Saturday, September 11, 2021

The Smurfs | Crew Interviews | Nickelodeon

The Smurfs have arrived on Nickelodeon! To celebrate the debut of the brand new The Smurfs series on Nick, below is a hand-picked selection of interviews with the creatives behind the all new series! To find out more about the show, click here. Catch all new episodes Fridays at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT, only on Nickelodeon!



40 Years in the Making: ‘The Smurfs’ Return to TV

Head writers Peter Saisselin and Amy Serafin discuss the iconic franchise’s first all-new animated television series in nearly four decades; the ‘Smurf-tacular’ CG animated show premieres Friday, September 10 on Nickelodeon

‘The Smurfs,’ debuting September 10 on Nickelodeon. All images © Peyo Productions - Dupuis ร‰dition & Audiovisuel - Dargaud Media - KiKA - KETNET - RTBF.be - 2021

Premiering on Nickelodeon tomorrow, September 10, that iconic gang of little blue Smurf Village inhabitants – including Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Brainy, and Hefty - returns with another set of adventures in an all-new CG animated series, The Smurfs. New episodes will continue to rollout Friday nights on Nickelodeon, debuting internationally this fall. 

The storied franchise’s first new animated TV series since 1981 was developed as a continuation of creator Peyo’s books, with original stories showing the Smurfs in a new light. According to head writers Peter Saisselin (Sonic Boom, Alvin!!! and the Chipmunks) and Amy Serafin (Sonic Boom, Alvin!!! and the Chipmunks), “For example, Smurfette is much more empowered in this new series - she’s even an expert in the little-known martial art ‘Smurf-fu’! There are a few new characters, too, notably other girls from Smurfy Grove - originally introduced in the third movie.”

The English dub voice cast includes David Freeman (7 Promises) as Papa Smurf; Berangere McNeese (Matriochkas) as Smurfette; Lenny Mark Irons (No Man’s Land) as Gargamel; Youssef El Kaoukibi (NRJ Belgium) as Brainy; and Catherine Hershey (Boundary Games) as Willow.

In writing the new show, Saisselin and Serafin wanted to develop the characters more fully, giving them each their own fears, hopes, and dreams. “We wanted to push them to ask bigger questions, hoping to create more chaos and comedy, but also more empathy,” they note. “For example, in one episode, Gargamel tempts Clumsy with an amulet that will make him graceful. Clumsy relishes the idea. But in the end, when his clumsiness actually helps him save his fellow Smurfs, he realizes he’s perfect just the way he is.”

Though the writers worked from well-known source materials, their collaboration with Peyo Productions and other series producers was based on taking Peyo’s famed characters in new directions. “We took a lot of inspiration from the quirky tone and humor of Peyo’s books, and stayed true to his vision of the characters, while rounding out their personalities as much as possible,” the writers explain. “Our (and the other writers’) original story ideas had to be approved by the rights holders, the producer, the director, and the networks. Peyo Productions was very vigilant about maintaining the tone and respecting the universe, but also open to pushing the boundaries, as long as it made sense. They gave us notes throughout the process, and it was really a team effort.”

For Saisselin and Serafin, producing the show in CG, rather than 2D, was not easy; The Smurfs takes its design cues from the late Kelly Asbury’s 2017 CG film, Smurfs: The Lost Village. “We would say the biggest challenge was working within the limits of 3D,” they share. “It can be expensive, and we had to be clever in our reuse of props, sets, and guest characters. Also, fitting an entire story with its twists and turns into an 11-minute script, including humor and character development, is always a challenge!”

The Smurfs is a Peyo Productions and Dupuis Audiovisuel production, made as a co-production with KiKA, Ketnet and RTBF, with the participation of TF1 and with the participation of Wallimage (La Wallonie), of Screen Flanders, of BNPPFFF and with the support of the Tax Shelter of the Belgian Government and the participation of the CNC. In other words, lots of Belgian studios and government support.

Nick’s series acquisition was overseen by Layla Lewis, Senior Vice President, Global Acquisitions and Content Partnerships and Dana Cluverius, Senior Vice President, Current Series Animation for Nickelodeon.

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Blue Fridays: ‘The Smurfs’ Continue Their Happy Song on Nickelodeon

Series writers Peter Saisselin and Amy Serafin, who worked together on the Alvinnn!!! and the Chipmunks series, were kind enough to answer a few of our burning questions about this new incarnation of the characters. “The visual universe of our show is truly amazing,” says Saisselin. “You won’t see a TV show with this level of 3D animation. It’s really movie quality. But beyond that, we love the characters — everything from their cleverness and kindness to their funny little flaws. Nobody is perfect, and we think it’s important for kids to see that that is okay.”

Years ago, Saisselin had worked with Jan Van Rijsselberge, a series creator who was hired by rights holders Peyo Productions as creative advisor. “Jan put us in touch, we wrote up a proposal on how to treat the new series, and the producers, Peyo Productions and Dupuis Audiovisuel, chose our submission. And then the adventure began!”

21st Century Villagers

To prepare this classic property for today’s audiences, the writers had to revise elements of the old Hanna-Barbera series that perhaps would not appeal to today’s viewers who have shorter attention spans. “If you look at the 1980s series, the pace is pretty slow,” notes Serafin. “We just don’t think it cuts it for today’s audiences. So we had to make sure the gags were fast, the jokes on target and the stories had twists and turns to keep contemporary audiences engaged. What’s surprising is how well the humor in the books holds up. They are still really funny. We wanted to keep that quirky, slightly off-kilter tone.”

Saisselin says there are many reasons the classic property continues to charm younger fans. “This mushroom village, or ‘commune’ of little creatures living in the woods, overseen by this slightly grumpy father figure is so unique,” he says. “They are so cute and funny — responsible, independent individuals at the same time they are chaotic, irresponsible kids. The Smurf universe is a place where mayhem is a constant, and yet it always ends up being okay. We suspect that a lot of people, kids and adults, secretly wish there were Smurfs living in their backyards.

The two writers are both quick to praise the high visual standards of the new show. “The animation is all CG and very close in appearance to Sony’s 2017 movie, Smurfs: The Lost Village,” says Serafin. “That was what the producers and the director were aiming for. There are also a lot of ‘cartoon’ elements in the new series; squash and stretch and that sort of thing,”

“We hope audiences will see a safe, joyous place where kids can marvel at these little blue people who get in all sorts of trouble but who always help each other,” note the writers. “Fights don’t last long. In the end, community and the ties that bind it are the most important thing. We also hope that kids of all ages (and maybe even some adults) will get a few good laughs out of the stories!”

The Smurfs premiers September 10 on Nickelodeon. New episodes air Fridays at 7:30 p.m.



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Originally published: September 10, 2021.

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