Episode 06 – Duel at Devlan

In which someone actually gets egg on their face.

This is exciting! I don’t have any idea what to expect from a standard episode of She-Ra. Who knows what faces us? Well, we start with a long scene showing a load of Horde Troopers being unpleasant in a pub, after which we cut to Whispering Woods, where a new member of the Rebellion, Frosta, is introduced. Frosta is capable of making it snow on demand, to the great delight of some green dwarves called Spriggets.

Devlan 1
Frosta: “I have better things to do than this.”

After a long and pointless scene which does little except reintroduce us to all the rebels, Adora turns into She-Ra for no reason whatsoever, and flies off on Swift Wind. It’s just as well she does, though, as she very quickly finds a child called Cristolla about to get sucked into a combine harvester. Once saved, Cristolla reveals that she is looking for the Rebellion to ask for help, so She-Ra flies her straight to HQ.

Cristolla is from that pub at the start of the episode, and she’d like the Rebellion to stop the Horde Troopers from bullying the inhabitants of her village, Devlan. She-Ra decides that she will teach the villagers to stand up for themselves, instead of having to call on the Rebellion, and flies off with Cristolla. They arrive at Devlan to find the Horde have frozen Cristolla’s father in a block of ice, but She-Ra solves this issue with a rather smug high kick.

Devlan 2.jpg
She-Ra: “This’ll break the ice. God, I’m funny.”

In the town square, they find that the Horde Troopers have given orders for the villagers to surrender all their valuables. The villagers are ready to give in, but She-Ra gives some vaguely motivational speeches. Hilariously, she’s rubbish at it; He-Man would have had these guys on side within 20 seconds, but She-Ra manages to persuade two people out of a crowd of about 70.

Of course, those two are all she needs. Well, actually, she seems to think she doesn’t even need them, since her plan is to make them watch from inside the pub while she defeats the Horde soldiers single-handedly. Surely this rather goes against her earlier stated principles of encouraging the villagers to stand up for themselves rather than relying on the Rebellion? As it happens though, She-Ra gets shot in the back, and needs to be rescued by the villagers. In the course of the ensuing battle, the villagers learn that they can defeat the Horde if they all work together.

Devlan 3
Villager: “Let’s hide here! I’m sure the Horde Troopers won’t see us behind these chest-high doors.”

 

In today’s adventure…

There must have been some serious head-scratching going on in the Filmation offices while they were developing She-Ra. The producers evidently felt the moral segment bit on He-Man was getting a bit stale and needed spicing up. Consequently, they came up with an individual called Loo-Kee. Loo-Kee is a small pixie creature of indeterminate gender (though I shall refer to it as a “he”, because that’s my best guess) who is hidden in the background of one shot of an episode. At the end, Loo-Kee will show us where he was hiding, and then dispense a moral.

I’m pleased to say that in this episode I did spot Loo-Kee – he was lurking nearby when Frosta was showing off her snow tricks. At the time, I thought, “What the hell is that?”, not knowing I was supposed to be looking for him. Anyway, today Loo-Kee explains that being bullied isn’t any fun, which is a staggering insight. He then advises us to tell our parents if we’re being bullied. Obviously, the writers didn’t want to go anywhere near the moral of cooperation, which has already been done to death in He-Man, but which is probably more relevant to this episode.

Devlan 4.jpg
Loo-Kee: “Hi, I’m Loo-Kee. And I’m rather irritating.”

 

Character checklist

This outing reminds us of the existence of Adora, She-Ra, Glimmer, Bow, Madame Razz, Broom, Frosta, the Spriggets, Loo-Kee, Cristolla, Cristolla’s dad, the other villagers, and the Horde Troopers, including some very odd robots.

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

About 10 minutes after the transformation, Madame Razz finally gets around to explaining to Glimmer and Bow that Adora is “off somewhere. You know how that girl likes to wander.” Glimmer and Bow are happy with this explanation, even though they know the Horde must be dead keen to recapture Adora.

Devlan 5
Madame Razz: “Welcome to Etheria’s version of Caesar’s Palace.”

 

Insults

The Horde come in for some abuse behind their backs today, being described as “horrid Hordesmen” by a Sprigget, “mean people” by Cristolla, and “bullies” by a random villager, all when they’re not within earshot. A really weird Horde robot gets his own back by describing the villagers of Devlan as “cowards”.

 

Egg on your face?

I suppose this category ought to be resurrected, if only to record that Madame Razz manages to arrange for eggs to land on the heads of herself, Broom, a Sprigget, Kowl and Bow. Kowl even makes the “you’ve got egg on your face” joke. This is followed up with an enormous pancake falling on top of the whole sorry bunch of them. Madame Razz is going to be very tiresome indeed if she keeps this second-rate-Orko malarkey up.

Devlan 6
Bow: “Actually, this isn’t a bad hat.”

 

Oh No, Bow!

Once Bow discovers that She-Ra is fighting Hordesmen in Devlan, he exclaims, “She might need us!” and charges off, obviously hoping that he can rescue She-Ra from mortal peril and perhaps get to sleep with her. This is wildly optimistic thinking on his part, since he doesn’t even get to Devlan before the battle is over.

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s a hugely simplistic story, which spends its first eight minutes (eight whole minutes out of twenty!) reintroducing the premise of the series, and demonstrating the characters again. Perhaps, of course, that’s what we need at this stage; it certainly wouldn’t have hurt for the viewers to see an easy story to remind them of the series premise. On the other hand, it’s not really very exciting, especially given it’s the exact same story as that stupid space pirates episode we saw in He-Man not awfully long ago. On the third hand, it is better than that He-Man episode. Let’s call this one a reasonable offering, and leave it there.

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Episode 05 – Battle for Bright Moon

In which Skeletor comes up with one last hurrah.

The Eternian royal family are having dinner, telling Adora all about Orko, who I pray to God isn’t in this episode. The one good thing about having Madame Razz around is that presumably we need never see Orko again. Anyway, during the dinner, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Webstor and Kobra Khan bust into the Palace, disguising themselves as chefs. They bring Hordak with them, disguised as a cake. There seems to be no particular reason for these disguises, since they return to their normal appearances as soon as possible. Perhaps Hordak has a weird chef fetish. Nothing would surprise me about him at this point.

Bright Moon 1
Skeletor: “This may be my stupidest disguise yet.”

Anyway, the baddies kidnap Adora and escape, thanks to a singularly poor effort from Man-at-Arms and Teela. Skeletor then betrays Hordak, and sends him back to Etheria without Adora. Skeletor claims that this is because he has better use for the Princess of Eternia than Hordak, but shortly thereafter he reveals that he has absolutely no idea what to do with her, so clearly he’s just backstabbed Hordak for the sheer malevolent hell of it.

Skeletor orders Beast-Man to put Adora in the dungeon, a task which naturally he is incapable of carrying out. Adora quickly evades him and turns into She-Ra, then has an amusing battle with pretty much every single one of Skeletor’s warriors. He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Teela arrive just after She-Ra has finished fighting, and find her draped casually over a pillar. Teela demands to know who the hell this bimbo is, and He-Man introduces her as his “friend, She-Ra.” You can see cold fury in Teela’s eyes as she thinks she’s been jilted.

Bright Moon 2
Teela: “Don’t you know it’s not cool to bring your new girlfriend to meet the ex, He-Man?”

This irrelevant little interlude over, Adora returns to the Palace, where she explains to Randor and Marlena that she feels honour-bound to go back to Etheria and help to free it from the Horde’s oppression. With the help of the Sorceress, she and Spirit are transported back into the Whispering Woods. Adam and Cringer come too, because they know that really, all the viewers want to see is He-Man. Seeing a vast quantity of Horde flyers, they both adopt their alter-egos, in a really awkwardly cut-together sequence of their stock transformation animation.

He-Man and She-Ra find Glimmer, Bow, Queen Angela and Kowl planning to attack Castle Bright Moon, and drive the Horde out. She-Ra demonstrates that she has the power to talk to animals, and so she recruits a bear and some oversized rats to help them. He-Man seems quietly unconvinced about how useful these animals will be, but he stands back and lets Glimmer make an inspirational speech, after which all the rebels throw food in the air, as if they’re politely heckling.

Bright Moon 3
She-Ra: “Ah, he’s cute, guys! Can I keep him?”

The rebels approach Castle Bright Moon and demand its surrender, but naturally Hordak isn’t interested, and unleashes a vast array of robots and machines. These are destroyed by all the members of the Rebellion, in scenes designed to show us what they can do. The only notable talent demonstrated is from She-Ra, who finds that she is capable of healing wounds just by touching them. She’s quite useful to have around, even if she is incredibly patronising.

That evening, the rebels celebrate their successful re-capture of Castle Bright Moon, and reinstall Angela as Queen. He-Man departs for Eternia, but She-Ra is aware that Etheria is still in danger from the Horde, so she determines to stay. She leaps onto Swift Wind, and flies off dramatically. He-Man watches her go, and thinks, “Christ, what a poser.”

Bright Moon 4
She-Ra: “Look at me! EVERYBODY. LOOK AT ME.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Again, we aren’t blessed with any pearls of wisdom, so I’ll substitute my own. It’s a piece of advice aimed at She-Ra’s voice actor: if you go around talking really slowly and deliberately, as if you think children are moronically stupid, then they will hate you. And so will I.

 

Excuse given for Adam and Adora’s disappearances

Adam doesn’t bother with an excuse. On the other hand, He-Man gives She-Ra a lesson in being super-evasive; when Teela asks where Adora is, She-Ra stumbles for an answer. He-Man leaps in with, “Oh, she’s safe,” a statement that She-Ra repeats like an idiot. Bizarrely, Teela accepts this as gospel truth, despite the fact that she’s got absolutely no idea who She-Ra is, and He-Man couldn’t possibly know where Adora is at this stage. Teela is a complete moron.

Bright Moon 6
He-Man: “Now, this is really important, She-Ra. Don’t tell Teela about your secret identity. Just don’t. No reason why not, obviously. But don’t.”

 

Character checklist

I might as well copy out the entire character list from He-Man.org for this one. Let’s see: there’s Adora, She-Ra, Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Spirit, Swift Wind, Teela, Man-at-Arms, the Sorceress, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Glimmer, Bow, Kowl, Queen Angella, Madame Razz, Broom, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Tri-Klops, Trapjaw, Kobra Khan, Webstor, some Horde Troopers, some Palace Guards, some random rebels, and the bear and the giant rats. No Orko though, much to my relief.

 

Insults

It’s a pretty vicious script this week. Webstor kicks things off by calling the Eternian Palace Guards “suckers”, and Skeletor follows this up by calling Webstor and Kobra Khan “clods”, “nincompoops” and “beebrains”. The first of these seems particularly unfair, since it comes at a moment they’ve actually done something right. Skeletor also finds time for an old favourite, referring to Beast-Man as “furface”. It’s nice to see that some things never change.

Bright Moon 7
Palace Guard: “I am contractually obliged to order you to stop, even though I know I’m completely useless.”

Adora’s insult for Beast-Man is less effective: “fangs”. While I admit he does have fangs, it’s hardly insulting. She’s going to have to work harder at this, and indeed in her She-Ra guise she manages to summon up the more apposite “bonebrain” for Skeletor. Other characters similarly have harsh words for Skeletor, including “villain” from Man-at-Arms and “traitor” from Hordak.

Hordak opts for the tired old “fool” when insulting Queen Angela, and He-Man achieves the surprising “jarhead” for Hordak. The award for oddest insult, though, has to go to Skeletor, who spends some time trying to get through to King Randor on the wireless radio, seemingly only in order to call him a “royal boob”.

Bright Moon 8

 

Oh No, Bow!

Towards the end of the episode, Bow rescues Madame Razz and a weird green thing from a Horde Trooper. This in itself is a sufficiently stupid action to warrant an inclusion in this category, but after he does so, he stands on a very tall pillar and leaps off. We never see him again in the episode after that. I know that he landed safely, as all Filmation characters who leap from tall objects do, but I prefer to imagine that he landed in a mangled heap and had to be carted off to A & E.

 

Does it have the Power?

Because I’m feeling generous today, and also because Hordak didn’t make any snorting noises, then I’ll say that yes it does. It’s really nice to see a good send-off for Skeletor and co., something which you’ll recall we were largely robbed of in the He-Man series. The bit with the chef disguises was a suitable reminder of all the demented schemes Skeletor has come up with over the years, and I loved the wonderfully in-character moment when Skeletor betrayed Hordak.

Bright Moon 5
Skeletor: “Am I really being retired in favour of that idiot Hordak?”

Taken as a whole, these five episodes have been an effective introduction to She-Ra, especially the character of its eponymous heroine. We’ve seen her go from evil Horde member to hero of the Rebellion, which is quite a character arc. She is voiced by an incredibly irritating woman though, so I hope some improvements are made there.

So we understand the series set-up and its villains quite well. Hordak and Shadow Weaver get a showing today, though neither distinguishes themselves particularly. At least they aren’t annoying. We have also had a short introduction to the series heroes, but I feel there’s room to grow here. For a film essentially acting as a series pilot, what we’ve seen has focussed far more on the heroic characters we already know, rather than the new ones we’ll be spending time with for the next 88 episodes.

Bright Moon 9
Glimmer: “Do you think we’ll get any development in this series?”

But perhaps I’m crazy for wanting to spend more time with Bow, Glimmer and Madame Razz. I expect this time next week I’ll be pining to see Man-at-Arms and Teela again.

Episode 04 – Reunions

In which Glimmer, Madame Razz and Broom unleash the full extent of their infuriating natures.

Hurrah! We finally get the full introduction sequence. Adora approaches the camera, introduces herself, and explains how she becomes She-Ra (by drawing her sword and crying, “For the Honour of Grayskull!”, in case you’ve forgotten). She also reminds us that Spirit becomes Swift Wind, and informs us that her secret is shared by Kowl, a glowing mass of energy called Light Hope, and that bloody Madame Razz. Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Mantenna and Leech are shown to us to represent the Horde, and we are reminded that they are evil. All of this information is dispensed in an enormously patronising tone, and thus I much preferred it when there was no introduction.

After a lengthy recap of last week’s events, we open with He-Man and She-Ra hanging out in a clearing in Whispering Woods. Evidently not being quite sure whether he believes She-Ra’s claim that she is his twin sister, He-Man uses She-Ra’s sword to contact the Sorceress, who confirms that it is true, and moreover embarks on a flashback to fill He-Man in on the story.

Reunions 1
She-Ra: “Listen, He-Man, have you ever seen Blood Brothers? It’s basically like that.”

Adam and Adora were born to Queen Marlena and King Randor, but soon after their births, the Palace of Eternia came under attack from an evil force from another dimension – the Horde. Hordak was their leader even then, and Skeletor was his subordinate and favourite pupil. Knowing Adam and Adora were destined for greatness, Hordak and Skeletor crept into the Palace to kidnap them. Interrupted mid-kidnap, Hordak escaped with Adora, abandoning Skeletor to the tender mercies of the royal family and Man-at-Arms. Despite a lengthy search, Hordak and Adora could not be found.

Reunions 3
Hordak: “It’s always embarrassing looking back at old photos and seeing the dorky fashions you used to think were cool.”

Once all this backstory has been related, He-Man asks She-Ra for a big hug. I’ve often found He-Man a little creepy, and never more so than now. Once that’s over with, they turn back into Adam and Adora and return to the rebel camp. With Adam vouching for her, the rebels are easily persuaded that Adora is now on their side.

With this resolved, we move on to a short subplot: Queen Angela of Bright Moon, where Glimmer comes from, disappeared during a major battle with the Horde, and it has been determined that she is now a slave to an individual called Hunger, the queen of the Harpies of Talon Mountain, or some such. Glimmer, who is Angela’s daughter, wants to rescue her, and Adora and Adam offer to do so. They turn back into their alter egos, and fly off on Swift Wind.

Despite a great deal of footage featuring Hunger and the other Harpies screeching their idiot heads off, He-Man and She-Ra have very little difficulty in carrying out their rescue mission. Returning to Whispering Woods, Angela and Glimmer have as touching a reunion as is possible when you’re both voiced by massively irritating actresses. Despite the high level of fury Glimmer and Angela inspired in me at this point, they are still upstaged by Madame Razz, who weeps buckets for no reason.

Reunions 2
Queen Angela: “Why don’t you have wings like me, Glimmer?”

Touched by the mother-and-daughter reunion, Adora decides that now would be a good time to visit Eternia and meet her own parents. She, Adam, Spirit and Cringer all return to Eternia through the Sorceress’ gateway, where Adora is introduced to her parents – as well as Man-at-Arms and Teela – and they all weep so much that it looks like their eyes have been replaced with taps. Randor even tells Adam that he’s really pleased with him for bringing Adora home, which has to be a first.

Reunions 4
King Randor: “Hurrah! A child who might not be as useless as Adam.”

Unbeknownst to them, Hordak has opted to come through the gateway as well. Once on Eternia, he makes his way to Snake Mountain, where he has a slanging match with Skeletor, followed by a short battle. Finally, the two agree to work together to recapture Adora, after which Hordak promises to leave Skeletor in peace. He also snorts like a demented pig for our delight and delectation, as the words ‘To be continued’ flash across our screen.

 

In today’s adventure…

I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise, but there is no moral again. I, however, did pick up a few helpful life hints from the episode, chief among them being that if I go through an interdimensional portal, I should always check behind me in case my mortal enemy has come too.

Reunions 5
Skeletor: “Check out my big stupid stick, Hordak.”

 

Character checklist

Everyone and his mother is invited to this party. We’ve got Adora, She-Ra, Spirit, Swift Wind, Bow, Glimmer, Queen Angela, Madame Razz, Broom, Kowl, Prince Adam, He-Man, Cringer, Teela, Man-at-Arms, King Randor, Queen Marlena, the Sorceress, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Hunger the Harpy, Skeletor, and loads of Horde Troopers, rebels, etc. I may well have forgotten someone from this list, but it’s probably the largest cast in any episode so far.

 

Excuse given for Adam and Adora’s disappearances

Adora and Adam happily turn into She-Ra and He-Man and back again repeatedly in this episode, but only in each other’s company, and mostly offscreen, luckily. They therefore don’t give any excuses. Still, the subject is touched upon shortly before they go to Eternia, when Adam explains that Adora mustn’t tell Randor and Marlena about her secret identity, or that of He-Man. Instead of saying, “Well, why the bloody hell not?”, Adora simply agrees. That’s a missed opportunity for the writers to explain that one. Unless, of course, the writers can’t explain that one.

Reunions 6
The Sorceress: “No, I will not explain why your identities have to be secret. There definitely is a reason though.”

 

Insults

The Sorceress kicks things off by referring to Hordak as a “vicious tyrant”. The next insults come with Bow and Glimmer each calling each other a “fool”, and Queen Angela calls the Harpies “vile minions”. Hunger is the most prolific insulter of the episode, given she shouts at her Harpies when they fail, calling them “blunderers” and “birdbrains”, then turns her attention to He-Man and She-Ra with “fools” and “dolts”. In his final scene, Hordak calls Skeletor a “traitor to the Horde”, and refers to Adam and Adora as “Eternian fools”. It’s good to see that this cartoon is going to continue the obsession with fools.

 

Oh No, Bow!

In his only scene, Bow doesn’t want to rescue Queen Angela because he thinks the rebels aren’t strong enough to defeat the Harpies. He’s completely wrong, of course, given He-Man and She-Ra manage it within three minutes.

Reunions 7
Bow: “Don’t undermine me, Kowl.”

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s nice to get the full story behind the Horde’s kidnapping of Adora, and particularly fun to see a vague origin for Skeletor – who’d have thought he was a former pupil of Hordak? It’s a great decision for Skeletor and Hordak to now hate each other; it would have been rather too neat if they’d been allies, and it’s far more in character for Skeletor to refuse to share power with anyone.

I’m not quite sure why the Queen Angela bit was here, as it didn’t feel relevant to the rest of the episode’s story. Still, as part of a complete film, it possibly makes more sense. We’ll have to find out next week. As it stands, it’s simply another demonstration of how annoying Glimmer and Madame Razz are.

And speaking of annoying, Hordak’s pig noises are really beginning to get on my tits now. His habit of transforming himself into machinery (in this episode, he becomes a rocket, a drill, and uses his stupid arm cannon again) is also not as funny as the writers evidently think it is. I feel that this cartoon could be a really long slog if Hordak doesn’t get a better voice and character soon.

Episode 03 – She-Ra Unchained

In which Hordak creates a weapon with an oddly specific fuel requirement.

In the Fright Zone, Hordak introduces Shadow Weaver, Mantenna and the newly re-brainwashed Adora to his new weapon, the Magna Beam Transporter. This is a device which can teleport anything or anyone into the Valley of the Lost, a location from which no one has ever returned. Once the Magna Beam reaches full power, Hordak intends to use it to transport the entirety of Whispering Woods into the Valley, taking Rebel HQ with it.

Unchained 1
Mantenna: “I have the feeling I’m going to be called ‘bug-eyes’ about a million times over the course of this series.”

Despite knowing that Adora’s loyalties are somewhat in question at the moment, Hordak takes the time to explain to her exactly how the Magna Beam works, and shows her the control room. This is presumably so that later she knows what to destroy. Stupidly, Hordak has designed the Magna Beam to be powered by the willpower of rebels, a finite resource that is difficult to obtain. Surely he could have arranged for it to charge via a USB port? Anyway, in order to bring the Magna Beam to full power, it is necessary for the Horde to go out and capture lots of rebels.

In Whispering Woods, Adam announces that he’s going back to the Fright Zone to complete his mission, not that the rest of the Rebellion know what his mission is. Turning into He-Man, he nicks a Horde Trooper’s armour and dons it as a disguise. Unfortunately, he doesn’t pay sufficient attention and leaves his hair sticking out of his helmet, which makes it easy to Shadow Weaver to identify him. She and Hordak conclude that he will be the ideal source of willpower for the Magna Beam.

Unchained 2
Shadow Weaver: “It wasn’t just the hair that identified He-Man. It was also the swagger.”

Once inside the Fright Zone, He-Man locates Adora, and tries to give her another pep talk. Adora, however, simply arrests him, leading to his capture by Hordak and Shadow Weaver. He-Man is placed in the Magna Beam Charger (which is – in the interests of cheap animation – a glass box), where his willpower is set to work on the Magna Beam. Hordak, however, makes the mistake of leaving him in the Charger overnight, with no guards.

Unchained 3
He-Man: “I know some people like to keep me ‘mint in box’, but this is ridiculous.”

In her bed, Adora is troubled by dreams, eventually waking as her power sword magically summons her. She pops down to the Magna Beam Charger Room, where she finds her sword, and through the gemstone embedded in its hilt, she converses with the Sorceress, who chooses this moment to make a shock revelation. Adora and Adam are twins; the Horde stole Adora as a baby, and brainwashed her. The Sorceress fades away, with the enigmatic phrase, “For the Honour of Grayskull.”

Adora holds her power sword above her head and repeats the phrase, resulting in some awesome funky 80s beats, and a light show far in excess of anything He-Man gets. She transforms into She-Ra, and rescues He-Man from the Magna Beam Charger. It’s too late though, because the Magna Beam has already reached full capacity. Things get worse when Hordak shows up, and he’s evidently very cross, because today he’s transformed both his arms into cannons.

Unchained 4
She-Ra: “Has anyone done a Health & Safety assessment for all these fireworks?”

He-Man easily stops Hordak activating the Magna Beam, and destroys it for good measure, while She-Ra heads off to get help from the other rebels. En route, she leaps onto her horse Spirit, who magically transforms into a flying unicorn called Swift Wind. She-Ra then circles back to rescue He-Man, who has been surrounded by some Horde Troopers. Hordak watches them go, and cries, “Oh, they’re getting away!” in a voice that sounds slightly orgasmic and eerily reminiscent of Matt Berry’s Mr Reynholm.

 

In today’s adventure…

There’s still no moral lessons being dispensed, but once again, we can learn from the mistakes of the characters. This week, we learned that if you have captured the Most Powerful Man in the Universe and put him in a glass box, you should guard him in case his brainwashed twin sister shows up and ruins your day.

Unchained 5
She-Ra: “Who’s this hunk of manly goodness? Oh, it’s my brother. Bollocks.”

 

Character checklist

Big day today – we meet She-Ra! Nice to see that, three episodes into her series, she’s actually bothered to turn up. There’s also Adora, Spirit, Swift Wind, Bow, Glimmer, Madame Razz, the green people, Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, the Sorceress, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Imp, Mantenna, some Horde Troopers and some rebel prisoners.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam turns into He-Man while lurking about in the forest, with no one to even realise he’s gone. Thus he doesn’t need to give an excuse.

Unchained 6
Prince Adam: “To be honest, Glimmer, by this stage I’m just keen to get back to Eternia, which I’ll admit isn’t exactly a normal place but at least the trees don’t look like candy floss.”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

Hurrah! A new section! Not a very exciting one, though: Adora doesn’t give an excuse. But since she didn’t know what was going to happen, I think it’s fair enough.

 

Insults

Hordak refers to the entire Rebellion as “pests” and “worthless”, and also considers a bunch of his Horde Troopers to be “incompetent fools”. He relatively mildly addresses a nameless rebel as “foolishly misguided,” to which the rebel responds by calling him an “evil tyrant” and refers to the entire Horde as a “criminal crew”.

Unchained 7
Hordak: “Yeah, sure, having cannons for arms is quite handy in some circumstances, but people do tend to laugh at me in the Fright Zone canteen when I have trouble eating my sandwiches.”

 

Oh No, Bow!

When Adam heads off to the Fright Zone, Bow starts making a poncey speech about standing together in the Rebel Brotherhood. Adam immediately interrupts him and tells him to shut up. Gutted, Bow.

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s the first episode of She-Ra to which I can give an unequivocal thumbs-up, and possibly not coincidentally, it’s an episode which doesn’t have much Madame Razz or Glimmer in it. This one doesn’t seem to matter that it’s part of a larger story; it’s got a self-contained plot all to itself, concerning the Magna Beam, against which the bigger picture of Adora becoming She-Ra unfolds.

Unchained 8
She-Ra: “Christ, Swift Wind, I didn’t realise you’d have such a terrifying voice.”

The She-Ra transformation is suitably dramatic, and it’s great to finally see Adora shake off the Horde’s control and realise her destiny. It also must have been hugely exciting when this first aired to find that He-Man has a twin sister. All in all, I’m happy to say that this one’s very good, except for Hordak, who is still a snorting pig and thus rather detracts from the whole thing.

Episode 02 – Beast Island

In which Bow begins his long and illustrious career of incompetence.

Opening shortly after He-Man’s capture by Adora, the remaining members of the Great Rebellion are trying to determine where he has been taken. Thanks to some magic from Madame Razz – whose irritating spells put her firmly in the role of a wannabe-Orko – they locate him on Beast Island. Glimmer asks brainlessly why the Horde would have taken him there, to which Bow replies that Beast Island is the location of the Horde’s prison. I realise that this is for the benefit of the viewers, but it makes Glimmer seem incredibly thick. As the leader of the Rebellion, she really ought to know where the Horde’s prison is.

Beast Island 1
Madame Razz: “So, you thought Orko was annoying, did you?”

In the prison, He-Man is chained up. He is struggling to break his chains and making noises which make him sound constipated. Unable to stand this unpleasant racket anymore, Adora – having nicked the power sword given to He-Man by the Sorceress last week – pops along for a little chat, in the course of which she reveals that she believes the Horde are caring, just rulers, and that the rebels are the evil ones. The full name of the Horde action figures was the Evil Horde, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt that that’s not their full name in the cartoon. She should, however, perhaps take a clue from the fact that Horde HQ is called the Fright Zone, which in all honesty is not the sort of name nice people give to their homes.

He-Man plants a seed in her mind that perhaps the Horde are the baddies after all, and suggests that she go out into Etheria, to speak to the people and learn the truth. Adora takes him up on the notion, gets onto her horse Spirit, and rides out of the prison. Hordak and Shadow Weaver wonder whether she may need watching, but ultimately decide that she is loyal, thanks to years of training from Hordak, and spells of control from Shadow Weaver.

Beast Island 2
Hordak: “Got to hand it to you, Shadow Weaver, you picked up a mighty fine bargain at DFS with this baby.”

Meanwhile, the rebels magic themselves up a flying ship, which they use to reach Beast Island. On arrival, they treat themselves to a stupid fight with a stupid monster before getting down to the serious business of rescuing He-Man. The Horde – including a Beast-Man rip-off called Grizzlor, who I don’t believe we met last week – put a variety of traps in their way, and to get past each and every one of them, they need Battle-Cat’s help. These no-hopers are not going to do well once He-Man and Battle-Cat return to Eternia and leave them to it.

He-Man is back to his constipation noises trick by the time the rebels find him. Of course, He-Man is only there as bait, and they all find themselves frozen in place, with a blast from Hordak’s silly arm-cannon. Grizzlor carts them all off to a cell – all except Kowl, who evades capture by some unspecified means, and then releases He-Man once all the baddies have gone.

Beast Island 3
He-Man: “Battle-Cat, you’re fired. Kowl has been far more useful today.”

He-Man releases all the rebels from their cell – though probably only out of a feeling of obligation, or because Battle-Cat is locked up with them – and in so doing, sets off the burglar alarm. The rebels run for it into a landing bay, where they nick a flyer and escape – though He-Man makes a point of demolishing the entire prison first. This has the unintended side effect of making Glimmer get the hots for him, which He-Man completely ignores.

In the meantime, Adora has been trotting around Etheria, witnessing a heart-rending montage of the Horde Troopers being mean to the villagers, by throwing them into rivers, nicking their horses and destroying their homes. She quickly comes to realise that the Horde are evil. How she could have missed this previously is beyond me, but I suppose that’s how brainwashing works. She returns to the Fright Zone to confront Hordak and Shadow Weaver, but is singularly ineffective in whatever she was hoping to achieve. Shadow Weaver simply puts her into a magical sleep, and takes the power sword. Then she and Hordak laugh their maniacal heads off for the purposes of a non-too-threatening cliff-hanger.

Beast Island 4
Adora: “Hey, you guys! You’re evil!”

 

In today’s adventure…

No moral lesson again, but I think we have all learned that if you discover you have been brainwashed all your life into thinking evil is good, and vice versa, then you should probably have some kind of objective in mind when you waltz into the chief brainwasher’s house and tell him that you’re wise to his little game. If you don’t have an objective, or a plan, or any backup, then you’re liable to get knocked out and re-brainwashed.

 

Character checklist

What a treat to spend time with these new characters! We have the old familiar He-Man and Battle-Cat, but otherwise it’s all newbies. There’s Adora, Glimmer, Bow, Madame Razz, Kowl, Broom, some green people, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Grizzlor, some Horde Troopers and some random Etherians.

Beast Island 5
Glimmer: “This is such a very nice flying ship.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

There’s no excuse for last week’s disappearance, and oddly enough, Bow and Glimmer etc seem to have forgotten all about their new friend Prince Adam and aren’t worried about where he’s gone. This is despite the fact that – as far as they know – he was quite possibly a Horde spy and they’ve shown him where the secret rebel headquarters are.

 

Insults

Grizzlor seems to think that adding ‘rebel’ to any other noun makes for a super insult. To be fair, it works well enough this episode with “rebel fools” and “rebel dogs”, both of which he applies to Glimmer, Bow, Kowl, Madame Razz, Broom and Battle-Cat. Elsewhere, we find a Horde Trooper nicking a horse and calling it a “miserable nag”, and shortly thereafter addressing the horse’s owner as a “little fool”. He-Man still can’t seem to muster up much enthusiasm for this Etherian jaunt, since the best he can manage to call Hordak is a “villain”.

And finally, Glimmer may well have said something insulting to a pair of Horde Troopers, but her voice was too sweet for me to understand it. It sounded like “Buzz”, which is possibly a reference to Kevin’s hideous brother from Home Alone and is thus incredibly insulting. On the other hand, it’s possibly not.

Beast Island 6
Horde Trooper: “I’m okay with being nameless cannon fodder, but I’m not cool with being associated with Buzz.”

 

Oh No, Bow!

I have a sneaking suspicion that throughout this cartoon, Bow is going to prove to be a massive failure at pretty much everything he does. Therefore, I am going to start up a little section to record every single time he does something stupid. In this episode, he adopts the traditional Man-at-Arms style by tripping up on a vine and being inexplicably unable to stand up while a monster attacks him, requiring rescue by Battle-Cat.

Bow also gets frozen by Hordak’s sleeping gas, but since everyone else does as well, it’s probably unfair to single him out for particular ridicule. Except that he deserves it.

Beast Island 7
Bow: “Yeah, fair play, I am as thick as bricks.”

 

Does it have the Power?

Again, since it’s part of a wider story, it’s not easy to tell. Frankly, I suspect the only particularly relevant part of this episode was Adora’s voyage of self-discovery; the rest of it (i.e. the vast majority) featuring He-Man being rescued did not contribute enormously to the overall story. In terms of character, nobody did anything to redeem my opinions from last week: Glimmer is still infuriating, and Shadow Weaver still has potential. Madame Razz confirmed my suspicions that she is going to be as annoying as Orko, if not possibly more so. The only new development is not a good thing: Hordak has a weird habit of snorting like a pig, which is off-putting.

Still, as part of the story, it gets Adora to where she needs to be, if nothing else. A grudging thumbs-up from me, I suppose.

 

Episode 01 – Into Etheria

In which Prince Adam meets a man with an even worse dress sense.

I had seen virtually every episode of He-Man at least once before embarking on this lunatic mission to review the entire Masters of the Universe canon. Contrastingly, I believe I have only ever watched one episode of She-Ra – something to do with a zoo, as I recall – so the next 93 reviews will be a voyage of discovery for me as well as for you. Of course, memories may well come back to me as I watch, though hopefully not because I repressed them the first time.

According to information I have painstakingly stolen from the internet, She-Ra was first introduced in a feature length film which was released to cinemas, called The Secret of the Sword. These were subsequently edited into the first five episodes of the She-Ra series, and they begin with this episode, Into Etheria. The opening sequence, unlike that of He-Man, tells me virtually nothing about the series set-up, but I assume this is because all will be revealed over the course of these first five episodes. If not, I flatter myself that I have sufficient intellectual capacity to fill in the blanks myself.

We open in the familiar environs of Castle Grayskull, though less familiar is the sight of the Sorceress in skimpy nightwear, having a terrible dream about a robotic skull-faced lunatic called Hordak kidnapping a baby named Adora. Waking with a shriek, the Sorceress sees a power sword – like He-Man’s, but different – floating down from the ceiling, and indicating that she should take it through a yellow portal.

Into Etheria 1
The Sorceress: “Follow that sword, myself? You must be joking.”

The Sorceress doesn’t take it through the portal, obviously. It might be dangerous, and she’s useless. Besides, she’s got someone to do that sort of thing for her. And so it is that Prince Adam and Cringer are summoned to Grayskull, given the new power sword, and told that he needs to find someone on the other side of the gate. The Sorceress further elaborates that she has no idea where the gate goes, and she won’t tell Adam who he’s looking for. Adam agrees to go, but it’s plain that he’s thinking, “Christ, she’s been nipping at the crème de cassis again.”

They find themselves on a completely mental planet, where all the plant life is a vile shade of pink. Adam, with the aesthetic sense that has led him to wear that hideous pink waistcoat all these years, comments, “Nice place, eh, Cringe?” Cringer retains sufficient brains to not respond. Unexpectedly, once oriented, Adam’s first move is to head for the local pub, where he settles down for a quick meal. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get to take a bite before three large grey robots enter.

Into Etheria 2.jpg
Prince Adam: “Innkeeper! Bring me the finest wines available to humanity.”

These robots are identified as Horde Troopers, and it seems that their objective is to push everyone in the pub around, and then sit down at a table. They are clearly what passes for evil masterminds around here, so of course it takes all of three seconds for Adam to start a barney with them. He is rescued from ignominious defeat by a gentleman called Bow, who surpasses even Adam in the competition for Campest Dresser in the Universe.

Into Etheria 3
Prince Adam: “You may have a camper dress sense, Bow, but my posing is still second-to-none.”

We now get a scene where we are introduced to all the baddies, which is amusing in that everybody uses each other’s full names quite extensively, to ensure the viewer gets the hang of it. This is admittedly subtler than the equivalent scene in He-Man’s Diamond Ray of Disappearance, in which Skeletor may as well have been reading out a Toys R Us catalogue as he listed his henchmen. Anyway, you may be interested to know that the chief baddy is that Hordak dude from earlier, and serving him we have a hovering witch called Shadow Weaver, a weird bug-eyed monster called Mantenna, a sexy cat woman called Catra, and a humanoid leech called Leech. There’s also another woman, dressed in typical Filmation style (i.e. virtually nothing) but she’s not important enough to get a name yet. At the end of the scene, Hordak emphasises how evil he is by transforming his arm into a giant cannon, and destroying a bit of his own fortress.

Into Etheria 4.jpg
Hordak: “Just to warn you, I am in no way as good as Skeletor.”

Bow takes Adam to a place called Whispering Woods, and informs him that he is welcome to join the Great Rebellion. We are now treated to a scene in which we meet all the goodies. The leader of the Rebellion is called Glimmer, a pink-haired sickly-sweet loon. Also present is a small green thing called Spragg, and a flying koala-owl crossbreed called Kowl. Finally, we meet an incompetent witch called Madame Razz, and her talking broomstick. Prince Adam’s dead eyes reflect his despair at being lumbered with these halfwits.

Madame Razz brings news that, as vengeance for Bow and Adam defeating the Horde Troopers, the Horde have placed the entire village under arrest. The rebels return to the village in time to see Catra, Mantenna, Leech and that other woman (now given the name of Scorpia) loading the villagers into a slave transport ship. The baddies are under the command of a blond woman, identified as Force Captain Adora. It’s worth noting that Cringer is oddly animated in this scene with his mouth hanging wide open and shaking his head from side to side, as if he’s having an involuntary spasm of some sort.

Into Etheria 5.jpg
Adora: “Check out this rubbish sword.”

The rebels attack the Horde, and are as incompetent as you might expect. Sighing heavily, Adam turns into He-Man and defeats every single one of the Horde pretty easily – although unexpectedly, he needs a bit of help from Spragg to defeat Mantenna. As He-Man faces off against Force Captain Adora, he suddenly realises that she is the one the Sorceress sent him to find. He is then shot in the back by a Horde Trooper, largely so that the words ‘To Be Continued’ can flash dramatically across the screen.

 

In today’s adventure…

I am led to believe that She-Ra normally dispenses moral lessons in the same way He-Man does, but this episode doesn’t come equipped with one. Therefore, I’m ideally placed to suggest my own: if you’re going to send the only competent defender of your planet through a mysterious yellow gateway, it’s at least courteous to tell him who you want him to find and why. That way, he might not be quite so surprised when it happens and therefore might not get shot.

 

Character checklist

This first episode of She-Ra features pretty much everyone except She-Ra. Let’s see – we’ve got Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, the Sorceress, Man-at-Arms, Bow, Glimmer, Madame Razz, Kowl, Broom, Spragg, Adora, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Mantenna, Leech, Catra, Scorpia, a load of Horde Troopers, and various other background characters.

Into Etheria 6
Catra: “Team photo, guys!”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Tricky, this one. Given Adam made the change towards the end of Part 1 of a five-part story, there’s a chance we might get the excuse next time. We certainly didn’t get one this time.

Of course, once we get into the series properly, I will make a subtle change in the title of this category. But on the off chance that you don’t know who She-Ra’s secret identity is yet, then I won’t spoil the surprise.

 

Insults

Plenty of insults flying round this week, though curiously they’re pretty much all dispensed by the goodies. The bard in the pub kicks things off by calling a Horde Trooper a “miserable wretch”. This is followed by Kowl calling Spragg a “ninny”, and Spragg then refers to Cringer as a “pussy cat”, which doesn’t go down well. Glimmer says that the Horde Troopers are “fiends”, while Bow decides that “sucker face” is the best description for Leech. Similarly, Spragg defines Mantenna as “bug-face”.

Into Etheria 7
Glimmer: “I’m sure we could come up with an insult for you, Madame Razz.”

The only insult from a baddy comes from Scorpia, who addresses He-Man as “muscle man”, which is nothing he’s not heard before. He-Man retaliates with the stinging, “You’re not much of a lady.”

 

Does it have the Power?

Again, it’s difficult to judge, given it was originally intended to be watched as part of a much bigger feature film. My critics might say that therefore I ought to watch the whole thing in one go, but my response is that I don’t think my nervous disposition could stand it.  My initial impression, unfortunately, is not too favourable. Glimmer barely gets any screen time, but I already loathe her with a passion, and Madame Razz too has potential for Orko-level irritation value. Bow is a complete nonentity, albeit one with an appalling dress sense, and the less said about Spragg the better. Oddly, Kowl seems to be okay, so far.

Into Etheria 8
Kowl: “Thumbs up for me! Hurrah!”

As for the baddies, Hordak is potentially very annoying; maybe he’ll get his own character later, but for now he seems to be doing a low-budget Skeletor impersonation. Shadow Weaver – who was no more than a pair of yellow eyes in darkness, dressed up in a red cloak – seemed interesting but got the least screen time. Mantenna and Leech look like they’re going to be the Beast-Man and Trapjaw of the operation, basically bumbling fools who very occasionally get things right. Scorpia’s voice made her sound incredibly dull-witted. Catra was good though: pleasingly nasty, with the surprising ability to turn herself into a panther.

It’s not easy to say much about the plot, but it seems to have got us where we want to go, without being too innovative. The last minute twist, when He-Man learns that Adora is the one he’s looking for, is quite surprising – or would have been in 1985 anyway. Altogether, I’ll give it a cautious thumbs up, continue to the next episode, and pray that Glimmer gets better.

Season 2 Summary

And here we are, having reviewed every episode of the finest cartoon series in history. (That is my personal opinion, but I’m pretty sure there’d be support for having it settled as an undisputed fact.) 130 episodes is a vast number of episodes to make, and I’m pleased to say that on balance, I think the writers did a fine job. That being said, Season 2 has struggled – especially in its latter half – to match the highs of Season 1.

 

Highlights

Happy 1
He-Man: “Very proud of these ones, thanks.”

Nonetheless, there have been some real triumphs this season. As with Season 1, I have selected my top five episodes for your reading pleasure:

5. Here, There, Skeletors Everywhere – Utterly and completely barking mad. As if having hordes of miniature Skeletors running around wasn’t enough, the writers also saw fit to include three anthropomorphic teddy bears facing starvation because they could no longer become invisible. Watch this one for a troubling insight into what being mental is like.

4. The Rainbow Warrior – Hilarious dialogue from Skeletor is always a good start, but here we also have him actually succeeding in capturing everyone except Queen Marlena, into whom we get great character exploration, and who is the one who saves the day. While that doesn’t sound great, it’s a genuinely exciting episode.

3. Into the Abyss – Another one that doesn’t sound that great, this episode features Teela falling down an abyss, and He-Man rescuing her. It’s a surprisingly subtle exploration of what makes Adam, He-Man and Teela tick, and it’s fascinating for a Saturday morning cartoon.

2. To Save Skeletor – It’s essentially Evilseed from Season 1 done all over again, but who cares? He-Man and Skeletor being forced to work together to defeat a greater evil is a winning formula, and this one has moments of great humour and surprising darkness.

1. The Problem with Power – But if you’re into surprisingly dark episodes, you won’t find a better one than this. Skeletor tricks He-Man into believing he’s killed a man, and we see the resulting moral quandary that He-Man goes through. It’s an outstanding exploration of ethical dilemmas, and features brilliant writing.

Contrary to customarily accepted He-Man wisdom, I do not consider Origin of the Sorceress to be a very good episode, which is why it’s not on the list. So don’t go emailing me claiming I forgot about it. I didn’t. Sorry and all. On the other hand, I very much wanted to include The Cat and the Spider, Not so Blind and Journey to Stone City, but there wasn’t quite room.

 

Lowlights

Angry 1
He-Man: “These ones, on the other hand, were poor.”

There have been surprisingly few of these, actually. I thought I’d be able to find plenty of candidates for this list, but it seems that most of Season 2 has been content to wallow in anonymous mediocrity rather than going for broke with outright dreadfulness. Still, there were some episodes that seemed to be really trying to achieve notoriety:

5. The Bitter Rose – In fairness, this one isn’t absolutely appalling, but I needed an episode to fill the bottom space on this list, and I think this is probably an appropriate fit. It features Orko nicking a rare flower, He-Man occupying himself playing baseball with rocks for ages, and the sudden and random appearance of a half-woman, half-flower thing at the end. It’s thus boring for the most part, and mental when it’s not being boring.

4. Monster on the Mountain – There’s a vast chasm separating this one from The Bitter Rose in the rankings table. I wouldn’t mind watching The Bitter Rose again one day, after sufficient therapy, but everything else on this list needs to be consigned to hell. Monster on the Mountain is preachy, obvious, and dull. Need I say more?

3. The Greatest Show on Eternia – This episode has a reputation for being the absolute worst that He-Man has to offer, largely because of the enormous character assassination it performs on Skeletor. Skeletor has never been the most convincing baddy, but his evil plot to spoil the circus in this episode is perhaps as ridiculous as he ever got. Add to that a deeply infuriating double act from Crackers the Clown and Orko, and you’ve got an incredibly unlikeable episode.

2. Time Doesn’t Fly – Bad as The Greatest Show on Eternia was, it was at least a vaguely entertaining train wreck. Time Doesn’t Fly, on the other hand, was boring, didn’t make any sense whatsoever, and the moral lesson was deranged, featuring He-Man warning us not to stop time, as if we could if we wanted to.

1. The Rarest Gift of All – But the absolute lowest point of Season 2 came quite early on, with The Rarest Gift of All. Orko spoils everyone’s day, then runs away weeping about how everyone hates him, and everyone has to reassure him. It’s sickening and utterly pointless, and I regard it as perhaps the worst thing ever to have been on television.

 

Favourite character

Yes, obviously, it’s still Skeletor. It doesn’t matter that he became more for comic relief this year, he’s still the best baddy in the history of television.

Skeletor 1
Skeletor: “Yes! I won again.”

 

Where next?

With He-Man over, the first and largest part of my mammoth undertaking is complete. Luckily, I have it on good authority that He-Man and Skeletor make regular guest appearances on She-Ra, which will probably be a good way of easing me out of my serious He-Man addiction. So, next week, we’ll be beginning the first season of She-Ra: Princess of Power!

Episode 130 – The Cold Zone

In which Kobra Khan forgets to pay the leccy bill.

Adam, Cringer, Man-at-Arms and Orko are out on one of their inexplicable jaunts, doing nothing at all, when they are perturbed by the arrival of Kobra Khan, driving a ridiculous vehicle identified by Orko as a Land Shark. The plot thickens when Kobra Khan asks the assembled multitude where He-Man is, requesting his help. Apparently the Eternal Fire has gone out, which means that Kobra Khan’s people – the Reptons – will go into hibernation forever. I would define hibernation that lasts forever as being dead, but Kobra Khan clearly prefers to dance around that issue.

Cold 1
Cringer: “That vehicle is so stupid, even I’m not intimidated.”

Adam points out that – Kobra Khan himself aside – the Reptons are a peaceful people, and offers to help. After waiting for Kobra Khan to get out of sight, he turns into He-Man, and he and his team set off for the Reptons’ home. The road there involves several boring traps and monsters, and He-Man and Kobra Khan work together to defeat them. Kobra Khan notably saves Man-at-Arms from a falling tree, thus earning his trust – but it is made clear that Kobra Khan is planning a betrayal.

The home of the Reptons turns out to be the same generic cave system that we see every other episode on He-Man, and our merry band troll through it, commenting that it genuinely is quite cold, and exchanging worried remarks about whether relighting the Eternal Fire is possible. Naturally enough, Kobra Khan goes missing, so – without smelling a rat – He-Man and co. continue to explore. They eventually discover the chamber where the Eternal Fire ought to be, and conclude that it definitely isn’t burning any more.

Cold 2
He-Man: “This is the moment to panic more than we’ve ever panicked before.”

As they examine the chamber, they are cornered by lots of Reptons, who accuse them of being responsible for extinguishing the Fire. Taken to King Pythos, He-Man pleads his innocence, and rests his case on Kobra Khan’s ability to vouch for them. When questioned, however, Kobra Khan claims that he saw Team He-Man putting the Fire out. Bet you didn’t see that coming.

He-Man gets violent at this stage, which results in Kobra Khan using his sleeping gas to knock the entire lot of them out. Kobra Khan then makes an offer to the Reptons: if he is able to restore the Eternal Fire, he will replace Pythos as King. Pythos agrees, and Kobra Khan pops off to call Scottish & Southern Energy and get them to turn the gas back on. Unfortunately, Scottish & Southern tell him that due to unpaid arrears, they can’t restore power. Kobra Khan doesn’t have enough hard cash to make a payment, and he doesn’t have any credit cards either, so we really do have a problem now.

Cold 3
Kobra Khan: “Seems I didn’t think this through.”

Luckily, a nice Repton called Scales quickly discovers Kobra Khan’s treachery, and goes to He-Man’s prison cell forthwith. He details the entire plot for the benefit of the slower viewers, explaining that Kobra Khan engineered the whole situation in order to become King, but now is unable to relight the Fire. He-Man is only too willing to try to get the Fire going again, and asks Man-at-Arms how to do it. Man-at-Arms compiles a lengthy list of necessary mining equipment which they don’t have, so He-Man ignores his contribution and turns the Fire back on by turning himself into a drill and burrowing down to the centre of the planet.

As soon as the Fire is working again, Kobra Khan leaps out of a hiding place and happily crows that he will take the credit. Unfortunately, he’s idiot enough to not check whether King Pythos is standing behind him when he makes this statement – and what do you know, he is. Kobra Khan is led away by the Repton guards, then brought back about 20 seconds later for Scales to throw doughballs at him. This cartoon could be completely mental sometimes.

Cold 4
Kobra Khan: “In some ways, I suppose you could argue I had this coming.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms informs us that we shouldn’t make decisions by jumping to the first or the easiest conclusion, which is what King Pythos did by believing Kobra Khan. This touches on racism – Man-at-Arms explains that Pythos trusted Kobra Khan simply because he was one of the Reptons – and is a pretty good moral.

The only downside to this moral is that Man-at-Arms closes by saying, “See you next time.” Unfortunately, this being the last episode ever, we all know that this is untrue, and so his comment has an unexpected poignancy. I wish they’d carried on making He-Man for ever and ever.

 

Character checklist

The grand finale of He-Man gives us the fairly classic hero line-up of Prince Adam, He-Man, Cringer, Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms and Orko. The villain is, of course, Kobra Khan, and we also meet Scales, King Pythos, and plenty of other Reptons.

Cold 5
King Pythos: “Imperial robes or dressing gown? You decide.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Not wishing to go out on a high, Prince Adam doesn’t bother to give an excuse.

 

Insults

It’s not the most bountiful episode for insults, sadly. Battle-Cat implies that Kobra Khan is a “big mouth”, without coming out and actually saying it to his face. Orko calls Kobra Khan a “snake”, but that’s hardly insulting, and the Attack Trak decides to get personal by calling the Land Shark “Smiley”.

 

Does it have the Power?

For the last episode of the series, He-Man goes out with neither a bang nor a whimper. It’s not the show-stopping finale that we were all secretly hoping for, but luckily neither is it on a par with the poor efforts we’ve seen lately. I do appreciate that the writers didn’t know the show was finishing, and so it’s not particularly surprising that we don’t get an amazing last episode, but it does seem a shame that we finish without seeing Skeletor messing with Castle Grayskull one last time.

Cold 6
Prince Adam: “Let’s all look down on Cringer.”

Still, judging this episode without considering its position in the series, it’s all right. It’s quite nice to see where Kobra Khan came from, and the reference to him being the “black snake of the family” was entertaining. It’s easy to see the double-cross coming a mile off, so perhaps it’s fortunate that the writer signposted it by allowing us to hear Kobra Khan’s thoughts from quite early on – that way, we actually had a sense of anticipation building for the inevitable betrayal, instead of the episode expecting us to be surprised when Kobra Khan turns out to be a baddy. I’m happy to say, then, that I recommend the final episode of He-Man.

Episode 129 – To Save the Creatures

In which Skeletor tries to ruin King Randor’s birthday party.

It’s King Randor’s birthday, and to celebrate, Randor is preparing to give an award to the owners of an animal sanctuary. The son of the owners, a boy called Ricky, claims not to care, but nonetheless agrees to give Adam, Teela and Orko a tour of the sanctuary. Once there, the owner reveals that Ricky is very good with animals, and asks him to take Adam, Teela and Orko to Blue Valley to check up on some long-toothed furlongs, or some such ludicrous animal.

Creatures 1
Teela: “Do we really have to have another episode involving an infuriating child?”

Meanwhile, Skeletor has employed a sleazy scientist called Maddock to create an “anger ray”, which will be used on the animals, with the express purpose of ruining King Randor’s party. Do you remember when Skeletor had grander ambitions, like conquering the universe? Anyway, Maddock has also invented an “animal digitiser”, which is basically a teleporter, and he uses it to kidnap the furlongs right in front of Adam, Teela, Orko and Ricky.

Realising that the kidnap has been spotted by our heroes, Skeletor frets about what to do now. The obvious solution – using his great big teleporter to kidnap Adam and co. as well – does not spring to mind, and so instead Maddock uses his anger ray to infuriate some other silly animals, these ones called chimperillas. He-Man appears and quickly puts an end to this nonsense, which irritates Skeletor so much that he asks Maddock to send some more stupid animals to delay He-Man.

Creatures 2
He-Man: “Hey look, an irritating little monkey … and a chimperilla.”

Things get a little more exciting when Skeletor teleports the angry furlongs into the middle of King Randor’s party, prompting scenes of crowd panic. Normally on He-Man, crowd panic scenes simply involve a few humans running around, but Randor seems to have invited a diverse range of people to his party, and we are treated to the sight of an alien with an enormous head, a bear in dungarees, a Viking, and a weird yellow man. Randor has some odd friends.

Creatures 3
Randor: “I’m willing to bet my life that you guys are recycled animation from previous episodes, though I’m damned if I can remember which ones.”

Much of the rest of the episode consists of He-Man defeating various animals, using Ricky’s extensive zoological knowledge to react in the most appropriate manner. There are also endless scenes of Ricky saying “thank you” to He-Man, and He-Man saying, “no, thank you” to Ricky. Finally, our heroes get down to the serious business of stopping Skeletor, which is achieved with the surprising help of Beast-Man, who is annoyed that Maddock’s inventions have rendered him obsolete.

We close with Ricky oddly commenting that all the stupid animals we’ve seen today are part of his family, to which He-Man even more oddly responds, “You know something, Ricky? We’re all part of one big family.” He’s clearly been at the Advocaat again, because he’s talking absolute rubbish.

Creatures 4
Teela: “He-Man, sometimes you need to think before you speak.”

 

In today’s adventure…

He-Man comes on to say that we should all feel really sorry for Beast-Man, whose plight in this episode is quite plainly a subtle commentary on the mechanisation of labour. He-Man goes on to explain that when machines are invented that can do the work of a human, it often leads to people losing their jobs and being unable to live. He concludes, however, that this is the price of progress.

Not really. Instead, we get some confused gibberish about how animals aren’t usually angry, doing things requires hard work, and that growing up isn’t easy, all of which is less than enlightening.

 

Character checklist

This week, our heroes are Prince Adam, He-Man, Teela, Orko, King Randor, Ricky, the animal sanctuary owners, and Randor’s weird collection of guests. Our villains are Skeletor, Beast-Man, Maddock and Evil-Lyn.

Creatures 6
Beast-Man: “Bet He-Man won’t see me here … oh.”

 

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

“I’ll try and work my way around the rocks and see if there’s a safe way out,” says Adam, when they come under attack by chimperillas. This is a long and boring sentence, so he can be pretty confident that Teela will have stopped paying attention by the end of it.

 

Insults

Skeletor’s ire is reserved entirely for Maddock this week, who must suffer the stinging abuse of “ninny”, “fool”, and the enigmatic “broken-down genius”.

Creatures 5
Maddock: “And here’s my state-of-the-art computer. Not enormously portable, I’ll admit.”

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s a pretty reasonable offering. Skeletor hasn’t often used animals for his evil plans, despite Beast-Man’s powers, so the plotline doesn’t feel too recycled. It might have been nice if Skeletor had tried to use the animals to break into Castle Grayskull, rather than the more pointlessly spiteful aim of disrupting the birthday party, but I shouldn’t complain too much. It seems like it might have benefitted from slightly tighter script editing – the grand finale with He-Man facing Skeletor comes before a damp squib of an ending involving Ricky whistling at some elephants, and I feel that these scenes should have been the other way around – but again, I’m just picking holes here. My final verdict is that it’s a decent but not classic episode.

Episode 128 – The Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

In today’s adventure…

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

 

Character checklist

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

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

 

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

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

 

Insults

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

 

Does it have the Power?

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

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

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

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