The Background. The Smurfs were simply everywhere in the 1980s - toy stores, gas stations, card shops... it was a great time to be a kid. But first and foremost, The Smurfs were in your living room every Saturday morning, alive and smurfing! Our blue buddies were immensely popular, and whether children of the '80s admitted it or not, the show had lots of fans (it stayed on the air for almost a full decade). And now they're back!
The Anticipation. Sitting before me is the gleaming, pristine, un-opened package of The Smurfs DVD: Season One Volume One. The artwork is gorgeous, and Papa Smurf is smiling as if to say, "Yes, it's true! We're finally here!" I can tell you I'm excited to break open the plastic wrapping - but a nagging thought occurs: How can this DVD possibly live up to my nostalgic childhood days of watching The Smurfs cartoons?
The Art. The artwork on the box is second to none, made by the Peyo artists as commissioned by Warner Brothers. The Smurfs Season One Volume One actually consists of two parts: an outer box featuring 3D-raised images, and a "book-style" DVD case which opens up like a book to reveal the two discs inside. The cardboard is shiny and the colors are rich. The outer box features Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Lazy Smurf, Handy, Brainy and the rest of the gang. The backside features Gargamel ominously encroaching on a sleeping Smurf. The case has the same picture of Papa and the gang (although this time not in 3D) on the front and the backside features Romeo and Smurfette - (where have I seen this before?). Inside the case is a classic scene of Gargamel chasing The Smurfs in the Smurf Village.
The discs themselves feature bright and colorful Smurfs all over them! Papa, Smurfette, Poet and Lazy are on Disc One, Handy, Jokey, Brainy and a Smurf with a movie marker are on Disc Two.
The Restoration. Now for the main event - the shows themselves. How do they look? Well, anyone who has caught the edited re-runs of The Smurfs on Boomerang knows what time has done to the original film masters - let's just say there was room for improvement! The Boomerang re-runs are sped up (time-compression), chopped-up (to get more advertising in), and quite frankly look their age, covered in film grain and washed-out color. So what is this DVD quality like? One word - amazing, as Papa would say. Gone are the crazy sped-up voices. All the scenes are finally un-cut - the stories actually make sense now! And the colors - they've been perfectly restored to their original glory. Great work Warner Brothers!
Languages. The discs are presented in the language the Hanna Barbera cartoons were originally created, in English. It's great to see the English subtitles for the hearing impaired present as well. Laconia would be proud!
The Menus. The menus are gorgeous in 16:9 widescreen, which is a nice touch on a disc full of 4:3 shows. The title menu features the whole Smurf gang, including Gargamel. A digitally restored, 1:01 minute version of The Smurfs Theme Song plays throughout - the best version of the Smurfs theme song ever recorded!
The Smurf Song. "La la la la la la, la la la la la" - nice to hear it on The Smurfs DVD isn't it? It certainly was notable by its absence on the Aussie DVD. Well, the song is actually the property of Warner Brothers, which is why (along with a number of other reasons) it wasn't on the Australian release. But it's here on the US Smurfs DVD, in crystal clear digital sound. The DVDs are worth buying simply for the theme tune alone. It is absosmurfly amazing to have that song back where it belongs. Now you can play the Smurf song for hours and hours!
The Shows. The shows themselves are loads of fun. Many of these stories are classics, and it's nice to have them all in one Smurfs DVD set. The Astrosmurf is brilliant as is King Smurf, The Howlibird, and Smurphony In 'C'. Although not as well known, there are some real treasures on these discs, and episodes such as The Magic Egg are extremely cute and fun to watch. Be sure to view The Magical Meanie - I guarantee you'll say "pumpernickel pickle" out loud at least once!
The Extras. In terms of bonus material, The Smurfs DVD Season 1 Volume 1 does not disappoint. The special Easter episode, The Smurfs Springtime Special is included on Disc Two, which is a smurfy surprise. In addition, a brand-new, never seen before music video features the Smurf Theme Song along with film clips from the show - nice! It would have been a great idea to include interviews with the cast - people such as Lucille Bliss (Smurfette), June Foray (Jokey), and Danny Goldman (Brainy). These voice actors would have made an exciting addition on a commentary track. The actors are still alive and active, and it is a shame they were not included, especially with Danny playing Brainy on Robot Chicken. It would have been incredibly informative, and fun, to hear what it was like creating and acting in one of the most important animated shows of all time - perhaps on the next DVD, Warner Brothers?
Improvements. When the Smurfs DVD was first announced, it was to include every episode from Season One. Warner Brothers decided to nix that idea, and instead offered Season One in two DVD packs - Volume One (19 episodes) and Volume Two (those remaining). Why is Season One split into two? Wouldn't a DVD set for each season be more convenient for Smurf collectors? Also of interest: the famous Smurf TV show introduction is missing from this collection. Although the true-blue Smurfs theme tune plays throughout the main menu of the disc, the only version of the Smurfs introduction included is from 1981. Why? Can't we get a legitimate Smurf DVD release with the standard introduction as seen on Boomerang - the one with the song we all know and love? At least the end credits include the familiar Smurf theme instrumental and nostalgic "Hanna Barbera Productions" star swirl.
Trailers. Included on Disc 1 are trailers for Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collection Volume 3, Harry Potter Hogwarts Challenge Game, Shaggy & Scooby Get a Clue Volume 1, Horton Hears a Who and What's New Scooby-Doo? Season 3.
The Verdict. The Boomerang re-runs, the dodgy pirate discs, the imported versions - all pale in comparison to this US release. It cannot be stately strongly enough what amazing work Warner Brothers has done - this is the DVD set that Smurf fans could only dream of. Once you watch this DVD, you'll end up being smurfed: smurfed with laughter, smurfed with a catchy tune, and ultimately smurfed with a smile on your face. Young or old, fanatic or newbie, The Smurfs DVD is smurfy fun for everyone!
The BlueBuddies.com one-line review: It just doesn't get any smurfier!
Region: 1 (US / Canada) NTSC Disc Format: DVD9 Rating: USA - Not Rated / Canada - G Technical Rating: 10/10 Content Rating: 10/10 Overall: 10/10
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 Besmurfed, 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, The Smurfs' Springtime Special, Smurfs: The Music Video.