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.

 

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2 thoughts on “Episode 002 – The Shaping Staff

  1. You see, I wonder why exactly Adam needs to hide his identity? Clark Kent wants to lead a normal life, hence his alter ego. Prince Adam demonstrably is not trying to lead a normal life even by Eternias standards.

    Bruce Wayne craves privacy to brood and be moody. As far as I know, Adam/He-Man does not have a single moment of introspection.

    If his disguise is intended to hide him from his enemies it is not a good one because they find him every single week.

    And besides, he always wins – why does he not just say “Yeah I’m He-Man so back off Skeletor – I’m eating brunch.”

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    1. I too am unsure why Adam can’t just announce that he is He-Man. I have wondered if perhaps there’s a time limit on how long he can remain He-Man, and then he has to re-charge or something, but having watched all 130 episodes in the last 6 months, I can categorically state that that doesn’t seem to be the case.

      On the other hand, there are quite a few (pretty good) episodes where he has a degree of introspection, including Prince Adam No More (a complete misnomer), and Into the Abyss, the latter of which especially pushed the boundaries for a Saturday morning cartoon.

      Unfortunately, it’s Episode number 83 or something like that, so you won’t get to read my review of it until September or thereabouts, at my current posting pace.

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