The Smurfs Holiday Celebration (2011, Warner Home Video)
Run time: 48 minutes
New this year to DVD is this collection which houses the two Smurfs Christmas specials (‘Tis the Season to Be Smurfy and The Smurfs Christmas Special) from the 1980s. I’m extremely pleased to see yet another one of my childhood favorites is now on DVD. It seems like every year that “want on DVD” list of mine gets whittled down just a bit more and now I can throw away the DVD-R copy I burned last year that had both of these specials on it.
The Smurfs Christmas Special
(Originally Aired: December 12, 1982)
Ah, they saved the best for first! This Christmas special is one of the greatest of all-time in my book and was one of the most watched in my house when I was a kid. I wore that recorded VHS copy out. Looking back, yeah, it’s probably NOT a truly great holiday special but that doesn’t make it any less of a classic in my eyes because how can you hate on a song like “Goodness Makes the Badness Go Away”?
The story revolves around a pair of kids traveling through the forest with their grandpa on their way to see their uncle, an evil wizard is out to get to kidnap the children as a form of revenge on the uncle and sends a pack of wolves to cause the sleigh to crash. Gargamel is still out to destroy the Smurfs (or eat ’em or something) and The Wizard tells Gargamel if he’ll capture the children for him then he’ll give Gargamel a map to Smurf Village with instructions on how to hurt the Smurfs.
Pause. Why didn’t the Wizard just capture the kids when he caused the sleigh crash in the first place instead of posing high atop that hill like he did? Play.
The Smurfs end up running into the kids (grandpa was injured in the crash) and take them back to Smurf Village. They all return to the scene of the accident after Brainy & Clumsy did some recon at the site and discovered a note from Uncle Edgar saying gramps was okay and they’d return to the site for them. At the crash site, Gargamel and his Azrael able to take the children away from the Smurfs and hands them over to The Wizard who then gives him a map to Smurf Village and means to destroy the Smurfs.
Apparently Gargamel is much quicker than the Smurfs because he makes it to their village before they are back but goes ahead and speaks the evil chant The Wizard had given him and everything in town shrivels. Satisfied with ruining their Christmas, Gargamel walks away and plans to betray The Wizard to Uncle Edgar (who is offering a reward whoever finds the children).
The Wizard was well aware of Gargamel’s treacherous nature though and appears to kidnap him as well and now Gargamel, Azrael and the children trapped inside what appears to be a Satanic ritual with a ring of fire while the Wizard’s face turns greens and he starts chanting, preparing the children for a “final journey” (!!!). The Smurfs were hot on The Wizard’s tail though and Papa Smurf decides the best way to battle the Wizard’s evil magic is through the power of love and song and even gets Gargamel in on the act and the Wizard disappears as everyone sings “Goodness Makes the Badness Go Away”. The uncle & his search party finally arrive on the scene and everyone celebrates while Gargamel & Azrael are allowed a pass and get to walk away because the children tell Uncle Edgar that Christmas is a time for forgiving.
The evil Wizard (who I don’t think is ever given a name other than “stranger” but DVD subtitles refer to him as ‘The Wizard’) creeped me out as a kid and is still a creepy, evil dude watching it now. The whole reason he’s doing this is for revenge because of some past with Uncle Edgar. Not much is said about it about than Uncle Edgar was always around to meddle in his affairs and prevent him from doing bad deeds (I smell prequel…). I’m pretty sure his plans went from kidnapping to murder over the course of the special. That or he was at least intent on sending these children on a fiery journey to Hell. Either way, this guy wasn’t just your standard goofy villain like Gargamel but seemed more like an incarnation of the devil.
Overall, kids these days probably won’t enjoy this special. Or maybe they will. Who knows? Look, I’m 30 years old, how do I know what a 6 year old likes these days? Despite having a modest box-office hit, the Smurfs aren’t exactly major players with the kiddies these days so I supposed this special would be viewed differently by the kids of today but I can tell you I was entranced by this special back in the ’80s and I’m glad to have it officially in my Christmas DVD collection. There’s a little bit of something for everyone: the usual Smurfs hijinks of singing, pratfalls & caring, Christmas, wolves and a wizard that works for/is Satan. What’s not to love?
‘Tis the Season to Be Smurfy
(Originally Aired: December 13, 1987)
Well, my recap of The Smurfs Christmas Special went on longer than it had any right to, let’s keep going.
To be honest, I don’t remember the details too well about this special. For me, it’s really always lived in the shadow of the original Smurfs Christmas special but the opening shot featuring that snowflake logo always stuck with me.
This was the second and final Christmas special based on original television show run and takes place at a time in the series when they had introduced new characters like the Smurflings (teenage Smurfs, I guess), Grandpa Smurf, Wild Smurf and Scruple (Gargamel’s apprentice). There was also Puppy the dog and other creatures hanging around the Smurfs at this time. I was getting older so I’m sure this factored into it but I didn’t much care for all these new additions to the cast. Granted, they weren’t as bland looking and visually stood out more than the original Smurfs (who were still around, BTW) but I always thought they were kind of annoying. Everything seemed to revolve around Grandpa Smurf, the Smurflings and Baby Smurf. I guess the writer’s enjoyed playing with the age gap.
Most of the story takes place in a human village. After Sassette & Grandpa Smurf went into town to see how humans spend Christmas Eve, they come across a poor toy maker and his wife who is sick and dying (it’s inferred). Sassette & Grandpa go back into Smurf Village to enlist some help for give this kind old couple but all of the other Smurfs are too busy with their own Christmas Eve preparations to listen. Eventually (after some chastising from Papa Smurf), all of the Smurfs get on the same page and decide to help Sassette & Grandpa decorate this couple’s home a tree, presents and bows in time for Christmas morning.
There’s a subplot about a thief going around and stealing coin purses. There’s an accusation at the end that the poor toy maker stole the coin purse of a wealthy man in town (one who had earlier refused his son a toy, stating he’d buy him something better) but even the thief has a change of heart and admits that he was the one who was stealing the coins and was planning on giving instead of taking from now.
I tied that one up pretty quick, didn’t I?
Obviously, the animation is better on this special and it appears like it was better preserved too (or at least the transfer is better) but overall it’s the original Smurfs Christmas special I still prefer.
For $10, this is a holiday collection that shouldn’t be passed up by children of the ’80s or Smurfs fan. It’s a fun trip to simpler times. I’m not sure how much kids of today will care for it but if you know a kid that loved the movie, they’ll probably be interested.