Cartoon Review: The Smurfs Christmas Special

Posted: November 26, 2012 in Cartoon Review, Holiday, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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The Smurfs Christmas Special (1982/ Hanna-Barbera/ Dir. Gerald Baldwin)

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. My first holiday special review in two years… it was supposed to be a momentous occasion. It should have been filled with joy, and laughter, not this. I said some time ago that I was sort of done with reviews that only amounted to complaints. I mean… look, The Avengers happened and we’re liking things because we like them again, not because we hate them and want to imagine we’re superior to them. I want you to know, I started this with the purest of intentions. Sadly The Smurfs Christmas Special did not hold up.

There is no way to properly summarize this, no way to discuss it on its merits, or play on the themes. Mostly, because I have no idea what happened. The best I can hope for is a synopsis, going down the line point by point. Maybe, together, we can reach an understanding. Just remember the mantra “I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks!”

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Oh hell, this is as good a cap as anything.

Okay, so, for starters? I suddenly realized how much our generation must have tortured our parents. That “La, la, la” song they sing is INTENSELY irritating. I never noticed before, but sweet monkey jesus, that is an annoying song. The Smurfs are decorating for Christmas, and one Smurf is trying to get everyone to listen to him play the trumpet. No one wants to listen because they’re all doing something else and are too busy to listen to him. He’s probably got a name like Harmony, but I’m going to call him Jazzy Smurf. No one cares about his music, I assume they’ll all get told about how Christmas is a time for music or some crap, but it’s a terrible sound he’s making. This is really bad sounding. Also, if I might say… the animation is terrible. You can see where they just dragged a cell with a drawing across the frame. You can see the edge of the cell as it’s dragged along. That’s not the only part of the animation that’s bad, but it’s the most notable. This whole thing feels rushed.

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NEW BACKGROUND!

Another thing that feels rushed is the so called story. After two minutes with the Smurfs, we go to a pair of humans that are called… Thing 1 and Thing 2. You don’t care, they’re non-entities. They hear about Santa for a moment, and won’t THAT come back into play later? Oh and Gargamel is in this thing. His castle is covered in snow, which is interesting. These specials that have established shows always interest me because at ANY other time they would be the exact same drawing. Because it’s Christmas (nominally) we get a land covered in snow. Suddenly, new establishing shots that you’ll never see again! Gargamel isn’t on screen long, just enough to establish that he’s in this thing. And then we get, I have no idea who this guy is. He’s a baddie, he’s got some wolves, he’s a thing. Who is he? I have no idea, and I’ve watched this thing to the end like three times now. Still have no idea what happened. Reading over my review, it sounds more coherent in written form than it does on the screen.

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Please don’t beat me.

Now we go back to the Smurf Village and for a moment it looks like there will be some drama. It turns out Smurf Blackstock ate the Last Walnut and as such the Smurf Pudding cannot be completed. CAN CHRISTMAS BE SAVED? Well, yes, yes it can. There was never any problem, we’ll just pop down to the Piggly Wiggly and get another one. Yeah, Poppa Smurf decides to go ask a squirrel for a loaner and comes back in two minutes. Good thing he got that together, there was ALMOST some drama for a second. He’s only gone long enough for a scene with G-Mel trying to make a potion to pass. The potion is pointless, because it doesn’t work. The squirrel gives them the walnut, and the pudding can be completed. Well… that was almost dramatic for like 3 seconds. Well, there is the sled accident. Yeah, there is a sled accident and that’s a cause for drama right? That won’t be sorted in like 15 seconds will it?

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Meanwhile, at Stately Wayne Manner

Thing 1 and Thing 2 get lost in the snow because their sled over turned and now Grandpa won’t open his eyes. Well, this got dark quick. Killed grandpa already did we? Good God Damn and other such phrases, we have achieved murder! Awesome. Gargamel declines to help them and we get a 30 second bit with their uncle complaining about how they’re not around. He also mentions that Grandpa ain’t dead, which is sad. He’s never seen on screen again, so he WAS dead, but they changed it by adding a line so as not to scare anyone. Then 2 seconds of the Smurfs walking through the forest singing their “La, La, La” song. No, not kidding. Just two seconds of them walking. Just long enough to get “La, La, La, la, la, la.” out and then it’s back to Gargamel who gets visited by… Evil Prince. Not kidding, it looks like they drew Prince and made him evil. Right down to the little red corvette he drives up in and everything. There is no little red corvette in this show. That would have been interesting though.

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Under this hood, I am totally wearing a Raspberry Beret.

This character has no name. He has no back story, no motivation, all we know is that he’s a bad guy and he wants to kill the kids because their uncle is a do-gooder who keeps getting in the way of his evil schemes. I am in no way joking when I tell you that this is all you get. The guy makes Gargamel look like a small time twerp, and is super-evil, but we know nothing else. He tells G-Mel to get the kids for him, and then vanishes. Then the uncle and G-Mel meet and there is some gibberish about 10 gold coins, but I’m not going into it because I really don’t want another dangling plot thread when we’re only 10 minutes in. Okay, if he finds the kids, the Uncle will give him 10 gold coins so he decides to double cross Evil Prince and turn the kids over and then there are wolves and commercial break, but as I haven’t been kidnapped by Ninjas, then you can’t force me to review a commercial so there! HA! That is how you do a run-on sentence kids.

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SIT your five dollar ass down, before I make change.

When we come back from commercial, Thing 1 is singing Silent Night while the wolves close in. While people say that music sooths the savage beast, in reality this is a tragic tale of why you shouldn’t sit around singing Christmas Carols while wolves are about to munch on your guts. Now I would like to report that Thing 1 and Thing 2 got eaten and we can leave that plot line like all the other abandoned plot threads this thing has turned up so far. Sadly, this is the one they’re actually gonna go with. So the wolves are about to eat the kids and then… oh how I wish Optimus Prime would roll out to the sound of Stan Bush and put an end to all these wolves. “The wolves must be stopped, no matter the cost.” Something! Anything. Look Optimus Prime took out most the Decepticons in 20 seconds! He could take these wolves. Also, how awesome would that be? The Smurfs team up with the Autobots to take out Hordak once and for all? WOOOO! YEAH! 80S!!!!!

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G-Mel is dreaming of my special.

Think about it, how cool would that be? Even if it’s gotta be Poppa Smurf, let him come flying in with a pair of nun chucks, screaming the ancient Battle Cry of the Smurfs. Brainy standing behind him saying “Poppa Smurf says the path of the righteous man in beset on all sides by the evil man and Poppa Smurf says you will know my name is the lord!” and Smurfette comes flying in with a Xena yell and a leather mini skirt… HOW AWESOME IS THE SPECIAL IN MY HEAD?! I can’t even begin to tell you how the special in my head turns out after Duke turns up and punches Cobra Commander. No, not that Duke, I mean of course THIS Duke. I have a fantastically twisted cartoon in my head m’loves. You’d rather watch mine, with all it’s twists and double crosses. The sex scene between Snake-Eyes and Prince Adam Alone would be worth it. Because friends, all you get is Poppa Smurf running up and saying “No! No! These are our friends.” and the wolves are all like “Oh snap Poppa Smurf. We didn’t know they was with you. My bad.” AND THAT’S IT! They listen to the kids’ story about… oh crap that’s right.

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He does have a red hat, and a white beard, and a thing for children.

The kids think Poppa Smurf is Santa Claus. Everyone else calls him Poppa Smurf, he never claims to be Santa, but the kids think he is. These kids are just plain stupid. Now, while they’ve got all this going on, and the kids are scared and alone, the Smurfs give them all the presents in Smurf Village. Why? No idea. Thing 1 wants to open all the presents and then… and then… there are no words to describe this song and all evidence of it has been scrubbed from the internet. The song goes like this… Goodness makes the badness go away. Goodness makes you happy every day. Badness cannot start, if there’s goodness in your heart. Goodness makes the badness go away. and then it’s just repeated, over and over and over. The children ‘sing’ the song with the Smurfs because goodness makes the badness go away. And then, in direct contradiction to the song, G-Mel catches the kids.

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So yeah, where’s your god now?

Evil Prince turns back up, and takes the kids from G-Mel. It is entirely possible that Evil Prince is actually Hoard Prime, I’m just saying. Evil Prince gives G-Mel a map to the Smurf Village, with a magic spell to allow him to destroy the village. He says the spell and turns the village to a smudge mark on the forest. He then tries to sell Evil Prince out to the Uncle, but is found out by Evil Prince less than 10 seconds after telling the Uncle where he is. So why couldn’t the Uncle see him and the kids coming? Why couldn’t the kids yell? Does goodness really make the badness go away? What about Scarecrow’s Brain? And why has Evil Prince been drawn a different way every time he’s turned up? Seriously, he’s drawn slightly differently, with different facial hair and head shape every time.

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Make your own Johnny Cash joke here!

Anyway, Evil Prince makes a burning ring of fire. He goes down, down, down and the flames a getting higher. Then Evil Prince’s face changes again and the ring of fire is burning and there is evil and Poppa Smurf says the only way to win the day is the mount a full frontal assault… of love. And then? Evil Prince says he’s a Sexy MF and that burns the fire brighter. Then Skeletor saves the kids and says he doesn’t want to feel good, and Charlie Brown gets his tree. Then they sing Goodness Makes the Badness Go Away, getting the kids and even G-Mel to sing at which point Evil Prince vanishes. Yeah, he just fades out. It’s as if he has been caused to cease existing out of sheer embarrassment. It doesn’t even begin to make sense, I am… I mean… OKAY! Let’s review…

There was a Smurf who was going to perform a solo…


…uuuh

And then goodness makes the badness go away. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, it was supposed to be a nice trip down memory lane. Skipping down the Christmas, with some hot cocoa wait for us at the end. Instead, I can’t escape the Death March. We’re not gonna make it. We are the fell servants of the retail beast, and The Emerald Partition holds us in its dark thrall. There is no escape, we shall all be eaten. Game over man, game over! Where, if I may ask, is your Camo Ninja now?


I’m right here baby!

CAMO NINJA! YOU CAME! Holy crap, Camo Ninja, am I glad to see you! It was horrible, there was a special that made no sense, and plot threads went nowhere, and the villain kept being off model, and Brainy Smurf was all “Poppa Smurf has been chewed out before” and… and… and… it was awful!

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The hell? Why is he glowing?

This is one of the least coherent twenty minutes I have ever sat through. The kids claim Santa saved the day, but the Smurfs village is still screwed. Every house has been destroyed and Poppa Smurf reminds them all, as they freeze to death in the snow, that they have no presents, pudding or tree before remembering that their warm beds are also gone. Priorities! Poppa Smurf haz dem. So what do you suppose happens then? Jazzy Smurf and the Fresh Smurf play the smurfing solo and then he glows and that makes everything smurfalicious and even brings back the smurfing village because of the Smurf of Smurf or some smurfing smurf. How does it happen? NO IDEA! No, that’s cannon. Even Poppa Smurf says “I dunno, shit happens, ya know?” This thing was utterly and completely… I have no idea what I just watched for the third smurfing time. In a way, I’m glad there is no message, we got a lot of messages in the early 80s. To be honest, lots of them were really shoe horned into the narrative and made little to no sense, and this thing already made little to no sense on its own. There wasn’t really much of a story, the characters were empty ciphers and… and… And goodness makes the badness go away. I am completely baffled, and my head hurts, and I want the badness to go away. Send some goodness.

Official Score:
-15 Degrees on the Graffiti Bridge Scale.

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You gots some ‘splainin’ to do!

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Comments
  1. mariolp12 says:

    Don’t you think you have been a little bit harsh when you talk about the animation…. It is nowhere as bad as He-man, Fat Albert and other Filmation cartoons. In fact, its fairly good by 80s tv standard. The Spring time special is much better animated though. Yeah, you see the cells sometimes, but in my experience with 80s tv cartoon, it can happens. I know its hard to judge what constitute good TV animation because when you go back from watching 30s and 40s cartoon, it always look rough.

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