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Episode 37: "Mario and the Red Baron Koopa"

CARTOON SUMMARY

The people of Pastaland are throwing a groovy jazzy spunky funky spaghetti feast for the Mario gang, to celebrate the fact that they've kicked Koopa's butt so very thoroughly. For the attentive ones among you, yes, that is Pastaland just as in episode 24. Even mayor Fettucini from episode 24 makes a few appearances, but he gets no lines, thank heavens. This is the only time in the series that some kind of continuity is maintained, even though it's never explained if this nonsense takes place directly after the events of episode 24 or somewhere in between. Anyway, back to business. The jammin' spaghetti jive is about to be cruelly interrupted by Koopa, who is on his way there in his fashionable carpet-airplane. He is accompanied by none other than Lakitu. Unfortunately, the animators have no clue what our Lakitu looks like and have given him a hideous redesign. He looks nothing like the little yellow fellow we all grew to love or hate since Mario Kart. Instead, this Lakitu is all green, wears red goggles and sounds like Groucho Marx. Oh, the agony of it.

While everyone is still contently stuffing their faces at the spaghetti disco, a cloud begins to cover up the sun, and something that resembles a shading effect is employed. Since this is unusual for such a low-budget series, Toad is alerted that something may be wrong. And he is quite right; Lakitu lets rip with full force at that moment. And -shock!- a thunderstorm rises, with an extremely well-aimed bolt that blows up Mario's plate of spaghetti. Question: if a thunderbolt hits a plate of spaghetti, should it not also roast the table that contained this plate, and the ones sitting around this table? Probably, but Mario still survives mysteriously and worries about saving the spaghetti. Lakitu then begins to launch his fearsome Spiny eggs, which hatch into actually quite well-drawn Spinies. The Spinies begin to harass the Mushroom people, and Mario says: "I smell a Koopa!". Must be the Axe Alpine deo he's wearing, Mario. Koopa then appears in his crazy plane and boasts that he will brutally murder all the people of Pastaland with a freaky-looking satellite that Lakitu has just activated. Mario isn't impressed, but Koopa then reveals that this is his "wicked weather satellite". And boy, is it terrifying; it creates snow. If that doesn't spell doom and gore, I don't know what will (maybe a sharp axe). Everyone minds terribly about the snow, and about the crap puns that Lakitu and Koopa are making as well. The Mario crew decide that this snow must be halted, before it causes everyone to die in gruesome agony (somehow).

Trouble is, how do they get up in the sky? Toad knows a way; "the giant beanstalk we passed on our way in". Gosh, how very handy-dandy, there's a huge beanstalk leading up to the sky. Mario and co bravely climb it, and almost manage to reach the satellite of Armageddon. However, Koopa then arrives in his plane and does something very frightening. Not content with making lousy witticisms, he also destroys the beanstalk's stem with a fireball cannon (couldn't he just shoot the Marios with that cannon and kill them?). The whole beanstalk comes crashing down, but the Mario posse once again survive this killer fall in a mystifying way. It seems as if all hope of dispatching the silly satellite is lost now, but Toad then notices that he's standing on "some kind of lever". The lever is offscreen, so we don't know what it is exactly, but Toad then digs into the snow and presses this mysterious lever (it's still offscreen). And hey presto, it activates a lifting platform that takes Mario and Luigi to "Cloudland". And in particular, it takes them to the flying carpet shop of a certain Sam Shalam (looks like something escaped out of Goodness Gracious Me on fast forward), and his assistant Slammer (a pink lollipop with a face, that talks). Sam Shalam greets the Marios with some dim puns, and Mario then buys a flying carpet from Shalam-san. He pays him with a pack of cigarette paper and three XTC pills. Alas, the carpet they get in return for this measly payment is absolutely rubbish. They bravely try to confront Koopa, but it all goes pear-shaped. Koopa fires his plane's cannon at them, and it's fiery blasts immediately burn the carpet to ashes. With the carpet knackered, Mario and Luigi begin to plummet to their doom. The mushroom people on the ground take an eternity to spot them, and once they do, Toad, in his limitless idiocy presumes that Mario and Luigi's carpet has become invisible. The fool. Anyway, once everyone has finally grasped what's going on, the Mushroom punters quickly nab the "town trampoline" and position it so that the Mario bros land safely on that trampoline. However, such is the force of their impact on the trampoline that they are immediately sprung back up into the air by the thing's recoil. Luigi: "we're falling up!". No, Luigi, that's just the writers who don't know how gravity works.

Anyway, this surprisingly strong trampoline propulses them back to Sam Shalam's shack, who is still making idiotic puns. Mario brings an end to Shalam's fiendish actions by telling him that the crappy carpet he flogged them was a resounding failure, which didn't help them in their battle against Koopa at all. Once the Shalam-man learns that they're going in against Koopa, he changes his ways. See, Koopa has ripped off his magic carpet from Shalam's store (Koopa must've been really desperate), so he's not exactly Koopa's biggest fan. He then allows Mario to nab whichever carpet he wants, for free, and Mario agrees to take not one, but two carpets. These two carpets are then used to make wings for an old aeroplane, which they'll use to take out the satellite. The plan is as follows: Luigi will be the pilot (he whines, but they shut him up), Mario will be the tail gunner, and Toad will sit on the plane's wing and drop a bomb from there onto the satellite, thus blowing it up. They then take to the skies, braving the stormy winds. By all logic, Toad should get blown off the plane's wing he's standing on, but amazingly, even when the plane performs a full 360% rotation, Toad's bum remains firmly stuck onto the wing's surface. The plane turns upside down? No problem, Toad has been sellotaped to the wing, he won't fall off (or maybe it's the animators who still don't know how gravity works). Koopa and Lakitu, meanwhile, were enjoying a cozy sunbath together, on Lakitu's cloud. And just when they were about to rub the tanning lotion all over each other, the Mario bunch crash their plane right through Lakitu's cloud, which greatly upsets him. The satellite is next. Mario has, amazingly, designed the first ever plane that can hover still in mid-air, thus giving Toad plenty of time for making a few dumb puns and blowing up the satellite with a slowly-hurled bomb. That just leaves Koopa, who comes after them in his plane, guns blazing. Que insert song and fireball dogfight, which is rapidly won by Mario. Since Koopa's plane is made on a base of Shalam's shoddy carpets, the barrage of fireballs that Mario launches at him soon enough toasts his carpet, and Koopa plummets to his grizzly death. Only he survives by using a parachute. So all's well that ends well, and for their efforts, the Mario gang are promoted to "Pastaland heroes". But they already got that award in episode 24. Oh well, all Mario cares about is food (and everyone finds this simply hysterical for some reason).

WHAT'S GOOD?
  • The Spinies are in there, and they look quite good.
  • The fight at the end, although way too short-lived, is pleasingly fast-paced.
  • Koopa's pilot hat and flight goggles (plus red scarf) are nice enough, although he's done better. Could've used a flight jacket, or something.
  • The storyline is fast-moving and varied enough.
  • This is the only episode to feature Lakitu....
WHAT'S BAD?
  • ...But the re-design for Lakitu looks simply horrible, and he's quite under-used.
  • Sam Shalam is grating to the max.
  • Animation is pretty clumsy in some parts.
  • A lot of the "witty" lines are hopelessly out of place or ill-timed
  • Some idiotic plot holes and impossibilities.
  • How can Toad just remain stuck to the plane's wing, even when it's flying upside down?
OVERALL
The pros and cons balance each other out well enough, making this quite a decent episode. It's worth it just for the novelty of seeing Lakitu, and the surprisingly well-drawn Spinies strutting their stuff. Other than that, there's nothing spectacular, but it's not bad, in the end. Some dogfighting action, although sadly limited, is pleasing enough.

EPISODE RATING: 3.5/5.0

LIVE-ACTION SEGMENT
While Luigi is cleaning his shoes with Mario's slip (no, really), the radio announces that this evening, the adrenaline-pumping annual costumed plumber's groovy LSD disco will take place. Maz and Lui are dead excited, and Mario goes to put on his "bunny suit", while Luigi goes to fetch his gorilla suit from the truck. While they're away, the radio tells us that a nasty gorilla has escaped from the Brooklyn zoo, but nobody gives a damn. Mario then shows up in a silly costume, and a guy in a rubber gorilla suit barges in and hurls Mario into a wall. A second guy in a gorilla suit then pops up (it's Luigi), and Mario, who is terribly dim has trouble telling the real fake gorilla from the phony fake gorilla. The fool. But it ends happily, with Luigi and the fake gorilla in a passionate hug. Ahh, isn't it touching?