Tuesday, April 21, 2009

what rocks? (mario bros. super show!)

the super mario bros. super show!
(part cartoon, part epiphany)
(editor's note: this blog is NOT turning into an NES nostalgic lovefest. On the contrary, it's turning into a blog that follows reader's suggestions, nintendo-related as they may be). 

why it rocks: throughout the seemingly infinite incarnations of the mario brothers (be it starring roles in the ever-evolving classic game series or lauded cameos in side projects like smash brothers) little is actually known about the siblings other than the following: 1) they are proud descendents of a decadent italian heritage 2) they like to dress similarly and have committed to colors that they feel best represent their unique personalities 3) they are, supposedly, plumbers. given the oversaturation of the mario bros. in the cultural marketplace, it is surprising that such a dearth of information persists. at this point in time it seems slightly inevitable that certain aspects of their biography will never be fleshed out (i.e. where they grew up, what drove them into plumbing, what exactly does mario do after saving the princess [and luigi, particularly, what is his role in this love triangle]), but this show provided a rare glimpse into the personalities of mario and luigi. one could argue that this short-lived series gave a third dimension to these two dimensional beings.

why else it rocks: for example, did you know that mario and luigi take great pleasure in rapping? it's true. every episode began with an addictive and artful rap anthem (click above to "warp" into a mario-themed utopia). what else? well, did you know mario and lui are semi-socialite hobknobbers whose roster of celebrity friends include Nicole Eggert, Vanna White, Magic Johnson and Sgt. Slaughter, all who visited them during their television show. also, mario and his brother live in brooklyn, new york where they are gainfully employmed as plumbers. despite a booming video game career, these live-action segments help viewers infer why they continue wih the plumbing vocation: in effect, it is their Clark Kent escape. no matter how difficult things get in Mushroom land, or how feisty King Koopa may be on a particular occasion, mario and luigi can always find a sense of self-worth as well as escape by fixing pipes. not to mention, their plumbing skill set has successfully translated into many a mushroomland savings.

seriously, what's the deal with it rocking: a good writer knows when to yield to an even greater writer. in this case, i feel compelled to let wikipedia inform you about the actor/renaissanceman who played mario. Consider: "Louis Vincent Albano (born July 29, 1933), better known by his ring-name, Captain Lou Albano, is an Italian-American former professional wrestler, manager and actor. With an over-the-top personality and a penchant for boisterous declarations, Albano was the epitome of the antagonistic manager that raised the ire of wrestlers and incited the anger of spectators. Throughout his forty two year career, Albano guided 15 different tag teams and 4 singles competitors to championship gold. A unique showman, with an elongated beard, rubberband facial piercings, and loud outfits, he was the forefather of the 1980s Rock n' Wrestling Connection. Collaborating with Cyndi Lauper, Albano helped usher in wrestling's crossover success with a mainstream audience. Capitalizing on his success, he later ventured into Hollywood with various television, film, and music projects." that's right, a 42-year wrestling career.

because there is no "imdb" for video games, here is an incomplete timeline of our friend mario's rise to prominance. to better illustrate this mercurial rise to those bored by video games, i have compared his progression to that of johnny depp.

1981: mario debuts in the arcade game Donkey Kong under the stage name "Jumpman." (depp burtss onto the scene with a chilling, astute performance in "Nightmare on Elm Street.")

1982: mario gets named "Mario" in the arcade game Donkey Kong Junior. mario shows off his "range," by playing the role of enemy, antihero, antagonist. (depp proves he is no one-hit wonder. he steals a few scenes in "Platoon." people chatter.)

1983: Super Mario Bros is launched in japan for NES (depp books a starring role in "21 Jump Street." He is young, but intriguing)

1985: Super Mario Bros is launched in the US for NES (depp is no longer merely young and intriguing. he is now "wise beyond his years" and utterly addictive to watch).

1987: mario agrees to referee in Mike Tyson's Punchout (depp gives a subtle, oft-forgotten performance in "Cry Baby." he proves whatever he does is something you should care about).

1988: Super Marios Bros 2 is released. it's weird, but cool. (Edward Scissorhands is released. it's weird, but cool).

1990: mario plays a doctor in Dr. Mario. He has a stethescope, it's believable. (depp emotionally doctors a retarded boy in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape." No stethescope, but believable)

1990: Super Mario Bros. 3 takes the world by storm. (depp becomes immortal in "Ed Wood." He makes black and white relevant again).

1992: Mario Paint is released to mild success. (depp isn't bad in "Benny and Joon." but he's not too good either.)

1994: Super Mario World is launched with the SNES console. the world is changed forever. (depp shines in "Donnie Brasco" and "Fear and Loathing" the world wonder what can't this man do? the answer: nothing.)

1994: prominence achieved

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