Episode 128 – The Games

In which He-Man takes micro-management to a whole new level.

Adam, Man-at-Arms, Fisto, Orko and Cringer are hanging out at the Palace, playing stupid games to see which of them can remain motionless the longest. This is as tedious as it sounds, despite Fisto trying to make out that it’s an “excellent” game. The whole sorry bunch of them are interrupted by a flying saucer, which hovers above the Palace and transmits a radio message.

Games 1
Prince Adam: “If I stand behind Fisto and glare at him, he won’t be able to see how much I loathe him.”

The saucer contains an alien race called the Bendari, the self-proclaimed seekers of truth. Allegedly, on their world, the concepts of good and evil are non-existent, so they have come to Eternia to try to gain an understanding. This understanding will apparently be reached by asking representatives of the diametric forces of good and evil to compete in some games.

Fisto stands around whinging that he is unlikely to be selected as the champion of good, since the Bendari will undoubtedly choose He-Man instead. Over in Snake Mountain, Skeletor has come to the same conclusion, and furthermore has realised that he is likely to be chosen as the champion of evil. For some reason, he is not keen to go up against He-Man in any kind of contest, and therefore puts his henchman Spikor through a machine called an Evilgizer to make him more evil.

Games 2
Spikor: “The Hacienda is a little lower budget these days, but still pretty rave-tastic.”

When the Bendari come to choose their champions, Teela has delayed Adam by forcing him to take part in sword fighting lessons. Consequently, He-Man is nowhere in sight, and the Bendari choose Fisto instead to represent good. In accordance with Skeletor’s plan, they select Spikor to represent evil, and transport the competitors to the Eternian forest. The Bendari then explain the game, which is basically a glorified Easter Egg Hunt, and they specify that good is bound by its own rules, while evil is not required to follow any rules.

Spikor takes an early lead, thanks to the efforts of Beast-Man and Mer-Man, who help him to reach the Easter Eggs. Skeletor, on the other hand, rather oddly chooses to spend his time burrowing around under the surface driving a giant drill, for no evident purpose. Once Spikor is 2000 points ahead, Adam decides that enough is enough, transforms into He-Man, and replaces Fisto in the game. Way to undermine Fisto’s confidence, He-Man.

Games 3
He-Man: “I’ll take it from here, you useless waste of space.”

He-Man quickly finds a special Easter Egg worth 2000 points, which equalises the gap between him and Spikor. Skeletor, still merrily drilling away, is livid, and orders Spikor that he must find the final Egg and win. Both He-Man and Spikor locate the Egg at the top of a very tall tree, and prepare to start climbing. Spikor prepares by doing a stupid dance and chanting, “Spikor is strongest, Spikor will win!”, a little display of lunacy which He-Man ignores, instead heading up into the tree.

Games 4
Spikor: “Form an orderly queue, ladies.”

Predictably, whilst climbing, Spikor runs into difficulty and it becomes necessary for He-Man to rescue him. Equally predictably, Spikor proceeds to respond by knocking He-Man out of the tree, and almost reaching the final Easter Egg himself. He-Man then does what he should have done in the first place, and shakes the tree so violently that the Egg falls out, into his waiting hands.

The Bendari proclaim He-Man the winner, and thank the participants, announcing that they now understand that good is greater than evil. He-Man stands around smugly in the Palace courtyard, ignoring Fisto’s cold glare, while over in Snake Mountain, Skeletor shrieks that he hates losing. Well, Skeletor, just a thought, but perhaps you wouldn’t have lost if you had done something constructive rather than pissing about in your drill.

Games 5
Skeletor: “Surely the random and pointless use of this giant drill should have led me to victory?”

 

In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms decides that the best lesson from today’s little fable is that we should never stop trying, even when the task seems hard, or when other people aren’t playing fair. This is nothing we’ve not heard before, so I might suggest that a more interesting moral – albeit one more tailored towards staff managers than five year olds – is that He-Man’s behaviour towards Fisto was inappropriate in the extreme. If you act like He-Man and micro-manage your team, and undermine them when they are doing their jobs, you’ll end up with dissatisfied staff and a loss of productivity in your team.

 

Character checklist

Ooh, wow, it’s rare appearances from Fisto and Spikor! That’s the sort of thing that really draws in the crowds. If these two no-hopers don’t float your boat, though, we’ve also got Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Teela, Skeletor, Beast-Man and Mer-Man. There’s the Bendari too, but we only see their spaceship, not them in person.

Games 7
Beast-Man: “Christ, Skeletor, we didn’t need to see your re-interpretation of Equus.”

 

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

He doesn’t give one at the time of the actual transformation. However, early on, he tries to make an exit by claiming he’s got stuff to do, but Teela won’t have it, and forces him to stay, which was a pretty amusing scene.

 

Insults

Skeletor calls Fisto a “goody-goody”, and tells Spikor he’s a “fool” twice. Otherwise, there’s nothing to report here.

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s a bit of a rehash of The Arena, which was definitely a superior episode, but it’s by no means a failure. It’s a fairly snappy script, and though it’s clearly geared towards selling Fisto and Spikor action figures, it’s a lot more subtle in this aim than other similar efforts, such as Happy Birthday Roboto. Spikor seems to be in serious need of psychiatric help, taking in consideration his loopy little dances and his voice, which sounds like he’s one step away from complete mental collapse. Fisto, though he doesn’t come across as a nutjob, doesn’t fare much better in that he achieves precisely nothing before being replaced by He-Man.

Games 6
Fisto: “Got the time, Spikor?”

However, the oddest thing in this episode has to be Skeletor’s behaviour. For a start, he seems unusually invested in winning the game, especially given the Bendari make no mention of a prize. In addition, there’s no particular reason why he doesn’t want to compete in person, though it’s not difficult to imagine that he simply is fed up of facing He-Man. It’s harder to come up with a plausible explanation for all the drilling, which is genuinely completely purposeless.

And finally, I think the whole thing would have had more impact if Spikor had actually managed to reach the final Easter Egg and win the game. The Bendari could have concluded that He-Man’s moral action in saving Spikor meant that good was the winner anyway, and it would have showed viewers that the most important thing isn’t winning, but doing the right thing. It would have also been interesting in that it would have been the only He-Man episode in which the baddies win, and considering who won the game didn’t make any difference to Eternia, it’s the sort of situation when it would have been okay for Skeletor to have a victory. Just a thought.

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Episode 127 – The Ancient Mirror of Avathar

In which Trapjaw chucks it all in to join the Royal Navy Reserves.

The episode opens with Adam introducing Moss-Man to Melaktha. I say Moss-Man is introduced to Melaktha, but in actual fact, Adam is clearly addressing the viewers, hoping to sell Moss-Man action figures. He even runs through Moss-Man’s special ability, which is to fall asleep and disguise himself as the nearest plant. I don’t see how this ability is ever going to help He-Man defeat Skeletor, but perhaps we’ll find out today.

Avathar 1
Melaktha: “Adam, how is this weird little leprechaun ever going to help?”

Moss-Man and Melaktha have joined Adam to go on a pleasure cruise to try to discover the ancient island continent of Avathar, which Melaktha is convinced is not a myth. Trapjaw has stowed away on their ship, disguising himself rather pathetically as a pirate, and he puts in a quick call to Evil-Lyn and Two-Bad at Snake Mountain to inform them that our heroes are searching for Avathar. They think Skeletor will be interested, but unless he needs a coursework topic for his GCSE in Archaeology, this seems unlikely to me.

Naturally, it doesn’t take long for our heroes to find the island of Avathar, and Melaktha gets straight into the archaeology – at least, when he’s not being pointlessly rude to Moss-Man. Investigating a demonic-looking statue, Melaktha unlocks a secret passage leading underground, which turns out to lead to the former museum of Avathar. Moss-Man strikes up a conversation with the moss on the walls, from which he learns that the Ancient Mirror of Avathar is hidden in a secret chamber.

Avathar 3
Prince Adam: “Thanks for the outing to the tackiest antique shop on Eternia, Melaktha.”

Our heroes find their way into the secret chamber with considerable ease, and gaze upon the Mirror. Adam asks what the Mirror is, at which point the Mirror wakes up and speaks to them. After ripping off the dialogue used by the Guardian of Forever in the famous Star Trek episode, it gets down to business and explains that it holds the entire knowledge of the former Avathar Empire. Adam and Melaktha immediately grab it and take it back aboard their ship, while Moss-Man loots all the other treasures in the museum. These people are not responsible archaeologists.

Trapjaw, still in his laughable pirate disguise, calls Snake Mountain again to give a progress update and to request instructions. Two-Bad, who seems to have taken an assertiveness course since his appearance last week, orders him to nick the Mirror and bring it to Snake Mountain. Trapjaw attempts to take advantage of a sudden thunderstorm to do just that, but due to his usual degree of incompetence, he is immediately discovered by Adam and Moss-Man.

Avathar 2
Two-Bad: “Worst snowglobe ever.”

Unfortunately, because of a subplot involving an idiot boy and his dad who live in a lighthouse, the ship is accidentally misguided onto some rocks, and runs aground. He-Man puts in an appearance to save the ship from sinking, then tows the ship safely to the docks. And then, to my distinct surprise, the episode ends, without making any kind of an attempt to wrap things up. It just stops.

 

In today’s adventure…

He-Man treats us to a little lecture about how boring jobs are still worth doing. Various characters throughout the episode have had a weird obsession with this theme, so it comes as no surprise to find it trotted out as the moral.

Avathar 4
Lighthouse keeper: “Our jobs and lives are very very dull.”

 

Character checklist

This week, we have the pleasure of the company of Prince Adam, He-Man, Melaktha, Moss-Man, Trapjaw, Evil-Lyn, Two-Bad, the lighthouse keeper, the idiot boy, and a large number of sailors. Oh, and also the Mirror, obviously.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

The first transformation comes when Adam in alone is a room, and so he doesn’t need to give an excuse. The second transformation equally comes with no excuse, and is noteworthy for Adam’s curious decision to turn into He-Man right in front of Trapjaw.

Avathar 5
Prince Adam: “Say there, sailor, you look a bit like Trapjaw. Unfortunate coincidence for you, I guess.”

 

Insults

Melaktha rudely refers to Moss-Man as Adam’s “green friend”, which is true but is definitely not meant politely. Two-Bad calls Trapjaw a “tin head”, but Trapjaw achieves a new low when he refers to himself as a “scurvy knave”.

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s really, really odd. I’ve complained in the past about episodes not knowing what they wanted to do with themselves, but I’m struggling to think of an episode that’s quite as disjointed as this one. The plotlines battling for attention in this episode are:

  1. The quest for the Mirror, and the knowledge it can bestow. This one takes up quite a lot of the first half of the episode, and seems to be the main storyline, but once our heroes have acquired the Mirror and stashed it on the boat, it never appears again – except right at the end, when the lighthouse boy and his dad use it to reflect light at the ocean. Quite how they got their hands on the Mirror is not explained.
  2. As a subplot of the above, there’s Trapjaw trying to nick the Mirror. This is clearly just here to bulk the episode out, since it’s a plotline that goes absolutely nowhere and does nothing.
  3. The stupid boy in the lighthouse. After the quest for the Mirror, the episode decides it wants to focus on this individual, who is a pretty standard Filmation child. He doesn’t want to do the lighthouse job because it’s boring, so he goofs off, and ultimately discovers that he’s caused a disaster. Cue much hand-wringing, apologies, and forgiveness from his disappointed but understanding father.
  4. Melaktha’s odd prejudice towards Moss-Man. In the early part of the episode, Melaktha clearly hates Moss-Man’s guts, but he gets over this when Moss-Man saves his life.
Avathar 6
Mirror: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, what’s the oddest episode of them all?”

With all this going on, it’s plain that it’s not all going to get a fair showing. The Mirror plotline is particularly poorly served, since there’s a lot of build-up and excitement around the Mirror’s discovery, and then nothing at all happens. Trapjaw’s plotline could have been safely cut, and I’d have been happier if the lighthouse rubbish hadn’t been involved.

So all in all, it’s a bit of a mess, but – especially in the first half – an enjoyable one. It’s particularly good if you’re a massive Moss-Man fan; I’m sure there must be at least one of you out there.

Episode 126 – Capture the Comet Keeper

In which He-Man indulges himself in a good old-fashioned break-in to Snake Mountain.

Adam, Teela and Orko are visiting Zagrez, the Wizard of Zagrez Mountain, who is the Comet Keeper of the episode’s title. If you are sufficiently sad, you may recall that Zagrez was featured in The Cosmic Comet, the very first episode of He-Man. If so, you will also recall that he was very annoying, and might thus wonder why the writers have seen fit to bring him back. You will get no arguments from me on that score.

Comet Keeper 1
Zagrez: “Look everyone, it’s me and my giant bits of popcorn. Sorry, comets.”

Anyway, it seems that Zagrez runs some kind of school for comets, where he trains them to be good comets. This is admittedly a demented concept, but don’t blame me. Zagrez introduces Adam, Teela and Orko to Doodles, a comet who has a good heart but doesn’t always do what he’s told. This is also mental, but I feel I’m going to have to just get past the whole “comets have personalities” thing in order to write this review.

Watching on his spyglobe, Skeletor decides to use the comets to capture Castle Grayskull, despite Two-Bad pointing out that this plan has not led to great success in the past. Skeletor despatches Two-Bad to kidnap Zagrez, which he achieves with surprising competence. Once Zagrez is in Snake Mountain, he warns Skeletor that left unattended, his comets will wreak havoc, but Skeletor simply orders him to use the comets to defeat He-Man – or face the dungeons.

Comet Keeper 2
Zagrez: “Yeah, I’ll probably take the dungeons option. He-Man will be here to pick me up within about 20 seconds.”

At the Palace, Man-at-Arms notices that Zagrez’s comets are flying all over Eternia, causing various natural disasters with their gravitational effects. Man-at-Arms and Adam watch casually as tidal waves, avalanches and sandstorms rip across Eternia’s surface, then suddenly decide to act when a comet starts heading for the Palace. Adam becomes He-Man, and despite pissing about in the Wind Raider for ages, completely fails to stop the comet destroying one of the Palace’s towers. Muttering crossly, “I’ll have to fix this later,” He-Man heads for Zagrez Mountain, taking Teela with him.

He-Man is plainly flirting with the notion of incompetence this week; when they arrive at the Mountain, he nearly crashes the Wind Raider into it, prompting him to utter an inarticulate noise which sounds as though he’s skidded on a banana skin. Quickly determining Zagrez is absent, He-Man is just wondering what to do next, when Skeletor appears and tells him the entire plan, which is mighty helpful.

Comet Keeper 3
Skeletor: “Hi, He-Man! I’m obviously going to be defeated as usual, so I thought I might as well speed the process up.”

He-Man and Teela take the hint and troll over to Snake Mountain, where they throw Two-Bad into a mud puddle, and then break in. Skeletor is cornered in his throne room, and when he refuses to let Zagrez go, He-Man subjects him to a lecture about the futility of fighting. Skeletor doesn’t listen, naturally enough, but receives a firsthand demonstration when he attempts to fight He-Man.

This less-than-epic fight is interrupted when Doodles the Naughty Comet starts heading straight for Snake Mountain. Skeletor attempts to stop Doodles, but – as with everything else this week – he completely fails. He-Man releases Zagrez, and they all stand around laughing as Doodles chases Skeletor into the mud puddle. Notably, Two-Bad is still there, despite it having been a good five minutes at least since he was thrown in. No one ever said Two-Bad was that bright, but if he’s unable to figure out how to get out of that puddle, I think he genuinely might need professional help.

Comet Keeper 4
Skeletor: “You weren’t around at the time, Two-Bad, but at the start of the series He-Man used to throw me into mud puddles all the time, so this is kind of nostalgic.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela comes along and tells us that fighting doesn’t solve problems, but only makes more. For some reason, as she’s talking, we are treated to animation of Skeletor cackling his moronic head off, and can hear his laughter in the background, which makes it seem like he is heckling Teela. And why not, I suppose.

 

Character checklist

Today’s foray to Eternia treats us to appearances from Prince Adam, He-Man, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Zagrez, Skeletor and Two-Bad. I refuse to acknowledge the various comets as characters.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

I’ve never heard Man-at-Arms sound so panicked as when he tells Adam to transform into He-Man. He genuinely sounds frightened out of his wits. That’s presumably why he doesn’t appear in the rest of the episode: he’s had to go and lie down in a dark room. But anyway, my point is that since it’s only him and Adam around, there’s no excuse needed or offered.

Comet Keeper 5
Man-at-Arms: “Uh oh, I’m freaking out!”

 

Insults

The villains take to insulting the comets at various points, Two-Bad referring to them as “goody-goody comets”, and Skeletor addressing Doodles as a “renegade rock”. Skeletor returns to an old favourite theme by calling He-Man a “muscle-head” and a “meddlesome muscle-man”, and he refers to all of our heroes as “goody-goody fools”. He also has a few choice remarks reserved for Two-Bad, calling him a “fangface”, and taking time out to turn directly to camera and comment, “They say two heads are better than one, but I think they’re wrong.”

 

Does it have the Power?

I’d forgotten how good episodes like this are. It seems like a genuine throwback to the early days of the first season (partly, admittedly, because it’s a shameless recycling of the plot of The Cosmic Comet), with Skeletor hatching one of his loopy plans and taking a pretty hands-on role in following through with it. Even when he’s featured lately, he’s taken more of a back seat in getting others to do things for him, so it’s a joy to see him getting his hands dirty again.

Comet Keeper 6
He-Man: “Shall I lead?”

Something about the writing, directing and performances all combine to give this episode an air of early He-Man – I think it’s largely that it feels very fresh somehow, making me realise how tired a lot of the recent offerings have been. Zagrez is just as annoying as he was on his first appearance, but I can forgive even that. This episode probably doesn’t compare to the episodes from the early first season, but coming now in late Season Two, it’s almost a classic.

I’ll leave you with some of the most sparkling dialogue we’ve heard in ages: when He-Man arrives in Snake Mountain’s throne room, Skeletor says, “He-Man! Who let you in? I locked the door.” He-Man replies, “We let ourselves in, and you need a new door.” Who needs Breaking Bad?

Episode 125 – Bargain with Evil

In which the Starchild returns, to unpopular acclaim.

In a mysterious castle, a young lady called Arvella casts a spell and summons a dude called Angast, who introduces himself with the title, “King of the Realm of Evil.” It seems that some time ago, Arvella’s father Landros accidentally entered the Realm of Evil and was imprisoned for his troubles. Arvella now requests her father’s return, to which Angast agrees on condition that Arvella bring him the Starchild. (If you don’t remember the Starchild, you can count yourself fortunate. She was the eponymous star of the worst episode of the entire series.)

Allegedly, Angast only wants to look at the Starchild. Arvella isn’t sure about this deal, but Angast assures her that the Starchild will not be harmed. Consequently, Arvella goes out looking for the Starchild, who – as luck would have it – is visiting the Palace, accompanied by her bodyguard, a woman called Moweena who dresses like Robin Hood might do if he was invited to a tarts and vicars party. The Starchild is just as annoying as before, hugging everyone and saying things like, “It’s so good to see you all” in a squeaky cute voice.

Bargain 1
Starchild: “Hands up if you’re pleased to see me again!”

When night falls, Arvella teleports into the Starchild’s bedroom and kidnaps her. Orko quickly raises the alarm and runs into He-Man, who was on his way to pay an ominous nocturnal “visit” to the sleeping Starchild. Learning from Orko that the kidnapper looked like Lady Arvella, He-Man and Moweena decide to go to Castle Landros to learn more. They emphatically tell Orko to stay behind, perhaps because the combination of Orko and the Starchild would be sufficiently infuriating to melt the brain of any sane viewer. Unfortunately, Orko ignores them and comes anyway. I hate my life.

Arriving at Castle Landros, He-Man, Moweena and Orko break in. They are just in time to witness Angast breaking his word and kidnapping the Starchild and Arvella. For good measure, he also kidnaps He-Man, Moweena, Orko and Battle-Cat. The whole sorry lot of them are teleported into a room, at which point Angast puts on a disarmingly mental grin, welcomes them all to the Realm of Evil, and dances around like a maniac.

Bargain 2
Angast: “Check out my funky dance moves.”

The party really gets started when Angast sends a horde of armoured cannon-fodder to try to seize the Starchild, and we are treated to a nice long scene in which He-Man and Moweena dispose of the soldiers in amusing and non-violent ways. The whole thing comes to a sorry conclusion when Orko smashes a pumpkin on Angast’s head, and our heroes run away, rescuing Arvella’s father Landros in the process. The Starchild is then able to use her very strong and not-at-all annoying magic to return everybody to Eternia.

 

In today’s adventure…

He-Man explains that Arvella’s attempts to do a good thing by doing a bad thing didn’t really help. He adds that the way we react to problems can make the difference between solving them and simply making them worse. He optimistically states that he hopes we remember today’s adventure, which is unlikely, unless it’s as “that time they brought the Starchild back for no reason whatsoever”.

Bargain 4
Arvella: “No no no, I will not sell pot. I will urn a living some other way. Okay, okay, not funny.”

 

Character checklist

This week brings to the fore Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Orko, Man-at-Arms, Teela, King Randor, Queen Marlena, the Starchild, Moweena, Arvella, Landros, Angast, and a whole load of Angast’s soldiers.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam only transforms into He-Man because the Starchild complains that she hasn’t seen He-Man recently. Talk about abuse of power. At least he has the sense to do it privately, and thus doesn’t need to give an excuse.

Bargain 5
Prince Adam: “Sure, why not, I’ll turn into He-Man on the whim of an infuriating child. That’ll help defend Eternia.”

 

Insults

Moweena refers to Arvella’s servant as a “little man”, perhaps in recognition of his lower class status. Otherwise, the insults only begin to flow thick and fast once our heroes find themselves in the Realm of Evil. Angast calls all of our heroes “fools”, and specifically reserves “foolish woman” for Arvella. Considering they are nameless cannon-fodder, Angast’s soldiers get a surprising degree of abuse, being referred to as “clowns” and “bumblers” by Angast, and the milder “bad guys” by Orko.

Elsewhere, it’s Angast himself who comes under fire, receiving a “Mr Bat Face” from Orko, and “hornhead” and “hornheaded horror” from Moweena. These latter two are a touch odd given Angast doesn’t have horns. Nonetheless, they’re still not as surprising as Orko’s parting shot to Angast, which sounded distinctly like “fat bastard”.

Bargain 6
Angast: “I think this moment may haunt my nightmares hereafter.”

 

Does it have the Power?

I’m in two minds about this one. I remain completely baffled as to why anyone thought that the Starchild was a character in desperate need of revisiting. I’d have thought the writers would just want to draw a line under that particular debacle and pretend it never happened. While this episode is nowhere near as bad as the Starchild’s first episode was, I still can’t see why it was necessary to involve the Starchild at all. With a bit of tweaking, Bargain with Evil could have told the same story without the unneeded baggage of a much-hated character from nearly 100 episodes ago.

Bargain 3
He-Man: “Yes, Starchild, of course I’m really pleased to be talking to you. Tell you what, though, why don’t you just get lost for a little while, like perhaps for the rest of your life?”

On the other hand, most of the bits that didn’t involve the Starchild were pretty decent, for a baddy-of-the-week episode. Angast was relatively competent, and he had a reasonable motive for kidnapping the Starchild (she had powers that could open a gateway to Eternia, in case you wondered). I’m still not sure about the need for the tarty Robin Hood, but maybe the animators had gone mental. I know I would after animating 125 He-Man episodes.

To conclude, I think I’d put this one down under the don’t bother heading. But if you do, you probably won’t regret it too much.

Episode 124 – The Toy Maker

In which Skeletor begins plans to open a sinister version of Toys R Us.

We open in Snake Mountain, where the eponymous Toy Maker is offering his services to Skeletor. Skeletor, proving that he isn’t completely mad yet, asks why the bloody hell he would be interested in a Toy Maker. The Toy Maker explains that his toys are somewhat out of the ordinary, to the extent of being able to take over a kingdom. Skeletor admits his interest, and instructs the Toy Maker to use his toys to capture Man-at-Arms.

As luck would have it, Man-at-Arms is messing about in the wilderness with one of his new inventions, which I will christen the Amazing Melting Machine. Environmentally responsible as always, he is trying to use the Amazing Melting Machine to melt hills. There follows an extended and irrelevant sequence in which the Amazing Melting Machine goes haywire and has to be stopped by He-Man. I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t point out that during this sequence, He-Man uses the Amazing Melting Machine to melt a cloud, which I do not think is possible.

Toy Maker 2
He-Man: “Right … what physical impossibility shall I try today?”

After this delightful happening, Orko flies off, whinging about how no one likes him. He is correct. I like him still less when, a moment or two later, he bumps into the Toy Maker, who flatters him and then gives him some evil toys – specifically a teddy bear, a toy soldier, and a diplodocus. The Toy Maker even uses the telltale evil phrase, “Now remember, this’ll be our little secret.” Orko doesn’t pick up on this enormous spot-the-baddy hint, and happily takes the magic toys back to the Palace.

Toy Maker 3
Orko: “I’m all for not judging people by appearance, but really, there’s no way you’re not going to turn out to be evil, is there?”

At the Palace, Adam, Man-at-Arms, Teela and Orko all watch the toys as they magically strut about on a table. The four of them are ridiculously entranced, as if they’ve never heard of clockwork. Man-at-Arms suggests that the King and Queen would like to see the toys as well, because he evidently considers the King and Queen to be equally mentally deficient. Unfortunately, things never get to that stage, since once everyone else has gone to bed, the toys increase dramatically in size, and advance on Man-at-Arms and take him prisoner, in a surprisingly creepy sequence.

In the morning, Adam, Randor, Teela and Orko discover what has happened. When it emerges that the Toy Maker is actually a dangerous criminal and not a friendly if secretive wizard, Orko utters his favourite phrase: “Oh no! It’s all my fault.” Instead of agreeing with him, Adam just tells him not to blame himself, and pops off to turn into He-Man.

Teela and Orko are examining the tracks left by the toys, when Ram-Man unexpectedly shows up, offering his services. There is a noticeable lack of enthusiasm displayed at his arrival. Everyone is much more pleased when seconds later, He-Man and Battle-Cat appear. It is quickly determined that the tracks lead through the Valley of Echoes, which is allegedly very dangerous, but frankly in the extended sequence that follows, I think “boring” would be a more accurate description.

Toy Maker 4
He-Man: “The Beeb didn’t mention fog in today’s forecast. They never bloody get it right.”

It’s now time for a fight with the toys, which luckily doesn’t last too long, and ends with Orko acquiring magical mastery of the toys, for some reason. He-Man then considers it the height of hilarity to defeat Skeletor using the toy diplodocus. Once he’s finished messing around thus, Teela rescues Man-at-Arms, and He-Man takes the Toy Maker into custody. He also randomly decides to arrest Beast-Man and Trapjaw, which seems a little unfair, since they haven’t done anything wrong (at least, not this week).

Toy Maker 5
Teela: “I am for some reason suddenly sexually interested in Orko.”

 

In today’s adventure…

King Randor stands in the Palace courtyard, looking incredibly solemn. And with good reason: today’s moral is the very important lesson that you mustn’t take presents from strangers. Then Orko shows up, and adds that he ought to have known something was afoot when the Toy Maker asked him to keep secrets from He-Man. King Randor agrees with this piece of advice, and says, “Friends don’t have to keep secrets from each other.” He then closes with the by now traditional sign-off, “Till next time.” Unfortunately, he slurs these sentences together, making it sound as if he’s saying, “Friends don’t have to keep secrets from each other till next time,” implying that after the next episode of He-Man, you’ll have an absolutely massive secret to keep from your friends.

 

Character checklist

A pretty classic line-up greets us today, with Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Teela, Ram-Man, King Randor, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Trapjaw and Whiplash. The only newbie on the table is the Toy Maker.

Toy Maker 1
Man-at-Arms: “Hey Orko, check out these awesome earmuffs I got from Primark!”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

When the Amazing Melting Machine goes mental, Adam comments, “Let’s go, Cringer, we’re needed.” This is at a juncture when no one is paying any attention to him anyway, so it’s unnecessary, but appreciated. Later on, he offers, “I’ll go for help”, when it becomes clear that He-Man is going to be called upon to do battle with a giant toy teddy bear.

 

Insults

Skeletor is less interested in insults than normal, rather surprisingly referring to everybody as his “friend”. It may be sarcastic, but it doesn’t sound it. Even when he does get insulting, his heart isn’t really in it, offering only “little man” to the Toy Maker. The only other insult in the episode isn’t much better, consisting as it does of Orko referring to the Toy Maker as a “bad Toy Maker”.

Toy Maker 6
Toy Maker: “I can’t begin to tell you how upset I am over what Orko said to me.”

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s good fun, an original idea for an episode, and a relevant moral – all things that have been sorely lacking in He-Man recently. The Amazing Melting Machine sequence is completely irrelevant, and the bit in the Valley of Echoes is fairly dull, but otherwise, it gets a lot right. The Toy Maker is a credible baddy, and his toys achieve a few moments of genuine creepiness. Skeletor’s plans are all over the place as usual – God knows why he wants to capture Man-at-Arms – but who cares about that? All in all, this is an unexpectedly good episode, though once again, you won’t find it on my Top 10 list.

Bonus Update: More Lost Episodes of He-Man

As we all know, I put a lot of effort into this blog, and some among you may recall that last year I shared a few of the fruits of my extensive research: six missing episodes of He-Man. Well, I’m pleased to reveal that I have now unearthed a further six summaries of episodes that were planned but never made. These summaries are shared below…

 

Supply and Demand

He-Man gets hold of The Ladybird Book of Economics and realises that he is  in a comfortable position to charge hefty fees for his services protecting Eternia. When he presents King Randor with a bill covering his exploits over the preceding episodes, Randor discovers that the Palace finances are in a woeful position, largely thanks to Man-at-Arms blowing the budget on his various incompetent inventions. Randor must find a way to persuade He-Man to continue to work for free or Man-at-Arms will lose his job!

Lost episodes 1

 

A Stitch in Time

Deep in the depths of Castle Grayskull, a locked chamber contains the Time Tapestry – an embroidery depicting the past, present and future. When Orko accidentally cuts it in half, He-Man and Man-at-Arms must learn the art of needlework to repair the Tapestry before the space-time continuum itself begins to unravel!

 

Magic of the Heart

Orko invites Uncle Montork, Dree Elle, Yuckers, Snoob, Prankster, Squanch, Doctor Zoog, the Muckess and all the other bloody Trollans to make an unwelcome return to Eternia for a soul-sapping six-part epic in which they do nothing but perform distinctly underwhelming magic tricks and yap at each other for what seems like months about the power of love.

Lost episodes 2

 

Little Red Riding Teela

In this equally nonsensical sequel to Beauty and the Beast, Teela puts on a red cloak and goes for a walk through a forest, where she meets Wolf-Man, an anthropomorphic wolf who voices a desire to eat Teela and her grandma. Can He-Man work out how to successfully impersonate a woodcutter in time to save the day?

 

A Bite of the Apple

When a new Apple store opens on Eternia, Queen Marlena decides to buy King Randor the latest iPad model on the day of release. Learning of this, Skeletor sends Beast-Man and Trapjaw to queue up all night to buy up every iPad in the shop. He-Man must negotiate the notoriously difficult Apple customer service team to place an order for an iPad in time for King Randor’s birthday!

Lost episodes 3

 

 

Right Hand Man

When an important trade deal falls through because Fisto refused to sign the final contract, King Randor gets understandably annoyed. However, anger turns to sympathy when Fisto reveals that he’s right-handed but can’t hold a pen in his enormous fist. He-Man is despatched on a dangerous mission to the Land of the Giants to fetch Fisto a suitably-sized pen.

 

And yes, as a disclaimer, I should probably mention that this is my idea of a hilarious April Fool. Go on, laugh.