If you're close enough to my age, you may have felt a tinge of excitement and nostalgia upon reading that title. We certainly all remember the "Do the Mario!" song that played over the credits, right? You probably have memories of loving this show, and maybe, like me, you waited anxiously for every Friday so that you could see the next installment of the Legend of Zelda cartoon.
I'm afraid I have some very bad news for you. Your nostalgia is lying to you. This happens a lot. I'm fairly certain it's a large part of the reason why some people still think Michael Keaton was a good Batman, why people rush out to see James Cameron movies, and why people got so upset over the Transformers movies. We have ideals in our heads of what things were like when we were kids and we except them as truth without ever going to revisit those things. It's possible that these things should never be revisited.
While browsing shows available for Netflix streaming, I experienced a feeling of glee when I saw the Super Mario Bros Super Show available. I added it to my queue immediately, and sat down to watch the first episode not long after. Oh boy. It's bad. I mean, really bad. The live action segments in particular are just absolutely horrible, and the cartoons aren't much better.
According to wikipedia, the live action segments weren't scripted. I guess that makes me feel slightly better about them, because if someone had actually written that dialogue I'd have to go on a full scale rant. The segments are cheesy, ridiculous, and go on much longer than they need to. Most of the celebrity guests who are normally decent actors come off absolutely terrible here. I always thought Winnie Cooper was one of the best parts of the Wonder Years, but here she acts as good as a random kid they pulled in off the street. I think the most amusing part is that for some reason their phone is completely covered in pizza. You would think plumbers might have a phone made out of pipes, but apparently Mario & Luigi love pizza so much that they decided to glue pieces of it to a rotary phone.
As far as the cartoon, story-wise, it's still pretty bad. The first episode has Birdo mistaking Toad for her baby who looks nothing like him. I can understand they decided to skip the whole gender bending aspect of Birdo, but we're also talking about a character who willingly throws his/her eggs at you. Why would she care about her baby? Other episodes I've watched so far are basically parodies, be it of westerns, King Arthur, etc. The kind of things cartoons do when they don't want to be even remotely original.
Bowser seems to only be referred to as "King Koopa" in the series, which makes me wonder exactly when we all started calling him Bowser. Sometimes he has Princess Toadstool captured, and sometimes she goes along with Mario, Luigi, and Toad. This show was made after Super Mario Bros 2 but before 3. You would think that maybe the princess would get something to do now and again, given that for most people I know, she was the character of choice in 2. I mean, she could float! Unless you were in a digging level, then you used Toad, right? But from what I've seen, she mostly just tags along and says "Oh no!" a lot. In all fairness I don't think this is gender bias as all the characters are treated pretty horribly.
Mario is the worst case of Italian stereotyping I've ever seen. He's constantly hungry for some form of pasta, and that's pretty much all he cares about. I now know where the idea of Luigi as a coward began. It's bothered me for awhile now wondering where that came from. In all the old games he was Mario's equal, but the latest generation seems to always portray him as a 'fraidy cat. Now I know I have this stupid show to blame. Hands down, the absolute worst is Toad. The voice chosen for him is extremely grating, and he mostly just spits out one bad joke after another. He has Mario's food obsession combined with general laziness and unwillingness to do anything. I suppose they were trying to make you relive that feeling you had when he continually told you the princess was in another castle. That's about the only reasoning I've got for it, anyway.
Did you know this show had not one, but TWO theme songs? There's the one that starts off the show, and another for when the cartoon segments begins. Both are that horrible style of rap that marketing executives seemed to think was what "the kids like" back in 1989. I think what was most amusing to me was that the cartoon theme explains how the Mario Bros ended up in Mushroom Land.. and I remember taking that as the official story of how it happened as a kid.
In all fairness, there are two things the show did right: both the music and the sound effects are pretty true to the games. When Mario stomps on someone, or touches a fire flower or star, the right sound goes off. The music is also based off the game's music, and goes so far as to play the underground theme when they are trapped in an underground prison, etc. It's a nice attention to detail that you don't often get in various interpretations. It's definitely more accurate than the movie ever was.
Sadly, I can't talk about the Legend of Zelda cartoon. Apparently it's not included in the set. I was so excited to get to the 5th episode and check it out.. and found it was just another Mario episode. Also, yes, I watched a total of 5 episodes of this show so far. So apparently, no matter how bad it gets, I still can't tear myself away from it. So if you still really love this show even now, I certainly can't say anything to you. I can't really endorse a purchase however, unless you find it for cheap and just can't resist.