In which we learn that fighting is better than peace.
He-Man begins the episode quizzing Caz about Primus, seeking to learn everything of import about his new home. As part of this process, Caz shows him the Garden, where all of Primus’ food is grown, and introduces him to Grot, an ape-like being who acts as gardener. This may be relevant later. I don’t know. For all I know, Grot never appears again, and then I’ll have wasted a paragraph in telling you about him. Isn’t it exciting learning about this new series?
Anyway, a pair of Mutants are also in the Garden, using some kind of robot device to destroy all the plants. These Mutants appear to be called Hoov and Karate, the latter of whom speaks like a white person imitating an Asian person, and it’s thus somewhat uncomfortable listening to him. On the other hand, he’s a superb fighter, managing to get the upper hand on He-Man – at least temporarily. But fear not – the combined effort of He-Man and Grot soon send the Mutants packing.
But all this messing about in the Garden of Primus is merely a distraction from the episode’s true business, which concerns Skeletor’s latest plan. This one’s rather subtle, and thus stands head and shoulders above pretty much anything he’s ever previously come up with. Claiming to desire peace, he contacts a pacifist on Primus, named Werban, and uses a magic necklace to brainwash him.
Under Skeletor’s control, Werban lowers the defensive shield and steals the key, thus preventing anyone from doing the obvious and simply turning the shield on again. Once this is achieved, Skeletor sends a contingent of Mutants down to Leviton to meet Werban and destroy the key. Unfortunately, the Mutants are sufficiently incompetent to knock Werban’s necklace off, allowing him to shake off Skeletor’s brainwashing.
Hydron and Flipshot arrive in time to chase away the Mutants, but in the ensuing chaos Werban flies off, intending to return to Onnor and use the key to raise the shield again. Unfortunately, he crashes in the desert, where he meets Skeletor. He-Man also shows up in short order, and Skeletor gets all nostalgic by conjuring up a stupid monster for He-Man to fight. This, as ever, doesn’t keep He-Man busy for long, and Skeletor is soon put to flight.
After accepting his apology, He-Man takes Werban back down into Onnor, where he returns the key to Master Sebrien. Sebrien and He-Man then start babbling some patronising bollocks about holding on to courage or some such. I might have paid more attention if I hadn’t been distracted by a pair of random blokes in the background wearing baseball caps. Who the hell are they and what are they doing there?
In today’s adventure…
Rather depressingly, today’s adventure seems to demonstrate that it’s not worth seeking peace. Werban is introduced as a pacifist and never portrayed as anything more than a fool; although obviously we all know you can’t make peace with Skeletor, nobody even commends Werban for trying. By the end of the episode, he claims to have learned his lesson, and will presumably always default to fighting in the future.
Okay, some new names amid the old friends today. There’s Prince Adam, He-Man, Master Sebrien, Hydron, Flipshot, Mara, Caz, Grot, Werban, Meldock, Gepple, Krax, Elcon, Skeletor, Flogg, Slush Head, Hoov, and Karate, and no doubt several others.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
Master Sebrien tells Mara that Adam knows how to contact He-Man, so of course Mara goes off and asks Adam how to do so. Adam replies, “We don’t have time for that now,” which is a pretty classic response.
Skeletor calls Werban “mush-brain”, but otherwise it’s entirely quiet on this front.
Meldock leads the way again, earning himself an idiot point for making up stupid rhymes when he should be doing something useful. All four of them get another point for messing about with some glue, with which they manage to get themselves stuck to each other. The current scores, therefore, are:
Does it have the Power?
Well, it’s certainly a step up from last time, but I’d hesitate to describe it as must-see television. Skeletor remains the highlight; the writing for him is excellent, and although it’s no patch on his Filmation voice, I’m growing to enjoy his voice acting: it’s conniving and smooth, yet gives the impression of an individual only precariously balanced on the edge of sanity.
Werban’s story is a touch disappointing; as soon as he meets Skeletor for a peace summit, he is brainwashed. It might have been more satisfying somehow if Skeletor had actually persuaded him to lower the shield, rather than forcing him to, and then we could have seen Werban gradually realising his mistake. As it was, his mind control freed him from responsibility for all consequences.
All in all, I didn’t have a particular problem with this episode, but I’m still trying to work out where the benchmark for this series is. Compared to most of the others, it could be a classic, or it could be poor. Who knows? I’m going to play it safe for now, and describe it as an average outing.
In which the scientists unveil their full horrifying natures.
After last week’s exciting quest to Denebria, the newly-christened Starship Eternia returns to Primus, where He-Man presents the scientists with the crystals. As they get to work on repairing the generator and lowering the intense heat on Primus, a report comes in of an attack on the Floating City of Leviton. In case you couldn’t work out from the obvious “levitate” derivation of this city’s name, I can here inform you that it floats in the sky, not on water. You might not care. I don’t know.
On arrival at Leviton, however, He-Man, Hydron, Flipshot and Caz discover that there’s nothing wrong, and instantly realise they’ve been lured away from the generator. Clever Mutants! Slush Head and a squadron of other Mutants enter the generator and take the scientists captive. Good riddance, of course, but He-Man doesn’t see it that way.
He-Man and his team now meet up with Master Sebrien, Drissy and Mara. He-Man looks longingly in Drissy’s direction, remembering her promise to whip him if Caz goes to Denebria, but it seems Drissy isn’t up for playing dominatrix right now. Instead, everyone is agreed that they must rescue the scientists immediately – but this may not be easy, since they’ve been transported to the Quagmi Swamp on Denebria, and are to form the bait in Skeletor’s latest trap.
Thanks to a robot called UR – which for some ill-explained reason has the ability to track the scientists, wherever they are – He-Man and Master Sebrien successfully discover that the captives are now in the Quagmi Swamp. And so that’s where He-Man, Hydron and Flipshot go, and face a number of non-too-exciting challenges before eventually finding the scientists, but at the same time coming face to face with Skeletor and the Mutants.
The ensuing battle essentially sees the Mutants defeat themselves by doing demonstrably idiotic things, but there’s a very slight degree of peril when Skeletor grabs Gepple and threatens unpleasant consequences if He-Man doesn’t surrender. Naturally, He-Man has a trick up his sleeve: he retorts that he will destroy the Mutants’ ship if Gepple is not released.
Not wishing to remain in the Quagmi Swamp for the rest of his life, Skeletor gives in, and vanishes in a puff of bad-tempered smoke. I don’t know why he couldn’t have taken Gepple with him in this smoke, and I am tempted to conclude that he simply didn’t want to. I can’t say I blame him. With that settled, He-Man returns the scientists to Primus, and all the heroes stand around mugging at the camera, in the perhaps mistaken belief that we want to look at them.
In today’s adventure…
No moral again, though the actual storyline certainly featured a lot of sermons from He-Man, on topics ranging from the importance of not going looking for a fight to the importance of teamwork. I have a moral lesson too: if you’re Skeletor, don’t bother setting a trap for He-Man. Though really, if you are Skeletor, you ought to know that by now.
Again, I’m a bit crippled by not knowing everyone’s name, but among others, I can report that there are appearances from He-Man, Hydron, Flipshot, Caz, Drissy, Master Sebrien, Mara, Gleep, Gepple, Meldock, Elcon, Krax, UR, the Sorceress, Skeletor, Flogg and Slush Head.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
Adam doesn’t even appear this week, nor is he mentioned.
Caz refers to Skeletor as a “bag of bones”, while Hydron considers him a “sore loser”. Interestingly, both of these comments are made when Skeletor is not present, suggesting these two are too cowardly to insult him to his face. On that subject, a green toothy Mutant says that Hydron is a “coward”, though it’s difficult to see exactly how this was provoked. And finally, there’s a moment when Skeletor clearly wants to insult Flogg and Slush Head, but is too overcome with inarticulate rage, so he simply settles for shouting “NYAAAAARRRGGGGUUUUHHHH!” I’m not sure that’s how to spell it, but that’s definitely how it sounds.
Meldock earns himself 1 idiot point for claiming that he will be able to fix the generator by himself, another point for falling asleep on the job, a third point for having an annoying outbreak of sneezing, and – perhaps unfairly – I’m also going to give him another point for having a really irritating voice. I recognise I can’t award Meldock a point every time he speaks, but I’m going to do so on this occasion.
Krax gets an idiot point for telling a robot to cool him down, and ending up being encased in ice. Gepple gets a point for bouncing around and punching the air, making out that he’s going to be even vaguely capable of fighting the Mutants. Finally, all four of them are going to get two more points each, one for shrieking and running round in circles whenever anyone mentions the word “Mutant”, and another for having a completely brain-dead argument when Skeletor comes to have a chat with them. God, these guys are going to be hard work.
To sum up, the current rolling totals are:
Does it have the Power?
Not this time. The problem is that it’s all about the scientists, and they are genuinely so annoying that I’d rather watch 15 episodes about Orko, Uncle Montork and Loo-Kee than 30 seconds of these guys. Even the other characters clearly hate them: Caz and Flipshot are both pretty rude about them, and they almost drive Skeletor mental. I’m assuming they’re meant to be comic relief, but they’re outstandingly misjudged.
Otherwise, this episode is a bit of a time-killing piece in the middle of a greater story. Nothing of any particular note happens, and I feel no more enlightened about any of the characters than I was last time round. I’m guessing next week is going to start with the scientists fixing the generator with the crystals, and am tempted to conclude that this episode could be skipped entirely without you even noticing. I recommend you don’t bother with it.
Master Sebrien begins the episode by taking He-Man to an underground city, known as Onnor. While there, he introduces He-Man to the other inhabitants, including the scientists, and it’s so very nice to see them again. There is widespread scepticism among the people that He-Man is capable of doing anything against the Mutants, so helpfully the Mutants launch an attack ship to give He-Man the opportunity to prove himself.
The attack ship contains a green Mutant called Slush Head, who is – rather surprisingly – given to composing poetry about how evil he is. It’s not very good poetry, admittedly, but it still must be noted that this is intelligence beyond anything of Skeletor’s former minions. The poetry doesn’t help, of course: He-Man shows up mighty quick, and sends Slush Head packing.
Slush Head returns to the Mutant base, where despite his defeat, he reveals that he has at least fulfilled the main part of his mission: to take some reconnaissance photos of various locations on Primus. Skeletor examines the photos, and forms a plan with Flogg: they will destroy some crystals from a power generator. Once the crystals are gone, the temperature on Primus will rise to an unmanageable level.
The Mutants are successful in this exciting plan, which prompts a discussion between He-Man, Master Sebrien, Mara, Hydron and Flipshot. The only place to get replacement crystals is Gorn City, which is incidentally on the Mutants’ home world Denebria. It’s nice to see that a complete and total lack of forward planning is not limited to Man-at-Arms. In order to get to Denebria, our heroes dust off an ancient starship.
The starship is crewed by He-Man, Hydron, Flipshot and a robot called Gleep. In addition, the young boy Caz stows away on board, even though his sister Drissy threatens to “whip” He-Man if Caz goes with him. Once on Denebria, He-Man and Gleep head to the market in Gorn City, and bloody Caz follows him. I’m getting a bad feeling that Caz is going to be the Orko of this series, but let’s keep an open mind.
Of course, this whole business with the stolen crystals is an elaborate trap. Once He-Man starts asking around trying to buy replacement crystals, he comes to the attention of a bunch of Skeletor’s thugs, led by a Cyclops called Meliak, who try to take him prisoner. Interestingly, Meliak has a degree of morality: he refuses to harm Caz and lets him go.
He-Man defeats Meliak pretty easily, at which point Skeletor turns up for a more interesting duel. It’s not a duel that lasts particularly long, however; He-Man soon contrives to hurl Skeletor into a pit of water. Once that’s achieved, He-Man grabs some crystals, which are suddenly on the scene. I’m not sure where they came from, but never mind. He re-boards the starship, which he finds that Hydron and Flipshot have decided to name Starship Eternia. He-Man tries to make out that he’s impressed, but I suspect he’d rather Hydron and Flipshot had actually helped in this mission, rather than sit around thinking up names for their ship.
In today’s adventure…
Hm. Weird. Last week there was a moral lesson, this week there’s not. I’ll admit, I’m watching these on YouTube, so it’s not necessarily complete. In the absence of an official moral, though, I’ll supply my own, which is that if you’re building an energy system on which your planet depends, you should definitely make sure that it’s fuelled by something which can’t be found on your planet. It’ll be even more sensible if the fuel is something which can only be obtained from your enemy’s planet. That definitely makes sense.
Right, let’s try and take stock. There’s Prince Adam, He-Man, Master Sebrien, Hydron, Flipshot, Caz, Drissy, Gleep, Gepple, Meldock, Elcon, Krax, some other dudes, Skeletor, Flogg, Slush Head, Meliak, and several other Mutants, whose names I didn’t get.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
Adam makes his transformation with only Master Sebrien around, so he doesn’t need to give an excuse. That’s probably just as well. Until he’s got to grips with what’s normal on Primus, he probably doesn’t want to be giving excuses. Imagine if he said, “Oh, Adam’s just gone down to Asda to buy some crumpets,” then everyone else would say, “What’s Asda? What are crumpets? What the hell are you talking about, you loon?” Then He-Man’s reputation would be damaged. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
No one makes any outright insults this week; the best we have is Skeletor implying that Slush Head is a moron by saying, “Too much brain strain?” when Slush Head fails to comprehend a simple plan.
Does it have the Power?
Again, this is a nicely watchable instalment. There’s nothing wrong with it, and we’re beginning to get to know our characters reasonably well now. Our heroes are the more well-developed group so far; Master Sebrien, Caz and Drissy all have discernible personalities. Hydron and Flipshot have the same personality so far, but it’s early days yet. On the Mutant side, Flogg comes across as the most evil, while Slush Head looks likely to be the idiot of the group, despite his bizarre poetry.
Plotwise, it’s all fairly standard for He-Man, and at this stage it’s nice to see familiar storylines playing out, rather than the series trying to be too different. One nice touch is that He-Man actually takes some currency to Gorn City with which to pay for the crystals, which is very pleasing. Filmation He-Man may have been a stout moraliser on many subjects, but his personal ethics seemed a little less clear-cut when it came to nicking things (rainbow quartz, for example).
So let’s call it another win for the New Adventures of He-Man. Who’d have thought it?
Well, here we are. The first episode of the much-derided New Adventures of He-Man. Let’s approach this with an open mind. As was the case with She-Ra, the first five episodes of this series were edited together into a film, so this is not only the first episode but the first 20 minutes of a longer story.
The first few minutes of the episode establish our basic premise. There’s a planet called Primus, inhabited by a boy called Caz and two young ladies called Drissy and Mara, as well as a whole host of other goodies, who I expect I’ll get to know soon enough. Orbiting Primus is a skull-shaped moon, on which live the Mutants. These are led by a purple dude called Flogg, and for whatever reason they are trying to destroy or invade Primus. Fortunately, a defensive shield protects the planet.
Still, the Mutants’ attacks are getting ever stronger, and the inhabitants of Primus fear that the shield will not hold. Luckily, an elder gentleman called Master Sebrien – identified as the leader of the Council – has come up with a solution, which involves opening a time portal to the past, sending a timeship through it, and collecting someone with the power to defend Primus. Anyone want to guess who this mysterious someone might be?
After a scene in which we are introduced to the notoriously irritating scientists – a quartet of shrieking morons called Gepple, Krax, Meldock and Elcon – the timeship sets off, carrying the brave pilots Captain Hydron and Flipshot. It isn’t specified, but presumably the timeship can travel in space as well as time, since it winds up – obviously – on Eternia, which I assume is a different planet to Primus.
No need to get too bogged down in logic, though – it’s time for a bit of action! When Hydron and Flipshot arrive, they are instantly assaulted by a trio of impolite dudes who take them prisoner. I should probably mention that these dudes are dressed as sheep, so they aren’t as intimidating as perhaps they could have been. Anyway, the sheep men announce their intention to take Hydron and Flipshot to Snake Mountain, and with this bombshell, we fade to the commercial break.
After the break, we meet this series’ version of He-Man. He’s a tad disappointing, in that he has blonde hair, rather than neon orange, and he also wears jeans, rather than red furry underpants. Well, he might wear the red furry underpants, but if he does, they’re under his jeans. Anyway, he is contacted by the Sorceress, who tells him that he must journey to the future to save humanity, so he barrels off to say his goodbyes to Eternia, and find Hydron, Flipshot and their timeship.
Meanwhile, we now meet the new Skeletor. I like him a lot more than I like the new He-Man. He’s not got the right voice, of course, but otherwise he seems to be exhibiting his usual winning combination of evil, stupidity, sarcasm and unnecessary unpleasantness. Learning that Hydron and Flipshot are highly technologically advanced but have virtually no defences, he turns on the charm, convinces them that he is the hero they seek, and agrees to come to Primus with them.
Over at the Royal Palace, He-Man has turned back into Prince Adam, and is explaining to King Randor and Queen Marlena about the whole secret identity business. The animators have succeeded in drawing King Randor almost exactly as the Filmation animators did, but seem to have had a complete spasm when they drew Marlena, to whom they have attributed a prominent hunchback and bright blue hair. Consequently, the dramatic impact of this scene is diminished slightly, but it’s still rather touching when Randor says, “You have made me so proud, my son.” It’s nice that the writers of this series chose to tie up that ongoing plot point from Filmation.
Hydron and Flipshot are just about to board their timeship with Skeletor, when He-Man shows up, and the ensuing rumble results in all four of them travelling back to Primus. Instantly, Skeletor drops his charade of not being evil, and casts his lot in with the Mutants, currently bowing to Flogg’s leadership but clearly having designs on command himself. In the meantime, He-Man reveals his secret identity to Master Sebrien and turns back into Adam; in order to maintain the secret identity, Sebrien suggests that from this day forward Adam pretend to be his nephew. And so all the pieces are in place for this new, sci-fi-oriented He-Man series.
In today’s adventure…
Hydron and Flipshot explain that when there’s an emergency, the first rule is to not panic, since it’s easier to work things out if you remain calm. This has absolutely bugger-all to do with the story we’ve just watched, but I’m so glad to be out of the dark days of Loo-Kee’s moral sermons, I don’t care.
Yeah, so, I don’t know everyone’s name yet, so this one’s going to be difficult. Giving it my best shot, there’s Prince Adam, He-Man, the Sorceress, Master Sebrien, Hydron, Flipshot, Caz, Drissy, Mara, Elcon, Gepple, Krax, Meldock, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Skeletor, Flogg, Slush Head, some sheep-men, and some other Mutants.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
The whole point this week is that Adam reveals his identity to his parents and to Master Sebrien on purpose, so it would be pretty weird if he did give an excuse.
Hydron and Flipshot refer to the Mutants as “space buzzards”, and they in turn are referred to as “mock turtles” by the sheep men. Otherwise, He-Man makes us feel like we’re on comfortable territory by telling Skeletor that he’s a “fool”.
I know enough about this series to know that the scientists have an immensely poor reputation, and so I have decided to introduce this new category, to replace the hugely popular Oh No, Bow! section that featured throughout She-Ra’s run. I say “hugely popular”. I mean that I enjoyed it. I don’t know if anyone else did. Anyway, Silence, Scientists! will record the no doubt many occasions on which the scientists ought to shut up, or piss off entirely.
The first such incident is, of course, their sole appearance in this episode, in which they manage to make themselves enormously unlikeable within the space of a mere 30 seconds of screen time. The worst so far is Gepple, who has the most incredibly improbable hairstyle I’ve ever seen. It’s a close-run thing though; they’re all complete dicks. In fact, let’s award them points every time they’re idiots, and we’ll see who’s the most irritating by the end of the series. Based on their performance this week, they’ve all got 1 point so far.
Does it have the Power?
Actually, and perhaps surprisingly, yes it does. There’s clearly a degree of affection for the Filmation series here, and it’s appreciated that the story takes the time to wrap up the ongoing story in which King Randor is disappointed in Adam. In addition, it’s pleasing that when Skeletor departs Eternia into the future, the episode takes the time to show a shot of Snake Mountain losing its evil nature. It all helps to ease us into this new setting.
I mentioned that He-Man is a tad disappointing, but he’s not that bad really. If it weren’t for the memory of the neon orange haired moron that we all know and love, I think this He-Man would have made a decent impression. Skeletor is still awesome, and comes across as ever so slightly more sociopathic than the original. I think I’m going to like him.
The other baddies are as yet fairly characterless, but they were barely in this episode, and there’s plenty of time for them to develop. As to the goodies, the scientists are massive clowns, but otherwise Master Sebrien seems likeable enough, as do Hydron and Flipshot. Unfortunately, it did occur to me pretty early on that Flipshot is an anagram of “shit flop”, which an unkind person might suggest was a fair description of this series. I am not that unkind person. Not yet. I’m giving this first entry into the series a relatively enthusiastic thumbs-up. If nothing else, it’s certainly better than watching She-Ra swanning about in space.
This magnum opus of cinema begins with some helpful narration, which explains the basic concept of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and it remains broadly similar to the premise that we all know and love. On this outing, Castle Grayskull sits at the centre of the universe, and it contains the power needed for someone to become Master of the Universe. The Sorceress of Grayskull guards this power from the forces of evil.
Immediately after the credits, we are introduced to Skeletor. This is no doubt because the filmmakers knew he was far and away the best thing about the film, and was thus needed as soon as possible in order to hold our attention. Skeletor has evidently been watching Star Wars, since he has a huge army of Imperial Storm Troopers, the only difference being that they are dressed in black rather than white. Skeletor is less subtle in his evilness than the Galactic Empire.
Anyway, rather to my surprise, Skeletor has already captured Castle Grayskull, and is lounging about on the throne. The budget evidently didn’t stretch to showing the battle in which he managed to gain access to the castle. Evil-Lyn is present, wearing a bin bag and a tin foil hat, and she reports that He-Man is continuing to lead the resistance. The Sorceress is also present, and is just as given to talking in irritating, unhelpful cryptic hints as she was in the Filmation series.
Skeletor makes a public service announcement to Eternia, informing them that he has taken control of Grayskull. He-Man stands on a hill in order to pose dramatically while Skeletor makes this broadcast, then introduces himself to the audience by having a random fight with some Storm Troopers. Man-at-Arms and Teela appear at this juncture, the latter of whom looking as though she’s escaped from the set of an intergalactic remake of Grease. He-Man gives her a welcoming hug and cops a quick feel of her backside.
Before Man-at-Arms can complain that He-Man hasn’t fondled his rear end too, we are treated to the appearance of a ghastly Orko-substitute called Gwildor. Gwildor is the inventor of a device called the Cosmic Key, which can open a doorway between any two locations. He explains that Evil-Lyn stole the Cosmic Key, and used it to allow Skeletor and his Storm Troopers to enter Grayskull. Once this exciting plot point is established, our heroic party waltzes into Grayskull themselves, and after a less than enlightening conversation with the Sorceress, they are pinned down by Skeletor.
I’d love to say it’s an exciting fight, but unfortunately all I could think of during this scene was that Star Wars does this sort of thing so much better. And frankly, I don’t even like Star Wars. The scene ends with Gwildor using another copy of his stupid Cosmic Key to open a gateway to a random location, through which our heroes escape.
These events cover the first 15 minutes of the film, and it’s all been pretty standard silly Eternian shenanigans up to this point. It’s not been good, as such, but it’s been watchable. Unfortunately, Gwildor’s gateway takes He-Man and his mates to Earth, and so the film now takes an unwelcome left turn into a boring story in which our heroes set to work looking for the second copy of the Cosmic Key, which they have somehow lost. They are pretty sure that it must be somewhere on Earth, so they split up to try to search the entire planet. I’m sure this won’t take long, especially since splitting up seems to mean that He-Man goes one way, while the other three go to a cheap version of KFC and steal some fried chicken.
In this cheap version of KFC, we meet Monica from Friends. She does have another name in this film, but obviously I didn’t listen to it. When we first meet her, it’s the end of her final shift at the knock-off KFC. She therefore changes out of her uniform right behind the counter where all the customers can see her. This seems odd behaviour, but as this film goes on, we’ll learn that Monica is a pretty odd person.
Monica has just broken up with her boyfriend, who is Tom Paris from Star Trek: Voyager. Tom Paris also has another name, but we’re going to call him Tom Paris because I think it’s funny, and there are precious few other laughs in this film. Tom Paris and Monica have broken up for no readily apparent reason, but they still act like they’re together anyway, regularly hugging and kissing throughout the film. “Why?” you ask. “Why not?” the filmmakers reply, shrugging their shoulders.
Monica and Tom Paris go to the local cemetery, where Monica ribbits on about how her parents have recently died in a plane crash, which is tragic, so it’s no surprise that she’s easily distracted when she finds the Cosmic Key. The Cosmic Key looks like a bomb, so Monica eagerly picks it up and beams with demented delight. Tom Paris is no less insane; he decides the Key must be a musical instrument, and laughs merrily as it emits sparks. These two have a complete death wish. If I’d found that thing, I’d be calling the bomb disposal squad, not carrying it round and chuckling like a halfwit.
The next scene confirms that Tom Paris is a complete moron; he takes the Key to his band’s rehearsal space, and plugs it into his amp. Come on, Tom Paris. It doesn’t look like an instrument in the slightest. I’ll admit it makes silly noises, but that’s sheer coincidence. I’m also unconvinced that Gwildor would have installed an Earth-compatible audio jack on the Cosmic Key.
Of course, thanks to Tom Paris’ stupid mucking about, Skeletor and Evil-Lyn are able to lock on to the Key’s current location, and so they send an advance party of baddies through a gateway to recover it and ambush He-Man. The baddies include:
Blade, a dude who wears an eye patch and has a pair of knives strapped to his head.
Saurod, a vaguely reptilian gentleman in a silly black armoured suit. Saurod has the dubious honour of being incinerated by Skeletor in the not-too-distant future.
Beast-Man, who looks like a Poundland version of Chewbacca.
Karg, who looks like a Family Bargains version of Beast-Man.
Hilarious japes ensue when these four bound happily through the gateway and corner Monica in the band’s rehearsal space. I’m sure this scene is great, but I’m watching and writing this on the Southwestern Trains service from Waterloo to Portsmouth, and there’s an enormously stupid woman sat behind me shrieking into her mobile about some horrible house she’s renovating, so I was rather distracted. Listen lady, no one cares about your house. I’m watching He-Man.
Actually, to be honest, I’m not watching He-Man. He-Man has been mysteriously absent from this film for the last quarter of an hour, and instead I’ve been watching a load of really cheap messing about with Monica from Friends crawling around under a table while four individuals – allegedly the best assassins in the galaxy – inexplicably fail to capture her. Come on, He-Man. If you don’t show up soon, I’m going to start randomly skipping ahead.
Ah, here he is. Right on cue, Monica blunders into He-Man while she’s running away from Blade and Skeletor’s other dicks. Unfortunately, that bloody woman’s started up again, so I have more information about her plastering and painting contract with “Dave” than I do about He-Man and Monica. Apparently, Dave isn’t doing his job very well. On the plus side, we’ve just left Clapham Junction and I know for a fact there’s no signal from here until at least Woking, so the beastly fool will shut up soon. On the minus side, Dave and his ineptitude is actually quite a lot more interesting than this film is at the moment.
With the help of his chicken-pilfering colleagues Teela and Man-at-Arms, He-Man repels the attack of Blade and co. as easily as he would in the cartoon. It’s now time to seek some answers from Monica, who is surprisingly not too worried about the appearance of a buff bodybuilder equipped with a sword, a laser pistol, and wearing nothing more than his pants and a red cloak. He-Man laboriously explains the entire plot to her, and she happily accepts it all as if this sort of thing happens all the time. She and Tom Paris are definitely doing some serious hallucinogenic drugs. Loo-Kee would not approve.
Tom Paris teams up with a police inspector and spends some time cruising the streets looking for Monica, while Gwildor nicks a car and takes Team He-Man on a ride looking for Tom Paris. With both sets of characters out looking for each other, it naturally takes a fair while before anything of interest happens, so I have occupied myself in tuning back in to the ongoing saga of Dave the Rubbish Painter. Turns out he’s painted the outside of the house blue, but he was supposed to paint the inside. That is, admittedly, a pretty poor effort, but there’s still no need for the idiot woman to inform the entire train.
Eventually, all our heroes reunite, and are pinned down in a music shop by Evil-Lyn, Blade, Beast-Man and Karg. Saurod is no longer present, owing to the above-mentioned incineration. Gwildor attempts to reactivate the Cosmic Key so they can all go back to Eternia, though I don’t know why they want to go back there. The only reason they’re on Earth in the first place is because they were defeated on Eternia and had to run away. Nothing’s changed, so why bother going back?
This very good question is not answered, because before Gwildor can reactivate the Key, we get a huge case of “what the fuck is wrong with you, Monica?” Basically, Evil-Lyn pretends to be Monica’s dead mother and asks Monica to fetch the Cosmic Key for her, and Monica does so. At this stage in the film, Monica knows the following:
Her mother died in a plane crash.
There is an evil being called Skeletor, who requires something called the Cosmic Key to dominate the entire universe.
The Cosmic Key is currently in Monica’s possession.
Her mother, despite being dead, is currently standing outside a music shop asking Monica to fetch the Cosmic Key, an artefact of great power in which she has heretofore displayed absolutely zero interest.
Knowing all the above, why the Jesus Christ would Monica choose to simply hand over the Cosmic Key? The only plausible answer is that she is completely brain-dead. On reflection, that explains it.
He-Man has again gone AWOL from the film, in favour of endless scenes of the police inspector standing around bellowing that he’s going to arrest everyone. He should start with Dave the Painter, I think, who is clearly dangerously incompetent, given the current thread of that moronic woman’s conversation. Still, once Monica’s done her little Cosmic Key giveaway, He-Man reappears looking mightily fucked off, and he looks even more so when Evil-Lyn opens a gateway to Eternia, from which Skeletor emerges in a massive tank. I didn’t know that was part of the plan, but I’m increasingly getting the impression that the writers have only the vaguest notion of the concept of narrative.
There’s now an interminable sequence involving He-Man flying around on a hoverboard shooting Storm Troopers. If I knew when Back to the Future 2 came out, I might have concluded that Masters of the Universe was ripping that off as well as Star Wars, but since I’m not sure, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. Instead, I’ll settle for commenting that this bit is less than compelling, and has the feel of a bit only inserted at the last minute because the producers suddenly realised they had a bit of cash left over. It’s certainly not relevant to the plot, not that I can really remember what the plot is supposed to be by this stage.
Skeletor, meanwhile, is merrily driving his tank up and down the high street as if he’s part of a Thanksgiving parade. He moves at an infinitesimally slow pace, and yet still manages to capture all of our heroes, with the exception of that dick of a policeman, who has been missing from the film for some time. I’m not sure if this is because he’s going to make a grand re-entry at some stage, or simply because the writers have forgotten about him.
He-Man strikes a bargain with Skeletor, agreeing to return to Eternia as a slave if Skeletor will spare the lives of Man-at-Arms, Teela, etc. As opposed to the Filmation version, this incarnation of Skeletor has some conception of the long game, and actually keeps his word, taking He-Man away but leaving the other goodies alive and at liberty. Unfortunately, Gwildor reveals that the Cosmic Key is now fused or broken or something, which means that they are stranded on Earth.
Already in training for Star Trek: Voyager, Tom Paris is insistent that there must be a deus ex machina available for use at this stage. And thus it proves. Because Tom Paris can remember the sequence of stupid noises the Key made when he thought it was a musical instrument, Gwildor is able to reprogram the Key with Eternia’s coordinates! Hurrah! Despite a last minute reappearance from the stupid policeman, trying to delay proceedings, the gateway is opened, and it’s over to Eternia for all our heroes.
They arrive just in time to miss a serious display of overacting from Skeletor, who has absorbed all the powers of Grayskull, thanks to some bollocks about the moon rising and some magical eye opening. As a result of this, he’s put on a new outfit, which looks considerably tackier than his previous effort. Once Teela etc arrive, there’s an almighty ruckus in Grayskull’s throne room, which comes to an almost satisfactory conclusion when He-Man raises his sword and cries, “I have the Power!” before launching into a Star Wars-aping duel with Skeletor.
Well, of course, He-Man wins, and sends Skeletor plummeting down into a pit. I don’t know why there’s a massive pit in the middle of the throne room, but why the hell not? The film ends with He-Man restoring the Sorceress to power, and for no readily apparent reason she allows the halfwit policeman to go into retirement on Eternia. Gwildor sends Monica and Tom Paris back to Earth, where Monica finds that her parents have been magically and inexplicably restored to life. I cannot express how happy I was at this revelation. If I hadn’t been on the train, I’d have cheered.
And finally – there’s a post-credits sting in which Skeletor pops his head up from beneath some pink liquid and announces to the camera, “I’ll be back.” Unfortunately, this version of Skeletor was never able to come back, due to his subsequent arrest for copyright infringement of Star Wars and the Terminator, and possibly Back to the Future.
In today’s adventure…
You know as well as I do that there was no moral segment to this film. A moral segment at least implies a degree of coherent thought about what story the writers were trying to tell, and I don’t think that coherent thought was anywhere near the production of this film. I have therefore taken it upon myself to supply a couple of moral lessons drawn from the film:
If you meet a man dressed in nothing more than pants, bra and a red cloak, don’t worry: he’s the Most Powerful Man in the Universe, not a sex pest. Though, worryingly, I suppose he could be both.
If you find a mysterious glowing piece of machinery in a crater, it’s probably a special Japanese musical instrument, not a bomb. You should definitely fiddle about with it and press all the buttons.
If you’re an American policeman, act like a complete dick throughout any weird proceedings, and you’ll be rewarded by being allowed to retire to Eternia.
If your parents have recently died, they will probably reappear later, with zero explanation.
If you’re Monica from Friends, don’t worry – no one will remember you appeared in this atrocity of a film. If, on the other hand, you’re Tom Paris, this is probably the pinnacle of your career, and is about twenty times better than Star Trek: Voyager.
If you’re redecorating your house, don’t call Dave the Painter.
For the first 45 minutes or thereabouts, the only person doing any insulting is Teela. She calls Gwildor a “worm” and what sounds like a “Fenurrian wombat”. This may not be what she said; Teela doesn’t speak very clearly. Shortly afterwards, she refers to Earth as “a barbaric world”, as part of a bizarre little interlude in which she and Gwildor make an unexpected and somewhat half-hearted case for vegetarianism.
Once Teela’s finished, it’s time for the baddies to take their turn. Blade starts off by calling either Beast-Man or Karg an “animal”. It’s not entirely clear which of them he’s addressing, and they’re both present and would both fit this description. Evil-Lyn shortly thereafter shrieks “fools”, though I don’t know who she was talking about. Frankly, only about half of the sentences uttered in this film seem to have any kind of relevance to the preceding piece of dialogue.
It’s only towards the end that Skeletor gets into his stride, starting off by calling Gwildor a “minute minion”, and then proceeds to describe Earth as a “primitive and tasteless planet”. These barbs are only warm-ups for the main event, which I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for: the high point of the entire film, when Skeletor keeps up the He-Manic tradition of referring to He-Man as a “fool”.
Elsewhere, the police inspector calls Tom Paris a “moron kid”, and finally, the woman behind me on the train referred to Dave the Painter as a “fucking idiot”.
Does it have the Power?
Let’s just say it’s easy to see why this didn’t get a sequel, and didn’t go on to spawn the multi-film franchise that it was plainly aiming at. It isn’t a complete disaster, but it is a 90% disaster. I hate deriding things for looking cheap, because obviously there’s only so much money they were given and that’s that, but this film really does look like it was put together in a weekend with whatever materials could be salvaged from the bins behind B&Q.
The lack of budget is obviously the reason for the film primarily being set on Earth; it’s a lot easier to film on streets, fast food restaurants and music shops than it is to build impressive sets for various exotic Eternian locations. The problem is that in a Masters of the Universe film, we want to see Eternia, not Earth. We want to see Snake Mountain, not a KFC knockoff, and we want the Royal Palace, not Monica’s parents’ house.
As far as characters and actors go, it’s difficult to pick a favourite. Skeletor made a reasonably good impression at first, but let himself down with some dreadful acting in the final 15 minutes of the film. It’s not really fair to compare him to Filmation’s Skeletor, who is indisputably the greatest character in the history of television, but I have to conclude that this Skeletor never really cut the mustard. He’s certainly evil, but comes across as rather more doleful than his usual gleeful nature, as if someone’s making him be evil, but he can’t really be bothered.
And speaking of can’t be bothered, I think that description fits a lot of other characters, notably He-Man, Man-at-Arms and the Sorceress. None of them – especially the Sorceress – ever give the impression that they’re involved in this film for anything other than a paltry pay check. Teela, bless her heart, does give it her best effort, but I rather wish she hadn’t been trying so hard. The same can be said for that div of a policeman. I’m not even going to discuss Gwildor.
Monica and Tom Paris do the best they can with some pretty appalling material; Monica gets a rawer deal, given that atrocious scene in the middle where she idiotically gave away the Cosmic Key to Evil-Lyn. It’s a hard sell, having to convincingly behave like a complete moron and then scream “NOOOOO!!!!” when you realise what you’ve done, but Monica just about gets there. All Tom Paris has to do is hang around being a typical American teenager – albeit one who appears to be out of his head on LSD, given his casual acceptance of the bizarre proceedings – and this seems to be within his abilities.
Plotwise, the film is pretty straightforward, and despite my comments above, it’s relatively logical, insofar as He-Man is ever logical. The only confusing bit is the apparent existence of two Cosmic Keys, which has the ring of a last-minute rewrite when someone realised that if Skeletor has nicked the Cosmic Key, how can Gwildor accidentally transport our heroes to Earth? “Quick – make Gwildor have another copy of the Key – that’ll sort it!”
I’m trying, desperately, to think of something nice to say about the film, and thus prove that I’m not a negative person, forever carping on about why things are rubbish. Unfortunately, I’m finding it difficult to come up with anything. I think it’s probably best to quietly draw a veil over this entry, and move on to The New Adventures of He-Man. Surely that must be better than this?