The Smurfs: Season One — Volume One

The Smurfs: Season One — Volume One
TV on DVD kills childhood memories dead. Or at least that’s what I’m discovering. Despite reminding the world of ignored genius (Judd Apatow’s Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared), giving a series a new lease on life (Family Guy) or just making TV-watching easier (try to stop watching Lost after one episode) a lot of yesteryear’s favourites just don’t cut it these days upon second viewing. Obviously this isn’t just the program’s fault: youthful innocence is gone, tastes become more sophisticated and more is demanded as far as entertainment value is concerned. The Smurfs comes at us 27 years after its debut, and if you’ve seen them all you’ll have some brief fun taking a trip down memory lane, but not without head scratching and overanalysing. Did Hanna-Barbera really have to use the same plot for every single episode? Didn’t anyone ever catch on to the recycled gambits of Gargamel and Azrael trying their hand each and every week at capturing these lapdog-sized creatures? There must have been some kids out there questioning the show’s repetitive drone — though sadly, I must admit, it wasn’t me. As lovable as these three-apple-high blue "things” are, it doesn’t take long to get tired of the routine: "X Smurf” (Handy, Hefty, Brainy, Dreamy, Greedy, whoever-y) has a bright idea, acts on it and somehow either falls, or leads the Smurfs, into the clutches of Gargamel, which they escape rather easily and unharmed. Christ! Really, Clumsy? You’re going to sneak into Gargamel’s castle to steal a spell in order to help you with your magic without being noticed by the hideous wizard or his feisty feline? Okay, sure, there could be a bigger picture here that as a five-year-old I never considered, like a socialist message discouraging individuality and ambition. Y’know, one that uses the goals of these little Smurfs to crush any sort of dreams of becoming singular or succeeding independently. Quite possibly, if you dig deep enough, but most likely not. Instead, what we get is some pretty safe television that runs the gamut of its stereotypically one-dimensional character inventory: anally retentive smart arse; mildly retarded nitwit; muscular, dumb jock; manipulative, dumb blonde; image-obsessed, gay narcissist; giggly gift-bomber — okay, that one’s somewhat inventive. Perhaps the biggest disappointment with this set, however, comes in the absence of any answers to my questions, especially an explanation regarding their origin. Okay, so we see the birth of Smurfette, who Gargamel created (she’s originally evil with black hair) as a mole but what about the rest of them? And why is Papa Smurf so damn old and beardy? Is he really their papa? Why is it such a sausage party in Smurf village? Can you substitute "smurf” for any word or is there an actual definition? Why does everyone fall for Jokey’s exploding gift every time? And why didn’t those cute, multiplying Fuzzles get their own spin-off? Regrettably, no featurettes are included to humour me or share the long history of this cartoon, which creator Peyo began in 1958. Here’s hoping The Snorks get a little more respect when their DVD comes up. (Warner)