The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!
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The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! was the first of the three series in DIC Entertainment's Super Mario animated cartoon trilogy, aired between September and December of 1989; it was the only one to be produced directly for syndication. The show featured live-action segments in which Mario and Luigi (played by Lou Albano and Danny Wells respectively), living in their basement workshop in Brooklyn, were often visited by various celebrity guest stars. Also featured were cartoons based on the first and second Super Mario Bros. games, where the Mario brothers teamed up with Princess Peach (then known as Princess Toadstool) and Toad to battle King Koopa and his forces to save the many lands of the world. The Super Mario Bros. cartoons were shown on Mondays through Thursdays only; on Fridays, the show would air cartoons based on the Legend of Zelda series. In 1990, a show called Club Mario appeared combining the animated segments with the live-action adventures of a boy named Tommy Treehugger.
Each episode began with a live-action segment starring Mario (portrayed by World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment Hall of Famer, the late "Captain" Lou Albano) and Luigi (the late Danny Wells) living in Brooklyn, where they would often be visited by a celebrity guest star either playing themselves or another character at Mario Brothers Plumbing, a basement workshop which doubled as their home.
The live-action segment would be followed by a cartoon based on the Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2 video games, where Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool (Peach), and Toad would battle against King Koopa (Bowser) throughout the many lands of the world, often in a movie or historical parody. Mouser, Tryclyde, Fryguy and a single, unnamed Koopa Troopa often worked closely with King Koopa, serving as his henchmen. Getting into the spirit of these parodies, King Koopa usually took on a varying alter ego. He had a different outfit for each one, and would take on a different alias to along with it. For example, in a riverboat-themed episode, King Koopa was "Captain Koopa", while in one of the western-themed episodes, he went by "Billy the Koopa". In many episodes, King Koopa's minions would often dress up in outfits as well, to go along with Koopa's themed costumes. In some episodes, King Koopa would go without an alter ego nor wear a costume except for "Mario and the Beanstalk", "Jungle Fever" and "Mario of the Apes". The only episode where King Koopa doesn't appear is "Love 'Em and Leave 'Em".
Wart, the main antagonist of the second game, was never in any of the episodes, yet most of his minions managed to appear as members of the Koopa Pack. Like most 1980s cartoons, King Koopa would prolong the series' run by escaping from his adversaries (which he did through the use of Magic Potion), even though they could easily catch him.
The basis of the storyline (introduced at the beginning of every animated episode) was that Mario and Luigi were working on a bathtub drain which unknowingly was a warp zone to the Mushroom Kingdom, and Mario and Luigi had literally gone down the drain and ended up in the Mushroom Kingdom, by sheer coincidence causing problems for King Koopa and rescuing Toad and Princess Toadstool. Now that they were rescued, the focus for the Mario Brothers was to return to Brooklyn, while stopping King Koopa's tyranny whenever they could. Lou Albano and Danny Wells also voiced Mario and Luigi for the animated segment. It was never revealed whether their live action sequences were a prequel to the animated series or they successfully returned to Brooklyn and resumed their duties in the plumbing business.
Following the cartoon was the third portion of the episode, which continued the story that the live-action segment set up in the beginning. Towards the end, the second part of the live-action segment was interrupted with scenes from that week's upcoming episode of The Legend of Zelda.
The Super Mario Bros. cartoon was shown on Mondays through Thursdays only. On Fridays, the show would air The Legend of Zelda cartoons based on the game of the same name. However, a Mario live-action segment would air with the Zelda episodes.
On September 3, 1990, the show changed its name to Club Mario, replacing the live-action Mario segment with two completely different characters known as Tommy Treehugger and Co M.C., with occasional appearances by Tammy Treehugger (Tommy's twin sister) and Evil Eric (Co M.C.'s evil twin brother).
In another Mario related television series, King Koopa's Kool Kartoons, framed portraits of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! versions of Mario, Luigi, Toad and Princess Toadstool can be seen in various episodes.
The show lasted from 1989 to 1990.
After DiC's Mario cartoons ended, the show was aired in reruns on the Family Channel (currently known as Freeform). The Family Channel's reruns of the series removed the Legend of Zelda previews and the scenes that segued into them from the live-action segments, and slowed down the episodes to bring them back to their original length. They also changed the placement of the commercial breaks, placing them during scene dissolves in the animated segments. (Curiously, the Family Channel version of "King Mario of Cramalot" and "Day of the Orphan" is the version used in subsequent DVD and digital releases.) Also, from that point onward, the song covers played during the cartoon's chase scenes were removed and replaced them with instrumentals of songs featured in The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World. This was probably done for licensing reasons as the lyrics of the song covers are copyrighted, and also likely because one of the songs (namely Workin' for a Livin' in Plumbers' Academy) has a profanity.
From 1989 to 1991, Kid Klassics released NTSC VHS videos of the show. These videos contained two, one, or no live-action segments, and featured the cartoon segments with their original song covers intact. On these videos, the "Super Mario Bros." theme wasn't included before the cartoon segment.
The show was made available to watch from Yahooligans! TV starting in March 2004, with a new episode usually uploaded every week. It was taken down along with all DiC Entertainment cartoons on December 24, 2005.
As of November 3, 2009 it can be watched at Jaroo.com, a video-streaming website owned by Cookie Jar Group. The website routinely cycles through all fifty-two of the show's episodes, hosting five at any given time. Each Tuesday, the next episode in line is added, with the oldest being dropped. Since DHX Media purchased Cookie Jar, Jaroo was taken down.
Live-Action Guest stars
Do the Mario (closing credits)
Strong from its multiple animated shows based on pre-existing properties, DIC Entertainment approached Nintendo with an offer to make a cartoon based on the Mario franchise. Nintendo initially declined, but later signed a deal after DIC put together a creative team they liked . Nintendo required DIC to pay extensive royalties, an unusual arrangement for children programming at the time.
According to Danny Wells, him and co-star Lou Albano recorded the show on a six days schedule, where they would first film the live-action segments and then drive to another studio in order to record voices for the animated segments.
In a 2018 interview, freelancer writer Perry Martin explained that the show's focus on parodies came from Andy Heyward, as the production team had struggled to make much material from the thin story present in the games. Writers would first submit an one-page premise of the story to the show's editors Bruce and Reed Shelly, then spent two days on a four page outline and finally a week to create the final script.
In an interview about DIC's history in adapting video games to television, DIC executive Robby London stated that video games such as Super Mario Bros. were DIC's favorite type of media to adapt because "[...] the videogames themselves were colorful, imaginative, hip and more than a little bizarre – in the best sense" and that their sparse lores and simple character allowed more creativity than when adapting material from other media. London also spoke positively of Nintendo's involvement in the show, stating "[...] Nintendo was reasonable, professional and good to deal with. Their America office seemed quite capable of speaking definitively on behalf of their Japanese owners, and I don’t remember any problematic disputes with Nintendo [...]" and contrasting it with DIC's more turbulent partnership with Sega for its three Sonic series.
The series was a rating success and was widely syndicated. Also, according to Wells, the guest stars actively asked to be part of the live-action segments due to the popularity of Super Mario Bros. with their children . However, despite its success, Nintendo had little interest in continuing the show beyond the initial package, leading to its cancellation.
The Super Show was executive produced by Andy Heyward, directed by Dan Riba and produced by John Grusd, who also produced and directed the two subsequent Mario cartoons by DIC. Animation was provided by Sei Young Animation Co., Ltd.. The live-action sequences were co-produced with Saban Productions.
Differences from the games
Differences from the other series
References in later media