Nathan (vovat) wrote,
Nathan
vovat

Blame it on the rain? Blame it on copyright law!

With the revelation that Joe the Plumber isn't a licensed plumber (nor is he actually named Joe, and since when was he ever a "the"?), I'm sure you've all been wondering one thing: Are the Super Mario Brothers licensed plumbers? Well, the Super Show cartoon episode "Plummers' Academy" had them studying at a school to become plumbers. They're kicked out by their jerky instructor, but later save the Presidents of the United States and the Soviet Union from a flood, and are quite likely reinstated after that. So yeah, they're probably licensed. And I would imagine they're not delinquent on their taxes, since they can get a bunch of money simply by hitting blocks. Are they even American citizens, though? They do seem to maintain residency in Brooklyn despite having a home in the Mushroom Kingdom, so maybe they have dual citizenship. And since Mario is also the ruler of Mario Land, that might mean TRIPLE citizenship for him. I would say that this isn't a bad idea, but Yoshi's Island suggests that Mario might not have been born in this country. And we don't even know his middle name. Maybe he's Mario Mussolini Mario!

Anyway, I might as well get to my reviews of more Super Mario Bros. 3 cartoons, this time including the infamous Milli Vanilli episode.

Do the Koopa - This episode starts out at the Mushroomland Central Library, where Luigi finds the map to the Doom Dancer Music Box, which the Princess claims to have been searching for for years. And she just thought to look in the public library? Well, maybe they just got a new collection. The map must utilize some pretty fancy technology, as it has an animated Boom-Boom on it. The music box is based on the one in the game, but instead of putting enemies to sleep, it causes anyone who hears it to dance uncontrollably. According to the map, it's hidden in Dark Land, in the Temple of Gloom. Hey, that sounds like an Indiana Jones parody, and the Super Show already did one of those with "Raiders of the Lost Mushroom." The character Indiana Joe didn't have a face, and nobody ever so much as mentioned this. Definitely one of the creepier things to appear on this show. Anyway, "Do the Koopa" doesn't really take that much from Indiana Jones, aside from the general idea of an artifact hidden in a temple guarded by a bunch of obstacles, and something really deadly happening when someone actually takes the relic. The show also has a bit of somewhat amusing meta-humor, when Luigi stops the background music after the group comes across a wide canyon, and then Mario starts it again after finding a solution. After using raccoon power to cross this canyon, the Mario team makes its way past spikes that look a lot like pencils, Koopa statues that shoot lasers from their mouths, and Dry Bones (which they take out by breaking blocks on top of them; too bad that's not possible in the actual game). Mario gets the music box, but it turns out that three of the Koopalings were alerted to the good guys' mission by an eavesdropping Dry Bones, and they ambush Mario and steal the box away. Bully tries it out, forcing both the Mario team and his own brothers to dance, then attempting to use it to control his father. Bowser, however, has a cold, and can't hear the music. So much for that. What I like the most about these dancing scenes is that, whenever they show Toad, he looks like he's having the time of his life. Maybe this is the only way he can indulge his secret passion for dancing. Bowser plays the Doom Dancer from the Doomship (notice a theme here?), and we get a song that the Koopalings are supposed to be singing. While I didn't realize this at first, it's likely that "Do the Koopa" is a play on the call to "do the Mario" at the end of every Super Show episode. During the song, we get a scene of Desert Land, where the normally Angry Sun (who looks pretty happy here) and a sphinx are dancing, as well as another shot of Paratroopas and Paragoombas dancing in what might or might not be a room of the Doomship (all I can really tell is that there's a high voltage box on the back wall). Eventually, Mario gets the idea to put plumber's putty in his ears. Well, actually, the way it's animated makes it look like he only puts it in one ear, but such is the way of cheap cartoons. He kicks the music box out of Bowser's hands, and after a poorly animated sequence of the characters fighting over it, it lands on a Goomba's head and breaks.

Kootie Pie Rocks - For this one, the makers of the show presumably wanted to get a popular musical guest star of the time, and they ended up with....Milli Vanilli. I believe the episode aired only a little while before it was revealed that Rob and Fab weren't actually singing. I've read that they edited the songs out of this episode after this, but I remember watching it a few other times in its original timeslot, and I'm pretty sure the songs were intact. It was later on that they were removed, and I get the feeling that it was due more to copyright law than to the lip-sync scandal. Okay, so the way this plays out is that Milli Vanilli is Princess Toadstool's favorite music group (maybe there's a dearth of good local bands in the Mushroom Kingdom), and she somehow gets front-row tickets for their New York concert. When Kootie Pie learns about this, she's obviously jealous, and Bowser vows to kidnap the group for her. He shows up in the Doomship while Milli Vanilli is playing "Blame It on the Rain" to a crowd made up largely of women in John Lennon glasses, and utters the line, "Blame it on the rain? Blame it on King Koopa!" The songs are all edited out on the DVD, though, so they only leave in the second part of this line, which means they have a punchline with no setup. Something tells me they could have done a better job with this. We do, however, see Bowser capturing the two lip-syncers with the tractor beam device that I had earlier said appeared only in "Reptiles in the Rose Garden." Mea culpa. After a few minutes of Rob and Fab hanging around Castle Koopa and doing flat readings of bad jokes that they probably don't even get, the Mario crew shows up disguised as a backup band. The original joke in the next scene was that, because they didn't actually know how to play their instruments, the music to the performance of "Girl, You Know It's True" was really bad, but Kootie Pie loved it anyway. Since it was replaced with the typical instrumental music, though, the joke is totally lost. Regardless, the group rescues Rob and Fab, and they come back to the stadium to finish their concert. Just in time, too, because the people playing the records behind the scenes were about to call someone from the audience to lip-sync instead. I'm really not sure why, after the performers had been captured by someone in a weird flying battleship, the security guards didn't evacuate the venue. But if there's one thing I've learned from these cartoons, it's that officials are totally incompetent, and any problem from pickpocketing all the way up through kidnapping the President can only be solved by Mario and Luigi. And this is true in both the Real World and the Mushroom Kingdom, as seen in the next episode....

Crimes 'R' Us - It starts with the Koopas breaking a guy named Crimewave Clyde out of an American prison, so that he can teach effective thievery to the Koopalings. Clyde is a short, fat, bald guy who looks and acts like a stereotypical thug, yet we're apparently supposed to believe he's a master criminal. Maybe he's some sort of lawbreaking idiot savant. The Koopas' first task is to rob a bank in the Mushroom Kingdom, but Mario and Luigi just happen to be in the area, and they use a Super Leaf and a Fire Flower to thwart the robbery. Incidentally, we learn in this scene that the brothers have an Aunt Maria, and we see that the animators forgot to recolor Luigi when he has fire power. So the Koopas come up with a scheme to trap the Mario Brothers in an underground fortress, by having a little Desert Land boy with no shirt and no belly button (hey, I guess we don't know how mushroom children are born, so maybe they don't have umbilical cords) claim that the reptiles stole his lunch money and absconded with it down the pipe to the place. After the Marios are out of the way, Cheatsy returns the boy's lunch money. That seems out of character, but maybe Clyde advised him to do it, so the boy wouldn't rat him out afterwards. The Koopalings are now free to commit crimes in the Mushroom Kingdom, with no sign of any local officials trying to stop them. Hey, even if the Mushroom Kingdom has a police shortage, what happened to the Princess and Toad? The Koopas double-cross Clyde while robbing the Mushroom Kingdom Treasury, so he busts the Marios out of the dungeon, and the three of them stop the robbery. Clyde ends up back behind bars, but it's a relief for him after having to deal with the Koopa family.

Life's Ruff - This episode is a definite oddity, as it's the only one in all three DiC Mario series in which Mario himself does not appear. Luigi does, however, having made a trip to the castle of King Windbag of Ice Land to look into reports of his being a bully. Apparently the Princess sent him, which suggests that Ice Land (and, by extension, probably the other SMB3 kingdoms as well) is a vassal state of the Mushroom Kingdom. Hip and Hop show up and steal Windbag's wand, turning both him and Luigi into dogs. They follow Hip and Hop in a chase sequence accompanied by yet another crappy song, and we get our only glimpse of a Lakitu in this particular series. (There was also one in the Super Show episode "Mario and the Red Baron Koopa.") They all end up warping to what Luigi immediately recognizes as Miami, despite the lack of any obvious landmarks. Maybe he's been there before. The chase continues, but a wrench is thrown into the works (not literally, which you might expect on this show) when a dog catcher with stubble, a big nose, and a New York accent (despite the fact that he's in Florida) shows up. Now, while not all that bright, this guy IS competent, chasing the two dogs from Miami to Cape Canaveral (a distance of 212 miles, according to Google Maps). Now that's what I call dedication to a job! Hip and Hop are trying to board the space shuttle, but Luigi and Windbag catch them and retrieve the King's wand. And it all ends happily, because King Windbag's experience as a dog has humbled him, and he's a lot nicer to his servants. Isn't it great when everything works out like that? :P


Getting back to a subject I had broached earlier, I generally don't mind that they edited out the copyrighted songs for the DVD release. It's not like they were any good anyway. The Milli Vanilli episode is likely to be the only one where someone who was watching this show for the first time would even realize there were supposed to have been songs. Still, I have to wonder why they were allowed to play them on TV, but not on the DVDs. Copyright law is just weird that way, I guess. I have my own gripes about copyright law, because if it hadn't been for the copyright extension in the late nineties, I believe that all the Oz books up through The Purple Prince of Oz would now be public domain. That's a pretty selfish reason, sure, but why SHOULD copyright law extend to well after the actual creator has died? Isn't that a major example of people having the potential to get rich for something someone else did? I have to suspect that the whole thing is Disney's fault, because I'm sure Steamboat Willie going into the public domain would seriously cut into their profits.
Tags: issues, mario, oz, television, video games
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