Episode 108 – Teela’s Triumph

In which I finally realise that Man-at-Arms is wearing an all-in-one bodysuit.

In Castle Grayskull, the Sorceress has been joined for a friendly chitchat by a freaky floating pink head. The two of them watch Man-at-Arms and Teela on a magic mirror, idly conversing about how awesome Teela is and how much the Sorceress is looking forward to the day she can reveal that she is Teela’s mother. Suddenly, the Sorceress decides she can wait no longer, so she turns into her falcon form and flies off to tell Teela all about it.

Triumph 1
The Sorceress: “This pink head thing could just be the result of too much cheese before bedtime.”

Unfortunately, the Sorceress’ route takes her past Snake Mountain, where Skeletor is messing about with inter-dimensional weapons again. To demonstrate his new gun to Evil-Lyn and Trapjaw, he shoots Zoar and sends her to another world. Zoar appears in a landscape of volcanoes and raining lava, and indulges in a monologue about how hopeless her situation is, and how even He-Man will be unable to find her. It seems to go without saying that her super duper daughter Teela will be similarly unable.

Luckily, the freaky pink head appears to Adam, Cringer, Teela and Man-at-Arms to inform them that the Sorceress has vanished. Man-at-Arms tells Adam to find He-Man, and the pink head tells Teela that she must replace the Sorceress at Castle Grayskull. Teela presciently asks why, but the pink head dodges the question with, “I can’t tell you.” This seems to be adequate for Teela, but let’s not forget she is the least perceptive person on an entire planet of people with eyes closed to the obvious.

Triumph 2
Teela: “No need to question too much as to why I’ve got to be the Sorceress. I’m sure it all makes sense.”

Teela arrives at Castle Grayskull, where – to the beat of an outstandingly trippy 80s soundtrack – the pink head guides her through the lessons she must learn to become the new Sorceress. These lessons do not include the knowledge concerning He-Man’s secret identity, which I would argue is hands down the most important thing for the Sorceress. How else will she call for help when she inevitably gets into some stupid form of trouble?

Meanwhile, in an effort to find out where the Sorceress is, He-Man goes to Snake Mountain to have a heart-to-heart with Skeletor, which proves to be a surprisingly subtle fencing match of a conversation. It ends, however, with He-Man being blasted with the Dimension Gun and sent to the volcano planet, after which Skeletor abandons all pretence at subtlety and shrieks, “That’s the end of He-Man!” while happily waving his arms around.

Triumph 3
He-Man: “Hmm. Skeletor’s version of Butlin’s leaves something to be desired.”

Skeletor’s next move is to leap on the Grayskull Express train, and arrives at the castle gates pronto, with his usual intent to unlock the secrets. Teela, who isn’t doing very well in her training course run by the floating pink head, decides to disguise herself as the Sorceress, which she does very badly. To his eternal credit, Skeletor sees through this deception, so Teela has no choice but to fight.

Back on Volcano World, the Sorceress has opted to lurk inside a cave full of lava, which is as sensible as it sounds. It’s not terribly surprising, therefore, that she gets trapped inside, which means He-Man has to turn himself into a drill and dig her out. Once this implausible feat is achieved, the Sorceress is able to use He-Man’s sword to return them to Eternia.

Triumph 4
He-Man: “So that’s how many times this week I’ve had to rescue you, Sorceress? I ought to be charging a finder’s fee.”

They arrive to find Teela has tied Evil-Lyn up with more ropes than looks strictly necessary, but hasn’t bothered to do anything about Skeletor – presumably because Skeletor equally hasn’t bothered to do anything except lounge about on Castle Grayskull’s throne. The appearance of the Sorceress and He-Man spooks Skeletor so much that he simply runs away. There’s just enough time for the Sorceress to tell Teela that her mother would be very proud of her, and for Teela to reciprocate that she wishes her mother was just like the Sorceress. There is also enough time for me to vomit copiously into a bucket.

 

In today’s adventure…

We’re treated to a pretty muddled moral this week, delivered by Man-at-Arms, who tells us that we have to try to do difficult things and must always do our best. There’s really not a lot I can say about that, so instead I’d like to focus on a question about Man-at-Arms that has bothered me for a while. You know how he wears green, with yellow armour on top? It really bothers me that he has green hands too. They’re not gloves, because they blend seamlessly with his green sleeves. The only explanation is that he’s wearing a green all-in-one latex bodysuit, which is a horrible thought.

Triumph 5
Man-at-Arms: “Loving my green body stocking.”

 

Character checklist

It’s a relatively tight cast today, featuring Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, the Sorceress, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Trapjaw and the giant pink head. It’s also a special occasion, since there’s no sign of Orko.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

No excuse as such, but Man-at-Arms does pointedly say that Adam had better find He-Man. And what do you know, he does!

 

Insults

It’s a relatively imaginative selection today, what with Evil-Lyn calling Battle-Cat “mangy”, though notably not to his face. Teela comments, “You don’t have a mind” to Trapjaw, which seems fair enough. Skeletor lowers the standard, though, by offering the dull “fool” to Evil-Lyn.

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Evil-Lyn: “I’ll grant you, it was fairly foolish of me to let this happen.”

 

Does it have the Power?

There’s quite a bit to like about this one, though I’d hesitate to describe it as a classic. Skeletor – as usual – has some sparkling dialogue, and his scene with He-Man in the middle of the episode, in which they each try to learn from the other where the Sorceress is, is definitely a highlight. The Volcano Planet is beautifully animated, and there’s a great atmosphere of desolation in those scenes, conveying nicely – without ever saying it – that this is a dead world, with no inhabitants and no hope.

That being said, the Sorceress is useless as ever, simply cowering in a cave until He-Man shows up, and being honest, their method of returning to Eternia is as deus ex machina as they come. I also have very little time for Teela, so the scenes of her learning to be the Sorceress – and being too monumentally stupid to work out why she’s been selected for this honour – did not interest me. In addition, I have very little conception as to why the Sorceress can’t tell Teela who her mother is; it feels like an arbitrary rule made up just for the hell of it.

Still, this all sounds like I didn’t like this episode, which isn’t the case at all. It’s well worth a watch.

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Episode 107 – The Gambler

In which He-Man prevents Eternia’s version of Chernobyl.

At a fair arranged by the Widgets to celebrate the opening of their new corodite reactor, Adam, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko and a Widget named Smudge meet a conjuror called Melbrag. I like to think that this is the stage name of the esteemed South Bank Show presenter Melvin Bragg, but I may be some distance off the mark here. Anyway, Smudge wins a small diamond from Melbrag, after which Teela lets slip that Smudge is the chief guard of the corodite reactor. This is information in which Melbrag seems a little too interested, not that our moronic heroes notice.

Gambler 1
Man-at-Arms: “God, the budget for Glastonbury has really plummetted.”

This pleasant scene comes to an abrupt halt when Man-at-Arms reveals that some of the corodite in the mine has been contaminated with selenium. He-Man sounds just a bit impatient when he says, “But what does that mean?” He seems quite keen to get to the bit where he can hit someone, and he doesn’t think he’ll get there by talking about contaminated rocks. Man-at-Arms explains that the corodite is now useless, and He-Man suggests dumping it somewhere safe. You know, like nuclear waste disposal.

Smudge has been hanging out with Melbrag, gambling for bigger and bigger stakes. He has won a huge pile of diamonds, after which Melbrag puts up his Wind Raider as a stake, and requests that Smudge bet some corodite against it. Despite his misgivings, Smudge agrees on the basis that he’s thus far won every time. Can you say “set-up”? Smudge can’t. To my distinct lack of surprise, Smudge loses, and Melbrag takes a fairly modest lump of corodite.

Gambler 2
Melbrag: “I may have a stupid outfit, but at least I have a better dress sense than Prince Adam.”

To replace the corodite taken by Melbrag, Smudge nips into the mine, takes a lump of the selenium-soiled corodite and puts it in the reactor. Rather surprisingly, he then immediately confesses to He-Man that he’s given some corodite to Melbrag, and He-Man heads off, eagerly anticipating the moment he can smash Melbrag’s face in.

He-Man and Smudge find Melbrag leaning casually against his ship. He reveals that he is intending to sell the corodite to Skeletor, and traps the pair of them in a forcefield while he trots off to seal the deal. Skeletor doesn’t show up in person: he sends his new sidekick Spikor to get the corodite. However, Spikor disappears from the episode as quickly and inauspiciously as he entered it when He-Man punches his vehicle.

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He-Man: “Oh, hello, Spikor. Did you know you’re the most irritating of Skeletor’s team, bar none?”

It’s at about this point that Smudge tells He-Man about the contaminated corodite that he’s put in the reactor, a revelation that doesn’t please He-Man one bit. Nonetheless, he still takes time out to vandalise Melbrag’s ship before heading back to the reactor, which is perhaps why he isn’t in time to stop King Randor flicking the switch to turn the reactor on. The reactor starts to explode, so He-Man lifts the entire thing up and throws it into space. Everybody cheers, and while I agree it’s good that there was no explosion, no one seems too upset that this new reactor – the pride of Eternia – has been destroyed. In particular, I’d expect Man-at-Arms, who’s spent some time inventing the thing, to be a bit upset.

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Man-at-Arms: “Er, He-Man, what’s wrong with your face?”

 

In today’s adventure…

Adam tells us about the need to respect other people’s property, like Smudge didn’t when he gambled with the corodite. Adam’s advice essentially boils down to “don’t nick things”, but he doesn’t seem to want to come right out and use any of the relevant words, like “steal”, “thief”, “burglar”, “petty larceny” or “kleptomania”.

Other interesting morals which could have been used for this episode include the predictable “don’t get into gambling, because it’s hard to stop” and the rather more surprising “you have to dispose of contaminated nuclear material safely”.

 

Character checklist

This exciting excursion to Eternia features Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, King Randor, Smudge, Melbrag and Spikor. Melbrag also has a pair of guards, whose names either weren’t mentioned or weren’t sufficiently interesting for me to pay attention. And, of course, there’s loads of Widgets, but the less said about them, the better.

Gambler 5
He-Man: “As you know, I generally abhor violence, but a crowd of numpties like this is pushing me to my limits.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam is disinclined to explain himself today. There’s a brief return to the theme of King Randor being irritated that Adam is missing though, which is always nice to see.

 

Insults

The episode goes a long way before starting on insults, and even when it gets going, they’re not all that good. Smudge is called a “silly Widget” by Melbrag, and a “shrimp” by one of Melbrag’s guards. Smudge retaliates by calling Melbrag’s guards “small and foolish”, while Melbrag is a little more vicious with them by calling them “bunglers” and “fools”. And finally, Smudge dishes out an insult which would have made me cry when I was little: he says to Melbrag, “You’re a really bad person.” Ouch.

 

Egg on your face?

In an early trick performed by Melbrag, Orko recommends that Man-at-Arms takes the sphere on the right. Foolishly heeding this advice, Man-at-Arms does so and receives a face full of water for his troubles. During this sequence, Adam is rather oddly animated in the background of the shot, looking at Orko with an expression somewhere between mild antipathy and complete loathing.

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Prince Adam: “Orko, has anyone ever mentioned to you how utterly repulsive you are?”

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s not a highlight. As always, the Widgets are really annoying, though on this occasion it’s only Smudge who actually speaks, so it could be worse. There’s rather too much messing about in the middle, with Melbrag capturing, losing, and recapturing He-Man, and the plot doesn’t seem to know what to do with itself, veering from a rabid diatribe against the dangers of gambling to the unexpected theme of safe nuclear waste disposal.

In addition, though I’m always keen to see new baddies, Spikor’s appearance came across as nothing more than a five second advertisement for his action figure. In further addition, he has an absolutely infuriating voice, so I hope we don’t see him too much in the future. In short, I’d be happy to never watch this one again.

Episode 106 – The Bitter Rose

In which Orko reveals that his sexual predilections go beyond vanilla.

This week’s episode seems to have a missing opening scene or something, because with no explanation whatsoever, Orko’s girlfriend Dree Elle is hanging out at the Palace, and she’s massively depressed for no apparent reason. Orko resolves to do something nice to snap her out of this unexplained downer.

Man-at-Arms (in his unlikely capacity as Eternia’s foremost embroiderer) reveals a tapestry of the legendary Bitter Rose, and tells the story of the Rose’s origins (in summary, a woman was really upset and cried every day, then turned into a rose, or something insane like that). Orko decides that this mythical flower would make the perfect gift, so heads off to Rose Mountain and successfully picks the Bitter Rose.

Bitter 1.jpg
Man-at-Arms: “Yes, yes, I embroidered this myself. Definitely didn’t nick it from someone who can actually embroider. No.”

Unfortunately, this triggers an avalanche, which is bad news for a bunch of butterfly men who appear to live inside the mountain. Their first reaction is to call a meeting, despite the fact that holding a meeting inside a collapsing mountain is about as stupid as you can get. The only butterfly man with an ounce of brains is Garth (first seen in Eye of the Beholder many episodes ago), who heads to the Palace to ask for help.

At the Palace, Man-at-Arms is demonstrating his new invention. It’s called a Matchorator, but despite a reasonable chunk of screen time devoted to Man-at-Arms explaining it, I can’t figure out what it’s meant to do. However, Man-at-Arms does say that the Matchorator still has a few flaws, so he wouldn’t like to try it on a unique specimen. I am pretty sure, therefore, that very soon he’s going to have to try it on the unique Bitter Rose.

Once this piece of either blatant scene-setting or random irrelevance is over, Garth arrives at the Palace to report that Orko has nicked the Bitter Rose and caused Rose Mountain to start collapsing. He-Man heads straight for the Mountain, where he spends a fair chunk of the episode’s run time in building a wall to prevent rocks hitting the butterfly men’s village. He and Teela then waste further time playing baseball with falling rocks. This was truly riveting entertainment.

Bitter 2.jpg
Battle-Cat: “He-Man, why are you dancing with that log?”

Luckily, Skeletor enters the episode to inject a bit of random animosity to proceedings. Getting wind of the fact that Orko has acquired the Bitter Rose, Skeletor – with no evident purpose – decides that he’d like the Rose for himself. He sends Beast-Man and Trapjaw off to get it, which rather surprisingly results in Orko’s speedy capture. There’s then a (potentially unintended) hilarious bit where Beast-Man makes a rubbish joke, and Trapjaw just looks at him, leaves a pause just long enough to imply that he thinks Beast-Man is mental, and then changes the subject.

He-Man decides that he will spend the rest of the episode hoofing boulders about, and thus it is left to Garth to rescue Orko from Snake Mountain. Orko appears vaguely apologetic for causing this trouble, and agrees to head back to Rose Mountain to replant the stolen flower. Unfortunately, Beast-Man and Trapjaw are in hot pursuit, and they accidentally shoot and kill the Bitter Rose. They then return to Snake Mountain and make a replica of the Rose, in a futile effort to deceive Skeletor.

Bitter 3
Skeletor: “This is going to be the picture on my new range of Valentine’s Day merchandise.”

Meanwhile, Man-at-Arms – not entirely unexpectedly – decides to take the Rose to his lab and use the Matchorator on it. The Matchorator doesn’t work, so Orko and Dree Elle do some mumbo jumbo about having good intentions and love and ra ra ra, which makes the Rose come back to life. The whole crowd of them return to Rose Mountain and replant the Rose.

The Bitter Rose then transforms into the woman who was mentioned when Man-at-Arms unveiled his stupid tapestry. Orko develops a really weird hunchback and begs the woman to punish him, but she informs him she’s not into that sort of freaky business. Speaking as if she’s drugged up to the eyeballs on Valium, she ponderously yammers on about the power of love, then disappears. Praise be. Also: what the hell?

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Dree Elle: “Jesus, Orko, what the hell is wrong with you now?”

 

In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms tries to tell us that Orko nearly caused disaster today by doing something that he knew was wrong. I’m usually the first in line to criticise Orko, but frankly all he thought he was doing today was picking a flower. Yes, a rare and special flower, but he was fully intending to replant it when he got it to the Palace anyway – he even said as much. One could even argue that he was attempting to preserve a one-of-a-kind species by taking it to a more secure environment. That might be going a touch far in Orko’s defence, but still, it’s a bit excessive to make out that he was deliberately doing something wrong.

 

Character checklist

Populating this excitingly deranged dribble of an episode are Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, Dree Elle, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Trapjaw, Garth, loads of butterfly people, and the weird rose woman.

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Rose woman: “Dree Elle, if I give you this rose, please will you make sure your creepy boyfriend stays away from me?”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

“Come on, Cringer, let’s find He-Man,” says Adam, and walks into a very small bush in the Palace courtyard. He then emerges seconds later as He-Man. Dree Elle and Teela are watching, and even if they are so monumentally thick that they don’t work out the dual identity thing, they must at the very least wonder why He-Man is skulking about in a shrubbery.

 

Insults

Although Trapjaw does take the time to call Beast-Man a “fur-brain”, it should come as no surprise when I reveal that Skeletor is responsible for most of this week’s vitriol. He calls Orko a “little menace”, then turns on Beast-Man and Trapjaw, who he refers to as “dolts” and then, rather unexpectedly, “meatheads”. The episode ends with him shrieking at them, “You no-good rotten excuses for …” before being too overcome with rage to speak properly.

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Trapjaw: “Beast-Man, there’s no need to look so incredibly put out. This is no stupider than what we normally do.”

 

Does it have the Power?

This cartoon is customarily insane, but sometimes it really surpasses itself. This week was one of those occasions. I would like to know why Dree Elle was present, why she was so bloody miserable, why Skeletor decided to get involved, why it was deemed necessary for He-Man to spend the entire episode pushing rocks about, and why the writers thought that the episode would be best served with a grand finale featuring a sexualised half-woman-half-rose thing talking dopily about peace and love, man. So basically, no, I don’t believe it does have the Power.

Episode 105 – No Job too Small

In which Panthor learns that Prince Adam and He-Man are one and the same.

In Snake Mountain, Evil-Lyn, Beast-Man and Whiplash are gathered miserably round the spyglobe. Skeletor has gone away for a weekend break in Skegness, but before going, he has instructed his employees not to do anything to aggravate He-Man. However, on learning from the spyglobe that King Randor is sending Prince Adam to Phantos (last seen in the early disappointing effort She-Demon of Phantos), Evil-Lyn decides to disregard Skeletor’s orders, and forms an ill-advised plan to kidnap Adam.

Small 1
Prince Adam: “My gearstick is absolutely enormous, Teela.”

Arriving on Phantos, Adam, Man-at-Arms, Teela and Orko indulge in a spot of sightseeing in the Phantosian desert. After talking in a ridiculously high-pitched voice for no apparent reason, Adam decides to make things easier for his kidnappers by wandering out of sight of his friends. Evil-Lyn doesn’t capitalise on this opportunity though, instead choosing to wake some dinosaurs up, who chase our heroes around for a while, until He-Man shows up to deal with them.

With He-Man occupied with the dinosaurs, Evil-Lyn, Beast-Man and Whiplash successfully kidnap Man-at-Arms, Teela and Orko and take them back to Snake Mountain. Once there, Evil-Lyn makes the unexpected decision to use her new invention – the Reducto Ray – to shrink our heroes so they’re only about a foot high. She offers absolutely no explanation for this behaviour, though in fairness He-Man breaks into Snake Mountain and interrupts before she can finish gloating.

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Teela: “There’s got to be some pun here about being too big for your boots.”

Evil-Lyn somehow has time to set up an elaborate trap, involving boulders, the Reducto Ray and a cage containing the miniature heroes. She and Beast-Man then proudly explain how the trap works, in the belief that it leaves He-Man completely unable to save his friends. Evil-Lyn offers to release her prisoners in exchange for the surrender of Eternia, so He-Man is sent off to check whether this would be acceptable to King Randor. Knowing King Randor’s usual idiocy, he’ll probably agree.

Once He-Man has gone, Evil-Lyn, Beast-Man and Whiplash stand around laughing evilly for ages, then go off to have a party to celebrate the imminent surrender of Eternia. They’ll be waiting a while though: instead of going to Randor, He-Man has nipped behind a rock, turned back into Adam, and re-entered Snake Mountain. His reasoning is that for this conundrum, he needs brains rather than muscles. I have to say that He-Man – despite looking like a complete moron – has in the past demonstrated some reasonable degree of brainpower. Moreover, Adam’s allegedly “brainy” solution to the problem is to use the Reducto Ray on himself so that he is also tiny.

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Prince Adam: “This escapade will guarantee me a guest spot in Honey I Shrunk the Kids.”

Once he has conferred this dubious benefit on himself, Adam manages to release his friends from the cage. He then successfully restores them all to their original size, and quickly ushers his friends out of the room, with the vague promise that he’ll catch up later. He then transforms back into He-Man, with no evident purpose other than to use the Reducto Ray on Panthor, Beast-Man and Whiplash and to taunt Evil-Lyn.

 

In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms explains that muscle power is all very well, but imagination and inventiveness are much better. He advises us to exercise our bodies to become strong, but also to exercise our minds by reading books and doing our homework. And, presumably, by not watching cartoons like this one.

 

Character checklist

On Team Goody, we’ve got Prince Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, King Randor, and a big guy called Mishy or something similar. On Team Baddy, there’s Evil-Lyn, Beast-Man, Whiplash and Panthor.

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Prince Adam: “No, Mishy, you may not have any lines.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

He-Man can’t be bothered to offer an excuse this week, and leaves it to Man-at-Arms, who manages the pathetic, “Don’t worry, Teela, I’m sure he’s okay.”

 

Insults

Evil-Lyn gets the obligatory “fool” out of the way early on, addressing Beast-Man. Beast-Man retaliates with “foolish witch”, and then refers to He-Man as “that cursed He-Man”, and I must say it was quite a surprise to discover that his vocabulary stretches that far. Evil-Lyn mockingly calls Orko “little one” twice, and He-Man refers to Skeletor as Evil-Lyn’s “misguided master”, which was a quite pleasing use of alliteration. A less pleasing alliterative insult from He-Man to Beast-Man was “beast-brain”, which is not particularly original by this stage of the series. Finally, Teela calls Orko a “silly little thing”, which was plainly meant to be affectionate, but I prefer to interpret it as vicious.

 

Does it have the Power?

I really enjoyed this episode. Evil-Lyn has rarely been better: she’s intelligent and very unpleasant, and her voice work and animation combined to portray her as a purring, seductive villainess. Her one error was her odd decision to leave her prisoners unguarded while she went off to have a party; overconfidence is always the downfall of Eternian baddies.

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Evil-Lyn: “I’m going to have a party. And no, He-Man, you’re not invited.”

The notion of a perfectly balanced trap that could not be solved with muscle power was a good idea; lately, there have been quite a few episodes that have tried to mess with the formula by making He-Man helpless one way or another (in Hunt for He-Man, he was poisoned and in need of medicine, and in Not So Blind, he was struck blind), which suggests the writers were getting bored of a hero who can defeat everything easily. This week’s move in that direction was particularly inventive. My quibble is – as mentioned above – He-Man has just as many brains as Adam, so it wasn’t really necessary for him to turn back, and it actually led to some clunky dialogue later as Adam tried to explain the constant interchange between himself and He-Man.

One final point – Adam transforms into He-Man right in front of Panthor this week. Since Panthor can’t speak, it must be hugely frustrating for him to know this secret and not be able to tell Skeletor! So that’s something on which to ponder as you enjoy this instalment.

Episode 104 – The Secret of Grayskull

In which we don’t learn the secret of Grayskull.

We start in the Palace courtyard, where it transpires – to my considerable surprise – that Skeletor has arranged a free fireworks display for our heroes. It turns out that he hasn’t done this out of the goodness of his heart – the fireworks turn into magical spiders, which run riot, start fires, and inspire Randor to spout rubbish like, “My sword has never rung truer.” With the situation serious, He-Man and Battle-Cat appear on the scene and create a rainstorm, extinguishing the fire-spiders.

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Prince Adam: “Father, are you plagiarising your lines from trashy fantasy novels?”

During the battle with the firework-spiders, Orko utterly fails to accomplish anything, so decides that it’s time for him to run away again. This must be the 50th time he’s run away, and since he never ever learns how much he’s loved by our excessively tolerant heroes, I think they should just accept that Orko is a deeply troubled individual with attachment issues, and consign him to Eternia’s asylum.

Even though his fireworks are getting their asses kicked at the Palace, Skeletor evidently has nothing better to do with his day than watch Orko on his stupid spyglobe. When he sees Orko come across a lamp, he decides to pretend that it’s a magic lamp, and disguises himself as a genie to grant Orko three wishes. He seems to have no particular goal in mind here, other than just messing with Orko’s head, which I suppose is a laudable enough ambition. When Orko wishes that his friends would like him, Skeletor responds that this is impossible and that his friends secretly hate his guts (I’m paraphrasing here, but I wish I wasn’t).

Skeletor magics up a portal which will allegedly take Orko back to Trolla and convinces him to go through it; just as Orko is about to do so, Zoar swoops in and grabs him. Skeletor shakes his fists impotently and takes half of his genie outfit off, leaving us with the very pleasing vision of Skeletor in white baggy trousers.

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Skeletor: “Just got these off the Madness official merchandise site.”

Taking Orko to Grayskull, Zoar transforms back into the Sorceress and embarks on that beastly pep talk we’ve heard her give to Orko 8 million times before. Yes, his friends love him, yes, God alone knows why, yes, yes, yes. Then – and I have absolutely no idea what made the writers think this was a good idea – the Sorceress unveils a massive cinema screen and starts showing clips of previous episodes in which people prove that they love Orko. Orko is finally convinced, and sets off home.

En route, he is ambushed by Skeletor, Trapjaw, Clawful and Kobra Khan. Skeletor laughs in a higher pitched voice than normal – suggesting that his sanity is close to breaking point this week – then he gets down to serious business, putting a truth spell on Orko and demanding to know how to enter Grayskull. Orko says that he must correctly answer the jawbridge’s riddle, which was news to me. I was under the impression that the Sorceress had to let you in, or you had to drag the door open.

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Orko: “Definitely shouldn’t have had that last joint.”

Skeletor asks the jawbridge for a riddle, and it dispenses a stupid one, adding a weird little chuckle to the end. Skeletor cannot solve the riddle himself, but Orko can, and being still under the truth spell, he is forced to answer. The jawbridge opens, but before Skeletor and his band of clowns can merrily trot inside, the Sorceress appears. Naturally, Skeletor is not too perturbed by this, and simply threatens to blast Orko off in a rocket to another galaxy if the Sorceress doesn’t allow him entry.

Given the Sorceress earlier spent so much time reassuring Orko, she presumably feels that it would be hypocritical of her to say, “Go on then, see if I care.” Instead, she agrees and telepathically contacts Prince Adam. In short order, He-Man comes blundering along to save Orko, after which the Sorceress casts a spell to make the interior decorations of Castle Grayskull come alive. This freaks Skeletor and his men out, and they run away, while the Sorceress stands around making snarky remarks.

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Trapjaw: “This is even scarier than Jacob Rees-Mogg’s politics.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms explains that when your parents punish you, it’s not because they don’t love you, but because they need to teach you. What I genuinely don’t understand about the Man-at-Arms/Orko relationship is why Man-at-Arms feels it’s his place to punish Orko at all. Not only is Orko not his child, he’s actually a grown-up magician from another dimension. Frankly, Man-at-Arms is lucky that Orko has accepted this abusive relationship, though he’d better watch out for the day Orko finally snaps and goes to the police. I need to stop drinking in the afternoons.

 

Character checklist

Ooh, gosh, there’s loads of them today. There’s Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man and Battle-Cat, obv. Then there’s Man-at-Arms, Teela, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Skeletor, Trapjaw, Clawful, and Kobra Khan. Pretty sure there were a couple of other characters in it, too. Annoying ones. Oh yes: Orko and the Sorceress, a dream team from the depths of hell.

Secret 5
The Sorceress: “I reckon the only way the pair of us could be more irritating is if I ran away and you had to do the pep talk to bring me back.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

When Randor tells Man-at-Arms to go and get his new Fire Shuttle, Adam chimes in, “I’d better give him a hand.” This is enough to fool Randor and Teela, though why they think Man-at-Arms will need help to fetch a vehicle is anybody’s guess.

 

Insults

It’s a good episode if you want to see people belittling Orko (and who doesn’t?): Skeletor calls him a “little insect” twice, a “fool”, and a “little pest”. Trapjaw also feels secure enough in himself to label Orko a “twit” and a “shrimp”. Skeletor also dishes out “crab-faced coward” to Clawful, “fools” to Clawful and Trapjaw collectively, and “goody-goody witch” to the Sorceress. Even the usually mild-mannered Sorceress lowers herself to Skeletor’s level, addressing him as “fool”. This is the sort of thing that Skeletor is likely to either ignore entirely or dramatically overreact to; sadly, this time he opts for the saner course and doesn’t comment.

 

Egg on your face?

In the fireworks scene, Orko magics up a huge number of buckets falling from the sky, one of which falls onto Man-at-Arms’ head. I just knew it would. Later on, the Sorceress’ cinema treats us to an unnecessary flashback to the trick seen in Diamond Ray of Disappearance, in which Man-at-Arms ended up covered in eggs.

Secret 6
Man-at-Arms: “I am Lord Buckethead and will topple Teresa May at the next election.” (NB. This is a political joke that I suspect will only make sense to inhabitants of the UK. It isn’t particularly funny and would have been better timed if it had been posted six months ago, so don’t worry, you’re not missing out.)

 

Does it have the Power?

When I saw the title, I got very excited. I thought that maybe now we’d get an explanation of what the secret of Grayskull is, and also perhaps a vague clue about why Skeletor is so keen to get into what appears to be merely a big empty castle with dingy rooms. I should have known better. It seems pretty clear that the writers don’t know what the secret of Grayskull is (Orko even says that no one knows), so any kind of sensible explanation for the entire premise of the show is too much to hope for.

Instead, we get a recycling of one of the traditional plotlines: Orko running away. At the end, he claims to have learnt his lesson and that he’ll never again believe his friends don’t love him – and he’d better keep his word this time, or I shall write a strongly worded letter to Filmation about it. Seriously – please, no more episodes about Orko feeling inadequate.

The rest of it was pretty entertaining, being honest. Skeletor’s impersonation of a genie was mental, obviously, but in a good way. Trapjaw and Clawful had some good fun moments; Clawful came across as slyly manipulative in a very mean way, which was funny. It was great to see Skeletor gain entry to Castle Grayskull, and his change of heart when the decorations came alive was hilarious. In short, I’d recommend this one, especially if you fast-forward through the totally unnecessary Orko bits.