Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3

The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3; animated fantasy comedy series, USA, 1990; D: John Grusd, S: Walker Boone, Tony Rosato, Harvey Atkin, Tracey Moore, Tara Strong, Michael Stark, Paulina Gillis

Plumber brothers from Brooklyn, Mario and Luigi, as well as their sidekick Toad, are using new super-powers to defend Princess Toadstool and the Mushroom kingdom from the evil Bowser Koopa and his kids; Kooky, Kootie Pie, Big Mouth, Cheatsie, Bully, Hip & Hop. They go through numerous adventures: Koopa transports the White House to the Mushroom sea; Kootie Pie orders the kidnapping of Milli Vanilli; the Princess goes on a vacation...

"The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3" is by far the best American animated Mario TV series, though it is still at times terribly schematic, bland and mild, which is why a good deal of its stories seems dated, whereas, as a contrast, it has the worst music of all the three TV series. The writers were given fixed parameters of what they have to write about, adjusted to the "Mario Bros. 3" video game attributes, which often resulted in neat, but predictable rides, yet some really talented writers managed to keep that track and still deliver a wild ride; out of 26 episodes, one could definitely establish quality in eight of them, which shined with inspirational writing. "Reptiles in the Rose Garden", written by Reed & Bruce Shelly, is amusing through its subversive plot where Koopa transports and sinks the White House into the Mushroom sea, all the while president George Bush Sr. is constantly talking on the phone and doesn't even notice anything. "Reign Storm", written by Ted Pederson and Steve Hayes, is a blast, particularly when it uses the "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" song on two occasions: first showing the Princess relaxing and enjoying surfing on Hawaii, and the second where she almost spectacularly "washes out" Koopa and her robot clone from the castle. "Mush-Rumors", writen by Lee Schneider, cleverly examines exaggerated rumors when a family from Kansas, on their journey to Wild Waldo's amusement park, accidentally lands in Mushroom kingdom and get kidnapped by the bad guys: the mother, and then the father, Norman, speak up to Koopa: "Are you Wild Waldo? Because this is no way to lead an amusement park!" - "I don't know who you are, but I'm reporting you to my travel agent!"

"True Colors", by Steve Fischer, has an honest anti-racist message without turning preachy. Rowby Goren wrote one of the worst episodes in the show, but should also be credited for penning one of the best, "Up, Up and a Koopa", which starts and ends with Luigi eating pancakes and features the smashing moment where Toad and the Princess cannot find magic wings in her basement, filled with useless stuff, so he tells her: "Frankly, Princess, I had no idea you were such a secret slob!" Contrary to the popular belief, the legendary "Kootie Pie Rocks", by Phil Harnage and Martha Moran, is an unbelievable episode that bursts with imagination; from the Milli Vanilli concert where the Princess finally acts like a fangirl, through Koopa's misstating Milli Vanilli as "Silly Willy" up to the finale where Rob Pilatus, back on the concert, announces: "The following song is dedicated to a real Princess". "7 Continents for 7 Koopas", by Perry Martin, is an untrammelled, fantastic fun: except for showing the Princess in a refreshingly strong and charming edition, the montage where Luigi, Mario and the Princess banish every Koopaling from the 7 continents in tune to the song "I'm a Hurricane" is a stroke of genius (especially sweet when Crocodile Dundee takes on Cheatsie and the way Luigi quickly eliminates Hip): it's so contagiously fun it fulfills the criteria on at least one count of a masterwork. Finally, "Super Koopa", by Doug Booth, is the last and the best episode, a one that represents all of the Mario US animated shows. Except for being wildly innovative in having Koopa switch the tables when he gets a device to get super-powers himself, it almost reaches virtuoso proportions at the finale where Mario and Luigi battle him with a whole array of super-powers.


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