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Episode 47: "The Great Gold Coin Rush"

CARTOON SUMMARY

Things are off to a bad start, not just because the animation supervisor is too stoned to stand up, or because the studio had to spend it's last pennies to pay their rent, but also because Mario and co are in a spot of trouble. See, they're in some kind of wild west location, riding for their lives to escape from Koopa (who has pulled out his cowboy costume from episode 3 again for the occasion) and a bunch of Snifits who are rushing after them for a non-explained reason. Either nobody bothered to think of something, or the truth would hurt too much. The latter seems plausible, as Mario literally states (in a rather too cheerful tone) that this episode's wild west setting will get "a whole lot wilder if Koopa catches us". I'm sure it would, Mario, but you're supposed to be working here. So, we start off with one of the worst chase scenes in the whole history of animation; the Mario gang's vehicle trundles along at a moderate pace, while our four heroes try to act as if they're remotely concerned. Koopa and his Snifits follow them on their medium-speed Ostro birds, pretending to half give a damn. The animators mess up tremendously and don't even try to pretend that they give a damn. It gets even more painful when everyone starts to shoot their fireball-guns. A sluggish barrage of fireballs is lazily dragged across the screen, while the Mario bunch just happily sit there, looking not in the least concerned. They needn't be too concerned either, as the Snifits are such bad aims you'd swear they're missing their target on purpose. And when one or two fireballs do hit the vehicle of Mario and his pals, nothing happens. See, it's made out of amazing non-flammable wood. Or something. It would make sense if wooden objects (and the carriage the Mazza gang are riding sure -looks- as if it's made out of wood) catch fire when hit by a slow-moving cheapo fireball, it might even add a dash of drama to an otherwise lame scene, but nobody seems to have bothered. Even the fireballs become rapidly-scribbled orange globs of paint in a close-up shot of the Snifits. After a woefully un-exciting scrap with a Snifit who hopped onto the roof of the carriage (none of the fighting happens on-screen. Drawing more than one character at a time is tough, when you're severely under-paid and doped on LSD), a Koopa-launched fireball finally does have some effect, as it rips apart the reins that were connecting the Mario group's carriage to their ostriches. Question; for the whole scene, Koopa and co have been too cross-eyed to hit a slow-moving hulking great western carriage, and suddenly, they display the aiming precision to snap a pair of thin reins without hitting anything else? The mind boggles.

In any case, the Mario gang's carriage has now become uncontrollable, and this situation grows even worse when Mario accidentally presses a button which causes the carriage's wheels to commit suicide. The carriage, which is now wheelless and ostrichless slides along the ground and plummets into a gaping chasm of oblivion. It crashes into a rock at the bottom of this pit and explodes into a mass of badly-drawn smoke. Everyone perishes in the blazing inferno. Actually, they don't, they're somehow shot out of the explosion (due to a secret escape mechanism? Or a heavily stoned animator?), soar a few kilometers into the air with some leftover chairs and bits of debris, and then turn into pools of blood and broken bones as they splatter onto the ground. Actually, they don't, they just land entirely intact after this salto mortale which would have killed anyone in a -normal- series. Koopa has by now arrived at the deep chasm of certain death, and just walks into it. Yes, he somehow walks into a gaping pit with his flunkies and makes it to the bottom alive (his ostriches walk along the pit's walls somehow). Everyone should have died at least four times by now if this had been a non-surreal series. The Mario bunch just stand around for a few seconds, and then run away like utter wussies to hide inside a blue pipe. Koopa then chucks a Bob-Omb into this pipe, gloating all the way. The Mario bunch stand around and stare at the bomb for a while, and then they run away like utter wussies once again. The bomb explodes, destroying the blue pipe, and Koopa assumes that his arch rivals are now dead.

Only, they're not. They're stumbling around on a layer of black celluloid, cracking dumb puns until someone switches on the Philips 40 watt soft-lighting lamps with recyclable packaging. They follow the light, stand still and stare for a few seconds (-again-), and realize that they've just found a whole heap of hidden gold coins with a halfway decently drawn shimmery effect on them. It's "the lost gold coin mine"! Caramba! Now to find a way out of the cave. Mario suddenly produces two large, white shovels out of thin air. Or maybe he was hiding those shovels in a sinister location ("it's a little trick I learned when I was in prison!"). Maz and Lui then begin to dig their way out of the cave in one of the worst-looking scenes of the whole series. Somehow, solid rock and hardened soil just vanishes into thin air at the touch of their shovels, with an unconvincing-looking brown mass representing a tunnel. It looks simply too pitiful for words and proves once and for all that the animators simply didn't give a damn if their series ended up looking crap. Also note a visual gaffe in the change of backgrounds when the screen switches to a shot of Toad and the Princess. They finally make it to the surface and find themselves in a small town, which Toad analyses as being a deserted ghost town.

Only, it's not. There is someone living there, and he's an absolute imbecile. Actually, he's an annoying, skinny old man who bears a spooky resemblance to one of the old geezers in episode 21. He wears a baggy pair of farmer's trousers in a paprika red color, an olive-green hat with a diaper pin through it and grape purple shades. Something like a cross between Yves Montand and a Greek vegetable salad, basically. His name is Calamity Clem (I kid you not), and he's the sheriff. Why an abandoned ghost town would need a sheriff is not very clear, but oh well. Toad then heads for a taxation office (he calls it an "Assay office", which is probably some kind of American slang) to have a sample of the coins he found in that lost mine evaluated, to see if they're real. You know, just in case someone has dumped a big lot of plastic coins underground just for the hell of it. In the taxation office, they are greeted by the same old geezer who was the sheriff. Turns out he has multiple jobs; he's a fireman, a chef, and he also dances at the local strip club. In a rather tedious scene, it is then confirmed that a sample of the hidden gold coins, who are looking suspiciously like Prince biscuits by now are indeed gold coins that look a bit like Prince biscuits. Immediately, the streets are buzzing with a handful of mushroom blokeys, who are very excited about the discovery of this gold (or maybe they just really like Prince biscuits). Wasn't this town supposed to be empty and deserted? We'll leave this bit of plot-obscurity in peace for now to concentrate on Koopa instead, who knows all about this so-called gold rush as he's been spying on the town with a Fjallräven camper's compact binoculars in fetching azure blue plastic. Note that he goes by the name of "Claimjump Koopa" in this episode. Can't he leave his hobbies out of this?

A bunch of nameless Mushroom punters are by now busily digging around in the soil of the deserted town to find gold coins. After some boring dialogue between Toad and the brain-dead sheriff, Koopa attacks the town. Note a bizarre animation mistake here; when Koopa appears, the first thing he does is tie up Toad with a lasso. However, in the resulting predictable and shoddily drawn run-away scene, we see Toad running for his life and being caught in a lasso again. There are either two Toads out there or someone's been hitting the marihuana again. The Princess is very worried because Koopa has by now captured Toad (twice) along with each and every other mushroom in the town, but we saw none of that happening on-screen, which sort of takes the dramatic impact out of the Princess' statement. The doddery sheriff then makes the unexpected suggestion to run away like utter wussies, which is just what the Mario brothers and the Princess do. After a good few seconds of delaying, a Snifit who was standing -practically right next to Mario- finally notices that their arch rivals have casually wandered off and nonchalantly informs Koopa of this. Koopa doesn't care, he just wants the moolah. A little later, Mario and co sneak back to the ghost town (all the holes that were dug in the ground have somehow vanished), and Mario kicks over a bucket of KFC mild-spice chicken wings. This makes no difference whatsoever, as everyone that used to be in the town (but wasn't it empty and deserted in the first place?) is now down in the mine, which a poorly-animated rumble in the ground hints towards. Indeed, the two or three enslaved mushrooms are half-heartedly shoveling coins into minecarts, while Koopa sits around on a big pile of coins, being generally unpleasant.

Witnessing this horrendous situation, Mario emits the hypothesis that with some fire flowers, he and Luigi could transform, thus gaining a strategic advantage. The senile sheriff just happens to know of a mine full of fire flowers, which proves that he's not all that bleedin' useless after all. On their way to the fire flowers, our intrepid travelers indulge in a completely pointless scene which involves a mine full of boiling tomato sauce, pasta sticking out of the walls, and a colouring error on the stupid sheriff’s hat (it turns red in one shot). They finally reach the flowers, and the Mario brothers transform rather sluggishly. Oddly, we then see a shot of Koopa where he's not wearing his trousers anymore. It's probably a colouring error, or the animators forgot that he was supposed to wear brown trousers, but it fits in with Koopa's kinky tastes amusingly; maybe he wants to test how the gold coin to nekkid arse interface feels. Koopa's trousers miraculously re-emerge in the next shot, where he gets very cranky because Toad tells him that there are no more coins to mine for him. Just then, a poorly drawn cardboard wall caves in, and the transformed Maz and Lui pop up. They fling a few fireballs across the screen, which immediately kills an entire horde of Snifits. But then, -shock!-, as the Princess enthusiastically cheers them on, Koopa suddenly pops up behind her and rips her off, claiming that he now "has something better than gold!". Look, we -told- you to leave your hobbies out of it, Koopa. He then chucks the Princess and himself into a minecart and speeds off, while his trousers have vanished/have gotten miscoloured once again, which looks very suspicious in this one shot, considering his pose. Toad and the transformed Mario brothers run after them for a while in a very slow-moving shot (looks more like crawling speed than running speed), after which they give chase in a minecart of their own. Que Indiana Jones pastiche and warbly insert song. Exceptionally, even the insert song features obscene overtones in this episode.

The following minecart chase scene is a complete mess, stuffed with hilarious colouring errors. Koopa's trousers turn green -four- times in a row, and it shows painfully in a few shots (you need to look more closely to spot it in some other shots, but it is there), as well as looking most creepy considering Koopa's semi-crouching pose. If the animators want to dress him up in kinky duds, they should at least remember what they look like. Also, just when Mario is about to grab hold of Koopa's minecart, his transformation wears off. He almost tumbles to his doom, but Luigi and Toad pull him back into their minecart. Luigi has reverted to his normal, non-transformed costume as well in this long-lasting shot. However, we then see a shot of Luigi in his super-costume again, as his transformation powers wear off as well. Perhaps the SMBSS was made by the world's only color-blind animators. Anyway, after enduring all this rubbish animation, Mario eventually manages to snatch the Princess away from Koopa and into his own minecart. By crashing through a wooden barrier (which gives a spooky effect on Koopa's eyes), the carts then head out of the mine. Koopa's trousers have been painfully miscoloured -again- in the following shot, which makes for a total of seven times that the animators have messed up drawing the same thing. Don't you just want to violently axe-murder them? Anyway, the Mario gang then take their cart via a faster route, which will somehow allow them to "stop Koopa the -hard- way", according to the Princess (eh?). What this translates into is that Mario and co adopt a slightly kamikaze strategy. They position their minecart in front of Koopa's, pull the brakes and hop out of the now-immobilized cart. Koopa's cart crashes into this obstacle, and Koopa himself is instantly killed dead by this. Actually, he lands on an elastic cactus which slingshots him away after a slight animation delay. Mario then delivers a bit of obscene double-entendre, and everyone finds this utterly hilarious. The end.

WHAT'S GOOD?
  • The return of Koopa's cowboy outfit, which you'll recognize from episode 3, is pleasing.
  • A double transformation adds a bit of zest.
  • The Snifits as the main flunkies are a pleasing addition.
  • A large dose of action scenes (poorly executed ones, granted, but they're still action scenes).
WHAT'S BAD?
  • The constant coloring errors on Koopa's trousers are simply painful (and spooky as well as it looks as if he took his panties off), and some other things get scandalously miscoloured as well.
  • The chase scene at the beginning looks absolutely pathetic in a lame, can't-be-bothered-whatsoever fashion. No illusion of speed and suspense is generated at all.
  • But then, the scene where the Mario brothers dig their way out of the hidden mine looks even worse.
  • And the scene where Koopa attacks the town, or the chase scene at the end look pretty damn shabby as well. In fact, pretty much every scene looks absolutely dreadful, with overall animation being very low-standard and stuffed with errors and clumsiness.
  • Calamity Clem only clutters this episode, as he's of almost no relevance at all and sounds very irritating.
  • There are several very obscure plot points that simply make no sense, such as the way everyone survives certain-death situations, where Mario miraculously gets shovels from, or whether or not the ghost town is really deserted. It's a bit crap, frankly.
OVERALL
Visually, this is an absolute shambles. It's not quite up there with such total travesties as episodes 2 and 31, but it's very close. The very lame chase scenes, the -horrible- digging scene, and the major colouring errors that plague this episode make the whole shebang simply painful to watch. There's not much else in there, either. The storyline shows some gaping holes and bits that simply make no sense, and there's little suspense overall. The double transformation, and the surprising return of an older Koopa costume (and quite a good one) are the only positive points, but they pale in face of this episode's flaws. Still not as teeth-grindingly horrible as the truly vomit-tainted episodes, but rather poor all the same.

EPISODE RATING: 2.0/5.0

LIVE-ACTION SEGMENT
This begins with yet another shocking scene of Mario and Luigi in bed together (Mario: "It's getting up there!" Shut up, Mario). They are, very fittingly, watching a show on TV called "money for morons". The boiler then sneezes in Luigi's face, and Luigi goes bonkers, blurbing out lots of stupid lines in the style of a gameshow host. A pasty-faced imbecile in a tuxedo and tacky glasses then arrives, though it's not clear who the hell he is and what his purpose is. Eventually, Luigi is cured using good old brutal violence, but ironically, the same brutal violence also drives him bonkers again shortly afterwards. Oh well, that's life.