80
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 345 Minutes
Release Year: 1981
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• All Ages
• Animation
• Family
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Bonus Episode: "The Smurfs' Springtime Special"
• "Smurfs: The Music Video"

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Official Site
• Wikipedia: The Smurfs








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