TV on DVD: The Smurfs, Volume 1 -- True Blue Friends

Arriving on DVD

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Following the Warner Brothers release of the complete first season of the Emmy award-winning animated children's series The Smurfs over the course of the past year in two separate volumes-- the blue and white creatures that reside in the mushroom homes of Smurf village return with this five episode DVD, True Blue Friends.

Consisting of five classic cartoons from the second season of the 1980s Saturday morning cartoon favorite, the aptly named True Blue Friends is the first volume in Warner Brothers’ release of The Smurf Adventures offshoot of DVDs in lieu of serving up additional complete seasons (as of yet).

Although it’s been nearly thirty years since the characters enchanted young viewers for nearly a decade, Smurf momentum is still building as talks of creating brand-new feature films surrounding the characters are in the works and they still remain an ever prominent part of 1980s pop culture for Generation X.

Admittedly, it's a pretty trippy show considering that our characters to our lead by their caretaker Papa Smurf (a 543-year-old who, like all the rest stands just "three apples tall") as they go about their lives making potions and trying to avoid the nefarious curmudgeon and villain Gargamel. Similar to the villain of the ‘80s series Inspector Gadget—Gargamel has a creepy feline sidekick but in Smurf-land, he’s known as Azrael.

With a running time that clocks right in around 100 minutes, the DVD contains the following episodes: "S-Shivering S-Smurfs," "Turncoat Smurf," "The Smurf Who Couldn't Say No," "The Haunted Castle," and "The Black Hellebore." Also serving up a beneficial and interactive extra entitled "Meet the Smurfs," which should be watched for the DVD just to refresh the memories of those of us who were very young when the show played, the brightly colored and friendly DVD that is presented in its original full screen aspect ratio from its Hanna-Barbera television heyday is also equipped with English subtitles for the deaf and/or hearing impaired.

Retaining the classic theme song that urged viewers to “sing a happy song” and “Smurf the whole day long” while promising that “now you know the tune, you'll be Smurfing soon,” as well as the credit sequences which followed each individual episode, the five stories chosen are largely entertaining episodes with only one to two duds. Moreover, they all center on a valuable moral such is the case when Pushover Smurf finally says “no” and Scaredy Smurf realizes it's okay to be afraid.

Of course-- throughout-- the episodes are blended with the show’s individual brand of humor that often consists of their frequent usage of the word “smurf” in all forms from noun to verb to adjective. Further research into their unique conversation revealed that the interchangeable term actually derived way back to the start of its creation by original Smurf inventor-- the Belgian cartoonist Peyo in the 1950s-- when he forgot the word for “salt.”

Eating dinner with his friend and colleague Franquin, he substituted in his native language the word “schtroumpf” for “salt,” and afterward, he and Franquin continued to speak in “schtroumpf language” for an entire week before that was translated to the English “Smurf.”

Although the Smurfs as created by Peyo had been popular in Europe for nearly twenty years before their introduction to American audiences via comics, figurines, and in a plethora of marketing tie-ins-- it wasn't until The Smurfs hit the airwaves that they became what IGN listed as “the 97th best animated series” of all time.

Upon an initial viewing today-- viewers more accustomed to highly sophisticated animation, CGI, and 3-D effects may rightly dismiss the show as overly simplistic in its style, story, and ultimate presentation. And indeed it will probably only appeal to the very youngest of demographics as our children are raised with superior technology and may not have the patience for it. Despite this challenge, all in all, it’s still an eccentric, harmless, quirky and sunny show that’s aim to put a smile on viewers faces still holds up twenty-eight years after its debut.