It’s that time of year again. We present our annual list of our favorite Smurfs of the year. The reason for the delay is that it was such a challenging year. There was great debate here in the office, as our panel spent long hours compiling attributes and characteristics to shore up our list. We might not ever be able to top our 2005 list, but we hope Smurfers appreciate how much work went into compiling our list this year.
10) Pretentious Smurf- Pretentious Smurf wants the Smurfs to love him, but he doesn’t know how to make it happen. He, like all Smurfs don’t have parents, our primary definition of love. Most Smurflings are delivered by storks, and some were created by Gargamel and others. Papa Smurf is the leader of the Smurfs, but he is not their biological father. There is no Mama Smurf, with whom they might witness loving interactions with Papa Smurf to help them define love. They’re on their own to define the intricacies of love. In the absence of paternal lessons, there are but a few definitions of attaining love, the love you give is the love you receive, and one cannot know love without first loving oneself.
As opposed to other Smurfs, Pretentious ascribes to the latter, as he pretends to love others for the sake of loving himself. We concede the word pretends might be a bit harsh, as it speaks of artifice, and Pretentious doesn’t intend to pretend, but the depth of the character informs us of the fuzzy line between pretending and pretentious. When he attempts to love them, it is from a distant sympathetic love that serves to keep them distant. He feels sorry for them, as he tries to help them. When he helps them, Pretentious makes sure everyone hears about it, which viewers have noted is more about publicity than charity.
In this Let’s Get Smurfy episode, Pretentious Smurf’s exaggerated love of self started out philosophically pure, as he attempted to spread the love, but it progressed into a protection device to avoid the fact that he doesn’t know how to love others, and that results in other Smurfs not knowing how to love him.
9) Reflective Smurf- When we first meet Reflective Smurf, the character just seemed redundant. Why didn’t the writers just give all these characteristics to Brainy Smurf? As with most of this new generation of Smurfs, we find that Reflective provides a unique level of depth to Smurf Village. Whereas Brainy displayed his intelligence in every episode in which he appeared, Reflective’s intelligence is less overt. Reflective’s intelligence was more analytical and situational. Like many of the side characters in Smurf Village, Reflective Smurf is purposefully underdeveloped. He is a vehicle through which the writers define other Smurfs. When, for example, the good friends Salubrious Smurf and Quiescent Smurf argued, Lachrymose Smurf is not upset by some of the things Salubrious said.
“They’ve loved each other for so long,” Reflective says. “How could Salubrious say such things to someone he loves so much?”
“It was an argument,” Lachrymose says. “I think he was saying whatever he had to say to win that argument. We all do it.”
“Ok, but he said some things that he might not be able to unwind,” Reflective adds. “I’m going to say something, before they drag this out too long.”
“You’ll do more harm than good,” Lachrymose cautions.
“He said some awful things though,” Reflective responds. “I’m going to talk to him and tell him that if he doesn’t undo this, he’s going to regret it.”
“Wait,” Lachrymose says, “Let’s wait this out, and let it resolve itself. They’re not Smurflings fighting on the playground. They’ll figure it out.”
“Be careful what you wait for,” Reflective says to close the scene. Wait a second, the line is “It’s be careful what you wish for” we thought. After chewing on the line for a bit, we realized that the line had a more complicated rhythm to it. How many of us fight with our loved ones? How many of us say the meanest, most awful thing in the moment? When our loved ones truly care about us, and they are not dramatic types who remind us how lucky we are to have them, we accidentally begin to take for granted that they will be there forever. Their love and loyalty is there so often and so consistent that they’re kind of boring. So, we break whatever chains they have on us, controlling us, until we don’t see the damage we do. We unleash particularly heavy when they’re strong, because we know they can take it. How many of us don’t see the damage we do? How many of us wait too long to unwind it, as Reflective said? We think our loved ones will be around forever, so there’s no need to get dramatic and say hurry up and end the fight before it’s too late. “Be careful what you wait for” takes on a new rhythm when examined in that light.
If the worst-case scenario happens, and the loved one dies, Reflective might say to Lachrymose, we could confront them at the funeral and tell them that they waited too long, and they still wouldn’t see it. They might say we’re exaggerating, and that they don’t remember the argument being as bad as we thought. We could even drop heartfelt comments the subject of their scorn made on their deathbed, and they wouldn’t see it. We might suspect that their ignorance on this issue is intentional, but Reflective’s experience on the matter suggests that that’s not the case. Some Smurfs simply don’t see it, and they never will. So, waiting for it to happen is pointless.
8) Writer Smurf- Writer Smurf wrote a popular piece sometime before we met him. The story was so great that some of the Smurfs began calling him Brilliant Smurf. In this episode, we learn that Writer Smurf has been unable to recapture the magic of that piece. He spends much of this episode telling the Smurfs that he is no longer properly inspired to create another piece. Part of this is true, and part of it was inspired to fortify his legacy. After delivering this line a number of times, the other Smurfs begin to question the idea of it. To defeat these questions, Writer Smurf creates pieces no one can understand. “Nothing happened in the story,” was the primary complaint he heard.
To which Writer Smurf said, “The demand that something happen in a story is trite.” As his first story proved, Writer Smurf is as talented as any Smurf who ever laid quill to paper, but he obviously feels compelled to try to equal and/or top that first story. He can’t come up with anything, so he writes beautiful scenes and incredible characters, but they’re involved in a story no one wants to read. He also litters his stories with limericks and songs in an old world language no Smurf has used for decades. He uses foreign words and big words to impress upon them his broad vocabulary. He does this so often in one particular piece that we know it’s more about using those words than it is about entertaining the Smurfs. Writer Smurf showed the ability to write a great story once, but other Smurfs wrote other great stories in the interim. He fears that he cannot top them, or himself, in his next stories, so he basically focuses on creating pieces that confound them with the hope that they might confuse that for brilliance. Writer Smurf appears to enjoy the motif he created for himself. “Anyone can write a story,” he says to his critics, “but I write masterpieces that will have critics and experts debating my intention for decades.”
7) Jejune Smurf- I was not a fan of the early incarnation of Jejune Smurf, as there was something missing in his absurdist dada attempts at humor. As Heuristic Smurf later stated, “Jejune was not in a place where he could be a quality Smurf. He was without an identity, not quite a Smurf.” Jejune Smurf was but a shadow and little more than a disembodied voice until the light entered the room. He denied his physical identity and attempted to shut himself out of his own consciousness. Heuristic Smurf commanded the seas about Jujune, thus expanding Jejune’s dramatis personae and establishing his raison d’etre in the Smurf motif.
6) Bellicose Smurf- Bellicose Smurf’s initial monologue to open this three-part series offended some of us so much that we wanted to crawl into a hole and cry. Many of us were unable to watch these episodes without a bottle of Merlot, a friend on the phone to talk us through it, and a warm, dry blanket. His discursive monologue seemed so incongruent to the Smurf aesthetic. When the acclaimed director Rama Eflue exerted some influence over the character, he introduced a holistic sense of cohesion in the whimsically conceived diegetic oeuvre. Eflue not only introduced us to the interiority of Bellicose, but he provided a basic honesty with his techniques and framed it in the Smurf schema with Homeric parallels. Introducing him with Claudio Baglioni’s beautiful, orchestral arrangement E Tu Come Stai didn’t hurt either.
5) Contumacious Smurf- From his introduction to his bitter, unusually violent end, Contumacious Smurf provided us a form of drama in two different episodes last season that have no parallel in any prior or subsequent Smurfean fare. It was a mixture of fantasy, delicate political and personal satire, knockabout farce, obscenity (probably of ritual origin) and in the case of his far too infrequent interactions with Lachrymose Smurf at least, delightful lyric poetry.
4) Didactic Smurf- Didactic Smurf provided further definition of the eternal struggle between good and evil in his early encounters with Gargamel. The culmination might have occurred in the interaction in the Is it My Birthday Yet? episode. What does Didactic Smurf expect from Gargamel? What does Gargamel expect to extract from Smurf Village? What is Gargamel’s place in the broad edifice? Gargamel represents a past Didactic despises. To combat that, Didactic expresses a strong need for knowledge about Smurf Village in general and specific to Gargamel’s subterfuge. “I have much to learn,” Didactic’s interior narration says, as he writes to the Smurfling Invidious, “Learn and inwardly ingest.” These two ideas represent a near contradictory description of Didactic’s attitude. Was Didactic Smurf recalling a past episode in Smurf Village in which he perceived, in a moment of metempsychosis, to see the ghost of Efficacious Smurf peering out through the vestments of the present? We don’t yet know, but we know he despises his creator, Gargamel, as a symbol of a guardian of the past.
3) Taciturn Smurf- Taciturn Smurf completely changed what we considered the Smurf ethos when he opened the scene with the declarative, “I am another Smurf now and yet the same,” before turning out the lights to tacitly encourage the chaos and violence that followed. “A Smurf too. A Smurf of a Smurf. I am the Smurf of two Smurfs!” he shouted in a booming voice. “A crazy Smurf, old and jealous. Now kneel down before me.” Those who watched this with me considered Taciturn Smurf’s performance terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. One of my colleagues actually said he literally found Taciturn Smurf’s rancor so egregious that he was relieved when Taciturn Smurf reached his denouement during the great Smurf War. Taciturn’s performance made my friend uncomfortable. I agreed in a most glorious appreciation of his performance.
2) Rhadamanthine Smurf: Rhadamanthine might not be on this list were it not for the existential questions involved in his interactions. Rhadamanthine Smurf is the most accomplished and decorated Smurf in Smurf Village. The other Smurfs, those outside his family, revere him. The old adage ‘he doesn’t know his own strength’ applies to Rhadamanthine Smurf in reverse. Rhadamanthine knows he is the strongest Smurf, physically. In episode after episode, Rhadamanthine shows his strength, compares it, and lectures other Smurfs on it for the good of the Smurf community. Physical strength is his raison d’etre, his comparative analysis, and the tool he uses to keep the random at bay. Is Rhadamanthine Smurf’s sole focus on outer strength, a window into his lack of inner strength? It’s possible that Rhadamanthine has only known weakness, and he considers it a strength. He constantly compares the strength of other Smurfs to something he once knew, but is he comparing or is he lecturing on a subject of keen interest to him, and is such interest always born of a subject on which we have no knowledge? He speaks of muscular strength, of course, but muscular strength is easily identifiable and concrete, but is it as easily attainable as inner strength? In the Less Unparalleled episode, we witness the idea that Rhadamanthine has no stature in his home. His Smurflings, including the Invidious Smurfling, are obnoxious and unruly. Rhadamanthine Smurf has an enviable reputation among the Smurfs who know him superficially, but in the confines of his mushroom, he is the weakest Smurf.
1) Solipsist Smurf– For the third year running, Solipsist Smurf is our favorite Smurf. We identify with his facile ruminations, and his jocose use of mnemonic devices to advise and entertain his fellow Smurfs, but most of all we love Solipsist Smurf for the way he manages to leverage all that with a unique level of depth and range. In the The Hat Becomes a Leaf episode, Lugubrious Smurf approached Solipsist for advice on how to tell Muliebrous Smurf that he loved her. Sopolsist’s answer reveals the rewards of self-reflection as it lends itself to occasional solipsism. “Touch her,” he said, “for touch is the one essential sensation we all share. Until we touch, we only dream. Touch creates a tangible connection to the person and to the dream. Touch is you, it is I, and it is Smurf Village. Avoiding touch permits us to never lose and never gain.”