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Murphy Chooses the Wrong Mario
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on April 14, 2006   |   Episode 61 (Show Archive)  

In a world of "Reality TV" it seems like everything about our real life is shown on TV. Our favorite sitcoms seem aware of modern day pop culture, popular dramas are constantly copycatting real world events, and even Jeopardy has succumb to the powers of Paris Hilton. Face it, these days our entertainment isn't about taking us to new worlds, it's about being a mirror to our boring reality. But that's not what it was like ten years ago, the 1990s were a time when TV wasn't as obsessed with the outside world, the real world wasn't seeping into our entertainment ... except for MTV's The Real World, of course.

But not all shows were like that, CBS' Murphy Brown was one of the few shows of that era that centered itself in the real world. According to show creator Diane English, Murphy Brown stood out because they spent countless hours working out real world references, pop culture cameos, and topical themes. If it was happening in the news then chances were it was also happening on Murphy Brown.

At least they got the control right, now if only they could get their sound guy on the same page!
But apparently Murphy Brown's attention to detail stopped at celebrities and newsmakers. The same show that skewered MTV's Kennedy was the show that couldn't even keep their Mario games straight. It's sad but true, Murphy Brown's staff may talk a big game, but when it comes down to their video game IQ they rank at the bottom of the list with the Fresh Prince of Bel Aire.

In Model Relationships, which originally aired May 8, 1995, Murphy Brown and her co-worker,

Super Mario World is cool, but not as cool as Super Mario Bros. 3!
share a moment at the end of the episode playing a video game. Murphy, played by Candice Bergen, invites Frank (Joe Regalbuto) in for some good old two-player gaming. She suggests that they have some desert and finish Super Mario Bros. 3, a game they had obviously put off for six years. Frank is more than eager to pick up where they left off, but notes that he won't use the left game pad because it's sticky. Video gaming ensues. You can listen to the full exchange by clicking the link (or clicking on that picture at the top of the page).

All this is shaping up to be a great video game moment on TV. Murphy mentioned a real game, Frank picked up the right kind of control, and not a single bad word was said about gaming or gamers.

The Murphy Brown players ... before Pee Wee Herman joined!
There's just one problem, they're playing Super Mario World! Murphy might suggest they play Mario 3 and Frank may pick up an NES control, but that song is most definitely from Super Mario World (the game that launched with the Super NES).

To make matters worse for Murphy, this song is at the beginning of Super Mario World, not the end of Super Mario Bros. 3 as she suggests. For further proof I invite you to listen to a longer version of the theme. The Murphy Brown staff went to the trouble of referencing Mario 3 and providing game controls, but they decide to use Super Mario World?

Perhaps we should be happy that they got the "Mario" part of the reference right. But on the other hand Super Mario Bros. 3 was the best selling game of all time; it couldn't have been difficult to track one down. And this aired in 1995, years after either of these games were in their prime. If they were going update the music why not just use the theme from a Sony PlayStation game or a Sega Saturn launch title?

And while we're on the subject, why is that both Murphy Brown and Frank appear to be playing at the same time? What version of Super Mario Bros. 3 allows you to play two players simultaneously? You can't even do that in Super Mario World! I mean really, if they are going to fact check their political jokes they might as well call some unemployed college kid and make sure all of the video games match up. Is that too much to ask for?


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