Matt Originally posted on 12.11.02.
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Yesterday, we watched Christmas come to Pac-Land. Today, it comes to Smurf Village. Tomorrow...the world? The Smurfs enjoyed an almost impossibly long reign on top of the cartoon mountain, with it's show surviving much longer than most any other animated series. Compared to most of the dreck found on Saturday morning television programming during those days, Smurfs was a treasure. The stories were actually kinda interesting, if in a zany bluish Gargamelly Smurfy way. There's been several Smurf Christmas specials over the years, and today we'll take a look at the first: The Smurfs Christmas Special. You know it's the first because they didn't break out with the zippy creative titles yet.
There really isn't any special plot devices in this one; it plays out just like any other Smurfs episode, only this one happens to take place on Christmas Eve. The only thing remotely Christmassy about it is that singing carols can sometime inspire the gods to work their magic and save the day for no readily apparent reason. You'll see what I mean in a bit - here's the review...
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Things open up with a holiday scene of the Smurfs preparing for Christmas - mainly by baking giant pies and putting lights on their giant Christmas trees. I know Smurfs can converse, solve math problems, cook, and wear shoes, but they still ain't people. There's no reason for them to cut down 7' trees. First of all, it makes their village a whole lot more conspicuous, and secondly, nobody's tall enough to put the star on top without first inventing a Smurf-sized airplane or a pair of robotic Smurf-flight wings. The bucket of special Smurf pudding is equally huge - enough to feed a fleet of baleen whales if you could convince them to eat pink pudding first. Everything's going as scheduled, and Papa Smurf thinks that this might be their best Christmas celebration yet. But you know what, I bet Papa Smurf says that every Christmas. It's not like he was gonna take a look at the tree his Smurfs spent seventeen hours decorating and belt out: 'wow, last Christmas was sooo much better than this one.' Papa's the leader, he has to be diplomatic.
Elsewhere, two kids are riding in a sleigh with their grandfather. I don't know any of their names, but they only appeared in this special, so who cares? The important thing is this: due to some unknown villain, the sleigh topples over and traps poor Grandpa underneath. The kids are left to fend for themselves and to try to find help. It's hard enough to do in the middle of a blizzard, but it becomes increasingly difficult as more and more wolves keep trying to eat them.
Meanwhile, Gargamel's upset because the Smurfs are having a Smurfy good Christmas. No, really. That's what he's upset about. I never really noticed it before, but God, Gargamel lives in a shithouse, doesn't he? Those tattered robes might be vogue Village fashion, but on Gargamel, they just look like an indication of a guy who lives on rat meat and his own filth. Even his cat isn't safe - Azrael has holes in his ears. Plus, the only things Gargamel seems to own are black magic books and beakers. You really can't blame him for continually trying to perform evil spells on the Smurfs. It's not like he's got anything else to do in that shack.
The kids knock at Gargamel's door and ask for help, but come on...this is Gargamel we're talking about. Satan himself. He's not gonna help two strange kids lift a sleigh off their dead grandfather, even if it is Christmas. He quickly shoos them away, and returns to his makeshift lab to create more Smurf poisons out of bat spit, dog tongues, and eye crud. Then, a mysterious being appears. You know he's mysterious because he's got a CLOAK, and the law of the land states that cloaks always equal mystery. I don't think we ever get his name, but this is the same guy who threw a two-ton sleigh on Grandpa. Apparently, he wants revenge on the children's father, and that's why he's here to see Gargamel.
The two strike a deal - if Gargamel kidnaps the kids and presents them to Mr. Evil, Mr. Evil will give Gargy a scroll detailing the location of Smurf Village, and instructions on how to destroy it. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Gargamel agrees to the terms, excited over the opportunity to murder his sworn enemies once and for all. As for Mr. Evil's plans with those kids - he wants to sacrifice them in some kind of ritual. Isn't this the most prototypical Christmas special ever? I mean, they ripped the old 'kiddie sacrifice' gag right from A Christmas Story.
Back at the ranch, the Smurfs come across the lost kids and save them from a pack of wild wolves. Papa Smurf calmly asks the wolves to 'leave the kids alone, because they are our friends', and the wolves just run away with their tails between their legs. Did we miss something? What kind of sinister reputation did Papa Smurf have behind the scenes? If I was a wolf and I just found the perfect Christmas dinner, I don't think I'd eat something else just because a little blue troll told me that they were friends with it. These wolves know something we don't, and all signs point to Papa Smurf being one truly vicious son of a bitch after the cameras stop rolling.
The kids, of course, are very thankful for the Smurfy help. So thankful, in fact, that they have no problem partaking in their strange voodoo dance marathon. Songs are sung, pudding is eaten - all in all, it would've been such a marvelous time if the kids didn't have this nasty recurring thought about their grandfather laying dead under a sleigh in the middle of the storm. Fortunately, the sobering thought isn't enough to keep them from participating in Papa Smurf's special Christmas carol: "Goodness Makes The Badness Go Away!"
It's a chart-topper, for sure. Those are the lyrics in their entirety, too: "goodness makes the badness go away." I'm not saying it ain't true, but it sure as hell ain't catchy. Better rhymes have trickled from my lips after stubbing my toe on our vacuum cleaner. "Shit, my pinky! That vacuum, so tricky!" Still, Papa Smurf serves as maestro for this fine piece of musical art and seems mighty proud of his work. Dude, the song SUCKS. Just because Smurfs are little blue animals who know how to sing doesn't mean that they should sing. Sure, it's impressive that they can do that. But I would've taken their word for it; I didn't need a reason to stab my ears with a rusty old sock.
Notice that none of the Smurfs with actual personalities (Brainy, Smurfette, the guy with the rake) take part in any of this singing. Just the nameless drone 'Worker' Smurfs. They don't know any better. I wonder if they can tell themselves apart from each other, or if they're just assigned numbers for identity purposes. I think #45 has a crush on Smurfette.
Gargamel sneaks into the festivities and makes off with the children, who beg for mercy. Nope, Gargamel doesn't get bit by the holiday spirit - he remains a complete asshole for the duration of this special. Maybe he's Jewish. That explains the nose. Mr. Evil arrives right on schedule, and they make their agreed-upon trade. Mr. Evil gets the kids, and Gargamel gets a pretty new wall scroll that doubles as a means to KILL THE SMURFS ONCE AND FOR ALL - NEE HEE YAH HAH HAHH!
It's tough to type out Gargamel's trademark giggle, but I had to give it a shot. My alternate was 'yeeneeyahyahharrrr!', but I didn't think it quite did the laugh justice. It certainly needed the caps lock treatment. I had considered going with Verdana-14 bold in red, but I don't want to get all overstative. On his way to destroy Smurf Village, Gargamel runs into the children's uncle, who offers a reward for their safe return. So, he hatches a plan. After he sets the Village on fire, he'll turn in Mr. Evil and collect the reward! It's a masterful plot - let's see if Gargy can pull it off.
He succeeds in the first part, reading a spell off the scroll that turns Smurf Village into an icy, broken down ghost town. All of the Smurfs are off trying to rescue those damn kids, so they have no idea that Gargamel ruined their Smurf garden and Smurf gym. But! Gargamel is caught secretly tracking Mr. Evil, who decides to punish the deed by sacrificing Gargamel alongside the children. Gargamel tries to escape, so Mr. Evil uses his magic to turn a tree into a huge mass of poisonous snakes. I wish I could do that. :(
The next scene is pretty out there, at least in the realm of Smurfs cartoons. I know wizardry is one of the series' trademarks, but I didn't expect to see the kids entrenched in a ring of hellfire.
Mr. Evil starts mouthing off a really bad spell, which will ultimately destroy the kids and Gargamel and really put a damper on everyone's holiday spirit. The Smurfs arrive, but they're not sure how to handle the situation. They don't have to save kids from voodoo sacrifices that regularly, ya know? Papa Smurf kinda just stands there looking helpless for a minute, before conjuring up a plan that just might work. How do you get Mr. Evil's sacrifice ceremony to fall apart at the seams? Why, sing the 'Goodness Makes The Badness' song, of course!
My God, it's even worse the second time around! Now they're all into it and stuff! Goodness might make the badness go away, but this song is gonna give me an aneurysm if they don't cut it out soon. All the Smurfs sing, plus the kids, and even Gargamel. Flashes of Roseanne's rendition of the Star Spangled Banner flew into my head, alongside the painful memory of Hole's concert from the first Z100 Jingle Ball. Neither offense was anywhere near as bad as this. I wish the Smurfs would stick to collecting berries and other things that don't require them to try sounding harmonic. My Christmas is ruined. Again.
But, it works! The song is so good-natured at heart that it totally conquers Mr. Evil's ritual, causing him to vanish in a fit of rage, forever damned to the abyss. Well not really, but I think it was implied. He's gone now, for what it's worth. The children's uncle arrives and takes them back home, and everyone shares a tearful goodbye and wishes for happy holiday cheer all across the board.
It's still not the merriest Christmas ever, though. When the Smurfs get home, they notice that their village is kind of completely destroyed. They go ahead with their celebration anyway, because they're the Smurfs and they don't need material possessions to have a good time. Then the Smurf with the trumpet starts blowing away, creating a Christmas miracle the rest of us thought was impossible...
He must be a really good trumpet player, because the song makes the entire village restore itself to perfect condition. Papa Smurf calls it a 'miracle.' I call it 'pretty god damned convenient.' But at least they'll have a good Christmas this year. I'd hate to think that the Smurfs would have to kill a squirrel and spend the holidays in its tree nest. Then again, it would be a little interesting to see the Smurfs kill a squirrel. Hey, they tried to sacrifice kids to the devil in this episode - it's not asking too much.
What I've Learned: You can conquer even the most impossible of obstacles by singing happy songs or learning to play the trumpet.
What I Still Don't Understand: Vanity Smurf. What makes him think he's more attractive? He looks just like the rest of them! Adding the flower sets him apart from the rest, but that doesn't make him prettier. Come back when you've grown eyebrows.
How To Draw A Smurf If You Do Not Know How To Draw A Smurf: See below.