Cartoons. Well. They Sucked. With very few exceptions--Looney Tunes, Animaniacs, Tiny Tune Adventures--it turns out that almost all cartoons written for children--all the ones we grew up watching in the 80s and 90s and turned us into the people we are today--are terrible. Not only terrible--it is after all not crazy to think that something written for eight year olds would be lazy and terrible--but absolutely crazy. And yet it made absolutely no difference to us as kids. Which is how they get away with it.
If you, as an adult, take the time to go back and watch some of the things you loved as a kid, you will be shocked and horrified by what you put up with back then. Compare and contrast "One Froggy Evening," the classic Looney Tune cartoon, with, say, Snarf from Thundercats. Snarf is fucking intolerable! Michigan J. Frog, the classic character, is...well, as far as anthropomorphic frogs go he's a sociopath, fucking with a poor construction worker for no reason whatsoever. But he's not a character written specifically to make any adult want to kill him and/or turn off the TV (Orko from He-Man is also a similar type character to Snarf, i.e. terrible, but beloved by kids).
Moreover, "One Froggy Evening" (which I would embed here, but videos of "One Froggy Evening" get takedown notices every week or two. Just Google it and you'll be fine) is, to an adult, a recognizable narrative. There's an arc to the story, and that story is identifiable by everyone watching it--child and adult. Compare and contrast with an episode of He-Man, or She-Ra, and you might be surprised. One episode of G.I. Joe that I remember from childhood involved COBRA plotting to take over the country via a hypnotic carwash--that was their big plot. I don't remember how the Joes foiled it, but it probably involved shooting things ineffectively with lasers.
And then there's just crazy things.
Like Fisto. The He-Man character. He who fists you, apparently.
My girlfriend and I have watched a couple of episodes of beloved TV shows in our free time, via the Netflix On Demand function, and I always wind up wishing I'd drank a lot more before we cued them up.
I don't really have a conclusion to this article, beyond The Super Mario Brothers Super Show.
I remember loving this show, and after watching an episode on Netflix a couple months ago, I can't for the life of me remember why.
Between this and The Legend of Zelda show that aired every Friday in the same timeslot, I looked forward to days when I would be sick so I could stay home and watch it (it started at the same time as school did for me). The Legend of Zelda show was not particularly good, in retrospect--Link had a catchphrase, and that catchphrase was, "Well excuuuuuuuse me, Princess," which would be said at least once an episode. I must have been really desperate for anyone remotely analogous to Han Solo. Link is a poor elf's Han Solo.
As bad as The Legend of Zelda was, it was comprehensible to someone who had never played the games. The cartoon section of The Super Mario Brothers Super Show is an aggressively incoherent muddle of references to the games, full of unexplained villains and set pieces that refer to that one level that one time in that one game. The sound effects and soundtrack are aggressively ripped from the game, so the very act of walking and jumping has an unnaturally loud chiptune noise accompanying it. To complicate matters entirely, most of the plotlines, villains, and characters are taken from Super Mario Brothers 2, which is a fascinating game, but completely crazy* in a very Japanese way, like the programmers washed down bad acid with a bottleful of cheap sake.
* Super Mario Brothers 2 was never originally intended to be a Super Mario Brothers game at all. After the initial sequel to Super Mario Brothers was judged to be too viciously difficult for American release--after its Japanese release--Nintendo had a game unrelated to Super Mario Brothers reprogrammed with Mario characters.
Where The Super Mario Brothers Super Show really drops the ball is in its live action segments, which feature Lou Albano as a Brooklyn plumber (the opening scene establishing their offices, a fake backdrop of their building with the Brooklyn Bridge, looks like someone sketching a sepia-toned Little Italy from The Godfather 2, claims to be Brooklyn but actually shows them on the Manhattan side of the bridge. Oops), and some guy named Danny Wells as Luigi, features utterly bewildering "celebrity" cameos who show up, interact with the stars while obviously reading off of cue cards, and are shuffled off as fast as possible. Norman Fell, Danica McKellar, Vanna White, Magic Johnson, Roddy Piper, and Sgt. Slaughter all made appearances on this show, apparently in the belief that this would help their career. Except for Danica McKellar's career writing math books and authoring theorems, none of these celebrities would ever be heard of again.
It's a terrible show. Even better, the themes feature rapping.
Check out "Do the Mario" from the closing credits.