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Episode 42: "The Ten Koopmandments"

CARTOON SUMMARY

The arid region of Pyramidland is where this episode takes place. Mario and co have gone here because Koopa has taken over this place and is spreading a reign of gloom and terror; he forces people to live by his "ten Koopmandments", which include such horrors as the rule not to hire plumbers and not to eat any pasta. Such gruesome wickedness is, of course, unforgivable. However, when the Mario bunch reach the local town, "it was even worse than we expected". And judging by the usual rubbish standard of this show, if even Mario reckons it's crap, we really have reason to be worried. See, the whole town seems to be deserted. So far so good, but it's at this point that things take a definite turn for the dodgy; the silence is broken by the arrival of a trio of mushroom blokeys. They're the aptly-named Three Mushrooms. And without a shadow of doubt, they are the most irritating, unfunny and all-round crap filler characters of the entire series. They look like a cross between Jacques Chirac and a boiled lobster (all three of them) and they have voices similar to a symphony of nails screeching over a blackboard. They provoque surges of thirst for violent bloodshed in the average person, so be warned. Anyway, the Three Imbeciles then explain the situation to the Mario gang (who're too dim to grasp it by themselves). It seems that Koopa, alias Koop Tut in this episode (bet there's dirty innuendo in that nickname), is building himself a sphinx with a face similar to his own hunky mug, and to this end, he has kidnapped all the other mushrooms in the area. Of all the mushrooms in Pyramidland, he just had to let these three freaks live...

Anyway, next up is a scene of Koopa himself, who is draped in his eye-catching Cleopatra costume for this episode. The sound has gone all muffled, so it's tricky to hear what he's saying, but it's something about how great it was of him to transform all the kidnapped Mushrooms into bricks to build his "Koopynx" (Koopa-sphinx, I suppose...isn't the sphinx a female creature?). At that point, Mouser rushes in and tells him he has got some bad news. Koopa gets cheesed off, so Mouser makes a few attempts to present it as good news (mildly amusing, this) but Koopa doesn't fall for it and strangles him with a bizarre-looking night stick (or maybe that's his magic staff). The bad news in question is something about a cancelled cruise (which is entirely irrelevant), and more importantly, the tragic fact that they've just run out of bricks to build the sphinx, so they can't finish the thing. Koopa decides to remedy this situation by heading back to the village to transform the last remaining mushrooms (that would be the Three Travesties) into extra bricks. Only quite why he didn't just turn everyone into bricks in one go is a bit unclear. Anyway, back at the village, Mario and co have noticed that Koopa and his guards are rushing towards the village, and exceptionally, they decide not to chicken out but actually "stand and fight" (which they don't usually do). Once Koopa has arrived in the village with Mouser, Triclyde and a Troopa, they exchange a few crummy witticisms until they're suddenly attacked by none other than the Three Cretins, who hurl pies in their faces (my god, pies, do you realize the horror of this?). Mario and co then make their rather sluggish appearance as well and prepare to engage in a frenzied battle with Koopa's minions. However, it never happens, as the Three Arseheads then commit a tremendous blunder; with their rubbish aiming skills they succeed in completely missing the Koopa forces and hitting the Mario gang with a shower of pies instead. Mortally wounded by the pies (that stuff is lethal, you know), the Mario gang sinks to the ground, grasping their gaping, bleeding wounds. Koopa, who is mysteriously hovering above the ground (due to a misplaced celluloid layer) then uses his oddball magic staff to, finally, finally rid us of the irritating Three Disasters. It's a bit of a let-down that he only transforms them into a pile of bricks. I mean, we would have all preferred to see their blood-drenched bodies splattered over the celluloid instead, but let's not be too demanding now.

A pair of old stockings is then thrown at the Mario bunch. Well, actually, it's a net, which immobilizes them completely. Koopa gloats and Mario grunts. Mario and co are then taken to a pyramid. Koopa has a little cocky victory monologue, complete with a colouring error on his costume, after which he leaves the pyramid and supposedly imprisons his captives in there. Only the timing is sooo sllllowwww that the door to the pyramid remains wide open for a good 15 seconds (I've timed it). Mario and the others could easily just slip out of their prison during that delay, but noooo. They're happy to just stand around there and wait. And after that, they begin to complain that they're trapped. Well, it's really their fault, isn't it? To punish them for their idiocy, a scary mummified Goomba then comes towards them, and everyone runs away in panic. Somehow, this makes no sense. Just a minute ago, they agreed to engage in battle against Mouser, Triclyde and Koopa Troopa at the same time, but now they run in terror from just one Goomba (well, mummy Goomba, really). Look, there's four of them, and just one Goomba, what's there to be so scared of? Worse still, the writers have already made this gaffe once, in episode 27. Someone has got some serious misconceptions about the Goombas here. Anyway, they all run away, while the insert song of the week blurbs along in the background. They jump over a Cobrat in their way, but things then get seriously ugly, as a Phanto is heading right for them (you know, it's that mask thingy that tries to kill you when you nab a key in SMB2). What to do now? No panic, the idiotic script provides a frightfully dumb way out of this sure-death situation; Mario just happens to be standing right next to an "emergency exit" button (and because the timing's so slow, he takes ages to read and press it), which activates an escape hatch. Mario and co get out of the pyramid alive thanks to this piece of absolutely crap plotting and the Princess makes the firm decision to punish Koopa.

Speaking of Koopa, he's dead chuffed, as his funky sphinx is finally completed. Koopa then heads back into his circus tent and meditates about the hardships of being a power-hungry maniac and foot fetishist at the same time. He then declares: "I'm too pooped to koop" (excuse me??) and falls asleep on his throne, grunting and mumbling (while the animators draw his groovy headgear a little wrong). However, Mario then sneaks into Koopa's tent to do scandalous things to him while he's asleep. He rips off Koopa's magic staff and then heads back to the Koopa-sphinx with his chums. Note that the sphinx is mysteriously surrounded by scaffoldings and shows some unfinished bits in this shot, whereas it was 100% complete and free of scaffolding just a few minutes ago (in the shot where Koopa was overlooking it). Oh well, just another animation gaffe. Mario isn't bothered by these wandering scaffoldings and uses the magic staff he has ripped off from Koopa to turn the bricks of the sphinx back into the mushroom blokeys they used to be. Unfortunately, this also means we have the Three Swines back, who begin to make sheep-like noises for no reason at all. But the fight's not won yet; Mario's next duty is to lead this mob of mushroom folk to safety. And that might not be so easy as Koopa is well annoyed at the loss of his nifty sphinx. He takes out some of his aggression on Mouser (who, bizarrely seems to have shrunk to half his original size in this scene), going to such lengths as drop-kicking him through his badly-drawn tent, and then gives chase.

The Mario gang have reached the Red Sauce sea in the meantime. It looks more pink than red, but oh well. Trouble is, how can all the mushroom blokeys (yep, they all seem to be male, oddly) be transported across this sea safely? Since waiting for the Chunnel train would take too long, Mario instead uses the power of Koopa's staff. Some semi-dramatic lighting effects and camera views are used, and voila, the whole sea parts into two, thus creating a neat path for the whole gang to walk across (it's a Moses reference, that. And you thought Evangelion was far-fetched). However, as the Mario bunch and the Mushroom population walk through the sea, Koopa and his badly-drawn flunkies are right behind them (the chara designer must've really been in a hurry, as Mouser's mouth has transformed into a black blob in one shot). But Mario remedies this situation; once the goodies have reached the other side of the sea, Koopa and his boys are still making their way through the path over the sea. Only, due to a lack of background paintings you see the Koopa posse walking through a stony corridor instead of the sea (the same stony background was used earlier in the episode, in a very different context. Big whoopsie). Mario then chucks the magic staff into the water, which causes the water tunnel to fill up again, and an averagely-drawn tide of red sauce flushes Koopa and his flunkies away. They swim away in humiliation, with a gross colouring error on Koopa Troopa. Now that they've obtained victory, Mario suggests a big pasta party. Good idea, Mario, we could play a great party game: "Kill the Three Slimeballs". Oooh, just imagine.....

WHAT'S GOOD?
  • It's nice to see the Phanto baddie in there.
  • Koopa's pharaoh costume is a real triumph (and his boys get to wear nifty Cleopatra ensembles as well).
  • A good dose of action scenes.
  • Triclyde appears (he doesn't -do- anything, but hey).
  • The crossing-the-sea scene is done quite well.
WHAT'S BAD?
  • Those Three Mushrooms.....owww, I'm scarred for life now.
  • Some animation freak-ups here and there.
  • At some points, the plot is just pitifully lame.
  • Some of the worst timing messes in the whole series; the door to the pyramid prison remains open for aaaages, but Mario and co just stand there. It looks so stupid it's embarrassing.
  • The title doesn't really make sense, as the Koopmandments are hardly relevant here.
OVERALL
Hmmmyah....Another even balance of good-ish and crappy stuff. Which means another average episode. Phanto's appearance and Koopa's costume are the high points, with the Red Sauce sea scene looking sort of impressive. But the -disastrous- timing, stupid plot points, and worst of all, those horrible, horrible Three Mushrooms form some very serious flaws. I dunno, if it weren't for the utter disgust that the Three Mushrooms awaken in me, I might've rated this higher. As it is now.....

EPISODE RATING: 2.5/5.0

LIVE-ACTION SEGMENT
Suspense and excitement is in the air, as Luigi has drawn "the best tippy turtle ever". Uhm, wow. And a pro artist is coming round to judge Luigi's Michelangelo-rivaling skills. The artist blokey barges in and claims to be Van Gogh. The writers have gotten it seriously wrong; Van Gogh was a redhead, this man's hair is gray. V-G was Dutch (I should know), this blokey tries to fake a French accent. And also, the Gogh-man is dead. Anyway, the artist blokey starts to give Luigi some rubbish tips, and when Mario, gripped by all-round imbecility, hurls a plate of dog's vomit onto a newspaper, meester arteest declares that Mario is a genius. Within moments, Mario is convinced that he's the greatest artist in the world, just because he sticks bit of food onto paper (it's very new age, yes). However, the whole scam is then blown wide open; Luigi spots a picture of the artist blokey in the paper, where it is revealed that he's really a phony artist who goes around the city ripping people off by making them pay big time for phony art lessons (if you're going to sin, you might as well be original). Now that his cruel plot has been laid bare, the phony artist rapidly pushes off, and Luigi commits acts of humiliating violence on Mario. Phew, thank heavens this piece of rubbish is over.