The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! | 1989, 52 episodes and 13 specials
What’s it all about? Part of a live American TV show - which also aired the Legend of Zelda cartoon - The Super Mario Bros Super Show! featured actual real people pretending to be Mario and Luigi (the former played by one-time wrestler Captain Lou Albano, who grew a moustache especially).
The cartoon followed the escapades of the dungaree-wearing duo, who find themselves flushed out in the Mushroom Kingdom after some kind of bizarre bathroom accident. Rather predictably, much of the brothers' time was spent rescuing Princess Toadstool (as she was known back then) from the clutches of King Koopa. Throughout the series she was captured a grand total of ten times. Seriously, how dumb can the girl be?
When they weren’t on perilous bint rescue missions, Mario and Luigi found themselves in a whole host of plotline parodies, including Mario and the Beanstalk, Butch Mario & the Luigi Kid, Count Koopula and - our favourite - On Her Majesty's Sewer Service. They also met some strangely familiar characters along the way, bumping into secret agent James Blonde, Elvin Parsley and Hooded Robin. See what they did there?
Does it do the game justice? Back in '89, playing Super Mario Bros was all about running, headbutting bricks and jumping on Koopas, so it's understandable that the cartoon was only loosely based on the games. However, anyone with an interest in Mario’s world - past or present - would recognise many of the characters from the games.
It could even be argued that the show was partly responsible for shaping Mario into the pizza and pasta-loving Italian plumber we know today. Indeed, the cartoon marked the first real opportunity to give Mario a personality, giving him a voice and other characteristics - namely his love for Italian cuisine - that he still retains today.
Would we watch it today? Revisiting the series after over 15 years is a pleasant little nostalgia trip down Mario lane and you’ll probably get a laugh or two. Even if it's just at the complete wrongness of the voices (thank God for Charles Martinet). Unfortunately, it hasn't aged particularly well and does looks horribly dated. Still, if you’re old enough to remember it, chances are you loved it then and will still love it now.
What can we learn from the series? Being Italian means Mario obviously only eats pasta, pizza, meatballs and other regional food stuffs. He won’t even stretch to chowing down on normal desserts, at one point exclaiming “I’d pay 200 bucks for a nice pepperoni cheesecake right now”. Would he really, though? Somehow we doubt it.
Hit play to watch one of Mario's adventures in the Mushroom Kingdom.
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