It’s hard to encapsulate the feeling in today’s Netflix-laden, on-demand world, but the euphoria of being able to watch more than four channels was truly liberating at the time. While I only really begged my parents to get it so I could see The Simpsons and WWF, having a love for video games also allowed me to discover a host of related shows to cater my fixation.
One of which was The Children’s Channel’s “The Super Mario Challenge”.
Officially produced in association with Nintendo, Super Mario Challenge was essentially a TV version of cult Nintendo 90 minute advert movie: The Wizard, only less of a kiddies knock-off of Rain Man and with 100% less Fred Savage.
Coincidentally, John’s costume is also exactly what Mario would look like if he was American, and a magician.
Mr. Lenahan also seems to be having an identity crisis throughout the show, as he calls himself by his real name, while also constantly referring to himself as Mario in the first-person. Despite looking more like Luigi.
In this episode we welcome Douglas from London. He likes drawing, making Super Mario comics and has a pet rat, which John is disappointed that he didn’t bring along.
And secondly, we have Chris Stiff, who drew traced a Mario badge to wear on the show. Chris wants to be a doctor or a “Super Mario designer” when he grows up, but with a name like Stiff, he was obviously destined for a career in porn or undertaking (or the two combined).
It may sound like blatant filler (which it is), but John promises us that getting ten coins is always worth our while (which it isn’t).
I think we’ve established that Mr. Lenehan clearly never listens to himself on the show by now.
The match is pretty close, but Douglas loses once again thanks for his aamazing tactic of jumping over enemies, rather than on top of them.
Douglas feels that craning his neck back whenever he jumps will get him to leap higher, which it ultimately does, as he wins the round by the skin of his teeth.
Unfortunately, I don’t know what happened to Chris afterwards, as no one ever recorded those episodes and uploaded them to YouTube twenty- seven years in the future, but I’m sure he’s living a life of luxury designing Super Marios in a mansion paid with giant polystyrene coins.
The Super Mario Challenge sadly only lasted one season, most likely due to only three Super Mario games being available in the UK at the time of recording (in fact, Super Mario 3 wasn’t even released until half way through filming the series). So, the tiny number of games available only gave it limited scope.
TSMBC was replaced the following year with Head to Head, presented by the ever awesome Violet Berlin. Head to Head covered multiple SNES and Mega Drive games, and also had me on as a contestant, sporting a highly regrettable mullet.
John still also occasionally dresses up as Mario, probably, but only when he’s feeling lonely.
Also, my video gaming drivel is at: http://www.youtube.com/Larry if you’re interested.