True Colors - I wonder if the title is a reference to the Cyndi Lauper song. Yeah, I know she didn't invent the phrase, but she has that whole Captain Lou connection going on. Anyway, it's Issues Week for this cartoon, and this episode deals with racism. See, the Koopas drop red and blue paint on the Mushroom People, and then stir up bad feelings between the two colors. Even Mario and Luigi get caught up in this, but they wise up after overhearing Kooky and Cheatsy discussing their plan (as villains are apparently wont to do, even when both of them already know it). The red and blue Mushroom People plan to have a rumble (sounds like SOMEBODY has been watching West Side Story recently), but the Mario Brothers bring them back together by finding something they agree on: that Princess Toadstool is EVERYONE'S princess. Man, they sure do change their minds quickly! Oh, well. If they HAD to make a Super Mario Bros. cartoon about racism, there are worse ways they could have done it.
Recycled Koopa - Issues Week continues with the show's take on environmentalism. This was a big thing for cartoons at the time. Not only was Captain Planet still going strong, but even G.I. Joe had eco-warriors. I'm sure that the Joes are now under contract to Halliburton and unconcerned about such things, but it was cool for cartoon characters to be anti-pollution in the early nineties. In this episode, Bowser tells his kids (well, except for Kooky and Cheatsy; I'm not sure how they got out of this) to get rid of all the garbage piled up outside Castle Koopa. They do this by throwing it down a warp pipe to Princess Toadstool's castle garden. You'd think such a direct route between two enemy castles would be a major security breach that either Bowser or Peach would have done something about some time ago, but I digress. Mario takes Hip's magic wand to get rid of the garbage, and there follows a chase scene with the Mario team using raccoon power to fly away from the Doomship. A Bob-omb fired from the ship explodes right next to Luigi, but he doesn't even lose his raccoon power. Must have been a dud. Mario sends the garbage back to Castle Koopa, but the Koopas just throw it down another pipe, this one ending in New York City. The trash turns all of the people into zombies who look like Bowser, as well as transforming seagulls into Paragoombas and ordinary fish into Cheep-Cheeps. The Mario Brothers get rid of the garbage by building the Trash Smasher, a mobile device that automatically recycles the trash into such things as appliances and rubber chickens. I have no idea whether they work properly (and, really, what's worse than a non-functional rubber chicken?), but it's still a vast improvement over the toxic waste. The Trash Smasher also has a propeller, which the Marios activate to chase after the Doomship, while the Statue of Liberty says, "Those Mario Brothers ARE super!" Um, writers, I think my willing suspension of disbelief is starting to waver. Still, what's important is the message. Don't litter, or we'll all turn into weird green reptilian zombies. An important lesson, no?
The Venice Menace - A pizza delivery guy from Venice somehow pilots his gondola through a warp pipe to Desert Land, where he tells the Marios that a sea monster is attacking his city. Not only does this guy have a bad Italian accent, but he also peppers his speech with the names of Italian celebrities (including Lou Albano; I think the makers of the show were upset that they couldn't get him again for this series). We don't see him again for a while, though, as he apparently stays in the Mushroom World while Mario and Luigi go to save Venice. It turns out that the sea monster is actually the Doomsub (I told you it'd show up again), and Bowser is trying to scare everyone out of the city so that he can warp it to Dark Land to use as a water park for Kootie Pie. I'm not sure why he couldn't have just used an already existing body of water for this purpose, but that's a Koopa for you, I suppose. By the way, the sub's welding kit is a miniature Fire Brother. Anyway, the brothers eventually make it onto the sub, stop the Chain Chomps from sinking the buildings (although there's no indication that they do anything to restore the already sunken ones), and warp it to Desert Land. To show his gratitude, the gondolier from the beginning points out to the Marios his favorite monument, a statue of Marco Polo's plumbers, who brought plumbing back from China. Wait, I thought Italy had plumbing back in the days of the Roman Empire. We don't want kids to fail history class because of something a bit character on a Saturday morning cartoon said, do we? The main point here, however, is that the plumbers look like Mario and Luigi, and are probably distant relatives of theirs.
Super Koopa - This is the last episode of the series, but there's nothing in it to indicate this. It does have a pretty interesting premise, though. Kooky invents a pendant that enables Bowser to use the same powers as the Mario Brothers. I'm not sure why he would need fire power, since he can breathe fire in the game, but for some reason that never carried over into the cartoons. The problem with the pendant is that, for some reason, it only works in the Real World. So King Koopa captures Luigi and takes him through a warp pipe to Paris, with Mario and the Princess hot on his trail. Toad wants to come with them, but he remains behind at Peach's request. Using raccoon and frog powers, Bowser captures his enemies, locking the brothers and a French submarine captain they've befriended in the Bastille (funny, I thought that had been destroyed), and tying the Princess to the Eiffel Tower. She manages to get a note to Toad, though (the warp zone happens to only be about a block from the tower), and he brings a chest full of power items to Paris. What follows is a battle sequence between the brothers and Bowser, using many of the super powers from the game, and even working in Kuribo's Shoe. Now, from what I've heard, "Kuribo" is the Japanese name for a Goomba, so it's actually just a Goomba's Shoe. In the show, however, everyone calls it a "Karoobi Shoe," and there's even a song with that pronunciation. Somehow, Bowser's pendant lets him fly AND shoot fireballs while in the shoe, yet Mario still manages to kick him out of the way with his own shoe, sending the pendant out of control and King Koopa himself flying back through the warp to the Mushroom Kingdom.
Overall, while the series is hardly great television (or really even GOOD television, for that matter), I do appreciate how much of the game they managed to work into the show. Each one of the worlds from the games shows up, as do most of their rulers (although we never see the leaders of Water Land or Pipe Land) and many of the power items. Super Leaves, Fire Flowers, Starmen, and Frog Suits all show up pretty often. There are even episodes that feature P-Wings, Kuribo's Shoe, and a music box (although it doesn't quite work like the ones in the game). The disguises that Mario and Luigi wear in "Reptiles in the Rose Garden" MIGHT be Hammer Suits, but if so, they never use their powers. Unfortunately, Tanooki Suits never show up at all, and I think it would have been cool for a Warp Whistle to have made an appearance. As far as the enemies go, we see a lot of them, including some relatively obscure ones I don't think have appeared since SMB3 (Boom-Boom, Rocky Wrench, Hot Foot, etc.). And the minor enemies occasionally talk, which I always liked, even though most of them sounded pretty similar. I think the main SMB3 enemies (or at least the ones most memorable to me) who were never used in the show were Boss Bass and his female counterpart Big Bertha. Bertha actually had some major roles in the Valiant comic books, but not in the cartoon.
As far as this reviewing goes, I think I'll finish up with the second season of Captain N, and then move on to Super Mario World. Until then, everybody, do the Mario! Or the Koopa, if you prefer.