Cave Smurfs (The Smurfs, 1981)
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Cave Smurfs is a Season 9 episode of The Smurfs and the sequel to two parts of The Smurfs That Time Forgot. This episode is notable for being the last to have the Smurfs in the prehistoric time period, as they continue to try and return home through various different time periods. Unfortunately, this started to lose the audience's interest because the series focused on a "lost in time" plot that was done before in other cartoons. It was also because the series was still plagued with Limited Animation and bad writing from the late 60s to mid 80s era of low-budget cartoons (the former not being as worse as before).
While Papa Smurf reconnects the time crystals by hand, Brainy takes care of a baby bird and a mother bird mistakes Greedy for her baby. After Hefty saves Greedy and the baby bird is reunited with his mother, the Smurfs leave the prehistoric era in hopes of returning to the correct time period.
Why it’s Caved in the Cave
- Compared to the previous seasons, the plot is thin and very slow. The episode feels more like filler and the plot doesn't come in halfway until the middle of the episode.
- For story editing reasons, it should have began with the Mama Bird leaving to go get food for her baby instead of the Smurfs residing in a cave, mourning over the loss of the Ruby Key.
- Papa Smurf physically harms Brainy Smurf after the latter attempted to help connect the last time crystal. The same thing almost happened in "Papa Loses His Patience".
- At this point, Papa Smurf is semi-reverting to his Season 1 characterization. He has very little patience with Brainy, making the latter's Butt-Monkey status worse than before.
- Overuse of Hanna-Barbera sound effects, which can get pretty annoying to hear.
- The "Brainy" gag becomes unbearable to watch and continues to run into the ground until the end of the series. Jumping into various time periods involving a similar gag in a few episodes doesn't help matters either.
- A nonsensical gag where Greedy Smurf eats a fig larger than him in seconds. Though justified since Hanna-Barbera wanted to return to their original roots since Tom and Jerry.
- Much like "The Lost City of Yore" and "Tis the Season to Be Smurfy", this episode suffered from a "random events" plot. It also overused the "mother mistakes someone for baby" cliche and, like "The Bad Place", the title of the episode is false advertising.
- Papa Smurf never apologized to Brainy for losing his temper over a simple mistake. Also, there is no scene where Handy, Vanity and Wild tell Papa Smurf about what happened to Brainy and Greedy.
- Jokey Smurf, Grouchy Smurf, Painter Smurf, Smoogle, Baby Smurf, Snappy and Sassette are nowhere to be seen in this episode. This would cause inconsistencies with the season altogether, especially Jokey and the latter four. Sometimes they appear, sometimes they don't.
- There are no villains in this episode to make the plot more interesting, resulting in having little to no conflict. "Smurf Me No Flowers" had the same problem, but not as worse as this episode.
- The title card is also misleading, despite being original art. Wild and Handy are laughing at Brainy sitting on an egg, which does not happen in this episode.
- The voice acting is still good.
- The animation is decent in this episode, with few hints of squash and stretch.
- Some parts are funny, such as the visual gag of Greedy literally showing his ribcage in his skin.
- Handy, Wild, Vanity, Smurfette and Greedy are still likeable characters. Brainy is also surprisingly likeable, as he is not as annoying as in previous episodes.
- Luckily, there are no mildly racist stereotypes or pointless Gargamel and Azrael clones in this episode.
- This episode, along with The Smurfs That Time Forgot, contributed to the beginning of the end for the 1980s cartoon show. Several fan favorites were removed at this point, with only seventeen Smurfs stuck in time travel.