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Episode 26: "Koopenstein"

CARTOON SUMMARY

The setting for this episode is the region of the "Swiss cheese Alps", where a small village is being terrorized by a nutty scientist. To bring this situation to an end, the villagers have summoned the Mario crew, and Mario establishes a breathtaking hypothesis: he reckons that the flipped scientist in question must be Koopa, seeing as how "he called himself doctor Koopenstein". Uhm...duh. Note that this is one of the very rare times that Mario actually manages to see through an idiotic plot element. Most of the time, stuff of this caliber would have him completely stumped.

The mayor of the menaced village hands the Princess "the key to the village", which is of absolutely no use whatsoever. It's a bit bizarre that this mayor bears a striking resemblance with the "Mayor Fettuccini" of last episode (like two drops of water), and that he sounds as if he's gulped down a gallon of helium, but oh well. Hiding behind some rapidly-drawn scenery, Mouser observes this scene and decides to warn doctor Koopenstein of the Mario's presence. The Princess promises that they'll do their best to end the current crisis, and in a fit of unbridled happiness, the entire population performs a shoddily-animated joyful jig.

The screen then cuts to a dramatic pan around the scenery (sort of), complete with howls of "Ohyodelawooheehee" in the background (it's the sound engineer screaming in agony after getting kicked in the groin). We are then treated to a scene inside Koopa's office building. Koopa, who is so badly drawn in this episode that it looks as if he's had a few gin 'n tonics too many (I think they've tried to have him wearing glasses, but it all went horribly wrong), is gloating over the fact that his "monster robot Troopa" is nearly complete. All it needs now is a brain, which is very difficult to come by for Koopa (he tried the director, the dubbing mixer and half of the voice actors, and found no brains whatsoever). Mouser, who rushes in at that point is billed as too stupid to supply the monster's brain by Koopa. In response to this, Mouser informs Koopa that the Mario team are as of now in the village, and Koopa is quite pleased to hear this. He reasons that, even though Mario and Luigi may not exactly be Nobel Prize winners, he should get a good enough brain by ripping off the contents of both their skulls. He's being far too optimistic, there. Mouser is then sternly ordered to capture the Marios, and Koopa menaces that if he fails, he'll be fed to the robot monster. Close-up of the robot monster. Shock! It's a badly-drawn hybrid between a Habitat stainless steel kettle and captain Jean-Luc Picard! Mouser, understandably, is horrified.

The Mario gang have made their way to Koopa's quarters, meanwhile, and Mario attempts to get in by simply knocking at the door and shouting that they're here to fix the plumbing. Nobody falls for it, however, and as Toad so sharply points out, this action was not only useless, it was also rather dim, as it has alerted Koopa's cronies of their presence. Toad's alternate solution is as follows: he mysteriously climbs up a steep wall, in search of another entrance and will let the others in from the inside. Only this plan has a few leaks in it: he bumps into a horde of Shy-guys once he gets to the top of the wall. The Marios aren't doing any better, as Mouser and another group of Shy-guys have surprised them and rapidly captured them. They're taken to a triumphant Koopa, who plans to rip off the (eventual) brain of Mario and Luigi right away. To this end, he puts them under an electronic hairdryer, and is shocked to find out how terminally idiotic they really are. Well, what else did he expect? Toad has gotten himself out of his sticky situation, in the meantime, by throwing a coin into the air, telling a cockamamie story and firing a cannon at the Shy-guys. After this, he rapidly continues to climb the wall, with the Shy-guys still on his tail. Through a window, he witnesses the horrors that Koopa is imposing upon the Marios and decides to put a stop to it. The Princess tries to halt Koopa's cruelties by menacingly telling him to "Stop or I'll...I'll...do something!". That'll be a first. What exactly does she have in mind? Shoot the animators? Make a citizen's arrest on Koopa? Turn on her feminine charms? We'll never find out, as at that point, Toad comes crashing through a window and lands right on Koopa's head. Mouser trembles in terror while Toad rapidly frees the Marios.

However, as they try to run off, something horrifying happens: during the chaos, Koopa, via extreme clumsiness and improbable physics, ends up embedded underneath the hairdryer, and the device is unwillingly switched on. Lightning crackles, the animators make desperate attempts at drawing light effects, and then, the full horror is revealed: Koopa has somehow been transformed into "the Koopenstein's monster" (he's turned an attractive shade of deep turquoise and has two bolts sticking out his head). Taking advantage of the fact that the director is by now dead, the monster-turned Koopa rips off the Princess and disappears, followed by Mouser who howls in panic. The Marios are now confronted with a considerable problem: they have no idea how to locate Koopa in the vast mountain ranges. But then, the helium-addicted Mushroom mayor rushes towards them and informs them that the Koopenstein's monster is attacking the village. And he is: the terrifying creature is menacing the entire southern hemisphere of the second shopping district of Nowhere Town. Something has to be done. The Marios engage a counter-offence, and Mario performs a dramatic intro speech (all it lacks is the "oshioki yo" pose), but the monster is unimpressed and punches Mario high into the air. Mario ends up crashing into a clockwork tower, and beholds how Toad attempts to kill the monster by detonating a bob-omb plant into it's face. It doesn't work, however, and the monster is now very cranky and about to get seriously nasty with Luigi and Toad. Determined to prevent this, Mario draws the monster's attention to himself by shouting horrendous insults at it (or maybe that should be "at him". Do I hear "at her"?). Now he's hurt the monster's feelings, so it ends up ripping off the entire clockwork tower and hurling it into the air, complete with Mario. Mario makes a harsh landing in a field of mad cows, and passes out. Toad and Luigi are flung into the air by the monster as well and land in the same field as Mario (the crazy cows have mysteriously disappeared). Mario is woken up and informed that they've lost the battle. He is shocked. But he doesn't admit defeat quite yet.

After a badly-scripted scene where Koopa returns to a cave where the Princess is imprisoned, Mario and co head back to Koopa's building and attempt to rip off that robot monster Troopa thing. The robot is still without a brain, but in this show, that is no disadvantage, and so, the robotic creation is set in motion, and Mario heads off towards Koopa's lair with it. This approaching menace is spotted by a shoddily-drawn Mouser, who relates this latest development to Koopa. Koopa and the robot then engage in terrifying combat. They grab each other's arms and wobble about for a bit. Oh, and they hurl each other to the ground. A hair-tearing song plays in the background while this is going on. It sounds like what might happen if Sharon Apple and Charles Trenet ever had children. Mouser tries to tip the balance in Koopa's favor by nicking the robot's remote control from the hands of Mario, who's suffering from the dreaded stand-there-and-stare syndrome. But Toad foils this cruel plot by bringing Mouser down with a rapid flying tackle. This results in Mouser dropping the remote, and the robot then steps on the device, thus knackering it and strangely electrocuting in one go the robot, Koopa and Mouser, who then promptly drop into a river below. Koopa, who is somehow reverted back to his normal, or rather, original form (he never was and never will be normal) and shouts at Mouser as they drift off. The Mario bunch then head back to the village where they receive their reward: one measly pizza. And it's full of holes (on account of it's a Swiss cheese pizza. Haw haw). Mario is not amused.

WHAT'S GOOD?
  • There's a decent amount of action.
  • Mouser's quite active in this episode, and the Shy-guys are in there as well.
  • An attempt at mixing in a slight horror flavor adds a little something.

WHAT'S BAD?
  • The facial mimics of the characters are so badly done in this episode, it's simply painful.
  • A lot of the animation looks very unconvincing.
  • Are they actually paying the director? No? Thought so.
  • It's not just the Swiss cheese that has holes; the plot also follows this trend. Or rather, it takes this trend to new heights.
  • Koopa looks as if he was drawn with someone's left foot in this episode. He's animated in this fashion as well.
OVERALL
How very tragic. The storyline had it's strong points, and it might have been a good enough episode, had it not been for the fact that the quality of the artwork and animation has taken an enormous plunge all of a sudden. All of the character's facial expressions are so clumsily done in this episode that it's just ridiculous. Koopa in particular suffers from this. Add to that directing which is in places, scandalously bad, and the whole thing falls to pieces despite a good amount of action-packed scenes.

EPISODE RATING: 2.5/5.0

LIVE-ACTION SEGMENT
It's dodgy celebrity time again. This time it's a singer (who does her hair with dynamite every morning) who's back-up group has suddenly died of beri-beri, just before a major concert. Typical. Her last resort is to force Mario and Luigi to dress up in drag and wobble about on a scene. It's the only thing she could afford, see.