Episode 090 – One For All

In which Teela nearly succeeds in removing Orko from the episode altogether.

Adam, Cringer, Teela and Orko are having a day out exploring an archaeological site, when they receive word that a horde of space pirates have descended on a peaceful farming village to steal food supplies. Teela very sensibly decides to send Orko back to the Palace to alert Man-at-Arms, perhaps in the naive hope that Orko will then remain at the Palace and not appear in the rest of the episode. This hope is entirely unjustified.

Adam, Cringer and Teela show up at the village, where they completely fail to defeat the pirates – all of whom put together are, I must say, less intelligent than Ram-Man. In this display of ineptitude, Adam manages to lose his sword, and a big red rock-like pirate nicks it. Then the lead pirate, imaginatively named Sticky Fingers, shoots tar out of his fingers and roots our idiot heroes to the spot, while the pirates load their ship with food.

One For All 1
Sticky Fingers: “Got to say, I’m impressed at your stag do outfits, lads.”

I must have glanced away from the screen for a moment and missed some crucial information, because the next thing I knew, Adam, Teela and Cringer were in jail in some unspecified location. Luckily, two of the villagers – Rose and Harel – arrive to bust them out, take them to a warehouse to hide, then explain that the other villagers are too frightened to stand up to the pirates.

Before an intelligent discourse on how to stand up to bullies can begin, this notion is abandoned in favour of the introduction of a stupid two-legged monster with an elephant’s trunk and a rhino’s horn, which tracks our heroes to their hiding place. Thankfully, this ridiculous creation is defeated with the judicious use of some pepper, clogging up its trunk and rendering it incapable of further troublemaking.

One For All 2
Adam: “And the award for Least Expected Monster Ever goes to…”

Adam, Teela, Rose and Harel give the other villagers a pep talk in Bullying 101, advising them to work together and present a united front to the pirates. Adam then reveals that he has an idea, which is evidently inspired by frequent viewings of Home Alone, consisting as it does of the construction of a variety of stupid traps including jail cells suspended on ropes and deep pits, in which a good proportion of the pirates very shortly manage to get themselves trapped.

In the meantime, Cringer successfully recovers Adam’s sword, and He-Man appears on the scene very shortly thereafter. He quickly captures Sticky Fingers, after which Man-at-Arms finally arrives and promises to bring the pirates to justice. He-Man then congratulates the villagers on their newfound skills in working together to build traps, and Orko pops up again for a grand finale in which he idiotically makes Man-at-Arms invisible. Man-at-Arms probably welcomes this, since he can now punch Orko in the face without anyone ever knowing he was there.

One For All 3
Man-at-Arms: “Orko! How can I maintain my unearned reputation for competence if you keep dicking around making me invisible?”

 

In today’s adventure…

Adam is very proud of his efforts with the villagers this week, and comes along to tell us all about cooperation. Lifting heavy objects and doing boring jobs are easier if you get someone else to help you. They’re even easier if you get someone else to do it instead of you, but Adam doesn’t say that.

 

Character checklist

Right, well, it’s Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Orko, Man-at-Arms, Rose, Harel, Sticky Fingers, and a whole host more pirates and villagers, the names of whom I remain entirely uninformed and uninterested.

One For All 4
Villagers: “Most of us don’t have or deserve names.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

When the space pirates first appear on the scene, Teela runs off telling Adam to stay right where he is. This should be all the excuse Adam needs, but he still decides to try to give the game away by commenting, “All right, Teela. Adam will stay right where he is.” Fortunately, Teela is out of earshot by this stage, so doesn’t start questioning why Adam’s started referring to himself in the third person.

 

Insults

Some pretty mild fare this week, with nothing more serious than Sticky Fingers referring to his entire cabal as “fools”, and Orko calling Sticky Fingers a “miserable pirate”.

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s an unpromising storyline which actually turns out to be relatively good fun. The writer clearly put himself into a corner with his introduction of these pirates, who never even approach being threatening. He must therefore have realised that He-Man would make mincemeat of them in an instant, so conjured up the subplot concerning the theft of the sword. This has the pleasing (if possibly unintended) by-product of portraying Adam as surprisingly competent; it’s nice to see what he can do when he’s forced to by an inability to He-Manise himself. Cringer too gets a moment in the limelight, successfully stealing the power sword back from Sticky Fingers.

One For All 5
Cringer: “Hashtag winning.”

On the downside, the pirates – despite some interesting animation designs – are all entirely lacking in personality, with the exception of Sticky Fingers, who’s not that exciting. The whole storyline is pretty slow as well: the episode is forced to pad things out with an irrelevant five minute section at the start where He-Man has to rescue Rose from falling down a chasm.

In short, though, this episode is better than you might expect. Don’t think you’re getting a classic, but you’ll probably enjoy it.

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Episode 089 – Just a Little Lie

In which Orko learns a really important lesson about lying, and we all learn with him, and we come away feeling enlightened rather than patronised.

Prince Del of Diperia has been sent to the Palace to keep him safe from unspecified attacks on his home. On his arrival, Adam, Teela and Orko instantly whisk him off to see the new water purification plant, which is precisely what I’d want to see if I made a visit to Eternia. Del’s homesickness for Diperia is not lessened by his thrilling trip to the sewage works, so Orko promises to take him somewhere even more beautiful. Del looks pleadingly at Adam and Teela, but they just abandon him to Orko’s tender mercies.

Lie 1
Del: “No! Not Orko! Please! I’d rather stay at the sewage works for five years than spend another 2 minutes with this goit.”

Del is unimpressed by Orko’s choice of beauty spot, for which I can’t say I blame him, and implies that Eternia is not as good as Diperia. Stung to the quick by this remark, Orko produces a diamond from his hat and claims that it is the Star Crystal, which will protect anyone from harm. Del is most taken with the alleged Star Crystal, and decides to test it by walking under a waterfall. To prevent his lie being discovered, Orko diverts the course of the river and saves Del from getting very wet, and Del thus concludes that the Crystal works.

The diverted river flows into the Palace, where Adam and Teela are playing with a pair of the most disgusting children I’ve ever seen. This scene, which ranks as one of the most sickening things ever shown on television, comes to a merciful end when the water from the river appears, and Adam runs off to become He-Man.

Lie 2
Cringer: “Could you remind me of the legal definitions of “extenuating circumstances” and “dire provocation” again, Adam?”

After attending to the flooded Palace, He-Man finds Del and Orko still gaping stupidly at the waterfall. Asking what happened, Del starts to explain about the Crystal, but Orko quickly interrupts, claiming the waterfall went crazy of its own volition. He-Man then mutters something slightly crazy about getting Man-at-Arms to fix the waterfall, and slopes off.

That night, Del steals the Crystal from Orko’s bedside and heads home, so that his father can use the Crystal to defend Diperia from the Torks. Discovering his absence in the morning, Orko realises what has happened, and tells Teela that Del has gone to the caverns. He helpfully explains to the audience that he has told this lie so that Teela won’t find out about the Star Crystal lie, and then he sets off himself to find Del.

Heading down to the caverns, He-Man, Teela, Man-at-Arms and Battle-Cat come up against a party of Torks and are knocked out by sleeping gas. They are locked in a prison cell in the Torks’ encampment, which is our cue for some jolly prison breaking antics from He-Man. If you’re on the lookout for nonsensical dialogue, during this scene, a Tork says, “What’s going on?” to which He-Man replies, “I will, in just a moment.”

Lie 3
He-Man: “No need to make sense in an episode this shockingly bad.”

In the meantime, Orko finds Del, but almost immediately they are both found by some more Torks. Del still has great faith in the Crystal, and once again Orko engages in some sleight of hand to convince him that the Crystal works. Even more confident than ever, Del runs off to join his father and present him with the Crystal, and Orko cannot keep up.

When He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Teela find Orko in the forest, He-Man looks absolutely livid, but refuses to hear Orko’s explanation of events to this point (which is just as well, because I didn’t want to hear it again). The intrepid band head for Diperia, where they find Del has given the Star Crystal to King Stefan. Believing himself to be invincible, Stefan challenges the Torks, and is about to get his ass whupped good, but He-Man intervenes just in time.

Lie 4
King Stefan: “Thank you, He-Man, for stopping me making a massively stupid mistake.”

Matters are wrapped up with He-Man trapping the Torks inside a cave, and everyone cheers like a halfwit. King Stefan thanks He-Man for his help, after which He-Man demands an explanation from Orko. Orko reiterates the entire plot for those of us who hadn’t been paying attention, and I wish I’d known he was going to do that, so I could have just watched the last 30 seconds instead of the whole thing.

 

In today’s adventure…

Orko has little faith in the audience’s ability to comprehend the message this episode was delivering, since he shows up again to tell us that lying is not a great idea. Interestingly, he seems to be saying lying is a bad thing because it’s really hard to keep up with the lies you’ve told, rather than because it’s intrinsically wrong. Still, whatever works to stop children lying, eh?

 

Character checklist

Not that anyone cares who’s in this bollocks, but for the sake of completion I suppose I should note that this episode features Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Orko, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Del, King Stefan, a Christ-load of Torks, and those beastly, beastly children.

Lie 5
Teela: “All right, Battle-Cat. You can eat just one of the children. I’ll intimidate the other one into keeping his mouth shut.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

I’m pretty sure he mumbled something as he ran off when the flood water appeared in the Palace, but I wasn’t paying attention. I was too busy bemoaning the fact that I could clearly see where this story was going, and that there was still a full 15 minutes of it to go.

 

Insults

King Stefan calls the Torks “cowards”, but otherwise there’s nothing to report here.

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s another patronising stream of gibberish from the pen of J. Brynne Stephens, so no, it doesn’t. In J’s favour, it’s by far the best episode he/she has ever written, but on a CV including A Friend in Need, The Starchild and The Rarest Gift of All, that shouldn’t be too hard to achieve. The problem – as ever – is that it’s a story deliberately devised to hammer in a moral, and starts from the position that children are incredibly dull-witted and will need the message slammed into them with less subtlety than a John Lewis Christmas advert. Because it’s so important that the message is received, there’s none of the usual sly humour – laughing for even the briefest of seconds might make us miss the MESSAGE! It’s consequently no fun at all to watch this episode as an adult, and I’m convinced that if I’d seen this when I was a child, it might have actually put me off He-Man for life.

In short – don’t bother.

Episode 088 – Three on a Dare

In which Man-at-Arms reveals his rather Victorian ideas about gender politics.

Teela takes a group of three students out on a field trip to the Mystical Forest, despite the Palace’s radio transmitter being broken. Man-at-Arms and Adam attempt to warn Teela that with the transmitter down, she will be unable to ask for help if she needs it – but Teela ignores them and saunters off confidently, saying she can manage. Your starter for 10: will Teela regret her impetuousness before the episode is finished?

Dare 1
Teela: “Of course I’ll be fine. Nothing’s ever happened to me before, has it?”

Man-at-Arms determines that in order to repair the transmitter, he will need some rainbow quartz. This commodity can only be found in a cavern in Snake Mountain, and I must say it seems fairly stupid of the Eternians to have designed a product that could only be fixed using nearly unobtainable materials. Anyway, Adam and Cringer fly off to Snake Mountain to get some quartz. He optimistically doesn’t turn into He-Man at this stage, but I think we all know it’s only a matter of time.

Teela’s field trip with her students – named Krill, Sinda and Tager – consists of taking them into the forest and letting them nearly get eaten by a variety of ridiculous plant life. It is therefore no surprise that while Teela’s back is turned, Krill and Sinda dare Tager to take their vehicle on a joyride towards Snake Mountain. Teela calls for help on the radio, but of course it doesn’t work. Serves her right.

Dare 2
Teela: “Hello? Hello? Could I speak to the guy in charge of obvious plot developments, please?”

Skeletor, on the other hand, receives Teela’s signal loud and clear, and begins to hatch a pretty unrealistic plot to capture her and trade her for the secrets of Castle Grayskull. After he sends Evil-Lyn out to begin this scheme, Skeletor then spots the students zooming towards Snake Mountain, so he turns on a giant magnet to suck them in. As they wander the corridors, they see a captured Teela being led in by Evil-Lyn, and decide to try to escape to bring help.

Adam and Cringer successfully enter Snake Mountain, but attract the attention of Mer-Man, and only now decide to turn into He-Man and Battle-Cat. Mer-Man reports He-Man’s presence to Skeletor, who realises that – with the radio not working – He-Man could not know about Teela’s kidnapping, and therefore must have come to Snake Mountain for some other reason. He thus quickly finds out what He-Man wants, and offers him all the rainbow quartz he wants in exchange for He-Man’s speedy departure from Snake Mountain.

Dare 3
Skeletor: “He-Man! So nice to see you! Fancy some rainbow quartz? I’ve got loads going spare.”

He-Man is naturally suspicious of this uncharacteristic burst of generosity on Skeletor’s part, and thanks to an ill-timed announcement on the radio courtesy of Evil-Lyn, he learns of Teela’s predicament. The rest of the episode consists of He-Man running all over Snake Mountain trying to recover Teela and the missing students, as well as nicking some rainbow quartz.

Once the motley crew return to the Palace, Man-at-Arms fixes the radio transmitter with the quartz and the students apologise for causing such a kerfuffle. Then Adam and Man-at-Arms make thinly veiled allusions to He-Man’s secret identity, and laugh their heads off. This would be a little bit crazy even if they were alone, but with Teela and the students in the room as well, it’s borderline insane.

Dare 4
Prince Adam: “Can’t believe I’ve never seen Bridget Jones’ Diary before. It’s well funny.”

 

In today’s adventure…

For the second week in a row, Adam suggests that the average viewer is pretty foolish. This time it’s because taking a dare doesn’t prove you’re brave, just that you’re an idiot. Adam counsels us to only do what we think is right. Unless we’re an affectionless psychopath. He doesn’t say that bit.

 

Character checklist

A veritable cornucopia of exciting persons grace our screens this week, including Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Trapjaw, Mer-Man, Evil-Lyn, Tri-Klops, Krill, Sinda and Tagar.

Dare 5
Teela: “This is among the most ominous dotto trains I’ve ever been on.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam doesn’t give an excuse, but frankly – as mentioned above – it’s downright odd that he waits until he’s actually inside Snake Mountain and under attack before turning into He-Man in the first place. This is especially odd since he hasn’t brought any mining tools, and the rainbow quartz has to be physically broken by He-Man in order to take some.

 

Insults

Skeletor leads the field once again, referring to Beast-Man as a “furball”, and collectively describing Beast-Man, Trapjaw, Mer-Man, Evil-Lyn and Tri-Klops as “dullards” and “incompetent fools”. He-Man considers Mer-Man a “scale-face”, while Teela calls Trapjaw a “walking junkyard” and a “lump of worthless ore”.

Dare 6
He-Man: “I’m a bit concerned that this is radioactive.”

Also worth a mention, though it’s not intended insultingly, is Man-at-Arms’ display of some rather dated gender politics when he describes Teela thus, “That woman’s got a mind of her own.”

 

Does it have the Power?

This one feels rather like the writer simply wanted to write a good old-fashioned “He-Man breaks into Snake Mountain and causes chaos” story, but was told that he had to add a more obvious moral lesson, and consequently shoehorned in the children and the bit about the dare. Certainly the primary focus is given to He-Man’s quest for the quartz, and the students only appear every so often as something of an afterthought.

I also must confess I really did feel sorry for Skeletor in this episode. He indisputably owns the rainbow quartz, because it’s in his home, but He-Man feels he has the right to tool in and help himself. Admittedly, Skeletor doesn’t seem too bothered by this act of burglary, and he has kidnapped Teela as well, which is morally questionable to say the least, but there’s definitely a slight tinge of He-Man turning into a vigilante here.

Dare 7
Skeletor: “I’ve been robbed!”

Anyway, I may have been spoiled lately – there’s been a couple of stone-cold classic episodes recently, and Skeletor has taken the limelight in every episode for five weeks now – but this one didn’t feel quite as good as perhaps it would if it were sandwiched in a period of Skeletor drought. So, I’d conclude that it’s worth watching, but it’s not truly great.

Episode 087 – Things That Go Bump in the Night

In which the new boy on Skeletor’s team proves less than impressive.

On King Randor’s birthday, Orko decides to indulge in an extended showcase to demonstrate just how irritating he can be. After a less than amusing magic trick, he accidentally but dementedly steals the King’s birthday present – a new Stratoblaster. Unfortunately, this isn’t a weapon designed to kill Stratos; it’s a plane of some sort. As luck and the script would have it, the Stratoblaster heads straight for Snake Mountain, with Orko trapped inside.

Teela and Man-at-Arms follow in the Wind Raider, and are on hand to pick Orko up when he crashes the Stratoblaster. Before they can escape, however, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn and Clawful find them – as does Skeletor’s new apprentice, a young boy called Glitch who is already regretting signing up. Unfortunately for Skeletor, He-Man is also on the scene, which results in immediate defeat for Skeletor and his collection of no-hopers.

Bump 1
Evil-Lyn: “Everyone here except me is stunningly incompetent.”

Inside Snake Mountain, Skeletor berates his followers, and finishes up by expelling Glitch from the gang. After being thrown out of Skeletor HQ, Glitch is found by Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko and Adam, who are still dossing around outside trying to fix the Stratoblaster. Glitch introduces himself as the son of the King of Selassia and begs for a lift out of the vicinity, but tellingly he doesn’t explain what he was doing there in the first place.

At the Palace, Glitch demonstrates that he has a super attitude problem, so Adam decides to try to get to know him better by taking him out to the forest to shoot crossbows. Once this bizarre attempt at a male bonding ritual is over, Glitch readily explains to Adam that he is a coward, and joined Skeletor’s crew to try to overcome his fears. Adam dismissively comments, “Well, that didn’t work,” thus in one short sentence managing to imply that Glitch is not only still a coward, he’s an idiot as well.

Bump 2
Adam: “Glitch, don’t take this the wrong way, but your animation style makes it look like you belong in another cartoon altogether.”

Nonetheless, when seconds later Adam is incapacitated by an evil plant, Glitch summons sufficient courage to head through the forest by himself to fetch help from Man-at-Arms and Teela. Of course, by the time he gets back, Adam has long since turned into He-Man, tied the plant in a knot, and departed. Luckily, he shows up again mere seconds later as Adam, before Man-at-Arms and Teela can accuse Glitch of being not only a coward and an idiot, but a liar as well.

Meanwhile, at Snake Mountain, Skeletor receives a visit from the King of Selassia, who demands the return of his son. Knowing that the Selassians come from another world and have little knowledge of Eternia, Skeletor explains that the evil King Randor is likely to have kidnapped Glitch, and points the King in the direction of the Palace.

Bump 3
Skeletor: “Jazz hands!”

When the Selassians fly their spaceship directly over the Palace and encircle it with rock stalagmites, Adam decides that the third transformation of the episode is in order. Glitch explains to his father that the Eternians are his friends, and realising that his treachery has been unmasked, Skeletor hijacks the Selassian ship. However, thanks to Glitch’s newfound courage, Skeletor is defeated, and the Selassians depart – notably without apologising for the attack on the Palace.

 

In today’s adventure…

Adam suggests a variety of things that maybe we could be afraid of, including water, heights, the dark, fire and the fairly general getting hurt. He explains, however, that fear is likely to prevent us from something bad happening, so it’s nothing to be concerned about. He then adds, rather strongly, that only a fool is afraid of nothing. Incidentally, I’m pretty confident that He-Man is afraid of nothing.

 

Character checklist

Well, the guest star is of course Glitch, and his dad is a one-shot character too. Otherwise, it’s just the regulars: Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Skeletor, Clawful and Evil-Lyn.

Bump 5
The King of Selassia: “Always look at your enemies sternly, Glitch. Don’t look at them like you’re a moron.”

 

Insults

There was a moment near the start when I thought Skeletor was referring to Glitch as “bitch”, but even for someone as unhinged from reality as I am, that did seem unlikely. He definitely does call Glitch a “fool”, though that’s hardly unprecedented, and he also considers Glitch a “miserable wimp”. Skeletor is very proud of the phrase “snivelling coward”, using it three times to describe Glitch, and on the first of these occasions it also encompasses Clawful and Evil-Lyn. Clawful comes off fairly badly from Skeletor’s zingers, also receiving a “fool” and a slightly unexpected “fishmonger”. Skeletor then refers to He-Man as a “muscle-bound meddler”. He finally gets his comeuppance when the King of Selassia calls him a “deceitful blaggard”. I bet that hurt.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Three transformations this episode provide rich pickings for feeble excuses. On the first occasion, Adam says, “You go ahead, I’ll, uh, catch up later,” which is bad enough, but his attempt on the third transformation is nothing short of pitiful: “If you’ll excuse me, I’ll, uh.”

 

Egg on your face?

Less than a minute of this episode passes before Orko deliberately drops a 1 ton weight onto a birthday cake, resulting in Man-at-Arms, Teela, Adam, King Randor and Queen Marlena all being covered in chocolate. This sort of thing never grows old. I half wonder sometimes why they didn’t simply make 130 episodes of 20 minutes of Orko throwing food at people.

Bump 4
Orko: “An opportunity to be annoying? Let me at it!”

 

Does it have the Power?

It starts very badly indeed. Orko’s failing magic trick followed by his accidental joyride in the Stratoblaster led me to expect one of those awful ‘Orko feels sorry for himself’ episodes. Luckily, this angle was dropped as soon as it began to rear its head, and instead veered off along a plotline that I don’t recall seeing before: someone signing up to Skeletor’s crew and becoming disillusioned. Glitch isn’t dreadfully irritating, and his journey from coward to hero is believable.

The real highlight, though, is once again Skeletor. He’s got no overall plan this week, simply reacting to whatever comes along: he tries to capture Man-at-Arms, Teela and Orko at the start, just for the hell of it, and his nimble act of deception when the King of Selassia shows up is a joy to behold. There’s also a brilliant moment when he is watching Glitch on his globe, laughing ridiculously hard and thumping his fist, ending up breaking the globe. Skeletor’s immediate reaction is to shriek, “Clawful, you fool! Now look what you’ve done!”

The only criticism I have of the whole thing is Queen Marlena’s voice. Either the normal actress wasn’t available, or she had forgotten how to do it, because it was really inconsistent with every other episode in which Marlena appears. That’s certainly not a deal breaker though. In summary, this isn’t the best of the series, but it’s a very watchable instalment.