Episode 008 – The Time Corridor

In which Skeletor fails to master the art of reverse psychology.

We open at Snake Mountain, where we discover that Skeletor has been indulging his weakness for buying tat on eBay. This week, he’s bought the Wheel of Infinity, which he claims is the key to destroying Castle Grayskull and ruling Eternia. He further reveals that he and his cronies (which this week include Tri-Klops and some vaguely dinosauresque fellow who’s graced with the name of Fang Man) are going back in time, to a point in Eternia’s history when there was no Castle Grayskull. He also – erroneously, as it turns out – says that He-Man won’t be able to stop them this time.

Time Corridor 1

In Castle Grayskull, the Sorceress summons Prince Adam, Man-at-Arms and Orko to tell them that Skeletor has returned to the past and is happily occupied building a fortress on the very spot that Castle Grayskull now stands. She also details Skeletor’s plot: if he starts the Wheel of Infinity spinning, it will get faster and faster and larger and larger until it destroys Castle Grayskull. This is a matter which requires He-Man’s immediate attention, and once he has transformed, our crowd head through a Time Corridor back to the past.

Once in Ancient Eternia, our heroes are greeted by some Ancient Eternians. He-Man speaks to them very slowly and patronisingly, but this doesn’t help, so instead he gets in a fight with the goofiest purple dragon I’ve ever seen. In the course of this fight, we discover that Man-at-Arms’ blasters don’t work and he is therefore even more useless than usual. We also discover that He-Man has a secret grudge against Battle-Cat, since he tries to order him to walk backwards into a pit, an irrational order which Battle-Cat ignores.

Time Corridor 2

Once this important business is settled, He-Man and co. make their way to Skeletor’s fortress. On finding it quiet, He-Man decides to rile Skeletor by threatening to turn the castle into toothpaste. Naturally, Skeletor is unable to ignore this threat, and a pitched battle ensues, in the course of which He-Man says that a battle club would make a good toothpick. In the end, Skeletor kidnaps one of those Ancient Eternians and explains that our heroes can either save Castle Grayskull, or save the Eternian from Dragasore Isle.

Well, of course, He-Man opts to go to Dragasore Isle, which contains a variety of interesting flora and fauna, including a plant which has elements of Venus fly traps and octopuses, and an animal which appears to be a pig-crab hybrid, as well as a lot more of those stupid purple dragons. On finally finding the Ancient Eternian, they find that she is in a cage which Skeletor claims will trap her “forever between time and space”. This is a transparent deception; He-Man bends the cage’s bars and out she comes.

Time Corridor 3

The Sorceress puts a stop to this pointless excursion by transporting our heroes back to Skeletor’s fortress, where it’s time for the final showdown. In the course of the battle, Skeletor sets the Wheel of Infinity spinning, which sends him into paroxysms of laughter and also leads him to utter the phrase, “At last, I’ve won!” which is so dementedly deluded that you almost feel sorry for him.

He-Man cannot stop the Wheel spinning, but he suggests that maybe he could speed it up. Skeletor, who is not a master of the art of reverse psychology, shouts, “No!!!!!!!!”, which is of course a cue for He-Man to do just that. The Wheel spins faster and faster, and is just about to explode when He-Man punches it, sending it flying to explode peacefully in the sky. Our heroes return to the present, upon which the Sorceress thanks He-Man, prompting him to smile in a very silly way.

Time Corridor 4

 

In today’s adventure…

He-Man explains that in real life, it’s not possible to travel back in time, but it is possible to learn from your past to make yourself a better person in the present. It’s a relatively sensible comment, spoiled only by He-Man finishing up by saying, “Until next time, this is He-Man, wishing you good health, and good luck,” which seems like a very strange way to sign off.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance:

There’s no excuse required today, since the only heroes involved are those who know the secret anyway.

Time Corridor 6

 

Characters appearing

A relatively small main cast today, with a fair number of supporting players. We have, of course, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Prince Adam, Cringer, Man-at-Arms, Orko, the Sorceress, Skeletor and Tri-Klops. I’m going to count Fang Man as a supporting character, because he never appears again. We also have a load of ancient Eternians, possibly with names.

 

Insults

There’s a bumper crop of insults this week, most of which involve the word ‘face’. He-Man calls the purple dragon “Worm-face”. The Ancient Eternians refer to Skeletor as “Ghost-face”, while He-Man prefers the slightly more accurate “Skull-face”.  Skeletor also gets a few vicious digs in at He-Man, calling him a fool twice – though on the first of these occasions, it is in response to He-Man’s nonsensical gibe about toothpaste, so it’s perfectly reasonable.

 

Egg on your face?

No eggs this week, but Orko is more than capable of working with other foodstuffs, and thus it is that Man-at-Arms is covered in chocolate cake. (Or at least that’s what I assume the badly animated brown cylinder thing is.)

Time Corridor 5

 

Does it have the Power?

Absolutely. It’s a little bit insane – I’m still a bit uncertain about how exactly Skeletor’s plan was supposed to work – but it’s super fun. There are some elements of the script which come across rather oddly, for example He-Man’s closing message, and the inexplicable obsession with dental care he develops in the middle of the episode. But Orko isn’t too annoying, we have the pleasure of seeing Skeletor come close to victory, and He-Man is at his most brazenly confident. If you fancy a good solid He-Man episode, this one is a strong choice.

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Episode 007 – The Curse of the Spellstone

In which He-Man leaves it to a bunch of villagers to defeat the baddies.

In a frankly scary-looking locale on Eternia, Skeletor and Evil-Lyn bust into the Temple of the Fire People, to find something called the Spellstone, which they immediately set to work causing a massive storm. Meanwhile, at the Palace, there’s fun and games as Prince Adam deliberately ruins one of Orko’s magic tricks, while Man-at-Arms demonstrates his new weather control system. Naturally enough, the weather control system doesn’t work, but Man-at-Arms manages to cover his ineptitude by blaming the Spellstone.

Adam takes this as his cue to transform into He-Man, which he has been doing with very little provocation in the last few episodes. He collects his least useful companions – Ram-Man and Stratos – and heads off to confront Skeletor in the Temple. When they get there, He-Man is actually knocked over by one of Skeletor’s robots, which I think must be a one-time-only occurrence for the series.

Spellstone 1

In the meantime, a crowd has gathered to watch Man-at-Arms and Teela occupy themselves fighting fires that have been caused by the Spellstone’s lightning storm. Evil-Lyn has disguised herself as an old crone and hangs out in the crowd, spreading discontent. She persuades the villagers that King Randor and Man-at-Arms are to blame for the fires, having incurred the wrath of the Elders of Eternia.

Evil-Lyn urges the villagers to use what I assume to be a very fast-growing plant called the Creeping Horrock on the Palace. Apparently, the Horrock was used in former times to punish criminals; now its purpose appears to be chasing people through the Palace corridors. Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, and the King and Queen hole up in a room and spend the rest of the episode trying to get out.

Spellstone 2

Back at the Temple, He-Man and his gang spend a fair bit of screen time destroying multitudes of Skeletor’s stupid robots, before getting down to the serious business of falling down a trapdoor into a pit, which Skeletor then proceeds to fill with water. It doesn’t seem to occur to Stratos that he could fly out of this trap, but fortunately they are released by a contingent of Fire People. The Fire People accuse our heroes of stealing the Spellstone and won’t listen to reason, prompting a bit of a barney, which is all resolved when He-Man saves the Fire People’s boss from a big red monster.

And so to the final confrontation. He-Man and his crew return to the Palace, where they find Skeletor, Evil-Lyn and Trapjaw idling about insulting the villagers. Evil-Lyn uses the Spellstone to create a hurricane to send our heroes flying, at which point the villagers decide the whole thing is their fault, which it definitely isn’t. At any rate, they grab the Spellstone and give it to He-Man, who uses it to stop the Creeping Horrock. As usual, the baddies hightail it back to Snake Mountain. And that puts an end to that.

Spellstone 3

 

In today’s adventure …

Man-at-Arms talks very seriously to us about considering the possible implications of any practical jokes you may have in mind. If you’re not careful, you could lose a finger, an arm, or even an eye. These are the only possibilities presented. It’s another of those moral lessons which is undeniably true, but utterly irrelevant to the drivel we’ve just watched. But thanks, Man-at-Arms.

 

Excuse given for Adam’s disappearance

Adam can barely wait this week to turn into He-Man, and just wanders off unobtrusively to do so. Nonetheless, I am surprised that while the King and Queen were being chased through the Palace by the Horrock, neither of them expressed the least bit of concern about Adam’s whereabouts.

Spellstone 4

Characters appearing

Lots of people put in an appearance today, including Prince Adam, He-Man, Cringer, Battle-Cat, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Trapjaw, Stratos, Ram-Man, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, some Fire People, and some villagers. They might have had names. I didn’t bother to listen if they did.

 

Insults

Rather surprisingly, Evil-Lyn has the temerity to call Skeletor a “blundering skull-face” when she discovers that He-Man has escaped the trapdoor and water scenario that Skeletor set up. In fact, Evil-Lyn’s got a bit of an attitude on her this week, going so far as to suggest that when their plot succeeds, she and Skeletor will rule Eternia jointly. Skeletor is oddly tolerant of her behaviour, leading me to wonder if there’s a bit of romance in the air.

 

Does it have the Power?

Yes, I suppose so. The Creeping Horrock bit is massively illogical (it used to be used to punish criminals, but the only way to stop it is with the Spellstone, which everyone thought was a myth?) and goes on far too long, but otherwise it’s an entertaining romp for all concerned. He-Man gets to show off how magnanimous he is by refusing to fight the Fire People, and it’s quite amusing when you consider the entire threat is ended simply by the expedient of having some nameless villager push Evil-Lyn over. In short, it’s a fun trip to Eternia, but nothing particularly special.

Episode 006 – Teela’s Quest

In which the writers make an unexpected attempt at deep and meaningful characterisation.

A rather surprising revelation greets us in the opening scene of this episode: Queen Marlena is actually from Earth. She was an astronaut whose ship got caught in a cosmic storm and was forced to crash land on Eternia. Though she misses Earth, she says she has come to think of Eternia as home. Teela comes prancing in and concludes that the Queen is amazing, so she goes off to ask Man-at-Arms about her own parents.

Teela Quest 1

Now, up to this point in the series, Teela has been referring to Man-at-Arms as “Father”. It thus gave me quite a surprise when Man-at-Arms began describing Teela’s father as one of the bravest men on Eternia. There’s nothing wrong with a little self-confidence, but this seemed extreme. All becomes clear a moment later though, when Man-at-Arms explains he adopted Teela. He also says that the identity of Teela’s mother is a secret, that one day Teela will learn.

Teela decides that today is that day, and resolves to ask the Oracle of the Crystal Sea who her mother was. Orko tries to dissuade her, warning her of the shadowbeasts and monsters that surround the Oracle’s cave, but Teela is dead set. Orko promises not to tell anyone where she’s going, then immediately goes and tells Adam, who feels that it’s time for He-Man to put in an appearance.

Teela Quest 2

Teela finds her way through the perils of the Crystal Sea without any help from He-Man. Reaching the Oracle’s cave, she finds a crystal ball, in which the head of an old man tells the story of Teela’s origins. When Man-at-Arms was young, but still had a predilection for really stupid helmets, he came across Mer-Man trying to capture Zoar, who is the Sorceress in eagle form. Zoar could easily have flown away, but in her nest was something she was trying to protect. Man-at-Arms and Zoar defeated Mer-Man, who swore revenge. And in the nest was –

Teela Quest 3

At this point, the Oracle senses evil and stops recounting the story, though I’m sure anyone with half a brain can work out what was in the nest. The evil in question turns out to be Mer-Man and a few weird sea creatures. Unfortunately, my dodgy eBay-bought DVD started stuttering at this juncture, and so whatever these great adversaries had to say to each other is lost to posterity.

Orko has floated off to Castle Grayskull to tell the Sorceress that Teela has gone to see the Oracle. This is fairly random behaviour, even for Orko, but it does help to keep the plot moving, so I suppose we can forgive it. The Sorceress transforms into Zoar and flies off to help.

In a scene clearly stolen from Greek mythology, Mer-Man has chained Teela up on a rock, and explains in his stupid blubbery voice that she will be sacrificed to Bakul, the mightiest of sea demons, and that Bakul will be under Mer-Man’s command once he has eaten Teela. Needless to say, this doesn’t happen. While Mer-Man does succeed in raising Bakul – who reminded me inexplicably of a giant red version of that cowardly tortoise thing from Disney’s Robin Hood – He-Man and Zoar show up at precisely the right moment to prevent things going any further.

Teela Quest 4

Back at the Oracle, Teela learns that yes, there was a baby in Zoar’s nest. For whatever demented reason, the Sorceress had decided that a nest at the top of a pinnacle of rock was a good place to raise a child, as opposed to Castle Grayskull. Again, my DVD stuttered, but the end result of this scene was Man-at-Arms carrying Teela off, promising to care for her till the end of his days. This tale gives me a lump in my throat.

Then comes a Reset Button worthy of Star Trek: Voyager. The Sorceress reveals that one day Teela will become the mystic guardian of Grayskull, but until that point, she must forget the entire story, and wipes her memory. And then they all go home.

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela gives a quite sane little lecture on parenthood, explaining that no matter who your biological parents are, it’s those who love, protect and care for you that can be called Mother and Father. It’s actually quite sensitive and intelligent, and moreover actually ties into the theme of the episode.

 

Characters appearing

This week features Prince Adam, He-Man, Cringer, Battle-Cat, the Sorceress, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Skeletor, Mer-Man, Queen Marlena, Orko, the Oracle, and Bakul the big red demon.

 

Insults

He-Man interrupts an important demon-raising ceremony in order to call Mer-Man “Fish-face”.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance:

I may have to retire this section if people don’t start giving stupid excuses soon. Once again, no one even tries to explain.

 

Egg on your face?

No, none of this either. In fact, from next week, this section is only going to appear if I have something relevant to say in it.

Teela Quest 5

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s a valiant attempt to give some back story to these characters, but to be honest, the problem is that I don’t watch He-Man for its depth of characterisation. I watch it to see Skeletor get his ass whooped good. That doesn’t happen this week, what with Skeletor only appearing briefly to have a chat with Mer-Man. I didn’t mind the bit at the beginning where we learn about Marlena’s past, but the whole thing with Teela, Man-at-Arms and the Sorceress just seems pointless, especially since Teela doesn’t even remember it, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be relevant again. In addition, Bakul’s brief appearance is blatantly only here to give He-Man something to do while Teela messes about with the Oracle. Bottom line is, if you’re watching He-Man for a good fun Saturday morning cartoon, then this one’s not for you. If, on the other hand, you’re being a bit more obsessive about it and want to know character background, then this is probably the best the series has to offer.

Episode 005 – She-Demon of Phantos

In which Stratos appears, but doesn’t say a word or contribute anything.

This week, we catch up with Prince Adam and Man-at-Arms on the moon of Phantos, where they have come to visit Queen Elmora and buy some photanium, which is used for making weapons and shields. Adam notices that Elmora seems miserable, but Man-at-Arms doesn’t give a monkeys, and insists they return to Eternia. After they leave the room, a curtain pulls back to reveal Skeletor and Mer-Man, as well as some presumably evil dude with spikes on his head and a weird arm, who we later learn goes by the name of Strong Arm.

She Demon 1

Skeletor helpfully explains that Adam’s shipment of photanium is worthless metal, and that the real photanium will be coming to Snake Mountain. Elmora demands that now she has co-operated, Skeletor should release his prisoners. Skeletor being Skeletor, of course, he doesn’t, instead choosing to cast a spell to make Elmora really old and bent to Skeletor’s will.

Back on Eternia, Man-at-Arms has made weapons out of the worthless metal, and they keep breaking. No one is cruel enough to suggest that maybe Man-at-Arms is just rubbish at making weapons, and instead wonder if maybe Elmora has cheated them. Adam, Man-at-Arms and Cringer pop off to Castle Grayskull, where the Sorceress confirms that Skeletor has forced Elmora into an alliance. This revelation prompts a speedy He-Man transformation.

She Demon 2

At the Palace, Man-at-Arms tells Teela she can’t come to Phantos, even though there appears to be space on this jaunt for the ever-useless Stratos and some unfamiliar green lunatic who’s so non-descript he only gets two lines and a rubbish name. Cut to the quick by this insult, Teela tags along anyway, undetected.

As our heroes troll across a plain on Phantos, they are cheerily greeted by a vision of the aged Elmora. He-Man helps the situation by tactfully not recognising her, though I suppose it doesn’t help that she’s talking in Evil-Lyn’s voice. This is probably why Evil-Lyn didn’t appear in this episode. Anyway, the discussion doesn’t go well, and Elmora kidnaps Battle-Cat and Stratos, and might well have done more if Teela didn’t intervene, earning herself a telling off from Man-at-Arms and a sleazy thank you from He-Man.

It’s now time to break into Elmora’s castle. He-Man decides that this must be done through the photanium refinery, and furthermore they must go in disguise. Since the refinery workers wear grey jumpsuits, He-Man and his friends decide that half a jumpsuit each will be sufficient. And thus it proves, since they only manage to move halfway across a room before discarding the disguises in favour of having a tussle with Mer-Man and Strong Arm. It transpires in this scene that Strong Arm’s arm can be extended to quite surprising lengths, a la Inspector Gadget.

She Demon 3

Rather surprisingly, Strong Arm’s crazy arm ability proves to be an advantage in this fight, and he actually manages to shut He-Man inside a coffin thing. This explains why we never see Strong Arm again. Skeletor must have fired him after this episode for being dangerously competent. What is slightly odder is that after capturing He-Man, Strong Arm and Mer-Man run away from Man-at-Arms, Teela and the green dude. Fortunately, He-Man breaks out of the coffin in very little time, as I think we all knew he would.

The next scene gives us an explanation of who the green fellow is – he’s called Lizard Man, and based on his characteristics, I think I could have come up with that name myself. He-Man rids himself of Lizard Man and Man-at-Arms at this juncture, telling them to go away and find Battle-Cat and Stratos, and not to disturb him while he and Teela break into Elmora’s chambers.

Meanwhile, Queen Elmora amuses herself by filling up episode run time with flashbacks about how she used to chain He-Man up and he’d break out, in happy carefree days before that brazen hussy Teela came into He-Man’s life and created so much tension. Though that may just be my interpretation. Anyway, thinking about these happy memories gives Elmora sufficient willpower to knock Mer-Man and Strong Arm out. This displeases Skeletor to such an extent that he casts another spell on Elmora, which has the effect that every time she sees He-Man, she will see him as Skeletor.

Now, this is a clever spell, and it does have the intended effect. When He-Man comes sauntering in, Elmora does indeed see him as Skeletor. The lapse in logic is only too apparent though – Skeletor told Elmora precisely what he was going to do, so at the very least Elmora ought to be thinking, “Now hang on, is this actually Skeletor?” Things only get more confusing when the real Skeletor appears, claiming He-Man is Skeletor, though he rather gives the game away by engaging in dialogue which immediately reveals that he’s the baddy. Still Elmora doesn’t grasp the obvious and opts to chain both He-Man and Skeletor up. Once He-Man breaks out, Elmora is able to conclude who the real enemy is. I feel it would have been easier if He-Man had simply punched Skeletor.

She Demon 4

He-Man tells Skeletor to release Elmora from the spell, or he’ll stay chained up for ever. Skeletor isn’t fond of this proposal and complies, after which He-Man releases him. Skeletor promptly teleports away, leaving Strong Arm and Mer-Man to run off. The episode ends with Prince Adam telling Teela that he’s tasted her potatoes before. And yes, that is out of context.

 

In today’s adventure …

He-Man goes completely bat-shit this week, explaining that if viewers are driving a car, they have to consider safety. Well, yes, but since the intended viewers are 4 years old, they also have to consider other matters. If the writer had stopped to think about it for more than a nanosecond, he’d have found that the obvious moral is Teela disobeying Man-at-Arms’ orders, which could have been tied in with safety if necessary. They could also have done something about not always believing your eyes, as Elmora found out in that lengthy bit with the double Skeletors. But no, it’s driving cars. For God’s sake.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance:

No one thinks it’s worth explaining on this occasion. Though to be honest, I think we need an excuse for Stratos’ appearance. He doesn’t say anything or do anything. He’s useless.

 

Characters appearing:

This week features Prince Adam, He-Man, Skeletor, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Cringer, Battle-Cat, the Sorceress, Mer-Man, Strong Arm, Queen Elmora, as well as some factory workers and slave drivers. It also features Stratos and Lizard Man, but as I believe I’ve alluded to before, it doesn’t really need to.

She Demon 5

 

Insults:

Thanks to Beast Man being absent from the episode, we also have an absence of insults.

 

Egg on your face?

Yup, none of this either. Orko barely features, so there’s no hilarious magic tricks.

 

Does it have the Power?

Well, it’s not the best, though it’s not awful. I get the feeling someone really liked the phrase “She-Demon”, and shoehorned it into a title, since it’s not enormously relevant – He-Man tries to make out that Elmora is a demon, but she blatantly isn’t. There’s an overabundance of characters – Lizard Man and Stratos are incredibly superfluous – and Skeletor unfolds his plan, such as it is, at a glacial pace. The scene at the end with Elmora not being able to tell whether He-Man is Skeletor or not got old pretty quickly. So actually, forget what I said about it not being awful. It is.

Episode 004 – Diamond Ray of Disappearance

In which He-Man gives Teela and Trapjaw a hand.

This week we come to Diamond Ray of Disappearance, which I believe was the first He-Man episode ever made. This may explain why the episode opens with Skeletor reciting the names of his cronies (Beast-Man, Evil-Lyn, Mer-Man, Tri-Klops and Trapjaw) as if he was reading from an Argos catalogue, in a non-too-subtle way of a) letting the viewers know who these characters are, and b) showing us precisely which action figures we should be buying down at Toys R Us.

Once his band of fools have assembled, Skeletor informs them that he now has the means to crush He-Man once and for all. Mer-Man speaks for all of us when he says that this statement has been made before, but Skeletor explains that he now possesses the Diamond Ray of Disappearance. The effects of this little toy are no doubt evident to you from its name, but in case you’re unsure, Skeletor demonstrates its power on a little red reptile. When the reptile sees the Diamond, it is banished into another dimension. I am absolutely certain that this fate also awaits He-Man.

Diamond Ray 1

We cut to the Palace, where Trapjaw is flying around on a stupid machine, shooting energy bolts and laughing in a way that suggests total mental collapse. Teela and her guards fly off to deal with Trapjaw, while Prince Adam and Cringer absent themselves to transform into He-Man and Battle-Cat. Once transformed, He-Man heads off to give Teela a hand, as he puts it, in a rather gleeful tone that implies it’s an innuendo. At any rate, the next scene sees him offering to give Trapjaw a hand, which I’m pretty sure isn’t an innuendo, just plain out-and-out sarcasm. Naturally, the encounter goes badly for Trapjaw, and He-Man and Teela head back to the Palace.

Diamond Ray 2

Unfortunately, they’re too late! Man-at-Arms, Orko, and the King and Queen are hanging out doing nothing useful, when the Sorceress shows up in eagle form to let them know Skeletor is in the Palace. If she had been a bit quicker, this might have been useful information, but as it is, it’s a waste of time. Skeletor finds his way to the throne room and makes everyone disappear, except Orko, who has his head in a golden pot for reasons which are frankly too complex to go into here.

Diamond Ray 4

Following this victory, Skeletor and his entourage head for Castle Grayskull, but He-Man has naturally made his way there too. He uses a mirror to communicate with the Sorceress, and it’s quite funny to watch He-Man shouting at his own reflection, asking what to do. Nonetheless, he gets the information he needs – all he has to do is destroy the Diamond, and everyone will be restored. With this knowledge, he decides it’s time to “arrange a little welcoming party” for Skeletor.

Diamond Ray 3

As welcoming parties go, it’s not a very subtle one. Skeletor and co. are outside, pulling the drawbridge open with a rope. When they manage it, the welcoming party consists of He-Man and Battle-Cat sitting inside, and they ride out to attack. The baddies make the traditional mistake of attacking He-Man one at a time (not that it would make a whole lot of difference if they all attacked at once), and are swiftly dispatched. Unnecessary help for He-Man comes in the form of Teela, Orko, Stratos and the rather exciting Ram-Man, whose special ability is to bounce.

This sequence is probably one of the longest pitched battle sequences we see in He-Man, and while it’s nothing on Helm’s Deep, it’s still pretty exciting. Still, all good things come to an end. He-Man uses dodgy physics to make Skeletor drop the Diamond, which promptly falls into a crack in the ground. The baddies flee, while He-Man reaches down the chasm to retrieve the Diamond. He works hard to crush it between his hands, which eventually he is able to achieve thanks to the inspirational backing track chanting, “He-Man! He-Man! He-Man!” over and over. This results in the safe return of Man-at-Arms, the Sorceress, and the King and Queen. Praise be to God. The King addresses He-Man, saying, “You have saved Eternia,” and the Queen adds, “And us.” Man-at-Arms at this point rather inexplicably winks at the camera, as if he’s planning on somehow taking credit for He-Man’s achievements.

Diamond Ray 5

We close with a completely insane scene back at the Palace. King Randor complains that Prince Adam is late, and Teela announces that she has good news and better news: Adam is on his way, and he’s found the King’s lost Zoom Chariot. There’s also, unfortunately, a little bit of bad news: he’s broken the directional control. At this point, Adam drives the vehicle through the wall of the Palace, thus demonstrating the afore-made statement. King Randor says, in a quite interesting tone, “Adam! You’ve destroyed the wall.” He doesn’t say it crossly; he just says it as if he’s imparting some mildly interesting information, as if Adam might not have noticed that he just flew a rather unwieldy vehicle through a solid brick wall. Orko then chimes in with the punchline, “But at least he’s destroyed it on time!”

Now then, this bears discussion. Firstly, of course, Adam isn’t destroying the wall on time, because the wall wasn’t scheduled to be destroyed at all. Secondly, if the wall were scheduled to be destroyed, and if Adam destroyed it at this point in time, it still wouldn’t have been destroyed on time, because – as we will recall – King Randor was mere seconds ago complaining about Adam being late. So, if you actually stop to think about it, this whole thing doesn’t make any sense. Neither, admittedly, does the episode in general, so perhaps we’ll leave it there.

 

In today’s adventure …

He-Man takes time out from his busy schedule to inform viewers that taking shortcuts is not the best way to get what you want: you have to work for things. This is only tenuously linked to the episode, though it has to be said there wasn’t a more immediately obvious moral to be seen in this story.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance:

As he sidles out of the throne room to transform, Adam says, “Come on, Cringer, this is no place for us.” This prompts King Randor to make a sorrowful remark about how rubbish Adam is. The damaged father-son relationship between Randor and Adam is one of the best things about this cartoon, and it’s nice to see it already in situ here.

 

Insults

For the first time, someone other than Beast-Man gets insulted, as Skeletor refers to Trapjaw as a “clumsy clown”. However, he only says this behind Trapjaw’s back. On more familiar territory, Beast-Man is once again called “Furface” by Skeletor, less than 20 seconds into the episode

 

Characters featured

Lots of individuals this week, including Prince Adam, He-Man, Cringer, Battle-Cat, the Sorceress, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Trapjaw, Tri-Klops, Panthor, Evil-Lyn, Mer-Man, and a little red lizard. Probably a record, actually.

 

Egg on your face?

Three eggs for Man-at-Arms this week, courtesy of another of Orko’s magic tricks. It’s surprising how this joke just doesn’t get old.

Diamond Ray 6

Does it have the Power?

Of course it does. It’s got everything you might want from a He-Man episode – a ludicrous plot from Skeletor, an all-out assault on Castle Grayskull, pointless appearances from Ram-Man and Stratos, and not too much screen time for Orko. If ever anyone asked you, “What’s He-Man all about?” – unlikely a question as that is – you could do a lot worse than pointing them to this episode.

Episode 003 – Disappearing Act

In which Orko first demonstrates his ability to hash things up.

This week, we open with possibly one of Skeletor’s most dastardly plans – he forces a volcano to erupt, which he expects will devastate the Eternian Plains and make everyone flee. Once everyone flees, Skeletor will make his move on Castle Grayskull. Clever, eh? A flawless plan, in fact, except for one factor – He-Man, who is immediately on hand to stop the eruption by shooting the volcano. This upsets Skeletor so much that he decides it’s time to use the Invisibility Helmet he just happens to have lying around.

In the meantime, we are treated to an extended vignette in which Orko is trying to clean his room by magic. Naturally, this goes wrong and the end result is that he makes Prince Adam’s magic sword vanish. This is bad news – without his sword, how will Adam ever become He-Man again? The situation becomes even more dire when Man-at-Arms arrives and says Skeletor’s Doom Buster is in the woods, meaning Skeletor himself must be nearby.

Disappearing Act 1

And so it proves. Skeletor is nearby. He’s also invisible. Despite being invisible, he’s hiding behind a curtain, which is considerate of him, because it means Adam and Orko can see him when he moves. There is a very short one-sided confrontation, in which Skeletor freezes Adam and Orko, takes Adam to the Banshee Jungle, and informs Orko that if our heroes want Adam back, they’ll have to send He-Man to collect him. This seems like a bad idea, since as far as Skeletor knows, the likely outcome here is that He-Man will indeed show up, punch Skeletor, rescue Adam, and that’ll be the end of it. But advance planning has never really been Skeletor’s strength.

Man-at-Arms, Orko and Cringer consult the Sorceress, and learn that the sword has been transported back in time. Orko and Cringer are dispatched to the past to get the sword back, and it doesn’t take them long to discover that Adam’s sword is now in the possession of a distinctly dangerous looking large fellow, who seems to be using it to trim his fingernails. Despite attracting the attention of a huge collection of odd creatures, Orko and Cringer surprisingly competently retrieve the sword and return to the present.

Disappearing Act 4

Adam, in a cage in the Banshee Jungle, uses a plot device called a “bleeper” (possibly the least imaginative name for a machine in any animation ever) to attract the attention of his mate Stratos and also – less welcome – a horde of wolfbats. Once the wolfbats are dealt with, Adam tells Stratos to go away and find Man-at-Arms, who has been set to work building a remote-control He-Man. As soon as Stratos finds Man-at-Arms, he is told to go away and find Teela. I get the impression that no one really wants Stratos around.

Disappearing Act 2

Man-at-Arms, Orko and Cringer take the sword to Adam’s cage. Instead of passing it through the bars to him, they helpfully place it just out of reach outside the cage. Once Adam points out he can’t reach it, Orko passes it through the bars like he should have done all along, and Adam congratulates him on righting his initial mistake. Yeah, well done, Orko. Anyway, once he’s in possession of the sword, Adam becomes He-Man and heads off to dole out some justice.

Disappearing Act 5

In the meantime, the remote control He-Man has been leading Skeletor on a merry dance through the jungle, but this comes to a sorry end when the fake He-Man’s face falls off. Even Skeletor is not fooled following this. The whole sorry saga comes to a satisfying end when He-Man literally huffs and puffs and blows Skeletor and Beast-Man down. Beast-Man is captured and Man-at-Arms claims he’ll be taken to a prison mine, which sounds excitingly like slave labour and calls to mind the possibility of war crimes. Skeletor, on the other hand, does a perfect forward roll, but this doesn’t deter He-Man, who somehow contrives to get those beastly wolfbats from earlier to chase Skeletor away. Beast-Man seems to find this rather funny, or as funny as someone who’s about to be taken away to a life of hard labour can find anything.

Disappearing Act 3

 

In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms explains that He-Man used his brain to beat Skeletor, which is better than using his muscles. It’s a fair point, but one which applies to any number of stories. A more appropriate moral would be that Orko tried to take a shortcut to tidying his room, and look how that worked out. We could have learned that if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly. But thanks to Man-at-Arms choosing an irrelevant moral, I never learned that important lesson. And now just look at me. I might sue Man-at-Arms.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

It would be bizarre if anyone offered one this week, given the whole point of the episode was that he didn’t disappear.

 

Characters featured

A new section here, requested by the good folks of He-Man.org. This episode features, in no particular order, Prince Adam, He-Man, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Stratos, the Sorceress, Teela, some farmers, and a selection of monsters from Eternia’s dim and distant past.

 

Insults

Yet another rough ride for Beast-Man, who is called “Furface” and “Fool”, both by Skeletor. What’s more, in neither case did it seem particularly deserved.

Disappearing Act 6

 

Does it have the Power?

Yes, definitely. It’s a clever storyline, presenting a rather interesting dilemma – what if it’s literally impossible to do what needs to be done? Admittedly, the solution offered seems to be to go back in time and get your sword back from a giant, but there’s a limit to how these episodes relate to real life. Anyway, we are given three separate storylines running at the same time, giving each of our heroes something to do, and Skeletor and Beast-Man are entertainingly threatening. And when He-Man eventually does appear, it’s with a sense that in this case, it’s well-earned. Plus there’s that great bit at the start where we learn you can stop volcanoes erupting by shooting them with big-ass lasers. What’s not to like?

Episode 002 – The Shaping Staff

In which Evil-Lyn and Beast-Man turn King Randor into a goat.

This week, we open with He-Man doing some training by fighting some odd monsters. Afterwards, he comments to Man-at-Arms that Prince Adam will be late for dinner unless He-Man hurries. Man-at-Arms acknowledges the point, says, “I’ll see you there,” and helpfully drives off without offering He-Man a lift. Sure enough, we then cut to the Palace, where King Randor, Queen Marlena, Man-at-Arms and Teela are round the dinner table, being “entertained” by Orko’s magic. Prince Adam blunders in, runs directly into the only bit of furniture in an otherwise empty room, and falls over. All the assembled company then tell Adam he’s always too busy having fun, while he apologises over and over.

Shaping Staff 1

The Adam-baiting session is interrupted by the magical appearance of Majestra, a sultry sorceress who claims to wish to entertain the gathering with wondrous illusions. The gathering is entranced by her magic, which is admittedly better than Orko’s but is still pretty boring. However, the action heats up when Majestra introduces the Cabinet of Wonders, into which King Randor eagerly gets. The door is closed, and when it reopens, Randor is gone! Judging by the horrified expressions on everyone’s faces, you’d think they didn’t live in a world in which teleportation is normal – indeed, you’d think that they hadn’t seen Majestra teleport into this very room about 2.5 seconds ago.

But never fear, the Cabinet is closed and opened again, and Randor returns. He starts stuffing his face with chicken, and invites Majestra to remain in the Palace a little longer. He escorts Majestra to her room, in the course of which Majestra calls Randor a fool and says he nearly ruined everything, and Randor responds that no one suspects. Unfortunately for them, Orko has overheard this conversation. Fortunately for them, Orko’s only conclusion is that “There’s something funny going on around here”, which is perhaps a little bit of an understatement.

Viewers whose brains are bursting trying to solve this puzzle need wait no longer, since the very next scene reveals that Majestra is really Evil-Lyn! Shocked? I was. Her Cabinet of Wonders has in fact teleported King Randor into a dungeon, and replaced him with Beast-Man, who has been somehow disguised as Randor using a plot device called the Shaping Staff. After explaining the plot, Evil-Lyn transforms Randor into a goat. Orko, who has been listening in, is detected and turned into a cricket, though eagle-eyed viewers like myself will note that Orko in cricket form still looks like Orko, just a bit smaller and possessing legs.

Shaping Staff 2

The disguised Beast-Man and Evil-Lyn now tell Prince Adam and Man-at-Arms that in the morning, the Eternian Palace guards will be marching on Castle Grayskull to conquer it. Adam is suspicious, leading Evil-Lyn to decide to deal with him in the morning. This delay proves her undoing, since not unnaturally, Orko the cricket finds his way to Prince Adam’s bedroom and spills the beans. This scene is particularly pleasing because it reveals that Prince Adam’s pyjamas involve a short white skirt.

To help the animators out, Adam opts to get dressed into his normal white shirt and pink waistcoat thing before turning into He-Man. And just in the nick of time too, as Evil-Lyn and Beast-Man arrive to do whatever they were planning on doing with Adam. In the ensuing battle, Evil-Lyn manages to turn Teela into a frog – prompting the most hilarious close-up of He-Man’s face ever – and transforms He-Man into a golden statue, which is a pretty damn disturbing turn of events, if you ask me. All appears to be going Evil-Lyn’s way, even giving her the confidence to address Battle-Cat and Man-at-Arms thus: “You two are not worth bothering about.” This turns out to be true.

Shaping Staff 3

Over at Castle Grayskull, Skeletor is waiting for Evil-Lyn and Beast-Man to show up. To entertain himself, he announces that he will create an evil version of He-Man, which he does out of thin air. If Skeletor has such powers, one wonders why he and his team need the Shaping Staff at all. Anyway, Skeletor’s evil He-Man (called Faker) is a perfect copy, except he has glowing white eyes. While this isn’t ideal, it is better than the action figure version of Faker, which had blue skin. Not even Man-at-Arms is stupid enough to overlook that.

Anyway, Faker lures the Sorceress outside Castle Grayskull, where Evil-Lyn turns her into a tree (albeit a tree with the Sorceress’s head, which isn’t weird at all). Luckily, even when he’s a golden statue, He-Man is still able to communicate with the Sorceress telepathically. He helpfully suggests that she try to break the tree spell, which seems not to have occurred to her. Once the Sorceress returns herself to her normal form, with apparently minimal effort, she restores He-Man to normal, whose first priority is to throw Faker into a bottomless gorge.

Shaping Staff 4

Skeletor gets involved again, but is interrupted by the arrival of millions of Man-at-Arms clones, who I expect are the Palace guards, and from here on in it all goes tits up for Skeletor, Evil-Lyn and Beast-Man. Skeletor does get the chance to execute a perfect forward roll, though I’m not sure why he does it, but in doing so he drops the Shaping Staff. This proves to be a mistake, since He-Man simply breaks the Staff in half, restoring King Randor, Teela and Orko to normal. There is an argument that the show would have been better without at least one of these individuals, but I digress. Skeletor claims that he will restore Faker from the bottomless gorge, but I can only assume he doesn’t, because he’s never seen again. Then he trots off back to Snake Mountain, and our heroes go back to the Palace. Hurrah!

 

In today’s adventure…

Orko delivers a solemn little lecture on how dangerous strangers – in this case, sultry evil sorceresses like Majestra – can be. He reassures viewers that strangers are unlikely to turn them into animals, but curiously doesn’t go into what the dangers posed by strangers are, instead contenting himself with advising us to just float away. I wish Orko had been abducted by a stranger at this point in the series. It would have spared us so much future pain.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

No one bothers to give an excuse this week, though at the end Teela does start haranguing Adam for never being around when he’s needed. I’ve never understood why they didn’t just tell Teela about the He-Man/Prince Adam situation. If a numbskull like Orko can be trusted with this information, I really don’t see why she can’t.

 

Insults

“Fool!” – Evil-Lyn to Beast-Man, while they are disguised as Majestra and King Randor. It’s barely even worth reporting.

 

Egg on your face?

This week Cringer is the lucky recipient of an egg in his face, dropped during the hilarious failure of Orko’s magic trick.

Shaping Staff 5 

 

Does it have the Power?

Well, it’s definitely a step up from The Cosmic Comet, but let’s be honest, that’s not too challenging. These early episodes of He-Man are actually rather interesting (relatively speaking) in that Skeletor and his cronies are presented as credible adversaries, rather than the clowns they would quickly become. As such, there’s not so much ludicrousness as we would later become accustomed to, and consequently these episodes are much less amusing. Still, it’s quite a fun episode, especially when Skeletor rolls out his rubbish fake version of He-Man. It’s worth a watch.