Here are some more Super Mario Bros. Super Show episode reviews, and for once I haven’t heard the reviews on the Super Show Show podcast at the Hard Times, because they haven’t gotten to most of these yet, “Mario of the Apes” and “Chippie Chipmunks” being the exception.
Karate Koopa – Mario, Luigi, Toad, and the Princess have returned to the city of Sayanora, which they’d already visited in “Mario Meets Koop-zilla,” to meet another guy they think can help defeat King Koopa. It would have been more convenient if they’d been able to combine the two visits into one. The city has more of a feudal Japanese look than the modern one it had before, and while it’s possible this is just a different district, I’ve seen it suggested that this was the best they could rebuild after Mario and Koopa trashed much of the place earlier. As soon as they show up, Koopa makes his appearance. He’s somehow become an expert martial artist, and has white skin and a topknot of black hair. He’s accompanied by Ninjis, in what I think is their only appearance in the series, and they’re consistently just called “ninjas.”
Koopa captures the Princess and Toad, and the guy they’re there to see shows up. The karate master Misaki is another stereotypical Asian character voiced by a white guy, and is pretty clearly inspired by Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid. I didn’t notice too many other direct references to the movie, although I guess it was about an Italian kid learning karate, so that fits with Mario and Luigi. If they’d wanted to be a little more clever, they could have had Misaki appear as a restaurant owner in Sockhop Land. Anyway, the master takes the plumbers to his dojo, and while they’re not much good at karate, he thinks the plumbing-based martial art of Plumb Fu would be a good fit for them.
They do a bit where Luigi takes a washer from Misaki’s hand, and he has a weird laugh afterwards. Mario learns to fight with a bo staff with two plunger heads, and Luigi with nunchucks made from pipes. Their training is apparently really quick, or else Toad and the Princess are captives for a long time. Koopa’s hideout this time is a smiling clifftop pagoda, where he has a dragon-shaped throne. It’s pretty stylish, I must say.
The nearby waterfall isn’t animated at all, but you can’t have everything. He says he plans to sell his prisoners into slavery, even though he was on the other side of human trafficking in “Mario’s Magic Carpet.” When Mario, Luigi, and Misaki approach the pagoda, they get caught in a net, and Koopa then ties them to a boulder and catapults it into the ocean. There’s a brief shot of a tidal wave here, as that’s how you know it’s Japanese.
As usual, the characters can breathe and talk just fine underwater, but Misaki does observe that Karate Koopa made the chains karate-proof. Mario says they didn’t make them Plumb Fu proof, but that just means he’s uses a hacksaw to cut them. I’d say Koopa should have searched them for weapons, but everyone seems to occasionally be able to pull useful items out of nowhere when they need them. The three fight off some Trouters, with Misaki observing that Plumb Fu is very effective underwater. I guess that makes a certain kind of sense, as plumbing is about manipulating water. The master and the brothers return to land through a drainpipe and find their weapons on the ground, which Misaki calls “plumb luck.” I can get behind making a joke out of lazy writing, especially considering how this and other cartoons often have someone get stuff they lost back with no explanation whatsoever. As they fight Ninjis, Koopa prepares to start the bidding on his prisoners, and pours himself some Koopa-Kola. This beverage would become a recurring thing in the Nintendo Comics System, but this is its only mention in the cartoon. Here, Koopa drinks it from a sake cup. There’s a brief appearance of Mouser, Triclyde, and a Koopa Troopa in this scene, all in the same black and white color scheme as Karate Koopa.
I can’t help but think of Mickey when seeing Mouser’s ears. They don’t actually do anything in this one, though. It’s also worth mentioning that the Princess manages to loosen her ropes and get away, although it doesn’t help as Koopa recaptures them almost immediately. While the heroes are storming the pagoda, Luigi uses the expression “sweating like a Koopa.” Hmm, DO Koopas sweat? Mario beats Koopa in a fight, and Koopa does his warp zone escape again, this time through a round purple portal instead of a door. Misaki awards black belts to Mario and Luigi, but Mario’s doesn’t fit. When all else fails, go out with a fat joke. Wait, that’s terrible advice. As I’m sure you can guess, the brothers never use Plumb Fu again. I guess that’s consistent with the games, though. I mean, when does Luigi use his lightning abilities after learning them in Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga?
Adee Don’t – I wasn’t sure what this title was referencing, but apparently there was a plumbing company in southern California called Adee, with the slogan “Adee do!” Mario and Luigi are going to film a commercial, and they’ve recruited fictional television star Tawny Tyler, who’s played by real-life TV actress Melanie Chartoff. She agrees to help if Mario and Luigi remove the sprinkler system they’d installed earlier, which had flooded her house. Aren’t the Mario Brothers supposed to be GOOD plumbers? These segments often make it look otherwise. And how sleazy is it that they apparently won’t clean up the mess they made unless Tawny helps them? When the camera is on, Mario gets terrible stage fright and freezes up. Tawny tries to revive him by twirling and showing off the items in the house like on a game show, including the imitation Ratigator leather couch, a vase of dead artificial roses, and a porcelain cat with a broken tail. Finally, Tawny just turns behind Mario and moves his arms around during the filming.
Mario of the Apes – In a Tarzan parody, the Mario gang is taking a shortcut through Jungle Land, but they never say where they’re actually headed. Koopa shows up in safari gear and has an Albatoss attack them. One joke that’s pretty representative of this series is when Mario tells the others to “get down” and Luigi starts dancing. Anyway, Mario struggles with the Albatoss, which flies over the jungle and eventually drops the plumber on the porch of a treehouse where two apes live. The apes assume the Albatoss is the stork and Mario their newborn baby, and name him Marzan. As Mario has lost his memory (it’s not just for the live-action segments!), he goes along with it. One of the main gags here is that the apes are intelligent and civilized and act like an old-fashioned TV couple, and they’re even called Ward and June. Yet Marzan speaks in the “me Tarzan, you Jane” kind of broken English, even though his adoptive parents talk like normal people. For what it’s worth, Tarzan in the original book picked up human language really quickly. The treehouse has a doghouse with “Pooch” written above the opening, but sadly we never see what kind of animal apes would keep in place of a dog. It seems like a setup with no punchline. Marzan swings on vines and beats up a lion, resulting in his clothes being ripped. He also runs into a girl monkey who seems interested in him, but he doesn’t return the feeling. When he saves Luigi, Toad, and the Princess from some Trouters, which are somehow able to create a whirlpool, they realize he’s lost his memory. They follow a trail of banana peels left by Mario, then use plungers to climb to the treehouse to try to jog their friend’s memory. In an obvious joke that I think kind of works in context, Luigi shows Mario his first monkey wrench, and Ward comments that he always thought it was called a people wrench. Mario regains his memory when Luigi shows him a meatball sandwich, but this is when Koopa is attacking, and he insists Mario won’t be able to win without his ape skills. Fortunately for him, the meatball sandwich knocks out Koopa before Mario can finally catch and eat it. It’s another episode where Mario learns specialized skills, although at least here they explain why he doesn’t have them after it ends. It would have been more interesting from a mythology perspective if Mario had been adopted by Donkey Kong or his relatives, but I don’t think the writers had permission to use them. There was that one Captain N where Simon Belmont thought Donkey Kong was his father. I wonder if Jungle Land is in DK’s neck of the woods.
Chippie Chipmunks – Mario is part of a Boy Scout sort of organization called the Chippie Chipmunks. Of course, he’s a grown man, so that’s kind of weird. The guys at the Super Show Show Podcast think it must be some kind of fetish thing. Anyway, the scout master, Mr. Gibbel, shows up to tell Mario that he’s only a few points away from being Chipmunk of the Month. This guy is played by Fred Travalena, who had played Elvis earlier. Here, he kind of reminds me of Dave Coulier, I guess because he thinks it’s enough to just do a lot of goofy voices even when they aren’t actually funny. He does the chipmunk voice for a while, kind of like Coulier’s Mr. Woodchuck, then a Pee-Wee Herman impression for no apparent reason. In order to earn the honor, he has to spend a day doing good deeds. Luigi takes advantage of this by making Mario do chores for him, including giving him a haircut and a foot massage. I would think the good deeds he should be doing would be more along the lines of things for the community instead of just being his brother’s personal valet, but whatever. Mr. Gibbel then shows up again to tell Mario he got the math wrong, and he already had enough points, making the Luigi’s servant bit pointless (in more ways than one). So Mario takes out his frustration by throwing popcorn in Luigi’s face, and that’s it.
Princess, I Shrunk the Mario Brothers – The movie Honey, I Shrunk the Kids came out in June 1989. I remember seeing it at the drive-in, which isn’t so much of a thing today. There was a Roger Rabbit short before it. But anyway, this show also started in 1989, so there’s a good chance the writers didn’t see the movie before cranking out the script. Not that it really matters, as the parodies are generally pretty broad. Here, it’s mostly just the sense of people shrinking and having to overcome giant obstacles that are usually tiny, and they could have gotten that from the previews. But the Plumber’s Log number is 1989, presumably in reference to the movie. It starts with the usual suspects as prisoners again. There are a few episodes where they did this, probably to avoid having to actually show the scenario that led to it. This time, they’re at Koopa’s summer castle, flanked by two Mousers. That’s not that weird in an of itself, as there’s often a fuzzy line in terms of which enemies are individuals and which are types. Still, one of them doesn’t appear to ever move, so I suspect it’s an error.
Mouser (just one of him now) and some Troopas force their prisoners into a dungeon, and it’s a little confusing because the rodent says, “Move it, move it, move it!” when they’re already inside. Then he adds, “Stay in this dungeon!”, which is rather unnecessary since this has been previously established. A potion drips down on Mouser and the Troopas, shrinking them to tiny size. It turns out the culprit is Waldo the Wizard, from whom Koopa stole the castle.
He’s not much at all like Rick Moranis, instead a friendly old man with a British accent. The prisoners are able to escape the dungeon, but Toad accidentally spills the potion on Mario and Luigi. I think this is the third time Mario shrinks in this show, the other two being in the steam cabinet and when he ate Shrinking Sukiyaki. Growing and shrinking are pretty typical in Mario media. Koopa ties the Princess, Toad, and Waldo to lawn chairs, and the wizard can’t use his magic without moving his hands, so they’re basically helpless. The bad guys are really going for the summer vacation theme this time, with Troopas wearing Hawaiian shirts and playing croquet, and Koopa grilling burgers for them, which is nice of him.
He also uses a sausage lasso at one point. The king chases the tiny brothers around, and they hide in a drainpipe where they encounter some beetles. No, not Buzzy Beetles, which never appear in the series for some reason, but insects drawn as caricatures of the Beatles.
The show is never clear on whether anyone of normal size can hear the shrunken Marios. Koopa has a retort that suggests he can, but doesn’t necessitate it. He chases the brothers into the greenhouse with a sprayer full of pesticide, but the Troopas are afraid to go in because they’re scared of vegetables. Meanwhile, the Princess, Toad, and Waldo are somehow able to rock the chairs they’re tied to forward with their bodies and crash them into some Troopas, which somehow removes their ropes. There’s a scene of the Princess untying Toad, but the ropes on the other two just disappear. There’s no song in this episode, but the music that plays during this scene is very eighties-sounding and not, as far as I can tell, from a Mario game. Waldo creates an antidote to the shrinking potion, and Toad slips it into the sprayer while Koopa is trying to get the Marios out of a watering can. When he sprays them, not only do they return to their usual size, but the nearby vegetables become giant. They start throwing the vegetables at the villains, who run away. Koopa does his “he who koops and runs away” line, but doesn’t use an escape potion this time, instead just running off pursued by a flying boot conjured by the wizard.
Doesn’t it seem like they’d want to capture him when they have the chance? No, apparently getting him to run off and koop another day is fine with them.
A Basement Divided – The live-action segment takes on the old sitcom trope of dividing a room between two people, the impetus being that Luigi is fed up with Mario’s sloppiness. It’s strange because Luigi was a slob in earlier episodes, if perhaps not to the same extent. Consistent characterization, anyone? Anyway, there’s a brief third appearance by Gary Schwartz, this time as Dr. Freud, a different character from the earlier Sigmund Fruitcake. He doesn’t do much other than freak out about the black tape on the floor, then say to keep it there until Mario learns his lesson. He eventually promise Luigi he’ll clean up after himself, but then he accidentally knocks everything off the table when he uses the tablecloth as a napkin. That’s really all I have to say about it.
Little Red Riding Princess – It’s another fairy tale adaptation, and the last episode by production code, although obviously not the last one aired. It’s significant in that we get to see the Princess’ grandmother, who lives in what Mario describes as “the far woods of the Mushroom Kingdom.” There’s a character in Super Mario RPG who’s identified as Peach’s grandmother, but this might be a translation error. That woman is a Toad, and the one in this episode human.
Is she part of the royal family of the Mushroom Kingdom? Did she tire of court life and retire to the forest? When the gang gets to the woods, they find that the local Toads have been frozen by Koopa, who’s stealing all their firewood. Isn’t he usually trying to take over a town or steal something? Now he doesn’t have any plan beyond showing up at a place and doing the first mean thing he can think of. One of the Toads, a woodcutter named Pine (probably no relation to Prince Pine from Yoshi’s Safari), still has the high-pitched voice but also a bit of a German accent. Also, both Peach and her grandmother use the exclamation “oh my mushroom!” several times in this one, but not in any other episode from what I recall. As the Princess makes her way to Grandma Toadstool’s house, the Big Bad Wolf shows up and seems to know how the story is supposed to go.
He has sort of a suave baritone voice, and he wears clothes. Koopa shows up at the cottage first, however, luring out Grandma with a telegram offering a year’s supply of firewood if she goes to town to claim it. He sings a line of “Happy Days Are Here Again” when trying to get her to answer the door, which is kind of strange. When she asks how she’s going to get to town, Koopa, who apparently didn’t think of that, lets her use his snowmobile. He then dresses up in her clothes and lies in her bed, having his Troopas throw out the Wolf when he tries to do the same. The Princess shows up and they do the usual bit, him chasing her around the house for a while until she escapes, then Koopa hiding in a river with a scuba suit and Peach shoving the mouthpiece into his mouth, making him float away. I don’t think that’s how it really works, but hey, it’s a cartoon. I do find it amusing that he put on the scuba gear over Grandma’s nightgown.
Grandma Toadstool herself arrives at the woodcutter’s cottage to find out there’s hardly any wood there. Mario, Luigi, and Toad take the snowmobile to confront Koopa, but he manages to capture both the Princess and her grandmother and take them to a cave. The heroes follow, and the scene switches to Koopa, who finds himself face to face with a few wolves, and runs away in fear leaving his prisoners behind. It turns out that only one of the wolves is real, the others being Mario, Luigi, and Toad dressed in the Big Bad Wolf’s spare winter coats, having made a temporary alliance because Koopa broke in on the Wolf’s racket. The firewood the reptile stole is in the cave, so the good guys bring it back to town. Although the plot was all over the place and Koopa barely has any plans, it was pretty funny, and an interesting twist to have an actual wolf AND Koopa playing the wolf. Strange that they have a woodcutter character but don’t have him save anyone, though.
No Way to Treat a Queenie – The Queen of England is visiting New York City, and Mario and Luigi joke around doing bad British accents. After they hear some guards outside mentioning they’d lost the Queen, the doorbell rings and it appears to be the Queen herself, come to live like a commoner for a brief while. Mario and Luigi are all too happy to oblige, and she makes them a fish and chips pizza. Then a doctor shows up and explains that the woman visiting is just a mental patient who thinks she’s the Queen. So why do they sometimes have actual famous people visit and sometimes just frauds? They have to mix it up, I guess. For what it’s worth, I don’t think anyone actually tracks down mental patients with big butterfly nets.