Episode 086 – A Trip to Morainia

In which Skeletor doesn’t put in the slightest bit of effort.

After a surprisingly long and irrelevant sequence in which Man-at-Arms demonstrates his new invention, one of King Randor’s mates gets on the videophone. Introducing himself as King Borayis, he invites Randor to send someone to his kingdom of Morainia to collect some new energy crystals, which are ten times more powerful than other Eternian energy sources. Randor decides that this is the sort of low-responsibility, high-prestige job that would suit Adam, Cringer and Orko.

Morainia 1
Man-at-Arms: “Let’s get kinky.”

Despite a stupid diversion caused by Adam driving like an idiot down a ravine and into a giant spider’s den, the trio arrive at Morainia in good time. Borayis welcomes them, and introduces them to his son Prince Esker and his daughter Princess Janice. These two might as well have labels on them to say Esker is arrogant and incompetent, while Janice is intelligent but ignored. Borayis invites Adam to spend some time skiing, to which Adam happily agrees.

It would probably not surprise you to learn that Skeletor is also interested in the acquisition of the energy crystals – though he evidently isn’t that interested, because he sends Beast-Man and Trapjaw to get them for him. These two put on the worst disguises I’ve ever seen (literally, a white bib each, and that’s it) and are easily defeated by Borayis. Skeletor then has to take matters into his own hands, and successfully kidnaps Borayis.

Morainia 2
Beast-Man: “Pretty sure we’d slip past MI5’s finest officers with disguises this slick.”

With Borayis missing, Esker takes on the role of leader, and makes a complete hash of it by refusing to listen to the suggestions of the court. Skeletor teleports in, laughs irrelevantly, then offers to exchange the kidnapped king for the energy crystals. He is kind enough to offer the Morainians half an hour to think about this, and teleports out again. Esker sits at the table, trying to think of a solution, but ignoring Janice’s clever ideas.

Janice consequently heads off by herself to try to rescue Borayis, but manages to irritate Clawful in the process, leading to Adam turning into He-Man to save her. Janice then explains to He-Man that Skeletor must be holding Borayis in the abandoned mine, and outlines her clever plan for rescuing him. This plan essentially boils down to there being three entrances to the mine, so He-Man and Battle-Cat go in one, Orko another, and Janice the third. Then they all meet up in the central room. It’s difficult to say exactly what this achieves, but He-Man seems impressed.

Morainia 3
He-Man: “I’m pretending to be interested, but I’m actually just making sarky faces behind Janice’s back.”

Using another of Janice’s deeply innovative schemes, He-Man rescues Borayis from a stupid cage in which Skeletor has imprisoned him. The party then return to Morainia just in time to find that Esker has achieved absolutely nothing, and that Skeletor has managed to get his silly blue paws on the energy crystals. However, on seeing He-Man, Skeletor runs away through a teleportation portal – though he helpfully actually takes the time to give He-Man the crystals back.

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela explains that listening to other peoples’ ideas is likely to come in handy when Skeletor has kidnapped your dad and imprisoned him in an abandoned mine. And possibly at other times too.

 

Character checklist

This week, we are witness to Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Orko, Man-at-Arms, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Janice, Esker, King Borayis, various Morainian officials, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Trapjaw and Clawful. Teela only shows up to deliver the moral, but she doesn’t seem too cross at being left out of the adventure.

Morainia 4
Teela: “You know what? I’d only have got kidnapped or something anyway, so it’s just as well I didn’t get involved.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

With only Orko and Cringer along for the ride, Adam doesn’t see the need to explain himself on either of his two transformations today. However, there’s a strong hint that Princess Janice knows the dual identity secret: she congratulates Adam on something He-Man did. This is either a mistake (admittedly more likely) or a tacit admission that everyone on the entire planet knows, and are just humouring our hero.

 

Insults

Skeletor addresses Borayis as “royal enemy”, which could be interpreted as more of a statement of fact than an actual insult. However, there can be mistaking the insulting tone behind He-Man calling Clawful both “fish-bait” and “swamp-breath”.

Morainia 6
Clawful: “I wonder if I should give this ‘being evil’ lark up. Never seems to work out.”

 

Does it have the Power?

Like Disappearing Dragons a few weeks back, I used to have this one on VHS, and consequently I love it. Unlike Disappearing Dragons, however, objectively I can see that it’s not really very good. It’s essentially He-Man by numbers, with very little of interest to it, though admittedly nothing that drags it down to the depths either.

The most obvious criticism of it is that it’s wrapped up far too quickly: Skeletor is actually holding the energy crystals, and when confronted, he makes no effort to hold onto them, even though it would have been easy for him to escape. Moreover, Skeletor could have easily nicked the crystals before the commercial break by simply kicking down a door, rather than messing around kidnapping Borayis. I suppose that he knew that if he did get the crystals earlier, the second half of the show would be given over to He-Man and his mob coming round to Snake Mountain and trashing the place to get the crystals back, which is the sort of outcome which I daresay Skeletor would find undesirable.

Morainia 5
Skeletor: “I didn’t really want these stupid crystals anyway.”

But basically, He-Man only won because Skeletor didn’t put the least bit of effort in this week, and that’s pretty unsatisfying. I’d still recommend you watch it though, because as mentioned earlier, I love it.

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Episode 085 – The Rainbow Warrior

In which Adam learns his secret isn’t quite as safe as he thought.

Good Lord. Skeletor’s in an absolutely foul mood this morning. We find him in Snake Mountain, shouting at Beast-Man and Trapjaw for no evident reason other than to let off some steam. In the course of the crazed yammering, however, Skeletor comes up with a plan, which can’t really be described as his greatest. He intends to defeat He-Man by turning the Palace Guards against him. Skeletor does not appear to have considered that even Beast-Man can defeat the Palace Guards, so it’s not going to give He-Man any trouble. This plan is so rubbish that even Skeletor appears to have forgotten about it by the time his next scene rolls around.

Rainbow 1.jpg
Beast-Man: “Skeletor, this plan is so stupid, even I could have come up with it.”

At the Palace, Queen Marlena reminisces about her time as an astronaut from Earth. She visits her old ship – the Rainbow Explorer – which is now in the Eternian Museum, and we are treated to a flashback showing Marlena’s arrival on Eternia. Her ship crashed in the Eternian plains, where a hilariously unbearded young King Randor found her and sleazily suggested she come back to the Palace as his guest. Fortunately, the episode does not attempt to show us Randor and Marlena’s courtship, merely summing up with, “Then I fell in love with you.”

Rainbow 2.jpg
Marlena: “You so need to grow a beard. You look like you’re two years old.”

Almost entirely oblivious to Marlena’s nostalgia, Randor chirpily invites her to come to a picnic on the beach, which she declines. And so it is that Marlena is not in the Wind Raider when Skeletor successfully captures it, freezing Randor, Adam, Man-at-Arms, Orko and Teela and securing them in chains just outside Snake Mountain. He then sends a message to the Palace, demanding unconditional surrender.

Marlena refuses this kind offer, and orders the Palace Guards to prepare for battle. Without Teela or Man-at-Arms to lead them, they are uncertain of victory – until Marlena puts on her old astronaut suit and takes command, flying the Rainbow Explorer. Leading the Guards to Snake Mountain, Marlena shoots the chains from Adam’s wrists, and he runs off to try to find He-Man. This he does, with astonishing alacrity.

Skeletor unleashes a fleet of robots on Sky Sleds to destroy the Palace Guards, but Marlena shows off her flying skills, shooting Skeletor’s robots out of the sky. She then gets into a dogfight with Skeletor’s ship, the Doom Buster, and Marlena successfully forces Skeletor to crash. In the meantime, He-Man doesn’t really do a lot, to be honest. He does confront Skeletor in the wreckage of the crashed ship, but Skeletor rather unexpectedly flies away using what appears to be an inbuilt jetpack.

Rainbow 3
Skeletor: “Laters.”

Marlena lands the Rainbow Explorer, and takes off her astronaut helmet, revealing her identity. This shocks absolutely everyone, even He-Man, who stumbles, “Mother – uh, your Majesty.” Back at the Palace, Adam asks Marlena why she chose to free him, rather than someone useful – and she replies, “A mother always knows her own son, and what he is capable of doing.” I think it’s therefore safe to say that Marlena is fully aware of Adam’s double life.

 

In today’s adventure…

This episode comes with a little sequence which barely qualifies as a moral: Teela and Marlena agree to teach other to fly the Sky Sleds and the Rainbow Explorer. The lesson – given with an astonishing degree of subtlety compared to every single other episode – is that older people have a lot of knowledge, and they also remember what it’s like to be young. Fair enough, though it seems to me that the moral this week is that your mother always knows what you’re up to. Which is a disturbing thought.

 

Character checklist

Prince Adam, He-Man, Queen Marlena, King Randor, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Teela, plenty of unnamed Palace guards, Skeletor, Beast-Man and Trapjaw make up the perfect cast to this tale.

Rainbow 4
He-Man: “Pre-Glasto group photo, guys!”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Teela hands it to Adam on a silver platter this week, by telling him to run away and find He-Man. Adam does not need telling twice.

 

Insults

As noted above, Skeletor uses the entire first scene simply to berate his henchmen, providing a possibly unmatched wealth of imaginative insults which you can use on your friends, assuming you don’t want them to be your friends anymore. Skeletor calls Trapjaw a “tin-tongued dolt” and a “metal-munching moron”, and calls Beast-Man a “flea-bitten furbrain”. He refers to them collectively as “fools”, “stupid assistants”, a “dim-witted duo”, and a “pathetic pair of pitiful pinheads”. He also taps Trapjaw’s head and comments, “Just as I suspected – hollow.”

It’s not just Beast-Man and Trapjaw who draw his wrath: he refers to He-Man as a “poor fool” and a “muscle-bound moron”, though there’s nothing out of the ordinary there. Skeletor also is the recipient of a number of insults: Queen Marlena calls him a “demon”, while Teela says he is an “evil monster” and a “hooded hoodlum”. And finally, there’s a slightly strange moment when Trapjaw addresses Skeletor and – perhaps a little unwisely – comments, “You look a little fat.”

Rainbow 6
Skeletor: “Say what, Trapjaw?”

 

Does it have the Power?

Yes, it absolutely does. It’s a real treat to get another super episode so soon after the outstanding Into the Abyss, but The Rainbow Warrior is also a series highlight. I never thought I’d be particularly interested in Queen Marlena’s back story, but this episode was very effective in showing us her arrival on Eternia and conveying her sense of nostalgia for her astronaut days, even though she is happy with her life as Queen.

The point at which she flies the Rainbow Explorer into battle is almost a punch-the-air moment, and it’s notable that He-Man contributed very little to Skeletor’s defeat. I’d actually suggest that he could have been left out of this episode and I possibly wouldn’t have even noticed. Marlena’s decision to free Adam, and her subsequent hinting that she knows the secret, is also a really great moment.

Rainbow 5
Prince Adam: “How can Mother know my secret? I thought the whole thing was completely watertight.”

But the icing on the cake is – as so often – Skeletor. As well as the numerous insults recorded above, he is also gifted more hugely comedic dialogue. Early on, he comments, “I’ve tried to invade Castle Grayskull six times.” Beast-Man corrects him, “Seven, boss…”, to which Skeletor snaps back, “Six! The first time was only practice. I was teasing the poor fool.” His plan once again appears to boil down to ‘capture some people, then wait for them to be rescued’, which is sheer buffoonery, and it’s almost heartbreaking to see this poor skeleton want something so much, and be far too incompetent to achieve it. In addition, his final exit on a jet pack was a touch of demented genius.

Watch this one: you won’t be disappointed.

Episode 084 – Fraidy Cat

In which Skeletor unrealistically imagines that a mechanical bird can defeat He-Man.

We are treated this week to an opening panning shot across the wilderness to Snake Mountain, inside which Skeletor has gathered four villains – Mer-Man, Kobra Khan, Clawful and the omnipresent Whiplash. He explains his plan to them – essentially, they will sneak into the Palace and kidnap Queen Marlena – then he laughs for absolutely ages, evidently blown away by his genius for concocting this elaborate scheme.

Fraidy Cat 1
Skeletor: “Truly, I am the master of Machiavellian plots. Walter White, eat your heart out.”

At the Palace, the royal family are at the table for lunch, but Marlena is late. King Randor sends Cringer off to fetch her, and while he is gone, Kobra Khan nips in and knocks them all out with his sleeping gas. Hearing Kobra Khan’s hissing, Cringer hides under Marlena’s bed, where he falls prey to the sleeping gas and cannot save Marlena from being kidnapped. When Adam and Orko wake up, they go to Marlena’s room and find her missing, so a hasty transformation is in order.

Once outside, Kobra Khan and Mer-Man set off to take Marlena back to Snake Mountain, while Whiplash and Clawful are left behind to lure He-Man into a trap. They set up a false trail for He-Man to follow, which he obligingly does. Once Cringer wakes up, he blames himself for hiding under the bed, but he is then able to determine that the Queen was actually taken in the opposite direction, into the Haunted Forest. With He-Man, Teela and Man-at-Arms going the wrong way, Cringer and Orko set off themselves to rescue Marlena.

Fraidy Cat w
Cringer: “Uh, Orko, do you usually have knees?”

When Kobra Khan arrives back at Snake Mountain with Marlena, Skeletor cordially greets her, even toning down his language: it’s quite clear he wants to say something cutting to Kobra Khan, but he seems to restrain himself. He explains to Marlena that she is the bait for the trap; the ultimate target is He-Man. It seems that the false trail is going to lead He-Man to Screeech, who is a really rubbish robot bird. Skeletor seems to be suffering from a condition I refer to as “unrealistic optimism” if he thinks He-Man is going to be overcome by an electronic eagle.

Once Marlena is safely ensconced in a jail cell, Cringer and Orko arrive to release her, which they manage with surprising efficiency. Marlena informs them of the “threat” from Screeech, and Cringer bravely volunteers to warn He-Man while Orko takes Marlena home. To make Cringer braver, Orko gives him his special bravery medallion, which I just bet turns out to be a placebo.

Whiplash and Clawful’s trail leads He-Man to Snake Mountain, and they even helpfully leave the door open for him, but he quickly determines that this is a trap. I can’t really see why Skeletor wants He-Man to come inside Snake Mountain, if he’s going to be attacked by a robot bird, but there we have it. Realising that He-Man isn’t taking the bait, Skeletor launches Screeech anyway, but just in time, Cringer leaps onto Screeech’s back and takes flight too.

Fraidy Cat 3
Cringer: “I knew Ryanair were a budget airline, but this is taking it a bit far.”

With Cringer making an unholy racket as he flies around on Screeech, He-Man quickly detects the danger. Skeletor then makes the very poor tactical decision to demolish his own lair to making Screeech fly through the walls, which incidentally allows He-Man easy access. Amusing and non-violent defeats are liberally bestowed in the baddies’ direction, before our heroes return to the Palace to find Orko has successfully escorted Marlena home. Oh yes, and they also find the bravery medallion was indeed a placebo. Definitely didn’t see that coming.

 

In today’s adventure…

The moral this week concerns fear, and how sometimes it’s just as important as being brave. This is all very well, but it quickly gets confused by Cringer bleating on about being afraid of being afraid and being afraid of being brave. He-Man clearly doesn’t understand what he’s on about, so he chuckles politely and hopes the episode will fade out quickly.

 

Character checklist

The star of the show is of course Cringer, but he’s ably assisted by a vast array of individuals, including Prince Adam, He-Man, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Skeletor, Clawful, Kobra Khan, Whiplash, Mer-Man and Screeech.

Fraidy Cat 4
Clawful: “Wonder if I could get away with pinching Whiplash’s tail.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Unfortunately, once again, we get nothing.

 

Insults

It’s a bad week for Whiplash and Clawful, who get called a “fool” three times, twice by Skeletor and once by Kobra Khan. Mer-Man fares slightly better, in that he is only called “fool” twice, once from each of the afore-mentioned villains. Skeletor also addresses Screeech as a “stupid machine”, which is entirely fair, and reserves the rather mild “silly cat” for Cringer.

 

Egg on your face?

Orko performs an appalling trick which results in Man-at-Arms getting fruit juice all over his arms. This causes King Randor to laugh in a very high-pitched voice while the camera treats us to an extreme close-up of his face, which was neither necessary nor welcome.

Fraidy Cat 5
Prince Adam: “Dad … you look really weird.”

 

Does it have the Power?

This episode is a really worthy attempt, let down by a few odd moments that don’t quite qualify as plot holes but are nevertheless things that the writer should have thought out a little better:

  • The whole false trail sequence was pointless, since the trail simply led He-Man to Snake Mountain, which is where Marlena was anyway.
  • He-Man chooses the Dragon Walker as his choice of vehicle, then complains that Clawful and Whiplash are getting away. Perhaps if he had picked something capable of moving quicker than a tortoise, he’d have a chance of catching them.
  • It was a little strange how Skeletor seemed to want He-Man to come inside, when an attack from Screeech would surely work better in the open air.

I did like the ease with which Marlena was kidnapped in the early stages, and how competent the group of villains were under Kobra Khan’s leadership; this sequence demonstrated an actual sense of danger. From there, however, the episode seemed to flounder a bit, not knowing what to do with the characters and killing time, until suddenly everything needed wrapping up really quickly. Still, I’d say this episode is no dud, and worth giving it a spin.

Episode 083 – Into the Abyss

In which Teela falls down the abyss, in case you didn’t know.

This episode begins with He-Man, Teela and Orko in the Widgets’ fortress, having evidently just foiled one of Beast-Man’s schemes. They return to Castle Grayskull and have a casual conversation concerning the abyss, which surrounds the castle and is passable only by the jawbridge. The abyss is bottomless (until it reaches the centre of the planet, at least), and contains the source of Grayskull’s power. Given the title of the episode, I suspect this may shortly become important information.

Abyss 1
He-Man: “You don’t have to listen to me, Orko. I’m only telling you stuff so the audience will get the info they need.”

Once she gets back to the Palace, Teela prepares to teach Adam in a survival skills class. However, Adam doesn’t turn up, and after two hours, Teela finds him relaxing in the courtyard. Sounding more irritated than usual, Adam tells her that he didn’t feel like attending the class and suggests that Teela loosen up and have some fun once in a while. He then actually pulls rank and dismisses her; once she’s gone, Adam has a heart-to-heart with Cringer concerning the differences between himself and He-Man.

Teela runs whinging to Man-at-Arms, who claims he’s not taking anyone’s side but then immediately tells Teela that she does need to loosen up. He suggests that since Adam wants fun, Teela should find a way of combining work and fun. Teela likes this idea so much that she makes an oddly sexual noise, and runs off to find Adam. They both apologise to each other for the incident in the courtyard, and Teela suggests going to have a picnic.

Abyss 2
Cringer: “Man, this weed is good.”

After the picnic, Teela tells Adam that they are now going to play hide-and-seek; she will hide, and Adam will find her. This is her clever way of teaching Adam tracking skills, and it all goes well until Teela manages to fall down into the abyss surrounding Castle Grayskull. Fortunately, she lands on a ledge rather than falling to the centre of the planet, but it’s still not good news: with a surprising touch of realism, her arm is broken. Luckily, she has a signalling beacon with her, so turns that on to alert her friends to her predicament.

Unable to find Teela, Adam returns to the Palace, where Man-at-Arms picks up Teela’s signal. They track her to the jawbridge, then find her footprints leading over the edge into the abyss. The Sorceress determines that Teela is alive, but warns our heroes that due to very strong updrafts, they will not be able to take a flying vehicle down. Adam thus decides to transform into He-Man and climb down to rescue Teela.

While Adam undergoes the transformation, Teela watches from her ledge as white energy flies up the abyss – evidently Grayskull’s power being channelled into He-Man. Despite a few minor setbacks, in which He-Man demonstrates that he is by no means a skilled mountaineer, Teela is rescued successfully.

Abyss 3
Teela: “Wow, nice of the Sorceress to put on a fireworks display for me.”

 

In today’s adventure…

He-Man and Man-at-Arms tell us that today, Teela learned that it’s just as important to play as it is to work, but it’s also very important to learn the rules for playing safely. The moral is that if you are playing out of sight of your family or friends, you should make sure someone knows where you are. This is very sensible and a perfect conclusion to draw from this episode’s events.

 

Character checklist

This one sticks mostly to the core characters: Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, the Sorceress, and Beast-Man. The Widgets can also be seen if you really want to see them, but I’m assuming that you’re sane and therefore you don’t.

Abyss 4
Squinch: “How come this is one of the best episodes, even though I’m in it?”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Once again, only those already in the know are around when Adam makes his transformation, so he doesn’t need to give an excuse.

 

Insults

At the beginning, with his plan failing, Beast-Man’s rock monsters run away, leaving Beast-Man to call them “cowards” and “miserable traitors”. Teela subsequently refers to Beast-Man as “furface”.

 

Does it have the Power?

This is an episode of really rather surprising sophistication. For one thing (aside from Beast-Man’s cameo appearance at the start), there’s no baddy and no evil plan to foil. The only other episodes to try this tack, as far as I can recall, are The Starchild and The Remedy, and we all know how those worked out. Into the Abyss, on the other hand, is a real gem.

The dialogue is both snappy and realistic, and the characterisation of our heroes is probably the best it’s ever been. Adam’s frustration at being He-Man, but no one knowing it, has been explored before but never better than here; and for once it’s possible to see Teela’s point of view, rather than her coming across as a screeching harridan. Man-at-Arms and the Sorceress both show real parental concern, and it’s really quite touching at the end when Teela says she can feel the love of her mother – even though she doesn’t know who that is.

Abyss 5
The Sorceress: “Not to spoil a touching moment, but remind me again why I can’t tell Teela she’s my daughter?”

In addition, it’s a truly great touch to see the Power of Grayskull flooding up through the abyss, as Teela watches uncomprehendingly. In conclusion, this is a real must-see, certainly in the top 10 of the series.

Episode 082 – Attack From Below

In which Teela experiences Stockholm Syndrome.

Buckle your seatbelts and hold on tight, because this week promises to be a non-stop thrill ride, as Teela and Orko make an official visit to Eternia’s most productive farm. This actually gets a lot more exciting when cracks in the ground open up, and all the corn falls down into a cave system below. Teela falls down too, and despite falling for a good ten seconds onto a rock floor, she is completely unhurt.

Attack 1
Teela: “Just look at this place. So untidy. Good job it isn’t Orko’s bedroom. Man-at-Arms would do his nut.”

Teela explores for an incredibly short space of time before being captured by some vaguely ape-like creatures, who have been stealing the corn. Their leader, Subturnius, explains to her that, though he deplores violence, his people are hungry and therefore must steal in order to survive. Teela says that the Eternian people would be happy to supply food, but Subturnius does not believe her.

In the meantime, Orko flies off to fetch He-Man, Battle-Cat and Man-at-Arms, and Battle-Cat digs in the former cornfield until he discovers the tunnel into which Teela fell. He-Man and Battle-Cat leap down into the cave system and quickly find their way to Subturnius’ throne room. In an unexpected twist, Teela refuses He-Man’s rescue attempt and opts to stay with Subturnius to try to help his people.

Attack 2
Teela: “No, He-Man, please don’t rescue me. I WANT to stay here with my hands tied, accompanied by this freaky little gnome. What’s that? Stockholm Syndrome? Never heard of it.”

He-Man returns to the surface, after showing Subturnius his fist as a non-too-subtle hint that Teela must not be harmed. Once He-Man has gone, Subturnius explains to Teela that many years previously, he and his people went to the surface to ask for food, but made the mistake of asking Skeletor, who simply enslaved them. Now Subturnius refuses to trust any surface-dwellers, and begins an attack to steal all the Eternians’ food.

Above ground, Subturnius’ forces begin to help themselves to the food supply, driving a seemingly inexhaustible supply of tanks, tractors and combine harvesters, so many that even He-Man gets a bit bored of punching them. Eventually, Man-at-Arms works out that all the vehicles are powered by an underground generator, so He-Man heads off to find the generator and destroy that instead.

He-Man quickly finds and destroys the generator, but not before Subturnius decides to up the ante and flood all the Eternian fields. Seconds later, after a little heart-to-heart with an Eternian farmer’s son, Subturnius realises the error of his ways and apologises. He-Man bounds back up to the surface and makes the funniest face I’ve ever seen, then stops the flood with the help of a giant boulder. Finally, Subturnius and his people start working with the Eternian farmers to provide food for all.

Attack 3
He-Man: “Battle-Cat, I cannot believe you just called me a moptopped imbecile.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela and Orko explain that it’s wrong to judge a whole group of people because of the actions of just one or a few. This is reasonable, and demonstrated by the episode’s events, but I’ve lost count of the times we’ve heard this one. Couldn’t the moral have been something about growing plants?

 

Character checklist

As if you didn’t already know, this episode treats us to appearances from Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Ram-Man, Subturnius, loads of Subturnius’ people, a farmer called Agar and his son Garda. There are also some cameos from Skeletor, Beast-Man and Trapjaw.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam makes his transformation with only Man-at-Arms and Orko present, so doesn’t need an excuse today.

Attack 4
Man-at-Arms: “There’s no time for excuses this week. The Dragon Walker will be appearing later, and that’s so slow it’ll eat up all the airtime.”

 

Insults

Teela calls Subturnius’ people “cowards” when they first capture her. This is completely unfair, because they’ve attacked her with their bare hands despite her aiming a gun at them – and it’s only down to her own incompetence that they’ve actually managed to overpower her.

Otherwise, it’s hard to be sure, but it sounds like Subturnius introduces himself as “King of the Bell-ends.” This is an unlikely title, admittedly, but it’s certainly insulting.

 

Egg on your face?

I’m going to stretch this category this week to include an example of Orko being a complete tosser: a child asks him to do some magic, and Orko responds by eating some fruit and claiming he’s made it disappear. Since Orko has never been shy to demonstrate his appalling magic before, I can only conclude that he’s deliberately trying to disappoint the child.

Attack 5
Orko: “Oh thanks, animators, for drawing attention to the fact that eating is quite awkward for me.”

 

Does it have the Power?

I thought this was quite good, up to a point, and that after that point it was rubbish. The idea behind the episode seems fairly innovative for He-Man, and it was quite interesting towards the start when the crops started mysteriously vanishing. Unfortunately, the scene with the tanks gathering crops, only to be destroyed by He-Man, went on for far too long, and not enough (well, not anything really) came from Teela’s surprising decision to stay underground with Subturnius. In the end, I’d call this episode a miss, but it certainly wasn’t offensively bad.

Episode 081 – The Arena

In which He-Man channels his inner Captain Kirk.

Responding to a distress call from Cestus III, Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise find the colony under attack by an alien race known as the Gorn. When the Enterprise pursues the Gorn’s ship into uncharted space, an advanced race called the Metrons intervene, decreeing that Kirk and the Gorn captain must decide the conflict by battling it out between themselves on a deserted planetoid. Kirk defeats the Gorn, but refuses to kill him, demonstrating the quality of mercy. Oh wait, sorry, that’s the Star Trek episode with the same name and exactly the same plot. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say, and I’m sure Paramount’s lawyers agreed.

Anyway, in the He-Man version, Man-at-Arms summons King Randor and Prince Adam to his lab, and explains that he has made contact with an alien being. Randor says, “Oh Christ, he’s been at the absinthe again,” but it turns out that on this occasion Man-at-Arms is telling the truth. On his viewscreen, he introduces Orm, a glowing ball of light, who is a member of a race that has evolved beyond the need for a physical body.

Arena 1
Man-at-Arms: “Jesus, Adam, I know King Randor looks a bit bozz-eyed, but you don’t have to get quite so pissed off about it.”

Orm states that it is exploring the galaxy for other intelligent life, and – perhaps misinterpreting the intellectual capacity of King Randor – expresses a desire to come to Eternia. Randor gladly grants this request, and Man-at-Arms prepares a landing site. Adam takes a moment to transform into He-Man, just in case Orm isn’t as peaceful as he claims.

Meanwhile, a goblin called General Tataran offers Skeletor the services of his army for the conquest of Eternia. Skeletor is taken with the notion and offers Tataran a large payment for the use of the army. When they arrive at the Palace, they do not even appear to notice Orm, who is – if I must I remind you – an enormous ball of light much larger than the Palace itself.

In a rather odd animation choice, Teela, He-Man and Man-at-Arms decide that the best response to Skeletor and Tataran’s attack is to climb, Gollum-like, straight up a wall, from the top of which they survey the assembled goblin troops and siege engines, as well as the dinosaurs that Tataran has randomly brought along. As Orm watches, a pitched battle begins between the Eternians and Tataran’s army.

Arena 2
He-Man: “Erm, slow down a bit there, Man-at-Arms.”

Suddenly Orm intervenes. Proclaiming that the battle will cause too much waste and needless suffering, it decides that the conflict will be resolved by a fight between one warrior from each side. Ominously, it also states that it will determine the fate of the loser. On the other hand, it selects He-Man and Skeletor as the champions, so the whole thing ought to be over pretty smartish.

A good portion of the remainder of the episode is devoted to Skeletor conjuring up a variety of stupid creatures to attack He-Man, including an evil tree, a snake, a giant spider, and a walking puddle of something that looks like melted candy floss. Needless to say, He-Man is not defeated by any of these efforts, and eventually the giant spider turns on Skeletor instead.

Arena 3
Skeletor: “There is no way I could have seen this coming.”

He-Man saves Skeletor from the spider and yammers on about the sanctity of life, an act of mercy that favourably impresses Orm. It sends Skeletor and his army back to Snake Mountain after erasing their memories of the evening’s events, then congratulates the Eternians on having love in their hearts, and flies off back into space.

 

In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms embarks on a confused monologue explaining that today’s conflict was resolved by a single act of compassion, that fighting is often not the right way to solve problems, and that sometimes it’s more courageous not to fight. He doesn’t explain when this is more courageous, or when fighting is the right way to solve problems. However, he does give us a dictionary definition of compassion, so he hasn’t completely wasted his time.

 

Character checklist

It’s very goody-heavy, this one. We get Prince Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Stratos, Ram-Man, Orm, and lots of nameless extras. On the evil side of things, it’s only really Skeletor, General Tataran and the billions of goblins.

Arena 4
Man-at-Arms: “The great thing about going to Muse gigs is they really put on a good light show.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

As with Disappearing Dragons a few weeks ago, we don’t see the transformation this week, which is rather pleasing. Despite the fact that Orm’s presence is an important diplomatic occasion which I feel Randor would expect Adam to attend, his disappearance goes completely unexplained.

 

Insults

Orm refers to Orko as a “little creature”, which, judging by his reaction, Orko takes as an insult. Orko later has a play-fight with an imaginary Skeletor, calling him a “bone-headed being” in the process. Skeletor does address He-Man as a “muscle-bound moron”, but reserves his main vitriol for his giant spider, which, in rapid succession, he calls a “filthy beast”, a “dim-witted animal”, a “stupid creature”, a “fool” and a “hideous beast”, all of which I have noted down for future use on the Doctor Who IMDB board when things get a bit heated.

Arena 5
He-Man: “Frankly, Skeletor just defeats himself sometimes.”

 

Does it have the Power?

Yes, this one’s pretty good, despite being a Star Trek rip-off. The main highlight is probably the battle between the Eternians and Tataran’s army, which lasts a good five minutes or so and has a very Star Wars-y vibe to it, with various ships and robots attacking each other. The sequence with Skeletor conjuring up endless magical opponents for He-Man in the arena is also really quite entertaining. All in all, I’d say this one doesn’t really put a foot wrong. It’s not a staggering work of genius, but it’s certainly worth a watch.