Episode 102 – Revenge is Never Sweet

In which He-Man tries on a smashing new helmet.

The Attack Trak has broken down in the desert, and Adam and Teela are fixing it. Well, actually, Adam’s fixing it, because that’s what men do, and Teela is sitting next to him, watching enthralled, and curling her legs round herself coquettishly, because that’s what women do. Orko offers to help with some magic, which is politely if forcefully refused, and he floats away looking for some trouble to get himself and the others into.

Revenge 1
Teela: “Get on with it, Adam. I’ve got lots of gender stereotyping confirmation to do today.”

Trouble comes along pretty quick. Remember Kothos from The Witch and the Warrior? No, neither did I. Well, he was an evil magician who ended up being turned into a Sand Slug by Evil-Lyn. Orko, being thick as bricks, is persuaded to turn him back, and Kothos embarks on a new career of mayhem. He starts by freezing our heroes to the spot, then decides to exact his revenge on Evil-Lyn.

However, he goes about this in an unusual and – dare I say it – even sensible way. He contacts Skeletor, offering to trade Evil-Lyn for Adam, Teela, Orko, Cringer and He-Man. This last is fairly ambitious, since Kothos doesn’t have He-Man, nor does he have a hope of getting him. Skeletor – who seems to have reacquired his brains since his last appearance in The Greatest Show on Eternia – agrees, but only on condition that Kothos actually capture He-Man first.

In an effort to lure He-Man into a trap, Kothos puts his four captives on a raft, shoves it into the middle of a lake, and then unfreezes them. His reasoning is that He-Man will come barrelling along and be overcome by Kothos’ magic. Adam instantly dives into the lake and swims far enough away to become He-Man without being observed, then returns and shows off by surfing the raft to safety.

Revenge 2
Orko: “Yes, I could float across the lake and fetch help, but I’m not going to.”

Unfortunately, once they reach dry land, Kothos freezes them all again – except He-Man, for whom he arranges a special magic helmet, which effectively neutralises him. Kothos then calls Skeletor to report that he now has He-Man. He doesn’t mention that he’s lost Prince Adam, but Skeletor couldn’t give a flying fox about that. He eagerly puts Evil-Lyn in a cage and flies off to meet Kothos. He reassures Evil-Lyn that he’s simply playing along with Kothos and that she’s in no danger, but he gives a demented little chuckle that left me entirely unsure what he’s actually going to do.

On arrival, Skeletor reveals his true colours and happily exchanges Evil-Lyn for He-Man and co. Kothos wheels Evil-Lyn’s cage into his giant flying palace, which has just arrived on the scene, while Skeletor stands around in the desert praising his own skills in duplicity. Evil-Lyn, however, from her cage uses her magical powers to remove the silly helmet from He-Man’s head, and He-Man promises to rescue her from Kothos as soon as he can.

Revenge 3
Skeletor: “He-Man, you simply have to tell me where you get your adorable hats.”

First, though, he has to deal with Skeletor, which is achieved with consummate ease. With Skeletor out of the way, Team He-Man decides to go the extra mile and really earn their Hero of the Year awards, by going to save Evil-Lyn from Kothos. Equipping themselves with Sky Sleds, He-Man, Teela and Orko fly up to the floating palace, while Cringer is told to go home.

The floating palace is well equipped with a variety of traps, which range from the mildly perilous to the actively tedious. While He-Man wastes time with giant hands, trapdoors and lecturing Kothos on the futility of revenge, Teela and Orko find Evil-Lyn and release her. Unfortunately, Evil-Lyn refuses to go quietly and decides to go to get her revenge on Kothos. At about this point, I’d say our heroes ought to leave them to it, but of course they don’t. Evil-Lyn is stupid enough to fall out of a window though, so there’s no need to deal with her. Kothos, on the other hand, in return for He-Man’s help against Evil-Lyn, swears never to be evil again. Hurrah!

Revenge 4
Kothos: “Looking forward to a life of being good.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela and Orko deliver the not unexpected moral that getting your own back will simply lead to escalation, and suggest that you should talk things over and start afresh instead. This is not a view that Skeletor subscribes to, I expect. I’d have loved to see the scene where Evil-Lyn returns to Snake Mountain after having freed He-Man. Skeletor is unlikely to have been pleased.

 

Character checklist

Everyone and his mother shows up for this week’s outing: Prince Adam, He-Man, Cringer, Battle-Cat, Teela, Orko, Kothos, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Beast-Man, and Kothos’ guards. Incidentally, for those of you who give a toss about such things, Kothos’ guards are re-uses of the Tork animation from Just a Little Lie.

Revenge 5
Evil-Lyn: “This is the sort of thing that prevents me getting onto the front cover of What Witch every month.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

“He’s just fine,” He-Man explains dismissively, when Teela asks.

 

Insults

It’s all about Evil-Lyn calling people a “fool” this week: Kothos is the lucky recipient twice and his guards once.

 

Does it have the Power?

The title of the episode put me in a bad mood; it led me to expect one of the more tedious moralising instalments, so imagine my surprise when we were presented with an entertaining episode. Kothos wasn’t that exciting in The Witch and the Warrior, and he wasn’t much better this time, but as a plot device to get the story going, he served his purpose pretty well. Skeletor’s scenes were brilliant, of course, and the whole thing zips by most enjoyably. Recommended.

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Episode 101 – Not So Blind

In which He-Man and Ram-Man take a blind boy to a cave.

Prince Adam overhears an old man in the marketplace telling some children stories about He-Man’s exploits, so he wanders along to join in. One of the children presciently asks why He-Man doesn’t just smash Skeletor into little bones, and Adam explains that He-Man tries not to hurt any living being. He then goes on to lamely explain that Skeletor will be punished for his evil one day, but the children are unconvinced, as was I.

All the children leave, except one boy, who is blind. His name – for no readily apparent reason – is Loose, and he expresses a desire to meet He-Man. Adam offers him the chance to go on an adventure with He-Man, and Loose accepts. First needing to ask permission from his parents, he leads Adam to his home. It is made clear at this juncture that Loose may be blind, but he is perfectly capable of taking care of himself.

Blind 1
Storyteller: “I’ve got the best hat ever, and don’t even try to tell me otherwise.”

Adam evidently decides that he doesn’t like Loose very much, because he next introduces him to Ram-Man, who is definitely not the person I’d most want to meet if I visited Eternia. As Adam pops off to turn into He-Man, Loose feels Ram-Man’s face and asks him various questions like, “Where is your neck?” and “How do you turn your head?” This is all intended to demonstrate that the blind boy can ‘see’ as well as any of us, but it comes perilously close to pointing out just how stupid Ram-Man’s character design is.

He-Man now appears and introduces himself to Loose, then suggests that the three of them go to find the legendary Singing Crystals. This whole sequence feels as if it’s the start of a ride in the He-Man Theme Park; I can just imagine lots of people being packed into a fake Attack Trak, while He-Man and Ram-Man deliver overblown lines about going to find something rare and exciting, just for the fun of it. Maybe it’s a business venture the two of them will take up when they retire.

Blind 2
He-Man: “Loose, I’m sorry I had to involve Ram-Man, but he’s contractually obliged to appear.”

Anyway, the three companions make their way through the wilderness, as Loose explains that he uses his other senses to find his way with ease. This is demonstrated in a few scenes of relative subtlety which show Ram-Man tripping over a rock that Loose had successfully avoided, and Loose concluding how old a bridge is by feeling the rope and listening to the wooden planks.

Finally, they reach the caves of the Singing Crystals, which are bright and shimmery, but more importantly for Loose, they genuinely do sing when they are touched. Unfortunately, one of the Crystals falls and shatters in a bright explosion, and because He-Man and Ram-Man are both stupid enough to look right at it, they are blinded by the flash.

Blind 3
Loose: “There’s just something about this scene that screams 1980s disco.”

Debating what to do, Loose says that he will be able to lead the party home, which he does with considerable ease, until they get to the old bridge. While they are on the bridge, one end collapses and the three of them find themselves hanging on for dear life, and unable to climb up because the boards are loose. He-Man manages to throw a lasso into a nearby tree and hoist the party up, a feat which ordinarily would be second nature for him, but gives him some difficulty while he is unable to see.

The trio navigate a number of other hazards before they successfully return to the Palace, where Man-at-Arms (in his capacity as Palace Optician, to add to his hundreds of other jobs) restores He-Man’s sight. There’s no mention of Ram-Man’s sight being restored, but I think we can take it as a given that this happens too. Loose then relates the story to the other children, who call him a liar until He-Man comes along to give him some street cred.

Blind 4
He-Man: “Ello, ello, ello, what’s all this then?”

 

In today’s adventure…

Would you know it, children that are blind or handicapped are not helpless, and have feelings and desires just like the rest of us. It’s easy for me to poke fun, but actually this moral is well worth the inclusion.

 

Character checklist

It’s one of those rare episodes without a villain, and it’s even rarer in that it’s a good one (see The Starchild and The Remedy, if you can stomach it). That results in a pretty tight cast list, consisting simply of Prince Adam, He-Man, Ram-Man, Loose, the storyteller, a bunch of children, and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance from Man-at-Arms.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam mutters, “Please excuse me, but, uh, there’s something that I’ve got to do,” just after introducing Loose to Ram-Man. He goes just out of sight – and presumably earshot – to transform, then reappears as He-Man and says, “Adam can’t make it.”

Blind 5
Adam: “Maybe if I shrug my shoulders so it looks like I have no neck, I won’t have to go on this stupid expedition with Ram-Man.”

 

Insults

With the possible exception of the other children calling Loose a “liar” at the end of the episode, there are no insults on show today.

 

Does it have the Power?

This is an episode that could have gone one of two ways: either outstandingly good or toe-curlingly bad. I’m happy to report that it is the former. Loose’s blindness is handled with considerable sensitivity, and there are some scenes included that genuinely make you think, especially if you’re four years old. My favourite such scene was on the way to the caves, when He-Man offers to carry Loose over the bridge. Loose responds, “Are you going to carry Ram-Man across?” before requesting to be treated like anybody else. The message is clearly received, without ever descending into patronising drivel.

Blind 6
Loose: “I wonder how anyone managed to construct this ridiculously long and flimsy bridge.”

The conceit of turning He-Man and Ram-Man blind was also good; we’d all seen Loose being capable beforehand, but it really upped the game when our heroes were rendered helpless and had to be led to safety by another character. I also enjoyed the fact that there was no villain in the episode. The only criticism I might level is that I have no idea why Loose has such a stupid name. On the other hand, characters in He-Man are often named after their ability, so I suppose it’s lucky that he didn’t wind up with a tactless name like Blindor or No-Eyes-Man.

In short, this is a surprisingly mature episode, and well worth a watch.

Episode 100 – The Greatest Show on Eternia

In which we meet the most annoying character in all of fiction ever.

An interplanetary circus arrives on Eternia, and because he’s an idiot, Man-at-Arms promises Orko that he can attend if he tidies up his room. Surely he knows that saying this will inevitably result in Orko using magic to attempt to tidy his room and causing some dreadful mess. But before we even reach that stage, the circus rocket train (I didn’t think a “circus rocket train” was even a thing) arrives, and Orko starts messing about with the various props.

Greatest 1
Orko: “Boy oh boy! Someone more irritating than me!”

Over at Snake Mountain, Skeletor is pacing around, mixing cocktails and shrieking that there’s no one about to cooperate with him. This is just plain weird, to be honest, though it gets odder seconds later when Evil-Lyn shows up to inform Skeletor that the circus has refused his kind invitation to perform at Snake Mountain. I can’t see him as the sort to really want to watch a circus, but I suppose it adds another layer to his complex characterisation. Skeletor is inexplicably livid about the circus’ refusal to perform, and decrees that if he can’t enjoy the circus, no one can. As tense and dramatic scenes go, I think the only comparable television moment ever achieved is the Red Wedding.

Greatest 2
Skeletor: “Sex on the beach, Beast-Man?”

If you think Orko isn’t annoying enough, you may be interested in meeting Crackers the Clown, who shows up to introduce himself to Orko and perform a variety of distinctly unfunny tricks. Orko says he wishes he could work at the circus, and I wish he could too, but Crackers isn’t interested without Orko going through the full recruitment process. Adam then properly starts doing a hatchet job on Orko’s job application, reminding him that he hates putting an effort into anything.

Skeletor orders Evil-Lyn and Beast-Man to go to the circus and make sure it never opens. They start by using Beast-Man’s animal-controlling powers to stop a three-trunked elephant from putting up the Big Top, but they are detected within 20 seconds, tied up in metal, and thrown back to Snake Mountain. Once he’s dealt with the villains, He-Man decides to help out at the circus, and we are treated to endless scenes of him putting up tents, which is truly a fitting task for the Most Powerful Man in the Universe.

Greatest 3
He-Man: “This is so below my pay grade.”

He-Man then persuades Crackers to give Orko a job, so that Orko will learn that working in the circus is not as glamorous as he seems to think. This leads to a load of hugely boring and/or irritating scenes in which Orko has his dreams cruelly shattered by Crackers, Adam and a trapeze artist called Orlando, who laugh their heads off at him pretty much continually.

This mercifully comes to an end when Skeletor intervenes to kidnap Crackers, sending him to a place called Echo Valley. Skeletor then feels confident enough to announce the rest of his plan – to take over the circus – to Orlando, Orko and Adam, whose pose suggests deep disinterest. Skeletor attempts to ramp up the tension by shrieking, “Prepare for the Skeletor Circus!” but no one cares.

The inhabitants of Eternia gather for the circus, only to find that Skeletor has cancelled the performance. If the ill-judged animation of their beaming faces is anything to go by, I’d say the inhabitants of Eternia are overjoyed at the circus’ cancellation. We then cut to the interior of the Big Top, where Skeletor is attempting to convince the circus artists to perform for him, but he is interrupted by the return of Crackers, who has been rescued by He-Man.

Greatest 4
Orko: “Er, Man-at-Arms, the townspeople seem quite pleased about the circus being cancelled.”

He-Man and Skeletor inexplicably decide to have a go on the trapezes trying to defeat each other, and when this doesn’t work out, Skeletor opts for a quick try on the tightrope. It all comes to a hugely hilarious conclusion when Skeletor accidentally sets off a load of fireworks and ends up being blasted out of the Big Top clinging desperately to a rocket. How we chortled.

 

In today’s adventure…

Adam and Orko take inspiration from Orko’s circus training to explain to us that if we want to be good at something, we have to be prepared to put in the hard work. This was demonstrated in the episode, I suppose, but Orko’s experience was little more than a subplot. The main storyline also taught us a moral lesson, which was that being selfish tends to lead to being shot into the sky on a giant firework.

Greatest 5
Skeletor: “Hmm. Fireworks, me, and upcoming obligatory end of the episode joke. Nope, definitely can’t see what’s in the pipeline here.”

 

Character checklist

This complete abomination of an episode involves Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Beast-Man, Crackers, and loads of circus folk. They should all be ashamed of themselves.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

There are three transformations this week (though luckily they only treat us to the actual animation sequence once). On one of these occasions, Adam comments, “I’d better do something about this,” which pretty much gives the game away.

Greatest 6
Adam: “Good God, this is a waste of my time.”

 

Insults

Evil-Lyn evidently feels pretty confident in her abilities this week, since she calls Skeletor a “bonehead” at an early stage. Skeletor doesn’t even lower himself to retaliate, suggesting that perhaps he’s maturing. Although, given the aims of his grandiose plan this week, perhaps not.

 

Does it have the Power?

This episode is equal measures irritating and bizarre. Firstly, the irritating is of course Orko and everything he says or does, and this is exacerbated by Crackers and the other allegedly amusing denizens of the circus. The bizarre is the very premise of Skeletor wanting the circus to come to Snake Mountain, which seems completely at odds with everything else he’s ever wanted, and it only gets weirder when he starts putting in massively disproportionate efforts to ruin the circus.

Greatest 7
He-Man: “Listen, Crackers, I’ll tolerate you this week, but if you ever show up again I’m going to get Battle-Cat to bite your stupid head off.”

I can only assume the episode was meant to be a light-hearted romp, which might have worked if only they’d remembered to put some jokes in. In summary, this one is a complete waste of time, and I might suggest you find something else to do with your life than watch it, let alone review it.

Episode 099 – Hunt for He-Man

In which an idiot child tries to sell He-Man to Skeletor.

Adam and Cringer are out testing the new auto-pilot system that Man-at-Arms has installed in a Wind Raider. Unfortunately, Skeletor decides that he would like to acquire the auto-pilot system, so forces Adam to crash in the Misty Swamps. The Wind Raider lands in a pool of water and begins to sink, which is bad news for Cringer, whose tail is stuck. Adam transforms into He-Man and drags the Wind Raider out of the water, saving Cringer.

Hunt 1
Cringer: “Christ! I’ve just remembered that last time I was in the Wind Raider with Adam, he made me jump out for no reason!”

Unfortunately, something is wrong with He-Man. He complains of feeling weak, and when the two companions get stuck in a trap, he cannot break them out. Luckily, the trap is owned by an old man and his grandson called Drac, rather than Skeletor and his cronies. The old man explains that the swamp water is poisonous, which explains He-Man’s lack of strength, and offers to nurse him back to health.

Drac, however, is in favour of turning He-Man over to Skeletor, arguing that Skeletor would make a powerful friend. His grandfather tells him that he should choose his friends carefully, and orders him to fetch the cart, after which they load He-Man into it and head off to the village. For no evident reason, the cart can hover, for which the only explanation I can come up with is that Filmation couldn’t be bothered to animate wheels. All the way, Drac suggests over and over that Skeletor would give them money and power in return for He-Man; but the grandfather won’t hear of it.

Hunt 2
Drac: “But if we sold He-Man, I could get some new clothes, ones that don’t make me look like I’ve escaped from The Sound of Music.”

Skeletor, Trapjaw and Whiplash cruise the swamps, looking for traces of the Wind Raider. Once they find it is damaged beyond repair, they decide that instead they will try to kidnap some prisoners to work in the mines. Learning through Skeletor’s magic that He-Man is weak and helpless, the three of them get very excited, and head off to capture him.

Unfortunately, on our heroes’ arrival at the village, they find that Skeletor has got there first, and burned the entire place down, kidnapping the populace to work in the mines. Drac now sees the truth about Skeletor and there’s no more talk of selling He-Man out. Unfortunately, all the village’s medicine has been destroyed, so He-Man, Cringer, Drac and the grandfather must journey to the Healing Tree in order to make more.

Hunt 3
Cringer: “Why did I have to pull this stupid levitating cart?”

Our heroes reach the Healing Tree, but Skeletor tracks them down using a Hunter Robot. Since He-Man needs time to heal, Drac comes up with a plan to buy such time. It’s a pretty rubbish plan, to be honest, consisting simply of Drac talking to Skeletor and trying to flatter him, and is so transparent that even Skeletor sees through it in about 15 seconds.

That’s all the time needed though: He-Man makes a full recovery and goes barrelling into Skeletor’s ship, freeing all the prisoners from the village and destroying as many robots as he can get his silly tanned hands on. Skeletor, Whiplash and Trapjaw put in their usual poor efforts at fighting back, and eventually teleport home to Snake Mountain.

Hunt 4
Cringer: “It’s pretty difficult to explain what’s going on here, and frankly it’s not worth it, so let’s move on.”

Drac then says he’s sorry for his earlier imbecility in thinking that Skeletor could be a friend, and He-Man wisely says that evil often looks attractive. All the villagers cheer at this, and He-Man says, “Well, that about wraps it up. Cringer, let’s go home.” He does not say anything about helping to rebuild the village, and none of the villagers seem to care, though I’d have thought it would be one of their top priorities really.

 

In today’s adventure…

The moral this week is delivered by He-Man, Cringer and Drac. Well, actually, it’s delivered by Drac, in a really odd squeaky voice, while He-Man and Cringer hang around looking at him. Drac claims that He-Man’s friendship is the richest treasure in the world, which is lovely for Drac, but it doesn’t have any relevance to a real-life scenario. If anyone tells me that they’re really rich because they’re friends with He-Man, I’m likely to give them a wide berth at best, and try to get them locked up for society’s sake at worst.

Hunt 5
Drac: “You may be my friend, He-Man, but if you don’t take your hand off me right now I’m going to go ape.”

 

Character checklist

Very few of our usual goodies on the scene today – only Prince Adam, Cringer and He-Man. On the villainous side of things, we have Skeletor, Trapjaw and Whiplash, and the guest stars are Drac and his granddad, as well as the other villagers.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Only Adam and Cringer are present at the time, so once again there’s no excuse offered.

 

Insults

Our villains oblige with some reasonable fare this week. We start with the obligatory “fool”, this time offered by Trapjaw to Whiplash. Whiplash is more ambitious, referring to every single one of our heroes as “those goody-goodies at the Palace”. Meanwhile, Skeletor calls Drac a “swamp-child” and calls Whiplash and Trapjaw “dunderheads”. More imaginatively, he comments to Trapjaw, “I could write a book about what you don’t know.”

Hunt 6
Skeletor: “I knew bringing Trapjaw to the garden centre would be a mistake. He wants to look at everything.”

 

Does it have the Power?

I liked this one, but I didn’t love it. It’s commendable for trying to do something different, in portraying He-Man ill and needing the help of others, and the idea of Skeletor hunting down our hero when he’s helpless really should have been exciting, but I felt that it just somehow never managed to ramp up the tension. I did like the burning of the village, which is the most actively evil thing Skeletor’s done since the very early days of the series (remember Disappearing Act, when he forced a volcano to erupt to destroy the farmland?), and the kidnapping of slaves for mining has very dark undertones as well. Skeletor does get some entertaining dialogue too. All in all, there’s plenty to like here, but put together it for some reason didn’t quite reach the level it perhaps could have. Still, it’s better than a lot of other recent offerings.

Episode 098 – Search for the Past

In which Prince Adam leaps out of a moving Wind Raider for no reason whatsoever.

Man-at-Arms and Orko go shopping down at the market. You might think that the episode can’t get any more exciting than that, but it does. At one trader’s stall, Man-at-Arms spots a golden bracelet which used to belong to King Randor’s father, King Miro, and demands to know where he found it. On learning that it came from the Swamps of Enchantment, Man-at-Arms takes the bracelet to Randor, and the two of them decide to go to the Swamps to find Miro.

Search 1
King Randor: “You’re nicked.”

Concerned for her husband, Queen Marlena asks Adam and Cringer to go to the Swamps as well. She is right to be worried: Man-at-Arms’ stupendous incompetence has already led to Randor being kidnapped by the Enchantress, a sexy sorceress who was responsible for Miro’s disappearance many years ago.

Adam and Cringer fly to the Swamps in the Wind Raider. Once they get there they decide not to land the Wind Raider like normal, but instead jump out and float down using parachutes, leaving the Wind Raider to land itself. This is bizarre behaviour, the only reason for which Adam gives is the non sequitur phrase, “In that spinach?” Adam is mental.

Search 2
Cringer: “This sequence must have been a devil of a job for the animators.”

They quickly locate Man-at-Arms, and decide to turn into He-Man and Battle-Cat for good measure. They soon decide that Randor must be being held in Lost Mountain, which is a mountain hovering in mid-air directly above the Swamps. Unsure of how to get up to the mountain, He-Man comments that it would be good to have a Wind Raider. There is no hint in his voice that it’s his own bloody insane fault that they don’t.

Without a Wind Raider available, He-Man instead catapults himself onto the mountain using a bent tree, and sets off to find the missing royals. He finds King Miro first, who is in a rock cabin at the very top of a mountain spire, and he reveals that Randor is probably being held in Castle Fear, back on solid ground. They set off together, awarding themselves a fight with a stupid monster en route.

Search 3
King Miro: “Thank goodness you’re not my grandson Adam. I’d do my nut if he dyed his hair neon orange.”

He-Man and Miro parachute off Lost Mountain and head for Castle Fear, picking up Man-at-Arms and Battle-Cat as they go. The Enchantress tries to defeat the assembled party with various stupid monsters and magic tricks, but fails entirely. Once she’s dealt with, Randor offers Miro his throne back, but Miro declines, opting instead to roam Eternia and learn about its people anew. I predict that after two weeks of learning about imbeciles like Ram-Man and Buzz-Off, Miro will be back at the Palace, begging to live with Randor and Adam, who are at least borderline sane.

 

In today’s adventure…

Orko gives us two morals for the price of one this week:

  • You can’t do bad things without being punished for them.
  • If you have a grandmother or grandfather, you are really lucky.

The first of these wasn’t exactly demonstrated; Orko tries to make out that the Enchantress got punished, but she didn’t really – she just got carried off camera by a giant slug (sorry, I didn’t mention that in the synopsis). What happened to her thereafter is anyone’s guess. The second wasn’t really demonstrated either: having a grandfather in this episode led to He-Man having to mess about catapulting himself onto floating mountains and other such rubbish, which I’d hesitate to describe as lucky. My guess is that the writers knew each of these lessons singularly was too weak to carry the episode, so they thought that if they mashed them together, that would be good enough.

Search 4
The Enchantress: “I wonder why so many female magicians on Eternia wear birds on their heads.”

 

Character checklist

This week’s effort treats us to Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, King Randor, Queen Marlena, King Miro, Man-at-Arms, Orko, the Enchantress, the marketplace trader, and the massive slug.

 

Insults

The Enchantress does a lot of insulting this week, but her voice is really soft so I couldn’t tell what she was saying a lot of the time. It’s a definite fact that she refers to her sluggy servant thing as a “bothersome insect”, a “slimy slug”, a “fool”, and “sludge”. She also calls Miro a “royal buffoon” and might call Randor a “fool”, but her soft voice lets her down here. He-Man refers to one of the stupid monsters as an “ugly snowball”, and two more as “mudballs”, which suggests He-Man has acquired a sudden and unexpected obsession with balls.

Search 5
Stupid monster: “Smugger than Nigel Farage on 24th June 2016.”

 

Egg on your face?

It barely qualifies, but since this category has been quiet lately, I should report that Orko’s stupid clumsiness brings a huge pile of oranges down on his head.

 

Does it have the Power?

There’s an inherent problem with episodes like this one. From the moment the prospect arises that King Miro might be alive, we know he will be, because Filmation doesn’t do tragic. We also know, however, that even though he’s alive, he’s not going to take his throne back from Randor. Further to that, we’re pretty confident that we’ll never see him again. Consequently, it’s really difficult to get invested in the plotline, because it’s not going to have any long-term impact. And yes, I know that every episode restores matters to the status quo at the end, but most of them don’t offer potentially huge changes as a consequence of the episode’s events, like this one does.

Search 6
King Miro: “I’m leaving now, Adam. There’s no need to ever mention me again.”

It doesn’t help, I suppose, that the Enchantress is a boring and utterly motiveless baddy, and that Randor and Miro don’t really seem to care when they are reunited. Adam makes a valiant attempt to convince us that he’s pleased to meet his grandfather, but while we’re on the subject of Adam, his behaviour with the Wind Raider this week was so far outside the realms of logic that I’m tempted to conclude he’s cracked under the pressure and gone completely insane.

So, unfortunately, I wasn’t a fan of this one. I recommend missing it.

That’s the last review for a couple of weeks now. Should be back around about 4th November. Don’t miss me too much.

Episode 097 – The Time Wheel

In which He-Man goes head to head with a boring old king.

Out exploring in a rocky canyon, He-Man and Orko discover a tunnel leading into an ancient Silkon laboratory. He-Man explains that the Silkon civilisation died out many centuries previously, and decides not to give us any further background, even though we’re eagerly hanging on his every word. Instead, He-Man activates a boring booby-trap that shoots some boomerangs at him, while Orko gets himself trapped in another room.

Orko discovers a great big golden wheel with a handle, and because he just can’t leave anything well enough alone, he turns it. This prompts a migraine-inducing light show, at the end of which we find a man called Tamask, who wears a Viking helmet, wields a club, and demands to know who has kidnapped him from his palace. In the course of the subsequent conversation, it emerges that Tamask is a Sorcerer-King of Eternia from long ages past, who has been brought to the future by Orko’s meddling.

Time Wheel 2
Tamask: “I may have come from centuries ago, but at least Eternian fashion hasn’t changed much.”

Orko’s lack of finesse leads Tamask to conclude that King Randor is a pretender to his throne, and sets off to challenge him in battle. Before going, he seals He-Man and Orko in a room, and He-Man narrows his eyes and glares at Orko, which is a perfectly natural reaction – the only difference between He-Man and me is that I’d have glared at Orko 97 episodes ago. By now, I’d be at the tying-Orko-to-the-train-tracks stage.

He-Man punches his way out of the room and chases Tamask, with Orko still in tow. Once they catch up, they attempt to reason with Tamask, though they make zero effort to explain what has happened. Tamask refuses to listen, believing them to be his Silkon enemies, and conjures up a giant centipede, while he carries on his merry way to the Palace.

Time Wheel 3
He-Man: “Oh, for goodness sake.”

Once he arrives, he notes that the Palace looks very different, but concludes that Randor must be a very powerful sorcerer to have made all these changes. He bounds into the throne room, making stupid proclamations about reclaiming his throne, but Randor refuses to fight him. Instead, he chooses to wind Tamask up by saying that fighting is rubbish, and that wisdom and compassion are better. Luckily for Randor, He-Man and Orko show up before Tamask has time to act on the implied insult.

He-Man and Randor make some pitiful efforts to explain to Tamask what has happened, but – possibly because they accompany their attempts by having the Palace Guards shooting at him – Tamask again refuses to listen, and does a runner. The rest of the episode is taken up with Tamask running around, conjuring up stupid traps, while He-Man shouts at him for not listening.

Time Wheel 4
He-Man: “Right, gang, any ideas why we’re being filmed at this jaunty angle?”

Eventually, when one of his traps backfires, Tamask finds himself in need of He-Man’s help. He-Man saves him, and finally Tamask listens. He-Man says, “Thank Christ for that,” and uses the Time Wheel to send Tamask back to his own time. Or possibly uses it to send him into outer space, which is what I’d be tempted to do after all the tedious trouble Tamask’s caused. Once Tamask is gone, the entire Silkon laboratory blows up, which is nice, and at least means that this plotline is unlikely to be repeated.

 

In today’s adventure…

As with another rubbish episode some time ago, He-Man begins the moral by saying, “I hope you enjoyed today’s adventure story,” which immediately brings to mind the inevitable criticism that we didn’t. He then goes on to say that although we don’t have a Time Wheel in real life, we do have books, and makes a valiant but ultimately doomed effort to claim that books and Time Wheels are pretty much the same thing. He finishes up by suggesting that we all give books a try. I don’t really want to go into how stupid this is, so I won’t.

Time Wheel 5
He-Man: “Hey kids, you should take some advice on reading material from a guy in red furry underpants.”

 

Character checklist

It’s a pretty tight cast today, featuring Prince Adam, He-Man, Teela, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Tamask, and some Palace guards. Man-at-Arms doesn’t feature, which is just as well, since I don’t think I could bear to look at him after his disgraceful performance last week.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam can’t wait to change into He-Man this week, doing so about 20 seconds after the episode starts, for the tenuous purpose of creating a cave that he and Orko can shelter in. The only witness is Orko, so he doesn’t need to give an excuse.

Time Wheel 1
Adam: “For Christ’s sake, Orko, turn the bloody hairdryer off.”

 

Insults

For the second week running, no one has an unkind word to say about anyone else this time. It is possibly not a coincidence that in neither of these episodes has Skeletor shown his bony face. That Skeletor, he’s a bad influence on people, you know?

 

Does it have the Power?

I liked the premise of the episode very much – a savage king, well-versed in powerful sorcery, from Eternia’s past is dragged into the present. Unfortunately, I did not like the execution at all. Tamask was quickly reduced to an idiot who shouted, “Friend of Silkons!” every time anyone tried to talk to him, and all he did was run from the Silkon lab to the Palace and back again, creating pointless and dull diversions for our heroes as he did so. The scene in which He-Man saved his life was inevitable, and to top it all off, the moral was borderline insane. I think you’d be advised to skip this one.

Episode 096 – Battlecat

In which Man-at-Arms releases an ancient demon and blames everybody else.

This episode begins with an extended sequence in which Man-at-Arms, Teela and Adam all properly lay into Orko for being irresponsible and generally annoying. If their vitriol were directed at anyone else, I’d call it a massive case of going overboard, but when it’s Orko, he deserves anything that anyone chooses to throw at him. Once that’s done with, Orko decides to mess about in Man-at-Arms’ lab to create a potion to make Cringer brave.

Battlecat 1
Prince Adam: “Jesus Christ, this is pretty scary for pre-watershed fare.”

Well, I was as shocked as any of you when this doesn’t work. Instead, Orko conjures up a seriously terrifying transparent cat demon, which luckily is pretty stupid and is consequently easily trapped in a bottle. Predictably, Man-at-Arms is livid, and after shouting about it for a while, decides that the best thing to do now is to tell – at length – the story of how Adam first met Cringer. This is a random choice, even for Man-at-Arms’ customary inexplicable behaviour, so I can only conclude that he’s completely lost it.

The story begins with a roughly 12 year old Adam heading off on a camping trip on his own, because nothing bad could ever happen on Eternia. Sure enough, Adam quickly comes under attack from a sabre-cat, but he drives it away using a device that imitates animal noises. Once the sabre-cat leaves, Adam finds Cringer, who is still a kitten and possibly the cutest cartoon cat ever. Cringer is injured, so Adam brings him back to the Palace and asks Man-at-Arms to save him.

Battlecat 2
Cringer: “Adopt me. Please adopt me. I am the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen.”

Because Filmation couldn’t be bothered to animate a character called the Palace Vet, Man-at-Arms successfully restores Cringer to health. Cringer earns his name when he takes fright at a crowd of the most hideous children I’ve ever seen, for which I can’t say I blame him. He is also terrified when the disembodied head of the Sorceress appears to have a chat with Adam, which again is reasonable.

Years pass, until one day Melaktha and his archaeological team find a temple in the Tikon Jungle which is over 100 centuries old. Marlena suggests that Man-at-Arms goes on the expedition to investigate, because he is the most skilled person on Eternia at deciphering ancient writings. Excuse me? So Man-at-Arms is the Palace inventor, vet, and poly-linguist? Couldn’t they have given this skill to someone else – you know, someone like Stratos, who doesn’t seem to have any abilities?

Battlecat 3
Man-at-Arms: “I reckon if I stand here in this pose, looking at the paper seriously, everyone will think I’m doing some difficult translation work rather than just reading the Daily Star.”

Anyway, Adam, Teela and Cringer all tag along on the expedition, and quickly get some hints that the temple is super evil. Shortly before nightfall, Adam and Teela find a doorway to the temple, which has been bricked up. They inform Man-at-Arms, but he tells them to wait till morning before investigating. This does not suit Adam and Teela, who return to the door and succeed in opening it very slightly, before giving up and trotting off to bed.

In the morning, despite translating the ancient writings on the temple as meaning “WARNING – EVIL!”, Man-at-Arms decides to blast open the door. This releases a big blue demon thing called a Gedge, and the combined might of Teela, Ram-Man and the Palace Guards fails to slow it down. Adam thus decides that He-Man is needed and, seemingly on a whim, during the transformation he points his sword at Cringer, who becomes the mighty Battle-Cat. Genuinely, this move seems to be prompted by him thinking, “Hmm, I wonder what will happen if I shoot this energy at the cat?”

The Sorceress appears in a vision to explain that to defeat the Gedge, He-Man will have to be clever, which is precisely the sort of useful advice she’s always giving. I seriously doubt He-Man was thinking, “To defeat this monster, I’ll have to be really stupid.” Anyway, He-Man does some stuff which barely qualifies as clever in my book, and successfully reseals the Gedge in the temple. It’s worth pointing out that Man-at-Arms tries his damnedest to seal He-Man and Battle-Cat inside as well, so I’m sure He-Man will be keeping a close eye on him in the future.

Battlecat 4
The Sorceress: “No, He-Man. No matter how miserable you look, I will not buy you another ice cream.”

Man-at-Arms ends this rambling and irrelevant story by attempting to tie it in with Orko’s actions at the beginning of the episode, claiming that the Gedge wouldn’t have got out if Adam and Teela hadn’t ignored his instructions. This is entirely untrue. Yes, Adam and Teela did open the door a crack, but the Gedge didn’t get out until Man-at-Arms rocked up with his massive charges of dynamite and blew up the door. Still, Orko nods and pretends to have taken in the lesson, but I’m sure next time he’ll be happily meddling again.

 

In today’s adventure…

Orko and Man-at-Arms talk about poisons this week. They show us a big bottle with a massive skull-and-crossbones on it, and inform us that we mustn’t touch bottles that look like this, of which there were absolutely loads in my house when I was growing up. This lesson might have sunk in more effectively if the animators hadn’t chosen to draw Man-at-Arms with his mouth hanging open in a really gormless smile for this scene.

Battlecat 5
Man-at-Arms: “Don’t worry about me, I’m completely out of my mind.”

Anyway, the real lesson of this episode, quite clearly, is that if you are in a position of authority – like Man-at-Arms – and act quickly to shift the blame to someone else, you’ll get away scot free. I can’t believe his blatancy in trying to make out the whole business with the Gedge was Adam and Teela’s fault, when it was definitely him and his explosives obsession that caused the problem.

 

Character checklist

Oh, you know the drill by now. It would barely qualify as a He-Man episode if it didn’t have Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Orko, Man-at-Arms, Teela and the Sorceress in it. It’s also got King Randor, Queen Marlena, Melaktha, some random woman, a load of horrible children, some Palace guards, some workmen, and a surprise appearance from Ram-Man, who we haven’t seen in a while. The Gedge is in it too, but who the hell gives a monkeys about that?

Battlecat 6
Gedge: “Sorry for being such a rubbish monster.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

No one asks and no one cares.

 

Insults

It’s been a long, long time since we’ve had an episode with no insults in it, but this one qualifies, unless one counts the beastly bullying children shrieking “Cringer! Cringer!” at Cringer.

 

Does it have the Power?

Apart from the outstandingly cute scenes of Cringer as a kitten, there’s not much going for this one. While I do appreciate the efforts to fill in the background of some of our characters, I don’t really care about the first time Cringer became Battle-Cat, especially not when it’s because of a massively boring monster like the Gedge. It’s almost as if they wanted to do an episode about the first time Adam became He-Man, but chickened out and compromised with Battle-Cat.

Battlecat 7
He-Man: “Hey, homies, check out my new wheels.”

In its favour, the episode does start off looking like it’s going to be a dreadful episode about Orko, and it skirts round that pitfall pretty neatly. But Man-at-Arms seems to have only a very flimsy excuse for relating the Battle-Cat story in the first place, and frankly he’d have been better off not telling it, because the behaviour he exhibits in the story is frankly reprehensible.

In short, I suppose I’d better recommend watching it, because at least you’ll know a bit of Adam and Cringer’s history. But it’s only a grudging recommendation, because it’s pretty boring history. If you do skip it, then don’t worry, I won’t blame you. But Man-at-Arms will.

Episode 095 – A Bird in the Hand

In which Orko causes a right load of trouble, again.

Orko begins the episode by deciding to irritatingly insert himself into an unsuspecting victim’s life, and selects for this honour Stanlin, Melaktha’s apprentice. He tries to use magic to help Stanlin dust some archaeological artefacts, but of course it goes wrong, and a statue of a wolf ends up smashed. All is not lost, however; in the remains of the statue, Orko and Stanlin discover a map written in an unknown language. They show it to Adam, who suggests asking the Sorceress to decipher it.

Bird 1
Stanlin: “Piss off, Orko. Go on. Go away.”

Adam, Cringer, Orko and Stanlin take a Wind Raider to Grayskull, Stanlin worrying all the way about what Melaktha will say when he finds the statue is broken. As it happens, Teela quickly fills Melaktha in on the events, and they decide to follow the others to Grayskull. Skeletor, Beast-Man and Trapjaw are also flying around, seemingly with no purpose other than vaguely looking for trouble, and conclude that they might as well go to Grayskull too.

On arrival, Beast-Man sends a small purple beast called a Hollywag into the castle, to listen in on all the conversations taking place inside. This is precisely the sort of thing that would drive me nuts, since all he’s going to hear is Orko’s usual deranged gibber, the Sorceress being unable to do anything, Adam not saying anything useful, and Cringer whining about being tired/hungry/frightened.

Bird 2
The Sorceress: “I really do wish I owned a pair of trousers.”

The Sorceress soon deduces that the map leads through the Caves of the Wind to the Temple of the Wolf, in which can be found the Ancients’ Book of Spells. The Hollywag relays this information to Beast-Man, and Skeletor decides that the Ancients’ Book of Spells would be pretty handy. His next step is therefore to try to shoot down the Wind Raider, which seems completely crazy, since the Hollywag has already told him how to get to the Temple, so all he needs to do is go there and get the Book first.

Flying the Wind Raider, Adam manages to evade Skeletor, so Skeletor opts to head for the Caves of the Wind and wait for our heroes there. Somehow, Melaktha and Teela arrive at the Caves before Adam’s party does, and they are immediately captured in a net by Skeletor, who then implies that Stanlin has told him about the Ancients’ Book of Spells. Melaktha is very quick to believe the worst of Stanlin, but Teela is less certain.

Bird 3
Melaktha: “No, I wanted to see Teela in her fishnets, not this type of net.”

It’s at about this point that – with a distinct lack of provocation – Adam decides that enough is enough and that it’s time for He-Man to show up. Even with He-Man on the scene, however, Skeletor proves himself capable of stealing the map and kidnapping Stanlin. As he leaves, he causes a cave-in, but He-Man isn’t in the mood for such tomfoolery and turns himself into a drill to deal with it. He then meets up with Melaktha and Teela, and they all head off to the Temple.

Once at the Temple, Skeletor dimwittedly manages to conjure up a wolf, which chases him and Beast-Man away. Stanlin is left to retrieve the Book, but as soon as he does so, Skeletor reappears and tries to seize it from him. Luckily, He-Man and his party show up, He-Man throws some rocks around, and Melaktha is convinced that Stanlin isn’t a traitor after all. The episode ends with a very prescient comment from Stanlin: “I shouldn’t have let Orko help me in the first place.” This is a lesson for us all.

Bird 4
Orko: “Such a hilarious moment.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela says that anyone who jumps to conclusions will usually find that the conclusion is wrong, as Melaktha did when he listened to Skeletor saying that Stanlin is a traitor. Warning against jumping to conclusions is all well and good, but this episode really demonstrates that you shouldn’t listen to inexplicably muscle-y blue skeletons.

 

Character checklist

For the most part, there’s nothing out of the ordinary here: Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Orko, Teela, the Sorceress, Skeletor, Beast-Man and Trapjaw. Melaktha and Stanlin are the only particularly noteworthy characters.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam’s transformation comes pretty much out of the blue, as if the writer suddenly realised, “Oh Christ, we’re halfway through this episode and He-Man hasn’t shown up yet.” There’s no very good reason offered for the transformation, and no one comments on it.

Bird 5
Adam: “You know what, Cringer? I’m just going to turn into He-Man and wrap this one up early.”

 

Insults

There’s a lot of insults this week, but they’re pretty much all Skeletor telling someone or another that they’re a “fool”. Trapjaw is the recipient of this treatment once, while Stanlin earns the title twice. Skeletor also refers to Beast-Man as “Furface” and a “clumsy oaf”, and Trapjaw as an “incompetent pile of scrap metal”. Beast-Man calls the Hollywag “lizard-lips” and a “stupid Hollywag”, while He-Man makes the understatement of the century when he comments, “Skeletor is not the most honest man on Eternia.”

 

Does it have the Power?

It didn’t exactly blow me away as a work of staggering genius, but neither was it rubbish. The idea of the Hollywag spying on our heroes was a good one, but as usual Skeletor completely failed to capitalise on his advantage. He could have been at the Temple a long time earlier, and if he hadn’t messed about creating wolves, the Book would have been his. I really wonder sometimes if Skeletor doesn’t actually want to win.

Bird 6
He-Man: “Don’t mess with me, wolf. I eat bigger things than you for breakfast.”

The one bit of the episode that I really felt didn’t work was Melaktha’s eagerness to believe that Stanlin was a traitor. Stanlin has been working with Melaktha for a long time – his last appearance was about 50 episodes ago – so you would think that Melaktha would have got to know him by now. The sequence in which Melaktha believes Stanlin has betrayed them doesn’t really go anywhere either, so it’s plainly just there to set up the moral.

As a side-note, the first time I wrote “Stanlin” in this review, Microsoft Word auto-corrected it to “Stalin”, and I must say that if the episode had featured He-Man hanging out with a cartoon Stalin, it would have been absolutely amazing, if somewhat unlikely in 1980s America. If anyone fancies messing about with the master tape to replace Stanlin with Stalin for this episode, I will buy them a cookie.

Bird 7
Cringer: “Er, Adam, are you aware that one of the most infamous dictators of the 20th century is sat next to you in the Wind Raider?”

Anyway, as a pretty standard He-Man-by-numbers, I’d expect you’ll enjoy this one, but it’s not possessed of anything that raises it above the average.

Episode 094 – Journey to Stone City

In which Evil-Lyn gets her deviousness on.

Prince Adam, Man-at-Arms and Orko are out in the Vine Jungle, hunting for the ancient ruins of Stone City. According to legend, Stone City contains a great treasure, which explains why Evil-Lyn, Webstor and Kobra Khan have been tracking our heroes for three days, hoping to capture the great treasure for themselves. They are curiously ill-informed as to what the treasure is, but I’m sure it’ll be something that they can use to conquer Eternia once and for all.

After he gets into a really quite random argument with a tree, Orko discovers a complete map showing the way to the City. Rather than following our heroes any further, Evil-Lyn chooses this moment to make her move, stealing the map and setting up a less than impressive stone trap. Adam turns into He-Man, busts out of the trap, and sets off after Evil-Lyn, Webstor and Kobra Khan. Attack Trak claims the villains have quite a head start, but this is a transparent attempt to add some tension, since they sauntered off about 45 seconds previously.

Stone City 1
Orko: “Yes, okay, I may have overdone it on the LSD at Glasto this year.”

Evil-Lyn, Webstor and Kobra Khan arrive at the City to discover that it is populated by hundreds of stone statues. They indulge in a spot of looting, nicking a large machine and teleporting it back to Snake Mountain for later – but come to a halt when one of the statues starts moving, then comes alive and proclaims “Free! Free! At last!” For some reason, this freaks the villains right out, and they run away.

The newly awakened man introduces himself as Volkan, and tells Evil-Lyn that the people of Stone City are its greatest treasure. This news does not please Evil-Lyn one bit, and she becomes even less pleased when Volkan announces his intention to wake up the rest of his people and resume the fight against evil. Unfortunately, it emerges that the stolen machine is the Life Bringer, and without it, Volkan cannot wake the other statues.

Stone City 2
Evil-Lyn: “I never thought I’d be the most sensibly dressed person in the room.”

Evil-Lyn now exhibits her usual cunning, and explains that He-Man has nicked the Life Bringer. Volkan is as gullible as every other one-shot guest star and believes her, despite her ridiculously evil laugh and the fact that Webstor loudly says, “WHAT?” and has to be shushed. Evil-Lyn takes Volkan to Castle Grayskull and invites him to break in to retrieve the Life Bringer. The Sorceress, as ever unable to repel an attack, instantly chickens out and summons He-Man.

Just as Volkan brings the jawbridge down, He-Man arrives and jumps into his path. He attempts to talk matters over, but Volkan is more interested in shooting red energy beams out of his torso, which is understandable. I wish I could do that. Anyway, Volkan learns the hard way that red energy beams don’t impress He-Man, and he winds up lying on his back with Evil-Lyn, Webstor and Kobra Khan shouting at him.

Stone City 3
Volkan: “Draw me like one of your French girls, He-Man.”

Evil-Lyn makes something of a tactical error at this stage and tells Volkan that she has the Life Bringer after all, and says she’ll give it back if He-Man surrenders Castle Grayskull. He-Man has zero interest in this deal, perhaps because he hasn’t got the foggiest what the Life Bringer is, though admittedly there is a clue in its name. The villains thus teleport back to Snake Mountain, while Volkan apologises to He-Man, who agrees to help him recover the Life Bringer.

He-Man and Volkan head to Snake Mountain and start pummelling the walls down. Skeletor puts in a cameo appearance to tell He-Man completely pointless lies, and then attempts to drop the Life Bringer directly onto He-Man’s head. Returning to Stone City, Man-at-Arms reinstalls the Life Bringer and Volkan uses it to awaken his people. He then apologises again for the earlier misunderstanding, and offers his services if ever they are needed in the future. He-Man doesn’t say anything, but you can see the look of faint scorn on his face at the implication that Volkan could ever help with anything.

Stone City 4
Man-at-Arms: “Okay, we’ve tried turning it off and on again.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Orko delivers the moral this week, telling us that we should always listen to He-Man’s side of the story before deciding who to blame. It is possible that this advice was supposed to be more generally applicable, but I choose to believe that I should listen to He-Man before making any future decisions.

 

Character checklist

A few unusual faces here, among the standard crowd. Prince Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Orko, the Sorceress, Skeletor and Evil-Lyn are of course the regulars, but it’s nice to see appearances from Webstor and Kobra Khan. Volkan is of course the character of the week, as is that tree, for whatever reason. There’s also all of the inhabitants of Stone City, and I can’t remember whether I count the Attack Trak as a character, but let’s err on the safe side and mention it.

Stone City 5
Attack Trak: “Yay, a picture of me and only me!”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam turns into He-Man while trapped inside a stone cube with Man-at-Arms and Orko. Therefore, he doesn’t need to give an excuse to these two, but he’s lucky no one’s outside watching when he emerges. Not even Teela is stupid enough to disregard Adam’s substitution for He-Man while inside a stone cube.

 

Insults

There’s some unusual insults in this episode, beginning with Kobra Khan telling Webstor, “You don’t smell too good.” In a similar vein, a tree addresses Orko to say, “You talk too much.” Volkan calls Kobra Khan a “Snake-man” which I think was supposed to be insulting. We’re back on more familiar territory when Evil-Lyn calls Volkan a “fool” twice, once behind his back and subsequently to his face.

 

Does it have the Power?

This is an all-round entertaining episode, which builds a bit of history and legend into our usual setting. The hunt for a treasure in ancient ruins is a pretty standard motif, and it’s good to see the twist that the treasure is the people. Equally entertaining is Evil-Lyn’s scornful reaction to this revelation. Her cunning plan to blame He-Man for the Life Bringer’s disappearance is entirely in character and confirms her position as Skeletor’s most intelligent sidekick.

Stone City 6
Webstor: “This will make a lovely entrance to the new Skeletor theme park.”

Skeletor himself gets some hugely fun moments, my favourite being the brilliant ending in which he decrees that since Evil-Lyn and Webstor (though, oddly, not Kobra Khan) like stone statues so much, they must spend the next month chiselling an enormous statue of him. His attitude when He-Man attacks Snake Mountain is also joyfully belligerent. In short, this episode offers everything you’d want from a classic He-Man romp: you shouldn’t miss it.

Episode 093 – Trouble’s Middle Name

In which Negator puts in an unexpected and unwelcome repeat appearance.

He-Man, Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms, Teela and Orko are invited to a ceremony at the Temple of the Sun. The Keepers of the Temple use the Sunstone to perform acts of charity, such as curing illnesses, but now the Sunstone’s batteries need recharging. This can only be done once a century, when the sun is in a certain position, and requires the presence of the universe’s most powerful forces of good.

Trouble
Orko: “Hmm, let’s see. A mysterious artefact, right at the beginning of the episode. No, can’t possibly be anything bad.”

En route to the Temple, our heroes come across a giant bottle in the sand. Battle-Cat is the only member of the team with an ounce of brains, suggesting that they leave it well alone, but his idiotic companions overrule him and open the bottle. This releases a Trollan who introduces himself as Prankster, and he promises to be more annoying than the average Trollan, in that he comes from a region renowned for its practical jokes. Prankster is insistent that his real name must remain secret, and Orko explains that if Prankster’s real name is revealed, he will have to return to Trolla.

Pausing only to magic up some impressive moustaches for Orko and Battle-Cat, Prankster disappears, and our heroes continue on their way to the Temple. Their departure is observed by Negator, who if I’m not mistaken, was the baddy in the less than impressive episode Game Plan. On this occasion, Negator intends to absorb the power of the Sunstone for himself and become the Most Powerful Man in the Universe (TM).

Trouble 2
Negator: “If I pose sufficiently suavely, I might get on the cover of What Spaceship? next month.”

Prankster’s tricks are irritating but ultimately benign, but Negator develops a nasty habit of taking the tricks and developing them into a much more serious form. Prankster conjures up some butterflies, which Negator turns into wolf bats. When Prankster creates some tiny insects, Negator magnifies them to dangerous proportions. Of course, Prankster gets the blame for Negator’s enhancements, though he doesn’t seem to care.

Once our heroes reach the Temple, the Keepers begin the ceremony, which appears to be no more complex than raising the Sunstone on a plinth so that it is very slightly nearer to the sun. This is evidently what Negator has been waiting for, since he now makes his move, seizing the Sunstone and using it for the unexpected purpose of doubling his size. He then erects a forcefield, which prevents He-Man from reaching him, and settles down to absorb the Sunstone’s power.

Trouble 3
Negator: “Must admit, I was expecting a bigger turnout for my gig tonight.”

Outside, Prankster is trying to come up with a super practical joke, and eventually opts to conjure up a raincloud to block out the sun. As soon as he does this, the Sunstone is unable to recharge its energy from the sun, so starts draining power out of Negator instead. As he shrinks, Negator pointlessly shoots what remains of the Sunstone’s power into the raincloud, causing an energy storm. He then shrinks so much that he disappears inside the Sunstone.

He-Man then does something incomprehensible which enables him to fly up into the energy storm, where he does something else incomprehensible to get the Sunstone’s energy back. This is all wrapped up nice and neatly and as quickly as possible, to ensure that there is enough time for Prince Adam to find out what Prankster’s real name is, and thus send him back to Trolla – notably without thanking him for his raincloud joke which, like it or not, did save the day.

Trouble 4
Prince Adam: “Prankster, this scroll has the story of Rumplestiltskin on it. You may as well start back to Trolla now.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela not unexpectedly considers that this episode taught us that practical jokes have a way of getting out of hand. Well, judging by this week’s evidence, that’s only the case if there’s some blue-skinned freak hanging round putting his own finishing touches to your jokes. Prankster is actually the hero of this episode – if he hadn’t pulled his raincloud stunt, who knows what would have happened? The moral we all learned, therefore, is that practical jokes are really useful, until someone interferes.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam makes his transformation alone, and no one seems to want to know where he is, so no excuses are needed this week.

 

Character checklist

Well, whoop whoop de loop, it’s Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Orko, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Negator, Prankster, and a variety of Temple of the Sun gentlemen in silly hats.

Trouble 5
Temple Keeper: “Got to be honest, our outfits would look a bit better if they included some trousers.”

 

Insults

There’s a moment when Orko and Teela refer to the absent Skeletor as “rotten”, but that’s all we get this time.

 

Does it have the Power?

I wouldn’t describe it as my favourite by any stretch, but it’s not offensively awful either. Prankster isn’t very interesting, but at least he never crosses the line into infuriating as I had feared he would. Similarly, Negator’s evil plot is fairly dull but serviceable. There’s very little to say about this episode one way or the other; it exists, it goes by relatively pleasantly, but doesn’t distinguish itself at all.