Mario Ice Capades
Reprinted with permission from Super Mario Bros. Info Station.
On Thursday, December 7, 1989, ABC presented an Ice Capades special on TV, hosted by Alyssa Milano (of Who's The Boss fame) and Jason Bateman (Silver Spoons; Valerie, now on Arrested Development). The show had many famous and talented figure skaters, music numbers and comedy acts, including segments featuring Barbie and the Super Mario Bros. This happens to be the 50th Anniversary of the Ice Capades that they taped, as the programs that the hosts and the audience had, with the Mario Bros and Barbie on the back. (The 50th Anniversary Ice Capades Barbie was released at this time also.) When the segment begins, the hosts are backstage when they spot some random people playing Super Mario Bros. Alyssa mentions that she's never played video games before and Jason brags to her that he is a master of Nintendo, proclaiming himself to be the "Video Prince." Then he tells her about the plot of Super Mario Bros. [It's interesting to mention that Jason refers to King Koopa as Bowser, because the entire show after this just calls him King Koopa.]
As they talk, they are interrupted when the monitor starts flickering and doing crazy stuff. Jason, who apparently know everything about Nintendo, states that it's a computer virus, which will "release all the evil forces stored up in the computer." Then, who pops up? Yes, it's good ol' King Koopa (NOT Bowser!), played by the late 80's sitcom star Christopher Hewett, a.k.a. Mr. Belvedere. Koopa has released the virus and threatens to take over the world. His plan is very laughable at best, as it implies that a NES can be used to infect computers with deadly viruses, which probably can't happen. That, and he says he doesn't really want the world, but does it anyway because he loves causing trouble. It's nice to have hobbies, I guess.
The Mario set is decent enough. It looks like a 3-D version of the 8-bit SMB1, with pixelated clouds and trees in the background and a castle in the middle. However, it looks way better than what Mr. Hewett had to wear. His costume is very tacky and ugly. He doesn't even have anything over his face, just horribly applied green face paint around his moustache. His horns looked like dangly jesters' bells and he's wearing horrible plaid pants and a geeky red bow tie. On top of that, he's riding on a moving castle. You know the forts at the end of each level of SMB1? Yep, he's roving about on the ice on a castle.
Koopa calls out his minions to destroy different computer parts that NES's don't have, including 2 Green Koopa Troopas, 2 miscolored white Goombas, 1 Hammer Bro (two Troopas and only ONE Hammer Brother?), a Red Paratroopa and a Spiny. The baddies' costumes were based on their official Nintendo designs, though they looked very non-threatening and somewhat cuddly-looking. The Goombas and the Spiny, about a meter or so tall, do seem to be radio-controlled, or have skaters crouched or something inside them. After this, Koopa pompously sings about how evil he is, with his baddies dancing around him...wearing plaid pants...on a moving castle...oooookaaay. Mr. Hewett had a very cultured, polite-sounding British accent, not like Cartoon Koopa's voice at all. He sang pretty well, but the lyrics were shallow and kinda childish. The song is short, thankfully, and only proves that Koopa can create plans for world domination much better than he can sing silly egotistical songs.
After this, we see the Princess Toadstool (can't call her Peach yet, as this is still 1989, or all time and space will unravel around us and disappear), who has a huge, horrid mascot-like head and a cliché Mae West-ish Hollywood voice, off to the side with her subjects of plumber pawns with her. Another note is that the Princess's costume is based on the official Nintendo design; she has blond hair, instead of red/brown from the cartoons. Princess Pea....Toadstool, helpless to stop Koopa, then summons the Mario Bros., who for some reason arrived from the sky with the help of their trusty support wires. [Here's something I just noticed: In the scene when the Princess talks to her people before she calls the Bros. from the heavens, you can see the Marios behind her, with their backs turned to the audience. Sloppy editing.]
After being briefed on the situation by Princess, Mario and Luigi, with their very stereotypical Italian accents and oversized, misshapened mascot heads, protect the Maiden in Distress from the horrible men in Koopa Troopa suits. The Princess helps out by sending out carts containing kids from the audience to assist the Bros. Koopa then scoffs at the Marios for sending children to do a man's job. So, one by one, Koopa sends out his legions of dumpy villains to defeat the Bros. However, Luigi dons his airgun/cardboard box out of nowhere and mercilessly kills each bad guy with sparkler blasts that are later added in. The effect of the baddies dying is just crude and leaves one to think how it'll work without the superimposed TV special effects of them just fading away and disappearing to low-budget heaven.
Koopa, realizing that his army of extras is failing him, decides to attack the Bros. himself on his mobile fortress with his Spiny. The Marios and the children in the carts surround Koopa, totally ignoring Spiny altogether from the onslaught of death and sparkly insanity. After Mario spouts a remarkably bland joke/pun, the children vanquish the Koopa King with their big foam wrenches and dirty plungers in a blast of sparklers. Cheese fanfare music plays afterwards, proclaiming the death of the Koopa King, as the children are returned back to the audience, without getting any complementary gift for being a part in the show.
In the end, the Princess, who now just looks like
a giant, mutated blow-up doll, congratulates the Marios by giving
"Purple Plunger for
Bravery" or "The Incredibly Cheap Cardboard Hero Prize." Then, the
Bros. have a disgraceful squabble about bragging rights. Note that in
all this, Mario does absolutely NOTHING to help out. Luigi killed all
the minor foes and commanded the children to kill Koopa. Lazy, lazy
Mario... Backstage, the monitor that the hosts were watching all this
goes back to normal, then for no reason, Alyssa announces that she wins
the game by default, although she doesn't even play it at all, leaving
"Jason the Video Prince" in a stupor.
Here's something I just noticed after watching this over again. Apparently, they deviated from what they'd usually do at a live show and made it extra special for the TV show by adding those "special" effects and camera angles. Also, they taped this when the audience wasn't present, as the seating couldn't been seen at all. They do show some stock footage of people watching all this and laughing at the bad puns, and of the kids getting out of the carts when the show was over, never getting compensated with gifts and whatnot for killing off the "mighty" King Koopa.
However, doing this just made the show worse, as there were obvious editing mistakes. For example, you can see enemies that were killed off later hanging about off to the side when the children return to the audience. In another instance, right at the end, you can see a lone boy sitting on the ice in the background playing with a wrench behind Princess Toadstool before she hands out the awards. Then he disappears in the next shot. And let's not forget the earlier example of the Marios already on stage before they arrive from the sky. Very very sloppy, even for late 80's television. Of course, this was a time when little kids wouldn't care less if the show was crappy or not. It had Mario, and that's all that mattered.
Here are some other screenshots of the Ice Capades special: (in order of when they're shown)
Reprinted with permission from Super Mario Bros. Info Station.