Episode 070 – Fisto’s Forest

In which we meet Eternia’s most dubiously named hero.

An irritating Eternian child (TM) falls out of a tree and is attacked by a Grazzlor, but luckily for him along comes a man called Fisto. Just in case you had any funny ideas, Fisto has his name because one of his hands is an enormous metallic fist. The child admires Fisto, claiming that he is almost as much of a hero as He-Man, and with little to no provocation, Fisto then embarks on an episode-long flashback recounting how he used to be evil, but now he’s good.

It seems that a few years ago, Fisto was messing about in a forest, being evil by damming rivers and thus killing crops. It’s not really evil mastermind level, but I suppose it’s unpleasant enough. Skeletor is apparently behind this, having imprisoned the Elf Lord in a crystal ball and installed Fisto in the forest in the Elf Lord’s place, but quite what Skeletor intends to gain from this little arrangement is anyone’s guess.

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Fisto: “Worst snowglobe ever.”

A little girl called Rayna heads to the Palace to ask for help, and Randor dispatches Adam, Cringer, Orko and Teela. In the meantime, Rayna’s father goes into the forest where he is attacked by Fisto’s pet giant spider. The heroes arrive to effect a rescue, but because no one on Eternia except He-Man has the slightest degree of competence, Teela and Rayna manage to get themselves trapped by some kind of glue spat out by the spider. He-Man and Orko help them out, and they head off to save Rayna’s father.

Imprisoned in a tree, Rayna’s father asks Fisto a very pertinent question: “Why are you doing this?” Fisto responds with the absolutely insane reasoning, “Because people will stop me if I let them, but they never get the chance.” Well, perhaps if you stop yourself, Fisto, then other people won’t need to stop you, and then everyone would be happy, no? This makes so little sense that I wonder if this bit of the script simply said [insert villain’s motivation later], and then the voice actor had to improvise on the spot when it came to recording.

Anyway, Fisto now indulges in a bit more craziness, flooding a valley in which Teela, Orko, Rayna and Battle-Cat are standing, in the hope that the water will wash them directly into his dungeon. Which it does, mightily conveniently. Fisto then rigs up a stupid trap to fill the dungeon with water, with the intention of drowning his prisoners, but being an idiot, he winds up trapping himself under a log and in danger from drowning himself.

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Fisto: “Somehow my plan seems to have gone wrong somewhere.”

Orko reveals a hitherto unknown talent of contacting He-Man telepathically, and calls for help. Before He-Man can show up, however, Rayna manages to squeeze through the dungeon’s bars and helps Fisto out from under the log. This act of kindness prompts Fisto to change his ways with immediate effect, and he releases Teela and Orko from the dungeon. He-Man then rescues Rayna’s father and the Elf Lord, and Fisto becomes a good person forever after.

We now fade back to the present day, where Fisto has just finished telling this story to the irritating Eternian child, who politely claims that it’s a nice story, and tries to get the hell out of there before He-Man and Fisto start telling pointless and unfunny jokes about the size of Fisto’s hand. In this, however, he does not succeed.

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He-Man: “It’s great fun hanging out in the forest with my mate Fisto, wearing virtually nothing except a pair of furry underpants and chatting to young boys.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela comes along to tell us all about how we should do unto others as we’d have them do unto us. This is precisely what Fisto did in this episode, and it seems a reasonable conclusion from the events depicted, I suppose. It’s a bit boring, though. I wish, just once, they’d go mental and say, “If you live in a forest near an evil man with a giant metal fist, the best thing to do is to go to the Palace and get help. Until next time!”

 

Character checklist

Well, obviously, there’s Fisto. But more importantly, there’s Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Rayna, Rayna’s dad, the Elf Lord, the Irritating Eternian Child, and let’s not forget Skeletor’s most pointless appearance ever.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Teela hands it to Adam on a plate this week, actively telling him to go and head off the giant spider. This is all the excuse Adam needs to get out of sight. Then, when He-Man appears, Teela comments, “It looks like Adam and Cringer have gone on to the village.” It’s as if she’s so used to the standard excuses that she’s started giving them herself.

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Teela: “I can’t really be bothered pretending I don’t know your secret identity, Adam, but if it really matters to you, why don’t you ‘go on to the village’?”

 

Insults

Fisto sounds very much like he nonsensically calls He-Man and Teela “metal do-gooders”, though I suspect it’s “meddling”. Otherwise, there’s nothing to report here.

 

Does it have the Power?

This episode is nothing more than an advert for the Fisto action figure, and since Fisto is not an enormously interesting character, it really struggles. Fisto’s problem is that his ability is to hit things really hard, which also happens to be He-Man’s ability, except that He-Man doesn’t require an enormous deformed hand in order to do so. Consequently, children are far more likely to be interested in He-Man, rather than this second-rate replacement. Giving him an evil past doesn’t make him any more exciting, especially since his evil past lacked any kind of ambition or motivation.

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Orko: “Photobomb!”

One thing I will say, though, is that in the five episodes of Season 2 so far, I’ve noticed a definite step up in the quality of the animation. Fisto’s evil forest this week was beautifully done, there are new and interesting panning shots of the Palace being used, and new locations have been created, like the village this week. Whereas in Season 1 we got a lot of recycled animation, Filmation have made a definite effort so far to keep things fresh and varied. It can’t make episodes like Fisto’s Forest into classics, but it does make them at least worth a watch.

And with that, I’m on holiday for a couple of weeks. Reviews will resume in early May. Bet you can’t wait.

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Episode 069 – The Gamesman

In which King Randor risks Teela’s life because a stranger gave an apple to Orko.

Okay. After last week’s diversion into silliness, we’ll get back to the serious business of reviewing episodes. Our story today begins with a very sleazy gentleman called Lord Todd coming to visit the Palace, where he defeats King Randor at chess, and then distributes gifts. Orko gets an apple, Cringer a steak, and Teela gets a huge sapphire necklace. Todd finally presents Randor with a new bejewelled chess set, and in return asks that Teela be his guest at Castle Star. Reasoning that anyone who gives such nice presents can’t possibly be evil, even if they are smiling in an openly psychopathic way, Randor gives his permission.

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Lord Todd: “Evil? Me? No, definitely not.”

Orko and Cringer head out to the countryside to eat their apple and steak, but they have only just settled down at a nice picnic spot when a giant mole burrows up through the ground and steals the steak. They return to warn the others, and Adam transforms into He-Man and heads out to stop the mole from burrowing directly into the Palace.

On confronting the mole, He-Man manages to establish a telepathic link with it and learns that it is friendly but short-sighted, clumsy and lonely, and possibly therefore even more annoying than if it had just been a generic monster. He-Man persuades the mole not to destroy the Palace, and off it goes politely. Whoop whoop.

Meanwhile, Teela arrives at Castle Star, where Lord Todd shows her through a complex labyrinth to the treasure at the centre: a Stargate to another dimension. Todd explains that he is a collector of unique games, and that Teela is to become the Queen in his life-size chess set. Teela says thanks but no thanks, but Todd is unwilling to accept her refusal.

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Lord Todd: “Look at all these lovely game pieces. Why wouldn’t you want to be one of them? There must be something wrong with you.”

Warned of Todd’s evil nature by the Sorceress, Man-at-Arms shows up at Castle Star and immediately gets captured. This forces Teela to promise to become the Queen in return for Man-at-Arms’ release, so that was really helpful – thanks, Man-at-Arms. To top it off, Todd pulls his face off, revealing that he is in fact an alien with a face the colour of vomit, and starts spouting rubbish about taking Teela through the Stargate to his dimension, from which there is no return.

This is an opportune moment for He-Man to show up. With the assistance of the giant mole, he manages to reach the centre of the labyrinth, just in time for Teela to idiotically get herself sucked through the Stargate. He-Man and Man-at-Arms follow, finding themselves in a freaky dimension composed of bright colours and conveyor belts, where Man-at-Arms flirts with the notion of total incompetence by falling off a walkway. Unfortunately, Teela saves him, and they all return to Eternia, where the Sorceress puts in an unnecessary appearance as a giant floating head to say “things are now the way they really are”, which is nice and nonsensical.

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He-Man: “Em, Sorceress, not to be rude, but what are you gibbering on about?”

 

In today’s adventure…

Yet again, it’s a moral about not judging people by the way they look – Lord Todd looked nice (before he became a vomit-coloured alien) while the giant mole looked like a monster, but would you believe it, it was the other way round. This episode did demonstrate this moral, I suppose, but since we’ve learned this one three times now within the space of five episodes, I think it’s time for a change of pace. The perils of accompanying a stranger into their home, for example, was a very relevant theme for this episode.

 

Character checklist

Today treats us to appearances from Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, King Randor, the Sorceress, Lord Todd, and the giant mole.

Gamesman 5
Giant mole: “Am I the stupidest thing you’ve ever seen? I’m definitely trying to be.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

I’d love to say it was the best excuse ever, but unfortunately there isn’t an excuse at all.

 

Insults

Teela rather strongly tells Lord Todd that he’s “evil and twisted”, while Lord Todd presents the ubiquitous “fools” to He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Teela.

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Teela: “I really need to lay off all the cheese before bedtime.”

 

Does it have the Power?

I really am getting fed up by now of random people showing up at Eternia looking to kidnap our heroes for gladiatorial matches, circuses, or other games. Lord Todd is blatantly evil from the start, what with his demented gurning after his chess match with Randor. Man-at-Arms says, “We know nothing about Lord Todd. He comes from a far off place and we’ve never seen him before,” and it thus beggars belief that he would let Teela go off with someone this obviously up to no good. I didn’t find the mole storyline very diverting either. All in all, I would say we have here a disappointing effort which is more than skippable.

Bonus Update: The Lost Episodes of He-Man

I undertake a vast degree of extensive and diligent research for this website (stop sniggering at the back there). In the course of this research, I have uncovered a number of He-Man story pitches that were, for whatever reason, never developed into episodes. I thought it would be only fair to share them with you. Some of them sound quite good.

 

The Delvers of Delos

The mines of Delos are famed across Eternia for their mineral wealth. But when Skeletor offers the miners a better employment contract, they go on strike. He-Man must negotiate with an intransigent union leader to settle the industrial dispute before Eternia runs out of vital resources!

Fake 2

 

A Hard Day’s Knight

A mysterious wizard calling himself the Day Knight arrives on Eternia and offers his services to the highest bidder. He claims to be able to control Eternia’s rotation speed, thus providing the possibility of boundless sunlight – or endless night. Will He-Man be able to prevent Skeletor from engaging the Day Knight to plunge Eternia into a neverending darkness?

 

A Cautionary Tale

Orko happens upon a grove of plants that give him strange hallucinations when he eats them. Naturally, he becomes addicted and eats a whole kilogram of them. The remaining 18 minutes of the episode is shown from Orko’s point of view as he undergoes a strange and increasingly alarming LSD trip, in which all sorts of distressing things happen. Once kids have seen Orko knife Ram-Man to death, they’ll be sufficiently disturbed to be put off drugs for life.

Fake 1

 

Confession

Evil-Lyn develops a magic potion that forces the drinker to tell the truth. Can Prince Adam avoid confessing his deepest secret – that he has some nude photos of Teela hidden on his laptop? He must also avoid revealing that he is He-Man, though Adam is more concerned about the Teela business.

 

Under the Sun’s Warm Glow

When Prince Adam accidentally overdoes it in the Palace tanning studio, he must endure a day of everybody ribbing him good-naturedly about how he now looks just like He-Man. Even so, no one manages to put two and two together, leading to Adam beginning to despair of the intellectual capacity of his parents and everybody else on Eternia.

Fake 3

 

It’s Personality That Counts

On an archaeology dig, Melaktha uncovers a 20-foot-tall ancient statue of a nude and hugely under-endowed Man-at-Arms, and when word gets out, Man-at-Arms finds it difficult to be taken seriously around the Palace until he agrees to a full-frontal photoshoot for FHM to set the record straight. Meanwhile, He-Man embarks on a quest to discover how the Ancient Eternians could have made a statue of Man-at-Arms, but it eventually transpires that Skeletor is responsible, having simply planted the statue in the archaeological ruins for a laugh.

 

And yes, just in case anyone was deceived, this is an April Fool. How we chortled.