Monday, June 9, 2014

Super Milli Vanilli Bros.

You think back on the weird little pop culture nothings you experienced as a kid, and you sometimes wonder, “Did that actually happen the way I’m remembering it? Or did my feeble childhood brain and the passage of time distort all that into something far weirder than it actually was?” With me, it’s usually the latter. In this one instance, it’s not.

princess peach milli vanilli

Yes, the Mario Bros. did once meet Milli Vanilli.

I’m not going to say that the Super Mario Bros. Super Show and its various sequel series don’t hold up all these years later, but that’s mostly because I never went back and invested much time in them since they were first on. I did, however, just now rewatch the October 27, 1990, episode “Kootie Pie Rocks” just for the sheer what-the-fuck-in-a-time-capsule factor. It’s just kind of baffling to think that yes, this episode existed.

Here’s the plot:

The princess — and remember, she’s Princess Toadstool at this point, and not Princess Peach — is stoked to visit New York City in “the real world” to watch a concert by her favorite music group, Milli Vanilli. (How Top 40 reaches all the way to the Mushroom Kingdom, we’ll never know.) Here the duo is dancing, per the magic of DIC animation:

milli vanilli super mario bros.

Bowser’s terrible daughter, Kootie Pie, gets word of this and throws a fit. (Another name note: It’s Wendy, but it’s not. For reasons I’ve never had explained to me, the DIC Mario cartoons renamed Bowser’s kids instead of using the rock star-inspired names they have in the games.) To appease Kootie Pie, Bowser beams Milli Vanilli into his airship mid-concert — “Koopnapped,” per Toadstool, even if that doesn’t make sense.

At the Koopa Kastle, Kootie Pie uses her magic wand to turn Rob and Fab into accountants — you know, because then they would be unable to sing their hit songs — but Mario devises a plan to free them: Sneak in dressed as a racially insensitive back-up band and help Milli Vanilli perform. Kootie doesn’t question why a back-up band would inexplicably show up, so she transforms Rob and Fab back and then proceeds to be too stupid to realize that Mario and Luigi’s instrumentation sucks, with the awkward implication being that Milli Vanilli performs poorly when live and unproduced. The group escapes back to New York City. Rob and Fab dedicate “Girl, You Know It’s True” to the princess, which, when you think about the implications, is the greatest slight of all.

Miscellaneous notes:

Kootie Pie sounds like an evil Cyndi Lauper. And yeah, she’s awful.

She also puts on a mini-skirt to go the concert instead of wearing her usual outfit of high heels, Marge Simpson pearls and no clothes whatsoever. 

This is what Milli Vanilli fans looked like, per The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3:

This frame is also awkward:

For what it’s worth, DIC actually acquired the rights to “Blame It on the Rain,” and “Milli Vanilli” actually “sing” it in the episode, though of course it’s weird to think about now how Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus are playing cartoon versions of themselves lip syncing to someone else’s recording of the song. This episode aired just twenty days before the band’s Grammy was revoked.

Rob Pilatus was found dead of a suspected drug and alcohol overdose on April 2, 1998. As long as we’re talking about weird musical connections to make with Super Mario Bros., it’s worth noting that Wendy O. Williams, the Plasmatics lead singer for whom Bowser’s daughter takes her name, committed suicide just four days later.

Since the last time I wrote about my theory about the Koopalings’ names, it turns out that Larry Koopa (Cheatsy in the cartoons) wasn’t named after Larry King but instead after U2 drummer Larry Mullins Jr. I’d guessed Larry King just because Morton Koopa Jr. was named after Morton Downey Jr., the talk show host who had previously worked as a singer-songwriter, and I guessed that if one Koopaling could have a talk show host namesake, so could another. Nope!

The background paintings are actually decent:

If you want to watch the whole episode, Youtube user Unknown Archive has posted it in full on YouTube, in good quality and with a few bits that have been otherwise lost as a result of the fact that all subsequent airings of the episode replace Milli Vanilli’s music with generic filler. The fact that someone bothered to go back in and restore the original audio and deleted scenes for such a shitty moment for television is kind of awesome.

And that is all. Go outside maybe!

Super Mario pop cultural connections, previously: 

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