I just typed a reply to a topic over at Penny Arcade regarding the Mario toons, and it went longer than I’d expected.

Since I invested all that into my post, I’d hate to see it disappear with another forum crash, or simply age, so I’m reposting it here.

Super Mario Bros. Super Show, based on the first two games, either was recently or will soon be released on DVD as a full season. This was the one which featured the live-action Marios with Captain Lou as Mario, as well as a ton of guest stars. It was later replaced in subsequent runs of the cartoons with Club Mario(which I would hope would be included, just for retro “why did I watch this?” value). Zelda would replace Mario on Fridays, and it ran in syndication for a couple of years, while Captain N aired Saturdays on NBC.

The next year, new cartoons based on Super Mario Bros. 3 were at first used as 15 minute bookends before and after Captain N, still on NBC. So it’d often run thusly, for example:

8:30 – Super Mario 3
8:45 – Captain N
9:15 – Super Mario 3

Or it might’ve started at 9, it’s been awhile. Same basic deal, tho.

I think they changed it midway through the season so that both Marios were shown back-to-back.

The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3(as its full title was) also featured a largely different cast from SMBSS. Gone were Captain Lou as Mario, Danny Wells as Luigi, and whoever played the Princess. She was replaced with a slightly older-sounding actress, Mario a more gruff actor, and a different yet similar Luigi. Toad and Koopa remained the same, however. Don’t know the reason for the change.

The following year, NBC’s Saturday monring lineup started going down the tubes, and Captain N and the New Super Mario World took the worst hits. Animation took a downswing, and it was especially evident in the well-detailed(if often inaccurate) Captain N cartoons, which were now reduced to 15 minutes, half of the now half-hour block. Voice actors remained the same, at least.

About halfway through the season, new SMWs kept coming, but Captain N wound up in reruns, substituting some nicely-but-noticably edited earlier season Captain N eps for new material. In one or two cases, most notably “The Potion of Power,” which served to bridge the SMBSS Zelda toons and Captain N, almost making CN a sequel show of sorts, rather than edit down the cartoon, they split it into two parts, shown over the course of two weeks.

And I believe that was the time of the end of animation, at least for awhile(can’t speak for today) on NBC Saturday mornings. Some may say it’s due to the rise of networks like Nickelodeon and an ever-improving block of shows on Fox Kids. In its stead, they’d show a bunch of news or other local programming, and cap it off late in the am hours with shows such as Saved By The Bell.

ABC did a very similar thing, but without the teen comedies, as far as I know. They tried to blame Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ rise in popularity and ratings on the demise of the two-season Sonic the Hedgehog Saturday morning cartoon, but it’s particularly suspect as some affiliates wouldn’t show Sonic until 5:30am on Sunday morning, whereas Rangers was usually 8am or later on Saturdays or during the week.

Reruns of the Mario and Captain N shows appeared on what was then the Family Channel, subsequently Fox Family and I believe now ABC Family/Jetix. They would often show the Captain N and SMB3 cartoons on Sunday mornings, usually seperated into two different programs, and SMBSS during the week. In time, they even created their own sort of program for it, called “Mario All-Stars”(no “Super”), which featured an ep of the SMBSS cartoon(edited, I believe) and an ep of Super Mario World in a half-hour block.

Something may have happened in terms of rights regarding the Mario cartoons as well; Family airings would often have the songs removed, replaced with generic toons. This was especially evident in the Super Mario 3 ep where the Princess’ favorite group, Milli Vanilli, were guest stars who used one of their actual songs in the ep, but was(some might say humorously or even ironically) later edited out with all the rest, replaced with a lyricless tune.

Whether or not the DVDs will have the original soundtracks or the replaced generic tunes is anyone’s guess right now, I suppose. Personally, I loved the part in SMBSS’s “Brooklyn Bound” where Mario gets the Fire Flower and they play “Danger Zone” from Top Gun. My first and favorite exposure to that one.

And to strike off into the obscure, not to mention “unlikely to see DVD release” category, check out this article on “King Koopa’s Kool Kartoons,” as well as the opening. Someone clearly struck a deal with the devil for this one, though I admit I’d have LOVED to be an audience member if it meant I could keep the shirt and hat.

And finally, I just want to reiterate that I believe the above Nintendo cartoons have seen DVD releases, but most merely as the same sort of “random eps thrown in a bunch for sale” format that was prevalent on VHS. Zelda’s season is already out as a box set, Super Mario Bros. Super Show is either out or coming soon, and Captain N is under way.

…personally, I think Mario 3 was the best. It was the most Mario-like, even if it didn’t have Captain Lou.

*whew!* And I’ll bet you people thought all I knew was Mega Man.

LBD “Nytetrayn”