For kids of the 1980s, Saturday mornings were filled with little blue creatures – The Smurfs.
Based on a Belgian comic strip by Peyo, The Smurfs was animated and debuted on NBC TV in 1981, thanks to production by Hanna Barbera.
The comic books and merchandise had already debuted in North America, and tv executives were confident kids would be excited to know about the adventures of Les Schtroumpfs aka The Smurfs.
Fifteen actors lent their voices to the cast, including Jonathan Winters, Danny Goldman and Julie McWhirter.
A success for NBC, the 30 min segments were a hit – kids loved seeing the forest world of Papa Smurf, Brainy Smurf, Smurfette and their colleagues as they battled against the evil Gargamel and his sidekicks Johan, Peewit and cat Azarel. Each year the network did a one hour special of The Smurfs.
The series was nominated for several Daytime Emmy Awards and won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Daytime Children’s Series in 1982.
I was never a fan of The Smurfs – perhaps I was too old or just didn’t love the little Belgian creatures, but it never caught my attention, despite it being on television and merchandise in every store.
By 1989, the series had run its course with low ratings and was put in syndication on other networks as NBC had eliminated its Saturday morning cartoon lineup.
The Smurfs were everywhere in the 1980s, but no one still has answered the question why there were so many male Smurfs, but only one Smurfette.