Another week (well, more or less), another set of Super Mario Bros. Super Show episode reviews.
Hooded Robin and His Mario Men – Mario and his entourage are in Sharewood Forest on their way to Sharewood Village for some reason, and are pretty much immediately caught in a net. Several Koopa Troopas, who have bows with plunger arrows (I thought the Marios were the only ones who used plumbing tools as weapons), come up and assume they’re Hooded Robin.
Even when they talk and they’re clearly King Koopa’s arch-nemeses, the Troopas still insist they must be Robin, which apparently means that their leader presently views Robin as a bigger threat than his main antagonists. The Troopas hear Koopa’s voice telling them to go into the woods and pick daisies, which they do; but the voice is actually that of Hooded Robin, who is indeed a bird (although he doesn’t look much like a robin) in a hat. He’s an expert at imitating voices, which he refers to as “human calls,” a decent play on words but I don’t think Koopa is human. The usual heroes go with Robin to Sharewood Village, where they find out that the Sheriff of Koopingham, as he’s called this time, has taken all their money. Did he even pretend he was taxing them, or just take it? From King to Sheriff sounds like a significant demotion, but hey, he plays the role that’s appropriate for the setting. The village is inhabited by a few Toads, only one of whom talks, in the same tinny, distorted voice as many of the others on this show. While Robin has an English accent (if not a particularly good one), the Toad kid doesn’t. This episode seems to owe a lot to the Disney Robin Hood, not in that it’s a direct rip-off, but that Robin and friends are portrayed as tricksters who wear a lot of disguises. Toad shows up in front of Koopa’s coach to insist that the road they’re on is now charging a toll (he must have seen Blazing Saddles recently), but the Sheriff doesn’t fall for it, so instead there’s a fight. There’s also a bit where Koopa speaks with Toad’s voice. Errors like that are pretty common in this series, but they seem to occur especially frequently when the character talking is off-screen. I guess the animators figured that, if there was dialogue, we had to see the one speaking it. It’s particularly confusing because this is an episode where one of the characters impersonating other ones is part of the plot. Another animation…well, not error, but strange-looking shortcut, appears when we see the same footage of Robin flying from several different angles. Then Koopa somehow sets up a cage inside his coach, which Robin flies into without noticing, despite his flight looking pretty slow. The Mario Men (including the one woman) go on to Koopingham Castle to rescue Robin and get back the money, with a bit where Mario and Luigi disguise themselves as moat salesmen. A Troopa falls off the drawbridge when he imagines a better moat, but then jumps back on somehow when he recognizes the Marios. Oh, so NOW you recognize them, but not when they were in the net and not even pretending to be anyone else? Inside the castle, the Princess finds a bottle of potion just sitting around on a shelf. You’d think Koopa would do a better job of protecting that stuff, but then, that kind of IS how items generally appear in the games, albeit not in a block or under grass. I believe this is the first time anyone on this show other than Koopa has used a potion to make a door, and here it takes them to the dungeon where Hooded Robin is being kept in a cage. Mario lets him out with some pliers, and the reunited band find that Fryguy is guarding the stolen money. Not bad for him to show up in two episodes in a row, especially considering the long gap after his first appearance. Robin and Toad dress up as a Frygal (with a torch and curtains) to distract Fryguy, while the others go for the gold.
Koopa surprises them, and the Frygal disguise falls apart; but Robin manages to trick Fryguy into the vault. For some reason, the raging Fryguy’s fire melts the gold coins, but not the presumably wooden door. So Mario rigs up a system to transfer the melted gold to the water pump in Sharewood Village, and it somehow solidifies once it gets there. It seems like this system would take ages, considering how full that vault was. For that matter, was all that gold from Sharewood, or did Koopa steal some of it elsewhere? The sheer amount suggests the latter, but we never find out.
Flower Power – When Luigi tries some of Mario’s spaghetti sauce with vegetable seeds in it, vegetables start to grow out of his body. Not surprisingly considering the low budget, you can tell Danny Wells is just holding some of them, but it’s still amusingly weird. Mario shows some strange logic by calling a farm for help, and soon receive a visit from Young McDonald (his more famous father usually runs the place, but he’s away at a convention). The young actor playing him, Scott Nemes, is now a television producer. When pruning the vegetables doesn’t work, he reads a book and finds out that Luigi’s rare condition can be cured by eating a rose. Unfortunately, that causes roses to grow out of his ears, but that will only last about a week. Why Luigi is so susceptible to these strange maladies isn’t clear.
20,000 Koopas Under the Sea – There’s actually only ONE Koopa under the sea, but the episode does loosely parody Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, as well as Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. I haven’t read either of them, but I know they’re both about hunts on the sea. Mario and company have warped to the Ocean World to try to find help against Koopa (what kind of help, I couldn’t say), only to find that the town of Happy Harbor is under attack by a sea monster. King Koopa shows up with some Bloopers (who can walk on land, but I suppose that’s consistent with The Lost Levels), telling the inhabitants that, if they make him their king (and “kiss Koopa’s feet,” because he still has the foot fetish), he’ll get rid of the monster.
Gee, you don’t think he could be controlling the monster, do you? It’s pretty obvious even if you don’t notice how robotic the monster looks. But someone else shows up who volunteers to help hunt down the creature, Captain Abidab of the Peapod. She has a weird design, very top-heavy and incredibly muscular, with a chin like Stan Smith on American Dad, and hair that sticks out to the sides. And the first part we see of her is her butt.
The Mario gang becomes her crew on her tiny ship, which is in the shape of a shoe with no explanation.
Well, if there’s a Cap Kingdom, maybe there’s a Shoe Kingdom as well. It could also be where the Goombas get their giant shoes. When Mario shoots a plunger at the sea monster with a harpoon gun, he, Luigi, and the Princess end up inside of the creature, which in a turn of events that surprises no one (well, okay, it IS for kids, but still), turns out to be a submarine, the Koopilus, commanded by Koopa Nemo. He’s not wearing a costume this time, but since Captain Nemo was an Indian prince, that might be a good thing. Meanwhile, after receiving a message in a bottle from the imprisoned Marios, Captain Abidab and Toad have gone underwater to look for the monster. As is typical on this show, Toad is able to breathe with no problem, as are the other main characters later on. Abidab, however, wears a diving helmet, but it’s not connected to any visible oxygen supply.
Toad gets inside the sub and rescues his friends, who have been peeling onions. They escape and are pursued by Bloopers, but find a bunch of starfish that give them super abilities, and the brothers blast the Bloopers with fireballs. I’d wonder how they work underwater, but it’s not like they don’t in the games. Mario and Luigi cause the Koopilus to crash on the shore, although Koopa does have a very similar sub in the Super Mario Bros. 3 series, the Doomsub.
Vampire Until Ready – I was never sure what this title was referencing; the best I could come up with was “don’t fire until ready.” Apparently “vamp until ready” is an expression, though. This is the second live-action segment with a vampire, and he’s played by the same guy, but he isn’t the same character. Jim Ward, who was mostly a voice actor, was also Patty’s father in “Day of the Orphan.” Here, Mario and Luigi are plagued by a bat, so they call an exterminator, but the bat is never around when he is. After a few bits showing this, Luigi catches the bat with a plunger, and it turns into the vampire exterminator. It turns out he just wanted to get the Marios’ attention because he has trouble making friends.
Mighty McMario and the Pot of Gold – The Marios and their friends are in the Shamrock Kingdom, the Mushroom World version of Ireland, where King O’Koopa has stolen the leprechauns’ pot of gold. They’re traveling with a leprechaun named Murphy, who’s become bad luck to everyone around him since the gold was taken. The name is pretty clever, being Irish and also a play on Murphy’s Law. It’s weird that they make some comments on Murphy being small. Sure, leprechauns are the Little People, but he’s taller than Toad and just a little shorter than Mario. The group goes to an inn for some corned beef cannelloni, which sounds gross. Thanks to Murphy’s curse, the food flies right into O’Koopa’s face, and this leads to a confrontation with Mouser and some Troopas. The heroes are doing all right fighting them off until Murphy decides to help, which leads to it all going wrong. Throughout this episode, they’d probably be able to avoid a lot of difficulty if Murphy would just stay out of the way, but they’re too polite to mention it. That is, except for Toad, who’s constantly pissed off at the leprechaun. It starts raining, and Murphy insists that it won’t stop and the entire kingdom will be flooded, which sounds both much more serious than any of the other bad luck he’s caused so far, and also much more of a total guess on his part. The protagonists find the gold and manage to take the pot without sounding the alarm bell, but Mario spills the gold and has to retrieve it in super-fast motion. But Murphy, who’s worried about how long the others are taking, shows up and causes everyone to get captured by O’Koopa. When they’re in the dungeon (of course there’s a dungeon), we see one of the few occasions of Mario actually breaking blocks, which he does with a stool to first attract the attention of the guards, then to knock them out After they’ve escaped, Mario goes to cut the chain holding the Princess, who’s being held separately, while Luigi and Toad do a Scooby-Doo style chase scene in and out of doors in a hallway to tire out Mouser and the Troopas. O’Koopa captures Murphy, but Mario decides that the bad luck will transfer to Koopa if the leprechaun hangs around him, so he does. He ends up blowing up his own castle with a fireball when it hits the powder magazine, although I’m not sure why he even has one of those. He falls into the moat and swims away, Murphy gets the coins back, the rain stops, and all is well. I just feel like there wasn’t much to this episode. There really isn’t much interesting design on the kingdom, and the fact that the only inhabitant we see is Murphy himself makes its plight seem less significant. And how many times do we have to see the heroes almost succeed, only for the leprechaun to screw things up at the last second? Admittedly, though, that happens in a lot of episodes even when luck isn’t directly part of the story.
Heart Throb – Rob Stone, who was on Mr. Belvedere and was apparently a teenage heartthrob at the time, shows up in the Marios’ basement to get away from a bunch of screaming fans. Mario and Luigi act like he’s the biggest celebrity they’ve met, which isn’t even remotely true. Rob sneaks out in Luigi’s clothes, and the teenagers mob Luigi in Rob’s clothes.
This isn’t the only connection between Mario and Mr. Belvedere, either, as Christopher Hewett played Bowser at the Ice Capades.
Mario Meets Koop-zilla – The title just seems weird to me, like Mario and Koop-zilla are being introduced at a party. A Godzilla parody makes sense for a show where the main villain is a big reptile, but its portrayal of Japan is kind of offensive, and remember that the games this series was based on were made in Japan. The German Club Nintendo magazine also did a Godzilla parody of sorts, “Mario in Mariozilla,” where Kamek enlarges the plumber and he stomps around New York City, destroying stuff without intending to.
Getting back to this episode, the Marios are in “the Oriental city of Sayanora” to find out more about an invention of Dr. T. Garden called Super Sushi, which will cause someone who eats it to increase in size. Mario also says it makes a good spaghetti sauce, but sushi isn’t a sauce, so this doesn’t make a lot of sense. Luigi is pulling the others in a rickshaw, even though Sayanora is one of the more modern cities we’ve seen in this cartoon, so who knows where he got it? When they get to Dr. Garden’s laboratory, they find out that Koopa has eaten an entire batch of Super Sushi and grown gigantic, wrecking the lab in the process. Somehow it’s been repaired and security footage shows all of this happening from impossible angles. Mario’s original plan is to trap the enormous Koopa, who is in the process of destroying the city, in a steel net. While he does get caught, he breaks the net and continues with his rampage. So instead Mario eats the next batch of Super Sushi, which causes him to break through the ceiling. Dr. Garden complains that he just had it fixed, but wouldn’t he have needed to have the whole building repaired, and what repairmen were working while the town was being crushed by a monster? The next time we see the lab, this is at least somewhat addressed in that there are bandages on it. (I didn’t say they addressed it in a way that made sense, just they addressed it.) There a big fight between Mario and Koop-zilla, the two of them smashing a bunch of stuff in the process. What’s strange is that neither of them just grew bigger but stayed proportionally the same, like Koopa did in “Mario and the Beanstalk.” Instead, they both look absurdly fat, and Koopa’s shell is really tiny in comparison to the rest of him. Is this another fetish thing?
There are a few decent gags, like Koop-zilla brandishing two telephone poles like twin swords and Mario countering by using a train as nunchucks, and Mario’s fall being broken by a mattress factory. Overall, though, it feels rather too drawn out, and I miss seeing Koopa’s troops. Luigi, Toad, and the Princess use a hypodermic needle full of antidote to shrink the villain back down, and he does the potion escape trick again, with the warp zone this time being a manhole. He complains about the Marios foiling his evil plans, but did he even have any plans this time other than to grow really big and break stuff? The last gag involves Mario eating Shrinking Sukiyaki, although it looks nothing like sukiyaki, more like a big pill or a rice cake. Do your research, artists! I suppose Sayanora could be located on the ground near Bowser’s Kingdom from Super Mario Odyssey, or the Japan-shaped islands in Super Mario Bros. 3’s Water Land.
Fortune Teller – Mario has entered a contest where the prizes are dates with various celebrities: Sophia Loren, Annette Funicello, Madonna, and…Scott Baio? I’m not sure if the Mario Brothers are confused by this last one just because it’s a guy, or if Baio was unpopular at the time. I know he is NOW. All of them, including Baio, are either Italian or Italian-American. Mario decides to call a fortune teller to see what he’s won, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as he’s already entered, so it’s not like he can give up if finds out he won’t win or he’ll win a prize he doesn’t want. He’s just very impatient. The fortune teller, Madam Agogo is played by Kaye Ballard, a comedian, singer, and actress whom I also remember from the old Hollywood Squares, and also Italian-American. Pretty much all the guest stars in these segments have their own shtick to do, often largely unrelated to the plot (such as it is), but Ballard’s are the only jokes that I can recall being followed by a rimshot each time. It turns out that Mario has won the consolation prize, a date with…Madam Agogo. What’s confusing is that he mentions there being several consolation prizes at the beginning, but there only seems to be one at this point. I guess we’re not supposed to remember that since there was a cartoon in between. This is also where Luigi tells the fortune teller that they’re pizzatarians. A search of that word reveals that Regina Spektor used it in a song, but I guess that doesn’t mean she got it from this show.
I’m throwing in some thoughts on another Nintendo Comics System story that I hadn’t read recently, “The Adventures of Dirk Drain-Head,” the first of three about Mario’s own favorite comic book hero. When Mario receives the latest issue and just wants to read it in peace, Luigi mentions that he saw the current issue of the Princess’ favorite comic, Baroness Blueblood, at a magazine store the other day. She sends both him and Mario out to buy it, which is pretty inconvenient as the store is at the end of World 5-1. I’ve always wondered about whether life in the Mushroom Kingdom means having to cross floating platforms and avoid Goombas on your way to somewhere mundane, but since we later find out there are towns there, it’s unlikely. This story, like a few others in the comics, presents a scenario where this really is necessary to accomplish a simple task. Mario and Luigi have to battle Shy Guys and Ninjis and jump on Trouters, then fight Birdo before they can get into the shop. They have some casual conversations with the minions as well, one Shy Guy musing on a quiet place where Mario can read, and Mario annoying his brother with constant talk of Dirk. Ultimately, they find out that King Koopa bought all the issues of Baroness Blueblood to line his Birdo cages. A few different numbered worlds are casually mentioned, none of which really match up the ones in the games that existed at the time. There’s a mention of World 7-2 being Koopa’s headquarters, when that’s actually WART’S castle in Super Mario Bros. 2.