Episode 18 – He-Man Mutant

In which He-Man becomes a troll. Not a Twitter troll, luckily.

Hydron and Spinwit are cruising about in the Starship Eternia, and soon come across a Mutant fighter containing Quake and some other dude. We’ve seen this dude before, but I don’t know his name. If it helps, he bears a passing resemblance to Ram-Man. Anyway, due to bad luck or stupidity, the two ships crash into each other and make a forced landing on Primus.

And that’s He-Man’s cue to make a grand entrance, in a machine that looks like a giant, pissed-off hen. As part of some clever master plan, Quake and Evil Ram-Man surrender their fighter ship and allow themselves to be captured and escorted to Onnor Prison, where they immediately make it obvious that they’re up to something by laughing excessively while they’re being locked up.

Mutant 1
Quake: “Oh, He-Man, you’ve caught us. Please don’t take us to prison.”

Suspicious of the Mutant captives’ weird behaviour, He-Man decides he’d better infiltrate Mutant HQ on the moon of Nordor. To do this, he entrusts himself into the hands of the scientists, who have invented a machine called a Mutator. The Mutator does exactly what it says on the tin, and transforms He-Man into a mean-looking troll. Lord alone knows why the scientists have invented this thing, unless they were planning on creating their own Mutant army to take over Primus.

Unfortunately, in being turned into a troll, He-Man loses his memory, and starts acting like a bit of a dick. His first act is, of course, to destroy the Mutator, which means that we are soon treated to a hilarious scene of the scientists working like billyo to repair it. In the meantime, He-Man decides to rescue Quake and Evil Ram-Man from the prison, and teams up with them to hijack the Starship Eternia.

Mutant 2
Quake: “He-Man, you look different. Have you done something with your hair, perhaps?”

In the stolen Starship, Quake, Evil Ram-Man and He-Man return to Nordor, taking Hydron and Flipshot with them as prisoners. He-Man is welcomed into the Mutant army, after which point Skeletor gets on with the other plan (you know, the one from the beginning of the episode which relied on Quake and Evil Ram-Man getting captured). The other plan involves triggering a remote control on the fighter ship that Quake was flying, which lowers the shield around Primus.

Once the shield is down, the Mutants attack in full force – and seeing as He-Man, Hydron and Flipshot are all absent, there’s no one to defend Primus! The Mutants achieve an easy victory, and it looks like we’re heading for a repeat of that tiresome five-part story about the Mutants occupying Primus. Luckily, Drissy and Clawber the robot bird (last seen in Festival of Lights, if you care) manage to sort things out by making He-Man pick up his magic sword.

Mutant 3
Drissy: “Don’t worry guys, I’ve got this one.”

Once He-Man’s holding his sword, Master Sebrien and Drissy start shouting, “You are He-Man!” until eventually He-Man remembers who he is and what’s going on. Or possibly just pretends he does to make them shut up. Either way, he transforms back into his usual appearance, raises the shield, and expels Skeletor and the Mutants from Primus. Finally, Drissy subjects He-Man to a lecture about not judging people by their appearance, a lesson which I think He-Man is exceedingly well familiar with from his days on Eternia.

 

In today’s adventure…

He-Man sits in a chair and proclaims, “Reading is fun!” I don’t wish to be unkind, but there’s just something about the animation at this point that makes me suspect He-Man can’t read at all.

Mutant 4
He-Man: “What is this thing? Do I eat it?”

 

Character checklist

Okay then, character list enthusiasts: today you’ve got He-Man, Hydron, Flipshot, Spinwit, Master Sebrien, Mara, Drissy, Caz, Meldock, Gepple, Krax, Elcon, Clawber, Skeletor, Flogg, Quake, and of course Evil Ram-Man.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Either I wasn’t paying attention, or Prince Adam didn’t appear this week at all.

 

Insults

Evil Ram-Man gets a tough time of it today, being referred to as a “lamebrain” by Quake, and a “dimwit” and “stupid Mutant” by Skeletor, both of which insults are also extended to Quake. Finally, Quake calls Hydron and Flipshot “flyboys”. I don’t know if this is an insult or not, but Quake didn’t sound like he was being nice.

Mutant 5
Evil Ram-Man: “Do you think I’ll get an actual name anytime?”

 

Silence, Scientists!

Krax proves himself eager for a point today, by repeating his stupid inability to say the word “Mutant”. Elcon also achieves a point pretty early on, by trapping himself in the Mutator and getting mutated into a hideous freaky monkey thing. So the scores are now as follows:

Meldock: 19

Gepple: 10

Krax: 13

Elcon: 15

 

Does it have the Power?

I hate to damn things with faint praise, but the best I can really say is that though there’s not much wrong with this episode, there isn’t a whole lot right with it either. The idea of He-Man turning evil is good; off the top of my head, I can’t remember a time when we’ve seen that before, unless you want to count the time Skeletor invented his silly robot Faker, all the way back in The Shaping Staff. Unfortunately, the execution of He-Man being evil in this episode just isn’t all that interesting, somehow, so the whole thing falls a tiny bit flat. This episode is, however, much better than a lot of other recent efforts, and if you’re keen to persist with this series, it’s probably worth giving this one a go.

Season 2 Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Highlights

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Lowlights

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Onward and upward

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

Episode 93 – Swifty’s Baby

In which the writers really drop the ball.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

In today’s adventure…

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

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

Character checklist

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

 

Insults

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

 

Oh No, Bow!

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

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

Does it have the Power?

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

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

She-Ra: “Tally-ho!”

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

Episode 92 – The Bibbet Story

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

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

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

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

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

Dee and Coo: “Fear us.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In today’s adventure…

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

Character checklist

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

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

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

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

Insults

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

Oh No, Bow!

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

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

Does it have the Power?

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

Episode 91 – Assault on the Hive

In which Skeletor shows up for one last hurrah.

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

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

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

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

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

She-Ra: “Loving my new Apple iSword.”

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

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

Crystal Sundancer: “This … is odd.”

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

In today’s adventure…

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

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

Character checklist

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

Insults

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

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

Does it have the Power?

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

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

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

Episode 90 – Shades of Orko

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

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

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

She-Ra: “Get off my planet.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In today’s adventure…

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

Character checklist

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

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

Insults

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

Oh No, Bow!

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

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

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

Does it have the Power?

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

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

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

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

Episode 89 – Hordak’s Power Play

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In today’s adventure…

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

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

Character checklist

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

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

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

Insults

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

Catra: “I can explain.”

Does it have the Power?

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

The He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special

In which the Christmas spirit comes to Eternia. And Etheria. But mostly Eternia.

Merry Christmas to you all. I’m sure that, like me, you’ve spent every Christmas Day for the last 30 years watching the Christmas Special on repeat until your mind melts. However, it has come to my attention that there are a few unfortunate souls who haven’t yet been introduced to this classic of Christmas television, so I will here summarise the plot and then review it.

In the Royal Palace, King Randor and Queen Marlena welcome a vast phalanx of Eternia and Etheria’s foremost freaks of nature to celebrate Adam and Adora’s birthday. There’s Moss-Man flirting outrageously with Queen Angela, Snout Spout hanging out with Fisto, Stratos hulking ominously over Castaspella, and Glimmer being studiously ignored by Cringer. Sy-Klone is also present, though he seems to have been relegated to the role of a waiter. Don’t worry about all these names; they’re only here as background action-figure advertisements, and they don’t do anything important. It’s a lovely panning shot, but let’s get with the story.

Cringer: “You’d better not come near me with any of this nonsense.”

Prince Adam and Man-at-Arms have skived off from the decorating in order to build a Sky Spy, a rocket which Man-at-Arms claims will allow them to learn of Skeletor’s every move. Of course, it’s not long before a combination of Orko’s innate stupidity and Man-at-Arms’ exceptionally poor design work means that Orko accidentally launches the rocket, with himself inside.

Skeletor is cruising about in the Collector, evidently simply looking for trouble, and the runaway rocket soon attracts his attention. Once Adam and Adora realise that Skeletor has noticed the Sky Spy, they become He-Man and She-Ra to stop Skeletor getting his bony blue hands on it. In this, they are successful: they inflict some gratuitous damage on the Collector, forcing Skeletor to turn and head for home. However, with his unerring talent for making a situation worse, Orko casts a spell on the Sky Spy which causes it to fly off into outer space.

He-Man and She-Ra – who as we all know can of course breathe, talk and survive in the vacuum of space – fly out of Eternia’s atmosphere and give chase.  On this occasion, however, the Sky Spy engages its warp drive, and our heroes lose track of it. They return to Eternia, unaware that Orko was on board anyway, though I have to wonder how far they’d care, even if they did know.

Prince Adam: “If I mash these controls enough, maybe I can arrange it so Orko will never come back.”

The Sky Spy crash-lands on Earth, and Orko emerges to immediately find two children about to be buried by an avalanche. He casts a spell to save them, and as a consequence of this idiotic act, we’re stuck with these bratty kids for the rest of the Christmas Special. They’re called Alicia and Miguel, and they are kind enough to explain to Orko all about Christmas. It turns out that Christmas is about presents, peace and goodwill towards men. There is evidently no goodwill towards women. Jesus is also conspicuous by his absence.

Orko: “Why are you kids so oddly fine with this?”

Back on Eternia, Man-at-Arms successfully tracks the Sky Spy to Earth, and at the same time, Marlena and Teela realise that Orko is missing. They put two and two together, and Teela says with undisguised glee, “Are you saying we’ll never get Orko back?” Man-at-Arms suggests using a transport beam to travel to Earth, but this will require the use of a kerium water crystal, which must be obtained from Etheria.

She-Ra returns to Etheria, where she meets up with Mermista. Mermista was apparently not invited to the party on Eternia, which seems a trifle harsh. Choosing to ignore this snub, Mermista agrees to help She-Ra acquire the water crystal, which is achieved by having a short and lacklustre fight with one of those ubiquitous dragon-like creatures, this one known imaginatively as the Beast Monster.

Mermista: “Yes, well, we’ll talk later about exactly how my invite got lost in the post.”

Once the crystal is in She-Ra’s grubby mitts, she is confronted by three tall robots which introduce themselves as Monstroids. It seems that someone at Mattel was well aware of the success of the Transformers, because these are second-rate rip-offs. The Monstroids imprison She-Ra in a forcefield, for no readily apparent reason, and then they fly off. Once they’re gone, She-Ra releases herself from the forcefield with ease. This little sequence is the very epitome of a pointless advertising scene.

She-Ra brings the crystal back to Man-at-Arms, who uses it to activate his transporter beam. As an aside note, I don’t know why Man-at-Arms keeps inventing things that rely on nearly unobtainable power sources. Off the top of my head, this transporter beam is one such example, as is the Palace radio transmitter in Three on a Dare (which needed rainbow quartz from Snake Mountain), and he also reveals that the entire planet needs Eternium in Double Edged Sword. Forward planning is clearly not his strong suit.

Anyway, once he turns on the transporter beam, a glowing light appears next to Orko and the children, which finally distracts them from the endless nattering about Father Christmas. They all walk into the light, which somehow – do not ask me how, because it defies logic – makes the entire Sky Spy disappear and rematerialise on Eternia. Orko introduces Alicia and Miguel to the inhabitants of the Palace, though he notably limits the introductions to the more normal-looking citizens. Snout Spout, Moss-Man and Sy-Klone are no longer anywhere to be seen.

King Randor: “Welcome to Eternia, where only perfectly normal people live. Yes, sir.”

With Alicia and Miguel on Eternia spreading the message of Christmas goodness, Horde Prime is disturbed. Or I assume he’s disturbed. He sounds like he’s talking underwater, frankly, so I haven’t really got a clue what he’s saying. He definitely summons both Hordak and Skeletor, and tells them to do something or another, which – based on what they subsequently go off to do – is capture the children.

Hordak gets there first, kidnapping the children with a tractor beam, and taking Orko too for good measure. Once he gets them back to Etheria, however, he is ambushed by the Monstroids, who have decided to capture the children to deliver them to Horde Prime and claim some kind of reward. Hordak gives the children up without a fight, and they end up locked up in a cell with Orko, who starts off on one of his infuriating “it’s all my fault” kicks. Yes it is, Orko, and it’s always all your fault. Why don’t you learn not to piss about with stuff that’s nothing to do with you?

Alicia: “Sure, sure, he’s really evil and everything, but when he’s doing this stupid little dance he doesn’t seem that intimidating.”

This irritating little sequence comes to an end with the beginning of an even more irritating sequence, in which some tiny robots called the Manchines come to the rescue. There are only two things I think I need to say about the Manchines: firstly, they plumb new depths of annoying, and secondly, one of them is called Cutter, which is possibly the most serial-killer name I’ve ever heard. They may seem to be rescuing the kids, but it can only be a matter of time before things turn nasty.

Luckily, He-Man and She-Ra show up to take the children out of Cutter’s hands, but less fortunately, Skeletor does likewise. He manages to get away with Alicia and Miguel, as well as some abomination of nature called Relay, who is a Manchine Puppy. He-Man and She-Ra give chase, but rather half-heartedly, and as a result, Skeletor escapes.

Not for long, of course. No. Now it’s time for Hordak to get involved again. He shoots down Skeletor’s Sky Sled, which crashes to a landing in some snowy mountains. Skeletor is then subjected to his most heinous character assassination since The Greatest Show on Eternia, when Alicia and Miguel tell him all about Christmas being the season of goodwill, and he actually listens. He gives the children nice warm coats and even saves that bloody dog Relay from freezing. In total fairness, this sequence does contain some of the funniest lines in the entire Christmas Special, as Skeletor tries and completely fails to understand how Christmas works.

Skeletor: “Nothing else about this episode works, but at least I remain a creation of comic genius.”

Eventually, the whole sorry situation comes to a head when He-Man, She-Ra, Hordak and Horde Prime all locate Skeletor and the children. There’s an almighty ruckus, the end result of which is that Skeletor takes a stand and saves the children from Horde Prime. He then claims to feel unwell, and unceremoniously exits while He-Man and She-Ra laugh at him. Which is nice of them.

Back at the Palace, Man-at-Arms has recharged the water crystal sufficiently to return the children to Earth. Before they go, Prince Adam dresses up as Father Christmas and gives them some flying belts, which I hope Man-at-Arms didn’t invent, given how often Man-at-Arms’ inventions break. Once they’re gone, Father Christmas Adam saunters up to Adora and says “Ho ho ho!” in a tone that implies he’d like some Christmas sex, immediately. For once, Adora doesn’t seem to be in the mood, but before the situation can turn ugly, Orko appears terrifyingly close to the camera and wishes everyone a merry Christmas. The End.

Adora: “Not tonight, brother, I have a headache.”

In today’s adventure…

Adam and Orko deliver this week’s moral, in which Adam explains that not everyone celebrates Christmas, but the spirit of love, joy and caring is within us all. Orko adds that Christmas is also about peace, happiness, and – most importantly – presents. At this, Adam turns to mug at the camera with one of the weirdest expressions I’ve ever seen him pull. I assume it’s meant to look like mild exasperation with Orko’s obsession with presents, but unfortunately he looks like he’s quite seriously mentally disturbed. Frankly, I’ve never seen an expression that more succinctly conveys the phrase, “I will kill again.”

Prince Adam: “Sleep well, kiddies. Sleep well.”

Character checklist

Oh good god, I don’t feel like I can successfully list all the characters in this car crash. I mean, it definitely includes Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Teela, Glimmer, Bow, Kowl, Alicia, Miguel, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Madame Razz, Broom, Stratos, Fisto, Snout Spout, Sy-Klone, Moss Man, Ram Man, Mechaneck, Zodak, Man-e-Faces, Flutterina, Peekablue, Frosta, Castaspella, Queen Angela, Perfuma, Mermista, Sea Hawk, the Twiggets, Dree Elle, Yuckers, the Widgets, Loo-Kee, Skeletor, Hordak, Two Bad, Webstor, Rattlor (who’s working for Skeletor this time, though he only has one line, and it’s not to explain what he’s doing there), Spikor, Catra, Modulok, Multibot, Horde Prime, the Monstroids, the Manchines (including Relay), and Alicia and Miguel’s parents, but for all I know it includes billions of others too.

Skeletor: “I don’t understand why I couldn’t bring my usual henchmen instead of being landed with you lot.”

Excuse given for Adora and Adam’s transformations

Despite numerous transformations, some of which take place in the easily over-looked Palace courtyard, neither Adam nor Adora nor anyone else seek to explain their absence.

Insults

Fittingly for a feature-length episode, we’ve got a feature-sized quantity of insults. We start relatively sedately, with Two-Bad’s purple head calling his blue one a “lamebrain”, and the blue head retaliating with “motormouth”.

Once Two-Bad’s got his little personality disorder out of the way, the majority of the rest of the insults are directed at Skeletor or the Monstroids. Swift Wind refers to the Monstroids as “evil robots”, whereas Hordak considers one of them to be a “bucket of bolts”. He-Man and She-Ra get in on the act with “metal-mouth” and “iron head” respectively. None of these insults is particularly imaginative, but everyone’s just warming up at this stage.

She-Ra: “Oh, Christ, the Monstroids. It seems a bit unfair to go reminding us of Day of the Flowers on Christmas Day.”

 Hordak’s in a foul mood with Skeletor this week, calling him “bone-brain”, “bonehead” and “skull-faced scoundrel” on various occasions. He-Man’s heart doesn’t seem to be in it, but he does at least contrive to join in by calling Skeletor a “bone-face”. Skeletor doesn’t even dignify this with a response, but does tell Hordak that he’s a “miserable excuse for a villain”. He then refers to Alicia and Miguel as “troublesome tots” and to Relay as a “dratted dog”, a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly concur.

Finally, Hordak says that Alicia and Miguel are “goody-goods” and “little fools”, while She-Ra tells Horde Prime that he is a “troublemaker”. This last is entirely accurate, and I suspect Horde Prime is pleased about it, but I’m pretty sure She-Ra wasn’t trying to be complimentary.

Skeletor: “Oddly, not much in the way of insults from me today.”

Oh No, Bow!

In the scene at the start where our heroes are decorating the Palace, Bow is engrossed in unnecessarily painting a box, which is the most complicated task that anyone dared to assign him. Even so, he’s still got the nerve to tell Peekablue that the stars she’s painting on the wall ought to be purple. Bow is clearly big in the world of interior design, as evidenced by the fact that he lives in a campsite in the woods, and therefore has loads of experience in the subject.

Bow then disappears from the episode, until about halfway through when he pops up again in order to lean against a tree, thrusting his crotch provocatively in the direction of Alicia and Miguel, and to teach them to sing a horrendous song about joy and Christmas spirit. It’s dreadful. Bow’s done some horrific things in the past, but this really does go the extra mile. Go away, Bow. I never want to see you again.

Miguel: “I feel like if I try to leave, these guys are going to get nasty.”

Does it have the Power?

I don’t like being overly negative, especially when it’s plain that the writers and production team have really tried to craft a great Christmas special, but this one has never really done anything for me, and I don’t know why. I think part of the problem is that an awful lot of it comes across as an advert, rather than a story – the Monstroids and the Manchines, in particular, really felt like they were only there to sell toys.

Snout Spout: “Everyone you see in the following panning shot is available to buy.”

Looking back over the episode summary, I’d say that I enjoyed the Special mostly up to the point where Alicia and Miguel arrived on Eternia, after which it goes downhill quite rapidly with the endless capturing and rescuing of the children. As mentioned above, Skeletor has some brilliant lines when he has custody of the children, but this is pretty much the only point in the whole special at which the dialogue really comes to life.

Speaking of Skeletor, I think I’m more open than many He-Man fans when it comes to his character. I know that his crazy desire to bring the circus to Snake Mountain in The Greatest Show on Eternia infuriated many, but I – while not welcoming it with open arms – didn’t particularly mind. However, his behaviour in this episode is perhaps one step too far. I simply cannot believe that Skeletor would ever do anything good, especially not giving up a reward from Horde Prime for capturing the children. It just doesn’t ring true. My impression of Skeletor is that he can be petty and small-minded (as with the circus incident), but he just doesn’t have it in him to do good.

Skeletor: “Somewhere, somehow, something has gone hideously wrong.”

Everything else this time is pretty much by-the-numbers. He-Man, She-Ra and Hordak are all present and correct, as are the lead supporting casts from the respective shows, but no one does anything inspiring. It’s nice to see Man-at-Arms again, though it would have been good if Teela could have had a few more lines. Glimmer gets short shrift, as always, but who cares about her? In summary, I’m afraid I can’t say I loved this episode, but being honest, if you’re a He-Man fan, you’re going to be watching it this Christmas anyway.

Episode 88 – Portrait of Doom

In which She-Ra has a near brush with disaster.

Oh, Christ, Bow’s playing his harp again. Luckily, he’s not singing today, but nonetheless it’s an atrocious racket. The assembled Twiggets, however, seem to think he’s great, and shower him with unwarranted praise, leading him to yammer on about how he’s going to be a big hit at the forthcoming Summer Moon Festival. This in turn leads the Twigget Spritina to wander off sadly, bemoaning the fact that she is rubbish at everything so won’t be performing at the festival.

Well, you know what happens whenever anyone gets sad because they’re rubbish, don’t you? That’s right, they run into a baddy, who will be in disguise and will embroil our unlucky protagonist in some stupid scheme. This time is no different. In this case, the baddy in question is Catra, and the stupid scheme revolves around a magic painting kit which Catra lends to Spritina, and tells her to paint portraits of all her friends with it.

Spritina: “Say cheese.”

Spritina starts by painting Netossa, who immediately complains of feeling tired, and then disappears from view altogether. Spritina has already run off to the festival by this stage, and happily occupies herself painting pictures of Kowl, Broom, and Bow, who all disappear as well. As far as I’m concerned, this episode is going really well; hopefully Spritina will move on to paint Adora, Madame Razz and Glimmer. And Loo-Kee, if she can find him.

The missing rebels are transferred onto portraits hanging in the Fright Zone, where they only exist in two-dimensional form, and are unable to move. If I were Hordak, I’d burn these portraits right now, especially the one of Bow. Instead, Hordak satisfies himself with telling Shadow Weaver how excellent her magic paints are, while Catra pouts in the background. Failing to capitalise on an advantage is the principal and fundamental mistake exhibited by every baddy in this series ever.

Hordak: “Well, I can see why it’s free to get into the National Portrait Gallery. I wouldn’t pay to look at this nonsense.”

Spritina is just about to start painting Adora when Madame Razz bounces up, bearing the news that all their stupid rebelly friends have vanished and Catra’s Horde Troopers are attacking Bright Moon. While the remaining rebels start a fruitless search for their missing colleagues, Adora transforms into She-Ra and ponces off to Bright Moon, though not before clocking that there’s something odd with Spritina’s paintings.

Madame Razz begins an investigation into the magic painting kit, and unfortunately an investigation for Madame Razz means sitting in a circle with the Twiggets, shrieking, “Razzle dazzle, mazzle azzle, uzzle buzzle” and other nonsensical variants on that theme. This descent into total madness somehow gets the results required, and Madame Razz learns that Bow and co. are trapped on canvas in the Fright Zone.

Madame Razz heads to Bright Moon to alert She-Ra to this pretty damn disturbing turn of events, while Spritina achieves the difficult goal of making the situation even worse by going to the Fright Zone and getting herself captured. Luckily, She-Ra arrives in the Fright Zone in the nick of time, rescues Spritina, and also grabs the portraits.

She-Ra: “Do I look weirdly exhausted?”

They all merrily return to Whispering Wood, where Madame Razz recites more “wizzle wuzzle” gibberish and restores the two-dimensional rebels to life. I’d love to say that Bow has always been two-dimensional so it’s difficult to tell the difference, but that’s a far too obvious joke, so I wouldn’t dream of making it.

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee evaded my eager gaze today, but blow me down if he didn’t turn out to have been in a tree in Whispering Wood. He offers a disjointed little moral about how we shouldn’t wish we could play musical instruments, but instead concentrate on being ourselves rather than trying to be like other people. Taken to its logical conclusion, this approach would result in no one being able to play musical instruments. Good one, Loo-Kee.

Character checklist

Here we have Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Kowl, Glimmer, Netossa, Queen Angela, Madame Razz, Broom, the Twiggets (including Spritina), Loo-Kee, loads of rebels, Hordak, Catra, Shadow Weaver, and some Horde Troopers.

Catra: “Yeah, well done, Shadow Weaver. Well done. So clever of you.”

Insults

Everything’s ticking along beautifully, without an angry word being exchanged, right up to around the 17th minute, when it all goes to pot with Hordak bellowing “bumbling purr-brain” at Catra. This was surprising, largely because I thought he was going to say “bumbling pervert”. Catra evidently decides to let off some steam at this unfair treatment by telling Spritina and another Twigget called Sprint that they are “rebel scum”.

Oh No, Bow!

I think this episode must have been a massive ego boost for Bow. In stark comparison to the levels of distress exhibited about Netossa, Kowl and Broom, loads of people seem really concerned about Bow’s whereabouts, and Queen Angela seems to reckon that the Rebellion will be unable to defend Bright Moon without him. This is, of course, entirely untrue, since Bow has very rarely proven himself to have any abilities whatsoever, and notably She-Ra does not appear to think there’s any urgency to rescuing him.

She-Ra: “Worst Christmas present ever.”

Does it have the Power?

This episode has an imaginative concept, which I imagine would have been quite scary for a child; to be trapped on a canvas, unable to move, would not be a great way to end your days. Even though it’s Shadow Weaver’s plan, for some reason Hordak entrusts it to Catra to carry it out, and that’s a good move, because Catra is at her most deliciously evil this week. It’s a pleasure to see her back on form. Aside from the irritating Madame Razz “razzle dazzle” nonsense, and the slightly irrelevant Horde attack on Bright Moon, this episode is a strong entry, and worth a watch.

Episode 87 – The Inspector

In which Adora and Adam put on the worst disguises ever.

This week is a rare treat: we open on Eternia, where He-Man and Man-at-Arms are hanging out, testing a new shield that Man-at-Arms has invented. It’s good to see Man-at-Arms again, even if it does remind me that he’s almost as big a tit as Bow is. Anyway, soon enough, He-Man is summoned by the Sorceress to Castle Grayskull, and off he goes, leaving Man-at-Arms behind. This is surely the last time we see Man-at-Arms, and it feels like I’ve left a small piece of my soul behind.

He-Man: “Well, this is like the good old days.”

At Castle Grayskull, the Sorceress gets on Skype with Adora and Madame Razz on Etheria. Adora relates a hard-luck story about how the rebels were fooled by one of the most obvious traps I’ve ever seen, and have all been captured by Hordak. Adora and Madame Razz are the only ones who managed to escape, and Adora has lost her sword. Consequently, they’d really like He-Man’s help to get them out of this self-inflicted mess. Personally, I have no sympathy at all, but He-Man is a much nicer person than I am.

In the meantime, Hordak is celebrating his victory and congratulating Spicester, who is the gentleman who lured the rebels into the trap in the first place. His celebration is short-lived, however; Horde Prime gets in touch and announces that he is sending Inspector Darkney to make a thorough assessment of Hordak’s operation, and to discover why Hordak has completely failed to defeat She-Ra.

Hordak: “Come on Spicester. We’ll just have one drink.”

The moment He-Man arrives on Etheria, he is ambushed by Mantenna, and the one-sided battle is observed by Darkney. He-Man subsequently captures Darkney, and in a fit of insanity, decides to impersonate him and go to the Fright Zone. In total fairness, the impersonation does involve turning back into Prince Adam and putting on a fake beard, so I imagine Hordak will be completely fooled.

Actually, I don’t know why I’m being so sarcastic. Of course Hordak is fooled, even though Adam has brought Public Enemy Number One, Adora, along with him, and her only concession to a disguise is a big red cloak. Adam and Adora then put Hordak through a variety of humiliating exercises, seemingly purely for their own entertainment, before locking him in a cell and getting down to the serious business of locating Adora’s sword so she can become She-Ra.

Prince Adam: “Whose disguise is worse, do you think?”

Adam then dresses She-Ra and all the rebel prisoners up in Horde Trooper costumes, and marches them out of the Fright Zone. It’s Catra – putting in her first appearance for absolutely ages – who smells a rat, and rescues Hordak from his cell. Hordak gets in a big tank and gives chase to the prisoners, but comes up against He-Man and She-Ra, and the encounter goes about as well for him as you might expect.

Back in Whispering Wood, Adam accepts the thanks of Bow and Netossa for rescuing them, and then does a little flirting with Adora which makes for rather uncomfortable viewing. Cersei and Jaime have nothing on these two.

Netossa: “Not in front of the children, you deviants.”

In today’s adventure…

Not unexpectedly, Loo-Kee is in a tree in Whispering Wood today. He witters on about the love that families have for each other, which is definitely a topic he’s never touched on before. The writers had blatantly run out of life lessons to dispense by this point.

Character checklist

This trip to Etheria features Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Prince Adam, He-Man, Madame Razz, Bow, Netossa, Man-at-Arms, the Sorceress, Loo-Kee, some random rebels, Hordak, Catra, Spicester, Mantenna, Grizzlor, Inspector Darkney, and some Horde Troopers.

Insults

The word of the week is evidently “bumbling”, since it appears on no less than four separate occasions. Mantenna and Hordak both refer to some Horde Troopers as “bumbling robots”, Hordak calls Spicester a “bumbling fool”, and Darkney calls Hordak a “bumbling bozo”. Darkney also considers Hordak to be a “miserable excuse for a Horde commander” and furthermore believes He-Man and Adora to be “blasted rebels”.

Inspector Darkney: “I feel this could have gone better.”

In return, the rebels only manage a couple of barbs in the Horde’s direction: Madame Razz says that Darkney is an “unpleasant man”, and He-Man calls Mantenna “bug-eyes”. The Horde do, however, manage to insult each other on a few further occasions: Catra says that Spicester is a “measly sneak”, and Hordak rather surprisingly calls Catra and Spicester “baboons”. This could have been “buffoons”, but I prefer “baboons”.

Does it have the Power?

I enjoyed this episode, though I certainly wouldn’t rave about it. It was, as noted above, good to see Man-at-Arms again, and the opening scene felt like the beginning of a He-Man episode rather than a She-Ra one, which was pleasingly nostalgic. The plot once again revolves around people being captured and needing to be rescued, but with the added spice of the inspector impersonation, this storyline doesn’t feel as tired as it often does.

He-Man: “Sorceress, couldn’t we see what’s on BBC2 instead?”

Speaking of spice, I’m at a loss to understand the need for Spicester, and I certainly don’t know why he’s called that. He doesn’t look particularly spicy, and he doesn’t go round throwing spices at people, which in the He-Man universe are the only two reasons why he might have a name like that. Neither, unfortunately, is he especially interesting. The only good thing about him is that Catra clearly doesn’t like him, which was vaguely amusing.

Anyway, this one’s not bad at all, especially if you ignore Spicester. You could definitely do worse.