Episode 015 – A Beastly Sideshow

In which Skeletor sneezes his way to defeat.

It’s carnival day in Eternia! A gentleman with a distinctly evil face wheels a vast array of monsters in cages into the the Palace. Hands up who guessed in advance that this gentleman is in fact Beast-Man in disguise. Well done, you all get 10 bonus He-Man points. Anyway, in one of the cages is a giant white female cat, who catches Cringer’s attention. Just in case we hadn’t grasped where this is going, Skeletor quickly gets on the videophone to tell Beast-Man to capture Cringer in order to lure in Prince Adam, and use the captured Prince Adam to lure in He-Man. This of course worked out very well in Disappearing Act, so why not do it again?

Beastly Sideshow 1

At show time, Beast-Man introduces the white cat as Pretty Kitty, and arranges for Cringer to go up to her and make stupid faces. That night, as Adam lies peacefully sleeping, Pretty Kitty comes to the window and lures Cringer out. She leads him straight to her cage, which Cringer enters on Beast-Man’s suggestion, despite this suggestion being followed with a chuckle that anyone in their right mind would interpret as somewhere between ominous and outright psychopathic.

Beastly Sideshow 2

In the morning, Adam receives a note from Skeletor, inviting him to come to Snake Mountain to retrieve Cringer. Brightly, Man-at-Arms deduces that this is a trap. Well, of course it’s a trap, you doughnut. Skeletor clearly isn’t in the business of taking Cringer to Snake Mountain just so Adam can bring him back. Adam decides to cut right to the point, and transforms into He-Man.

The burglar alarm goes off at Snake Mountain, alerting Skeletor, Beast-Man and Evil-Lyn to He-Man’s presence. Cringer is in a glass case on a cliff edge, and the plan is simple in that He-Man will see Cringer, walk towards him, and fall into a pit containing Octobeast.  Naturally, it doesn’t work out that way; Cringer topples himself over the cliff and He-Man catches him. He then turns Cringer into Battle-Cat, and they go off to inflict some violence on Skeletor.

Beastly Sideshow 3

In the meantime, Teela has come to Snake Mountain to help. In fact, she does anything but, instead getting captured by Octobeast and used as bait. And so begins a delightful romp for He-Man as he trolls through Snake Mountain, defeating Beast-Man and Evil-Lyn in amusing ways, and spouting stupid comments that are only peripherally related to the events in question.

Finally, He-Man makes his way to Skeletor’s throne room, which Skeletor swiftly transforms into a Hall of Mirrors in order to evade He-Man. For added drama, he also arranges for the walls to close in on He-Man. Fortunately, He-Man is able to detect the real Skeletor by throwing pepper at the mirrors, which rather oddly take it in turns to sneeze until only the real Skeletor is left. Skeletor legs it, leaving it to He-Man to rescue Teela.

Beastly Sideshow 4

 

In today’s adventure …

He-Man takes a moment to discuss courage with us. He glosses over the aspect of courage which is being brave in the face of danger, and is far more interested in us being able to say no when our friends are doing something wrong. All well and good, and vaguely connected to the episode (Cringer toppling himself off the cliff was described as brave), but more relevant perhaps would be stranger danger? Cringer was lured away by a stranger, for goodness sake. What’s more, I’ll bet that stranger danger does come up in a later episode that has nothing to do with it.

 

Characters appearing

Today features Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Evil-Lyn and Pretty Kitty. And Octobeast, if he counts.

Beastly Sideshow 5

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Orko tells Teela that Adam has gone to rescue Cringer from Snake Mountain, which isn’t enormously far from the truth. As they leave Snake Mountain, He-Man tells Teela that he will arrange for Adam and Cringer to get back to the Palace safely. Both of these statements are more evasive than outright excuses, but I’m sure you were dead keen for me to report them nonetheless.

 

Insults

Beast-Man continues his trend as most abused character in fiction, receiving a “Fur-brain”, a “Fur-face” and a “fleabag” from Skeletor. Teela joins in to call him an “overgrown chimp” and Evil-Lyn gets in on the act with “fur-brained fool”.

Moving onto other characters, Teela calls Evil-Lyn a “witch”, which is plainly intended as an insult, though Evil-Lyn takes it as a compliment. Shortly thereafter, Evil-Lyn struggles to find words for Battle-Cat more insulting than “big cat”, though the sentiment is there.

Beastly Sideshow 6.jpg

Does it have the Power?

There’s little more entertaining than watching He-Man organising a team away day to Snake Mountain to basically trash the place, and this episode doesn’t disappoint. The entire second half is devoted to this goal, and it’s glorious fun. On the other hand, the first half, dealing with the carnival and the mysterious Pretty Kitty – who disappears from the story about 5 minutes in – had a lot of potential for an interesting and unusual story, so perhaps it’s a shame this was dispensed with so quickly. Still, I’ll give this episode a good thumbs-up.

Advertisements

Episode 014 – Colossor Awakes

In which the Sorceress is even less helpful than usual.

We are treated to a brief introductory scene at Snake Mountain, where Skeletor reveals his new invention, the Energiser, and crows that this will help him to rule Eternia. Skeletor is evidently not a fan of the Smiths, especially the track “Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.” Anyway, he then takes his Energiser to the Palace, where he rather pleasingly shoots Man-at-Arms with it and turns him to stone. This is also the fate of two Palace guards, but notably no one cares about them.

Colossor 1

Naturally, He-Man enters at this juncture, and so do Stratos and Ram-Man, which I think we’ll all agree is not so exciting. Skeletor now starts shooting at all the statues in the Palace, bringing them to life. I’m going to be honest here: I’ve never spotted any statues in the Palace in the series up to this point, and I’ll be mightily surprised if I ever see any again. Unexpectedly, it’s Ram-Man, Stratos and Orko who actually defeat all these living statues, while He-Man and Teela simply go for a flight in a silly machine that promptly gets shot by Skeletor.

Queen Marlena asserts that Man-at-Arms’ stone condition will be made permanent at sundown, so He-Man heads to Castle Grayskull to ask advice, but all the Sorceress can do is make pointlessly enigmatic statements like, “This menace is larger than you know. You will walk through fire, He-Man.” In complete fairness, she also tells him to seek the Fire Jewels, but doesn’t offer any clue as to where or why. He-Man rather pointedly comments, “I will need help on this quest,” and walks out without saying thanks or goodbye.

Colossor 2

He-Man and Teela retrieve the Fire Jewels with minimal effort, and return to Castle Grayskull, where the Sorceress uses the jewels to create a device called a ray fuser. He-Man explains multiple times that the ray fuser will fuse Skeletor’s rays back into one, though it will have to come into contact with the rays. If this is done, our stone friends will return to life. This gibberish about fusing the rays made literally no sense to me, and it’s clear from Teela’s face that she doesn’t understand either. I fear He-Man has only a shaky grip on reality in this episode.

Colossor 3

Skeletor, Beast-Man and Panthor have meanwhile occupied themselves in returning to the Palace to turn Ram-Man, Orko and two more guards into stone. They then travel to an ancient city with the Energiser, where they use it to awaken a giant statue called Colossor. Colossor lumbers off to capture Castle Grayskull, where he encounters the Sorceress, Teela and Battle-Cat standing guard.

He-Man intercepts Skeletor’s Energiser and puts the ray fuser to good use, resulting in the happy restoration of Man-at-Arms, Ram-Man, Orko and the four Palace Guards. But there’s no time for celebration: everyone heads to Castle Grayskull so quickly that Man-at-Arms doesn’t even have to time to get into a vehicle, and instead Stratos carries him.

Colossor 4

Once there, He-Man punches Colossor, which is all that’s needed to finish this particular threat. Clearly, the script said at this point that all the heroes cheer, but the voice actors sound like they couldn’t be bothered: Man-at-Arms’ unenthusiastic “Yeah, all right, yes,” in particular needs improvement. The episode ends with Orko mistaking Man-at-Arms for Colossor, which is just plain weird.

 

In today’s adventure…

He-Man and Teela have a corny dialogue about how running in the forest makes one feel close to nature and is wonderful exercise, but that of course one should always check with the doctor before doing any heavy exercise. He-Man says he wishes he could tell this to everyone, and Teela replies, “I think we just did.” This is obviously based on the false premise that “everyone” is watching He-Man, which I feel confident in saying is not the case, certainly not today and I suspect not even in its heyday.

 

Characters appearing

Today, we are treated to an extensive cast including Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Ram-Man, Stratos, the Sorceress, Skeletor, Panthor, Beast-Man and Colossor, if you want to count him as a character. I don’t.

Colossor 6

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam turns into He-Man twice in this episode, and on both occasions he addresses Cringer to dispense pearls of wisdom such as “we’re needed,” and “I know of someone who can help us.” Strictly speaking, neither of these count as an excuse, and neither are they necessary, since no one’s paying any attention to Adam at these points, but still.

 

Insults

Beast-Man gets called a “Fur-brain” by Skeletor relatively early on. Since Beast-Man has just reiterated for the fifth time in 30 seconds that Man-at-Arms has been turned to stone – presumably for the benefit of really thick viewers – I felt some degree of sympathy for Skeletor. Skeletor also employs a number of variations on Beast-Man’s name during this episode, referring to him variously as “Beast” and “Beasty”, which probably count as insults. Finally, I’m almost certain Orko calls one of the living statues an “Apple-brain”, which admittedly doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.

 

Egg on your face?

It’s not an egg, but Orko reacts badly to losing at chess to Man-at-Arms, and responds quite maturely by emptying a cup of water over his head.

Colossor 5

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s a bit of a mess, this one. All the ingredients for a good episode are here, but they never seem to gel together. Colossor himself is entirely pointless: all he does is walk to Castle Grayskull and then get smashed (rather like He-Man on a Saturday night). The quest to gather the Fire Jewels begins and finishes so quickly it seems similarly pointless, and Skeletor spends too much time zipping between the Palace and the ancient city turning people into stone. Finally, He-Man’s ray fuser is just mental, beyond even the acceptable limits of insanity for this cartoon. I think we’ll rank this one towards the lower end of the scale.

Episode 013 – Like Father, Like Daughter

In which Skeletor contents himself with shouting insults from a video screen.

Skeletor is at perhaps his most confident ever in the opening of this episode: he says he actually hopes He-Man will try to stop him this time. I hope you’ll all join me in saying, “Be careful what you wish for, Skeletor.” Specifics at this stage remain vague, but it has something to do with an army that Trapjaw has allegedly gathered.

The Sorceress summons He-Man to Castle Grayskull to fill us in on a few more details, and also to give a spot of enigmatic advice. Apparently, Skeletor’s army is being assembled by Beast-Man and Trapjaw in an abandoned fortress in the region of Starjeeka, and also “things are not always as they seem.” Well, thanks a bundle, Sorceress. Armed with that precious morsel of info, He-Man’s bound to prevail.

Like Father 1

He-Man heads to the Palace, where he finds Man-at-Arms and Teela working on a new invention – a laser-based lasso. Teela wants to come to Starjeeka, but Man-at-Arms decides that the lasso is more important than a massive army threatening Eternia, and forbids her to come. Of course, Teela finishes the lasso in record quick time, and follows He-Man and Man-at-Arms.

Like Father 2

In the fortress at Starjeeka, it turns out that Trapjaw is literally assembling his army: he’s building some stupid mechanical things called Serpentoids. Skeletor has concocted a pretty half-baked plan: he asks Beast-Man to get a goofy red dragon to kidnap Man-at-Arms, so that He-Man will be lured in to rescue him. There was absolutely no need for this kidnap, since He-Man was already barrelling along like a bull in a china shop, but if it keeps Skeletor happy, I suppose it’s a good thing.

Once inside, He-Man and Battle-Cat proceed to turn about 100 million Serpentoids into scrap metal. This is by no means an unnecessarily long and not terribly interesting scene, which is only brought to an end by the arrival of Teela. She passes He-Man the laser lasso, which he uses to tie up the remaining Serpentoids.

Like Father 3

He-Man and Teela corner Beast-Man and Trapjaw in the factory, but Skeletor teleports them back to Snake Mountain before they can come to serious harm. Teela stops the production line of Serpentoids, He-Man sets off the factory’s self-destruct system, and Man-at-Arms is rescued. Back at the Palace, Teela starts bitching at Adam, who simply responds by quoting the Sorceress’s stupid advice from earlier, then sticking his front teeth out like a rabbit and winking at the camera. Which is nice.

Like Father 4

 

In today’s adventure …

Teela explains that if our parents tell us not to do something, it’s usually for a good reason. She illustrates this by informing us that she was wrong to head off to Starjeeka after Man-at-Arms told her not to. She is at least sufficiently rooted in reality to admit that the episode didn’t really demonstrate how this was a bad thing: she states that nothing happened, but adds in tones of dark foreboding, “something could have.”

The odd thing is that this moral could have been easily demonstrated in the episode: when she passes the laser lasso to He-Man, it briefly gets into Beast-Man’s grubby mitts first. If the writer had simply had Beast-Man use the lasso on Teela at this point (rather than using it on his own wrists like the giant furry idiot he is), the lesson could have been drilled into the viewer most effectively. Why, oh why, didn’t they employ me to write these things?

Like Father 6

 

Characters appearing

Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, the Sorceress, King Randor, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Trapjaw and Zooey Deschanel. Just seeing if you’re paying attention.

 

Excuse for Prince Adam’s disappearance

“I have an important appointment,” says Adam, as he sidles off. This is notable for being the first time in absolutely ages that any kind of excuse is offered, and it is accepted by all concerned.

 

Insults

Skeletor gets on the wireless to call Trapjaw and Beast-Man idiots when Teela uses her freeze ray on them, and similarly tells He-Man and Teela they are fools when they set off the self-destruct.

Like Father 5

 

Does it have the Power?

I did rather enjoy this one. It’s quite fun to see Skeletor taking a co-ordinating role; rather than being at the factory, he’s simply hanging out at Snake Mountain shouting instructions and insults down the video conference link. It reminds me of my old boss. Otherwise, there’s a slightly odd scene which comes across as Orko trying to seduce Teela, which is moderately disturbing, especially since the animators have chosen to give Teela heavy eye make-up as she casts sultry glances in Orko’s direction. The scene of He-Man and Battle-Cat fighting the Serpentoids is a bit tedious, though. In short, it’s not a classic, but it’s by no means bad.

Episode 012 – Evil-Lyn’s Plot

In which I attempt to come up with lots of rhymes for Widget, but give up after midget, fidget and ridget, the latter of which isn’t even a word.

I don’t often comment on the music in He-Man (it’s mostly all the same anyway) but this episode opens with the most sickeningly sweet symphony I’ve ever heard. This is supposed to illustrate the happy and good lifestyle of a bunch of midgets called Widgets including one called Squinch, who live in a fortress and are guarding something mysterious in their mines.

Evil-Lyn's Plot 1

On a ridget above the Widgets, Skeletor is plotting to break in and steal some corodite, which he will use to fashion a breastplate which naturally will help him destroy He-Man once and for all. He leads an all-out assault on the castle, at which point the Widgets send a signal to ask He-Man for help.

He-Man is hanging out in the wilderness looking for people to help, so it comes as a blessed relief to him to see the Widgets’ signal. He arrives just in time: Skeletor has breached the castle walls and is demanding corodite from the Widgets. Once Skeletor has been repelled, the Widgets tell He-Man that they mine corodite, but it’s too powerful for them to use, so they keep it hidden in the mines. I was a tad confused as to why they bother mining it in the first place, but there’s no need to argue.

Evil-Lyn's Plot 2

Back at Snake Mountain, Evil-Lyn and Panthor are laughing their fool heads off while Skeletor berates Beast-Man and Mer-Man for their failure at the Widgets’ castle. Evil-Lyn then disguises herself as a sexy blonde and offers to trick the Widgets into giving her the corodite. She returns to the fortress and pretends to be under attack from Panthor, leading the Widgets to rescue her and bring her inside.

Evil-Lyn's Plot 3

Evil-Lyn introduces herself as Nadira and claims to have lost her family in the woods, prompting much fidgeting as the Widgets to offer to search for them. Only Squinch remains at the fortress with Nadira, and in an ill-conceived attempt to cheer her up, shows her the corodite mine. Of course, Evil-Lyn steals the corodite, but less expectedly, she then transforms herself into a fireball to make her exit.

He-Man and the Widgets catch up with Skeletor and Evil-Lyn in Volcano Cave, the only place the corodite can be moulded into shape. Think Mount Doom, but quite a bit less menacing. Skeletor actually manages to create the corodite breastplate, which he puts on and announces, “Now I have the Power!” which makes He-Man look angrier than I’ve ever seen him before. The Widgets attend to Evil-Lyn, while He-Man and Skeletor duke it out. Obviously, He-Man wins, and peace is restored to Eternia.

Evil-Lyn's Plot 4

 

In today’s adventure …

Teela shows up to explain the logic behind the saying, “Never judge a book by its cover.” The Widgets were taken in by Evil-Lyn looking so sexy, but it’s what’s inside that counts. Teela wisely tells us we mustn’t judge people by their appearance. This is all well and good, but it’s not exactly born out by this very cartoon, is it? Would it really have killed the creators to have a character who looks evil but acts good?

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

As the episode begins, Adam and Cringer are pointlessly wandering around on their own, and they transform before they even meet the Widgets, so there’s no need for anyone to explain it.

 

Characters appearing

Well, we have Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Mer-Man, Beast-Man, the Sorceress, and all the Widgets, including Squinch, Laura and the other one. Plus there’s Teela, who only appears to dispense the moral.

 

Insults

Whoa! There must be something in the Eternian water today. Skeletor in particular seems livid, referring to Beast-Man and Mer-Man as “Witless fools! Dolts! Halfwits! Bunglers! Brainless idiots! Morons!” thanks to their pathetic efforts in storming the Widgets’ castle. He also yet again refers to He-Man as a “fool”, which seems to be his insult of choice for his nemesis. For his part, He-Man also displays a lack of imagination, once again calling Skeletor “skull-face”. More innovative is Squinch’s blistering assault on Panthor: “purple pest!” Evil-Lyn also gets in on the act with “little pests” directed at the Widgets when they tie her up in Volcano Cave.

Evil-Lyn's Plot 5

 

Does it have the Power?

I have to admit, my heart sank when the episode opened with the Widgets. I’d forgotten all about them, but the moment I saw them, I remembered how irritating they are. Nonetheless, the episode isn’t too bad, concentrating as it does on Skeletor and his blundering cronies for quite a long time. Plus the episode doesn’t have Orko in it, which makes for a very special episode indeed. In conclusion, I’d say this episode is unexpectedly good. (Unexpectedly good for He-Man, that is – don’t go expecting any masterpieces.)

Episode 011 – Masks of Power

In which Skeletor finally spends some time behind bars.

We join Prince Adam, Man-at-Arms and Orko as they discover the City of the Ancient Ones, which is deep in a mysterious jungle. Adam provides a little backstory: though the last rulers of the City – the Wizard Deinos and his Witch Queen Tarella – were evil, Adam hopes to rediscover their power and use it for the good of Eternia.

Not unexpectedly, Skeletor also has his eye on said power, and blow me down if he doesn’t want to use it for evil. In the middle of complaining about the absence of Beast-Man and Evil-Lyn, Skeletor is interrupted by two morons called Aaron and Una teleporting into Snake Mountain. They offer to do whatever Skeletor asks so they can become Evil Warriors. Skeletor opts to put them through a few tests, which they pass with A*s, after which they are packed off to the City of the Ancients to recover the Power Masks of King Deinos.

Masks of Power 1

On arrival at the City, Aaron and Una immediately figure out that the Masks are kept in the cellar, and find them in fairly short order. Aaron announces that as soon as they put the Masks on, the power will be theirs, but this doesn’t seem to be how it works out – in actuality, once they put the Masks on, they are possessed with the spirits of Deinos and Tarella. Well, the episode says they’re possessed, but they seem to have been out-and-out replaced with the evil Ancients.

Masks of Power 2

Adam sprints out of the room and returns seconds later as He-Man, who swiftly corners Deinos and Tarella. Instead of surrendering, they opt to levitate out of a convenient hole in the ceiling, and stump off to look for the Sword of the Ancients. After a fight with a giant rhino, He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Orko climb out of the pit, then head for Castle Grayskull to ask the Sorceress what to do next.

The Sorceress reveals that the Sword of the Ancients is embedded King Arthur-style in a block of solid quartz, deep beneath Snake Mountain, and that that is where Deinos and Tarella will be found. Apparently, the Sword is second only to He-Man’s own sword in terms of power, but luckily, Skeletor doesn’t even know it’s there.

Over at Snake Mountain, Deinos and Tarella have a lively discussion with Skeletor concerning who’s the boss in this situation. Skeletor gets the worst of it, winding up trapped behind a load of stalagmites, and is thus rather pleased to see He-Man when he shows up a few minutes later. In return for his release, Skeletor tells He-Man which way his unwelcome visitors went. After He-Man trolls off, Skeletor reflects that he wants to be in on the action too, and follows.

Masks of Power 3

In the final denouement, Deinos and Tarella take a back seat as He-Man grabs the Sword of the Ancients and Skeletor manages to nick He-Man’s sword. Then the Sword of the Ancients starts talking about how awesome it is, which is nice, and combines itself with He-Man’s sword. I wish I was making this up, but this is insane beyond even He-Man’s usual claptrap. The end result is that Deinos and Tarella disappear and are replaced with Aaron and Una again, while Skeletor shakes his fists in impotent rage. Aaron and Una repent of their desire to serve evil, and He-Man threatens to take Skeletor to prison, which just sounds a bit pathetic. Not surprisingly, Skeletor is unconcerned, and teleports away. The end.

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela shows up to tell us that the important take-home from this little jaunt is how to react when you make a mistake. Her perspective is that if you admit your mistake rather than covering it up or lying about it, you’ve taken the first step towards resolving it. Orko thinks he is justified in claiming he has never made a mistake. The sheer nerve of it.

Masks of Power 4

 

Excuse for Prince Adam’s disappearance:

Given Man-at-Arms and Orko both know the secret and are the only heroes present, it’s reasonable enough that no screen time is devoted to this.

 

Characters appearing

Nothing too exciting to report this week, of course: Prince Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Orko, the Sorceress, Skeletor, Aaron, Una, Deinos and Tarella feature in the main story, and Teela shows up in the moral segment.

 

Insults

He-Man can’t resist quipping that Skeletor looks at home behind bars when they find him trapped by the stalagmites, but otherwise everyone gets along rather splendidly this time.

 

Egg on your face?

Man-at-Arms gets a pot of water emptied over him thanks to Orko’s magic, though in fairness to Orko his magic was working perfectly well until he was distracted by the unexpected appearance of a giant floating head. Man-at-Arms is not amused nonetheless, though he finds it funnier a moment later when Orko contrives to drop three large urns on top of himself.

Masks of Power 5

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s a bit of a weird episode which doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do with itself. The first half is all set up for He-Man to confront Deinos and Tarella in the City of the Ancients, but then it diverts to a Snake Mountain setting. There doesn’t seem to be any reason why the Sword of the Ancients couldn’t be in the City of the Ancients (and frankly it would make more sense if it were), making this change of heart even more baffling. It’s also odd that when “possessed by spirits”, Aaron and Una were actually completely replaced by people who looked nothing like them; it might have been easier to accept their apology if we’d actually seen them being evil. On the plus side, it’s quite entertaining watching Skeletor get his comeuppance in a battle with a more powerful evil force, but ultimately, it hasn’t really got much going for it.

Episode 010 – A Friend in Need

In which we are subjected to an astonishingly rabid anti-drugs diatribe.

The episode opens with a big grey flying saucer arriving at the Palace. It is crewed by Elena, a pasty-looking blonde girl, and Zigran, an old man with the same infuriating voice as Zagrez had in The Cosmic Comet. They have come to deliver something called the transmutator, but Elena is pleased to be able to visit her friend Teela so they can ride about on metal horses.

Friend in Need 1

Orko delivers the bad news that Jarvan the Sorcerer has escaped from prison, but Teela brushes this off, saying that Jarvan is probably in another galaxy by now. Guess what? He isn’t. He’s actually pissing about in a geyser field, plotting his revenge. By sheer coincidence, Teela and Elena are riding around in this geyser field, and when Teela is knocked unconscious by a gaseous emission, Elena contacts Prince Adam to ask for help.

Well, we all know what that means. Along comes He-Man, who instead of getting on with rescuing Elena and Teela, opts to unnecessarily throw some rocks into the geysers. Afterwards, He-Man heads back to the Palace.  Jarvan watches him go and comments, “He will lead me to the King,” as if he couldn’t have possibly guessed that the King might be at the Palace.

Friend in Need 2

Elena blames herself for Teela’s injury, and is sitting about moaning about how she’s not big or strong or brave, when Jarvan shows up disguised as an old woman. He gives Elena a test tube full of an unknown substance, which will make her feel anything she wants to feel. After Elena drinks the test tube, Teela returns to the Palace courtyard to find Elena is much more confident and far less of a whingebag.

Later, Man-at-Arms is demonstrating the transmutator, which I’d forgotten all about, engrossed as I was in this subtle drugs allegory. The transmutator can change things into other things, basically, and that’s all you need to know about that, except that Jarvan wants it. There follow a series of tedious scenes in which Elena feels tired and weak, summons Jarvan for another dose of mysterious test tubes, then goes hyper, then experiences cold turkey.

Friend in Need 3

Finally, Jarvan refuses to give Elena any more nice potion unless Elena gets the transmutator for him. With Orko’s help, Elena nicks the transmutator and gives it to Jarvan, but Jarvan reveals his true identity, refuses to give her any potion, and instead just teleports out with his prize! This guy could give Walter White a run for his money in the Machiavellian drugs game. Elena finally realises how dim she’s been, and confesses all.

He-Man gets involved again and has a brief battle with Jarvan. Fortunately, Jarvan is none too bright and uses the transmutator to turn the air around He-Man into rock, rather than the more simple expedient of turning He-Man himself into rock. Thanks to this error in judgement, Jarvan finds himself returned to captivity, and Elena gets a stern lecture about not taking drugs.

Friend in Need 4

 

In today’s adventure…

In case there were any monumentally dense viewers who didn’t grasp the subtleties of this plot, He-Man explains solemnly that drugs don’t make your problems go away, they just create more. I understand the need for responsible drug education, and I do of course acknowledge that in 1980s America kids couldn’t move three metres outside their houses without being offered crack cocaine, but to see this plot on He-Man really does seem a bit much. The bottom line is, if you were offered drugs, is it likely you wouldn’t take them because He-Man said you shouldn’t? To be honest, the most important lesson for 4 year olds to learn from this episode would be that you should always wear a seatbelt; there’s a bit where Elena and Adam go for a joyride in the flying saucer, and Adam falls out, which wouldn’t have happened if he’d been more safety-conscious.

Friend in Need 5

 

Excuse for Adam’s disappearance

Just proving that there really wasn’t enough meat to hang on the bones of this story, we are treated to Adam turning into He-Man no less than three times in this episode, which probably accounts for a good quarter of the episode’s run-time. Despite this, there’s only one excuse offered, on the second occasion, when He-Man mysteriously comments that “Adam is safe.”

 

Characters appearing

I don’t really care who was in this trainwreck of a story, but on the off chance that you do, there was Prince Adam, He-Man, Cringer, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Elena, Zigran, and Jarvan.

 

Insults

Prince Adam asks Elena to slow down a bit while they’re out in the flying saucer, which leads to her using the exceptionally mild insult “Fun-stopper”. Otherwise, no one has any Eternian burns to dole out today.

 

Does it have the Power?

Does it buggery. With all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, the message is forced into our faces every three seconds throughout this drivel. We’re treated to endless repetitive scenes of Elena taking drugs but hating the comedown, and Jarvan is an extremely poor substitute for Skeletor. I must say, I enjoyed He-Man’s sarky comment to Jarvan at the end; when Jarvan rants that the goodies will hear from him again, He-Man responds, “Ahh, so you’ll write from the prison mines.” It’s not much, but it is about as evil as He-Man ever got. Still, it’s not nearly enough to redeem this tripe.

Episode 009 – The Dragon Invasion

In which Skeletor actually manages to get inside Castle Grayskull.

Somewhere in the wilds of Eternia, we find Skeletor and Beast-Man nicking some dragon eggs. Skeletor is also in possession of the Dragon Pearl, a little bauble which no doubt has some inexplicable and illogical power, though what that might be remains thus far mysterious. The plan this time appears to be to dose the eggs with growth serum, then drop them all over Eternia to cause a spot of bother.

Over at the Palace, dinner is being served. Orko eats an entire chicken leg and then states he’s full, at which point King Randor takes leave of his senses and says it’s a shame there aren’t two Orkos, so then they could eat more. This is insane on so many levels, primarily that it’s a shame there’s even one Orko, let alone two. Naturally, Orko casts a spell to create billions more versions of himself, who eat the entire dinner and start arguing.

Dragon Invasion 1

This dreadful scene comes to a merciful end when a dragon egg hatches outside the Palace, and thanks to the growth serum, the dragon grows to full size in 2.7 seconds. Havoc ensues, prompting a very speedy entrance from Guess Who. The inevitable fight is over pretty quickly, though He-Man doesn’t actually do much; to my distinct surprise, Man-at-Arms is the one actually responsible for shooting and freezing the dragon with what appears to be a hairdryer, but is of course his new stasis ray.

Dragon Invasion 2

A good portion of the rest of the episode is taken up with our heroes – who include Stratos and Ram-Man again, God only knows why – fighting dragons and winning in non-violent ways. In the meantime, Skeletor and his posse head to Castle Grayskull, which Skeletor grandly proclaims to be their new home. The Dragon Pearl is put to use strengthening Evil-Lyn’s magic, and the Sorceress eventually ends up trapped inside the Pearl – but not, of course, before she has contacted He-Man for help.

And now, the unexpected: Skeletor and his clowns open the drawbridge (or jawbridge, as it’s either actually called or I thought it was called when I was three) and enters Castle Grayskull! It gets worse: Skeletor uses the Dragon Pearl to create a forcefield to stop He-Man getting in. When Man-at-Arms returns to his usual levels of incompetence and is unable to lower the forcefield, He-Man decides to use the dragons instead.

Dragon Invasion 3

He-Man and Teela corner Beast-Man at Snake Mountain, and use the hairdryer on him. This breaks his control on the dragons, who all become friendly, and convene at Castle Grayskull to burn down the forcefield. Our heroes all troll in and start a brawl with Skeletor and his crew, in the course of which Skeletor teleports back to Snake Mountain. Rather oddly, He-Man is still there, evidently having decided he had better things to do than help at Castle Grayskull.

So now we get an epic confrontation between He-Man and Skeletor. Skeletor uses the power of the Sorceress, still in the Dragon Pearl, to grow to about three times his normal size. This doesn’t help, since he immediately falls off the edge of Snake Mountain and requires rescue from He-Man. After this, he runs away, perhaps smarting from the embarrassment.

Dragon Invasion 4

 

In today’s adventure …

Orko tells us that we should treat animals with kindness and respect, and definitely shouldn’t use them to try to conquer Eternia. It’s the second episode in a row where the moral has actually had some relevance to the story, so a round of applause is deserved, I think.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Teela tells Adam to go and get the guards, which provides him with all the excuse he needs. Though I suppose, since no guards actually show up, Teela’s going to have a go at Adam for not managing this simple task.

 

Characters appearing

This week we have a large cast, including Prince Adam, He-Man, Cringer, Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, Stratos, Ram-Man, the Sorceress, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Evil-Lyn and Trapjaw. Oh, and Jitsu, a one-time villain on Skeletor’s team. He doesn’t ever appear again, either because he’s faintly racist, or because the voice actor was incapable of a suitable voice. He sounds like a French chef.

Dragon Invasion 5

 

Insults

Within the very first scene, Skeletor calls Beast-Man a “Beast-brain”, when Beast-Man fails to stop an attacking dragon. Skeletor also dishes out a vicious “Fool” to He-Man, after He-Man rescues him, thus giving He-Man the chance to get all uppity about the value of life, even Skeletor’s. There’s also a few comments addressed to dragons which could be construed as insulting, though it’s debatable – Battle-Cat calls one a “dragon-face”, and I’m pretty sure Teela calls one a “flame thrower”.

Dragon Invasion 6

 

Does it have the Power?

This one’s a real winner. It’s action-packed and jolly good fun. It’s one of the only times in the series that Skeletor and the baddies come across as a viable threat; indeed, Beast-Man seems completely out of character – in a good way – as a competent scheming villain with hopes of eventually ousting Skeletor one day. Skeletor himself gets some great lines – particularly after he departs Castle Grayskull without attempting to save his colleagues, he comments gleefully to himself, “Too bad about the others, but at least I escaped!”

It’s not 100% perfect; the scene with Orko at dinner is gratingly irritating, and it’s also odd how the villains are in possession of Castle Grayskull for quite some time but appear to do nothing except stand in a room waiting to be evicted, rather than trying to get those secrets they’re always on about. But these are very minor quibbles. It’s definitely the best episode so far.