THE SUPER MARIO BROS. SUPER SHOW: KOOPA KLAUS
Original Air Date: October 23, 1989
King Koopa hatches a plot to ruin Christmas and it’s up to Mario and his trusty whip to save the holidays?
Mario, or “Jumpman,” as he was then known, made his 1981 debut in arcades as the playable hero in Nintendo’s Donkey Kong. He was later spun off into the game Super Mario Bros., which, as of 2008, was the highest selling videogame of all time.
The Super Mario Bros. Super Show premiered in US syndication shortly after the release of Super Mario Bros. 2 in 1989. The show featured live-action sequences with wrestler Captain Lou Albano and Danny Wells taking up the roles of Mario and Luigi. Albano and Wells were also the ones who voiced the characters in the cartoon Monday through Thursday (Fridays featured heavily promoted Legend of Zelda cartoons).
The show was later given a more edgy, early 90’s ‘tude and billed as Club Mario. The cartoons remained the same, but Albano and Wells were replaced with two twenty-something, Generation V “Dudes” more prone to ripped jeans and sunglasses.
I love games. I work in games. I love Mario. I’ve played every game in the main series to 100% completion. The Koopa Klaus episode of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show is, without a doubt, the worst Christmas special I’ve ever seen.
The Premise: This bathtub drain sends The Bros. to an alternate dimension
Shouldn’t be a surprise, since I was such a Nintendo nerd at the time, but I watched every insipid episode of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. And even then – when I couldn’t have been a less discerning little target demographic – something felt a little off.
The show takes a lot of crap for its live-action segments. Now they’re certainly cheesy and a little bad, yet it’s somewhat forgivable given the era, resources and source material. “Those are adults in overalls colored the way they should not be, LOL!” remembers a quick-to-judge internet. To which I must now reply: When was the last time you watched the cartoon?
The ever popular Flurry from SMB2
How atrocious is the Mario Christmas cartoon? Well, as you may’ve seen above, Koopa Klaus aired in fucking October. Which is especially odd because, one, animation takes longer to produce, and two, the live-action Christmas segments aired over a month later in a separate episode.
Not this episode
Santa Comes to Flatbush saw Mario and Luigi taking in a familiar looking punch-drunk bearded figure and sharing with him what little food and presents they had on Christmas, and it could only be considered better by comparison to the other episodes.
An overwhelming majority of the episode
But even that episode sought to distance itself from Koopa Klaus, which aired with a live segment centered on Mario and Luigi talking a young boy out of running away from home.
Moving Santa to another castle
Koopa Klaus kicks off with very little setup, jumping straight to King Koopa (never referred to as “Bowser” at any point in the series) ordering the destruction of Christmas toys. Because he hates Christmas, you see…
Bah Hum-Koop: Not my caption, but an actual line of dialogue King Koopa reiterates nearly a dozen times
Do not attempt to read anything into Koopa’s being dressed like Santa Claus: he regularly donned various outfits purely to avoid any kind of written setup (you know, so we could get the characters right into running across a looped background yelling “Yaaaah!” for 10 straight minutes.)
A machine that destroys toys!
He’s not trying to impersonate Santa, no no. Koopa’s master plan to ruin Christmas? To freeze the North Pole… a plot so asinine, I’m still too angry to go for the obvious joke.
So where do our heroes come in? This is an alternate dimension after all, so even on the miraculous chance that Christmas exists in a land of talking turtles and sentient bombs, how do you get Mario and Co. up to the North Pole?
This explains why Mario is in that stupid-ass getup the entire episode
Mario, Luigi, ,and Princess Toadstool – well, they tunnel there…and make a wrong turn while heading for Hawaii, only to end up exactly where the title needed them to be. Yes, like Bugs Bunny. Derivative? For sure, but it’s also the only indication that someone working on this project has ever seen a cartoon before. Up until this point, I was convinced the show was written by the studio audience of Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Evidently, this is Toad’s fault, and I don’t want to harp on just how grating and annoying his character is, but if you can imagine the worst impression of Edith Bunker EVER, done by a baby… then you’re getting warm.
Toad refuses to shut the fuck up about all the Christmas gifts he’s owed, so the Princess gives him a present early. It’s a Snowboard!
This scene made me wish I was dead
And he then proceeds to accelerate around on his snowboard over flat land for what feels like 5 minutes, because I’m guessing there were more animation cells to burn than words on the page.
“It’s a bird!” “It’s a plane!” Bleh
But what’s that? King Koopa flies over head with a bound and gagged Santa.
I’d say the gang acts fast and flings a chunk of ice using a seesaw… But in fact Mario and Luigi engage in unfunny banter for so fucking long you’d think even a guided missile couldn’t hit Koopa’s trajectory by the time they’re done.
Precursor to the Mario & Luigi series?
Still, they knock Koopa out of the sky, and he and Santa float to the ground using his toy sack as a parachute.
A shitload of boring chase sequences ensue, but you’ll have to forgive me if I skip straight to the highlight.
And not a lot else
As I’m trying to grab screens of all this, I notice… Mario never appears in a single frame with King Koopa. It occurred to me that Mario doesn’t really have much of a “weapon” in this stage of the life – fireballs, vegetables and feet do not make for an kid-friendly cartoon arsenal. Luckily, the animators took it upon themselves to remedy this: Meet Mario’s trusty whip!
Mario fans: Please take a moment to soak in every ounce of stupidity
Oh, (literal) SNAP! Keeping with their refusal to let Mario and Koopa to ever make contact, the titular plumber snags Santa just as Koopa is brought down by an avalanche created by his own shouting of “Bah, Hum-Koop!”
Hooray! Christmas is saved! Or is it?
Through methods never shown, disclosed, or even scientifically possible, Koopa has frozen the Arctic! Santa, a North Pole native, cancels Christmas on account of ice. Obviously.
“My precious ice is frozen”
Toad, who’s spent nearly the duration of the special screaming greedily about capitalist materialism, begs Santa not to cry.
And then Santa declares Toad the living embodiment of the “True Meaning of Christmas©” and they awkwardly embrace until, literally…
The new stupidest thing I’ve ever seen
Their love melts the ice away and Christmas is saved. The lesson learned? Wintry conditions can be overturned by hugging a moron. Go forth and embrace, Canadians.
As a reward for their resilience, Santa lets the gang ride in his sleigh. And in a continuing effort to top it’s own stupidity, the cartoon closes with Santa somehow delivering the following line with a straight face.
“Mario Christmas to all!”
And that’s just the ending of the cartoon! You now owe it to me to buy every Amazon product linked to on this page for not focusing on the live-action portion of the episode, complete with its flashback to a mustachioed Captain Lou Albano in shorts.
The existence of this cartoon runs counter to that of a loving God.
As much as it pains me to award Koopa Klaus anything, Santa is present here, albeit as a helpless crybaby moron.
Koopa Klaus is just gross. It wallows in the very depths of poorly animated stupidity, and drags two of the most beloved characters in the history of everything, Santa and Mario, along for the ride. Oh, yeah… CLICK BELOW TO BUY!
PRODUCT INFORMATION (Support the Site!)
The Super Mario Bros. Super Show is available on DVD in two volumes, with both Koopa Klaus and Santa Come to Flatbush appearing on the second. I can not in good conscience recommend you buy either, but luckily Mario also appears in several of the greatest games the medium has ever seen. Super Mario Galaxy is simultaneously familiar and unlike anything you’ve ever played – without a doubt the, greatest game available on the Nintendo Wii. Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story is a phenomenally quirky action RPG that finds the famous plumbers battling enemies inside Bowser’s body! It’s also one of the funniest things I’ve ever played, and easily the best Nintendo DS game of 2009, just behind Retro Game Challenge.