Episode 77 – The Caregiver

In which Adora’s nanny suddenly clocks that Hordak’s a bit weird.

Well, you’ve got to hand it to this cartoon sometimes. The opening scene of this episode certainly caught me by surprise, if nothing else. Hordak and Shadow Weaver have thrown a small retirement party for an old woman called Shakra, who appears to have reached her pension age. Hordak even gives her a shiny pendant in recognition of her services. Of course, all is not as it seems: Hordak knows that Shakra is intending to join the Rebellion as a part-time job to boost her Fright Zone pension, and the shiny pendant is a spy device which will transmit data back to Hordak.

Shadow Weaver: “It’s far too late to be trying to win Employer of the Year, Hordak.”

Shakra arrives in Whispering Wood, and has a touching reunion with Adora. It turns out that Shakra was responsible for raising Adora through childhood – and considering how evil Adora was in the early episodes of She-Ra, I’m not convinced she did a great job. Anyway, despite misgivings from Bow (and possibly Glimmer, who’s pictured in the background looking concerned but as usual not saying a bloody word), Adora allows Shakra to join the Rebellion and lets her know about a forthcoming plan to attack some Horde robots.

Well, of course, Hordak learns of the plan through the shiny pendant spy device, and comes along to Whispering Wood to set a trap. Bow, Glimmer and Shakra are captured, but Adora and Madame Razz escape, and so it’s not long before the inevitable arrival of She-Ra. She-Ra manages to free Shakra, but Hordak gets away with Bow and Glimmer. If I’m honest, the phrase “good riddance” flitted through my mind.

Glimmer: “Always pleased to fulfil my sole function of being captured.”

After Madame Razz goes through the usual plot point of calling Shakra a traitor, and She-Ra responds with the other usual plot point of defending Shakra, they all bomb off to the Fright Zone to undertake a daring rescue. Shakra takes them to a secret entrance, though I’m not certain how secret it can possibly be, given it’s a huge door with the Horde symbol prominently placed in the middle. Still, in they go, and it does seem to be going well, until Hordak learns of their location through the pendant.

In the course of the subsequent debacle, Shakra suddenly realises that it was really fucking weird of Hordak to give her a retirement present, and voices this concern. I genuinely can’t believe it took her this long to wonder whether Hordak might not have been just being nice. Anyway, She-Ra smashes the pendant, prompting Hordak to come along with a squadron of Horde Troopers.

Naturally, the Horde Troopers prove less than effective, and Hordak himself doesn’t put in a good showing, since he chooses to transform himself into a spinning top with four arms, which is of limited use, to put it mildly. Once that’s dealt with, She-Ra and Shakra come bounding into Shadow Weaver’s lab, where Shadow Weaver is trying to dissect Glimmer. She claims this is so she can extract Glimmer’s magic, but I suspect it might be just because Glimmer is a bloody nightmare.

Bow: “I actively quite like being in Shadow Weaver’s bondage dungeon. Hope She-Ra doesn’t rescue us too quickly.”

To the soundtrack of She-Ra’s funkiest 80s beats, Bow and Glimmer are rescued, and our heroes make their escape. Back in Whispering Wood, Glimmer gushes to Adora about how exciting the whole thing was (could have fooled me), and Madame Razz apologises to Shakra for calling her a traitor. Finally, Adora welcomes Shakra to Whispering Wood, at which point the camera focuses on Shakra’s face while all the other rebels say various mental things like, “We’re glad you’re here!” and “We really like you!” I was particularly taken with Bow, whose voice booms out loud and clear above the others to make the enigmatic statement of “Hey, Shakra! Glad to see you again!” which for some reason came across as outstandingly demented.

In today’s adventure…

Oh, God almighty, I don’t know how to make this entertaining anymore. Loo-Kee is under a bush in Whispering Wood, and I swear that if I have to type “Loo-Kee is under a bush in Whispering Wood” one more time, I’m going to … I’m going to … I don’t know what I’m going to do. There’s not really a lot I can do, short of stop watching, and that seems a trifle perverse, having got so far. Maybe I should just watch and quietly accept it, rather than unnecessarily raising my blood pressure by raging against a 30 year old cartoon. Anyway, his pearl of wisdom is all about not judging people because they look different, which I think is a notion we can all recite in our sleep by now.

Loo-Kee: “Bet you’re pleased to see me, as usual.”

Character checklist

Other than Shakra, there’s no one particularly out of the ordinary here: Adora, She-Ra, Spirit, Swift Wind, Bow, Glimmer, Madame Razz, Broom, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Shadow Weaver and some Horde Troopers.

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

“Adora is safe,” says She-Ra. It’s a pretty boring excuse, but since we rarely get anything these days, I’ll let it slide.

Insults

Madame Razz leads the way this week, randomly addressing a Horde tank as an “overgrown swamp turtle”, and getting pretty personal by telling Hordak that he is “dirt”. Hordak’s response seems fair enough to me, calling Madame Razz a “ridiculous witch”. Finally, Shakra describes Hordak as a “strange man”, which is probably the understatement of the century.

Shakra: “You know, I think there is something a bit weird about this guy who literally has a hood made of bones.”

Oh No, Bow!

When Shakra first arrives in Whispering Wood, she asks to see Adora. Bow’s instant response is, “How do you know Adora’s name?” Well, Bow, given Adora is Public Enemy Number One on Etheria, I would suspect that the entire population knows her name. Added to that, Shakra has clearly come from the Horde, where Adora used to work, and where her notoriety is at its peak. I’d be more suspicious if Shakra didn’t know who Adora was.

Does it have the Power?

It’s not a classic, but it’s by no means a bad way to spend 20 minutes. Well, actually, it is a pretty bad way to spend 20 minutes, but if you’re committed to spending 20 minutes watching She-Ra, it’s not bad by those standards. I enjoyed the bizarre retirement party scene, and Shadow Weaver’s lab experiments on Glimmer gave hints of a darker tone, which I’d have liked to see more of. I can do without storylines of the “this random character is a traitor” variety, as they’ve been done to death, but all in all, this one’s a fairly entertaining episode, which is worth a watch.

Apologies if this review comes out in a weird format: WordPress has changed so I now have to use something called ‘Blocks’, which isn’t very user-friendly as far as I’m concerned. Hopefully I’ve managed to get my head around it, but I won’t know for sure till I press the ‘publish’ button.

Also please note that reviews from hereon may not keep to the ‘every 6 days’ timetable that I’ve been trying to keep to. I have a lot to do at the moment and the upkeep of this blog may have to take a backseat for a few months – but I will be attempting to keep it going as best I can!

Episode 76 – Brigis

In which Mantenna gets something right for a change.

It’s time for another hare-brained scheme from Shadow Weaver, which on this occasion revolves around the magical village of Brigis. According to legend, a good witch once hid her power source in Brigis, granting the villagers health and long life, as well as security. The security comes in the form of making the village vanish entirely except for one day every 500 years, but if any villager ever leaves Brigis, this spell will be broken. Hordak plans to capture a villager, thus breaking the spell and leaving him able to steal the witch’s power source.

For some demented reason, Hordak entrusts the capturing-a-villager task to Mantenna and Grizzlor, who do not have the best track record in getting things right. Still, Mantenna surprisingly manages to lure away a little girl called Jarine, in a rather well done scene which demonstrates stranger danger effectively. Of course, Grizzlor ruins it, allowing the girl to escape.

Brigis 1
Mantenna: “Come with me, little girl. At least I’m less creepy than Bow.”

As she runs away, Jarine shrieks, “Help! Help!” which brings Adora and Bow charging to the scene. Once he sees them, Mantenna decides to disregard his instructions and makes an ill-advised attempt to capture Adora instead. This does not end well for Mantenna and Grizzlor, but while Bow and Adora are busy, Shadow Weaver nips in, kidnaps Jarine, and takes her back to the Fright Zone.

Finding that Jarine is missing, Adora, Bow and Madame Razz go galloping off to Brigis, where the villagers explain once again, for the benefit of the slower viewers, that if Jarine doesn’t return by the end of the day, the spell will be broken and Brigis will be unable to disappear. Seemingly oblivious to this, Adora decides to move all the villagers into Whispering Wood to keep them safe from the Horde.

Brigis 2
Villager: “How can I best get these idiots out of Brigis?”

There follows one of those tedious fights in which She-Ra makes mincemeat of some Horde Troopers, while Hordak stamps about impotently and intermittently turns himself into a tank. After this, the episode indulges in some more blatant time-wasting, until She-Ra decides to go to the Fright Zone to rescue Jarine. She does this so easily that it was barely worth even showing.

We then finish up with a grand finale in which Hordak attacks Brigis again, with a variety of improbable tactics which are countered by even less plausible responses from She-Ra. Eventually, She-Ra repels the Horde, Jarine gets a quick lecture on the perils of breaking the rules, and then Brigis fades away, leaving the villagers to continue their inbreeding for another 500 years. Hurrah.

Brigis 3
She-Ra: “At least I won’t have to deal with this lot again, unless I live to be 500.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee is hiding under a bush, right at the end of the episode. He witters on and on about how we should always stick to the rules, for example by only crossing the street when the stoplight is in our favour. He doesn’t mention stranger danger, which I really think he should have, given its perfect demonstration in that early Mantenna scene.

 

Character checklist

Today’s episode is a showcase for Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Kowl, Madame Razz, Broom, Loo-Kee, Jarine, the other villagers, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Mantenna, Grizzlor, Catra, and an endless parade of Horde Troopers.

Brigis 4
Madame Razz: “A better landing than usual, Broom.”

 

Insults

Very boring insults today. Mantenna calls Grizzlor a “fool”, and then Shadow Weaver calls both Mantenna and Grizzlor “fools”. I don’t even know why I bother to report this sometimes.

 

Oh No, Bow!

When Adora reappears at the end of the episode, Bow attempts to take the credit for She-Ra’s victory. Adora puts on a very shrill, brittle voice when she responds, “Oh, really?” Realising that he’s made a tactical error, Bow tries to make out that he was only joking. Just my opinion here, but there are times when I think Bow is more slimy and loathsome than the vast majority of the Horde.

Brigis 5
Bow: “Make sure you sign your name on any work you do in the office. Otherwise I’ll pretend I did it.”

 

Does it have the Power?

Well … it’s about seventeen thousand times better than any of the last three episodes we’ve had, but that’s still not to say it’s any good. The highlight is the stranger danger scene where Mantenna persuades Jarine to leave the village by telling her there’s some lovely flowers just over the hill; this is relatively subtle, and it’s good to see Mantenna being competent for perhaps the first time ever. Otherwise, there’s nothing really to recommend this episode, the second half of which in particular is dominated by endless scenes of She-Ra beating up Horde Troopers and destroying tanks. I’d probably miss this one, if I were you.

Episode 75 – Day of the Flowers

In which Orko yet again earns a special place in hell.

Prince Adam, Snout Spout and Orko have come on a special trip for a festival called the Day of the Flowers, in which the beauty of Etheria will be celebrated. Previous episodes of She-Ra had led me to believe that Snout Spout already lived on Etheria, but let’s gloss over petty whinges like that, since as this episode goes on, we’ll have plenty more to complain about.

Flowers 1
Prince Adam: “Sane people would bring their parents with them to visit their sister. But not me! I bring this guy.”

Let’s start with complaining about Orko. After his last atrocity of an appearance, in The Greatest Magic, I was ready to sign up for an Orko-free future, but no – here he is again, playing stupid magic tricks and setting the episode’s plot in motion by making Adam and Adora’s swords disappear. You cock, Orko. Can’t you just leave well enough alone?

I feel like I’ve been getting ever more furious over the last few episodes of She-Ra, but you’ve got to admit I’m being sorely provoked.

An old man arrives at the festival, begging for help because a group of gigantic evil robots known as the Monstroids have kidnapped all the men and boys from his village to work in Hordak’s nucleon mines. Adam and Adora try to transform, but of course their swords have gone, resulting in a mildly satisfying scene where they get livid with Orko, and then decide to try to defeat the Monstroids as themselves.

Flowers 2
Adora: “Right. You didn’t bring Mother. You didn’t bring Father. You brought Snout Spout. And you brought this div. Don’t bother to visit again, Adam.”

The Monstroids approach the site of the flower festival, so Adam, Adora, Snout Spout and Frosta stand on a mountain looking down at them, in a misguided attempt to look intimidating. No doubt realising that no one would ever be intimidated by a man with Adam’s dress sense, however, they quickly move on to making more elaborate plans, which involve Frosta and Snout Spout making ice bombs, and Adora throwing them at the Monstroids. This is very boring, but it’s at least mildly better than Adam’s role in the plan, which is to stand around shouting at Orko.

This episode is such a tedious mess that I rather lost interest around about this point, but suffice it to say that there’s a whole lot more of Adam and Adora alternately yelling at and encouraging Orko, while the Monstroids continue to stamp around the flower fields with zero sense of urgency. In the meantime, Madame Razz hangs around, having evidently been written as a fusty old-fashioned eight-year-old who’s been given too much lemonade: “Oh dearie my! This is so exciting!” I can assure you, Madame Razz, that it’s not exciting in the slightest.

Flowers 3
Monstroid: “If you find us boring, just pretend we’re mechs from Scythe. That might make us interesting for up to 3 seconds.”

As you have no doubt predicted, Orko eventually manages to get the swords back, and Adam and Adora are free to turn into She-Ra and He-Man. The writers appear to have finally realised that cutting the transformation sequences together just plain doesn’t work, so at least they are good enough to take turns. Once these two are on the scene, of course, the Monstroids are turned into scrap metal, and I hope I never see them – or Orko – again.

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee was hiding in a tree, again, but I didn’t see him. I’m willing to let it pass this time. He suggests that we should believe in ourselves, and then we can do anything. If only I’d believed in myself, I could have turned this tripefest of an episode off.

Character checklist

Adora, Prince Adam, She-Ra, He-Man, Snout Spout, Orko, Madame Razz, Broom, Bow, Glimmer, loads of rebels, Loo-Kee, Hordak, the Monstroids, some Horde Troopers, and some poor unfortunate soul who’s been christened with the name of Ore Captain Sludge-Man, and as such had some pretty insurmountable obstacles right from the beginning of his life.

Flowers 4
Frosta: “He-Man looks like he’s going to propose to his sister.”

Insults

Hordak refers to the Monstroids as “drumheads”, and that’s all you’re getting on the insults front. However, if you fancy a spot of innuendo, we do bear witness to Adora saying, “Making things big is something you’re very good at, Orko.” Do with that as you wish.

Oh No, Bow!

If I really wanted to stretch a point, I’d argue that Bow drives like a complete maniac in the opening scene of this episode. Thereafter, he has sufficient wisdom to absent himself from the remainder of this thrilling instalment.

Does it have the Power?

Towards the beginning of this episode, Hordak snaps, “You’re not getting enough nucleon out of those mines, Ore Captain Sludge-Man!” It’s dialogue like this that makes me wonder if the voice actors ever had sudden flashes of despair, a la Alan Rickman in Galaxy Quest. “I was Richard III …”

Flowers 5
Ore Captain Sludge-Man: “Lost wealth may be replaced by industry, lost knowledge by study, lost health by temperance or medicine, but lost time is gone forever.”

Unfortunately, that little insight into the minds of the voice actors was the only entertaining thing about this episode, which is the third appalling effort in a row. It is at least different from the other two rubbish episodes, though. Unlike The Time Transformer, which was insane, and Above It All, which was disjointed, Day of the Flowers is just achingly boring. There are endless shots of the Monstroids trampling through the flower field, and of Orko again and again trying to get the swords back. Adora and even Adam are really patronising too, in their efforts to encourage Orko. This is another dreadful episode. She-Ra needs to pull her socks up.

Episode 74 – Above It All

In which three or four badly told stories combine into one unwatchable mess.

Shadow Weaver has yet another plot to destroy the Whispering Woods; she will open the Cave of Winds, and the Winds will blow all the trees away, leaving the rebels with nowhere to hide. Of course, as soon as she opens the Cave and a hurricane is unleashed, Kowl pipes up, “It’s as if the Cave of Winds has been opened!” I’m beginning to feel sorry for the Horde. Their plans barely have time to get going before the rebels take a random but correct guess as to what’s going on.

Even so, the Winds do manage to cause a spot of bother for Bow, Glimmer and Madame Razz, but that infuriating bitch She-Ra shows up and rescues them. She then flies off again with intent to ask Queen Angela to use her magic to stop the Winds. Unfortunately, before she can get to Bright Moon, She-Ra is grabbed by the long brown tentacles of a flying island, then captured by a walking tree and put to sleep with a blast of pollen. Take the pills, Owen. Take the pills.

Above It All 1
She-Ra: “This had better not be anything to do with Bow’s sordid little fantasies.”

Bow, Glimmer and Madame Razz are by now hard-pressed to defend a village from some Horde Troopers, while She-Ra is wasting her time being dragged around by the walking trees, who don’t seem to have anything better to do than repeatedly tie her up and pull her through the air. Eventually, the trees start talking, and explain that they don’t think humans can feel love, but are only good for fighting. This prompts one of She-Ra’s unhinged monologues, but she’s only just getting going before the trees release her and claim they only wanted to borrow Swift Wind to take them to another flying island.

She-Ra then strikes a deal with the walking trees, agreeing that Swift Wind will fly them around if they help with the Cave of Winds situation. Once the trees have been transported to the new flying island, She-Ra takes possession of the old one, and plugs the hole in the Cave of Winds with it. I’d say this is only a temporary solution at best; it surely can’t be beyond Shadow Weaver’s ability to create another hole in the Cave? Still, Shadow Weaver takes it as a stunning defeat, and runs away hissing ineffectual threats, which is what I feel like doing too.

Above It All 2
Shadow Weaver: “I think my number’s up.”

 

In today’s adventure…

I didn’t see Loo-Kee today, and I’m not going to whinge about him being hidden in a ridiculously difficult spot. I’m going to move on maturely, after saying HOW THE CHRIST IS A FIVE YEAR OLD SUPPOSED TO SEE HIM THERE????? He tells us all about how people might look different, but they’re all beautiful. Apart from Bono. He’s not beautiful. He’s a dick. Loo-Kee doesn’t say all this, but I can see it in his eyes.

 

Character checklist

We’re subjected to appearances from Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Kowl, Glimmer, Madame Razz, Broom, Loo-Kee, the walking trees, some random children, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, and some Horde Troopers. There’s also a cameo return for Vultak, the vulture-like Horde zookeeper last seen in Zoo Story.

Above It All 3
She-Ra: “This shot is definitely going on my 2020 calendar.”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

“Get back to the village. I’ll join you later,” says Adora to her friends, when the Winds first start to blow. They all run off without questioning this, and never ask about Adora again. For all they know, she got blown off a cliff. The rebels may spout off a lot about love and goodness, but when it comes to Adora, they’re clearly callous, cold, and dead inside.

 

Insults

As mentioned above, this week begins with a cameo return for Vultak, who was pretty good when he first appeared in Zoo Story. Far from being the quite entertaining figure he was in his previous appearance, though, Vultak manages only to shout “miserable witch” at Madame Razz before being speedily despatched, as detailed below.

Above It All 4
Vultak: “I can barely arse myself to stay awake through an episode this dull.”

 

Egg on your face?

Thanks to a conceit of Madame Razz’s dreadful magic, Vultak manages to embed himself in a very large pie, and that’s the last we see of him, rendering his appearance pointless at best, and a complete fucking waste of time at worst.

 

Oh No, Bow!

In the opening scene, Bow combines his dual talents of being creepy and not being funny, by telling some children some appalling jokes while keeping both his hands uncomfortably close to his crotch.

Above It All 5
Adora: “Glimmer, you keep an eye on him. I’ll alert IICSA.”

Later on, the strong Winds from the Cave blow a log right into Bow, and it knocks him down. Serves him right. By God, I haven’t got any time for any of these clowns today.

 

Does it have the Power?

No, it really doesn’t. I was pretty stumped as I was watching it as to what story it was trying to tell. We start with three minutes of Bow entertaining the kids in his uniquely disturbing way, then cut to Madame Razz’s irrelevant set-to with Vultak, and then move on to the entirely disconnected Cave of Winds plot. Even once that starts, the writers seem to forget about it quite quickly, shifting focus to Glimmer, Madame Razz and Bow being under siege from Horde Troopers in a village, while She-Ra has her LSD trip with the walking trees and the flying islands. In complete fairness, these latter plots do manage to come together at the end, but not terribly satisfactorily. This one is one to miss.