Super Mario Bros. [1993]

Premiering just six months after the release of the game that inspired it, the animated series The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 integrated elements from the game into a serial-style cartoon that pitted heroic plumbers Mario and Luigi against the reptilian King Koopa and a squad of new villains. Over the course of 13 double episodes, Koopa (who is also occasionally addressed by his American handle, Bowser) and his seven unpleasant children, the Koopa Kids (or Koopalings) wreaked havoc in both the Mushroom World and the "real world," including stints in Hollywood, Venice, Hawaii, and Washington, D.C. (which includes a guest appearance by then-President George H. W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush!). Coming to the defense are the heroic plumbers Mario and Luigi, as well as Princess Toadstool and her faithful friend Toad, who thwart the Koopa menace by using many of the power-ups and aspects of the Super Mario Bros. 3 game. As with the previous Super Mario Bros. TV series, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, Super Mario Bros. 3 is long on action and fun and short on logic, and while the animation and scripting has dated poorly, the nostalgia inspired by seeing these shows again after almost two decades should help in overlooking any flaws. Longtime fans should know that several original songs have been removed from the episodes and replaced by generic background music; also missing is the infamous guest appearance by Milli Vanilli in "Kootie Pie Rocks," though this was pulled during the show's syndicated run. The three-disc set includes all 13 double episodes on two discs, while the third disc is devoted to supplemental features like "The Writers' Bible" (a rather bland string of recaps that serve to familiarize viewers with the characters and situations), a gallery of background and concept art, and a menu of original songs from the series. -- Paul Gaita

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