The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!

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The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!
Super Mario Bros Super Show Title.PNG
Created byAndy Heyward
Based onSuper Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2
by Nintendo
Developed by
Directed byDan Riba
Voices of
Theme music composer
Opening theme"The Mario Rap"
Ending theme"Do the Mario"
  • Haim Saban
  • Shuki Levy
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes52 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Andy Heyward
  • Robby London
  • John Grusd
Camera setup
Running time20–22 minutes
Production companies
Original networkSyndication
Picture formatNTSC
Audio formatStereo
Original releaseSeptember 4 (4-09) –
November 30, 1989 (1989-11-30)
Followed byKing Koopa’s Kool Kartoons (1989)
Related showsThe Legend of Zelda (1989)

The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! is an American live-action/animated television series airing from September 4 to November 30, 1989, on syndication. The series is based on the video games Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2 by Nintendo, and is the first of three television series to be based upon the Mario video game series.[1] The animation was provided by Sei Young Animation.

Each episode consists of live-action segments starring WWF/WWE Hall of Famer Capt. Lou Albano as Mario and Danny Wells as Luigi alongside a special guest, either as themselves or a character for the segments. The remainder of the program is dedicated to animated stories of Super Mario Bros., starring the voices of Albano and Wells in their respective roles, which were exhibited from Monday through Thursday. The Friday episode of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, however, was accompanied by animated serials of The Legend of Zelda.


The premise of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! focused upon Mario and Luigi being two Italian-American plumbers from Brooklyn, New York. In the animated serials of Super Mario Bros., per the series' opening titles, the pair accidentally warped into the Mushroom Kingdom while working on a bathtub drain for a customer (as was re-iterated in the episode "Toddler Terrors of Time Travel" in The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3). Upon their arrival, each episode begins with Mario reciting an entry into his "Plumber's Log" (a parody of the Captain's Log from Star Trek)[citation needed] prior to both himself and Luigi helping out Princess Toadstool (Jeannie Elias) and Toad (John Stocker) in defeating King Koopa (Harvey Atkin) from taking over the Kingdom with a sinister plot in a parody of a book, movie or a historical event.

Each episode's plot featured characters and situations based upon the NES games Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2, as well as several sound effects and musical cues from both games. Some plots often involved parodies of movies or pop culture references of the time. Despite making use of the games, some episodes featured inconsistencies between the serials and the video games - one example was that the animated serials saw Mario receive his fire-powers from a Star power-up, when in the game the power-up grants temporary invincibility.

Stories for the live-action segments of Mario Bros. Plumbing take place mainly before those of the animated serials.[2]

Voice cast[edit]

Additional voices[edit]

Guest stars[edit]

Lou Albano appeared as himself in "Captain Lou Is Missing". There was no trick photography—Mario was out of the shop when he entered and remained out until the end of the episode.


Lou Albano provided the voice of Mario

History and development[edit]

Before the series was conceived, Andy Heyward, the then-CEO of DIC Enterprises, spent about a year trying to convince Nintendo to license the characters.[6] In an interview with USA Today, Heyward said "The Mario Bros. is such a unique property we had to do it in a different way...We wanted to do a cartoon but also do a show that extended beyond the cartoon."[7] The project originated as Super Mario Bros. Power Hour, a one hour long animation block that would have featured series based on a number of intellectual properties. Concept art was produced for adaptations of Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Castlevania, Double Dragon, and California Games. With the exception of Mario and Zelda, none of these additional adaptations were ultimately produced.[8] Double Dragon would receive a later adaptation from DIC which aired from 1993 to 1994; but this did not make use of the 1980s concepts and was instead based on the SNES titles released in the interim.[9]

In February 1989, it was announced that the show would premiere in September 1989.[10] To promote the series, Lou Albano appeared on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee in May 1989 with his beard shaven.[11] When the series first aired, it was distributed by Viacom Enterprises and was marketed by MTV.[12] In addition, DiC planned to produce an animated film based on the series. The film was to be released summer 1990.[13][14]

In David Sheff's book Game Over, Bill White, the then-director of advertising and public relations for Nintendo,[15] said that the purpose of the television series was to "boost awareness of the characters."[16]


Each episode of the program consisted of two live action segments, one at the start and the other towards the end, dubbed Mario Bros. Plumbing, in which Lou Albano and Danny Wells portrayed the roles of Mario and Luigi respectively in comedic story accompanied by a laugh track. These segments involved a celebrity guest star joining the pair, either as themselves or as a character connected to the segment's plot, who were often a popular television star or professional athlete (including WWE (then WWF) stars of the time); such guests included Nedra Volz, Norman Fell, Donna Douglas, Eve Plumb, Vanna White, Lyle Alzado and Magic Johnson.

Alongside guest stars, both Albano and Wells portrayed additional characters in a number of episodes related to Mario and Luigi.[17][18][19] In one episode, Albano played as himself, but had to make the character of Mario absent for this to work,[2] while in a number of episodes the pair were joined by Maurice LaMarche in the live-action role of the animated character Inspector Gadget (making it the first appearance of the character in live-action, predating the live-action film by ten years), before his eventual role in voicing the character in Inspector Gadget's Last Case and Gadget & the Gadgetinis. In an interview for Shout! Factory's first DVD release of the show in 2006—which exclude some episodes that involved Cassandra Peterson as Elvira—alongside Gadget's second appearance and a few other episodes, Albano stated that filming of the live-action segments involved mainly himself and Wells receiving a central plot and mostly improvising the dialogue as they went along.[20]

The rest of the episode in-between these live-action segments were dedicated to animated serials. For the majority of episodes, between Monday and Thursday, each episode of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! featured an animated serial of the Super Mario Bros.,[21][22] which both Albano and Wells voiced their respective characters. A total of 52 serials were aired under this schedule until November 16, 1989. For every subsequent Friday, the animated segments consisted of serials of The Legend of Zelda,[21] with scenes featuring during the live-action segments on the preceding Super Mario Bros. Super Show! episodes during the week, and then broadcast as sneak peeks. A total of 13 serials were aired under this schedule, and following November 16, were repeated for the remaining episodes of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! until its eventual conclusion.


Each episode featured two main theme songs used during its broadcast:

  • "Plumber Rap" - Composed by Shuki Levy,[23] the theme was performed by Albano and Wells - first to open up the show, and repeated again to open up the Super Mario Bros. animated segments.
  • "Do the Mario" - Performed by Albano in front of a greenscreen of the animated show's backgrounds, it acted as the closing theme for The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, and was composed around the original "Overworld" theme from the Super Mario Bros. video game.

During the remainder of the episodes, during the animated segments, a song taken from one of the notable singles from popular singers, songwriters, and musical artists of the era, would be used to accompany a scene of the serial.[6] When the program was re-released onto DVD in North America, these songs were replaced instrumentals of songs from The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 and one song from Super Mario World.


Club Mario[edit]

The first set of reruns of the program were aired during the 1990-1991 TV season, again in syndication, but with significant changes in the live-action format. While it retained the program's original scheduling arrangement of broadcasts and the animated serials of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, the live-action segments of Albano and Wells were replaced in 1990 with a new continuity of five-minute live-action segments, entitled Club Mario.[24][25] The format for these segments focused on a new set of characters - Mario-obsessed teenagers Tommy Treehugger (played by Chris Coombs) and Co-MC (played by Michael Anthony Rawlins) - "commandeering" the "satellite signal" of the Super Show (despite the reality of the show going out on tapes to stations well in advance) and goofing around.[26] The two were regularly visited by Tommy's annoying sister Tammy (Victoria Delaney), the aptly named Dr. Know-It-All (Kurt Weldon), Co-MC's evil twin Eric (also played by Rawlins), and a guest star. The segment featured a one-to-two-minute viewing of Space Scout Theater/Spaced Out Theater hosted by Princess Centauri (portrayed by Shanti Kahn), which was sourced and edited from the science fiction children television series Photon. In at least one episode, they picked on Andy Heyward (as himself) in the DiC offices.[citation needed]

Club Mario proved unpopular with viewers and was discontinued following this season. Further reruns of the show during the 1991-1992 TV season and onward returned to the use of the original Albano and Wells live-action segments.[citation needed]


Mario All Stars[edit]

The second set of reruns was created by The Family Channel in 1994 as a programming package entitled Mario All Stars, inspired by the video game title Super Mario All-Stars that was released the previous year. The format of the rerun focused on primarily the cartoons featured in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! alongside those from Super Mario World series; prior to being re-edited for this package, the network aired reruns of the program at slower than normal speed and retained the use of the live-action segments before they were discontinued to make way to the package's layout. The rerun was used again by the USA Network in 1997, from January 8 to June 6, before the network replaced it with reruns of Sonic the Hedgehog. The theme song was the end credits theme of Super Mario World.

Although clips from the Super Mario Bros. 3 cartoons were used in promos for the show, none of the show's episodes were featured.[citation needed]

Home media[edit]

From 1989 to 1990, Kids Klassics (with the sponsorship of Nesquik) released episodes of the series on VHS.[27] Starting in 1991, Kids Klassics' parent company GoodTimes Entertainment continued releasing episodes on VHS up through 1993. These 1989 releases are noted for being to only releases to contain the original song covers.

In 1994, Buena Vista Home Video under their DIC Toon-Time Video label released the VHS Super Mario Bros. Super Christmas Adventures!, which contained the animated segment "Koopa Klaus" and the live-action segment "Santa Claus is Coming to Flatbush" alongside the Super Mario World episode "The Night Before Cave Christmas".

In 2002, Lions Gate Home Entertainment released a DVD titled Mario's Greatest Movie Moments, which contained 6 episodes as well as two episodes of The Legend of Zelda. The VHS versions of the DVD, Mario's Monster Madness and Action Adventures, includes the same episodes (3 per tape, alongside 1 Zelda episode). None of those releases contained any live-action segments.

In 2004, Sterling Entertainment released Mario Mania on DVD which contained the first week's episodes, consisting of 4 Mario segments and a Legend of Zelda episode. This release however featured the live-action segments and could also be watched on their own. A Question-and-answer with DIC CEO Andy Heyward was also included. Another DVD which consisted of 5 episodes: Mario's Movie Madness was released by Sterling in 2005, but removed the live-action segments.

In 2006, Shout! Factory and Sony BMG Music Entertainment released the series on two 4-disc DVD sets.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date Additional Information
Mario's Greatest Movie Moments 8 2002 Trivia game (unlocks bonus episode)
Volume 1 24 March 28, 2006
  • New interviews with Captain Lou Albano (Mario)
  • Original art gallery
  • Storyboard-to-Screen: The Super Mario Bros. Super Show Opening Title Sequence
Volume 2 28 October 31, 2006
  • 4 Bonus Animated Episodes
  • "Meeting Mario: A Fan's Tale" Featurette
  • Super Mario Bros. Fan Costume Gallery
  • The Worlds of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! Concept Art Galleries
  • Interactive Tour Of The Mario Bros. Plumbing

These two sets were discontinued in 2012 after Shout!'s deal with Cookie Jar Entertainment expired.

From 2007 to 2009, NCircle Entertainment released several DVD sets of the series. The prints used on these releases were taken from the Shout! Factory boxsets.

NCircle re-released the complete sets in 2012 with the same extras as the Shout! Factory sets, but with the live-action segments removed and "On Her Majesty's Sewer Service" excluded.[28][29] These releases have the DiC logo replaced with the then-current Cooke Jar logo.

In 2012, the show was added to Netflix as a part of their instant streaming library until 2021.

As of 2020, the series can be purchased digitally to own on VUDU, which is owned by Fandango Media.

UK Home Media history[edit]

From 1991 to 1993, Abbey Home Entertainment Distribution released six videos of the "Super Mario Bros. Super Show" with only the animated segmented episodes, the animated segmented intro and the live-action segment of "Do the Mario" in the closing credits.

Maximum Entertainment (Under license from Fox Kids Europe/Jetix Europe) released 4 DVD sets of the series from 2004 to 2007. The first and fourth sets contained 6 episodes, the second contained 5 and the third set contained 3 episodes.

Australia Home Media history[edit]

Beyond Home Entertainment released a six-disc box set in the 2000s, with two segments "Rolling Down the River" and "The Unzappables" omitted.[citation needed]


Critical response[edit]

The show was met with generally mixed reviews from critics, who felt that the storylines were a unique twist to the media/franchise and that the humor could be considered "funny" but many of which were critical of its live action segments and Albano and Wells’ acting. Upon the series premiere in September 1989, Mike Hughes of USA Today described the series as a "surprising disappointment", opening that the series has "little of the wit and spark" and relies too heavily on slapstick.[30] In a retrospective review for the series' DVD, Mark Bozon of IGN referred the series as "the biggest offender among Nintendo's many embarrassing moments" but thought that the animated shorts were "interesting to look back on". Bozon gave the overall series a 7 out of 10 (while giving the DVD itself a 5 out of 10).[31] However, Common Sense Media rated the show 1 out of 5 stars, stating that the "frenetic '80s cult fave with stereotypes hasn't aged well."[32] Although reviewers were critical of the show, it has spawned internet memes decades later and has developed a cult following.


Upon the first week of its premiere, the series had a cumulative 4.1/12 rating/share, making the series the highest rated first-run syndicated series at the time.[33] Within the next two weeks, in contrast, the series (3.8/11) was beat out by Buena Vista Television's Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers (4.5/11) and faced competition with Claster Television's Muppet Babies reruns.[34]


  1. ^ Perlmutter, David (2018). The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 566. ISBN 978-1538103739.
  2. ^ a b Angelle, Denny (September 1989). "What's New on TV". Boys' Life. 79 (9): 16. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  3. ^ Super Mario Bros super show episode 1, archived from the original on 2021-12-21, retrieved 2021-07-21
  4. ^ Mario Bros Super Show Danica McKellar 1989, archived from the original on 2021-12-21, retrieved 2021-07-22
  5. ^ Super Mario Bros. Super Show! S1E45 | Crocodile Mario | Video Games | Retro Cartoon | Roddy Piper, retrieved 2021-07-22
  6. ^ a b "Game Playing". USA Today. July 31, 1989. p. 3D. The Nintendo craze comes to TV this fall with NBC's "Captain N: The Game Master" and a syndicated show, "The Super Mario Bros. Super Show," both from the DIC animation studio. DIC president Andrew Hayward says he spent a year convincing the toy company to license rights to the addictive characters. Capt. Lou Albano plays super-plumber Mario in the syndicated show, which wraps live action around cartoon adventures. Steve Binder ("Pee-Wee's Playhouse") directed the live bits, including camp cameos by Vanna White, Elvira and Magic Johnson. Rock 'n' roll songs have been licensed and will be woven into each episode. Hayward says a music video of the "Mario dance" will premiere within the next few weeks.
  7. ^ "For kids: A 'Chip' off the Disney block". USA Today. September 11, 1989. p. 3D.
  8. ^ McWhertor, Michael (May 8, 2019). "The Super Mario Bros. Super Show people once tried to make bizarre Metroid and Castlevania cartoons". Polygon. Retrieved June 19, 2021.
  9. ^ Oxford, Nadia (2019-05-08). "A Metroid Cartoon Proposal Made Samus a Man, Embodying Everything That was Terrible About Video Game Cartoons in the '90s". USgamer. Retrieved 2021-07-20.
  10. ^ Healy, Michelle (February 1, 1989). "Nintendo hungry? Try the cereal". USA Today. p. 1D. The Super Mario Brothers Super Show, a syndicated TV program for kids, airs in September. It will feature live action and animation.
  11. ^ "'Super' Man". USA Today. May 17, 1989. p. 3D. Capt. Lou Albano, the bizarre wrestling manager, has been cast to play Mario, one of the two Brooklyn plumber brothers. Thursday, in anticipation of a big announcement bash, Albano will appear on "Live With Regis & Kathie Lee" to shed his beard.
  12. ^ "Syndication Marketplace" (PDF). Broadcasting. 117 (9): 42. August 28, 1989. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  13. ^ Puig, Claudia (April 17, 1989). "MOVIES". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 16, 2021. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  14. ^ Kesten, Lou (May 16, 1989). "Newsday - The Nintendo Virus Invades Children's Television (Part 2)". Newsday. p. 138. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  15. ^ Groves, Martha (April 30, 1990). "Taking On Nintendo: Games: Atari may be crazy to confront the Japanese giant. But it plans to slug it out anyway". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  16. ^ Sheff, David (November 2, 2011). Game Over: How Nintendo Conquered The World. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. ISBN 9780307800749. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  17. ^ "Marianne & Luigeena/Mario's Magic Carpet". The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!. Season 1. Episode 4. September 7, 1989. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  18. ^ "Mama Mia Mario/The Great BMX Race". The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!. Season 1. Episode 11. September 18, 1989. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  19. ^ "Mario Hillbillies / Do You Princess Toadstool Take This Koopa...?". The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!. Season 1. Episode 23. October 4, 1989. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
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  21. ^ a b Hughes, Mike (September 14, 1989). "This is the time for NBC to grab a slice of TV history: It should become the first force to abandon the Saturday-morning cartoon business". USA Today. The show runs five days a week, however, and there is a saving grace: Each Friday has a "Legend of Zelda" episode that's quite a bit better than the rest of the week.
  22. ^ "Super Mario Bros. - Cartoon Resource Website entry #76". Archived from the original on 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2016-12-27.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  23. ^ McDonald, Marlon (July 10, 2015). "This Man Is Responsible for (Nearly) All of Your 80s/90s Kid's Show Memories, and You've Probably Never Even Heard of Him..." Movie Pilot. Archived from the original on August 10, 2017. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
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  27. ^ "GoodTimes/KK Tapes Roll With Nestle Ads" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 101, no. 39. September 30, 1989. p. 51. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
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  31. ^ Bozon, Mark (January 25, 2006). "Super Mario Bros. Super Show! Volume 1". IGN. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
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  33. ^ "Doubling Up" (PDF). Broadcasting. 117 (13): 6. September 25, 1989. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  34. ^ "Metering Syndication Progress" (PDF). Broadcasting. 117 (14): 41–42. October 2, 1989. Retrieved August 20, 2017.

External links[edit]