This is the fifth in my ongoing series of Super Mario Bros. Super Show episode reviews. Speaking of which, there were some reviews from about twenty years ago that I remember reading but couldn’t find recently, and I found out that they’re now here. They’re pretty funny and bring up some good points, including documenting King Koopa’s foot fetish. Perhaps a few too many drug jokes, though. Anyway, let’s get this show on the Toad Road.
Two Plumbers and a Baby – The title obviously references Three Men and a Baby, and while the episode doesn’t directly parody the movie that much, it does keep the basic idea of three clueless guys taking care of a baby. In this case, the baby is the Princess. The Mario team learns that King Goo Goo Ga Ga Koopa is wreaking havoc in the Kingdom of Youth, where the Fountain of Youth is located, and even Mario seems a bit incredulous at the reptile’s choice of alias. He’s still an adult, but he’s wearing a diaper and baby bonnet, and punctuates some of his lines with baby sounds.
I don’t think I’d heard of adult babies when I first saw this, but it’s kind of hard to interpret Bowser in this guise as anything else. The kingdom itself seems to be made up largely of alphabet blocks and balloons, while the buildings have bottle nipples on them, and rocking Ostros are used for riding. I have to wonder if it’s the location of the Baby Park and Block City courses in the Mario Kart games.
Koopa turns out to be messing with the fountain, turning people who want to become younger adults into babies and making them his slaves. I would think just about anyone would be better at forced labor than babies, but Koopa often seems to favor thematic consistency over logic. By the way, the settings on the fountain are marked by childish drawings, which I thought was a nice touch. A rather odd joke is that the episode starts with the heroes following footprints, then Toad picks one of them up. When the good guys go to investigate Koopa’s castle, he notices them and has his Albatosses, who are throwing Bob-ombs that turn into nets, chase after them. The Princess falls into the fountain and becomes a baby, so this is technically the first appearance of Baby Peach. Mario, Luigi, and Toad have to take care of her, and her baby self is incredibly accident-prone. After they rescue her from a tree branch, a canyon, and a river raft, all the while calling Mario and Luigi her uncles, she follows some fireflies back to the castle. Koopa comes out and tries to chase them again, but Mario and Luigi use a pipe to fling him into the fountain, and he becomes an actual baby. Then the Marios fix the plumbing for the fountain so it flows upwards, defying physics, but then I guess a Fountain of Youth is really already doing that. This allows them to restore all the babies (except Koopa, although he’s obviously no longer a baby next time we see him) to their former ages.
Lost Dog – Pam Matteson, who had previously played Cher in an earlier live action segment, here appears as herself, apparently a neighbor to Mario and Luigi. And like that earlier segment, this one also involves a dog. While Luigi is practicing bird calls, Pam shows up to say her pet Ike has gone missing. While the brothers help look for him, they’re unsuccessful. There’s also a dark joke about Ike’s favorite pizza being black olive and Canadian kitten. Finally, at Mario’s suggestion, Luigi tries a dog call. This brings Ike back, but attracts a bunch of other dogs as well.
The Adventures of Sherlock Mario – Our heroes are in Victoria, the Mushroom World equivalent of Victorian London, to meet the detective Herlock Solmes. The Princess hopes he can help her free her people, although I’m not sure how a detective could do that. When it was a magician or a hero, that made a little more sense, although it was still always fruitless in the end. I’ve mentioned that we usually see Ostros used in place of horses on this show, but the carriage the characters are riding is being drawn by an actual horse, with Luigi as a coachman with top hat and whip. It turns out Solmes has disappeared, leaving his hat and magnifying glass behind. Mario picks them up and immediately starts calling himself Sherlock Mario. While he doesn’t find out right away who captured Solmes, we do, and it’s no surprise that it’s Koopa. He’s calling himself Professor Kooparity, and he has the standard Koopa Pack backing him up. At one point, Mouser refers to the Troopa as “Koopa Troopa” as if that’s his name. When you join the Koopa Troop, you no longer have your own identity! The Troopa also uses the expression “Holy cheeseballs!” at one point, so I guess Mouser is rubbing off on him. Solmes is drawn in a style that seems significantly different from the other characters, which is a little jarring. And he has a gigantic pipe (the smoking kind, not the drainage kind), although I don’t think we ever see smoke come out of it.
He knows that Kooparity is going to steal the Royal Retro Router, a steampunk device that can flood the city with sewer water, which is kept in the Tower of Victoria. Later, he correctly analyzes Koopa as an unpopular bully who’s “the offspring of a lizard and an inferior species of toad,” who flunked kindergarten repeatedly, and whom the others Koopas called “Lizard Lips” and never wanted to play with. Since he doesn’t really have any toad-like features, maybe this is part of the amalgamation of Bowser with Wart, who is sort of like a frog with some lizard traits. Mario and company find out about Kooparity’s plot from a dictation machine at Solmes’s home on Bonkers Street, which is awfully convenient. They’re totally ineffective at beating the Koopa Pack this time, however, probably partially because Triclyde actually breathes fire like he does in the game this time. Since the heroes are wearing suits of armor, Koopa uses another giant magnet to capture them, then ties them up and places them under a sharp pendulum, because I guess Poe is Victorian enough. Hey, Holmes might never have existed if Dupin haven’t paved the way. They escape because Mario eats a meatball sandwich and immediately gains weight, which breaks his ropes. It doesn’t make sense, but I’m sure it wasn’t supposed to. Mario and company follow Koopa’s tracks, even though he wears shoes in this episode, and they somehow lead over fences and telephone lines. Or would those be telegraph lines, to fit the Victorian theme? They finally reach Kooparity’s sewer hideout, easily knock out the villains they just recently lost to, break the Retro Router, and rescue Solmes. Koopa does his typical bit of throwing a potion to make a warp zone, but this time the warp is a hole in the wall instead of a door. And for the last joke, Mario opens what he thinks is a lunchbox in Solmes’s flat, but turns out to house the Killer Kitty of the Caskervilles.
It’s interesting that there would later be a Holmes take-off called Shroomlock in Mario Party Advance.
Plumbers of the Year – Marty Allen, a comedian I remember seeing on reruns of the old Hollywood Squares, plays the Imperial Poobah of the Grand Order of Plumbers, who tells Mario and Luigi that they’re eligible to be Plumbers of the Year if they pass a test. So I guess they ARE like the others who get all the fame? The test involves fixing some pipes that are conveniently located in their own apartment, and while they temporarily succeed, the pipes soon start leaking again. So they fix them with cheese from a pizza, the prop used to represent it looking like rubber, and the Poobah is proud of their ingenuity and awards them their title. The only problem is, the cheese fix doesn’t hold either, but I suppose the Poobah can’t rescind the award at this point. What he does do is get on the phone and order a bunch of cheese pizzas, despite the fact that the cheese only worked for a minute before.
Do You Princess Toadstool Take This Koopa…? – In more recent Mario games, Bowser having feelings for the Princess and wanting to marry her has become standard. Before that, it was earlier unclear exactly what his motives were in constantly kidnapping her. The marriage thing was a plot element as early as the original anime film, however, and also showed up in 1992 with Super Mario Adventures. This show is inconsistent about Koopa’s goals, but here he decides to coerce the Princess into marrying him so he can become the legal ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom. He seems genuinely excited about the marriage, however, so it isn’t just about the power. After Koopa traps Mario and Luigi in a prison cell with walls that can close in and turns Toad into a green rock, she agrees, but only if he frees her people. He does, sort of, which is to say he goes into an open room full of green blocks and changes five of them back to Toads. I get that they didn’t have the budget to show a lot of moving characters, but they could have at least shown some more in the background, especially as there were clearly more stones in the room. The stone thing is presumably a reference to the story in the original Super Mario Bros. manual that said he transformed the Mushroom People into blocks. The design of the castle also looks more like something from a video game than earlier castles in the cartoons, with floating stairs, doors in midair, and a lot of ladders.
Koopa goes on with his wedding plans, with Mouser helping him out. When Koopa says to invite all his friends, he soon realizes he doesn’t have any, so he invites his mother for the cake. One thing I’ll say for this show is that it’s not afraid to add aspects to the mythology for the sake of a quick gag. She’s rather overbearing and relieved that her son is finally getting married.
He also has a band made up of three Troopas on drum, violin, and trumpet, none of whom can play at all. In fact, the drummer is hitting himself in the head with the drum. Mouser helps Koopa into his tuxedo, which he wears under his shell, and would again in Super Paper Mario and Super Mario Odyssey.
It was eventually established that his shell was removable, although I don’t know that we’ve ever SEEN him take it off. This episode just has him finish putting on the tux off-screen. Mario and Luigi, meanwhile, have dug out of their cell with spoons, Mario suggesting that digging is what plumbers do best after fixing pipes. Not sure what part of plumbing involves digging, and I’m also confused by how they dig really quickly and in perfectly rectangular patterns. It’s sort of like Dig Dug, except with no Pookas or Fygars. The brothers get out of the castle and see Koopa, who never intended to keep his promise, turning the Toads back into rocks. They sneak back into the castle disguised as caterers with bug soup, then distract Mouser and the Troopas with their pattycake routine. They find the stone Toad, and reasoning that he knows his way around the castle, and use Koopa’s scepter to turn Toad back, also changing themselves into their super forms in the process. This overloads the wand, though, so apparently the other Toads aren’t changed back, at least not yet. Mario and Luigi interrupt the wedding, where Triclyde is rather amusingly officiating, by shooting fireballs all over and ruining the cake. They tell the Princess that Koopa lied and get out of the castle, while Bowser’s mom complains about her son still being a bachelor. So were his seven kids born out of wedlock? Yeah, I know they hadn’t been introduced yet, and the more recent games make them not even his kids, but I want to see how it all ties together! The plotting of this episode is a bit confusing; I had trouble remembering the order in which things happened, although ultimately it wasn’t even that important. I think it’s significant in terms of the lore, however.
Mario Hillbillies – Mario and Luigi are going fishing, using rods made from plungers and pizza as bait, and have also invited over their country cousins Mario-Joe and Luigi-Bob to attend a ball with them. Since the cousins haven’t shown up yet (and because they haven’t mastered the split screen), the Marios just leave, and the hicks come in after that. They hang out there eating pizza until a potential customer, played by Donna Douglas from The Beverly Hillbillies, shows up to ask them if they have faucets for sale. Pretending to be Mario and Luigi, they go off with Ellie Mae to make a house call. We never find out what comes of that, instead just having the Marios come back and put their feet up on the table like their hick cousins did.
The Pied Koopa – Toad takes his companions to visit Pasta Land, a place he’s been to before that Mario and Luigi obviously love, as it’s where pasta grows on fork-shaped trees and there are lakes of tomato sauce (although the only one of the latter we briefly see looks to be colored in blue).
Unfortunately, but not at all surprisingly, Koopa is there too, and has used a magic flute of unexplained origins to lure all the children in Pasta Land to his castle, demanding the entire spaghetti crop as ransom. Does he just want that for financial reasons, or does he like pasta? There was that one episode where he was a vampire who drank tomato sauce, but more often he seems to be purely carnivorous. Anyway, the Mario team goes to break into Koopa’s castle of the week, submerging into the moat to get away from some Albatosses with Bob-ombs. Toad had said back in “Butch Mario and Luigi Kid” that he couldn’t swim, but here he does so just fine. Mario uses a POW block to smash a hole in the castle wall, the only appearance in one of the DiC cartoons of such a block, as far as I can recall. They end up in a dungeon, but since Koopa doesn’t know they’re there, they try to just get out. Koopa is right in the way, though, and they don’t even bother trying to fight him, instead just letting him lock them back in the flooded dungeon. Mario finds a Bob-omb and uses it to drain the water from the dungeon, although into where isn’t specified. Mario decides that the best solution is to assemble instruments out of pipes they find lying around, then play those to lure the Troopas away and rescue the kids.
Mario informs Toad and the Princess that he and Luigi had played in the Brooklyn Plumbing Academy Band for two years, until they were kicked out because Mario was eating a salami sandwich during a concert, and Luigi was holding it while he turned the page. Putting aside the sanitary concerns with making instruments out of old pipes, Koopa’s flute was specified to be magical, while there’s no indication that the pipes are. And for some unexplained reason, the music only works on the Troopas; Mouser flat-out states that it has no effect on him. There’s also a weird joke where Koopa asks where the music is coming from and Mouser suggests someone left a radio playing, to which Koopa says, “This is Pasta Land! Radio hasn’t been invented yet!” But they didn’t go back in time, and radio has been shown to exist in other parts of this world, so why couldn’t Pasta Land have imported one? Are they like the Amish, and purposely eschew new technology? But anyway, Mario and company rescue the children, some of whom appear to squeak like Toad, something no other Mushroom People seem to do. Koopa plans to play his flute again, but makes the mistake of telling Mouser that he’ll be in charge of the kids, leading the rodent to betray his boss and pull the drawbridge out from under him, Koopa losing the flute in the process. Our heroes are then awarded the Order of the Golden Meatball by Mayor Fettuccine. I have to say I quite liked the design of Pasta Land, and I guess someone else did too, as it would reappear in a future episode.
Super Plant – The Mario Brothers find out that their mother’s basil bush is dying, when suddenly a guy called Dr. Toby shows up, claiming he has the supernatural ability to tell when a plant is on the verge of death. He uses his Super Plant Growth Formula to try to revive the bush, but it turns into another cheap-looking monster (that’s surprisingly common in this apartment), and Dr. Toby has to use an antidote to turn it back into a bush. Gary Schwartz, who plays Dr. Toby, would reappear in other roles in later live-action segments. And the guy in the plant suit is credited as Patrick Dempsey, presumably not the same as the famous one, although I’m not sure there’s ever been an official answer on this.