Episode 001 – The Cosmic Comet

In which Skeletor tries to persuade a sentient comet to attack Castle Grayskull.

Welcome to the first of hopefully 130 look-backs at He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. This being the first episode, we’ll take a moment or two to examine the opening sequence, seen at the start of every episode. If you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume that you have some degree of familiarity with – possibly even affection for – He-Man, but for the benefit of those who have stumbled in here accidentally and have been captivated by my eloquent prose, I can here reveal that the opening sequence is an excellent introduction to the world of He-Man.

Cosmic Comet 1

A slightly stern but kind-looking fellow in a white shirt and a fairly camp pink jacket appears out of the murk, and intones that he is Adam, Prince of Eternia and defender of the secrets of Castle Grayskull. He introduces us to his fearless friend, Cringer (who is a cowering green and yellow tiger), and then explains that one day, apparently just for the hell of it, he held aloft his magic sword and said, “By the Power of Grayskull!”

This turns out to be a complete game-changer. Prince Adam disappears in a flash of white light and is replaced by a version of himself with a much better tan, much bigger muscles, much neon-oranger hair and far fewer clothes. This, it transpires, is He-Man, the Most Powerful Man in the Universe®! Being honest, it’s not a great disguise, He-Man looking much the same as Prince Adam aside from the above-mentioned changes, but it seems to be good enough for the halfwits that inhabit Eternia, so that’s all we ask, I suppose. Incidentally, Cringer becomes Battle-Cat in this transformation, which essentially equates to putting some red armour on.

Cosmic Comet 2

The opening sequence concludes with the information that some individuals called the Sorceress, Man-at-Arms and Orko are aware of He-Man’s secret identity, and that together they defend Castle Grayskull from the evil forces of Skeletor, who is He-Man’s arch-nemesis and possibly the finest villain in television’s history. Crucially, we are not told what the secrets of Castle Grayskull are, nor why the evil forces of Skeletor want them. This information is hinted at throughout the series, in a masterful display of the art of the slow reveal, until it all finally clicks together in what has to be one of the greatest series finales in the history of television. (Not really. We never find out, and the series finale is rubbish, even by He-Man’s standards.)

I have now used up nearly half my word count describing the opening sequence, leaving me much less room to discuss the plot. Don’t worry – the plot is hardly complex. We open with two of Skeletor’s cronies, Evil-Lyn and Beast-Man, trying to break into Castle Grayskull. Surprisingly, due to something called the Cosmic Comet, they actually manage to open the door, but perhaps less surprisingly, He-Man is directly inside. He dispatches both villains in short order, throwing them into a puddle of mud, where Beast-Man sits up and says something that is probably “Yuck!” but sounds very much like something less suitable for a Saturday morning cartoon.

He-Man and Man-at-Arms receive a telepathic communication from the Sorceress, who warns them that Skeletor intends to use the Cosmic Comet to destroy Grayskull, or Eternia, I can’t remember which. It tends to amount to one and the same. The Sorceress can’t be bothered to tell them any more though, instead directing them to Zagrez, the Wizard of Zagrez Mountain and the keeper of the Cosmic Comet.

Cosmic Comet 6

We cut to Eternia’s Palace, where King Randor implies that Prince Adam is a waste of space. He gives Adam, Cringer and Man-at-Arms permission to go to Zagrez Mountain, and sends a dreadful flying magician called Orko, and the Captain of the Guard, Teela, with them. At the mountain, they meet Zagrez, who has a really annoying voice. Zagrez explains that he accidentally killed another comet which was the Cosmic Comet’s friend, and this turned the Cosmic Comet evil. This makes sense in He-Man, and frankly we’ll be asked to swallow greater implausibilities than this, so if you’re having trouble with this, you’d possibly better accept that this series is not for you.

Cosmic Comet 3

Meanwhile, at Snake Mountain, we are introduced to Skeletor, who immediately uses his whinging nasal voice to explain for the more brain-dead viewers that he and his pals are evil. He, Beast-Man and Evil-Lyn cast a spell to capture the Cosmic Comet, after which they decide to deal with Zagrez before assaulting Eternia. This proves to be a mistake, since it simply prompts He-Man to get involved, in a long and boring sequence which demonstrates He-Man’s ability to defeat rock monsters.

Cosmic Comet 4

At Castle Grayskull, Zagrez has come up with an idea. It has to be said, it doesn’t sound like a very good idea, but at least he’s trying. He suggests that the best thing to do is to make a new Cosmic Comet and fill its heart with good. This is achieved surprisingly easily. As the evil Cosmic Comet approaches Castle Grayskull and Skeletor prepares to have a jolly good cackle, He-Man tells Zagrez to forget his previous mistake and get on with it so the episode can finish and He-Man can go down to Wetherspoons.

Thanks to everyone having faith in Zagrez, he is able to send the new good Cosmic Comet into the sky, where it crashes into the evil Cosmic Comet and shows it the error of its ways. Both Cosmic Comets say thanks to our heroes, then fly off, rather pointedly putting Skeletor’s stupid airship into a tailspin as they do so. Hurrah! There’s a closing scene at the Palace, involving a stupid magic trick, but since we see enough of those over the series, I see no reason to dwell on this one.

Cosmic Comet 5 

In today’s adventure…

The moral segment tells us that Zagrez was afraid to try something because he’d failed once before, and thus didn’t have faith in his abilities. If you’ll believe it, it’s not a good thing to give up if you fail. Who’d have thought it? The ironic thing is that the moral segment is delivered by Man-at-Arms, who doesn’t have any abilities to lose faith in.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

“Don’t worry, he’s safe.” Yes, because that’s not in the least evasive. Come on, He-Man, give us something more plausible like “He’s gone back to the Palace” or “He’s nipped to Tesco to get some Advocaat.”

 

Insults

In this section, I shall keep track of the insults dished out by characters, so you can use them in your everyday lives. This week, everyone is relatively polite to each other, except for He-Man calling Beast-Man “Furface”, which admittedly doesn’t sound too insulting, but for whatever reason it does cut Beast-Man to the quick.

 

Does it have the Power?

Well, in short, no. It’s a perfectly average episode of He-Man without any particularly distinguishing features. There’s little entertaining banter between He-Man and his nemeses, no ludicrous displays of ridiculous abilities on anyone’s part, and too much time-wasting fighting rock monsters (the latter of which is, admittedly, a fault with a good 50% of He-Man episodes). Zagrez is also really annoying. I wouldn’t bother with this one.

 

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4 thoughts on “Episode 001 – The Cosmic Comet

  1. Personally, I thought this was one of the better episodes and I find it disappointing that Tom Rugger didn’t write anymore episodes (he went to Hanna-Barberra shortly after, which I considered to be a better animation studio anyway).

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  2. The cosmic comet was the only episode tom Ruger wrote i agree it would if been interesting how he fared with the other he man writers if he wrote more, anyway just this one episode I actually over the years have really come to appreciate this episode a lot more now over time, I always had a bit against it as it was pitted as the first he man episode where as in fact in production order every bid he man fan knows the true first episode was diamond ray of disappearance! Anyway without going in about production order I now think for an early episode this was a pretty decent effort, it does lack a bit of humour and comedy at times but what it makes up for is skeletor being truelly evil one of his most evil Episodes, zargrass I think was written to be a wacky character but I thought the way he lost his confidence with the cosmic comet was nicely scripted, the pace is alittle plodding at times but what it really has hoping for it is the heroes constantly feeling in danger there was sustained threat in that skeletor wanted to blow up castle grayskull with the cosmic comet this was arguably one of his most dangerous plots of all episodes! I didn’t think much of the comet creatures sent to capture zargrass but i thought this was a nice story one I liked cringers line to adam just before the transformation “o no my mum never raised any foolish children” one of cringers better exchanges to adam not wanting to become battlecat! Overall it’s a hard one to rate on first watch I wasn’t too keen on this ep but over time have really come to like it I agree with nic it’s a pretty decent he man episode not outstanding but solid enough out of ten now I’d probably score the cosmic comet 7/10!

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  3. I discovered this great (and often hilarious) review blog a couple of weeks ago. I’ve had a complete set of the Filmation series in some form (earliest being very blurry X-th generation VHS copies) for about 20 years now, but despite being familiar with each episode I’ve meaning to sit down and “do” the episodes series right through for years, with goal of selecting my Top 10 episodes for a “1980s Top 10s” YouTube channel I really must get off the ground one year soon (even since the DVD releases, I’ve never actually sat and done this, instead just going for episodes when I’ve wanted to; and the very jumbly and confusing order of “What order to best watch them in” hasn’t helped in this). But now seems as good as time as any.

    Savage, ‘barbarian’ early He-Man has always been my primary love (pre-Filmation, and pre-Prince Adam)… I can say I was there originally as a young boy and it remains my preferred version of MOTU. However the Filmation cartoon, for all of it’s flaws and WTF logic, never ceases to have a certain charm about it.

    I also have something in common with you, Owen, in that I’m in the U.K. and first watched the series many years ago on Children’s ITV like yourself (Mondays at 4:20p.m. for most of it’s run; I even have the TV Times with the first episode’s listing). I even read on one of your reviews that like me, you had a BBC Micro Computer growing up… are you sure you’re not my twin for a parallel dimension??

    So anyway, “The Cosmic Comet”… first off, this episode has always annoyed me when refereed to as “the first episode”. It’s clearly not – the assigned script numbers were little more than random, especially early on. “Diamond Ray of Disappearance” is clearly the intended first episode, and there’s clearly a number of episodes completed before “The Cosmic Comet”. It’s a shame because on it’s own merit, despite some rather far-out story elements (something that would become a recurring trait of the series), “The Cosmic Comet” is actually a fairly decent, likeable episode.

    The opening scene, with Beast Man and Evil Lyn outside Castle Grayskull, in a way is ironic as most of the battle sequence was actually animated for “Diamond Ray”, the first episode proper, and just recycled here with minor modifications to fit the episode.
    Additionally, although much about the Cosmic Comet and it’s effects are rather vague and abstract throughout the episode, it’s never particularly explained how it passing overhead causes Grayskull’s jaw-bridge to suddenly open. But in a series where logic would often take a holiday and many things would often go unaddressed, it’s best to just try and accept it.

    Considering his funny voice and slightly “wacky” persona, I surprisingly didn’t find Zagrez to be all that annoying and actually rather warmed to him. To the extent that I actually felt sad for him with his story of how he tried to… err… control the comets (come to think of it, he’s the “Comet Keeper”, but what does this job actually entail?) and how he accidentally destroyed one.

    The episode isn’t perfect by any means; the pacing is all over the place and lacks any real sort of urgency. Maybe it would have played out better if Skeletor and his cronies had diverted the Cosmic Comet to start racing towards it’s eventual goal of Grayskull earlier on in the story, leaving our heroes racing against time to stop it? I did enjoy the mouthless, almost faceless Comet Men at the end of act one, silent and menacing, and felt they could have been used more as a recurring enemy throughout the episode.

    Zagrez’s idea of creating “a new comet to keep the other one company” is so off-the-way it’s crazy… yet somehow within the story doesn’t stick out as too crazy. He-Man having the Sorceress magic him up into the skies to try and physically slow down the Cosmic Comet is the episode’s most insane moment… and yet, compared to some of the “What were they smoking?” plot points in episodes, this moment doesn’t ruin the overall “logic” (if you can call it that) of the story too severely.
    Continuity in the series, or indeed the “rules” of what was going on, was never the series’ strong point, but it’s interesting that Skeletor is happy to let the Comet just smash into Grayskull and destroy it. Isn’t gaining the secret powers of Grayskull his ultimate goal in life? We can only assume he was of a “If I can’t have it, no-one can” mindset!

    The conclusion, with the Cosmic Comet stopping being evil (yeah… try explaining this to someone who hasn’t seen the episode) and content with his new partner… it’s as batshit crazy as it sounds, but it does tie-up the story nicely.

    So, overlooking it as the “incorrect” first episode and taking it as a standard episode… not a bad one, as it goes, not by ‘He-Man’ standards. I wouldn’t rank it as a series classic, but it’s a decent enough episode on it’s own terms. I’ll give it 8/10.

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  4. Great to have you on board, Pjgathergood! Looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts. Sounds like we might indeed be brothers – perhaps you’re my evil double from the episode Double Trouble? (MOTU-fan in-joke alert)

    I differ from you in that I had always thought – until quite recently, actually – that the Filmation cartoon was the original He-Man incarnation, and that all the toys and mini-comics etc were a spin-off from that. I think I am younger than you (I was born in 83) as by the time I became aware of He-Man, the cartoon must have been in full flow. Certainly the majority of the episodes I remember, or partly remember, from when I was younger are from the second season (the strongest memories being of A Trip to Morainia, Disappearing Dragons, and The Rainbow Warrior).

    Anyway, I am interested to eventually learn your ultimate Top 10, and see whether it differs from mine…

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