Episode 03 – The Heat

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.

Heat 2
Master Sebrien: “We do have to rescue the scientists. But we don’t have to do it immediately, do we?”

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.

Heat 3
He-Man: “Guys, guys, even Beast-Man and Trapjaw are more threatening than you.”

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.

 

Character checklist

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.

Heat 1
He-Man: “Pizza delivery for four irritating morons?”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam doesn’t even appear this week, nor is he mentioned.

 

Insults

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.

 

Silence, Scientists!

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.

Heat 4
Skeletor: “Right. I am going to kill you all, but who wants to go first?”

To sum up, the current rolling totals are:

Meldock: 7

Gepple: 4

Krax: 4

Elcon: 3

 

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.

Episode 02 – Quest for the Crystals

In which He-Man gets a fancy new spaceship.

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.

Crystals 1
Elcon: “With my dress sense, I aim to hit that sweet spot right between medieval jester and sex offender.”

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.

Crystals 2
Skeletor: “So, Slush Head – read any good books lately?”

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.

Crystals 3
Drissy: “Might whip He-Man with this stick. Might whip you, Caz. I’m not choosy.”

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.

Crystals 4
He-Man: “Yeah, thanks for your contribution, you pair of twats.”

 

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.

 

Character checklist

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.

Crystals 5
Master Sebrien: “This is the most important Portaloo on Primus.”

 

Insults

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?

Episode 01 – A New Beginning

In which He-Man and Skeletor move house.

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.

Flogg: “All right lads? My name’s Flogg, and this loon is called Slush Head.”

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?

Master Sebrien: “I’ve come up with a convoluted plan. Bet it works.”

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.

Hydron: “Pleased to meet you. I’m the guy in green, and this moron gazing at me with faintly veiled contempt is Flipshot.”

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.

He-Man: “Just hanging out in this village.”

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.

Skeletor: “I know there’s been a lot written criticising the fact that I somehow have eyeballs now, but let me say this just once: I don’t care.”

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.

King Randor: “WTAF happened to you, my dear?”

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.

Hydron: “And this is what me and Flipshot look like when we haven’t got our silly helmets on.”

 

Character checklist

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.

 

Insults

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”.

He-Man: “Glad to be back, you fools!”

 

Silence, Scientists!

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.

Meldock: “Hello and welcome to up to 65 episodes of me and my mates being irritating. I’m the guy in the middle, and from top down, that’s Elcon, Krax and Gepple. You will come to loathe us.”

 

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.

Skeletor: “Don’t think a lot to the redesign.”

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.

Masters of the Universe

In which Dave isn’t very good at DIY.

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:

  1. Blade, a dude who wears an eye patch and has a pair of knives strapped to his head.
  2. 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.
  3. Beast-Man, who looks like a Poundland version of Chewbacca.
  4. 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:

  1. Her mother died in a plane crash.
  2. There is an evil being called Skeletor, who requires something called the Cosmic Key to dominate the entire universe.
  3. The Cosmic Key is currently in Monica’s possession.
  4. 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.

 

Insults

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?

Season 2 Summary

And there we have it. She-Ra is finished. I don’t know why the second season only consisted of 28 episodes, rather than the usual 65, but I must say I’m relatively grateful. Despite a few high points, the second season was no more entertaining than the first, and – although it never quite hit the all-time low of The Wizard – there were some serious misfires in this batch of episodes. We’ll come on to the high and low points shortly.

I complained in my Season 1 Summary that She-Ra herself was infuriating, and nothing has happened to change that opinion. In fact, it’s only been cemented. I read somewhere once (I can’t remember where, but if you know, tell me, and I’ll assign credit) that the difference between He-Man and She-Ra was that He-Man spoke to you, whereas She-Ra spoke at you. Whoever said that hit the nail on the head.

Glimmer: “Yeah, She-Ra’s definitely speaking at me now.”

I’ll admit that I warmed to Hordak a little over the course of the series, largely once I stopped noticing his pig noises. It feels like at some stage the writers stopped trying to write him the same way they wrote Skeletor, and gave him his own character. It wasn’t a great character, admittedly, but it was an improvement.

Still, for baddies, the best remain Catra and Shadow Weaver. Catra had a lot less to do in this season, but when she did show up, she was good fun. Shadow Weaver had many more starring roles, and managed to elevate quite a few of the more lacklustre episodes with her scary presence. Mantenna was also prominent, but he’s a complete nonentity, as are Grizzlor and Leech. I don’t think Scorpia even bothered to appear, not that I’m upset about that.

And as for She-Ra’s supporting cast, well … Bow remains my favourite, due to his complete lack of self-awareness. I will miss him, if only because it’s so much fun hating him. Despite a few efforts, the writers never managed to give Glimmer anything interesting to do, except in Glimmer Come Home, where she went mental and teamed up with the Horde. Even that was a mistake. Frosta had at least one fantastic episode, and I didn’t object to Mermista.

Adora: “Just look at us all. We’re so amazing.”

Madame Razz didn’t appear very often, but when she did, it was often to shriek “razzle dazzle mizzle muzzle”, which I did not enjoy. One rebel notable by his absence was Kowl. He was present in a lot of the first season, offering genuinely amusing sarcastic commentary and taking the piss out of Bow, which was nice, because it saved me having to do it. It was a shame that he didn’t appear much this time round, and even when he did, he was usually relegated to a non-speaking role.

Well, at the end of a season, it’s traditional that I explore the best and worst of that season’s offerings. So, here are those episodes I consider the best – though do bear in mind that with only 28 episodes to work with, there are a few here that probably wouldn’t have made the cut in a full 65 episode season.

 

Highlights

She-Ra: “Just chilling and remembering some of my high points.”

5. Bow’s Magical Gift. This is included largely so I can sneer at Bow, who behaves like a first class moron this week. Yes, even more so than usual. Despite the plot focussing on one of our characters being a complete div, it’s pretty entertaining.

4. The Inspector. Adam visits Etheria, and pretends to be an inspector to check Hordak’s doing his job properly. It’s not a total classic, but it does have some great fun moments.

3. Assault on the Hive. Let’s be honest: this is only here because it’s Skeletor’s sole appearance this season. The majority of the episode isn’t brilliant, but it’s the last time we see Filmation’s Skeletor in action, so it can’t be missed.

2. Loo-Kee’s Sweety. This is, I suspect, a divisive entry. It’s a very silly episode, notable largely for featuring a scuba-diving pig in the slime pit. Mental, but purely for the what-the-hell factor, it gets a pass.

1. Sweet Bee’s Home. This is far and away the high point of She-Ra’s second season, and is one of the best of the entire series. Who’d have thought the one person capable of defeating He-Man would be a besotted Frosta?

 

Lowlights

Adora: “Let’s just stare in disbelief at these appalling episodes.”

5. The Time Transformer. There were plenty of candidates for the list of failures, but The Time Transformer just managed to beat out other competitors. On paper, it doesn’t sound any worse than She-Ra’s usual mental outings, but it rubbed me up the wrong way purely because of the sheer number of gaping holes in logic that it exhibited. It wasn’t amusingly illogical; it was just annoying.

4. The Bibbet Story. Anything willingly titling itself ‘The Bibbet Story’ is asking for trouble, and lo and behold, this tedious jingoistic little parable duly revealed itself to be infuriating. Bonus points deducted for the introduction of some entirely inappropriately clothed child clowns.

3. The Locket. This instalment was a completely disjointed mess. In theory, an episode bringing together various minor characters such as Sea Hawk and Sorrowful the S&M dragon might have helped make Etheria seem like a more cohesive world; in practice, however, it felt like the writers had just hurled every possible ingredient into the episode in a desperate attempt to make something stick.

2. Day of the Flowers. Orko comes to Etheria and uses his stupid magic to disappear Adam and Adora’s magical swords, while in the background some tedious robots stomp around to destroy some flowers. Sounds achingly boring, doesn’t it? And it was.

1. Above It All. And here’s another episode that just didn’t know what to do with itself. Is it about the rebels nearly being defeated by a windy day? Or is it about She-Ra meeting some trees on a flying island? Is Vultak’s random appearance relevant? Why does it feature what feels like hours of Bow talking to children? Most of all, what is the point of this episode’s existence? These are all unanswerable questions.

 

Onward and upward

Well, surely things can only improve from here. In the spirit of tackling all of He-Man’s onscreen adventures in something approaching production order, it’s now time to examine the franchise’s only live-action offering, the 1987 Masters of the Universe movie, starring Dolph Lundgren, Frank Langella, Tom Paris, and Monica from Friends. What a treat this is going to be.

Episode 93 – Swifty's Baby

In which the writers really drop the ball.

Oh Jesus Christ, it’s the Bibbets again. I had thought, what with this being the last ever episode, that I was at least safe from having to see those freaky child clowns again. This week, Catra is attacking them, no doubt for a very good reason, but the episode doesn’t bother to tell us what that reason is. Instead, She-Ra shows up mighty quick and puts an end to Catra’s fun. The Bibbets do not appear again, so they obviously just popped up for a cameo and to raise my blood pressure.

Catra: “What the fuck is this exploding bird doing here?”

Once she’s dealt with Catra, She-Ra flies off on Swift Wind, who is wittering on and on about having a surprise for She-Ra. He says “it’s tiny, but it’s the biggest thing that ever happened to me.” Given the title of the episode, I have a strong suspicion I know what he’s talking about, and if she’s not as thick as two short planks, She-Ra ought to know too.

She-Ra and Swift Wind travel to Unicorn Island, last seen in the episode The Unicorn King, where Swift Wind introduces She-Ra to his mate, Star Wind. With much blushing, Star Wind explains that she and Swift Wind are going to have a baby very soon, and She-Ra makes a load of sickening cooing noises. The only thing preventing this scene going into complete saccharine overload is Imp, who has followed our heroes to the island and now learns of the impending birth.

She-Ra: “So, you and Star Wind have been doing the dirty, eh? You old rascal. Is this the right moment for a hung like a donkey joke?”

Imp takes this information back to the Fright Zone, where Hordak embarks on a tediously predictable plan: he will capture Star Wind, so She-Ra will come to rescue her, at which point he will capture She-Ra as well. You’ve tried endless variations of this plan, Hordak, and it never works. I suppose this is the last episode, though; maybe the series ends because Hordak wins. I’m on the edge of my seat.

Just before the commercial break, of course, the Horde manage to capture Star Wind, and even injure Swift Wind. I’m not quite sure in what way he’s injured, since the cartoon isn’t exactly graphic about it, but he’s certainly lying around moaning, so it must be serious. She-Ra cures him with her magical medical abilities, and then off they go to Beast Island to rescue Star Wind, accompanied by lots of other helpful unicorns. To add a deadline to proceedings, Swift Wind reveals that if the baby is born anywhere other than Unicorn Island, it will only be an ordinary horse.

She-Ra: “Flying while under the influence again, Swifty? The police will have your licence for sure this time.”

Hordak puts a forcefield up around Beast Island, but She-Ra swims down to the sea bed, and digs a tunnel down and then up, emerging in the prison, coincidentally and fortuitously right next to Star Wind. Hordak has prepared a surprise for She-Ra, however: another forcefield, one which is actually capable of stopping her for more than 2.5 seconds. But, to everyone’s delight, Swift Wind comes to the rescue, and releases She-Ra and Star Wind.

Star Wind: “I’ve tried and I’ve tried, but I just can’t seem to make my face suggest that I care.”

Then there’s a whole load of garbled rubbish, which concerns the fact that the baby is on its way, and so Star Wind cannot now make it back to Unicorn Island in time. In addition, the dungeon starts to flood, thanks to She-Ra’s stupid tunnel, which is all the excuse She-Ra needs to jump on the back of the Unicorn King, fly out into fucking space, and pull the moon with a grappling hook to reverse the tide and stop the water flowing into the dungeon.

This mental feat is achieved only just in time: the baby is born mere feet away from the water. As predicted, however, it is no unicorn, just a normal horse. Swift Wind and Star Wind, however, exhibit great maturity and explain that since he’s their baby, it doesn’t make any difference to them. This is a perfect message, but unfortunately it’s undone by She-Ra, who shrieks, “For the honour of Grayskull” and turns the baby into a unicorn anyway, which suggests that it did matter, but his parents just weren’t saying so.

 

In today’s adventure…

Goodbye, Loo-Kee. It makes me so happy that I’ll never have to look at your moronic face again, or listen to your idiotic squeaky voice. This time, he reveals that the birth of a child is the best thing in the world, because every time a child is born, the hope for all things good and beautiful is born again too. Unfortunately, I’m more in accord with Hordak this week, who at an early stage casually comments, “I hate babies.”

Hordak: “I’ve warned you before about your choice of TV show, Mantenna.”

Character checklist

For this last hurrah, it’s She-Ra, Swift Wind, Star Wind, a cacophony of other unicorns, including the baby, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Imp, Catra, Mantenna, and oodles of Horde Troopers.

 

Insults

Catra reels off her usual triumvirate of insults for her Horde Troopers, calling them “bumblers”, “fools” and “cowards” in rapid succession. Otherwise, we only have Mantenna addressing Swift Wind as a “crazy unicorn”.

 

Oh No, Bow!

Bow couldn’t even be bothered to show up for the last episode. Useless, I tell you. Useless.

She-Ra: “Christ! Last time I woke up like this, I’d been Rohypnolled by Bow.”

Does it have the Power?

I was really proud of the writers for about 30 seconds there at the end. It looked like they were for once really going to show us, rather than tell us, that it doesn’t matter if people are different, when the baby turned out to be a normal horse. Swift Wind and Star Wind seemed really proud of their baby anyway, and they seemed perfectly happy. So why did She-Ra have to ruin it by making the baby into a unicorn? It suggests that sometimes, simply being who we are just isn’t good enough.

So there’s that crushing disappointment. The rest of the episode was no better; She-Ra was particularly infuriating this week, and the foray into outer space suggests an obsession on the writers’ part. I don’t know why She-Ra going into space annoys me so much, given the other implausible things that happen in this cartoon, but all I can say is that it winds me up a treat. I suppose, in complete fairness, it wouldn’t be a proper send-off for She-Ra if she didn’t go into space in her last outing. On the other hand, I’m glad she’s never got a chance to do it again.

She-Ra: “Tally-ho!”

The only good thing to say about this episode is that it’s great fun imagining the animators’ faces this week: “You want me to draw what? How do I draw a heavily pregnant unicorn?” (In the end, they decided not to bother, and just drew a normal unicorn.) Similarly, the voice actress playing Star Wind must have shuddered when given the script, given it includes a few moments where she has to pretend to be a unicorn in the early stages of giving birth. Still, the opportunity to imagine the brief discomfort of a few people in 1986 is not nearly enough to redeem this episode, and thus it is that I must report that She-Ra goes out with a whimper, not a bang.

Episode 92 – The Bibbet Story

In which Bow hangs out with a gang of half-naked children.

This unpromisingly titled episode begins with one of those stupid, long and irrelevant scenes in which She-Ra smashes up a vast quantity of Horde tanks. She-Ra episodes used to start this way very frequently, but seem to have dropped the practice recently, so it’s not particularly welcome to see it started up again here. It goes on for about five minutes, and the only reason for it is to establish that after this defeat, Hordak is running out of robots.

Mantenna: “I wish I hadn’t agreed to appear this week.”

Consequently, Hordak decides to build a new factory for the production of new Troopers. Shadow Weaver suggests building the factory in Bibbetland, and using the Bibbets as slaves. I don’t know who the Bibbets are, but that sounds fine to me, because I have a suspicion that they’ll be really annoying.

By sheer coincidence, Adora and Bow decide to pay a visit to Bibbetland, where they discover the Horde building their new factory. Instead of doing anything about it, however, they opt to build a campfire and go to sleep. While they sleep, they are discovered by a pair of Bibbets called Dee and Coo, and as predicted above, they are really annoying. They are also completely terrifying. They look like half-naked child clowns, with Afros. They are going to haunt me until the day I die.

Dee and Coo: “Fear us.”

Dee and Coo steal Adora’s sword and Bow’s, er, bow, then when Adora and Bow give chase, they lure them straight into a trap. The Bibbets believe our heroes to be Horde soldiers, and it takes all of Adora’s powers of debate to persuade them otherwise. I say powers of debate. In actuality, Adora says, “We’re not Horde soldiers” about 15 times, with Bow occasionally chiming in to say the same thing, until the Bibbets get fed up.

The Bibbets are ruled over by an Elder, who is not dressed as a clown, but as some kind of cross between a Red Indian chief and Papa Smurf. There’s also another Bibbet inexplicably dressed in a red cloak, some blue underpants, and a strawberry hat. I am well aware that you’d be arrested pretty pronto if you went out in pretty much any of the costumes worn in this cartoon, but there’s something about the blue-underpants-red-cloak Bibbet that looks really wrong.

Elder Bibbet: “Christ, IICSA’s going to want another word with me, isn’t it?”

Anyway, the Elder Bibbet tells Dee and Coo to give the sword and the bow back to Adora and Bow, but the Bibbets refuse, instead running off with the weapons to fight the Horde. This troubles the Elder, as the Bibbets are a peaceful people, who have never known fighting before. He agrees to send two Bibbets with Adora and Bow to recover the weapons, but specifies that they will not fight against the Horde.

Inevitably, Dee and Coo get captured by Horde Troopers, meaning Adora and Bow have to break into the factory to rescue them. They also recover their weapons, which means that She-Ra is able to put in an appearance – and only just in time, too, because there’s a load more Horde tanks which need smashing up.

She-Ra: “Some might think I’m running off to deal with the Horde tanks. I’m actually trying to run out of this episode entirely.”

In the meantime, Bow has popped back to see the Elder, and persuaded him that sometimes it is necessary to fight to protect your home, etc. We’ve heard a lot on this theme lately (last episode, in Assault on the Hive, for example) and it’s hard to shake the feeling that the writers room had been taken over by neoconservative Reaganist hawks. I certainly can’t imagine He-Man, in the earlier days of his series, preaching to militarise an entire society in the name of freedom.

But let’s hear less about politics, and more about Bibbets. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. Bow and his new Bibbet army march off to lend She-Ra their assistance, not that she needs it, since she’s perfectly adept at smashing up tanks all by herself, thank you very much. She also destroys the factory, in case you cared. I certainly didn’t.

Bow: “Look! I got these freaky child clowns to build a pumpkin catapult! How clever am I! God, I have a mental age of three and a half.”

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee is skulking around in a tree in Whispering Wood, to my distinct lack of surprise. What’s slightly more surprising is his choice of moral: after the entire episode preached to us that we have to fight to protect our freedom, Loo-Kee now does a complete about-face and says that fighting doesn’t prove how brave we are; instead, it’s braver to choose not to fight. This is more in tune with the usual message promoted by this cartoon, but it’s also damnably confusing given this episode’s subject matter. Maybe Loo-Kee dozed off and didn’t watch properly. I certainly wouldn’t blame him.

Character checklist

This tripe is populated by Adora, She-Ra, Bow, Loo-Kee, the Elder Bibbet, Dee, Coo, the red-cloak-blue-pants Bibbet, various other Bibbets, Hordak, Mantenna, Shadow Weaver, Mantenna, and the usual scores of Horde Troopers.

She-Ra: “Don’t touch him, Elder, you might catch something.”

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

“I’ll stay here and see what I can do,” Adora says, which is not a bad excuse, except for the fact that at this stage there’s nothing left that particularly needs doing, and Bow should realise this. But he doesn’t, obviously.

Insults

“Muscle-maiden” is a popular choice this week, being employed for She-Ra by both Hordak and a Horde Trooper. The Bibbet Elder refers to Dee and Coo as “foolish young people”, and a Horde Trooper addresses either Dee or Coo as a “mean little thing”. In response, Dee or Coo tells the Trooper that it is a “rotten robot”. I didn’t know which was Dee and which was Coo, just for clarity.

Oh No, Bow!

Bow’s in full perv mode today, picking flowers and placing them in Adora’s hair, with creepy chat-up lines like, “a pretty flower for a pretty lady”. Later on, Bow tries to charm his way into She-Ra’s pants by smiling at her a little too widely and schmoozing, “I’m always glad to see you, She-Ra.” Astonishingly, neither Adora nor She-Ra tells him to piss off.

She-Ra: “Bow, if you don’t take that seedy smirk off your face right now, I’m going to strangle you with my tiara.”

Does it have the Power?

No, of course it doesn’t. From the lengthy and unnecessary opening scene, through the horrifying and irritating Bibbets, all the way up to the totally contradictory messages about fighting or not fighting, this episode is a waste of my time. It’s not hilariously bad either; it’s just bad. It gets a big thumbs-down. Thank you for your attention.

Episode 91 – Assault on the Hive

In which Skeletor shows up for one last hurrah.

This episode opens with She-Ra chatting on Skype to Sweet Bee, who is still flying around the galaxy in the Hive looking for a new home, and we are treated to a brief recap of the relevant bits of the episode Sweet Bee’s Home. You may recall in that episode, She-Ra was dead set against Sweet Bee’s people settling on Etheria; today, she seems to have done a complete u-turn and is trying to persuade Sweet Bee and the rest of her bee friends to come and join the Rebellion. Sweet Bee is not at all keen on this notion, however, and ends the chat rather hurriedly.

It now emerges that the Hive is being observed by a malevolent power, and that power is Skeletor, who’s been absent from the She-Ra series for so long that I thought he’d settled into graceful retirement, perhaps in a little villa on the Costa del Sol. Far from it. He’s barely on screen for 10 seconds before he’s up to his old tricks, shrieking out his latest moronic plan in between gratuitously insulting his henchmen.

Skeletor: “Just like old times, eh, guys?”

This time, Skeletor’s plot is to enslave the entire race of Bee People and use them to defeat Horde Prime. I don’t want to pour cold water on your scheme, Skeletor, but if every single Bee Person can be defeated by you, Beast-Man and Trapjaw, what the flying fuck makes you think they’ll be any use whatsoever against Horde Prime?

Anyway, Skeletor successfully captures the bee people and hijacks the Hive, but he is foolish enough to let Sweet Bee escape. She leaps into a scout ship and flies off to ask for She-Ra’s help, which is all too eagerly granted. She-Ra is also considerate enough to call He-Man and let him know that he’s got a second chance with Sweet Bee, so He-Man comes bouncing over to Etheria with all due enthusiasm.

She-Ra: “Loving my new Apple iSword.”

Sweet Bee points out that the Hive is deep in space, and her scout ship is a one-person craft only. This conundrum is our cue for things to go completely mental. Swift Wind pipes up to state that he “can’t fly that fast in space”, a statement which I at first thought was as close as the writers would ever come to admitting that he shouldn’t be able to fly in space at all. Instead, Swift Wind flies our heroes out into space anyway (no helmets or space suits, obviously, and plenty of talking in a vacuum) and contacts his friend, Crystal Sundancer, who is a red winged horse. For whatever bonkers reason, Crystal Sundancer CAN fly really fast through space, so He-Man and She-Ra board him instead.

En route to the Hive, our heroes run into two big purple balls chasing a big red ball. These balls all have extendable necks and heads which look vaguely lizard-like. With no idea what’s going on or why this chase is occurring, He-Man leaps off Crystal Sundancer and drifts off into space, hoping to help the big red ball. Why he does this is completely beyond me. It feels like the writer of this episode was having some sort of literary spasm.

Crystal Sundancer: “This … is odd.”

In the meantime, She-Ra and Sweet Bee reach the Hive, where Skeletor has hypnotised all the Bee People, and is using them to fire force rays at our heroes. Pleasingly, he manages to defeat both She-Ra and Sweet Bee, but it all starts to unravel for him when He-Man re-enters the episode, riding the big red ball. Skeletor, Beast-Man and Trapjaw are easily defeated, and He-Man delivers a little lecture to the Bee People informing them that sometimes, it is necessary to fight to ensure peace.

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee is on Eternia today, outside Castle Grayskull! How the hell did he get there? He doesn’t explain, instead simply leaping into his latest crazy monologue, which this time concerns the fact that if you really want something, it’s worth working to get it. I don’t think I’d have ever worked that out on my own, so thanks, Loo-Kee. You can’t begin to understand just how helpful you are.

Loo-Kee: “I can be infuriating on Eternia as well as Etheria, you know.”

Character checklist

This one’s got She-Ra, Swift Wind, Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Sweet Bee, Netossa, Loo-Kee, the Bee People, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Trapjaw, Hordak, Catra, and how could we forget Crystal Sundancer and the purple and red balls? On the other hand, I don’t think Adora was in it, but maybe I just wasn’t paying attention.

Insults

Yes, well, with Skeletor about, it’s inevitable that there’d be a lot of insults. Disappointingly, though, we aren’t treated to anything particularly imaginative. Skeletor calls Trapjaw a “tin-head” twice, and then calls a Bee Person called Drone 7 a “bug-brain” and a “bee-man”, before turning his attention to Sweet Bee to tell her she’s a “bee-lady”. Drone 7 retorts that Skeletor is a “bone-faced monster”, and Sweet Bee refers to Trapjaw as a “can opener with a bad temper”. Last but not least, Skeletor tells the big red ball that it is a “miserable cat”, which seems a little odd. If anything, it looks like a lizard and acts like a dog, so I’m not quite sure what he’s on about there.

Trapjaw: “Honestly couldn’t explain why I’ve waited till my final appearance to reveal that I’m basically Superman.”

Does it have the Power?

It starts well and ends well, but the ten minutes in the middle of the episode are slow and a lot of it is just weird. I can’t shake the feeling that all the nonsense with the purple and red balls (introduced as Dinosaubs), and with Crystal Sundancer, was inserted purely as toy advertisements, though I don’t know if these were ever actually produced as toys. I know I’m on the internet, so I could look it up, but in the spirit of petulant stubbornness, I’m not going to. All I will say in addition to this subject is that Crystal Sundancer’s voice is really creepy, like an older person trying to sound young in order to trick a child. It quite disturbed me.

Otherwise, as mentioned above, the beginning of the episode was great; it’s always a pleasure to see Skeletor, and for Beast-Man and Trapjaw to reappear after all this time was a delight as well. Skeletor was entertainingly evil, and it’s been an enormously long time since we saw him and He-Man face off as we do at the end of this episode. The He-Man/Sweet Bee romance angle has been dropped, which is just as well, because without Frosta around to keep things tart, I’m sure it would have been sickening.

In short, this is an entertaining but flawed offering, which is worth watching, but with the caveat that you may as well skip from the moment Swift Wind flies into space until She-Ra and Sweet Bee arrive at the Hive. Still, purely for having Skeletor in it, this one gets a pass.

Episode 90 – Shades of Orko

In which Man-at-Arms tries to steal Bow’s thunder.

My enthusiasm for this episode is slightly muted before I’ve even hit play, simply because of the title. I can’t think of a single episode with the word Orko in the title that hasn’t been below average at best. Orko’s Missing Magic was the best of the bunch, but only in that it wasn’t a complete atrocity. On the other hand, Orko’s Favourite Uncle was an atrocity, and so was its sequel, The Return of Orko’s Uncle. Orko’s Return was tedious, and Orko’s New Friend was terrible. The only episode I’ve vaguely enjoyed with Orko in the title was the hard-to-find “lost” episode, He-Man Loses Patience And Rips Orko’s Head Off. Though I may have dreamed that one.

Still, let’s see if Shades of Orko can buck the trend. I mean, we all know it can’t, but let’s at least try, shall we? It starts promisingly enough, with Shadow Weaver summoning some shadowbeasties to attack the village of Thaymor. Bow brings this news to She-Ra and Glimmer, but before they can get on with defending Thaymor, one of those beastly portals opens, and Orko pops through. He is accompanied by Man-at-Arms, which is surprising, not to mention irritating, since I bid Man-at-Arms a fond farewell three episodes ago and now I’m going to have to do it again.

She-Ra: “Get off my planet.”

These two have come to deliver some electric forceshields, but get roped in to help against the shadowbeasties. The forceshields prove to be quite useful in the battle at Thaymor, and it’s amusing how surprised She-Ra sounds when she exclaims, “It works! Man-at-Arms’ forceshield works!” It definitely seems that she has prior experience of Man-at-Arms’ rubbish inventions.

Once the battle is won and the shadowbeasties repelled, Shadow Weaver herself teleports in, and performs an unexpected spell to remove Orko’s shadow. I can hear the She-Ra voice actress fighting not to snigger at the sheer ludicrousness as she says sternly, “Give it back”. Needless to say, Shadow Weaver does not comply, and teleports out again to Horror Hall.

Orko: “Stop right there before I pelt you with eggs or something equally hilarious.”

Just to give this slightly stupid premise a bit of mild peril, Man-at-Arms reveals that by nicking Orko’s shadow, Shadow Weaver has also stolen his magic. I don’t want to be accused of victim-blaming here, but Orko’s lost his magic on at least two previous occasions that I can recall: the afore-mentioned Orko’s Missing Magic, and also in The Magic Falls. It seems to me that he doesn’t really look after it all that well, and shouldn’t expect He-Man and She-Ra to gallivant about recovering it for him all the time.

Anyway, we now cut to Horror Hall, where Orko’s shadow has done a runner and is flying all around the place, leading Shadow Weaver, Grizzlor and some weirdo Horde robot on a merry chase. This bit of the episode goes on and on for literally five minutes without anything of note happening.

Grizzlor: “Sorry to waste your time like this.”

Back in Thaymor, our heroes are still standing exactly where we last saw them, having made apparently zero effort to get Orko’s shadow back. They all seem to think it’s absolutely impossible to get to Horror Hall, despite them having walked or flown there on several previous occasions. Instead, She-Ra indulges herself in a needless conversation with Light Hope, who reveals that though She-Ra can get the team into Horror Hall, it will be up to Orko to get them all out. This seems like a stupid arbitrary rule drawn up to give the episode some tension, but okay.

Using some why-the-hell-not magic, She-Ra opens a portal to Horror Hall, and the assembled crowd of dimwits pile through. Once inside, it doesn’t take long for them to locate Orko’s shadow, which reattaches itself to Orko with very little fanfare. Instead, the episode focuses at this stage on She-Ra having a long and unnecessary fight with various Horde baddies, until Orko uses his reacquired magic to separate Shadow Weaver from her own shadow. After this, our heroes stand around in Horror Hall laughing their idiot heads off at this hilarious reversal in Shadow Weaver’s fortunes. Then the episode just ends there, without Orko having to fulfil Light Hope’s stupid prophecy about getting everyone out of Horror Hall.

She-Ra: “Man-at-Arms, why are you hunching like that?”

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee is in Whispering Wood near the start of the episode. He’s lying on his back and looks like he might be dead, but no such luck. He informs us that when Shadow Weaver took Orko’s shadow, that was stealing, and stealing is always wrong. I am reminded of a moral dilemma that was presented to me in my Psychology A-level class: Jack has a wife who is ill, and a drug can save her. However, Jack and his wife cannot afford the drug, so Jack breaks into the pharmacy, steals the drug, and uses it to save his wife’s life. Is this act of stealing wrong? Admittedly, this is rather deep, and not a topic into which I would expect Loo-Kee to delve, but still.

Character checklist

On Etheria today, we have Adora, She-Ra, Glimmer, Bow, Orko, Man-at-Arms, Light Hope, Loo-Kee, some villagers, Shadow Weaver, Grizzlor, Leech, Rattlor, Mantenna, and the weird Horde robot.

Mantenna: “Bet you’d forgotten I can do this.”

Insults

There’s some fairly vicious stuff flying around today. Orko kicks off by referring to the entire Horde as “meanies”, and gets more specific by informing Shadow Weaver that she’s only “got half a mind”. Shadow Weaver retaliates by calling Orko a “miserable excuse for a wizard”, a “little bozo” and a “little pest”, and she goes on to refer to Grizzlor and the weirdo Horde robot as “fools”, “buffoons” and “worthless bumblers”. Finally, Mantenna gets in on the act by telling Grizzlor, Rattlor, Leech and the weirdo Horde robot that they are “dullards”.

Oh No, Bow!

When She-Ra opens the portal to Horror Hall, Bow instantly chirps up to say, “Hurry up, that portal won’t stay open for long!” What the hell do you know about it, Bow? Have you been taking evening classes in magicportalology? Thought not. For all you know, that portal might stay open until half past three this afternoon, until this time next April, or until some nebulous time in the future like when the UK exits the European Union. There’s just no way to know. Now shut up.

Special mention must also go to Man-at-Arms, who in the final fight scene observes Bow being shot with a freeze ray and shouts, “Oh Bow, no!” He then blunders into the freeze ray and gets frozen himself. In many ways, Man-at-Arms is just as useless as Bow, though admittedly he isn’t such an arrogant cock.

Man-at-Arms: “It’s difficult to say exactly how I thought this might help.”

Does it have the Power?

I’m going to have to be completely honest: this one does buck the Orko trend rather well. It’s relatively imaginative for Shadow Weaver to steal a shadow, even if that does ultimately mean the repetition of the missing magic plotline seen a few times previously. It’s also good to see Man-at-Arms again; this one feels like a much better send-off for him than his brief cameo appearance in The Inspector. I’m not going to do my teary-eyed farewell for him again though.

On the production side of things, this episode treats us to some unusual and effective animation work; Shadow Weaver is often depicted from ground-level, looking up at her, which is a great way of making her seem imposing and intimidating. There’s also a fantastic panning shot from Grizzlor, through the weirdo Horde robot and Rattlor to Leech, which is used when She-Ra is cornered by these four, and it’s pretty scary. We also get some new music; I particularly liked the dramatic drum-roll which greets the fade-in after the commercial break.

Leech: “Pretty sure this is going to be my last appearance, so I’d like to thank all my fans for their support over the years. I do have fans, right?”

There are annoying things about this episode, such as Orko, though he’s not as bad as he could be. She-Ra too is her usual irritating self, Light Hope is a moron, and Glimmer is as useless as ever. For some reason, Bow really got on my nerves this week, and I can’t help thinking it’s not healthy to get as annoyed with a cartoon character as I sometimes do with him. Still, I shan’t be seeing him much more, and I may well miss him once we move into the uncharted territory that awaits us after the end of She-Ra…

Episode 89 – Hordak's Power Play

In which one of the worst people in the galaxy arrives on Etheria.

Observing an Argonian spaceship fly close to Etheria, Hordak decides to shoot it down and steal the ship’s power cell. He is successful in the first half of this plan, but the ship lands in the village of Flax, near the home of an old man called Doctor Blankford. Doctor Blankford immediately goes to fetch Adora, Bow and Kowl, and thus it is that Hordak is unable to complete the second half of his scheme. Having said that, he does give it a reasonably good try.

In the meantime, the pilot of the spaceship emerges. He is a handsome square-jawed individual called Larg, who carries with him the air of public schools, rugger every Wednesday afternoon, and lashings of ginger beer. In short, he’s a complete twat. He is aware that the Horde rules Etheria, and as such concludes that everyone on the planet must be an evil Hordesman. Consequently, he sets himself up as Head Boy and starts bossing the villagers around. I’m sure this is logical in the mind of someone who’s essentially Julian from the Famous Five, but it made no sense to me.

Larg: “Hang on, hang on, I’m getting a weird sensation in my brain…. What’s happening? Oh, I remember – this is what having a logical thought feels like. Don’t like it. Better not let it happen again.”

Bow and Adora arrive in Flax to find two villagers loading stuff into a cart, under Larg’s instructions. They seem absolutely terrified of Larg, which is just plain odd. Adora sends Bow off to check something nicely non-specific, while she transforms into She-Ra and goes to have a chat with Larg. During the course of this chat, she persuades Larg that she does not work for the Horde and also tells him off for forcing the villagers to work for him.

Before Larg can defend himself, Hordak and his army of Troopers show up, and there follows a long tedious fight in which She-Ra smashes billions of tanks to pieces. Eventually, however, a Horde Trooper manages to shoot She-Ra with a sleep ray, and she tumbles to the ground. Good. Of course, Hordak doesn’t drop her in the sea or a volcano at this point, like any self-respecting villain would; in fact, he doesn’t even bother to lock her up. He just leaves her on the ground. What is his problem?

She-Ra: “I really need to stop with these all-nighters at Wetherspoons. I never know where I’m going to wake up.”

With She-Ra temporarily out of action, Hordak nicks the Argonian spaceship and takes it off to the Fright Zone. Larg chooses this moment to reveal that the ship’s power cell is not working properly and is liable to explode, and if it does, it will take all of Etheria with it. I can’t imagine Hordak would be very keen for that to happen, so here’s hoping an amicable solution can be reached this week.

She-Ra, Bow and Larg sneak into the Fright Zone. Well, I say sneak. What they actually do is walk into the Fright Zone with zero regard for secrecy, and as a result have to have a pointless fight with Catra and some Horde Troopers. Obviously, they win the fight, but it alerts Hordak to their presence, and he decides to plug the Argonian power cell into a massive forcefield, and turn it on. I don’t know why he does this, since She-Ra is already inside the Fright Zone, so it’s hardly going to afford him any protection, but we’ve already established that logic is not Hordak’s strongest point.

Hordak: “When weird machinery glows like this, it’s usually good news, right?”

Of course, the forcefield overloads the power cell, and so She-Ra is forced to cut a hole in the forcefield and throw the power cell into outer space. Once that sensible solution has been enacted, She-Ra contacts the Argonian home world and tells them to come and collect Larg before he converts the entire Rebellion into public school alumni.

In today’s adventure…

I happened to see Loo-Kee lurking behind a rock today, largely only because I paused the episode at precisely the right moment when I wanted to write my character assassination of Larg. Loo-Kee is also interested in a character assassination of Larg: he tells us that Larg was wrong to boss the villagers around, and suggests that we should treat people with respect. Heard it before, Loo-Kee. Hopefully never hear it again.

Larg: “How dare that freaky little pixie say such unkind, if accurate, things about me?”

Character checklist

Today, it’s all about Adora, She-Ra, Bow, Kowl, Larg, Doctor Blankford, Loo-Kee, some villagers, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Catra, and some Horde Troopers. A nice and simple cast after last time’s extravaganza.

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

There’s no excuse, and while I know normally I wouldn’t bother with this section if there’s no excuse, I just think it bears special mention that Adora stands right in the village square to turn into She-Ra, with even less regard for the “secret” part of the “secret identity” business than usual.

Insults

The Horde are a little more imaginative than usual this week: Catra calls a Horde Trooper a “clumsy can of cogs”, while Hordak opts to call She-Ra a “muscle-maiden” and an “irritating Amazon”. Not bad, guys. Better than “fool”, at any rate.

Catra: “I can explain.”

Does it have the Power?

There are times when I’m in the middle of these episode summaries and I stop and really think about the nonsense I’m writing. This was one of those times. This episode is sheer gibberish from start to finish, and yet, despite its insanity, it isn’t at all entertaining. Larg is irritating, She-Ra is irritating, and above all, Hordak is irritating. Bow, rather surprisingly, isn’t irritating, but he doesn’t do anything of note either. The plot meanders about a bit aimlessly, and there are several attempts at humour that fall really flat. I couldn’t say this episode is a complete trainwreck, but equally I can’t think of any reason why you might ever want to watch it.