Hey, Pisanos! It's been far too long. I promise that these will be coming more frequently for the next few months, and my other blogs should follow suit. Thanks for checking back daily, as I'm sure you did. I'll get to that non-German one I mentioned last time, but first, something near and dear to me. IT'S THE SUPER MARIO BROTHERS SUPER SHOW! Let's look... under the hood.
(What is that root attached to? And how can that be supporting their weight? I QUESTION THIS SHOW'S SCIENCE.)
BIG PLOT -This show basically consists of Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Toadstool wandering around randomly from place to place. When they arrive someplace, they learn that Koopa arrived before them and has established a criminal empire and a fun nickname, i.e. Count Koopula, Baron von Koopenstein, Al Koopone, Koopzilla, Koopadile Dundee, Dr. Koopiarity, Ernst Stavro Koopfeld, etcetera. And yes, I made some of those up, but not as many as you might think. Anyway, judging by how Koopa was the major criminal power anywhere they went, he’s gotta be at LEAST two months ahead of them. What the hell do they do in the meantime? And why doesn’t Koopa change his route if they keep catching up with him?
(Those trees are obviously just painted flats. And this is a CARTOON.)
LITTLE PLOT - The gang is on their way to Sharewood Village, which is a pun that barely works in text, and not at all in speech. On their way through Sharewood Forest, they are accosted by the Sheriff of Koopingham's (see?) guards, who accuse them of being "Hooded Robin". That the guards think they're cunning enough to see through a disguise yet fail to recognize the people who constantly follow them around and foil their plans is not remarked upon, probably because none of the writers thought of it. They are saved by Hooded Robin, a name so unimaginative it makes "Sharewood Forest" look like a 10-page Feghoot. They go with him to the castle and return the taxed coins to the citizens by melting them, running the molten gold through pipes to the town water pump, which then somehow pumps out gold coins. I could make fun of the plot holes, the animation errors, the general sloppiness, or the fact that one time Koopa talks with Toad's voice, but I'm just impressed at how they solved the problem with plumbing. That's more than the games ever did.
(More like Hooded Albatoss.)
ROBIN - In every episode, there's someone local to the area who helps them out, usually with an extremely lazy name, like Indiana Joe or Herlock Soames or Hooded Robin. H.R. is just a huge pile of wasted ideas. He starts off by perfectly impersonating the Sheriff. This ability never comes up again. He acts cocky once, leading Toad to call him a show-off, and at the end, thanks them. The thanking is treated like some big epiphany of humility, but since he only acted non-humble once, it doesn't register as such. The writers of this show seemed to have a dim idea of what good ideas were like, but no ability to actually have them or develop them. I think that's where the Mad Max episode came from.
(No seriously, they had one. It was called "Toad Warrior", used pasta sauce instead of gasoline, and Koopa was sadly not called "Koopmungus".)
(The castle is on the ground and has a drawbridge and a moat next time we see it. Continuity is for lesser shows.)
LITTLE JOHN - That would be Luigi, since he's tallest. I always had a fondness for Luigi. Maybe it's because he can jump better, or because I had a book as a kid where they identified him as left-handed. Maybe it's because my uncle called him "Loogie". But I've always played better as Luigi than as Mario. My fondness of him extends into the live-action segments on this show, as well. Mario and Luigi are played by the same actors that do the voices, but while Captain Lou Albano is authentically a short, fat, goggle-eyed Italian, Danny Wells is taller, older, and more dignified-looking. He gives it 100%, of course, but I confess I like to imagine that he's a classically trained British actor. He does his lines and mugs with the guest star and sticks carrots in his ears, but when the director says cut, he just sits in his dressing room that he shares with Captain Lou and wonders how his life took this turn. He thinks about calling his old roommate, Anthony Hopkins, but it's been so long, and what would he say? Danny, the call comes, we need you on set for the Inspector Gadget bit. A tear rises, but he fights it down and thrusts the green cap on his head. He's a professional, dammit. And he'll do what he was hired to do. So he goes out and waves a slinky around Maurice LaMarche's head, and he's brilliant. He always is. He's Danny Fucking Wells.
(They both seem to be looking at each other's foreheads. This is either a power negotiating technique or bad animation.)
WILL SCARLET - Will Scarlet is Mario, on account of wearing red. He is played, as mentioned earlier, by pro wrestler, rubber band enthusiast, and inventor of music Captain Lou Albano. I fear I may have given Mario short shrift with my fulsome praise of Luigi and TV's Danny Wells, but you know what? I just can't get it up for this guy. Sure, he's an effective enough hero, I do fine on his solo adventures, and I acquit myself well with him in Smash Bros, but he's so bland. Any time you can choose someone else, Mario's defining trait is that he's okay at everything. Average go-karter, average tennis player, average extreme gardener (that was the plot of Mario 2, right?) I suppose this show made the best possible choices with him. They cast a charismatic pro wrestler and concocted a number of problems that could only be solved with plumbing.
(YES. Now leave him there.)
MUCH - Much is Toad. Ohhhhhh sweet holy fuck Toad is annoying on this show. He's like nails on a chalkboard. And I don't just mean his voice sounds like nails on a chalkboard, though it most assuredly does. I mean his whole being is like nails on a chalkboard. The sound, the feel, the malice behind such an action, and the complete lack of usefulness to the Super Mario brothers.
("This gate! It's rusted! I... Blame it on the Rain! Mario, just... Keep on Running! Girl, You Know it's True!")
MARIAN - I suppose by the nature of her gender, it's Princess Toadstool. I really like Toadstool. This is years before she became "Peach" and developed a personality, so they pretty much had to invent her from scratch for this show. And considering that the personality she got here was resourceful, clever, and just ass willing to fight as the men, she came off better than the personality she developed in the games, which was: "Dear Mario, please come to the castle. I've baked a cake for you." Also, TV Toadstool, and I swear this is in continuity, is a Milli Vanilli fan.
(When standing outside the cart, he's as tall as it. I really can't tell you how many animation errors are in this episode. It's not possible.)
SHERIFF - King Koopa of course, and if you were paying attention above, you’ve already guessed he’s the Sheriff of Koopingham. Incidentally, after writing that sentence, I did some actual research, and it turns out they’ve used all except Koopadile Dundee and Koopfeld. And they did “Kangaroo Koopa” and “Koopfinger”, so basically, either I’m not as clever as I thought, or this show is so insane it creates accidental self parody. I like him. It's easier to buy bad puns when they're coming out of a snarling lizard, and like all good 80s cartoon villains, he has no motivation outside of being evil. Or maybe polluting.
(Is it weird that they bothered to animate blinking? All the other corners they could cut, they did, but this was important enough to focus on?)
SIR GUY - Let’s just say it’s the Koopa Troopa that gets all the lines. Or maybe all Koopa Troopas sound alike, just like they look alike. What? I’m not racist, they're bad animators! Anyway, I assume the one who talks is his own character, since whoever’s talking usually has a sword and the others don‘t, but it’s not like this show is big on continuity.
(Oh thank heavens! I'm back to my old self again. Thank you so much. Here is a rake from the princess.)
THE MAN - Have you ever noticed how often in fiction you have a princess running the country with no one above her? Call me old fashioned, but where I come from, AMERICA, a princess with no parents is called a queen. Anyway, this is an issue that has been addressed twice that I know of. In the poorly-recieved and poorly-made but pleasingly-insane film adaptation, where the king has been turned into an enourmous network of fungus, gives the brothers stuff, and turns into Lance Henriksen at the end. This is appropriately bizarre. In the comics, he was actually a reigning monarch, albeit a childishly stupid and self-involved one. He closed a peanut butter jar on his tie! Hilarious! I love those comics. I really don't think they gave a shit when they were writing them, and they have a really odd style of naturalistic writing that works kind of fantastically.
(I was going to speculate on what's going on in this image, but I disturbed myself.)
OTHER MERRIES - None but the good mush-folk of Sharewood Village. Don't blame me, that's what they call them. They all look a bit... off. Like they're not real people, but rather semi-successful robot creations. Their proportions are all weird, they have these saggy unnatural faces, and two of them talk through vocoders for no reason.
(On the other hand, if I said what's ACTUALLY going on here, you'd assume I was speculating disturbingly.)
OTHER VILLAINS - The only non-Koopa-or-troopa villain we get is Fry Guy, a Mario 2 badnik who I don't think I've ever encountered in the game, due to my tendency to use warp pipes to get the heck to world 4. He gives them a chance to use the fire puns they had lying around when they ran out of pasta puns. And Toad and Hooded Robin have to seduce him. In disguise. I don't know.