Smurfs, The: Season 1, Volume 2 (DVD)
Smurfs up! See The Smurfs for the first time, or for the first time in years. Skip along with all 101 mushroom-dwelling, sing-song Smurfs as they search the forest for truffles and try -- try -- to stay out of trouble. From the creative goldmine of Hanna-Barbera and nominated for an Emmy® Award for Outstanding Animated Series, the Smurfs may only stand three-apples high, but their adventures stand the test of time. Now, 20 of their lovable adventures have been remastered and made available for the first time. We all know what the Smurfs would say about that: "Smurfy!" So join these small, blue creatures with the descriptive names (Brainy, Hefty, Jokey and, of course, Papa Smurf) as they sing and parade through the forest, avoiding -- and outwitting -- the wicked wizard Gargamel and his equally evil cat, Azrael.
As plans to produce a big-screen version of artist Peyo's Smurfs continue to develop in Hollywood, there's no time like the present to revisit the little blue folks' TV adventures in America, which aired from 1981 to 1990. Twenty episodes from their debut season are featured on this two-disc set, which includes such stories as "Sideshow Smurfs" (a carnival owner kidnaps Smurfette and Clumsy for his attractions), "The Fountain of Smurf" (a fountain of youth turns Papa Smurf into an infant) and "Paradise Smurfed" (Lazy dreams of a work-free Smurf Village). Of course, most episodes hinge around evil wizard Gargamel (voiced by the legendary Paul Winchell), whose attempts to capture the Smurfs for his nefarious purposes are met with constant failure. Simple lessons, mostly concerned with sharing and collaboration, are also part of the framework, though they rare take a preachy tone. Modern young viewers may find the animation (which features lots of re-used footage) too bland for their tastes, though the Smurfs' inherently offbeat charm will undoubtedly win over their share of new audiences. The extras in Season One, Volume 2 include an interview with veteran voice artist Lucille Bliss, who provided Smurfette's memorable tones, as well as a hit-and-miss featurette called "I Smurf the Smurfs." The elements that cover the Smurfs' history are the most intriguing, but comments by marginal celebrities like Debbie Allen and Candace Cameron Bure are grating and time-consuming. -- Paul Gaita