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.

Advertisements

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.

Episode 092 – The Littlest Giant

In which He-Man reveals an unnecessary talent for baking.

Oh, what? Really? This is actually genuinely unfair. After last week’s less than enthralling foray into the world of the Widgets, we are treated to a second episode all about them today. This time, the focus is on Squinch, with whom the viewer is clearly supposed to identify. His problem is that he’s really small – though in comparison to the other Widgets, he’s pretty average – and he believes that if he were as big as He-Man, he’d be a hero too. He’s probably right, but do you care? I don’t.

When a massive tree blows down in a gale, blocking the entrance to the Widgets’ fortress, Squinch tries to chop it in half, but completely fails. The other Widgets summon He-Man, who clearly hasn’t got anything better to do, because he arrives almost immediately and moves the tree, giving Squinch deep-seated feelings of inadequacy. Again I ask though – do you care?

Littlest 1
He-Man: “Face it, Squinch. You just aren’t anywhere near as interesting as me.”

The plot now takes an unexpected if completely nonsensical turn: Squinch goes to Snake Mountain to ask Skeletor to make him as big as He-Man. Evil-Lyn gives Squinch a golden box and tells him to give it to He-Man – without telling him where it came from – and in return, she will grant Squinch’s wish. Disregarding the numerous times Skeletor and Evil-Lyn have messed with the Widgets, Squinch believes them and runs off to give He-Man the box.

The animators give He-Man a look of utterly insane delight when Squinch gives him the box, but once he opens it, it’s a completely different story. The box contains some evil magic which knocks He-Man and Battle-Cat out, after which Skeletor loads them into his flying machine and zooms off, crowing happily and doing utterly unnecessary loop-the-loops.

Littlest 2
He-Man: “Best golden box ever.”

Of course, Skeletor goes wrong at this point. The logical next step is to drop He-Man into a lava pit or something equally concerning, but instead he opts to put He-Man in a cage made out of laser beams. Evil-Lyn then magics up a brick wall to surround the laser cage, just for good measure. Skeletor then decides that this week his objective is to steal King Randor’s crown, rather than the secrets of Grayskull, so he heads off to the Palace accordingly.

In the meantime, the Widgets have gone to the Palace to warn Man-at-Arms, Teela and Orko. Working off the usual model in He-Man where forgiveness is just one sentence away, Squinch admits that it’s his fault – and is then subjected to a barrage of abuse from our three heroes. Once that’s over with, Man-at-Arms decides that he doesn’t really want He-Man to be rescued, because he sends Teela, Orko and Squinch to do the job. I wouldn’t trust these clowns to fetch a pint of milk from Sainsbury’s, and he thinks they can get He-Man out of Snake Mountain?

Sure enough, Evil-Lyn manages to tie Teela and Orko up within half a second of their arrival. Squinch, on the other hand, manages to release He-Man, and the whole crowd of them return to the Palace just in time to find Skeletor lounging about on the throne. There follows a really stupid fight in the Palace kitchen, which culminates in He-Man baking a giant loaf of bread with Skeletor, Beast-Man and Panthor inside it.

Littlest 3
Skeletor: “Every time I think I’ve had my most humiliating defeat, something even worse happens.”

He-Man then congratulates Squinch, in a piece of dialogue which sounds slightly dubious: “It doesn’t matter how big your body is, but how big you are inside.” I’ve tried and tried, but I can’t come up with a double entendre for this. There must be one there somewhere though. Any ideas?

 

In today’s adventure…

As a special treat, Squinch is allowed to do the moral segment of this episode. He wastes it though: if I’d been him, I’d have taken the opportunity to say, “If you’re a hugely annoying cartoon character like me, why not just piss off?” or something of the like. Instead, he goes through the predictable motions of mumbling about how it doesn’t matter what you look like, so long as you always do your best. He then concludes by suggesting that there’s probably someone who wants to be just like you, so you should always be on the lookout for stalkers.

 

Character checklist

This time, it’s Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, King Randor, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Evil-Lyn, Panthor, Squinch, the other Widgets, and a bunch of Palace guards. Jacob from last week does not appear, thankfully.

Littlest 4
Laura the Widget: “I only agreed to participate in this episode if the producers gave me a massive supply of drugs.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Yet again, nothing. Prince Adam’s getting really lazy about this.

 

Insults

There’s a lot of people, mainly baddies, referring to Squinch as “little one”, though only Skeletor does this with sufficient sneer to make it a definitive insult. Evil-Lyn does up the ante with “little fool” though.

The episode concludes with He-Man calling Orko a “big clown”. This is accompanied by some absolutely terrifying animation of Orko, half-hidden in shadow, laughing in an actively sinister way about nothing at all. I am definitely going to dream about this tonight, and it’s not going to be fun.

Littlest 5
He-Man: “I have never been this terrified ever before.”

 

Does it have the Power?

If I’m going to be absolutely fair, it’s not that bad. I maintain that Squinch and the Widgets are really annoying, and putting them in two episodes in a row is completely uncalled for. On the other hand, this one’s a lot more watchable than last week’s effort, even if the plot relies on Squinch trusting Evil-Lyn, which is something that would genuinely never happen, given their history (which stretches all the way back to the twelfth episode of the series, Evil-Lyn’s Plot). It did entertain me to see Skeletor being baked into a loaf of bread, which happened for absolutely no purpose other than for He-Man to be a dick. In addition, if you’re the sort of person who desperately wants He-Man and Teela to get it on, this episode contains some blink-and-you’ll-miss-it animation of the two of them lying on the ground in a sultry fashion, Teela’s arm round He-Man. This is about as X-rated as this cartoon gets, so enjoy.

Littlest 6
Teela: “I’m pretty sure my legs must be broken for me to be in this position.”

Episode 091 – Jacob and the Widgets

In which He-Man demonstrably proves there is no upper limit to his ludicrousness.

Thanks to the corodite mineral mined by the Widgets, Man-at-Arms has created a new rocket booster for the Wind Raider. After Teela successfully tests the rocket booster, she and Adam head for the beach with four Widgets, where we are treated to scenes of beach ball and sandcastle building. It’s nice to see Adam and Teela doing their bit for Care in the Community.

Jacob 1
Adam: “I hate it when the Palace public relations officer says I have to go out and meet the proles.”

I was just about at the end of my tether with the sickeningly sweet music and jolly happy family attitude between Adam, Teela and the Widgets, so it comes as a merciful relief when Mer-Man and Trapjaw show up with a batch of unconvincing mechanical sea monsters. They use these for no evident reason to attack a boat belonging to a fisherman called Jacob, which is the cue for He-Man’s entry.

He-Man rescues Jacob and punches the robots into pieces, then considers the danger over and turns back into Adam. In what I think must be a first, Jacob is not grateful for He-Man’s help, and he frets over his destroyed boat and fishing equipment. Our heroes are distinctly unsympathetic to the loss of his livelihood, and get very huffy. As a punishment for his uncooperativeness, Jacob is sent to live with the Widgets until he can get himself a new boat.

Jacob 2
Jacob: “I’d rather take my chances with Trapjaw and Mer-Man, thanks.”

Mer-Man and Trapjaw have a quick debate over what went wrong, and hilariously conclude that they need to build new mechanical sea monsters using a different material – corodite. I’m pretty sure they won’t get to that stage, but even if they do, I can’t believe they genuinely think that building some corodite sea monsters is the key to defeating He-Man. Anyway, Mer-Man briefly kidnaps one of the Widgets called Biro, finds out from him where the corodite is kept, then lets him go after muttering some vague threats.

Once back at the Widgets’ fort, Jacob persists with being grumpy, until Squinch gives him an old fishing rod, at which point he starts whimpering about how no one’s ever been kind to him before. Before this can go any further, Mer-Man floods the mines, then appears in the fortress, demanding corodite and threatening to flood the entire fort if he doesn’t get it. He is secure enough in this plan to indulge in a fishy kind of laugh.

Luckily, Teela decides to pay a visit to the Widgets to see how Jacob is getting on. On discovering Mer-Man in the fort, Teela immediately gets down in a suggestive all fours pose, which is not the most obvious thing to do, but it works out quite well because Mer-Man is stupid enough to trip over her. Jacob then uses his new fishing rod to catch Mer-Man and tie him up, to general acclaim. However, Mer-Man manages to free himself and heads down into the flooded mines to help himself to corodite.

Jacob 3
Mer-Man: “This is possibly my most embarrassing defeat.”

Realising that Teela and Jacob are completely useless, the Widgets summon He-Man, who shows up in very short order. Learning of the situation, he pops down into the mines and kicks Mer-Man, and that’s the end of that. Unfortunately, the tide is coming in and filling the mines with more water – threatening the entire fort.

He-Man decides that this is the sort of thing that requires immediate and disproportionate action. Rather than blocking the water’s entrance to the mine with a rock like he normally would, his solution today is to take the Wind Raider with its new rocket booster out into space. I need hardly remind you that the Wind Raider is an open-top vehicle, so I suppose we can add “breathing in a vacuum” to He-Man’s list of skills.

Jacob 4
He-Man: “I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve gone mad and all this is some strange delusion.”

There is then a ridiculous shot of He-Man standing on the front of the Wind Raider – out in space – and pushing the moon. This of course has the desired effect of reversing the tide and causing the water to flow back out of the Widgets’ fortress. I expect it also causes floods and tsunamis and all sorts of other havoc all over Eternia, but we don’t dwell on that. Once the flood is resolved, He-Man flies to the other side of the moon and pushes it back into its correct orbit, demonstrating at least some sense of environmental responsibility.

In case you cared, which I certainly didn’t, Jacob’s storyline is concluded by him becoming less grumpy and being elected as the Widgets’ new mayor. Hip hip hooray. You’ll forgive me if I don’t give a monkey’s about this.

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela tells us that like Jacob, sometimes we don’t know how much we are loved and needed. She then concludes by asking in a pretty accusatory fashion, “Have you hugged your parents today?”

Jacob 5
Jacob: “I’m so glad that I’m loved and needed by these irritating little morons.”

 

Character checklist

Appearing today for our delight and delectation are Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Mer-Man, Trapjaw, Jacob, Squinch, Laura, Biro, and the other Widgets, the names of whom temporarily escape me, but who cares, eh? No Orko today, though, so thank the Lord for small mercies.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

We are treated to two transformations from Adam to He-Man this week, but on neither occasion does he bother to excuse himself.

 

Insults

Laura the Widget calls Mer-Man a “fish-face”, which Teela then refines into just plain “fish”. Mer-Man’s insults are reserved for Trapjaw, who he calls a “metal-mouth”, and shortly thereafter states, “You not only look stupid, you are stupid.” Trapjaw is sufficiently stupid to not react in any way to this cutting remark.

Jacob 6
Trapjaw: “Let’s be honest with ourselves, Mer-Man: we both look pretty stupid, don’t we?”

 

Does it have the Power?

This is the sort of episode that should carry a public health warning: “If you think you’ve been driven mental by the events depicted in this programme, call 0800-HELP-ME.” Honestly, He-Man’s moon-related antics this week are not only impossible and insane, but they’re also an unnecessarily convoluted way of solving a very simple problem. It’s as if the writer thought, “Oh Christ, everyone’s going to remember this episode as the boring one with the grumpy fisherman. I’d better do something about that: I’ll make them remember it as the demented one where He-Man breathes in space and pushes the moon around.”

The moon bit aside, it’s a very boring episode. The only bit I liked was the quite realistic bit with Jacob’s worry for his livelihood when he was first rescued, and even this was tempered with the secure prediction that he’d end up apologising for his behaviour. In addition, the inclusion of the hugely irritating Widgets is rarely a good way to get me invested in a plot.

Still, if you want to see an episode which goes completely off its head in the last five minutes, there’s probably no better than this. Otherwise, it’s worth missing.

Episode 090 – One For All

In which Teela nearly succeeds in removing Orko from the episode altogether.

Adam, Cringer, Teela and Orko are having a day out exploring an archaeological site, when they receive word that a horde of space pirates have descended on a peaceful farming village to steal food supplies. Teela very sensibly decides to send Orko back to the Palace to alert Man-at-Arms, perhaps in the naive hope that Orko will then remain at the Palace and not appear in the rest of the episode. This hope is entirely unjustified.

Adam, Cringer and Teela show up at the village, where they completely fail to defeat the pirates – all of whom put together are, I must say, less intelligent than Ram-Man. In this display of ineptitude, Adam manages to lose his sword, and a big red rock-like pirate nicks it. Then the lead pirate, imaginatively named Sticky Fingers, shoots tar out of his fingers and roots our idiot heroes to the spot, while the pirates load their ship with food.

One For All 1
Sticky Fingers: “Got to say, I’m impressed at your stag do outfits, lads.”

I must have glanced away from the screen for a moment and missed some crucial information, because the next thing I knew, Adam, Teela and Cringer were in jail in some unspecified location. Luckily, two of the villagers – Rose and Harel – arrive to bust them out, take them to a warehouse to hide, then explain that the other villagers are too frightened to stand up to the pirates.

Before an intelligent discourse on how to stand up to bullies can begin, this notion is abandoned in favour of the introduction of a stupid two-legged monster with an elephant’s trunk and a rhino’s horn, which tracks our heroes to their hiding place. Thankfully, this ridiculous creation is defeated with the judicious use of some pepper, clogging up its trunk and rendering it incapable of further troublemaking.

One For All 2
Adam: “And the award for Least Expected Monster Ever goes to…”

Adam, Teela, Rose and Harel give the other villagers a pep talk in Bullying 101, advising them to work together and present a united front to the pirates. Adam then reveals that he has an idea, which is evidently inspired by frequent viewings of Home Alone, consisting as it does of the construction of a variety of stupid traps including jail cells suspended on ropes and deep pits, in which a good proportion of the pirates very shortly manage to get themselves trapped.

In the meantime, Cringer successfully recovers Adam’s sword, and He-Man appears on the scene very shortly thereafter. He quickly captures Sticky Fingers, after which Man-at-Arms finally arrives and promises to bring the pirates to justice. He-Man then congratulates the villagers on their newfound skills in working together to build traps, and Orko pops up again for a grand finale in which he idiotically makes Man-at-Arms invisible. Man-at-Arms probably welcomes this, since he can now punch Orko in the face without anyone ever knowing he was there.

One For All 3
Man-at-Arms: “Orko! How can I maintain my unearned reputation for competence if you keep dicking around making me invisible?”

 

In today’s adventure…

Adam is very proud of his efforts with the villagers this week, and comes along to tell us all about cooperation. Lifting heavy objects and doing boring jobs are easier if you get someone else to help you. They’re even easier if you get someone else to do it instead of you, but Adam doesn’t say that.

 

Character checklist

Right, well, it’s Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Orko, Man-at-Arms, Rose, Harel, Sticky Fingers, and a whole host more pirates and villagers, the names of whom I remain entirely uninformed and uninterested.

One For All 4
Villagers: “Most of us don’t have or deserve names.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

When the space pirates first appear on the scene, Teela runs off telling Adam to stay right where he is. This should be all the excuse Adam needs, but he still decides to try to give the game away by commenting, “All right, Teela. Adam will stay right where he is.” Fortunately, Teela is out of earshot by this stage, so doesn’t start questioning why Adam’s started referring to himself in the third person.

 

Insults

Some pretty mild fare this week, with nothing more serious than Sticky Fingers referring to his entire cabal as “fools”, and Orko calling Sticky Fingers a “miserable pirate”.

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s an unpromising storyline which actually turns out to be relatively good fun. The writer clearly put himself into a corner with his introduction of these pirates, who never even approach being threatening. He must therefore have realised that He-Man would make mincemeat of them in an instant, so conjured up the subplot concerning the theft of the sword. This has the pleasing (if possibly unintended) by-product of portraying Adam as surprisingly competent; it’s nice to see what he can do when he’s forced to by an inability to He-Manise himself. Cringer too gets a moment in the limelight, successfully stealing the power sword back from Sticky Fingers.

One For All 5
Cringer: “Hashtag winning.”

On the downside, the pirates – despite some interesting animation designs – are all entirely lacking in personality, with the exception of Sticky Fingers, who’s not that exciting. The whole storyline is pretty slow as well: the episode is forced to pad things out with an irrelevant five minute section at the start where He-Man has to rescue Rose from falling down a chasm.

In short, though, this episode is better than you might expect. Don’t think you’re getting a classic, but you’ll probably enjoy it.

Episode 089 – Just a Little Lie

In which Orko learns a really important lesson about lying, and we all learn with him, and we come away feeling enlightened rather than patronised.

Prince Del of Diperia has been sent to the Palace to keep him safe from unspecified attacks on his home. On his arrival, Adam, Teela and Orko instantly whisk him off to see the new water purification plant, which is precisely what I’d want to see if I made a visit to Eternia. Del’s homesickness for Diperia is not lessened by his thrilling trip to the sewage works, so Orko promises to take him somewhere even more beautiful. Del looks pleadingly at Adam and Teela, but they just abandon him to Orko’s tender mercies.

Lie 1
Del: “No! Not Orko! Please! I’d rather stay at the sewage works for five years than spend another 2 minutes with this goit.”

Del is unimpressed by Orko’s choice of beauty spot, for which I can’t say I blame him, and implies that Eternia is not as good as Diperia. Stung to the quick by this remark, Orko produces a diamond from his hat and claims that it is the Star Crystal, which will protect anyone from harm. Del is most taken with the alleged Star Crystal, and decides to test it by walking under a waterfall. To prevent his lie being discovered, Orko diverts the course of the river and saves Del from getting very wet, and Del thus concludes that the Crystal works.

The diverted river flows into the Palace, where Adam and Teela are playing with a pair of the most disgusting children I’ve ever seen. This scene, which ranks as one of the most sickening things ever shown on television, comes to a merciful end when the water from the river appears, and Adam runs off to become He-Man.

Lie 2
Cringer: “Could you remind me of the legal definitions of “extenuating circumstances” and “dire provocation” again, Adam?”

After attending to the flooded Palace, He-Man finds Del and Orko still gaping stupidly at the waterfall. Asking what happened, Del starts to explain about the Crystal, but Orko quickly interrupts, claiming the waterfall went crazy of its own volition. He-Man then mutters something slightly crazy about getting Man-at-Arms to fix the waterfall, and slopes off.

That night, Del steals the Crystal from Orko’s bedside and heads home, so that his father can use the Crystal to defend Diperia from the Torks. Discovering his absence in the morning, Orko realises what has happened, and tells Teela that Del has gone to the caverns. He helpfully explains to the audience that he has told this lie so that Teela won’t find out about the Star Crystal lie, and then he sets off himself to find Del.

Heading down to the caverns, He-Man, Teela, Man-at-Arms and Battle-Cat come up against a party of Torks and are knocked out by sleeping gas. They are locked in a prison cell in the Torks’ encampment, which is our cue for some jolly prison breaking antics from He-Man. If you’re on the lookout for nonsensical dialogue, during this scene, a Tork says, “What’s going on?” to which He-Man replies, “I will, in just a moment.”

Lie 3
He-Man: “No need to make sense in an episode this shockingly bad.”

In the meantime, Orko finds Del, but almost immediately they are both found by some more Torks. Del still has great faith in the Crystal, and once again Orko engages in some sleight of hand to convince him that the Crystal works. Even more confident than ever, Del runs off to join his father and present him with the Crystal, and Orko cannot keep up.

When He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Teela find Orko in the forest, He-Man looks absolutely livid, but refuses to hear Orko’s explanation of events to this point (which is just as well, because I didn’t want to hear it again). The intrepid band head for Diperia, where they find Del has given the Star Crystal to King Stefan. Believing himself to be invincible, Stefan challenges the Torks, and is about to get his ass whupped good, but He-Man intervenes just in time.

Lie 4
King Stefan: “Thank you, He-Man, for stopping me making a massively stupid mistake.”

Matters are wrapped up with He-Man trapping the Torks inside a cave, and everyone cheers like a halfwit. King Stefan thanks He-Man for his help, after which He-Man demands an explanation from Orko. Orko reiterates the entire plot for those of us who hadn’t been paying attention, and I wish I’d known he was going to do that, so I could have just watched the last 30 seconds instead of the whole thing.

 

In today’s adventure…

Orko has little faith in the audience’s ability to comprehend the message this episode was delivering, since he shows up again to tell us that lying is not a great idea. Interestingly, he seems to be saying lying is a bad thing because it’s really hard to keep up with the lies you’ve told, rather than because it’s intrinsically wrong. Still, whatever works to stop children lying, eh?

 

Character checklist

Not that anyone cares who’s in this bollocks, but for the sake of completion I suppose I should note that this episode features Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Orko, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Del, King Stefan, a Christ-load of Torks, and those beastly, beastly children.

Lie 5
Teela: “All right, Battle-Cat. You can eat just one of the children. I’ll intimidate the other one into keeping his mouth shut.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

I’m pretty sure he mumbled something as he ran off when the flood water appeared in the Palace, but I wasn’t paying attention. I was too busy bemoaning the fact that I could clearly see where this story was going, and that there was still a full 15 minutes of it to go.

 

Insults

King Stefan calls the Torks “cowards”, but otherwise there’s nothing to report here.

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s another patronising stream of gibberish from the pen of J. Brynne Stephens, so no, it doesn’t. In J’s favour, it’s by far the best episode he/she has ever written, but on a CV including A Friend in Need, The Starchild and The Rarest Gift of All, that shouldn’t be too hard to achieve. The problem – as ever – is that it’s a story deliberately devised to hammer in a moral, and starts from the position that children are incredibly dull-witted and will need the message slammed into them with less subtlety than a John Lewis Christmas advert. Because it’s so important that the message is received, there’s none of the usual sly humour – laughing for even the briefest of seconds might make us miss the MESSAGE! It’s consequently no fun at all to watch this episode as an adult, and I’m convinced that if I’d seen this when I was a child, it might have actually put me off He-Man for life.

In short – don’t bother.

Episode 088 – Three on a Dare

In which Man-at-Arms reveals his rather Victorian ideas about gender politics.

Teela takes a group of three students out on a field trip to the Mystical Forest, despite the Palace’s radio transmitter being broken. Man-at-Arms and Adam attempt to warn Teela that with the transmitter down, she will be unable to ask for help if she needs it – but Teela ignores them and saunters off confidently, saying she can manage. Your starter for 10: will Teela regret her impetuousness before the episode is finished?

Dare 1
Teela: “Of course I’ll be fine. Nothing’s ever happened to me before, has it?”

Man-at-Arms determines that in order to repair the transmitter, he will need some rainbow quartz. This commodity can only be found in a cavern in Snake Mountain, and I must say it seems fairly stupid of the Eternians to have designed a product that could only be fixed using nearly unobtainable materials. Anyway, Adam and Cringer fly off to Snake Mountain to get some quartz. He optimistically doesn’t turn into He-Man at this stage, but I think we all know it’s only a matter of time.

Teela’s field trip with her students – named Krill, Sinda and Tager – consists of taking them into the forest and letting them nearly get eaten by a variety of ridiculous plant life. It is therefore no surprise that while Teela’s back is turned, Krill and Sinda dare Tager to take their vehicle on a joyride towards Snake Mountain. Teela calls for help on the radio, but of course it doesn’t work. Serves her right.

Dare 2
Teela: “Hello? Hello? Could I speak to the guy in charge of obvious plot developments, please?”

Skeletor, on the other hand, receives Teela’s signal loud and clear, and begins to hatch a pretty unrealistic plot to capture her and trade her for the secrets of Castle Grayskull. After he sends Evil-Lyn out to begin this scheme, Skeletor then spots the students zooming towards Snake Mountain, so he turns on a giant magnet to suck them in. As they wander the corridors, they see a captured Teela being led in by Evil-Lyn, and decide to try to escape to bring help.

Adam and Cringer successfully enter Snake Mountain, but attract the attention of Mer-Man, and only now decide to turn into He-Man and Battle-Cat. Mer-Man reports He-Man’s presence to Skeletor, who realises that – with the radio not working – He-Man could not know about Teela’s kidnapping, and therefore must have come to Snake Mountain for some other reason. He thus quickly finds out what He-Man wants, and offers him all the rainbow quartz he wants in exchange for He-Man’s speedy departure from Snake Mountain.

Dare 3
Skeletor: “He-Man! So nice to see you! Fancy some rainbow quartz? I’ve got loads going spare.”

He-Man is naturally suspicious of this uncharacteristic burst of generosity on Skeletor’s part, and thanks to an ill-timed announcement on the radio courtesy of Evil-Lyn, he learns of Teela’s predicament. The rest of the episode consists of He-Man running all over Snake Mountain trying to recover Teela and the missing students, as well as nicking some rainbow quartz.

Once the motley crew return to the Palace, Man-at-Arms fixes the radio transmitter with the quartz and the students apologise for causing such a kerfuffle. Then Adam and Man-at-Arms make thinly veiled allusions to He-Man’s secret identity, and laugh their heads off. This would be a little bit crazy even if they were alone, but with Teela and the students in the room as well, it’s borderline insane.

Dare 4
Prince Adam: “Can’t believe I’ve never seen Bridget Jones’ Diary before. It’s well funny.”

 

In today’s adventure…

For the second week in a row, Adam suggests that the average viewer is pretty foolish. This time it’s because taking a dare doesn’t prove you’re brave, just that you’re an idiot. Adam counsels us to only do what we think is right. Unless we’re an affectionless psychopath. He doesn’t say that bit.

 

Character checklist

A veritable cornucopia of exciting persons grace our screens this week, including Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Trapjaw, Mer-Man, Evil-Lyn, Tri-Klops, Krill, Sinda and Tagar.

Dare 5
Teela: “This is among the most ominous dotto trains I’ve ever been on.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam doesn’t give an excuse, but frankly – as mentioned above – it’s downright odd that he waits until he’s actually inside Snake Mountain and under attack before turning into He-Man in the first place. This is especially odd since he hasn’t brought any mining tools, and the rainbow quartz has to be physically broken by He-Man in order to take some.

 

Insults

Skeletor leads the field once again, referring to Beast-Man as a “furball”, and collectively describing Beast-Man, Trapjaw, Mer-Man, Evil-Lyn and Tri-Klops as “dullards” and “incompetent fools”. He-Man considers Mer-Man a “scale-face”, while Teela calls Trapjaw a “walking junkyard” and a “lump of worthless ore”.

Dare 6
He-Man: “I’m a bit concerned that this is radioactive.”

Also worth a mention, though it’s not intended insultingly, is Man-at-Arms’ display of some rather dated gender politics when he describes Teela thus, “That woman’s got a mind of her own.”

 

Does it have the Power?

This one feels rather like the writer simply wanted to write a good old-fashioned “He-Man breaks into Snake Mountain and causes chaos” story, but was told that he had to add a more obvious moral lesson, and consequently shoehorned in the children and the bit about the dare. Certainly the primary focus is given to He-Man’s quest for the quartz, and the students only appear every so often as something of an afterthought.

I also must confess I really did feel sorry for Skeletor in this episode. He indisputably owns the rainbow quartz, because it’s in his home, but He-Man feels he has the right to tool in and help himself. Admittedly, Skeletor doesn’t seem too bothered by this act of burglary, and he has kidnapped Teela as well, which is morally questionable to say the least, but there’s definitely a slight tinge of He-Man turning into a vigilante here.

Dare 7
Skeletor: “I’ve been robbed!”

Anyway, I may have been spoiled lately – there’s been a couple of stone-cold classic episodes recently, and Skeletor has taken the limelight in every episode for five weeks now – but this one didn’t feel quite as good as perhaps it would if it were sandwiched in a period of Skeletor drought. So, I’d conclude that it’s worth watching, but it’s not truly great.

Episode 087 – Things That Go Bump in the Night

In which the new boy on Skeletor’s team proves less than impressive.

On King Randor’s birthday, Orko decides to indulge in an extended showcase to demonstrate just how irritating he can be. After a less than amusing magic trick, he accidentally but dementedly steals the King’s birthday present – a new Stratoblaster. Unfortunately, this isn’t a weapon designed to kill Stratos; it’s a plane of some sort. As luck and the script would have it, the Stratoblaster heads straight for Snake Mountain, with Orko trapped inside.

Teela and Man-at-Arms follow in the Wind Raider, and are on hand to pick Orko up when he crashes the Stratoblaster. Before they can escape, however, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn and Clawful find them – as does Skeletor’s new apprentice, a young boy called Glitch who is already regretting signing up. Unfortunately for Skeletor, He-Man is also on the scene, which results in immediate defeat for Skeletor and his collection of no-hopers.

Bump 1
Evil-Lyn: “Everyone here except me is stunningly incompetent.”

Inside Snake Mountain, Skeletor berates his followers, and finishes up by expelling Glitch from the gang. After being thrown out of Skeletor HQ, Glitch is found by Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko and Adam, who are still dossing around outside trying to fix the Stratoblaster. Glitch introduces himself as the son of the King of Selassia and begs for a lift out of the vicinity, but tellingly he doesn’t explain what he was doing there in the first place.

At the Palace, Glitch demonstrates that he has a super attitude problem, so Adam decides to try to get to know him better by taking him out to the forest to shoot crossbows. Once this bizarre attempt at a male bonding ritual is over, Glitch readily explains to Adam that he is a coward, and joined Skeletor’s crew to try to overcome his fears. Adam dismissively comments, “Well, that didn’t work,” thus in one short sentence managing to imply that Glitch is not only still a coward, he’s an idiot as well.

Bump 2
Adam: “Glitch, don’t take this the wrong way, but your animation style makes it look like you belong in another cartoon altogether.”

Nonetheless, when seconds later Adam is incapacitated by an evil plant, Glitch summons sufficient courage to head through the forest by himself to fetch help from Man-at-Arms and Teela. Of course, by the time he gets back, Adam has long since turned into He-Man, tied the plant in a knot, and departed. Luckily, he shows up again mere seconds later as Adam, before Man-at-Arms and Teela can accuse Glitch of being not only a coward and an idiot, but a liar as well.

Meanwhile, at Snake Mountain, Skeletor receives a visit from the King of Selassia, who demands the return of his son. Knowing that the Selassians come from another world and have little knowledge of Eternia, Skeletor explains that the evil King Randor is likely to have kidnapped Glitch, and points the King in the direction of the Palace.

Bump 3
Skeletor: “Jazz hands!”

When the Selassians fly their spaceship directly over the Palace and encircle it with rock stalagmites, Adam decides that the third transformation of the episode is in order. Glitch explains to his father that the Eternians are his friends, and realising that his treachery has been unmasked, Skeletor hijacks the Selassian ship. However, thanks to Glitch’s newfound courage, Skeletor is defeated, and the Selassians depart – notably without apologising for the attack on the Palace.

 

In today’s adventure…

Adam suggests a variety of things that maybe we could be afraid of, including water, heights, the dark, fire and the fairly general getting hurt. He explains, however, that fear is likely to prevent us from something bad happening, so it’s nothing to be concerned about. He then adds, rather strongly, that only a fool is afraid of nothing. Incidentally, I’m pretty confident that He-Man is afraid of nothing.

 

Character checklist

Well, the guest star is of course Glitch, and his dad is a one-shot character too. Otherwise, it’s just the regulars: Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Skeletor, Clawful and Evil-Lyn.

Bump 5
The King of Selassia: “Always look at your enemies sternly, Glitch. Don’t look at them like you’re a moron.”

 

Insults

There was a moment near the start when I thought Skeletor was referring to Glitch as “bitch”, but even for someone as unhinged from reality as I am, that did seem unlikely. He definitely does call Glitch a “fool”, though that’s hardly unprecedented, and he also considers Glitch a “miserable wimp”. Skeletor is very proud of the phrase “snivelling coward”, using it three times to describe Glitch, and on the first of these occasions it also encompasses Clawful and Evil-Lyn. Clawful comes off fairly badly from Skeletor’s zingers, also receiving a “fool” and a slightly unexpected “fishmonger”. Skeletor then refers to He-Man as a “muscle-bound meddler”. He finally gets his comeuppance when the King of Selassia calls him a “deceitful blaggard”. I bet that hurt.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Three transformations this episode provide rich pickings for feeble excuses. On the first occasion, Adam says, “You go ahead, I’ll, uh, catch up later,” which is bad enough, but his attempt on the third transformation is nothing short of pitiful: “If you’ll excuse me, I’ll, uh.”

 

Egg on your face?

Less than a minute of this episode passes before Orko deliberately drops a 1 ton weight onto a birthday cake, resulting in Man-at-Arms, Teela, Adam, King Randor and Queen Marlena all being covered in chocolate. This sort of thing never grows old. I half wonder sometimes why they didn’t simply make 130 episodes of 20 minutes of Orko throwing food at people.

Bump 4
Orko: “An opportunity to be annoying? Let me at it!”

 

Does it have the Power?

It starts very badly indeed. Orko’s failing magic trick followed by his accidental joyride in the Stratoblaster led me to expect one of those awful ‘Orko feels sorry for himself’ episodes. Luckily, this angle was dropped as soon as it began to rear its head, and instead veered off along a plotline that I don’t recall seeing before: someone signing up to Skeletor’s crew and becoming disillusioned. Glitch isn’t dreadfully irritating, and his journey from coward to hero is believable.

The real highlight, though, is once again Skeletor. He’s got no overall plan this week, simply reacting to whatever comes along: he tries to capture Man-at-Arms, Teela and Orko at the start, just for the hell of it, and his nimble act of deception when the King of Selassia shows up is a joy to behold. There’s also a brilliant moment when he is watching Glitch on his globe, laughing ridiculously hard and thumping his fist, ending up breaking the globe. Skeletor’s immediate reaction is to shriek, “Clawful, you fool! Now look what you’ve done!”

The only criticism I have of the whole thing is Queen Marlena’s voice. Either the normal actress wasn’t available, or she had forgotten how to do it, because it was really inconsistent with every other episode in which Marlena appears. That’s certainly not a deal breaker though. In summary, this isn’t the best of the series, but it’s a very watchable instalment.

Episode 086 – A Trip to Morainia

In which Skeletor doesn’t put in the slightest bit of effort.

After a surprisingly long and irrelevant sequence in which Man-at-Arms demonstrates his new invention, one of King Randor’s mates gets on the videophone. Introducing himself as King Borayis, he invites Randor to send someone to his kingdom of Morainia to collect some new energy crystals, which are ten times more powerful than other Eternian energy sources. Randor decides that this is the sort of low-responsibility, high-prestige job that would suit Adam, Cringer and Orko.

Morainia 1
Man-at-Arms: “Let’s get kinky.”

Despite a stupid diversion caused by Adam driving like an idiot down a ravine and into a giant spider’s den, the trio arrive at Morainia in good time. Borayis welcomes them, and introduces them to his son Prince Esker and his daughter Princess Janice. These two might as well have labels on them to say Esker is arrogant and incompetent, while Janice is intelligent but ignored. Borayis invites Adam to spend some time skiing, to which Adam happily agrees.

It would probably not surprise you to learn that Skeletor is also interested in the acquisition of the energy crystals – though he evidently isn’t that interested, because he sends Beast-Man and Trapjaw to get them for him. These two put on the worst disguises I’ve ever seen (literally, a white bib each, and that’s it) and are easily defeated by Borayis. Skeletor then has to take matters into his own hands, and successfully kidnaps Borayis.

Morainia 2
Beast-Man: “Pretty sure we’d slip past MI5’s finest officers with disguises this slick.”

With Borayis missing, Esker takes on the role of leader, and makes a complete hash of it by refusing to listen to the suggestions of the court. Skeletor teleports in, laughs irrelevantly, then offers to exchange the kidnapped king for the energy crystals. He is kind enough to offer the Morainians half an hour to think about this, and teleports out again. Esker sits at the table, trying to think of a solution, but ignoring Janice’s clever ideas.

Janice consequently heads off by herself to try to rescue Borayis, but manages to irritate Clawful in the process, leading to Adam turning into He-Man to save her. Janice then explains to He-Man that Skeletor must be holding Borayis in the abandoned mine, and outlines her clever plan for rescuing him. This plan essentially boils down to there being three entrances to the mine, so He-Man and Battle-Cat go in one, Orko another, and Janice the third. Then they all meet up in the central room. It’s difficult to say exactly what this achieves, but He-Man seems impressed.

Morainia 3
He-Man: “I’m pretending to be interested, but I’m actually just making sarky faces behind Janice’s back.”

Using another of Janice’s deeply innovative schemes, He-Man rescues Borayis from a stupid cage in which Skeletor has imprisoned him. The party then return to Morainia just in time to find that Esker has achieved absolutely nothing, and that Skeletor has managed to get his silly blue paws on the energy crystals. However, on seeing He-Man, Skeletor runs away through a teleportation portal – though he helpfully actually takes the time to give He-Man the crystals back.

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela explains that listening to other peoples’ ideas is likely to come in handy when Skeletor has kidnapped your dad and imprisoned him in an abandoned mine. And possibly at other times too.

 

Character checklist

This week, we are witness to Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Orko, Man-at-Arms, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Janice, Esker, King Borayis, various Morainian officials, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Trapjaw and Clawful. Teela only shows up to deliver the moral, but she doesn’t seem too cross at being left out of the adventure.

Morainia 4
Teela: “You know what? I’d only have got kidnapped or something anyway, so it’s just as well I didn’t get involved.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

With only Orko and Cringer along for the ride, Adam doesn’t see the need to explain himself on either of his two transformations today. However, there’s a strong hint that Princess Janice knows the dual identity secret: she congratulates Adam on something He-Man did. This is either a mistake (admittedly more likely) or a tacit admission that everyone on the entire planet knows, and are just humouring our hero.

 

Insults

Skeletor addresses Borayis as “royal enemy”, which could be interpreted as more of a statement of fact than an actual insult. However, there can be mistaking the insulting tone behind He-Man calling Clawful both “fish-bait” and “swamp-breath”.

Morainia 6
Clawful: “I wonder if I should give this ‘being evil’ lark up. Never seems to work out.”

 

Does it have the Power?

Like Disappearing Dragons a few weeks back, I used to have this one on VHS, and consequently I love it. Unlike Disappearing Dragons, however, objectively I can see that it’s not really very good. It’s essentially He-Man by numbers, with very little of interest to it, though admittedly nothing that drags it down to the depths either.

The most obvious criticism of it is that it’s wrapped up far too quickly: Skeletor is actually holding the energy crystals, and when confronted, he makes no effort to hold onto them, even though it would have been easy for him to escape. Moreover, Skeletor could have easily nicked the crystals before the commercial break by simply kicking down a door, rather than messing around kidnapping Borayis. I suppose that he knew that if he did get the crystals earlier, the second half of the show would be given over to He-Man and his mob coming round to Snake Mountain and trashing the place to get the crystals back, which is the sort of outcome which I daresay Skeletor would find undesirable.

Morainia 5
Skeletor: “I didn’t really want these stupid crystals anyway.”

But basically, He-Man only won because Skeletor didn’t put the least bit of effort in this week, and that’s pretty unsatisfying. I’d still recommend you watch it though, because as mentioned earlier, I love it.