Feature

The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!

Pasta Power

Marxist space rebellion, pizza phones, and a plumber’s snake called Excalibur beguile our writer as he revisits The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!.

By Drew Toal • September 5, 2012

The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! premiered in 1989, a few years after the Nintendo craze hit America’s shores. It was a half-hour show that starred professional wrestling personality “Captain” Lou Albano as Mario, a portly Brooklyn plumber, and Danny Wells as his ectomorph brother, Luigi.

Each episode begins and ends with a live-action segment and often features a guest star plucked from the upper reaches of the C-list firmament. The meat of the episodes are the animated bits, usually a play on some classic public-domain tale like Sherlock Holmes, the labors of Hercules, or Romeo And Juliet, but peopled with characters from Super Mario Bros. 2. (On Fridays, the cartoons were Zelda-themed instead.) In these short cartoons, Mario, Luigi, Toad, and the Princess thwart the nefarious schemes of King Koopa all across the Mushroom Kingdom.

The show’s instantly recognizable theme song—the “Plumber’s Rap”—mixes the game’s familiar tune with a bastardized version of old-school hip-hop popular during the period. Played in concert with Vanilla Ice’s “Ninja Rap,” I’m fairly certain that some kind of topical Higgs-boson universe-imploding nexus will open. And good riddance to us, I say.

Due mainly to a severe lack of quality programming on Netflix’s instant streaming menu, I recently found myself taking a survey of the Super Show!’s first season—and then exploring further on YouTube. The live-action and animated segments in each episode are unrelated, but I’ve taken the collective quality into account in picking three representative episodes. Here are the highlights.

Episode 12: Live-action—“Alligator Dundee” / Cartoon—“Stars in Their Eyes”

“Alligator Dundee”: Mario and Luigi are paid a visit by a poor man’s Paul Hogan, Alligator Dundee. This Outback reject has tracked a vicious animal to the plumbers’ home, and he warns them they should expect to be attacked “any minute now.” It turns out that Dundee is actually after Mario and Luigi’s pet, the sewer-dwelling Ratigator. Dundee recruits the brothers to help him capture the beast, but when he tries to lure it out of the sewer with a tuna sandwich, they protect their friend and put an end to Dundee’s big-game sewer hunting days.

I’m not sure how much truth there is to the New York City giant sewer alligator myth, but I do know that the city has its share of Rodents Of Unusual Size. This segment, then, can be read as an impassioned protest against the city’s inhumane pest-control policies. I was playing Dawnguard a month or so ago when I noticed one sauntering into my bedroom. Yes, this disgusting, overfed plague-wallet had climbed through my open, second-story kitchen window in search of cheese or human babies. After a tense two-or-three-hour standoff, I cornered him in the back of my refrigerator. From there, I quickly decided to unplug the fridge and move it, ass end first, to my front door, where I hoped the little-big fella would run free. The Super Show’s lesson of humanity was well-learned: No tuna sandwiches were harmed in this capture.


“Stars In Their Eyes”: For some reason, the gang is all aboard a spaceship under attack by King Koopa’s space-troopas. Mario, whose plumber training apparently includes piloting intergalactic spacecraft, is forced to crash land on the planet Quirk. The situation on Quirk is grim. The peace-loving Quirks—who bear a strong resemblance to Q*bert, a video game hero presumably not covered by the show’s licensing agreements—have all been enslaved by Moonman Koopa. (King Koopa often takes on characteristics based on that particular episode’s setting. The moon is an object that exists in space; this is a space-themed adventure; hence Moonman Koopa. Q.E.D.) Some brave Quirks help Mario and Co. escape, but Moonman Koopa uses his giant magnet to recapture the Quirks and the wrench-laden Mario Brothers.

As they toil in Koopa’s moon gulag, Mario apologizes to his Quirk buddy: “Sorry we got you into a lifetime of enslavement, little pepperoni.” Like any good union man, though, Mario tries to rally the troops with some fiery Marxist rhetoric. The Quirks, realizing that they have nothing to lose but their chains, use their bugle-like snouts to sonically assault Koopa with a rendition of the Zelda theme song, and the gang escapes, with the only casualty being the ship’s emergency pasta rations. I know this is a kids show, but I suspect it would make a whole lot more sense on drugs. The pizza phone looks delicious.

Episode 2: Live-action—“Day Of The Orphan” / Cartoon—“King Mario Of Cramalot”

“Day Of The Orphan”: Fred Savage and I don’t have much in common, but we do have this—we both once loved the same woman. Fred’s on-again, off-again love interest from The Wonder Years, one Winnie Cooper, was everything an adolescent boy wanted from a girl, in the days before he knew what he was supposed to want in a girl. Danica McKellar, Winnie’s real-life counterpart, eventually grew up and became a sort of celebrity math guru, but before that she took a turn as a guest star on The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!

A pig-tailed McKellar shows up at the door and introduces herself to Mario and Luigi as Patty The Sad-Eyed Orphan. The brothers agree to look after this down-on-her-luck waif, but soon it becomes clear that she’s just a cute little con artist, shaming them into waiting on her hand and foot. Her parents eventually show up and put an end to her scheme, but the emotional damage is already done. Add Mario and Luigi to the pile of emotional wreckage left in Winnie Cooper’s wake. The bros. will never trust any person who isn’t a pizza delivery man ever again.


“King Mario Of Cramalot”: King Arthur’s legend has gone through innumerable revisions since the mythical British monarch supposedly repelled the Saxon invaders from Great Britain. Some of my favorite Arthurian riffs include T.H. White’s The Once And Future King, Monty Python And The Holy Grail, that Merlin miniseries with Sam Neill, and maybe the Camelot musical. (Shut up, Richard Harris is awesome.)

The Super Show!’s version sticks to the story only in the broadest possible sense, as Mario & Co. go looking for Mervin The Magician. Koopa, meanwhile, has usurped the throne of Cramalot to spread his evil meanness all over the land. As Mario says—exercising his penchant for plumbing and/or pasta-related metaphors—“That Koopa’s a clog in the drainpipe of happiness.” Yes, happiness is a metal tube that tends to get backed up with hair and scum. No wonder they call him the Sylvia Plath of Italian plumbers.

According to prophecy, the person who pulls the golden plunger from the sacred sink of Cramalot becomes the new king. Fortunately, there isn’t a sink built that Mario can’t unclog. Koopa steals the plunger, but in his darkest hour, Mario finds Excalibur, held aloft from the bosom of the water, which in this story is a magical plumber’s snake. It’s possible that the producers of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show overestimated the degree to which plumbing factored into Mario’s appeal. Anyway, Mervin later offers Mario the throne, but this is a pasta-loving slob from Brooklyn, not a king. So, as if he were proffering the proverbial backflow arrestor valve of humility, Mario declines.

Episode 64: Live-action—“Captain Lou Is Missing” / Cartoon—“Robo Koopa”

“Captain Lou Is Missing”: Cyndi Lauper is ’80s royalty, and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” one of her more famous music videos, features her good friend “Captain” Lou Albano as the fun-loving girl’s angry father. Albano returned the favor, and Lauper guest stars as herself in the series’ penultimate episode.

When she shows up at the door, Lauper is distraught. She was supposed to meet Captain Lou for picnic, but instead she found a note from the good Captain telling Lauper that he’s “gone for good.” Also she found a bunch of rubber bands from his beard, because Captain Lou’s trademark is the somewhat unorthodox use of office supplies in facial hair.

After an exhaustive search that ranges all the way to Moscow, Lauper receives a letter from the president himself calling off Operation Lou Search, declaring him missing forever. Mario goes out for pizza, and Captain Lou conveniently shows up while he’s gone. It was all a silly mistake: Lou’s note was supposed to say that he’s “gone for good fried chicken.” So rather than suicide, Lou has instead opted for the slow death of high cholesterol.

Of course, Mario misses all this action—Luigi notes the cruel irony, since Mario is Captain Lou’s biggest fan—and there’s something almost Shakespearean in this scenario. Physically, the main difference between the “two” men is that Mario wears a handlebar mustache, while Captain Lou rocks his rubber-band-bound beard. Which egregious facial hair style is real, and which is pasted onto his face? “Captain Lou Is Missing”? Maybe we’re all missing—just beards and mustaches projected on the cave wall of our faux reality. I don’t even know what’s real anymore. Let’s move on.


“Robo Koopa”: In a futuristic-looking corner of the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario, Luigi, Toad, and the Princess learn how ill-equipped they are to deal with perils of technology. What good are bouncing fireballs and toilet-based bon mottes against Robo Koopa, a mechanized terror designed by a scientist named Dr. Nerdnick? The doctor designs a suit for Mario and Luigi to counter Robo Koopa, but its plunger fists and egg-shooting guns prove no match for their enemy’s more conventional arsenal, a rare instance in which the Super Show renders plumbing-based might as something less than all-powerful.

There is an unintentional allegory here: Nintendo and their gunless, brick-breaking hero go up against tech juggernauts Sony and Microsoft. On the Super Show, Mario’s silly, cartoonish assault is initially impotent against Koopa’s explosives, but the plucky plumber still ultimately prevails. From what I’ve seen of the Wii U, Nintendo might not have similar success.

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  • George_Liquor
  • Asinus

    Just to be politely pedantic– the Higgs boson isn’t hyphenated and “boson” isn’t a proper noun (though the word “boson” was derived from a proper name). 

    I wish I’d seen this when it was on, but I learned from an early age to avoid video game spinoffs.

    • Fluka

      Speaking as a particle physicist…eeeh.  *shrugs weakly before falling asleep face down on the couch*

      • ApesMa

        Speaking as the Conservative candidate I just drone on and on and on and on without letting anyone else get a word in edgeways until I start foaming at the mouth and falling over backwards *thud*

        • Effigy_Power

           I am not a man, you silly billy.

        • George_Liquor

          I’m not in the street, you fairy.

        • James

          Speaking as a computer, 1000101.

      • Asinus

        I’ll definitely concede the point to you since I’m just more of an enthusiast. 

        • Fluka

          *Fluka awakens feeling rested.*

          Nah, you’re actually totally correct in terms of the editing!  (And polite too!)  Most of my coworkers studying the Higgs are happy enough when people don’t refer to it as “the God particle.”  Or when the leaders of the community don’t give their talks in Comic Sans (sigh).

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          @Fluka:disqus 
             It’s such a common theme, that mankind will suffer dire consequences due to scientists over-reaching their grasp and dooming us all.  But I have to say, as a graphic designer, I’ve never had the chance to ignorantly wield the Higgs boson particle to negative effect.  Whereas academics and business professionals alike are subjected to comic sans on a daily basis.
             So who’s really endangering society?  I think I best pack up my Wacom and go live in a yurt at the base of the Himalayas.

        • Fluka

          @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus You won’t be laughing anymore when I take over the world with my deadly NEUTRINO BEAM!  Aahahahahaa!

          *Points beam at screaming population.  Nothing happens.*

          So yeah.  Stop making bad fonts!!

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/mattman-begins,89632 Mattman Begins

    I remember eagerly (yes, eagerly; I was just young enough to have anything Nintendo-oriented be appointment television) tuning in to the first episode, wincing my way through the laugh tracks in the live segment (I was just old enough that that shit didn’t work on me any more), and arriving at special guest time to hear Luigi exclaim “Nicole Eggert!”  My reaction was, “That’s the best you can do for your big series kick-off?  Whatserdick from Charles In Charge?” 

    Later in the series, Magic Johnson showed up, which was quite an upgrade.  Still, his appearance was from behind a Dutch door the whole time, which made me wonder if the lower half of the door was just operating some kind of Magic Johnson puppet.  Or Magic Puppet johnson, take your pick.

    You are either a very brave or very foolish man to deliberately seek out these shows again.  I hope you grabbed an invincibility star before watching these, so they have no long-term effects on your brain.

    • Mike_From_Chicago

      I used to rush home from school on Fridays to see the Zelda segments, which were fairly serialized and fantasy-oriented. I almost never made it home in time. Then I saw one or two of the Zelda shorts on netflix, and holy shot were they bad. Just grotesque. Poorly written, cheaply animated, and link was oddly (or not) sexualized for a cartoon/video game character who looks to be about 12.

      • ApesMa
        • Cornell_University

          beat to the punch by hours.  I salute you sir!

      • http://www.facebook.com/james.slone James Slone

        I actually rather liked the Zelda cartoons, and only tuned in on Fridays for that show. Sure, it’s crap, but I found the sexist rom-com aspect of it very amusing (in retrospect, I get the sense that the dudes who worked on it had serious chips on their shoulders and were preparing young boys for a life of rejection). I think Link was supposed to be like 16 or 17. As for the SMB cartoon, even as a kid I knew it was shitty and surreal.

  • Nudeviking

    As much as I like good ole Capt. Lou, Captain N: The Gamemaster (Game Master?) was the superior Nintendo based program from the 1980s.  The Friday Zelda bits I do however remember with a certain amount of fondness.

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

       Yeah, as a kid I found the live-action bits kind of hokey, and as a literal-minded tyke I was annoyed that the cartoons deviated so much from the setting and “story” of the games. I would watch it if it was on, but I didn’t go out of my way to catch it. Captain N was more interesting and exciting to me (and it somehow didn’t bother me that all of the characters were off-model, or that I hadn’t played most of their games).

      However, as a kid I did read some of the Valiant comics of Mario, Capt. N, and Zelda, and the Mario comics were definitely my favorite. They had a sense of humor that genuinely worked on elementary school me – the tiniest bit irreverent, with the occasionally 4th-wall-breaking meta gag. I can’t imagine they’ve aged super well, either, but unlike the TV show, they didn’t feel oblivious 6-year-old me with
      fremdschämen.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Johnson/501651 Kevin Johnson

        Girard,

        I’ll have you know that I have the hardcover version of the Valiant comics – The Best of Super Mario Bros. – as well as the very first issue of the run, which, oddly enough, wasn’t included in the “Best of” compilation (I also have the Nintendo Power set). I am (or was, really) a huge Super Mario Bros. fan, and I probably would be responding quite a bit to this thread.

        I actually on occasion go back and read them. They actually aren’t too bad. Some are worse than others. A lot of it depends on how dedicated you are to the fanbase and how much you’re willing to let stuff go. In that way, they’re kind of stupid-fun, and some of the one-offs are actually pretty good. They also expand some of the mythology – “Dirk Drain Head,” Stanly the Talking Fish, King Toadstool – and it’s nice if ultimately pointless set of additions.

        I’ve been doing write-ups of the comics (very slowly at this point, because the site I used to get comic-scans from went belly-up) and some are not too bad. http://www.totalmediabridge.com/category/smbcomics/

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

           That’s awesome. I had (and presumably still have, in a box in my mother’s house) a trade paperback collection, which might have been a version of that “Best Of,” or maybe something else. It included the magic carpet comic on your blog, but not the “Pirahnaround Sue.”

          I do remember it used to have fake ads for fake products, featuring Koopa and the Koopa Kids and so on, which at the time I thought was GENIUS. It might be the first time I saw that kind of meta-humor. Those comics were definitely a rare bit of quality Mario licensing (even more amazing: those choose your own adventure books they promoted with Pringles that one time).

        • dreadguacamole

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus: What the hell is “Pirahnaround Sue”? It sounds like an euphemism for something very naughty, and even more painful.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Johnson/501651 Kevin Johnson

          @dreadguacamole:disqus I had to have a friend tell me what that referred to – it’s a play on “Run Around Sue” song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c49klxPex-k

          Yeah, I know, it’s a stretch.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Johnson/501651 Kevin Johnson

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus I have those Choose Your Own Adventure books, too! Well, 2-6. Could never find the first one, nor any of the ones that came after. I took a look at those again recently – they kinda have a Goosebumps vibe, which, for an SMB property, is kinda dark for kids (one book had creepy mashed-up baddies, and Mario’s deaths were kinda gruesome in a “kids with overactive imaginations” kind of ways).

          But they aren’t too bad either! They’re intriguing, action-y, and could be a silly-if-dark teen novel if they subtracted the Choose Your Own Adventure part. Also, Luigi gets to be a badass quite often, which you don’t see anymore. (In fact, Luigi was always kind of a badass up until the cartoon, and especially the games made him more of a wuss. So was Princess Toadstool, actually.)

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      Captain N infuriated me.  Granted, with a show like that, it’s the difference in one year of age between beloved and awful, but I got mad whenever I watched it.  Which, being a kid, was every week.
         I think it was mostly as, being a young American boy of the 80′s, I had no patience for the cutesy Mega-man or the comic relief Simon Belmont.  Or Pit in Mickey Mouse gloves.  I wanted Belmont to be a bad-ass fantasy warrior and Mega Man to be a bad-ass robot powerhouse.
         Basically, I wanted everyone to be bad-ass, and nobody to be anything else.
         Also, the main villain is a sass-talking Mother Brain, but there’s no Samus Aran?
         ’Course, if they did have Aran, she’d likely be super-klutzy with a vocal obsession for… I dunno… cheese sandwiches or something. 

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp David Dalrymple

        And Samus would almost certainly have been a man.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          With an uncomfortably robust mustache.

      • Nudeviking

        King Hippo’s characterization was pretty much spot on though…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=672914322 Brandon Kleinwort

    Any thoughts on the who the ‘blood thirsty beast’ is at 16:41 in the ‘Alligator Dundee’ video? It looks like post-editing put a Mario face over some suit.

    • Matthew McGrath

      It is Reagan’s hairline for sure.  Reagan had the “I know it’s hard when you’re up to your armpits in alligators to remember you came here to drain the swamp.” quote, second only to “Well, well, uhhhh, what time is it?”
      So, Reagan? 

      • Bad Horse

        Topical!

  • Matthew McGrath

    How about Club Mario?  Anyone remember that?  It replaced the live-action segments.  It was two Bill And Ted types.  The theme song was a blatant rip of “Black Cat” by Janet Jackson.

    “We’ll take you any place you wanna go / we’ll take you there oh don’t you know / We’re at the Club / Club Mario”

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

       I’m kind of amazed I missed this, since I remember watching a fair amount of the Super Show (though I didn’t watch it religiously – even as a 6-year-old I could tell that his wasn’t appointment television), and the subsequent Mario 3/World cartoons. This thing must have fell through the cracks.

      Interestingly (maybe) on YouTube, there’ s a “Club Mario” version of the “Robo-Koopa” episode Drew mentions  above. So it seems like they literally just took the Super Show episodes, snipped out the Captain Lou bits, and replaced them with EXTREME 90s clips from “No adults allowed.”

    • http://grantb.net GrantB

      Hells yes.  Me and my brother thought those guys were hilarious, and double points to any episode featuring “Evil Eric”.

      Something tells me it probably doesn’t hold up today.  I need to see some of that again.

  • Tom

    My daughter recently got into this show, as she enjoys Princess Peach on
    the DS, and isn’t yet old enough to recognize horrid production values.
    I fondly remembered watching it when I was a kid, and was completely
    unprepared for how awful it is. But I do look forward to one part every
    time, and not just because it means the show is finally over: At the very end of the credits, Captain Lou tries to make some kind of jazz-hands pose, but he stumbles a bit and steps forward. This show was so cheap they wouldn’t even re-shoot the five seconds to not have the lead falling down as he tries to stop dancing!

    But seriously, this show makes me hope and pray for My Little Pony, every time we let the kid choose something on Netflix.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Johnson/501651 Kevin Johnson

       Is that a stumble or a poorly done edit? I actually get confused – to me, it looks like the director had him “re-pose” with the jazz hands, while ALREADY in the jazz hands position, because reasons. Either way, it’s a terrible, terrible moment.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      My kid is in her Caillou phase right now.  Which I guess is just her first phase in a long line of awful, awful programming.  Though I think she’s getting into Adventure Time, which would make my day.

  • Matthew McGrath

    Also
    I hate disqus with every fiber in my body.  Why in the holy fuck of
    hell do sites pay for this shitty service?  You mean there’s NO other
    goddamn comment systems out there?  You mean its THAT hard to write your
    own system?  Fuck this nonsense.

    • Mike_From_Chicago

      Well. There it is.

    • Effigy_Power

       A point rarely taken for sure.
      Actually Disqus has a lot less problems than some of its competitors in the chat and comment system branch and none of them generally lay down the entire page they are presented on. The odd fluke is really just a benevolent hiccup.

    • George_Liquor

      Yeah, boo Disqus! You should ask for your money back.

    • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

      Yes, Matthew, it is in fact THAT hard to write your own system that can handle thousands of user contributions, across a wide variety of browsers and login systems, and integrate them into a site’s preexisting design with any degree of grace. If you’re having a specific problem—although Disqus’ all-consuming fuck of hell doesn’t seem to have prevented you from commenting elsewhere on this page—you’ll find that Disqus tech support is responsive and helpful.

      http://disqus.com/support/

      Otherwise, while Disqus may have its troubles, I think overall, this applies:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r1CZTLk-Gk

      • Matthew McGrath

        I’m sorry.  I was a jerk for posting that.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/gorfious,4040/ Gorfious

    Are the live action Mario and Luigi supposed to be THE Mario and Luigi?    If so, it makes the line about not being “like the others who get all the fame” particularly nonsensical.  Mario and Luigi are the only plumbers who get any fame.  Complaining that they don’t get any fame compared to some supposed multitude of famous plumbers seems almost cruel.

    I have to think that the line indicates that they are different from the actual Mario and Luigi.  Seen that way, suddenly the song makes complete sense.  The live action Mario and Luigi aren’t like the actual Mario and Luigi, the ones who deserve their fame for their daring princess saving exploits.  They’re just regular plumbers, completely undeserving of public notice.  Seen through this lens the whole first verse becomes a declaration that the two sets of Mario Brothers are separate.  Plumbing is their entire game, not fame seeking princess saving.  They can fix your sink quickly, but if you need a goomba stomped you’re shit out of luck.

    This makes the rest of the show make a lot more sense too.  The live action segments are horrible sub-sitcom bullshit, where the characters being the Mario Brothers is irrelevant to the plots, because it’s all just coincidence.  Same names, same outfits, different dudes. 

    The Legend of Zelda segments hold up pretty well though.  Link is such a petulant fuck.

    • ApesMa

      You’ve given this show a lot more thought than anyone involved in it.

    • Treymoney

       That…makes a lot of sense.

  • http://www.facebook.com/erik.hensel.10 Erik Hensel

    I saw that this was available on Netflix instant and made on through maybe 2 minutes. Then, Danica McKellar! I remember her! So I tried again, but no, again around 2 minutes I tapped out. Just couldn’t do it. The 80s was just a putrid decade for childrens animation.

    • Mike_From_Chicago

      It was also a horrific decade for commercialized entertainment. Even compared to gi Joe or transformers, this shit literally just existed to raise awareness of nintendo products (and give the impression that characters like Mario and link had more going on than just wandering around and jumping on pipes).

      • George_Liquor

        And it all culminated in that two-hour Nintendo infomercial, The Wizard.

  • Mercenary_Security_number_4

    Nintendo!
    It’s for breakfast now!
    Nintendo!
    It’s a cereal — WOW!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REpiQnnp6p8

    • El Zilcho

      I still find myself singing “Nintendo, it’s a cereal, WOW!” from time to time.

    • Fluka

      Man, those marshmallows are even worse looking than usual.  Link = Purple Mario with elf ears.  Mario = small red homunculus.  Even my adult self is disappointed.

    • sirslud

      Along with that Nintendo breakfast commercial, Fruity Pepples also gave us a dope ass rhyme to throw down when the mood strikes us: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8aqAgtwqcU. Cereal and rapping never don’t go together.

    • PaganPoet

      I really should read through the comments section before I post…because then I see someone beat me to my contribution…by 6 hours. And that’s the sort of embarassment you just don’t recover from easily.

  • El Zilcho

    From Wikipedia: “There was also another episode with Cassandra Peterson as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, but the episode was not included in the DVDs for some unexplained reason.” I’m guessing the reason is boobs.

    I remember watching this show religiously as a kid. If I remember correctly, in my area it was on just after reruns of the old Dick Tracy cartoons (that so, so racist Dick Tracy cartoon!).  I tried watching it a few months ago when it was on Netflix, and it really, really does not hold up. They must have done no more than one take, and just left in any mistakes or errors and hoped kids wouldn’t notice. Definitely looked forward to the Zelda bits on Fridays the most.

    I wonder what I would think of its successor, Club Mario, nowadays. When I was a kid I watched it, but I was always disappointed that live action Mario and Luigi in their crappy Brooklyn apartment were replaced by a couple xtreme “teens” in a swanky joint. I feel like I would still hate those guys for not being Brooklyn plumbers.

    Also, “Do The Mario” is one of the great bad songs. Captain Lou just didn’t give a damn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65uNCLBTje0

    • Bad Horse

      And how come Mario doesn’t dance anymore? Remember The Mario?

    • http://profiles.google.com/roe.ryan Ryan Roe

      I vividly remember turning on the TV one day expecting to see Captain Lou-Mario and getting that Club Mario garbage instead. Perhaps that was the day I lost my innocence.

  • Raging Bear

    As with all 80s cartoons (with the sole exception of Ducktales, because there is nothing on Earth more badass than Ducktales), I enjoyed this when I was too young for my brain to have developed fully, but I can’t stomach the idea of watching them now.

    Or, to put it another way, this show looks about as fun as a leaky faucet! Or some ravioli–stuffed with bullshit! ♪Doo-doo-doo-doodoo-DOOT!♬

    • Captain Internet

      I’m pretty sure YouTube has killed off all nostalgia for these programs simply by allowing me to watch them. I still find Sharkey and George terrifying, however.

      • Raging Bear

        If I’m being totally honest, I’m actually afraid to seek out and watch Ducktales, just in case I’m wrong.

        • Aurora Boreanaz

          At the very least, Ducktales had a fun theme song and two really great Nintendo games.

        • Effigy_Power

           I am the same way with TailSpin… I am pretty sure all that non-lethal Steampunky flying action is pretty awful by now.

        • El Zilcho

          I hope that Darkwing Duck is still awesome, is all.

        • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp David Dalrymple

          I watched the Ducktales DVDs. There are highs and lows. The fact that I am now aware of Carl Barks’ comics takes away from the show considerably, however.  

    • Bad Horse

      You can just see the fucks not being given onscreen. Many, many fucks were not given.

    • Asinus

      Transformers is the worst. Maybe I shouldn’t have started at the beginning, but goddamn. That was the only cartoon I remember really wanting to watch and it was trash– bad animation, bad plots… just bad. They couldn’t even keep sizes consistent. Okay, the little walkman transforms into a giant robot– I can accept that. But just stay consistent! Any robot could be any size to fit whatever scenario they came up with. 

      It’s weird that for the time I spent watching cartoons on Saturdays and after school that I don’t remember actually wanting to specifically watch any of them. What a waste. 

      • Cornell_University

        Transformers has aged pretty terribly, though I still love some of the voice acting (okay, just Megatron).  responding to a television reporter with “I’m glad you asked, EARTH GERM” makes me crack up, even if the surrounding show is bullshit nonsense.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      Ducktales is also the rare instance where it spawned a truly awesome Nintendo game.  I still have the moon level music bouncing around in my brainpan.
         Bouncing around like a Plutocratic, anthropomorphic mallard on a surprisingly elastic cane.

      • sirslud

        ocremixes of the moon theme here: 
        http://ocremix.org/song/724 (I'm partial to
        Star Salzman’s techno take.) Truly one of the greater video game songs IMHO.

      • Asinus

        My god, this is an outrage! They’re clearly Pekins, not Mallards! I’m going to go talk to my cat now!

  • JokersNuts

    Don’t forget to watch the Milli Vanilli episode! Seriously though, this show is so bad but we loved it SO much in 89. Friday Zelda episodes were pretty much the highlight of our weeks.
    Would watch and eat my official Nintendo cereal.

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

       That was SO WEIRD. Especially because, while 6-year-old me was vaguely aware of Milli Vanilli, I certainly didn’t give a fuck who they were. There was a better chance of my being impressed by the C-List celeb of the week than by those guys. Seems like a major miscalculation (one of many) on the show’s creators’ part.

      • JokersNuts

        I guess everyone’s a bit different.  We were around the same age and I definitely remember Milli Vanilli, their popularity, and the eventual contraversey really well.  In fact, its where I learned what “Lip Sync” ment for the first time. 
        I have a lot of strange memories of this show though, remember the time they had Cher on?  Only it wasn’t Cher, it was just a Cher impersonator.  So weird. 

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          Oh, I definitely was aware of them, and the controversy and so on. But I hadn’t heard their music, didn’t care much about them, and definitely wasn’t excited that they were “featured” on the show.

          Maybe they were really big with elementary school kids in some places, though. In my town the pop music that little kids genuinely liked seemed to be relegated to undisputable pop giants like Michael Jackson, Queen because of Wayne’s World, and acts that actually featured kids, like Kriss Kross. There was an awareness of ‘adult’ pop music, but actual appreciation for it wasn’t in evidence.

        • JokersNuts

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus yeah i know what you mean.  Michael Jackson was huge for us too.  Madonna was another big one.  Although I am pretty sure my friends and mine favorite band was Alvin and the Chipmunks, either that or whoever was doing the themesong for Duck Tales.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp David Dalrymple

      I think that music retrospective shows have underplayed the popularity of Milli Vanelli. Before the Lip Sync Scandal, they were huge. Now, we all try to pretend that we hated them all along.

      • JokersNuts

        I actually still like “Blame it on the Rain”  I don’t care what people think. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=559069256 Mark J. Hansen
    • http://profiles.google.com/roe.ryan Ryan Roe

      Say, did Link ever end up getting a kiss from Zelda? I guess that show turned millions of young people into shippers.

      • JokersNuts

        I don’t think he did in the actual cartoon.  There weren’t that many episodes, but I feel like there was a stupid school yard legend / rumor going around that he did (sorta like the rumor that you get to see Dr. Claw in an Inspector Gadget Episode, thankfully false)

        • magicpigdetective

          They did make an action figure that revealed his face though. The reveal was… disappointing: http://archives.progressiveboink.com/archive/drclaw.html

        • JokersNuts

          @magicpigdetective:disqus oh i know – I hate that so much.  That’s why I wrote that the rumor was “thankfully” false, since if thats the best they could come up with…

          I actually was a big Inspector Gadget fan as a kid and would literally have elaberate dreams where I was in the world of the show and discovered his face.  I remember blowing my own mind when I “found out” in my dream that Dr. Claw’s face looks exactly like the “MAD” cat-like symbol.  Which I thought was cool because it ment his face was right in front of us all along.

          The second one I remember was turning his chair around and seeing that he was hooked up to all these computers and was basically a giant sentient computer. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Johnson/501651 Kevin Johnson

    Oh, man, THIS. As a huge SMB fan, of course I watched it ever chance I got, despite knowing, somewhere in the back of my mind, this was just NOT a good show. And lest you think otherwise, the SMB3 and Super Mario World cartoons do not fare much better, but at least the Super Mario 3 toons are closer to the game it’s derived from.

    Things to like about it: King Koopa’s voice was pretty bad-ass, despite having terrible lines, and I kinda dig the 90s hip-hop cover of the SMB theme song, but then again, I’m a sucker for pretty much ALL covers of the SMB theme song, somewhat because of its iconography, but mainly because it’s a pretty sweet, basic set of beats.

    • PugsMalone

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the cartoon version of Bowser helped inspire Lrrr from Futurama.

  • JokersNuts

    Had the itch to revisit that game, I used to love it!  It’s not on the Virtual Console though…
    On that note, I also really wanted to play Turtles in Time, but that’s not on the VC either! 

  • Spacemonkey Mafia

    I misread the Alligator Dundee section as you were playing 
    Dawnguard when a skeever, or such crawled into your character’s second story window; and I thought “Well, sure.  No one respects property rights in Skyrim“.
       Then I re-read it and realized this happened in your actual honest-to-god life and I shuddered.

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      Yeah, that horrified me.  I had a problem at a previous house with regular-sized rats in the attic.  I can only imagine (with horror) a cat-size or larger rodent in my apartment.

  • Chip Dipson

    I never got into this show, as  I had already been burned years before by the animated Pac-Man Show. Link to opening credits in 3…2…1…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3n22GQMgcU 

  • http://twitter.com/Le_ted Ted

    Is anyone interested in doing the Mario?

  • ultramattman

    Live action segments: Charming, quaint, a Honeymooners-esque single set teleplay centered around the chemistry between Albano and Wells.

    Cartoon segments: sooooooooooo many pasta jokes.

  • jordan roberts

    wasn’t there an infamous episode in which Luigi cussed? this seemed like an urban legend at the time and, jesus, seems even more so now. 

  • Effigy_Power

    Pretty sure when you write professional wrestling personality “Captain” Lou Albano, the apostrophe is supposed to be around personality.

  • doyourealize

    Any reason why the formula for shows during this time (and maybe this is still the case) tends to be that in one 15-minute segment, the enemy is the main dastardly villian (TMNT had Shredder, He-Man had Skeletor, and SMB had Koopa) of the series, while in the other segment, it’s something/one else? Are children’s attention spans not up-to-snuff for a full half-hour of story, with or without the main baddy? Was it some kind of deal to let the writers be creative half of the time, and stick with the formula for the other half?
     
    Also, not sure what the fuck is up with Mario touching a star in the intro and turning into flower-power Mario.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp David Dalrymple

      He-Man and TMNT both had 30 minute episodes. (Maybe that changed in later years, like with Ghostbusters and Scooby-Doo.)

      I would say that kids shows have become more rigidly formulaic. A few years back, Sesame Street went from its traditional random style to a fixed schedule of segments. Phineas and Ferb follows the same formula in virtually every 15 minute episode.

      • doyourealize

        You sure about TMNT? I’m almost positive that’s the first I remember noticing the 15-minute episode formula. I guess I could find an episode on YouTube, but every time I do that to some favorite childhood show, it gets ruined.

  • ItsTheShadsy

    I think my favorite part of this is the guy who plays Luigi. Back in the day he seemed like the perfect pick, but now he’s very clearly a disgruntled, middle-aged man dressing up like a plumber against his will.

  • Citric

    Mario is kind of a strange universe. At first, he was a plumber, but at some point he was a doctor. Did he lose his medical license? Possibly because his doctoring involved just throwing random pills down people’s throat until either the disease went away or they died? Anyway, he later becomes a tennis pro, a golf pro, baseball star, amateur race driver, soccer star, and even teaches people typing.

    In spite of being a plumber he’s banging the princess of the kingdom, which admittedly makes the Mushroom Kingdom seem oddly progressive, though I am suspicious that the kingdom initially sent the dude who fixes their toilets to rescue the heir to the throne, and constantly gave him poor intelligence about where she was. Is Bowser just the stooge in a failed coup? And why is the guy who is constantly trying to kidnap his girlfriend also his golfing buddy? Do the main games take place after the sports ones?

    Bowser’s family is kind of screwed up as well. We’ve got Bowser Jr. now, but what happened to his other seven kids? The ones named after late ’80s cultural icons? Did Mario actually kill them all or are they merely estranged? Or, do their appearances take place after the Bowser Jr. games. Then what happened to Bowser Jr.?

    • George_Liquor

      Well, in Donkey Kong, Mario was a carpenter who went by the name of Jumpman. My guess is he’s wanted by the FBI, so he’s been regularly changing aliases and hiding out in the various Mushroom Kingdoms without extradition treaties.

    • Asinus

      Don’t forget his stint as a boxing ref. 

  • Citric

    Also, I wonder if you’re going to do something on other game-based shows. Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals, for example, which seems to be about upskirt shots of the main lady – at one point the crystal goes up her butt, and then her butt glows. Only four episodes though.

    There was also Final Fantasy Unlimited but I found it basically unwatchable.

    I know Sonic had a show, but I never watched it. Zelda had that Excuuuuuuuuse Me Princess show, or was that part of this? I’m sure other people have better examples.

    • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

      Good idea.

    • Destroy Him My Robots

      I like that out of two Final Fantasy shows, the one with the butt glow caused by crystal insertion isn’t the unwatchable one.

      • Citric

        I think it’s mostly because Unlimited focused on two little kids and they were really annoying. Also, the butt crystal show was only four episodes, possibly because they realized what they were making.

        • Asinus

          I didn’t think that Unlimited was unwatchable, I got to the end of it. Okay, it was unwatchable when I got a Chinese bootleg with Japanese to Chinese to English subtitles. It was hilariously incomprehensible. I always thought about it being about the guy with the gun… I forgot all about the kids. 

        • Destroy Him My Robots

          In any case, both sound like they could possibly inspire an interesting write up. I only got Gungrave and .hack//SIGN. The former’s too straightforward to warrant closer inspection, the latter’s mostly notable for its soundtrack, though I concede that someone smarter that my whatever-years-old-when-I-watched-it self might get some mileage out of the “TV show about being in an MMO” concept. I haven’t seen Devil May Cry, but it seems like everyone just hates it. Maybe there’s something to be said about Relic Hunter.

      • Citric

        I think the only other game series I’ve watched is Star Ocean EX, which basically retells Star Ocean 2′s story. It only was able to tell the story up to the end of the first disc though, so it winds up being somewhat dark in the end. It might be interesting to cover if there is a SO superfan on staff.

        Legend of the Crystals is frigging weird, my enduring memory is of the butt crystals (naturally) but also this happens:

        http://thelifestream.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Final-Fantasy-Legend-Of-The-Crystals-01.jpg

        I don’t actually remember that scene, maybe I repressed it.

    • caspiancomic

      Get a Topics in Gameology series goin’ boys!

      Final Fantasy Unlimited was probably terrible, but I remember loving it due to being about 14 when I watched it and having not yet developed the part of my brain that told me that not all anime was instantly good. I actually own a pretty nice artbook that compiles a lot of the work from the show. Looking through it now it’s all a load of improbable looking anime pretty boys scowling at each other at having “mysterious” (read: totally unexplained) backstories, but at the time I thought that was, you know, cool. (I was young!) Also, the summons were pretty legitimately rad, they looked like abstract reinterpretations of the series regulars.

      Also, Sonic had a bunch of shows, all totally unrelated to each other, and sometimes airing simultaneously.

      Sonic the Hedgehog (AKA SatAM) seemed to share a continuity with the kinda cool but sorta self-serious Archie comics. Memetic legacy: basically none.

      The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog was more of a kid’s show and made series mainstays out of generic baddies Cluck, Grounder, and Coconuts. Memetic legacy: Sonic Sez.

      Sonic Underground was terrible even by the usual Sonic TV show standards, and featured Sonic meeting his long lost siblings Sonia and Manic and starting a rock band while the three of them searched for their mother, the Queen (no, seriously. There were musical interludes in every episode and everything.) Memetic legacy: basically none, thank God.

      Sonic X is some kind of anime that came out when I was old enough to be embarrassed about things, so I never watched it. Memetic legacy: GOTTA GO FAST

      Sonic the Movie was I believe originally intended to be a series, but it was never picked up. Or maybe it was always intended to be a 2-episode OVA, whatever. In spite of being terrible, this is actually probably my favourite Sonic TV project. Knuckles wears a hat! I have a VHS of this, and still watch it sometimes. Memetic legacy: “Strange, isn’t it!?”

      • Citric

        This is where I admit I’ve never actually seen a Sonic TV show, I just knew that they existed. But looking at the last one KNUCKLES MUST ALWAYS WEAR HATS!

        Incidentally, why is there so much Sonic porn? I just wanted to see Knuckles in a hat, not Knuckles in a sexy pose while also in a hat (thank the lord for safe search).

    • Matt Koester

      There’s a lot of Sonic shows out there, all of varying quality. In the early 90s two were made simultaneously by DIC Entertainment, the low-to-no budget slimeballs responsible for the Super Mario Bros. Super Show. Both featured Sonic voiced by Steve Urkel himself, Jaleel White.
      Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog was a poor man’s looney tunes with an absolutely obnoxious cock of a Sonic and a babyish, mostly worthless Tails being pursued by Dr. Robotnik. The show is mostly garbage, but blues singer Long John Baldry is absolutely brilliant as Robotnik, making the otherwise mediocre writing seem almost decent.

      The other Sonic series from the early 90s was just called Sonic the Hedgehog and was more serious and gloomy, and featured furryism gateway drug Princess Sally Acorn. I never watched it.

      Dic later also made Sonic Underground, a bizarre spin-off of sorts to the latter of their early 90s Sonic shows, featuring Sonic and his two previously unheard-of siblings Manic and Sonia adventuring through a horrifying, post-apocalyptic landscape ruled over by Dr. Ro”butt”nik. They also played in a band.

  • Treymoney

    I’m no connoisseur, but I think the second theme song rap (two opening sequences?) is pretty good!  It also does that Gilligan’s Island thing with the cast roll call where the “and all the rest” is just Toad.

  • PaganPoet

    Anyone else remember the Nintendo cereal?

    *To the tune of the underground music from SMB*
    Nintendo~
    Nintendo~
    Nintendo~
    It’s a cereal now!

    • bunnyvision

      The Legend of Zelda cereal gave me food poisoning as a child

      • PaganPoet

        I’m sure that was an awful, terrible thing that you would never wish on anyone.

        …but…as an adult now, you recognize the comedy in that sentence you just typed, right?

        • bunnyvision

          To be fair, it might have been the Super Mario      cereal in the same box

  • Cornell_University

    I went nuts at a local Bradlees when it was going out of business and bought ALL their cartoon VHS tapes (as well as a few Picture Pages ones) for a dollar each, so somewhere in my parent’s attic is at least a half dozen Super Mario Bros Super Show tapes.  I sort of like the primitivism of the source material results in their going to crazy places to justify a 22 minute story (see also: the Super Mario Bros movie, me speculating about Princess Toadstool being a second rate beauty queen and being taken completely seriously).  That doesn’t at all mean this show is good, it’s not.  it’s really, really bad.  But it IS more fun than the Battletoads pilot, which is on Youtube and holy shit don’t watch it you’ll kill yourself.

    I will defend the Zelda cartoons (also several VHS tapes.  sorry mom and dad.)  more strongly.  It had slightly better writing and animation, Ganon was sufficiently creepy looking, and it coined one of my favorite obnoxious retorts:  well EXCUUUUUUSE me, Princess!

    why did they ever have Link stop talking.

  • chifan305

     http://al.ly/OwB

  • Dudeskull

    There’s also the episode guest-starring Dana Plato where she visits their filthy apartment and sits on a pie someone had left on a chair. The lingering shot on her crimson-stained ass and thighs looks for all the world like she just miscarried. https://dl.dropbox.com/u/7157376/photobucket/decontextd.jpg

    • http://gameological.com/author/mattkodner/ Matt Kodner

      that’s amazing