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Dec. 4 – The Smurfs Christmas Special

THE SMURFS CHRISTMAS SPECIAL
Original Air Date: Decemember 13, 1982

Two lost children invade Smurf Village and Gargamel makes a pact with Satan. Will the Smurfs be able to smurf this smurfly smurf?! (kill me)

BACKSTORY
Belgian comic artist Pierre “Peyo” Culliford was a man who seemed to find luck in new additions. His medieval based comic series “Johan” was given new life with the addition of a boisterous dwarf in 1954, seven years into its syndicated run, then both character were then eclipsed in 1958 upon meeting “Les Schtroumpfs.”

The Smurfs first appearance in their native language

In the pages of “Johan and Peewit,” those small blue characters who resided in mushrooms and wore little more than Phrygian hats were introduced. They didn’t just create their own language, they spawned a solo comic line of their own the very next year, and eventually, an empire.

The original Smurfs movie looks a tiny bit unfamiliar due to not being animated by Hanna-Barbera

In 1976, The Smurfs reached the bigscreen when their introductory story “The Flute with the Six Holes” was adapted into animated feature film (The US wouldn’t see the film until 1983, where it retitled “The Smurfs and The Magic Flute” to reflect the popularity of the TV series.)

Note: The title of the show has no “The”

After becoming a success in the UK in 1979, Hanna-Barbera greenlit an hour-long Saturday morning cartoon series in 1981. “Smurfs” would go on to produce over 350 episodes, often in astounding 90 minute presentations, for an unprecedented nine seasons.

You’re probably hearing a jingle in your head right now

Peyo passed away while his creations were still enjoying worldwide popularity in comics and in daily syndicated reruns in USA’s Cartoon Express. The Smurfs air today on Cartoon Networks Boomerang channel and even received another big screen adaptation in 2011 starring Neil Patrick Harris and Katy Perry, with a sequel to follow in 2013.

Don’t groan, this is partially your fault

BREAKDOWN
Look: I love nostalgia. That’s why this blog exists. We celebrate the stuff we’ve loved, and help bring faded memories into focus. If I loved it as a kid, I’ll make some effort to love it now. That’s why I’ve been dreading this post for four years… The Goddamned Smurfs.

Holding out hope for a better special

I loved, LOVED, The Smurfs as a kid. It seemed like NBC ran the thing in a three hour block on Saturday mornings, and my fragile, weak heart couldn’t get enough of it. However, please believe me when I say that The Smurfs are evil, will betray your memories, set the quality of animation back a good couple of years, and pretty much deserves to never be seen again.

Click to enlarge our reassembled panorama

Every half-assed parody you’ve ever seen of childrens’ TV animation is basically a condemnation of The Smurfs. A bunch of insipid characters crudely waving their arms around shouting shitbrained exposition like “Oh no, [Main Character]! [Evil character]’s [plot device]ed the [playset]! We gotta save the [toy line]!” And no, the Smurftastic catchphrases don’t help the franchise stand up to the right and just test of time.

Sometimes I wish everything in this picture were dead

Readers, please. This is not me taking out some ill-found angst against the current movie, like a dimwitted Transformers fan deluded enough to think the source material is worthy of a modern update. I haven’t seen it. We’ve had ample opportunity to revisit the Smurf Village, and most of us don’t dare to pursue that more than an episode, because… well, it’s essentially like raping your own childhood.

Regardless of anything I say, it’s hard not to love these images

Why do you think the DVDs stopped coming out after only a single season? “Yay! Can’t wait to relive this old Smurfy magic! Oh… dear lord… ew… well, that’s enough of that.” many of us have said while ejecting what would go on to be the loneliest disc in the universe.

Handy with the steel

Are you in your late 20s/early 30s and wanna relive the magic of watching The Smurfs? My advice: Imagine the living room around you. The shag carpet, the sugary cereal of a Saturday morning, the sunny day creeping through the curtains, your semi-deflated Pogo Ball, and lastly, the gentle hum of your laughably small CRT television. Now erase the Smurfy sights and sounds being emitted from your television. That memory will serve you better than any agonizing moment of actually watching an episode of The Smurfs.

Santa couldn’t fit an eyelash down that chimney

With that very necessary rant in mind, the Christmas Special is a thousand times worse. Not to spoil anything, but the day is not only saved by “believing,” it’s done through singing about believing. If you’re already a cynical person who thinks cartoons are for toddlers and Christmas is a holiday conceived by Hallmark executives to sell you peppermint flavored tinsel, Smurf’s Christmas Special is here to keep you miserable.

“Your Xmas Feast: Sidewalk Gum with Broken Glass garnish!”

Of course the Smurfs are celebrating Christmas in the opening, which I actually don’t hate. Not only am I sucker for Yuletide imagery such as this, even I’ll admit that The Smurfs primary appeal is the colorful, likable design. You expect me to feel nothing when their little blue bodies are juxtaposed with lit up Xmas trees and wonderfully generic gift wrap?! I’m not a monster!

Anger… subsiding…

But the it gets real stupid, real quick. The Smurfs does another shitty thing that irritates me about dumbass Xmas specials: They introduce new characters. Kid characters.

And the boy already looks like fucking Peewit (see above)

The formula for most specials is to have something  something family-friendly terrible that can be overcome by the giving nature of the Holidays and general togetherness.

It’s not like I expect folks to give their lead characters cancer, or have the bank foreclose on Smurf Village, but if you don’t even have the balls to add real conflict to your tired formula and/or don’t respect your young audience enough to assume they’ll relate to anything other than depictions of themselves, you’re definitely making a shitty 80s Xmas Special. The only characters you should ever add to your Christmas special are Santa or Rudolph. Maybe an orphan?!

Gargamel and Azriel are not immune to the Xmas spirit

Whatever, so dumbass kids flip over a sled with their Grandpa and get lost in the woods. Boo Hoo.

Santa will be here any minute – FUCK ‘EM!”

Cut to Gargamel and his catly husband Azriel plotting to once again destroy the Smurfs. Then, for no reason, another new character shows up at Gargamel’s door.

Wonderful sense of scale here, Hanna-Barbera. Seriously, great job

He’s got no name, but I assure you he’s Satan. Please don’t confuse that with anything cool. It’s basically just an excuse for him to seek the lost children for no real reason, and he promises Gargamel a spell or something that’ll not only show him where Smurfs Village is, it’ll allow him to destroy it once and for all.

Smurfos Patronus

Why does he need help finding two defenseless children when he’s gifted with black magic death incantations and is apparently capable enough to find Gargamel’s house? I suppose the writers assumed that if we hadn’t questioned Gargamel’s tireless motivations in a billion other episodes, we wouldn’t bother challenging a plot like this. They’re within their right…

Wolves fear Papa

Fortunately, the Smurfs find the kids first. Unfortunately, they don’t do much to help them survive the bitter cold and starvation. They teach them to sing. You know what… fuck this.

When traveling in the middle of nowhere, be sure to bring along a 90 piece orchestra

Basically, the kids end up in the evil dude’s clutches anyway, where he doesn’t reveal he’s actually Satan, but strongly hints at murdering them and conjures a ring of fire in the snow.

Of Johnny Cash fame

How do the Smurfs combat such sorcery? They sing. Again…

Goddammit…

Even Gargamel.

I feel ya, Azriel

Which idiotically kills the fucking devil.

And fade away…

With the kids safe in their family’s arms, the Smurfs return to their village. Only to find it ravaged by magic.

Click to enlarge the agony!

In a forced, hackneyed excuse to tug at our Holiday heartstrings once again,  the Smurfs quickly set up a refugee camp. They morosely question their morality as they come face to face with their inevitable death, and engage in a Hunger Games -esque bloodsport in order to decide who will be eaten first in the struggle to survive. I’m just kidding: THEY SING!

Fuck this bullshit


I’d forgive someone for not catching the Christian propaganda ejaculated from The Smurfs Christmas Special, but if The Small One taught me anything, it’s that all glowing celestial bodies are essentially compasses that point straight to Jesus H. Christ!

You can’t fool me, ending!


I was going to throw in one cookie just because Papa Smurf is a fairly decent approximation of Capn’ Kringle, but then I became irritated by the several instances where the animators forgot to color in his pants.

COOKIE DENIED!

What it lacks in quality, intelligence, and a modicum of respect for the audience, it sure the hell make up in Yuletide feelgoodery! As much as I loathe the Smurfs, remain embarrassed by how much I watched the show, and regret how much I loved the gravely, granny-voiced Smurfette, those images with little blue dudes setting up shop for Christmas do still have a profound effect over me. But then, I definitely lived through this phenomenon with a stupid, happy smile. If you didn’t, steer clear.

PRODUCT INFORMATION (Support the Site!)

The Smurfs Christmas Special is available on the standalone Holiday-themed release, Smurfs Holiday Celebration. If you’re into torture you can also pick up the first two seasons of Hanna-Barbera’s Smurfs across numerous confusing DVD volumes, starting with The Smurfs: Season 1, Vol. 1. And if you’ve gotten this far, you may as well go ahead and buy the critically beloved Smurfs movie because you clearly have a vested interest.

MUCH BETTER CHRISTMAS SPECIALS!

YESTERDAY’S XMAS SPECIAL
BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD

 

LAST YEAR’S DEC. 4th XMAS SPECIAL
GUMBY & POKEY IN “SCROOGE LOOSE”

 

2010′s DEC. 4TH XMAS SPECIAL
CARTOON CHRISTMAS iPHONE WALLPAPERS

 

2009′S DEC. 4TH XMAS SPECIAL
THE CHRISTMAS TOY

Comments

Comment from DrMouse
Time December 4, 2012 at 11:19 am

What a piece of shite Christmas special.

Comment from ShyFonzie
Time December 4, 2012 at 2:52 pm

wow. quality animation on that first choir pic. smurf them. smurf them all to smurf

Comment from Keklar
Time December 4, 2012 at 5:41 pm

I would love to see a Smurf Hunger Games… hahaha. Also, it’s really creepy to see how popular the Smurfs still are over in Germany, little blue figures EVERYWHERE and for every profession/pose imaginable….

Comment from Jennifer
Time December 4, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Keklar:

I guess the reason that the Smurfs are popular in Europe is that the comic started in Europe.

I used to like the Smurfs too and cringe at the fact that I did–but from what I have read of the original comic, it was MUCH wittier and had some sly social commentary in there.

(What is it about France and Belgium that turns out great comic artists/writers? Smurfs, Tintin, Asterix…)

Comment from Mr.Dandy
Time December 5, 2012 at 2:26 am

I confess I actually enjoyed the hell out of watching Smurfs DVR’d off Boomerang in the past year or so. As Hanna-Barberra animation went (which ranges from so-so to abysmal), it wasn’t technically all that bad, and actually a bit better than much of what they were doing in the 60s and 70s (thinking of Wacky Racers especially). They didn’t seem to use the lump-o-people moving as one quite as much (surprising when there are so many characters most of the time) or the endlessly looping backgrounds. Not never, but somewhat less. The stories are definitely simplistic, but somehow pleasing (to me at least). There is a gentle rhythm to the action and the voices that lulls me into just watching. I also liked how many places the stories could go, not in plot but in settings and supporting characters, there was always a new evil sorcerer or beast or something to mix it up. I also enjoyed seeing so many characters, whose personalities were instantly familiar and predictable. It’s definitely a “shut off your brain and set the sarcarm switch to off” type deal, but once in awhile I think that’s OK, everybody has one I bet.

Comment from Mr.Dandy
Time December 5, 2012 at 2:34 am

Oop! One more thing I’ meant to point out, the Smurfs’ subject matter could get surprisingly risky, dealing explicitly with demons, devils, witchery of all sorts, and even hinting at nasty medieval practices like dungeon torture. Not to mention the fairly left-leaning message of the overall story (owing to the original works of course). “Oh we have no need for money” as Papa Smurf would say when someone tried to reward him.

Kind of bold stuff if you ask me (and nobody does ;)

Comment from Jdub905
Time December 5, 2012 at 11:52 am

What a glorious Christmas Tree!

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