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Episode 48: "Elvin Lives"

CARTOON SUMMARY

In a completely unexpected and wildly surprising turn of events, the Mario gang have traveled to some crummy kingdom to look for some irritating bozo. Again. It's what they always do, after all. One has to wonder why, though, as none of the irritating bozos they've found so far has been of any remote use whatsoever, but oh well. The crummy kingdom in question is called Sock-hop land (sort of Happy Days on LSD, a complete nightmare), and the annoying twot they want to find is none other than "Elvin Parsley, the king of music" (Mozart, never heard of). They're off to a bad start, though. Asking one of the Mushroom locals (who wears a pink and lavender hat and a banana-royal blue striped shirt; horrible) about the whereabouts of this Parsley character ends in disaster, as the imbecile only warbles about "cou-cou chiky-pou" and something about beans. I'm not making this up, honestly. Toad then wonders why "everyone is so scared". The locals then begin to act as if they are scared. Is the writer trying to crack a pun? Is the sound mixer drunk again? Nope, it's Koopa, who appears after some slow-timed footage of the locals squealing.

Koopa drives a big red car here. We all know what his problem is. He's also wearing arguably his finest costume in the series (an ensemble straight out of the leather-kink-dance scene), and is accompanied by Goombas on motorcycles, wearing police caps. Goombas have no hands, so how they can steer a motorcycle is a mystery, but oh well. Koopa makes his entrance by claiming to be the new king of this shithole. Everyone wonders, qué passa? Very likely, Koopa has ripped off the current proper king and has auto-proclaimed himself to be the ruler of the place. Again. It's what he always does, after all. One has to wonder why, though, as none of the smelly kingdoms he conquers seem in the least bit desirable or profitable, but oh well. The locals mellowly stroll away, shrieking some more. Koopa's Goombas then rip off a poster of Elvin Parsley’s horrible pig snout and replace it with a Koopa poster, which is an improvement for sure. Koopa then figures he needs a "steady girlfriend". Koopa, in a steady relation with someone? (gender aside) This is pure hallucination. Koopa fancies the Princess for this purpose. Mario, Luigi and Toad run away like the cowardly wusses that they are, while the Princess bravely stands and shouts at Koopa on her own. But Mario, wanting to respect the SMBSS rule that any real action and fighting shall be avoided for as long as possible drags the Princess away after a long delay (presumably, the Koopa posse hasn't moved an inch all this time). Koopa and co give chase, but Mario cooks up an intricate counter-attack strategy; he and his group lure Koopa into a small alley where they push a big rubbish container into the faces of the nasties (meaning, a container full of rubbish, the container itself isn't rubbish...allright, so it is). Koopa is displeased and beats his Goombas (I said his Goombas), ordering them to find the Princess, "or else your socks are gonna hop". Ah, footsie innuendo again. It wouldn't be Koopa without some of that.

The Mario bunch come up with a luminous idea in the next scene; they head for the house of Elvin Parsley, hoping to find the missing king there. Note that Luigi has gone cross-eyed during this scene. And furthermore, if the king's missing, he probably won't just be sitting at home where anyone can find him or else he wouldn't be missing. But anyway, they arrive at his place, which looks like a freaky dump. They somehow break into the house (or it was just left open for some reason), where they don't find the man himself, obviously. They do find two talking shoes in a closet. They're Parsley’s "blue suede shoes", who are really pastel cerulean plastic shoes, but oh well. These shoes actually talk (in irritating rhymes) which seems like a perfectly appropriate thing for a show that promotes rampant foot-fetishism, and they reveal what everyone had guessed by now; Koopa has ripped off Elvin. Gee, where do they get their ideas from on this series? The shoes also happen to know where Koopa's base is and take the Mario gang there. It's some kind of junk food joint where all the Goombas are stuffing their faces with fat-makers (now that -is- typically American), while saying "awwahrrrr" continuously for no reason at all. How to get past them? Mario has a cunning plan, and whispers to his comrades; "hasmash potato, MASH rerun, salad patate, wash machine potato". Oh, of course.

Anyway, Mario's plan comes down to this: Mario, Luigi and Toad just plainly reveal themselves right in front of all their enemies. It seems like a suicide move, but somehow nothing happens. They're supposed to be posing as this band or something, playing on the stage of Koopa's junk food resto packed with Goombas. Only they're not posing, as it's plainly just them, as they always look, but the Goombas are somehow unable to recognize the enemies they were chasing just a minute ago. It even says "MARIO" on their base drum, for Pete's sake. This, of course, makes no sense at all, but oh well. The Goombas are fooled by it and applaud this "band" by clapping their feet together (must be a trick Koopa taught them). The idea is that Mario and the others keep the Goombas busy with some grotty music while the Princess and the talking shoes go off to find Elvin. We see the Princess sneaking in through a door that has "thank you" written above it, for no reason at all. Mario; "I've always wanted to be a rock star!" Heaven help us. Mario's improvised band then begins to play a metal-country-techno ballad that sounds so godawful it could make deaf men run for cover. The Goombas certainly hate it, as the cacophony kills most of them instantly. While the Goombas die a slow and painful death, the Princess makes her way to some kind of freezer chamber, where she finds the horse-arse ugly Elvin, frozen in ice. The Princess; "he's been turned into stone!". No he hasn't, Princess, he's frozen. Adjust your contact lenses, blind cow. The shoes then tell the Princess that Elvin will be revived if she just puts them on his feet. Oh, more footsie stuff. However, Koopa then barges in, intent on preserving his exclusive monopoly on foot-based fun in this show. He then kills the Princess on the spot. No, not really, he actually "captures" her, or something. He always does, even if it's strategically more profitable to just kill your enemy when they're defenseless. The Princess shrieks, and Koopa does a nasty macho laugh with some very tatty animation to it.

Mario and the others are still churning out their obscene noises (with their instruments, I mean), but the talking shoes then show up and do nothing useful at all. They could warn'em or something, but no. And Koopa pops up as well, who grabs Toad in his neck. Mario chucks a badly-drawn glass of purple liquid at Koopa, which triggers off a "food fight", with all the Goombas kicking bits of unhealthy food around. The animation is rudimentary here. The wimpy Mario brothers are actually scared of flying pieces of food (Mario laughs evilly when Luigi gets hit), but they manage to escape with Toad and the shoes in the chaos, while Koopa slips and falls onto his bum. We then switch to a scene where Koopa goes for a drive with the Princess. Look closely to see a coloring mistake which has turned Koopa's torso brown here (it's always tricky to get it right when he wears clothes, eh animators?). The Princess willingly accepts this and doesn't do anything whatsoever. The Mario bunch witness this scene of horror, and Luigi discriminates against heels, which the talking shoes take badly to. Now, how to catch up with Koopa if he has a car? Well, with his slow driving you could just walk, actually, but that never occurs to these dopes. Mario reasons they need a "hot rod". You dirty bastard, Mario. He means a car, actually. And to get a car, they resort to blatant criminality; they steal the first car they see parked in the street and begin to mess with it. The idea is that they want to enhance it, so that it becomes really fast or something. It doesn't quite work, however. Luigi starts to pump up one of the car's tires to insane size, while the L symbol on his cap flashes from white to dark pinewood green (oops). The car suddenly explodes, and from the smoke clouds emerges a completely different car, somehow. Never mind, it's just logic that has gone sailing out of the window again. With the mysteriously-created car christened the "Mario mobile", Mario and his gang go after Koopa.

Next up is a scene of staggering lameness. Koopa slowly crawls through the streets in his car, driving at approximately 20 kilometers per hour, by the looks of it. The Princess tries to sound deeply menacing, but she's rubbish at it (Koopa's car also switches from red to green in one shot where he looks over his shoulder). The Mario bunch then arrive, whizzing past at no less than 35 kilometers per hour, and they pluck the Princess out of Koopa's car in roughly 4,5 seconds. The suspense is simply unbearable. Not to mention how the sense of sheer speed and thrill is rendered with all the skill of a dead cow. Koopa vanishes on the horizon, but the Goombas then attack the Mario car from the front. One single Bob-Omb kicked in the snazzy Mario mobile's direction immediately ruins a tire, and causes the car to skid out of control and crash. Note that this is rather in violation of the rule that even huge barrages of enemy fire never seem to do any harm. It takes them but one bomb to make the car crash this time. Everyone mysteriously survives the fatal crash without a scratch, as usual. The shoes want to run away, as usual, but Mario is fed up with the un-originality of the plot. Instead, he prefers a bit of completely implausible coincidence and dumb luck, as usual. See, they just happen to have landed in a field full of fire flowers, so Mario and Luigi transform (with a rather interesting animation routine this time; they bulk up to Schwarzenegger builds for a few seconds while transforming). The required arse-kicking scene can now commence, along with an insert song plonking along, as usual.

The Goombas don't even try to fight, they just turn around and piss off. We do see a close-up of one Goomba getting a fireball up the arse. Koopa follows this wussy trend by also turning his car and driving away, but the Mario brothers following him by jumping up and down. In a scene more sluggish than a block of lead, Luigi distracts Koopa while Mario hops into Koopa's car and messes with the steering wheel. This causes Koopa's car to go sailing right into a ravine, far away on the horizon, while Koopa doesn't even try to alter his course, even though he has plenty of time for it. He probably just wants this to end, and it does as the small branch he's hanging onto snaps, and he falls to a gruesome death. The Mario gang then head back to the frozen (and not turned into stone, though even the shoes seem to think so) Elvin and slip on his shoes, which causes the monstrosity to awaken. He really is vomit-ugly, but thank heavens he only gets one line and does very little. He claims to "feel good", which brings to mind a phrase from Groucho Marx; "how'd you like to feel the way he looks?". Elvin then starts to wiggle around on a stage, oddly without making any sound. But the mushroom blokeys are all dead happy. Mario is violently forbidden to ever touch a musical instrument again, which we can only agree with. Hallelujah and end of story.

WHAT'S GOOD?
  • A transformation for both Mario and Luigi. Worth pointing out at least.
  • Koopa's costume easily makes into his very best ones.
  • The Goombas are in there, with costumes of their own and a few silly things to do.
  • The talking shoes could've been an absolute travesty, but they're less annoying than one might expect.
  • The oddly stylized backgrounds and trippy setting of this episode add a little zest, even if it's all vurry Amurrican.
  • Thank heavens Elvin only appears very little.
WHAT'S BAD?
  • The few moments where Elvin -does- appear are simply painful.
  • The whole storyline is standard, predictable SMBSS fare which has been done to death all through the series.
  • Several truly insane plot holes and illogical moments, such as the way the "Mario mobile" is created, and the way everyone mistakes the frozen Elvin for being turned into stone.
  • The "strategy" of just popping up in wide view, right front of all the Goombas, posing as a band is absolutely pitiful. Even more worrying is that it -works-.
  • Rather lacking on -proper- action. Some running away like wussies, perhaps, but no really meaty fighting whatsoever. About as exciting as cooking a Pot Noodle.
  • Can you think of something that is more shamefully un-trendy than smelly ol' Elvis?
  • Animation quality is overall lackluster and sprinkled by miniature coloring gaffes.
  • The car driving scenes look so pitifully slow you could just yawn your head off. An 80-year old can push a car faster than they can drive.
OVERALL
Completely run of the mill, this one. We're on familiar ground here, with each plot element just a re-hash of things that have been done dozens of times before. As such, it's rather dull, and the terribly slow driving scenes and overall very lame action don't help this episode either. In defense of this ep, one can point out the very good costume for Koopa and the double transformation. Weighing against it are Elvin's ugliness, and some very severe plot holes. So-called Mario mobiles that appear out of nowhere, people who can't tell ice and stone apart and Goombas who can't recognize the Mario bunch. A completely inconclusive balance of averageness, then. Still marginally more fun to watch than some other completely formulaic episodes.

EPISODE RATING: 2.5/5.0 (though Koopa fans can consider it a 3 out of 5 rating for the high-quality costume).

LIVE-ACTION SEGMENT
Mario and Luigi are listening to some dumb show on the radio, and there's this contest thingie going on. It's a major rip-off, as the only thing you can "win" is that the annoying host of the show comes to your place and you'll have to bear his company, but you do get to host the radio show together with him. Oh, wowee. The person who actually -wants- to host a radio program with a host who calls himself Wonderfully Wacky Willy White (the writer must think it's hilarious) is seriously out of his mind. Which applies perfectly to the Mario brothers, as they're dead keen on winning this, which they do, of course. In his zeal, Mario reasons they should practice a lot for their co-hosting of the show. So he and Luigi spend an entire day and a night talking to a spoon, but the spoon never replies. Trouble is, all this "practicing" has given them sore throats, which their heart-warmingly talentless actors simulate by talking in squeaky voices. When this Willy host arrives, their throats are still knackered. And Willy himself has a grotty mustache, a lavender shirt with African native print, fluffy blue pop-pom headphones and sunglasses decorated with fake jewels as big as M&M's. Terrifying. He yabs on a bit, then gets a phone call from his boss saying that everyone just lurrves the way Mario and Luigi's raspy voices sound, which proves once and for all that bad taste has the world firmly in it's grasp. The Mario brothers have by now fallen asleep under the effect of this lethally dull story, shoulder to shoulder. Willy also uses a machine that makes weezy farting noises for no reason at all.