Holy Smurfiní Smurf, this DVD collection sure is Smurfy! Now if that statement doesnít take one back to the early 1980s, when THE SMURFS were one of the more popular kidís shows on television, then I donít know what does. Sure, I occasionally tuned into THE SMURFS back in their television heyday and even had a Smurf videogame for my Colecovision- there I go dating myself again, but I would not consider myself to be the greatest of Smurf fans. I am too much of a cynic to for anything more than small doses of THE SMURFS, as all that sugar coated goodness has a tendency to put me into a diabetic coma.
Created by Belgian cartoonist Peyo back in the late 1950ís THE SMURFS were adapted to television by Hanna-Barbera in 1981 and became a staple of NBCís Saturday Morning programming until 1989. The basic premise of the television series follows the adventures of the tiny blue good-hearted Smurfs, who live in a mushroom-esque village in the forest. Lead by the suitably named Papa Smurf, Smurf society consist of a hundred or so virtually indistinguishable Smurfs, who have names that fit their personality/temperament- some examples are Hefty Smurf, Brainy Smurf, Jokey Smurf, Grouchy Smurf, Dreamy Smurf, Clumsy Smurf, Greedy Smurf, Vanity Smurf and Handy Smurf. The sole female to the group is called Smurfette and there is an early episode in the collection that explains her origins. Of course, our good little protagonists lives would be awfully boring if they did not have antagonists- with the evil wizard Gargamel and his pet feline Azrael fitting the bill nicely. In most episodes Gargamel is hatching a plot to catch the Smurfs, which always goes awry in some fashion, but our evil wizard has the persistency of Wile E. Coyote. The vocal talent behind THE SMURFS includes Don Messick, Paul Winchell, Lucille Bliss, Danny Goldman, Barry Gordon, Frank Welker, William Callaway, Alan Young, June Foray, and Janet Waldo.
THE SMURFS: SEASON ONE, VOLUME ONE comes to DVD in a two-disc set that features the following nineteen episodes: The Smurfs' Apprentice, The Smurfette, Vanity Fare, King Smurf, The Astrosmurf, Jokey's Medicine, St. Smurf And The Dragon, Sorcerer Smurf, The Smurfs And The Howlibird, The Magical Meanie, Bewitched, Bothered And Be-Smurfed, Smurfed Coloured Glasses, Dreamy's Nightmare, Fuzzle Trouble, Soup A La Smurf, All That Glitters Isn't Smurf, Romeo And Smurfette, The Hundredth Smurf and Smurphony In 'C'. Note: the episodes donít seem to follow the original broadcast order and may have been rearranged to make them appear more chronological for first time viewers.
Warner Home Video has made all the episodes that comprise THE SMURFS: SEASON ONE, VOLUME ONE available on DVD in the proper 4:3 full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. The episodes look surprisingly good for Saturday Morning cartoon fare produced over a quarter of a century ago. Colors really tend to pop, plus everything generally appears very crisp and offers as much definition as one is likely to find in this type of 2D cell animation. Blacks and whites seem quite accurate. The film elements appear pretty clean, but some signs of age do creep in on occasion. There is some grain, as well as imperfections that were printed into the original animation. Digital compression artifacts are not a problem.
The Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks are pretty much what one would expect from Saturday Morning cartoons produced more than twenty-five years ago; all the dialogue is clean and crisp, but the sound effects and music only provide mid fidelity. Still, the tracks sound pretty good and are free from major distortions. No other language soundtracks are provided on the DVD, English subtitles are included.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene/episode selection and set up features, as well as The Smurfs' Springtime Special and a Music Video, which is assembled from the theme music and a series of Smurfy clips.
All in all THE SMURFS: SEASON ONE, VOLUME ONE is a very Smurf-tastic collection that will appeal to children and oneís inner Smurf.
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