In which He-Man plays a computer game.
Happy Boxing Day to you all. I hope you all had a great Christmas. As you sit there finishing off your turkey and stuffing and plum puddings and what have you, spare a thought for me, please, because I’ve had to waste my time watching Game Plan. To make matters worse, it’s not an even slightly Christmas-themed episode. I hope your hearts are bleeding for me.
Anyway, as the episode opens, Adam borrows Man-at-Arms’ new invention – a beam ray – to create a sculpture of Orko. I have no idea why he would want to do this, and clearly the writers don’t either, giving Adam only the excuse that “it’s a surprise”. Naturally, the beam ray can also be used as a weapon, and equally naturally, a loony called Negator wants to nick it.
Negator is a computer games obsessive looking for a living subject to insert into his latest game. Concluding that Teela and Man-at-Arms are ideal participants, he doesn’t bother to try to actually put them in his game. Instead, he invites Man-at-Arms to work for him, and then destroys a dam for no readily apparent reason. Luckily, He-Man is on hand to stop the ensuing flood, and Negator disappears, vowing to return. I for one can’t wait.
Once back at the Palace, Negator disguises himself as a guard and knocks on Teela’s door, informing her that Prince Adam wants to meet her out in the desert, and didn’t say why. Teela, being the massive moron that she is, doesn’t think to question this, and trots off, while Negator takes time out to smirk evilly at the camera. Once Teela is safely captured, Negator contacts Man-at-Arms to repeat his employment offer, and this time, Man-at-Arms is forced to accept. He heads out to the desert to meet Negator.
Quickly deducing there’s something wrong, He-Man decides to go to the desert too, taking Ram-Man with him. Once in the desert, the episode takes a momentary turn for the weird when He-Man allows himself to be eaten by a giant cloud with teeth, which whisks him off to join Teela in Negator’s hideout. Ram-Man and Battle-Cat enter the hideout via more conventional means, using an air vent, which is eminently more sensible.
Teela and Battle-Cat are quickly captured, but He-Man and Ram-Man successfully make their way to Negator’s control centre. Negator, however, finally gets to the point and inserts He-Man and Ram-Man into his computer game. The game is a hugely boring maze, which occupies our heroes for the remaining five minutes of the episode as they navigate its none-too-interesting traps.
Once they find the exit to the maze, He-Man and Ram-Man emerge back into Negator’s hideout. Unsure of how to wrap the episode up, the writer opts for a slightly deranged conclusion in which He-Man blows up Negator’s computer, Negator converts himself into pink glowing energy and disappears, and Battle-Cat complains that he’s hungry. Genius.
In today’s adventure…
Not unexpectedly, today’s moral is all about games, and how it’s natural to want to win. I thought that this would be a sensible point about not being a sore loser, or not cheating, both of which are things that Negator did. Instead, He-Man advises us not to be so eager to win that we injure ourselves, which is a rather strange direction for this moral to take.
I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise to you to learn that this week’s offering grants us sight of Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Ram-Man and Negator. There’s also a pair of weird hooded beings, in case you’re interested.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
He-Man shows up while Adam is trapped in a tunnel, courtesy of Negator. Consequently, the excuse is readily to hand: “Don’t worry, he got out the other end of the tunnel,” He-Man explains to the credulous Teela.
Eager to remind us not to ram things with our heads like Ram-Man does, the writer has Battle-Cat call Ram-Man “dumb” after he rams the air vent open. Elsewhere, He-Man informs Negator that he is going to be “the big loser”, which is probably fighting talk rather than an actual insult. Meanwhile, Negator very oddly calls He-Man and Ram-Man “pigeons”, which just seems odd.
Does it have the Power?
This episode is all over the shop. Inserting living participants into a computer game is an interesting idea, and one that I suspect seemed very up-to-date in 1983, but the impression I get is that the writer didn’t know how to make this concept last the full 20 minutes, thus leading to the completely gratuitous scene at the start with the dam being destroyed, and to the 10 minutes worth of messing around capturing Teela, Man-at-Arms and Battle-Cat, until eventually Negator decides to get down to business and actually play the game with He-Man and Ram-Man in it. On the one hand, I should be grateful for this, because when they are actually in the game, the episode is really dull – but on the other, it’s equally dull before the game starts. In short, this is best described as a reasonable idea put into very poor practice, and I suggest you don’t concern yourselves with it.