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DVD Review: The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! Volume 2

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The mere mention of Super Mario Brothers is probably enough to trigger the theme music of the classic Nintendo game. When the Nintendo Entertainment System ruled the mid to late 80s, Mario ruled the world of gaming. He was the most recognizable and popular of all gaming characters, a popularity which has spawned several sequels and an entire host of spin-offs.  Wisely, Nintendo recognized an even larger market for Mario, ancillary tie-ins:  there are figures, party supplies, key chains, cereal, you name it. If you keep looking at these various tie-ins, you will be sure to uncover The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, which features a mixture of live action and animation. If you have fond memories of the game or the system, you will probably want to check this out.  Or, you may want to use it to introduce some old school Mario and Luigi into your children's lives, who may only know them through more recent games like MarioKart and Super Mario Tennis.

This is the second set of episodes released by Shout! Factory, but the first one I have sampled, and the first episodes I have seen since its run back in 1989-1990. I barely remember the series from its initial run, and my reintroduction has not gone particularly well. I won't deny that there is a definite infectiousness that runs through the show.  It will put a smile on your face. On the other side of the coin is a show that is corny, cheesy, and at times rather cheap looking.

Each episode is centered with a cartoon pitting Mario, Luigi, the Princess, and Toad against King Koopa and his Koopa Pack. The stories get a little repetitive, so small doses of only an episode or two at a time is plenty. Each animate piece has Koopa, in varying guises like Elvis or a rapper, putting some nefarious scheme into play to either harass the Toadstool kingdom, marry the Princess, capture Mario, or some combination thereof. Mario must lead his intrepid band on a mission to put a stop to those plans. And there you have it, the outline of each episode.

Playing as bumpers for the cartoons are liver action segments featuring former WWE Superstar Captain Lou Albano and Danny Wells (The Jeffersons) as Mario and Luigi, respectively. They are stationed in their plumbing business's office, which becomes the setting for all manner of problems from invading gorillas to overgrown plants to popstars looking to hideout. All of these interstitials are rather goofy, but if one pays close attention, Patrick Dempsey is visible as an overgrown plant. Yes, that Patrick Dempsey from the current hit Grey's Anatomy.

The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! is a moderately entertaining slice of nostalgia. The thing you need to ask yourself is how much of it do you really need? I found myself watching very little in order to more than satisfy my thirst for Mario. Despite my decided lack of enthusiasm for such a large dosing of Nintendo's flagship character, I love how they incorporated the sounds from the games and expanded upon the musical themes and cues from the series, not to mention the at times ingenious animated expansion of the game style graphics.

This set includes 24 episodes, complimenting the 24 episodes of volume one. There are however, four missing episodes from the series.  Apparently, there were some issues with those final four, but, on the upside, the cartoon portions of the episodes are included on here as a bonus cartoons. There are a couple of other extras, including concept art and an interactive tour of the set. It also includes the commercials for the upcoming Legend of Zelda episodes, but not the cartoons themselves, as they will be getting their own box set down the line.

Bottomline. This is a must have for Mario diehards, and worth checking out for the curious. For everyone else, you can probably safely skip it, or maybe rent one of the discs. I will say that it is presented very nicely. And it does leave you with the opportunity to "Do the Mario!"

Mildly Recommended.

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