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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.