Super Mario Bros. Super Show  » TV  »
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  • It certainly wasn't why I watched the show, as much as I enjoyed the corny nature of those segments
  • If you've never seen it before, even if you're a Mario fan, I don't think I can recommend it because it's definitely meant for a younger audience

    • by Richard Coombs

      all reviews
      Mario was once everywhere. I mean, Mario is still a very popular character and Nintendo’s been churning out more fantastic games starring the plucky plumber, but back in the eighties, and even into the early nineties, Mario was on everything. Much like how Pokemon was slapped onto every single piece of banal, mundane merchandise, the same was true for Mario. Now, given his popularity, of course it was inevitable that a cartoon show would be thrown out. So, shortly after the second game’s release, America was introduced to the wacky cluster of odd ideas that was the Super Mario Bros. Super Show.

      Made by DiC Entertainment, the series was a Saturday morning television show that attempted to blend live action segments with cartoons. The show would start with a live action segment showing Mario and Luigi (played by Lou Albano and Danny Wells respectively) getting into some wacky antics at their Brooklyn flat. Then, the bulk of the show would focus on the cartoon, followed by one last live action segment that would wrap up the story for the day.

      Now, starting with the live action portions, I will freely admit that these are the worst parts of the show. It’s incredibly cheesy, the dialogue is simple and riddled with terrible one-liners and puns, and the physical comedy is very hit and miss. However, I honestly can’t say that I hate these segments. There’s a huge amount of energy put into all of them, and it’s pretty obvious that Albano and Wells are having a lot of fun on screen. I have to say, even if it’s hard to call these segments ‘good’ I can at least call them entertaining, and it’s mostly due to the fact that the actors are just having so much fun, and when they have fun, so do the audience. I won’t say that it’s consistently entertaining, though. An episode where Mario is struck on the head and thinks he’s a chicken is particularly painful to sit through.

      But of course, that’s not the reason why kids were watching. It certainly wasn’t why I watched the show, as much as I enjoyed the

      corny nature of those segments. But no, we wanted to see the cartoon. The cartoon segments were based around the plot of the first game, where Bowser (referred to in the show as King Koopa) has turned all the denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom to stone and is trying to capture Princess Toadstool. Thus, the show focuses on Mario, Luigi, Toadstool, and even Toad, as they travel from land to land, attempting to find a way to reverse Koopa’s spell while at the same time freeing the world from Koopa’s influence. From there, every episode is an episodic adventure in a new land where Koopa tries to take over the world and capture Toadstool while Mario and Luigi have to stop him and his minions.

      The show makes great use of the game’s characters, featuring Goombas and Koopa Troopas very prominently as foot soldiers, which I can appreciate as a fan of the games, even if the Koopas do sound a little… shall we say, strange? There are also several characters from the second game as well, such as Fry Guy, Triclyde, Mouser, and the Shy Guys and Snifits as well. It’s a very good mix of recognizable characters from the games. However, what bothers me is that the venue in which the shows take place is never the same. Every episode changes up the location to places like Car Land, Karate Land, Snow Land, and so forth, and the plot will invariably revolve around whatever theme the land is made up of. Surprisingly, there are a lot of episodes which parody famous movies at the time, like an episode poking fun at Star Wars. But I have to wonder if some of these choices are really appropriate, such as an episode parodying the apocalyptic movie ‘The Road Warrior’ uniquely called the Toad Warrior. I’m pretty sure that movie wasn’t really made for the kiddies.

      Still, the changing venues, which it can be annoying, do lend themselves well to a few fun situations, such as the previously mentioned Karate Land. It has some good nods to Japanese animation and even shows Mario and Luigi engaging in hand ...

      • to hand combat with Koopa’s forces.

        Other elements of the games are also used in each episode as well, usually as Deus Ex Machinas to try and get the episode to wrap up neatly, such as stars and fire flowers. I would complain about this, but it is going off of the game’s logic, so I guess I can’t really fault them here.

        In terms of animation, the game can be very spotty. This isn’t really surprising, as all cartoons around this time were drawn completely by hand, but this show does have some of the most mind-blowing mistakes I’ve ever seen in an animated television show, from not giving characters faces, to characters disappearing between cuts, to even forgetting to add in the background in one episode. I’m not kidding, one entire episode was missing huge chunks of the background, leaving nothing but a giant pink space. It just makes me scratch my head and wonder what the heck happened that had caused such a terrible mistake. However, other episodes are actually really well animated with great facial expressions, some fantastic fight scenes, and some creative backgrounds and scenic pieces. Animation is just completely luck of the draw, is what I’m saying. Some episodes are really good, and other episodes are really lazy.

        Sound is also a really mixed bag. In the cartoon, it’s just fine. Voice acting for all the main characters is very well done, though Toad can get kind of annoying if you have to listen to him for too long. Minor characters are very hit and miss, though, especially when it comes to characters who only appear for a single episode. Other characters, like Mouser and Triclyde, just sound so terribly goofy that they lose any sort of menace they could have had. It’s not like these were simple enemies in the game they came from, these were actual boss characters, but here they are treated as comic relief. Again, it kind of makes me tilt my head. Sound effects and music, though, are used really well. Pretty much all of the sound effects are taken from the games, and are actually used

        in ways that make sense for the situation. The music is much the same, with a few original compositions that I honestly don’t remember. Really, the music is at its best when they’re using music from Mario Bros 2.

        The same can’t be said for the live action segments, though. I don’t know who was working the sound booth for this part of the show, but they had no idea what they were doing. Music here is from the games, once again, and that sounds okay. But the sound effects are so erratic and crazy, that it makes no sense. It’s like someone just hit random buttons on a keyboard hoping to create Mozart. Trust me, it didn’t work. It actually gets to the point where the sound effects are the only thing you notice in this part of the show because they are just so poorly placed and so distracting.

        The only other thing I suppose I should mention is that on Fridays, the Mario cartoon was replaced with an animated Legend of Zelda cartoon. I’m not really going to talk about that much, though, because it’s so different in style and tone than the rest of the show, it honestly should have just been its own show rather than a backup segment. It only lasted thirteen episodes anyway.

        So, that’s the Super Mario Bros. Super Show, an amazingly hit and miss show that somehow managed to be just like, and not at all like, the game it was based on. I admit that my love of the show is probably based around the nostalgia I have for it, I can honestly say that I really like the show. It’s far from perfect, to be sure, but it has a lot of charm to it and it took a rather plotless video game and turned it into something that kids could enjoy. If you’ve never seen it before, even if you’re a Mario fan, I don’t think I can recommend it because it’s definitely meant for a younger audience. Still, I’m going to rate it high because it still manages to be entertaining, even twenty years after the fact.

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    The review was published as it's written by reviewer in March, 2012. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 102031567320331/k2311a032/3.2.12
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