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DVD Review: The Super Mario Bros. Super Show

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In the latter part of the ’80s Nintendo was on top of the world. They single-handedly revived the videogame industry and crowned its new star Mario. When the creator of the Super Mario Bros. (Shigeru Miyamoto) crafted the highly anticipated sequel, Nintendo didn’t think it was fit for Americans. A modified version of the Famicom’s (Japanese Nintendo Entertainment System) Doki Doki Panic masquerading as Super Mario Bros. 2 was released here instead.

This important fact wasn’t revealed to American gamers for a long time. Doki Doki Panic (US Super Mario Bros. 2) is the most successful modified videogame to date by far. The Super Mario Bros. Super Show (TSMBSS) is largely based on this “fake” game. TSMBSS retains all the fun that the Super Mario Bros. games delivered, but, unlike its source material, is largely original.

Live action/animation hybrids barely ever work for me. TSMBSS is a rare example of where it does. Mario (Captain Lou Albano) and the oft-forgotten Luigi (Danny Wells) are cast perfectly. Albano and Wells play Mario and Luigi in both the live action and animated segments. Why Nintendo didn’t sign these gentlemen up with lifetime contracts to supply the voices to two of their most beloved characters is beyond me. These guys ARE Mario and Luigi, before they (the characters) were castrated anyway. It’s not too late Nintendo!

I found the episodes to be charming as a whole. Part of the appeal is pure nostalgia and love for the subject matter of course. That said the episodes are well written, well acted, and a lot of fun. I was surprised how well they stood up after all these years. A lot of other cartoon series that were near and dear to my heart back in the ’80s didn’t age quite as well like the horrid Thundercats. If you enjoyed TSMBSS when it first aired you’ll probably dig it now.

This set comes with 24 half-hour episodes spaced out over four discs from the 1989 season. It’s light on extras. The coolest of the slim pickings is the insightful interview with Albano. I never knew the show was such a ratings winner. Each episode includes the original bumpers as well as the preview for The Legend of Zelda cartoon that would air on Fridays in TSMBSS time slot. There used to be videos with popular music played during the show that weren’t included. I’m assuming they couldn’t get or wouldn’t pay for the rights. A lot of media outlets charge by the second, ouch! This deletion doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of TSMBSS in the slightest.

The audio is crisp and clear across the set. The video on the other hand left much to be desired. I originally watched the episodes on my computer which has an HD monitor. I could see every little imperfection in the print. I decided to test the discs on an SDTV and found that the video quality improved dramatically. Perhaps it didn’t improve per se, but it looked better for sure. Who says HD is everything? Regardless of monitor type I wish they had cleaned things up.

Mario is over 20 years old. You generally love him or hate him by now. This probably won’t convert anyone to the “church of Mario” but I don’t think it’s meant to. If you are a Mario fan (you know who you are) and you’re still on the fence about purchasing this set let me be the hand that pushes you over. It’s relatively cheap for the entertainment value it provides and is a great way to get excited about the upcoming original 2D title New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS. What a great time to be a Super Mario Bros. fan!

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About Rob Faraldi

  • I have a site all about mario! Anyway, It is funny at times (in the DVD) and I recommend it.

  • Hey Dynamo, this set only includes The Super Mario Bros. Super Show episodes. There are Zelda previews, NOT episodes. Hope this helps!

  • Dynamo of Eternia

    I have a question about this set. Are the “Friday” episodes with the live action Mario segments and Zelda cartoons included on this?

    I haven’t bought this set yet or that other set that has the complete Legend of Zelda series. But, if the Zeldas are going to be included on these Mario sets anyway, then I probably won’t pick that set up.

    I almost picked this up over the weekend but passed it up. I may wait until I get paid again this friday and give it a whirl.

    … Do The Mario!!!