It’s time for some more Super Mario Bros. Super Show episode reviews! If that doesn’t interest you, hopefully I’ll have another post up before you can say “pasta power.”
The Great BMX Race – The title is pretty clear about what happens in this episode. Racing is a pretty standard trope in cartoons, and the whole point of a few of them; and this is from some time before Mario Kart. So how did this end up becoming so convoluted? It starts with Mario and Luigi riding through the desert on a motorbike that’s pulling a bathtub, with Toad swinging around on the shower head and the Princess applauding. The beginning background music is an upbeat version of the Super Mario Bros. 2 overworld theme, which I quite like.Fryguy then shows up and says that Toad owes him sixty gold coins, which the Mushroom Retainer doesn’t deny. The living flame suggests entering a BMX race that’s advertised on a conveniently nearby cactus, so Mario and Luigi agree to do so. Their opponents are characters we’ve seen before, but this is the first time we see them working together, as they do in many later episodes. It’s Mouser, Triclyde (not sure how he works the pedals), and…a Koopa Troopa. There’s nothing that separates this Troopa from any other, and he never gets a name, so I’m not sure how he gets to be part of the elite Koopa Pack. Anyway, the Marios race ahead before the bad guys can start. Isn’t there supposed to be someone to start the race? Regardless, the Princess thinks the only one who can ruin things is King Koopa who “must be miles away.” He doesn’t show up for one episode, and she gets complacent. No, Koopa is nearby, which isn’t that much of a surprise considering that his henchmen are in the race. After the Marios’ friends unsuccessfully try to warn them, Koopa captures them and ties them up inside a Cobrat. They somehow manage to escape when the Cobrat is asleep and snoring, specifically when it snores out. Mario and Luigi stop to make a pasta pit stop, which seems like a Koopa trap, but nothing actually happens to them there; it just gives their opponents a chance to catch up. The brothers are forced off a cliff by Team Koopa, but Mario does the plunger-on-a-rope trick again. I must say he has some really strong plungers. He’s then able to pedal upwards to get back on track. We get a scene of Mario combing his mustache and admiring himself in the mirror while driving, and he uses a can of tomato sauce to get the bad guys off their tail. The Troopa flings a rock at the Marios, and it misses, but breaks into shards that puncture the brothers’ tires. What was that rock made of, anyway? So the Marios spin the bike around to stir up dust, run into a vegetable patch, and throw the veggies at their opponents. Toad and the Princess then show up and tell Mario and Luigi that the whole race was a sham and Toad doesn’t really owe Fryguy anything. So why did he act like he did? Does he just owe so much money that he can’t even remember whom he owes it to? And did Koopa really need to set up a bike race to get his troops to beat up on Mario and Luigi? It’s just weird because they didn’t even really need a back story to get the characters into a race, and instead they ended up with an even more nonsensical scheme than usual.
Mama Mia Mario – Mario and Luigi are proudly discussing the fact that they can be total slobs, even to the point of keeping out pizzas until they get moldy (which really makes no sense, because why would Mario ever let one go bad?), when they get a call that their mother is coming to visit. Mama Mario is played by Captain Lou, and since this show doesn’t have the budget for a split screen, they find excuses for her or Mario to be off camera when the other is shown. Mama has a mustache, and I’m not sure whether that’s a joke about Italian women being hairy or on how iconic the mustache is for Mario that other family members have to have it as well. Probably a bit of both. Anyway, she yells at them for a while and tells Mario to clean significant portions of Brooklyn. Luigi gets rid of her by faking a phone call saying she won the lottery, but when he thinks she’s come back, he leaves to get a real winning lottery ticket, because…that’s something you can just do? Anyway, it isn’t Mama at the door this time, but Aunt Luigeena, played by Danny Wells in drag and without a mustache.
Stars in Their Eyes – Unlike the last title, this one could mean a lot of things. It’s actually the first episode set in outer space, and there’s no indication as to how or why they’re there. Not only that, but King Koopa and some of his troops are there as well. They predicted Super Mario Galaxy almost thirty years beforehand! The heroes’ spaceship resembles the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, while Koopa’s has a big bird’s beak on the front, perhaps intended to resemble the hawkmouth gates from Super Mario Bros. 2. The Marios are steering their ship through what looks like an asteroid field, but apparently the rocks are actually Koopa projectiles. When they’re hit with one, they crash land on the nearby planet Quirk, right on top of Astro-Mouser. Between this and the opening sequence, Mario and Luigi are really good at accidentally defeating bad guys. Our heroes are welcomed by the Quirks, little green men with two horn-noses each. I’d said before they looked familiar, and I’ve since seen another site mention they resemble Q*bert, so maybe that’s it. Since the space scenes are similar to Asteroids, maybe they’re paying tribute to earlier video games, perhaps subconsciously. The planet has low gravity, so the visitors put tools in their clothes to weigh themselves down. Wouldn’t the tools also weight a lot less on such a planet? Also, Mario, Luigi, and the Princess are all wearing space helmets; but Toad seems to be able to breathe just fine without one. Anyway, Astro-Mouser is flattened by the ship, but he’s still alive to chuck some flat Bob-ombs. The Quirks help Mario and company get away in a boat that’s really a bathtub, so apparently the tendency to use plumbing fixtures as vehicles isn’t just a plumbing-related…er, quirk of Mario and Luigi’s. In order to sneak into the factory and get supplies and materials to repair their ship, the heroes put on Quirk disguises, meaning fake noses over their space helmets.
These disguises soon disappear, and I don’t think they ever even show Toad wearing one. Unfortunately, they’re still caught by Moon Man Koopa, who has somehow managed to conquer the planet and enslave the Quirks. Granted, it doesn’t look to be a very big planet, but that’s still pretty impressive villainy. He even says later on that he has “other planets to plunder,” so he’s thinking beyond globally. Mario tries to foment a revolution, paraphrasing the Communist Manifesto (“You have nothing to lose but your chains!”), which I don’t think is something the “Mario is communist” website I saw years ago included. Or maybe it did; I can’t remember. There’s a fairly clever callback to this when Koopa tries to capture his enemies with a giant magnet, but the Quirks overload it with their own chains after one of them says, “We have nothing to USE but our chains.” Mario also discovers, through pounding rhythmically on a round red anvil with horns, that music can destroy Koopa’s technology, including the shackles. Mario and friends repair their ship, but Koopa is in close pursuit in the bird-ship, firing meteors that the Marios counter with spaghetti and meatballs, then trying to engulf the smaller ship with the beak. They dump stuff from the ship to gain speed, which is pretty pointless in zero gravity, but maybe they’re still within Quirk’s gravitational field. The Quirks then use their nose-horns to play the Legend of Zelda theme, which starts to destroy Koopa’s ship, as it’s presumably using the same technology as the shackles. He retreats, but we never really find out where any of the main characters go after this. Back to the Mushroom World, I suppose. There’s another space episode, but it’s much later on.
Alligator Dundee – Crocodile Dundee came out a few years before this show aired, so I guess it makes sense that they’d parody it twice, once in live-action and once animated. This bit really only uses the character, who here is called Alligator Dundee, and is trying to capture a monster in the Brooklyn sewers. Mario and Luigi agree to help him out at first, but gradually (very gradually, since they’re not that bright) figure out that the monster is actually their pet, the Ratigator. This is the first appearance of this character, a mutant cross between an alligator and a rat, portrayed by a big puppet.
Interestingly, Ratigators are also mutant sewer creatures in the Sega CD game Sewer Shark, a game that focused so much on full-motion video that it didn’t bother having a coherent story. Those Ratigators were much meaner, though. Anyway, Dundee says that he wanted to come to the United States to capture a creature, become famous, and fall in love with a woman, which the brothers say would make a good movie. He then decides to change his name…to Ratigator Dundee. I looked up the guy who played Dundee, Paul Elder. He doesn’t have many credits, but he DID play Rupert Murdoch in a movie about David Letterman and Jay Leno.
Jungle Fever – As per Mario’s opening narration, the gang is in the Amazon Jungle, which is a little confusing because this is supposed to be in the Mushroom World instead of ours. I understand a Wario game for Virtual Boy took place in the basin of the Awazon River, so maybe that’s the actual name of this jungle, and Mario tripped up on it. Anyway, they’re searching for a powerful medicine man who can make a potion to get rid of King Koopa. On the way, they come across a gorge that Toad guesses must be three miles deep, and the Princess confirms that’s what her map says. But when they cross it, they’re able to see the jagged rocks at the bottom, which seems unlikely if it’s really that deep. They use a rickety rope bridge that Mario reasons must be safe because there’s no warning sign. It turns out Koopa stole the sign, but why would anyone expect proper signage in an overgrown jungle? I’ve seen references to Bowser as “Native Koopa” in this episode, and while he’s never actually called that, he does wear a nose ring and bone necklace.
He’s accompanied by Shy Guys holding spears and wearing grass skirts, which would later appear in Yoshi’s Island.
A Shy Guy cuts the bridge, and Koopa sends out some Albatosses to drop the standard Bob-ombs. Well, really, they’re not totally standard, as they’re filled with itching powder. Mario jumps on an Albatoss, who talks like a pilot making announcements, and forces him to fly him and his friends toward Sheldon’s village. Koopa runs into a Birdo, and orders it to spit an egg at the Albatoss. By the way, apparently the egg-spitting sound is the same as the Wizzrobe spell noise from the original Legend of Zelda. The Albatoss gets an egg in his face and crash lands, which allows Koopa to reach the village first and capture Sheldon, who has the manner of a friendly country doctor, but his cures are along the lines of running around the village seven times backwards and dancing on top of a hut. He’s of somewhat ambiguous race, a little darker-skinned than the main characters.
You know, in a show with several turtle and turtle-like characters, it’s weird that they’d give the name Sheldon to a human. The song “Jungle Love” by the Time was originally played twice in the episode, once during Sheldon’s introduction, and later when he’s working on a potion. For the DVD release, they cut out the second but not the first, which suggests that the person doing the editing didn’t search all that thoroughly. What I want to know is how Koopa got across the gorge, as he seems to just appear on whatever side the heroes are on. Oh, well. He takes Sheldon to his hideout, which is at the top of some stairs with no visible support, and tells him to brew a potion to turn the Princess into a rock. Back at the village, Sheldon’s assistant Butterfingers tries to make an antidote for Mario, Luigi, and Toad’s itching, but she fails, so she and the Princess go out to rescue Sheldon themselves, locating him thanks to the smoke from his potion. When the Princess arrives, Sheldon throws the potion towards her, but tells her to duck so it hits Koopa instead. It turns out to be itching potion, which I guess is poetic justice. If he was planning on throwing it at Koopa all along, though, couldn’t he have just made the rock potion anyway? Maybe he was trying to make something less harmful in case some did spill on Peach, but it really doesn’t make a lot of sense. Besides, wasn’t the original goal of the Mario team to get Sheldon to drive Koopa out of the Mushroom Kingdom, not just to itch a lot? Finally, the rescued Sheldon gives spaghetti to Mario, Luigi, and Toad, saying it will distract them from the itching. I did notice that there’s a Cobrat in a vase in this episode, when I said in my post about the theme song that I didn’t remember any of them in the series. Still, it wasn’t a vase used for transport, and even in SMB2 you can only do that in Subspace. I’ve also noticed that a lot of the Toad characters, not including Toad himself, have tinny voices. While Butterfingers appears to be human, she has this sort of voice as well.
Dance – It’s Luigi’s birthday (this was before Nintendo decided he and Mario were twins), and Mario gives him a certificate to take break-dancing lessons with Shabba-Doo, who was in Breakin’ and the sequel Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, probably the most famous sequel title even with people who’ve never seen it. Mario signs up as well, so most of it is him giving them lessons. Luigi is a huge fan of Shabba-Doo, by the way.
Brooklyn Bound – This episode is interesting in that it actually advances the lore, specifically that of Mario and Luigi trying to get back to Brooklyn. This is something they mention occasionally, but here they’re really insistent about it, and they find a way near where they are not long after that. The setting of the episode is the Snow World, Bowser is Koopa Khan, and his minions are Snifits dressed as Mongols. This isn’t really that relevant to the plot, so I have to wonder if someone came up with the Mongol horde concept but not a story, and just stuck it in here instead. I guess the Snow World is the equivalent of Siberia, so maybe it’s the same as the Snow Kingdom in Super Mario Odyssey, where Shiveria is located. Regardless, there’s no indication as to why they’re there, other than that they’re trying to get away from Koopa. Toad leads his friends into a cave, and the floor falls apart, dropping everyone into a network of pipes that Mario and Luigi know must have been made by a great plumber. It turns out to be Salvador Drainado, the most famous plumber in Brooklyn, who disappeared years earlier. He explains that he’s been trapped in the Mushroom Kingdom for the past thirteen years, but has finally found the Last Drainpipe to Brooklyn. It seems like a missed opportunity that no one asks him about his adventures, and whether he’s been to any of the same places or met any of the same people. The Marios help Salvador work some pipes to blast open a wall blocking the way. There’s a gag where Koopa Khan’s Snifits propose a toast to him while holding large pieces of toast, but it’s interrupted by a Shy Guy who’s spotted the still-living Mario gang.
Koopa catches up to them and blows up a bridge they’re crossing with a Bob-omb. While falling, Mario manages to grab a Fire Flower and flap his arms to raise himself and his friends back into the air. The show always plays fast and loose with what power-ups can do, but flying? That didn’t even become a thing until SMB3. The group finds the drainpipe to Brooklyn, and Mario and Luigi are all set to accompany Sal back when Koopa shows up and captures Toad and the Princess. While Sal is blasted upwards by the drain, the Marios follow Koopa and wash him and his troops away with water from pipes. It’s an interesting character moment that has the brothers willingly giving up their only known opportunity to return home in order to help their friends. Later, however, it turns out that there are other ways back to Brooklyn.
Cher’s Poochie – While Mario is working on something he calls a Pizza Transformer, Cher shows up at the basement with her dog, whom she wants the Marios to watch. Cher is played by Pam Matteson, an actress who was apparently known for her Cher impression. Due to an accident with the Pizza Transformer, Mario switches brains with the dog. It hasn’t been too long since he switched brains with Frankenstein’s monster, so apparently that’s just one of their go-to ideas. What the Transformer was actually supposed to do, I couldn’t say. Switch toppings from one pizza to another? Luigi manages to change the brains back, but then Cher and the dog have theirs switched.