Very Important Smurfs
The Good, The Bad, and The Smurfy
NBC president Fred Silverman bought the rights to the Smurfs and turned them into one of the most successful cartoons ever to hit the air. The first episode aired September 12, 1981.
The cartoon featured the adventures of the Smurfs who lived in the mushroom cottages of Smurf Village with their 542-year-old leader, Papa Smurf. Their lives would have been perfect were it not for the villainous Gargamel, an evil wizard who spent his days trying to capture the Smurfs. Gargamel's cat Azrael added to the menace, always looking for a snack.
The original characters were:
Despite its incredible popularity, The Smurfs actually encountered some controversy. Some adults considered the show sexist in its use of the one original female character, Smurfette (who was created by Gargamel in a plot to catch the Smurfs.)
Perhaps the most memorable feature of the show was the use of the word "smurf" in every possible tense and construction. For instance, it wouldn't be unusual to hear a Smurf say something like, "It's such a smurfy day, I think I'll go smurfing in Lake Smurf."
In any case, the show won two Emmys as Outstanding Children's Entertainment Series in 1982 and 1983 and, in 1987, actually did a message episode. In an anti-drug show, Poet Smurf became addicted after rubbing a witch's magic orb and required the help of Papa and the gang to overcome his problem. The Smurfs were also featured alongside Bugs Bunny, Winnie the Pooh, Garfield, Alf, and others when they came together to present an anti-drug message to the youth of America. "Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue" was simulcast on several large networks Saturday morning, April 21, 1990.
The Smurfs hit the silver screen in 1984 with The Smurfs and the Magic Flute. The film was actually a dubbed version of an older Belgian feature, and our teeny weeny heroes didn't even appear until a ways into the movie. The film flopped, but the cartoon continued to rule Saturday morning for the better part of the decade.
In 1989, in an attempt to save the nearly decade-old show, the producers had the Smurfs leaving Smurf Village to visit various times and locations. Fans were smurfed off. The show was cancelled after that season, ending August 25, 1990, surviving only in the syndicated package titled The Smurfs' Adventures shown world-wide to this day.