In 1976, Stuart R. Ross, an American media and entertainment entrepreneur who saw the Smurfs while traveling in Belgium, entered into an agreement with Editions Dupuis and Peyo, acquiring North American and other rights to the characters, whose original name was "les Schtroumpfs". Subsequently, Ross launched the Smurfs in the United States in association with a California company, Wallace Berrie and Co., whose figurines, dolls and other Smurf merchandise became a hugely popular success. NBC President Fred Silverman's daughter, Melissa, had a Smurf doll of her own that he had bought for her at a toy shop while they were visiting Aspen, Colorado. Silverman thought that a series based on the Smurfs might make a good addition to his Saturday-morning lineup.
The Saturday morning cartoonThe Smurfs, produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions in association with SEPP International S.A. (from 1981 to 1987) and Lafig S.A. (in the years 1988 and 1989), debuted on NBC in 1981. The series became a major success for the networkand one of the most successful and longest running Saturday morning cartoons in television history, spawning spin-off television specials on an almost yearly basis. The characters included Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Brainy Smurf, the evil Gargamel, his cat Azrael, and Johan and his friend Peewit. The Smurfs was nominated multiple times for Daytime Emmy Awards, and won Outstanding Children's Entertainment Series in 1982–1983.
In 1989, NBC changed the format of the show, removing some of the Smurfs from the forest and omitted the Smurf village. These changes were adopted to a lost in time format similar to The Time Tunnel. The show was cancelled because of decreasing ratings due to viewers being displeased with the change. In addition, NBC executives prepared a Today weekend program for Saturdays as well as programmings for teenagers such as Saved by the Bell, which came later on and led to the elimination of Saturday morning animated children's shows. The show continued through December 2, 1989 on the NBC network.
Syndicated airings of the show are usually broadcast under the title Smurfs Adventures. Although each season had its own unique opening song during the original broadcast, syndicated airings usually use a shortened version of the season 4 opening, where Gargamel says, "Ravage the land as never before, total destruction from mountain to shore."
Home media releases
Warner Home Video (via Hanna-Barbera Productions and Warner Bros. Family Entertainment) released the complete first season on DVD in a two-volume set in 2008. Despite high sales of both sets, no further seasons have been released. Warner Home Video later released a series of three single disc releases of The Smurfs in 2009, each containing 5 episodes from the second season. A two-disc DVD was set to be released in 2011 to tie into the theatrical film with 10 episodes culled from the entire run of the series, but included episodes from the second season instead. Another DVD with both Smurfs Christmas specials was released later that year. It is unknown if Warner Archive will release the rest of the show's complete seasons (as part of the Hanna-Barbera Classics Collection series).
Season 1 Volume 1
February 26, 2008
This two-disc release contained the first nineteen season one episodes, uncut and digitally remastered and presented in its original broadcast presentation and order. Special features included a bonus episode "The Smurfs Springtime Special", and the Smurfs music video.
Season 1 Volume 2
October 7, 2008
This two-disc release contained the remaining twenty season one episodes. Plus one special feature "I Smurf The Smurfs".
True Blue Friends
March 3, 2009
Contains five season two episodes "S-Shivering S-Smurfs", "Turncoat Smurf", "The Smurf Who Couldn't Say No", "The Haunted Castle", and "The Black Hellebore". Special features including a storyboard of "Gormandizing Greedy".
August 18, 2009
Contains five season two episodes "The Last Laugh", "The A-maze-ing Smurfs", "The Lost City of Yore", "Johan's Army", and "The Good, The Bad, and the Smurfy". Special features including bios as Handy, Clumsy, Smurfette, and Vanity Smurf.
World of Wonders
November 17, 2009
Contains five season two episodes "All's Smurfy That Ends Smurfy", "The Littlest Giant", "Sleepwalking Smurfs", "Squeaky", and "The Sorcery Of Maltrochu". Special features including The Meet The Smurfs feature shows Jokey, Brainy, and Greedy, and if you click on the telescope, it shows something that is "rated S for smurfy". It's shown as if it was a science-fiction movie. It starts out with Dreamy asking if there is life in "outer smurf", and shows Hefty saying, "There is no life in outer smurf." Also it has an announcer, and ends with the announcer saying "It Came From Outer Smurf. Coming soon." If you look closely Greedy's image is Cook Smurf's image, which is what the cartoon version of Greedy is based on.
A Magical Smurf Adventure
July 19, 2011
Contains ten season two episodes "Smurf Van Winkle", "Revenge Of The Smurfs", "Magic Fountain", "Smurf Me No Flowers", "The Cursed Country", "The Blue Plague", "The Ring Of Castellac", "A Mere Truffle", "Gormandizing Greedy", and "Sister Smurf". Special features including Smurf Speak.
October 11, 2011
Contains both two Christmas specials "'Tis the Season to Be Smurfy" and "The Smurfs Christmas Special"
The Best of Seasons 1 and 2
March 12, 2013
Repackage contains the first discs from the Season 1 Volumes 1 and 2 and A Magical Smurf Adventure sets.
Smurfs to the Rescue!
July 16, 2013
Contains one season one episode, and five season two episodes "The Goblin of Boulder Wood", "Sideshow Smurfs", "The Three Smurfketeers", "It Came From Outer Smurf", "One Good Smurf Deserves Another", and "The Sky Is Smurfing! The Sky Is Smurfing!"
October 15, 2013
Contains five season one episodes, and one season six episode "The Astrosmurf", "Painter And Poet", "Paradise Smurfed", "Supersmurf", "Dreamy's Nightmare", and "All That Glitters Isn't Smurf"
A Magical Smurf Adventure 2
November 8, 2013
Contains six season one episodes "The Baby Smurf", "The Fake Smurf", "Bewitched, Bothered, And Be-Smurfed", "Fuzzle Trouble", "The Smurfette", and "The Magical Meanie"
Fabulous Films and Arrow Films have released the first five seasons on DVD in the UK.
The company has also released the film The Smurfs and the Magic Flute on Blu-ray and DVD, as well as several compilation DVDs, containing themed specials from the show.
The Smurfs and the Magic Flute has been released, but a new 'Original Collector's Edition' with new packaging released on 2 September 2011.
The Smurfs – Time Travellers (3 Disc Set) was released on 5 November 2008.
The Smurfs – Smurfette Collection (3 Disc Set) was released on 1 September 2009.
The Smurfs – Papa Smurf Collection (3 Disc Set) was released on 4 November 2009.
The Smurfs – Favourites Collection (6 Disc Box Set) was released on 29 June 2010.
The Smurfs – Just Smurfy 1 (Box Set) (BONUS Figurine) was released on 3 November 2010.
The Smurfs – Just Smurfy 2 (Box Set) (BONUS Figurine) was released on 3 November 2010.
The Smurfs – Just Smurfy 3 (Box Set) (BONUS Figurine) was released on 1 December 2010.
The Smurfs – Just Smurfy 4 (Box Set) (BONUS Figurine) was released on 2 March 2011.
The Smurfs – Complete Season 1 (3 Disc Digipak) and The Smurfs – Complete Season 2 (3 Disc Digipak) were released on 24 August 2011.
The Smurfs – Complete Season 3 (4 Disc Digipak) and The Smurfs – Complete Season 4 (4 Disc Digipak) were released on 5 October 2011.
The Smurfs – Complete Season 5 (3 Disc Digipak) was released on 1 December 2011.
The Smurfs – Complete Season 6 (5 Disc Digipak) was released on 4 January 2012.
The Smurfs – Complete Season 7 (5 Disc Digipak), The Smurfs – Complete Season 8 (2 Disc Digipak) were released on 1 August 2013.
The Smurfs – Complete Season 9 (3 Disc Digipak) was released on 14 August 2013.
The Smurfs – Ultimate Collection 1: Limited Edition – Seasons 1–5 (18 Disc Box Set) released on 24 August 2011.
The Smurfs – Ultimate Collection 2: Limited Edition – Seasons 6–9 (16 Disc Box Set) released on 2 November 2011.
In popular culture
The animated versions of Papa Smurf and Brainy Smurf were featured in Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue. Hefty Smurf also makes a brief cameo in the beginning of the movie with the other Smurfs, his only line being, "Who smurfed the bell?" Smurfette is shown on the promotional poster and VHS cover artwork, but was not seen in the special. Harmony Smurf made a small cameo as the Smurfs comic book was flipping through pages.
Gargamel and Azrael made guest appearances on Family Guy in 2009.
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