Can you take a classic show and give it a good remake? Increasingly Hollywood seems to be telling us no, or at least they don’t care to. They like the name, they sort of like the concept, but between the everything for meeeeeeeee crowd, surface viewers looking to push an idea using nostalgia as a cheap marketing ploy while lying to the audience, and studios who don’t care either way so long as they have your money what you see is a poor imitation if not outright mocking of the very property they’re going after only because its famous.
Belgium cartoonist Peyo created the Smurfs as a one-time character in a story for the Johan And Peewit comic but he did such a good job creating them that they became popular enough to get their own comics. Later, American animation studio Hanna-Barbera thought they would be perfect for their Saturday morning offerings and NBC agreed. The show lasted quite a few seasons and still maintained a spot in people’s memories thanks to syndicated reruns and Cartoon Network/Boomerang. Sadly this led to a duo of movies where the Smurf journey to New York, forcing people to ask “why are the Smurfs in New York?” or “why is Hefty suddenly a terrible and insulting Scottish stereotype when the woods they live in are based on forests in Belgium and classic European fantasy stories”?, or my personal favorite “why is this live-action?” and we can’t forget “why the @#$%#$ did they make a sequel?” I have not seen these movies nor do I plan to. Ever.
A recent all CG movie introduced more female Smurfs because understanding how Smurf lore works is too much like work when there are feminists to placate, and yet all the Smurf girls moving to a different tribe (I haven’t seen The Lost Village and that one is on the “finally watch” list) actually makes a sort of sense so I’m of two minds on that one. In the actual fiction all you have are Smurfette (an artificial Smurf created by Gargamel, whose comic story is a bit more misogynistic than the HB version), Sassette the little girl Smurf, and Nanny Smurf. I’m not against more since they’ve been established without Gargamel’s magic but I’m not sure the addition is for the right reasons. Basically I don’t trust the entertainment industry to do something because the story demands it rather than the usual suspects who aren’t going to watch, play, or read it anyway. A topic for the future when I’ve seen the movie?
This leads to the new Smurf cartoon, which in the US is airing on Nickelodeon. Two stories (though not from the same episode) are currently available on the Nickelodeon Cartoon Universe channel (which at least appears to be legit) so consider this a sort of Friday Night Showcase with review as I give my thoughts on “Smurf-Fu” and “Clumsy Not Clumsy”.