Masters of the Universe

In which Dave isn’t very good at DIY.

This magnum opus of cinema begins with some helpful narration, which explains the basic concept of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and it remains broadly similar to the premise that we all know and love. On this outing, Castle Grayskull sits at the centre of the universe, and it contains the power needed for someone to become Master of the Universe. The Sorceress of Grayskull guards this power from the forces of evil.

Immediately after the credits, we are introduced to Skeletor. This is no doubt because the filmmakers knew he was far and away the best thing about the film, and was thus needed as soon as possible in order to hold our attention. Skeletor has evidently been watching Star Wars, since he has a huge army of Imperial Storm Troopers, the only difference being that they are dressed in black rather than white. Skeletor is less subtle in his evilness than the Galactic Empire.

Anyway, rather to my surprise, Skeletor has already captured Castle Grayskull, and is lounging about on the throne. The budget evidently didn’t stretch to showing the battle in which he managed to gain access to the castle. Evil-Lyn is present, wearing a bin bag and a tin foil hat, and she reports that He-Man is continuing to lead the resistance. The Sorceress is also present, and is just as given to talking in irritating, unhelpful cryptic hints as she was in the Filmation series.

Skeletor makes a public service announcement to Eternia, informing them that he has taken control of Grayskull. He-Man stands on a hill in order to pose dramatically while Skeletor makes this broadcast, then introduces himself to the audience by having a random fight with some Storm Troopers. Man-at-Arms and Teela appear at this juncture, the latter of whom looking as though she’s escaped from the set of an intergalactic remake of Grease. He-Man gives her a welcoming hug and cops a quick feel of her backside.

Before Man-at-Arms can complain that He-Man hasn’t fondled his rear end too, we are treated to the appearance of a ghastly Orko-substitute called Gwildor. Gwildor is the inventor of a device called the Cosmic Key, which can open a doorway between any two locations. He explains that Evil-Lyn stole the Cosmic Key, and used it to allow Skeletor and his Storm Troopers to enter Grayskull. Once this exciting plot point is established, our heroic party waltzes into Grayskull themselves, and after a less than enlightening conversation with the Sorceress, they are pinned down by Skeletor.

I’d love to say it’s an exciting fight, but unfortunately all I could think of during this scene was that Star Wars does this sort of thing so much better. And frankly, I don’t even like Star Wars. The scene ends with Gwildor using another copy of his stupid Cosmic Key to open a gateway to a random location, through which our heroes escape.

These events cover the first 15 minutes of the film, and it’s all been pretty standard silly Eternian shenanigans up to this point. It’s not been good, as such, but it’s been watchable. Unfortunately, Gwildor’s gateway takes He-Man and his mates to Earth, and so the film now takes an unwelcome left turn into a boring story in which our heroes set to work looking for the second copy of the Cosmic Key, which they have somehow lost. They are pretty sure that it must be somewhere on Earth, so they split up to try to search the entire planet. I’m sure this won’t take long, especially since splitting up seems to mean that He-Man goes one way, while the other three go to a cheap version of KFC and steal some fried chicken.

In this cheap version of KFC, we meet Monica from Friends. She does have another name in this film, but obviously I didn’t listen to it. When we first meet her, it’s the end of her final shift at the knock-off KFC. She therefore changes out of her uniform right behind the counter where all the customers can see her. This seems odd behaviour, but as this film goes on, we’ll learn that Monica is a pretty odd person.

Monica has just broken up with her boyfriend, who is Tom Paris from Star Trek: Voyager. Tom Paris also has another name, but we’re going to call him Tom Paris because I think it’s funny, and there are precious few other laughs in this film. Tom Paris and Monica have broken up for no readily apparent reason, but they still act like they’re together anyway, regularly hugging and kissing throughout the film. “Why?” you ask. “Why not?” the filmmakers reply, shrugging their shoulders.

Monica and Tom Paris go to the local cemetery, where Monica ribbits on about how her parents have recently died in a plane crash, which is tragic, so it’s no surprise that she’s easily distracted when she finds the Cosmic Key. The Cosmic Key looks like a bomb, so Monica eagerly picks it up and beams with demented delight. Tom Paris is no less insane; he decides the Key must be a musical instrument, and laughs merrily as it emits sparks. These two have a complete death wish. If I’d found that thing, I’d be calling the bomb disposal squad, not carrying it round and chuckling like a halfwit.

The next scene confirms that Tom Paris is a complete moron; he takes the Key to his band’s rehearsal space, and plugs it into his amp. Come on, Tom Paris. It doesn’t look like an instrument in the slightest. I’ll admit it makes silly noises, but that’s sheer coincidence. I’m also unconvinced that Gwildor would have installed an Earth-compatible audio jack on the Cosmic Key.

Of course, thanks to Tom Paris’ stupid mucking about, Skeletor and Evil-Lyn are able to lock on to the Key’s current location, and so they send an advance party of baddies through a gateway to recover it and ambush He-Man. The baddies include:

  1. Blade, a dude who wears an eye patch and has a pair of knives strapped to his head.
  2. Saurod, a vaguely reptilian gentleman in a silly black armoured suit. Saurod has the dubious honour of being incinerated by Skeletor in the not-too-distant future.
  3. Beast-Man, who looks like a Poundland version of Chewbacca.
  4. Karg, who looks like a Family Bargains version of Beast-Man.

Hilarious japes ensue when these four bound happily through the gateway and corner Monica in the band’s rehearsal space. I’m sure this scene is great, but I’m watching and writing this on the Southwestern Trains service from Waterloo to Portsmouth, and there’s an enormously stupid woman sat behind me shrieking into her mobile about some horrible house she’s renovating, so I was rather distracted. Listen lady, no one cares about your house. I’m watching He-Man.

Actually, to be honest, I’m not watching He-Man. He-Man has been mysteriously absent from this film for the last quarter of an hour, and instead I’ve been watching a load of really cheap messing about with Monica from Friends crawling around under a table while four individuals – allegedly the best assassins in the galaxy – inexplicably fail to capture her. Come on, He-Man. If you don’t show up soon, I’m going to start randomly skipping ahead.

Ah, here he is. Right on cue, Monica blunders into He-Man while she’s running away from Blade and Skeletor’s other dicks. Unfortunately, that bloody woman’s started up again, so I have more information about her plastering and painting contract with “Dave” than I do about He-Man and Monica. Apparently, Dave isn’t doing his job very well. On the plus side, we’ve just left Clapham Junction and I know for a fact there’s no signal from here until at least Woking, so the beastly fool will shut up soon. On the minus side, Dave and his ineptitude is actually quite a lot more interesting than this film is at the moment.

With the help of his chicken-pilfering colleagues Teela and Man-at-Arms, He-Man repels the attack of Blade and co. as easily as he would in the cartoon. It’s now time to seek some answers from Monica, who is surprisingly not too worried about the appearance of a buff bodybuilder equipped with a sword, a laser pistol, and wearing nothing more than his pants and a red cloak. He-Man laboriously explains the entire plot to her, and she happily accepts it all as if this sort of thing happens all the time. She and Tom Paris are definitely doing some serious hallucinogenic drugs. Loo-Kee would not approve.

Tom Paris teams up with a police inspector and spends some time cruising the streets looking for Monica, while Gwildor nicks a car and takes Team He-Man on a ride looking for Tom Paris. With both sets of characters out looking for each other, it naturally takes a fair while before anything of interest happens, so I have occupied myself in tuning back in to the ongoing saga of Dave the Rubbish Painter. Turns out he’s painted the outside of the house blue, but he was supposed to paint the inside. That is, admittedly, a pretty poor effort, but there’s still no need for the idiot woman to inform the entire train.

Eventually, all our heroes reunite, and are pinned down in a music shop by Evil-Lyn, Blade, Beast-Man and Karg. Saurod is no longer present, owing to the above-mentioned incineration. Gwildor attempts to reactivate the Cosmic Key so they can all go back to Eternia, though I don’t know why they want to go back there. The only reason they’re on Earth in the first place is because they were defeated on Eternia and had to run away. Nothing’s changed, so why bother going back?

This very good question is not answered, because before Gwildor can reactivate the Key, we get a huge case of “what the fuck is wrong with you, Monica?” Basically, Evil-Lyn pretends to be Monica’s dead mother and asks Monica to fetch the Cosmic Key for her, and Monica does so. At this stage in the film, Monica knows the following:

  1. Her mother died in a plane crash.
  2. There is an evil being called Skeletor, who requires something called the Cosmic Key to dominate the entire universe.
  3. The Cosmic Key is currently in Monica’s possession.
  4. Her mother, despite being dead, is currently standing outside a music shop asking Monica to fetch the Cosmic Key, an artefact of great power in which she has heretofore displayed absolutely zero interest.

Knowing all the above, why the Jesus Christ would Monica choose to simply hand over the Cosmic Key? The only plausible answer is that she is completely brain-dead. On reflection, that explains it.

He-Man has again gone AWOL from the film, in favour of endless scenes of the police inspector standing around bellowing that he’s going to arrest everyone. He should start with Dave the Painter, I think, who is clearly dangerously incompetent, given the current thread of that moronic woman’s conversation. Still, once Monica’s done her little Cosmic Key giveaway, He-Man reappears looking mightily fucked off, and he looks even more so when Evil-Lyn opens a gateway to Eternia, from which Skeletor emerges in a massive tank. I didn’t know that was part of the plan, but I’m increasingly getting the impression that the writers have only the vaguest notion of the concept of narrative.

There’s now an interminable sequence involving He-Man flying around on a hoverboard shooting Storm Troopers. If I knew when Back to the Future 2 came out, I might have concluded that Masters of the Universe was ripping that off as well as Star Wars, but since I’m not sure, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. Instead, I’ll settle for commenting that this bit is less than compelling, and has the feel of a bit only inserted at the last minute because the producers suddenly realised they had a bit of cash left over. It’s certainly not relevant to the plot, not that I can really remember what the plot is supposed to be by this stage.

Skeletor, meanwhile, is merrily driving his tank up and down the high street as if he’s part of a Thanksgiving parade. He moves at an infinitesimally slow pace, and yet still manages to capture all of our heroes, with the exception of that dick of a policeman, who has been missing from the film for some time. I’m not sure if this is because he’s going to make a grand re-entry at some stage, or simply because the writers have forgotten about him.

He-Man strikes a bargain with Skeletor, agreeing to return to Eternia as a slave if Skeletor will spare the lives of Man-at-Arms, Teela, etc. As opposed to the Filmation version, this incarnation of Skeletor has some conception of the long game, and actually keeps his word, taking He-Man away but leaving the other goodies alive and at liberty. Unfortunately, Gwildor reveals that the Cosmic Key is now fused or broken or something, which means that they are stranded on Earth.

Already in training for Star Trek: Voyager, Tom Paris is insistent that there must be a deus ex machina available for use at this stage. And thus it proves. Because Tom Paris can remember the sequence of stupid noises the Key made when he thought it was a musical instrument, Gwildor is able to reprogram the Key with Eternia’s coordinates! Hurrah! Despite a last minute reappearance from the stupid policeman, trying to delay proceedings, the gateway is opened, and it’s over to Eternia for all our heroes.

They arrive just in time to miss a serious display of overacting from Skeletor, who has absorbed all the powers of Grayskull, thanks to some bollocks about the moon rising and some magical eye opening. As a result of this, he’s put on a new outfit, which looks considerably tackier than his previous effort. Once Teela etc arrive, there’s an almighty ruckus in Grayskull’s throne room, which comes to an almost satisfactory conclusion when He-Man raises his sword and cries, “I have the Power!” before launching into a Star Wars-aping duel with Skeletor.

Well, of course, He-Man wins, and sends Skeletor plummeting down into a pit. I don’t know why there’s a massive pit in the middle of the throne room, but why the hell not? The film ends with He-Man restoring the Sorceress to power, and for no readily apparent reason she allows the halfwit policeman to go into retirement on Eternia. Gwildor sends Monica and Tom Paris back to Earth, where Monica finds that her parents have been magically and inexplicably restored to life. I cannot express how happy I was at this revelation. If I hadn’t been on the train, I’d have cheered.

And finally – there’s a post-credits sting in which Skeletor pops his head up from beneath some pink liquid and announces to the camera, “I’ll be back.” Unfortunately, this version of Skeletor was never able to come back, due to his subsequent arrest for copyright infringement of Star Wars and the Terminator, and possibly Back to the Future.


In today’s adventure…

You know as well as I do that there was no moral segment to this film. A moral segment at least implies a degree of coherent thought about what story the writers were trying to tell, and I don’t think that coherent thought was anywhere near the production of this film. I have therefore taken it upon myself to supply a couple of moral lessons drawn from the film:

  • If you meet a man dressed in nothing more than pants, bra and a red cloak, don’t worry: he’s the Most Powerful Man in the Universe, not a sex pest. Though, worryingly, I suppose he could be both.
  • If you find a mysterious glowing piece of machinery in a crater, it’s probably a special Japanese musical instrument, not a bomb. You should definitely fiddle about with it and press all the buttons.
  • If you’re an American policeman, act like a complete dick throughout any weird proceedings, and you’ll be rewarded by being allowed to retire to Eternia.
  • If your parents have recently died, they will probably reappear later, with zero explanation.
  • If you’re Monica from Friends, don’t worry – no one will remember you appeared in this atrocity of a film. If, on the other hand, you’re Tom Paris, this is probably the pinnacle of your career, and is about twenty times better than Star Trek: Voyager.
  • If you’re redecorating your house, don’t call Dave the Painter.



For the first 45 minutes or thereabouts, the only person doing any insulting is Teela. She calls Gwildor a “worm” and what sounds like a “Fenurrian wombat”. This may not be what she said; Teela doesn’t speak very clearly. Shortly afterwards, she refers to Earth as “a barbaric world”, as part of a bizarre little interlude in which she and Gwildor make an unexpected and somewhat half-hearted case for vegetarianism.

Once Teela’s finished, it’s time for the baddies to take their turn. Blade starts off by calling either Beast-Man or Karg an “animal”. It’s not entirely clear which of them he’s addressing, and they’re both present and would both fit this description. Evil-Lyn shortly thereafter shrieks “fools”, though I don’t know who she was talking about. Frankly, only about half of the sentences uttered in this film seem to have any kind of relevance to the preceding piece of dialogue.

It’s only towards the end that Skeletor gets into his stride, starting off by calling Gwildor a “minute minion”, and then proceeds to describe Earth as a “primitive and tasteless planet”. These barbs are only warm-ups for the main event, which I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for: the high point of the entire film, when Skeletor keeps up the He-Manic tradition of referring to He-Man as a “fool”.

Elsewhere, the police inspector calls Tom Paris a “moron kid”, and finally, the woman behind me on the train referred to Dave the Painter as a “fucking idiot”.


Does it have the Power?

Let’s just say it’s easy to see why this didn’t get a sequel, and didn’t go on to spawn the multi-film franchise that it was plainly aiming at. It isn’t a complete disaster, but it is a 90% disaster. I hate deriding things for looking cheap, because obviously there’s only so much money they were given and that’s that, but this film really does look like it was put together in a weekend with whatever materials could be salvaged from the bins behind B&Q.

The lack of budget is obviously the reason for the film primarily being set on Earth; it’s a lot easier to film on streets, fast food restaurants and music shops than it is to build impressive sets for various exotic Eternian locations. The problem is that in a Masters of the Universe film, we want to see Eternia, not Earth. We want to see Snake Mountain, not a KFC knockoff, and we want the Royal Palace, not Monica’s parents’ house.

As far as characters and actors go, it’s difficult to pick a favourite. Skeletor made a reasonably good impression at first, but let himself down with some dreadful acting in the final 15 minutes of the film. It’s not really fair to compare him to Filmation’s Skeletor, who is indisputably the greatest character in the history of television, but I have to conclude that this Skeletor never really cut the mustard. He’s certainly evil, but comes across as rather more doleful than his usual gleeful nature, as if someone’s making him be evil, but he can’t really be bothered.

And speaking of can’t be bothered, I think that description fits a lot of other characters, notably He-Man, Man-at-Arms and the Sorceress. None of them – especially the Sorceress – ever give the impression that they’re involved in this film for anything other than a paltry pay check. Teela, bless her heart, does give it her best effort, but I rather wish she hadn’t been trying so hard. The same can be said for that div of a policeman. I’m not even going to discuss Gwildor.

Monica and Tom Paris do the best they can with some pretty appalling material; Monica gets a rawer deal, given that atrocious scene in the middle where she idiotically gave away the Cosmic Key to Evil-Lyn. It’s a hard sell, having to convincingly behave like a complete moron and then scream “NOOOOO!!!!” when you realise what you’ve done, but Monica just about gets there. All Tom Paris has to do is hang around being a typical American teenager – albeit one who appears to be out of his head on LSD, given his casual acceptance of the bizarre proceedings – and this seems to be within his abilities.

Plotwise, the film is pretty straightforward, and despite my comments above, it’s relatively logical, insofar as He-Man is ever logical. The only confusing bit is the apparent existence of two Cosmic Keys, which has the ring of a last-minute rewrite when someone realised that if Skeletor has nicked the Cosmic Key, how can Gwildor accidentally transport our heroes to Earth? “Quick – make Gwildor have another copy of the Key – that’ll sort it!”

I’m trying, desperately, to think of something nice to say about the film, and thus prove that I’m not a negative person, forever carping on about why things are rubbish. Unfortunately, I’m finding it difficult to come up with anything. I think it’s probably best to quietly draw a veil over this entry, and move on to The New Adventures of He-Man. Surely that must be better than this?

Episode 129 – To Save the Creatures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In today’s adventure…

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

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


Character checklist

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

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



Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

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



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

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


Does it have the Power?

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

Episode 118 – Orko’s Return

In which Beast-Man and Trapjaw make the elementary mistake of kidnapping Orko.

Well, it’s nice to know that Orko will be making a return, after his really, really long absence. This episode starts out in the wilderness, where Trapjaw and Beast-Man, somewhat surprisingly, are planting some crops. This is no ordinary plant, however – it grows within seconds into an enormous orange crystal mountain. Beast-Man mysteriously claims that it will show King Randor who’s boss, which might be true if King Randor is interested in a bollock-kicking contest over who’s got the biggest orange mountain. I suspect he isn’t.

Return 1
Trapjaw: “Beast-Man, you’ve been shopping at Claire’s Accessories again, right?”

The next scene shows Orko in the Palace, performing magic tricks which are actually working for once. The assembled crowd are amazed at this display of competence, especially Prince Adam, who is for some reason animated with his jaw hanging open like a first-class moron. The animators have also seen fit to give him a quite stunning hunchback. When Orko disappears, the court assumes it’s part of his magic show – but in reality, he has been magicked away by Beast-Man and Trapjaw.

Beast-Man and Trapjaw instantly send a message to King Randor, demanding to be addressed in future as Mr Beast-Man and Mr Trapjaw. They’ve evidently been watching Reservoir Dogs again. Randor isn’t at all interested, until these two clowns reveal that they’ve kidnapped Orko, at which point Randor becomes only marginally more interested. Beast-Man demands all the photanium in Eternia in exchange for Orko’s release, but Teela points out that this would leave the Palace defenceless, as if she thinks this isn’t Beast-Man’s intention. In any case, Teela seems to think that photanium is more useful than He-Man in terms of defending the Palace.

Return 2
King Randor: “Not a massive fan of this new bubble mixture.”

Beast-Man then uses an amulet called the Amber Crystal of Mallarka on Orko, locking his magic so he can only use it for the express purposes defined by Beast-Man and Trapjaw. This is an outstandingly bad idea, since Orko develops a “hilarious” habit of wilfully misinterpreting said express purposes, and the rest of the episode is filled with intermittent scenes of Orko’s magic doing increasingly stupid things to Beast-Man and Trapjaw.

He-Man and Man-at-Arms soon find the orange mountain, where Beast-Man shoots a volley of energy bolts at them, and then treats them to a huge holographic projection of his face, welcoming them to the Amber Fortress. He then proceeds to laugh like a complete lunatic, while He-Man and Man-at-Arms decide to pop off to Castle Grayskull to ask advice. The Sorceress reveals that the Amber Crystal was created in ancient times by an insectoid race called the Polteeth, so He-Man’s next move is to visit them.

Return 3
He-Man: “This episode is like Pol-ing-teeth. Geddit? Oh fine, suit yourselves.”

The Sorceress had said that the Polteeth are now peaceful, but when He-Man and Man-at-Arms arrive, the Polteeth surround them, point spears, and take them captive. He-Man glances at Man-at-Arms, as if to say, “Thanks for the up-to-date intel, Sorceress.” Refusing to help our heroes, the Polteeth queen orders them off her territory. With suspiciously convenient timing, He-Man then rescues one of the Polteeth from falling off a cliff, and the queen changes her mind and agrees to help. I wouldn’t mind betting He-Man engineered the whole cliff danger business.

Using an Amulet Nullifier given to him by the Polteeth queen, He-Man returns to the Amber Fortress and successfully gets inside. He finds the Amber Crystal and destroys it, which makes the entire fortress disappear. He also discovers that Orko has irritated Beast-Man and Trapjaw so extensively that they are only too pleased to hand him over. This makes He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Orko laugh as if they’re demented.

Return 4
He-Man: “I haven’t laughed this much since I watched On The Buses last week.”


In today’s adventure…

The moral today would appear to be that if you get taken hostage, you should make every effort to infuriate your captors. This seems a trifle unwise. Instead, Orko shows up to suggest that we shouldn’t play tricks on our friends, because people might get hurt. This pearl of wisdom is followed by a repeat performance of that animation of Adam with his mouth hanging open. I don’t know why.


Character checklist

This one’s got a pretty standard cast list – Prince Adam, He-Man, Orko, Man-at-Arms, Teela, the Sorceress, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Beast-Man and Trapjaw. The only characters out of the ordinary are the multitudes of Polteeth.


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

It’s getting very tedious to report, but once again, Adam doesn’t give an excuse because the only person present at transformation time is Man-at-Arms.



Orko calls Beast-Man a “fuzzball”, and Beast-Man tells He-Man and Man-at-Arms that they are “fools”. Not terribly exciting, really.

Return 5
Beast-Man: “Got a killer three-piece suite at DFS this weekend.”


Does it have the Power?

I may be getting a bit jaded, but despite there being nothing much wrong with it, this episode doesn’t really seem like a winner, aside from the delightfully mental Mr Beast-Man and Mr Trapjaw business. At this point in the series, it’s getting a bit tedious to see the kidnap and ransom plot wheeled out yet again. In case you haven’t detected it, I’ve never been a fan of Orko’s persistent stupid magic tricks, and so watching him playing silly jokes on Beast-Man and Trapjaw for most of the episode wasn’t a lot of fun. The business with the Polteeth seemed like time-wasting too. As I say, there’s nothing terrible about the episode, but neither is it all that exciting. It’s probably worth a watch, but don’t look forward to it or anything.

Episode 043 – The Mystery of Man-e-Faces

In which a man with loads of faces justifiably tries to kill the Widgets.

At the preparations for Queen Marlena’s birthday party, Prince Adam decides to scare the living bejesus out of Orko and Cringer by introducing them to a gentleman dressed in a blue and orange robotic kind of suit who can change his face, demonstrating a green scary monster, a robot, Skeletor, Beast-Man and a “normal” face, which consists of orange skin and red diagonal sunglasses. His name is Man-e-Faces, and with a name like that, what ability did you expect him to have?

Man-e-Faces 1

As Man-e-Faces trundles off to prepare himself to entertain the guests at the party, Adam indulges in a flashback, which comprises the rest of the episode. Some time ago, the Widgets (last seen in Evil-Lyn’s Plot) were being terrorised by Man-e-Faces, whose motivation for this behaviour remains unclear.

His actions catch the attention of Skeletor, who notes that with most of his allies in jail, Man-e-Faces would be a welcome addition to his ranks. Luckily, the Sorceress has also spotted the appearance of Man-e-Faces, and asks Adam to become He-Man and head to the Widgets’ aid. Teela and Orko pop along for the expedition too, because the episode wasn’t annoying enough with just the Widgets.

Meanwhile, Man-e-Faces has installed himself on a chair at the Widgets’ castle and is demanding his dinner. This guy is hardly an evil mastermind, if the best plot he can come up with is asking some midgets for food. But still, everyone seems to take him seriously, so I suppose I should at least try to do the same. Luckily, before Man-e-Faces can have more than a mouthful of some miserable soup, He-Man shows up to ruin his fun.

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Man-e-Faces decides to switch from his sunglasses face to his green monster face, in the vain hope that this will help him to defeat He-Man. It doesn’t. He-Man knocks him over easily, and all seems to be concluded when suddenly Skeletor intervenes, teleporting Man-e-Faces aboard his ship. Man-e-Faces responds to this change in his fortunes by squatting in an uncomfortable and inexplicable position, but otherwise does nothing except gape foolishly.

The Sorceress shows up at the Widgets’ fortress to inform He-Man that Man-e-Faces isn’t really evil, but is just alone and afraid. She also reveals that Skeletor is on his way to Castle Grayskull to attack it, so He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela and Orko barrel off to stop him. The Widgets offer to come too, but He-Man declines, barely repressing a shudder as he does so.

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Skeletor tries to persuade Man-e-Faces to work with him in the conquest of Eternia, but Man-e-Faces refuses, so Skeletor stops playing nice and orders Beast-Man to use his animal-controlling powers. Presumably because Man-e-Faces is currently in his green monster format, this works, and Skeletor and Beast-Man indulge in about 20 seconds of evil laughter.

While Skeletor flies around shooting at Castle Grayskull, Beast-Man and Man-e-Faces are set to work with the age-old trick of pulling the jawbridge down with a grappling hook. As usual, this tactic is interrupted by He-Man, who gets into a brief barney with Man-e-Faces until the Sorceress releases him from Beast-Man’s control, whereupon Man-e-Faces and He-Man join forces to defeat Beast-Man and Skeletor.

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At the debriefing session, Man-e-Faces explains that people used to think he was a monster, so he started acting like one, but now he knows what it’s like to be pushed around and bullied, and promises not to do it again. He-Man asks what his name is – since he’s been referred to as “the stranger” up to this point – and Man-e-Faces responds that he’s never had one. He-Man offers to give him a name, at which point Orko comes up with Man-e-Faces, as if it’s a clever pun.

As the episode ends, we return to the birthday party, where we learn that Man-e-Faces has now learned to put his face-changing talent to good use, and has become Eternia’s foremost freak show centrepiece. Sorry, I mean Eternia’s foremost actor. Obviously.


In today’s adventure …

Man-e-Faces explains to Orko that the best way to remember something is to say it over and over again. This is extremely tenuously linked into the episode by way of Man-e-Faces being an actor who has to remember his lines. It’s not exactly a moral lesson, frankly, and there were a couple of more obvious messages from this episode to learn: don’t judge people by their appearance might have been appropriate, as might don’t bully people.


Character checklist

Today, we are treated to appearances from Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Orko, Man-at-Arms, Man-e-Faces, the Sorceress, Skeletor, Beast-Man, and the billions of Widgets, the names of whom I don’t know and don’t want to know. There are also non-speaking roles for King Randor, Queen Marlena, Stratos and Ram-Man.

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Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

There’s no excuse because Adam becomes He-Man in his bedroom, when there’s no one else there. I’d have liked to see the scene where He-Man came sneaking out of Adam’s bedroom in the middle of the night, hoping to avoid being spotted, but for some reason they didn’t show us that bit.



Fittingly for Skeletor’s first appearance in God knows how long, abuse abounds between our characters this week. Man-e-Faces comes in for a fair proportion of the insults, being called a “creepy creature” and a “creep” by Squinch the Widget, while Laura the Widget considers him a “funny-faced weirdo”. He also is called a “fool” twice and a “dolt” once by Skeletor.

Meanwhile, no one seems to have much love for the Widgets either, an attitude I certainly share. Man-e-Faces calls them “little worms”, while Orko considers them to be “little squirts”. You can leave it to Skeletor to really spell things out though, and he obliges with “miserable Widgets”.

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And finally, where would we be without He-Man dishing out some tongue lashing? It’s fairly standard stuff though – just a “fuzz-face” for Beast-Man and an “old bonehead” for Skeletor.


Egg on your face?

It’s been so long since we had an entry for this category that I’d almost forgotten it existed. So it is with great pleasure that I can report that in the opening scene, Orko manages to arrange for a massive birthday cake to be upended on Cringer’s head.


Does it have the Power?

This is one of those episodes that is blatantly contrived in order to sell an action figure, specifically an action figure that no one in their right mind would buy otherwise. The problem with Man-e-Faces is that he’s obviously intended to be a master of disguise, and I can imagine that at an early stage of character design, he was supposed to be able to change his entire appearance. But then some bright spark will have pointed out, “But if his appearance changes all the time, what will his action figure look like?”

The solution to this problem is to make his face change, but his body always remains the same, which I think you’ll agree gives rise to a new problem: his disguises cease to be effective, even among Eternia’s customary dimwits. “Hmm,” says Skeletor, “there’s Beast-Man over there. Oh, hang on, Beast-Man’s wearing the same outfit that Man-e-Faces normally does. Could it be that this is actually Man-e-Faces in disguise? No, can’t be!”

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Leaving this aside, the episode is quite fun, and it’s nice to see someone being a baddy but then changing sides to join the heroes; it’s a refreshing reminder that sometimes good and evil aren’t as black and white as all that, and might have helped children to realise that bullies at school aren’t necessarily evil.

On the other hand, I can’t issue a complete recommendation for this episode, largely because there are two scenes depicting the Widgets laughing, but they sound more like a troupe of discordant monkeys screeching. No wonder people keep trying to kill them.

And that’s that for a few weeks, as I’m going on holiday. Check back towards the end of October for the next exciting instalment!

Episode 029 – Prince Adam No More

In which King Randor nearly figures out the Prince Adam/He-Man link.

Sorry for the long wait between The Defection and this. I’ve had a busy week. Anyway, this one’s worth waiting for. We open with a scene that actually manages to bring some depth to our villains: Skeletor, frustrated at too many defeats at He-Man’s hands, is taking it out on Beast-Man, who he exiles from Snake Mountain. Skeletor takes an unpleasant delight in this process, and I actually felt sorry for Beast-Man, something I would never have thought possible.

No More 1

As if to counter the good work done in the establishing villains scene, we are then treated to an extended sequence in which Orko accidentally locks himself in an Attack Trak and drives it all round the Palace courtyard, shooting walls down and attempting to murder King Randor. Once this problem is resolved, we learn that Randor is shortly to undertake a tour of Eternia, and Prince Adam is hoping to be chosen to be the King’s honour guard for the trip.

But when Randor makes his decision, it’s He-Man he wants, not Adam. Adam is hurt by this decision, and pops off to see the Sorceress, where he explains that he has had to pretend to be careless and irresponsible in order to safeguard his secret identity, and says that he just wants his father to be proud of him. The Sorceress, as usual, offers really helpful advice, limiting herself to “Do what you think is right, but be careful.”

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When we next see Adam, we find him in the Attack Trak on the royal tour with Randor and Man-at-Arms, having evidently convinced his father to let him come along. Randor is clearly not happy about it though, bitching that He-Man would have been a better choice. Naturally enough, the tour’s route takes them past the spot where Beast-Man is bemoaning his fate.

Deciding that he will capture the King to win back Skeletor’s favour, Beast-Man unleashes a platoon of shadowbeasts on the Attack Trak. His plan goes remarkably smoothly, and ends with Randor being hauled away to Snake Mountain’s dungeons. Beast-Man tells Adam and Man-at-Arms to bring all the Palace gold to Snake Mountain by nightfall, or Randor will never be released.

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Man-at-Arms berates Adam for not transforming into He-Man, to which Adam responds that he wanted to show Randor he could be a hero too. Man-at-Arms responds by telling him the Power is to keep others safe, not to make himself happy. This for some reason reassures Adam, who transforms into He-Man and zooms off to Snake Mountain.

He-Man sneaks down to the dungeons and releases Randor, setting off the burglar alarm in the process and alerting Beast-Man and Mer-Man, who have been celebrating Beast-Man’s victory in the throne room. They make the mistake of sending a load of robots to recapture the King, which are quickly turned into scrap metal by He-Man and, surprisingly, Randor.

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Randor then decides it’s time for a quick discussion about how much he loves Adam, despite how hard he is on him sometimes. He-Man tries to answer without giving away his identity, and is fortunately distracted by Beast-Man and Mer-Man showing up for a final defeat. Once He-Man and Randor successfully depart, Skeletor shows up and welcomes Beast-Man back to the fold by ordering him to clear up the destroyed robots.

And finally, the royal tour continues, with Adam repeating things that Randor told He-Man, prompting Randor to nearly put two and two together. But at the last moment, he dismisses the notion from his mind, so don’t worry – next week he’ll be back to disapproving of Adam again.


In today’s adventure…

Orko tells us that today, we learned all about the love parents have for their children. I’m dead certain we’ve learned about this about fifteen times already, and we’re only on Episode 29 here. Perhaps we could have had an elaboration on Man-at-Arms’ theme of using power to do good, not make yourself happy? As it stands, there’s nothing to really take home from this episode.

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Characters appearing

Prince Adam and He-Man, obviously. Also Man-at-Arms, Orko, King Randor, the Sorceress, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Tri-Klops, Trapjaw, Mer-Man and Evil-Lyn.


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

There’s two transformations into He-Man during this episode, but on neither occasion is an excuse warranted.



Not unexpectedly for an episode featuring Beast-Man so heavily, we have perhaps the greatest number of insults in an episode yet. Unfortunately, they’re nearly all in the “fool” category. Skeletor calls Beast-Man a “Furry fool” and a “Furry flea-bitten fool”; Beast-Man and Mer-Man each call each other a “fool”, and Beast-Man also calls He-Man a “fool”.

Otherwise, Beast-Man refers to Skeletor as “Old bonehead” and a “Skull-faced creep”, the latter of which he is obviously pretty proud, since he later recycles it as “Bone-faced creep”. We also find Randor calling Beast-Man a “Furry devil”, which seems rather strong, and Tri-Klops refers to Beast-Man as “Fuzz-face”, though this may not be an insult, as he is expressing sympathy for Beast-Man at the time.

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And finally, Beast-Man says “Come on, you beasts” to his collection of, well, beasts. This one’s only really an insult because of the tone Beast-Man uses.


Does it have the Power?

This one has to be a classic. It’s unusual for a He-Man episode to actually make us feel sad for one of the baddies, but when Beast-Man is kicked out of his home, it really tugs on the heartstrings. It’s rather touching at the end of the episode too, as Skeletor seems to have actually missed having Beast-Man around, though he obviously doesn’t say so. Why else would he allow Beast-Man to return to Snake Mountain, despite him having made a mess and destroyed a load of robots?

The Randor and Adam storyline is also interesting. Randor does come across as a tad unreasonable in demanding that He-Man be the honour guard instead of Adam; as Adam points out, it’ll be him, not He-Man, running the kingdom one day, so it makes sense for him to learn royal business. Randor’s admission to He-Man that he does love Adam is perhaps unnecessary but also touching, and it’s rather fun at the end to see him nearly figure out that He-Man and Adam are one and the same.

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Which brings us to the elephant in the room – why on Eternia does Adam have to keep his identity secret? The Sorceress attempts to explain in this episode, claiming that if his identity was known, Skeletor wouldn’t hesitate to try to destroy Adam and the ones he loves. It’s a valiant attempt, but let’s be honest, Skeletor doesn’t hesitate to try to do that anyway. But still, it’s nice that the writers for once acknowledged that the whole secret identity thing doesn’t really make sense.

In short, this is a great episode, featuring both character development and exciting action sequences. Don’t miss it!

Episode 015 – A Beastly Sideshow

In which Skeletor sneezes his way to defeat.

It’s carnival day in Eternia! A gentleman with a distinctly evil face wheels a vast array of monsters in cages into the the Palace. Hands up who guessed in advance that this gentleman is in fact Beast-Man in disguise. Well done, you all get 10 bonus He-Man points. Anyway, in one of the cages is a giant white female cat, who catches Cringer’s attention. Just in case we hadn’t grasped where this is going, Skeletor quickly gets on the videophone to tell Beast-Man to capture Cringer in order to lure in Prince Adam, and use the captured Prince Adam to lure in He-Man. This of course worked out very well in Disappearing Act, so why not do it again?

Beastly Sideshow 1

At show time, Beast-Man introduces the white cat as Pretty Kitty, and arranges for Cringer to go up to her and make stupid faces. That night, as Adam lies peacefully sleeping, Pretty Kitty comes to the window and lures Cringer out. She leads him straight to her cage, which Cringer enters on Beast-Man’s suggestion, despite this suggestion being followed with a chuckle that anyone in their right mind would interpret as somewhere between ominous and outright psychopathic.

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In the morning, Adam receives a note from Skeletor, inviting him to come to Snake Mountain to retrieve Cringer. Brightly, Man-at-Arms deduces that this is a trap. Well, of course it’s a trap, you doughnut. Skeletor clearly isn’t in the business of taking Cringer to Snake Mountain just so Adam can bring him back. Adam decides to cut right to the point, and transforms into He-Man.

The burglar alarm goes off at Snake Mountain, alerting Skeletor, Beast-Man and Evil-Lyn to He-Man’s presence. Cringer is in a glass case on a cliff edge, and the plan is simple in that He-Man will see Cringer, walk towards him, and fall into a pit containing Octobeast.  Naturally, it doesn’t work out that way; Cringer topples himself over the cliff and He-Man catches him. He then turns Cringer into Battle-Cat, and they go off to inflict some violence on Skeletor.

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In the meantime, Teela has come to Snake Mountain to help. In fact, she does anything but, instead getting captured by Octobeast and used as bait. And so begins a delightful romp for He-Man as he trolls through Snake Mountain, defeating Beast-Man and Evil-Lyn in amusing ways, and spouting stupid comments that are only peripherally related to the events in question.

Finally, He-Man makes his way to Skeletor’s throne room, which Skeletor swiftly transforms into a Hall of Mirrors in order to evade He-Man. For added drama, he also arranges for the walls to close in on He-Man. Fortunately, He-Man is able to detect the real Skeletor by throwing pepper at the mirrors, which rather oddly take it in turns to sneeze until only the real Skeletor is left. Skeletor legs it, leaving it to He-Man to rescue Teela.

Beastly Sideshow 4


In today’s adventure …

He-Man takes a moment to discuss courage with us. He glosses over the aspect of courage which is being brave in the face of danger, and is far more interested in us being able to say no when our friends are doing something wrong. All well and good, and vaguely connected to the episode (Cringer toppling himself off the cliff was described as brave), but more relevant perhaps would be stranger danger? Cringer was lured away by a stranger, for goodness sake. What’s more, I’ll bet that stranger danger does come up in a later episode that has nothing to do with it.


Characters appearing

Today features Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Evil-Lyn and Pretty Kitty. And Octobeast, if he counts.

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Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Orko tells Teela that Adam has gone to rescue Cringer from Snake Mountain, which isn’t enormously far from the truth. As they leave Snake Mountain, He-Man tells Teela that he will arrange for Adam and Cringer to get back to the Palace safely. Both of these statements are more evasive than outright excuses, but I’m sure you were dead keen for me to report them nonetheless.



Beast-Man continues his trend as most abused character in fiction, receiving a “Fur-brain”, a “Fur-face” and a “fleabag” from Skeletor. Teela joins in to call him an “overgrown chimp” and Evil-Lyn gets in on the act with “fur-brained fool”.

Moving onto other characters, Teela calls Evil-Lyn a “witch”, which is plainly intended as an insult, though Evil-Lyn takes it as a compliment. Shortly thereafter, Evil-Lyn struggles to find words for Battle-Cat more insulting than “big cat”, though the sentiment is there.

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Does it have the Power?

There’s little more entertaining than watching He-Man organising a team away day to Snake Mountain to basically trash the place, and this episode doesn’t disappoint. The entire second half is devoted to this goal, and it’s glorious fun. On the other hand, the first half, dealing with the carnival and the mysterious Pretty Kitty – who disappears from the story about 5 minutes in – had a lot of potential for an interesting and unusual story, so perhaps it’s a shame this was dispensed with so quickly. Still, I’ll give this episode a good thumbs-up.

Episode 014 – Colossor Awakes

In which the Sorceress is even less helpful than usual.

We are treated to a brief introductory scene at Snake Mountain, where Skeletor reveals his new invention, the Energiser, and crows that this will help him to rule Eternia. Skeletor is evidently not a fan of the Smiths, especially the track “Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.” Anyway, he then takes his Energiser to the Palace, where he rather pleasingly shoots Man-at-Arms with it and turns him to stone. This is also the fate of two Palace guards, but notably no one cares about them.

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Naturally, He-Man enters at this juncture, and so do Stratos and Ram-Man, which I think we’ll all agree is not so exciting. Skeletor now starts shooting at all the statues in the Palace, bringing them to life. I’m going to be honest here: I’ve never spotted any statues in the Palace in the series up to this point, and I’ll be mightily surprised if I ever see any again. Unexpectedly, it’s Ram-Man, Stratos and Orko who actually defeat all these living statues, while He-Man and Teela simply go for a flight in a silly machine that promptly gets shot by Skeletor.

Queen Marlena asserts that Man-at-Arms’ stone condition will be made permanent at sundown, so He-Man heads to Castle Grayskull to ask advice, but all the Sorceress can do is make pointlessly enigmatic statements like, “This menace is larger than you know. You will walk through fire, He-Man.” In complete fairness, she also tells him to seek the Fire Jewels, but doesn’t offer any clue as to where or why. He-Man rather pointedly comments, “I will need help on this quest,” and walks out without saying thanks or goodbye.

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He-Man and Teela retrieve the Fire Jewels with minimal effort, and return to Castle Grayskull, where the Sorceress uses the jewels to create a device called a ray fuser. He-Man explains multiple times that the ray fuser will fuse Skeletor’s rays back into one, though it will have to come into contact with the rays. If this is done, our stone friends will return to life. This gibberish about fusing the rays made literally no sense to me, and it’s clear from Teela’s face that she doesn’t understand either. I fear He-Man has only a shaky grip on reality in this episode.

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Skeletor, Beast-Man and Panthor have meanwhile occupied themselves in returning to the Palace to turn Ram-Man, Orko and two more guards into stone. They then travel to an ancient city with the Energiser, where they use it to awaken a giant statue called Colossor. Colossor lumbers off to capture Castle Grayskull, where he encounters the Sorceress, Teela and Battle-Cat standing guard.

He-Man intercepts Skeletor’s Energiser and puts the ray fuser to good use, resulting in the happy restoration of Man-at-Arms, Ram-Man, Orko and the four Palace Guards. But there’s no time for celebration: everyone heads to Castle Grayskull so quickly that Man-at-Arms doesn’t even have to time to get into a vehicle, and instead Stratos carries him.

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Once there, He-Man punches Colossor, which is all that’s needed to finish this particular threat. Clearly, the script said at this point that all the heroes cheer, but the voice actors sound like they couldn’t be bothered: Man-at-Arms’ unenthusiastic “Yeah, all right, yes,” in particular needs improvement. The episode ends with Orko mistaking Man-at-Arms for Colossor, which is just plain weird.


In today’s adventure…

He-Man and Teela have a corny dialogue about how running in the forest makes one feel close to nature and is wonderful exercise, but that of course one should always check with the doctor before doing any heavy exercise. He-Man says he wishes he could tell this to everyone, and Teela replies, “I think we just did.” This is obviously based on the false premise that “everyone” is watching He-Man, which I feel confident in saying is not the case, certainly not today and I suspect not even in its heyday.


Characters appearing

Today, we are treated to an extensive cast including Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Ram-Man, Stratos, the Sorceress, Skeletor, Panthor, Beast-Man and Colossor, if you want to count him as a character. I don’t.

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Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam turns into He-Man twice in this episode, and on both occasions he addresses Cringer to dispense pearls of wisdom such as “we’re needed,” and “I know of someone who can help us.” Strictly speaking, neither of these count as an excuse, and neither are they necessary, since no one’s paying any attention to Adam at these points, but still.



Beast-Man gets called a “Fur-brain” by Skeletor relatively early on. Since Beast-Man has just reiterated for the fifth time in 30 seconds that Man-at-Arms has been turned to stone – presumably for the benefit of really thick viewers – I felt some degree of sympathy for Skeletor. Skeletor also employs a number of variations on Beast-Man’s name during this episode, referring to him variously as “Beast” and “Beasty”, which probably count as insults. Finally, I’m almost certain Orko calls one of the living statues an “Apple-brain”, which admittedly doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.


Egg on your face?

It’s not an egg, but Orko reacts badly to losing at chess to Man-at-Arms, and responds quite maturely by emptying a cup of water over his head.

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Does it have the Power?

It’s a bit of a mess, this one. All the ingredients for a good episode are here, but they never seem to gel together. Colossor himself is entirely pointless: all he does is walk to Castle Grayskull and then get smashed (rather like He-Man on a Saturday night). The quest to gather the Fire Jewels begins and finishes so quickly it seems similarly pointless, and Skeletor spends too much time zipping between the Palace and the ancient city turning people into stone. Finally, He-Man’s ray fuser is just mental, beyond even the acceptable limits of insanity for this cartoon. I think we’ll rank this one towards the lower end of the scale.

Episode 004 – Diamond Ray of Disappearance

In which He-Man gives Teela and Trapjaw a hand.

This week we come to Diamond Ray of Disappearance, which I believe was the first He-Man episode ever made. This may explain why the episode opens with Skeletor reciting the names of his cronies (Beast-Man, Evil-Lyn, Mer-Man, Tri-Klops and Trapjaw) as if he was reading from an Argos catalogue, in a non-too-subtle way of a) letting the viewers know who these characters are, and b) showing us precisely which action figures we should be buying down at Toys R Us.

Once his band of fools have assembled, Skeletor informs them that he now has the means to crush He-Man once and for all. Mer-Man speaks for all of us when he says that this statement has been made before, but Skeletor explains that he now possesses the Diamond Ray of Disappearance. The effects of this little toy are no doubt evident to you from its name, but in case you’re unsure, Skeletor demonstrates its power on a little red reptile. When the reptile sees the Diamond, it is banished into another dimension. I am absolutely certain that this fate also awaits He-Man.

Diamond Ray 1

We cut to the Palace, where Trapjaw is flying around on a stupid machine, shooting energy bolts and laughing in a way that suggests total mental collapse. Teela and her guards fly off to deal with Trapjaw, while Prince Adam and Cringer absent themselves to transform into He-Man and Battle-Cat. Once transformed, He-Man heads off to give Teela a hand, as he puts it, in a rather gleeful tone that implies it’s an innuendo. At any rate, the next scene sees him offering to give Trapjaw a hand, which I’m pretty sure isn’t an innuendo, just plain out-and-out sarcasm. Naturally, the encounter goes badly for Trapjaw, and He-Man and Teela head back to the Palace.

Diamond Ray 2

Unfortunately, they’re too late! Man-at-Arms, Orko, and the King and Queen are hanging out doing nothing useful, when the Sorceress shows up in eagle form to let them know Skeletor is in the Palace. If she had been a bit quicker, this might have been useful information, but as it is, it’s a waste of time. Skeletor finds his way to the throne room and makes everyone disappear, except Orko, who has his head in a golden pot for reasons which are frankly too complex to go into here.

Diamond Ray 4

Following this victory, Skeletor and his entourage head for Castle Grayskull, but He-Man has naturally made his way there too. He uses a mirror to communicate with the Sorceress, and it’s quite funny to watch He-Man shouting at his own reflection, asking what to do. Nonetheless, he gets the information he needs – all he has to do is destroy the Diamond, and everyone will be restored. With this knowledge, he decides it’s time to “arrange a little welcoming party” for Skeletor.

Diamond Ray 3

As welcoming parties go, it’s not a very subtle one. Skeletor and co. are outside, pulling the drawbridge open with a rope. When they manage it, the welcoming party consists of He-Man and Battle-Cat sitting inside, and they ride out to attack. The baddies make the traditional mistake of attacking He-Man one at a time (not that it would make a whole lot of difference if they all attacked at once), and are swiftly dispatched. Unnecessary help for He-Man comes in the form of Teela, Orko, Stratos and the rather exciting Ram-Man, whose special ability is to bounce.

This sequence is probably one of the longest pitched battle sequences we see in He-Man, and while it’s nothing on Helm’s Deep, it’s still pretty exciting. Still, all good things come to an end. He-Man uses dodgy physics to make Skeletor drop the Diamond, which promptly falls into a crack in the ground. The baddies flee, while He-Man reaches down the chasm to retrieve the Diamond. He works hard to crush it between his hands, which eventually he is able to achieve thanks to the inspirational backing track chanting, “He-Man! He-Man! He-Man!” over and over. This results in the safe return of Man-at-Arms, the Sorceress, and the King and Queen. Praise be to God. The King addresses He-Man, saying, “You have saved Eternia,” and the Queen adds, “And us.” Man-at-Arms at this point rather inexplicably winks at the camera, as if he’s planning on somehow taking credit for He-Man’s achievements.

Diamond Ray 5

We close with a completely insane scene back at the Palace. King Randor complains that Prince Adam is late, and Teela announces that she has good news and better news: Adam is on his way, and he’s found the King’s lost Zoom Chariot. There’s also, unfortunately, a little bit of bad news: he’s broken the directional control. At this point, Adam drives the vehicle through the wall of the Palace, thus demonstrating the afore-made statement. King Randor says, in a quite interesting tone, “Adam! You’ve destroyed the wall.” He doesn’t say it crossly; he just says it as if he’s imparting some mildly interesting information, as if Adam might not have noticed that he just flew a rather unwieldy vehicle through a solid brick wall. Orko then chimes in with the punchline, “But at least he’s destroyed it on time!”

Now then, this bears discussion. Firstly, of course, Adam isn’t destroying the wall on time, because the wall wasn’t scheduled to be destroyed at all. Secondly, if the wall were scheduled to be destroyed, and if Adam destroyed it at this point in time, it still wouldn’t have been destroyed on time, because – as we will recall – King Randor was mere seconds ago complaining about Adam being late. So, if you actually stop to think about it, this whole thing doesn’t make any sense. Neither, admittedly, does the episode in general, so perhaps we’ll leave it there.


In today’s adventure …

He-Man takes time out from his busy schedule to inform viewers that taking shortcuts is not the best way to get what you want: you have to work for things. This is only tenuously linked to the episode, though it has to be said there wasn’t a more immediately obvious moral to be seen in this story.


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance:

As he sidles out of the throne room to transform, Adam says, “Come on, Cringer, this is no place for us.” This prompts King Randor to make a sorrowful remark about how rubbish Adam is. The damaged father-son relationship between Randor and Adam is one of the best things about this cartoon, and it’s nice to see it already in situ here.



For the first time, someone other than Beast-Man gets insulted, as Skeletor refers to Trapjaw as a “clumsy clown”. However, he only says this behind Trapjaw’s back. On more familiar territory, Beast-Man is once again called “Furface” by Skeletor, less than 20 seconds into the episode


Characters featured

Lots of individuals this week, including Prince Adam, He-Man, Cringer, Battle-Cat, the Sorceress, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Trapjaw, Tri-Klops, Panthor, Evil-Lyn, Mer-Man, and a little red lizard. Probably a record, actually.


Egg on your face?

Three eggs for Man-at-Arms this week, courtesy of another of Orko’s magic tricks. It’s surprising how this joke just doesn’t get old.

Diamond Ray 6

Does it have the Power?

Of course it does. It’s got everything you might want from a He-Man episode – a ludicrous plot from Skeletor, an all-out assault on Castle Grayskull, pointless appearances from Ram-Man and Stratos, and not too much screen time for Orko. If ever anyone asked you, “What’s He-Man all about?” – unlikely a question as that is – you could do a lot worse than pointing them to this episode.

Episode 003 – Disappearing Act

In which Orko first demonstrates his ability to hash things up.

This week, we open with possibly one of Skeletor’s most dastardly plans – he forces a volcano to erupt, which he expects will devastate the Eternian Plains and make everyone flee. Once everyone flees, Skeletor will make his move on Castle Grayskull. Clever, eh? A flawless plan, in fact, except for one factor – He-Man, who is immediately on hand to stop the eruption by shooting the volcano. This upsets Skeletor so much that he decides it’s time to use the Invisibility Helmet he just happens to have lying around.

In the meantime, we are treated to an extended vignette in which Orko is trying to clean his room by magic. Naturally, this goes wrong and the end result is that he makes Prince Adam’s magic sword vanish. This is bad news – without his sword, how will Adam ever become He-Man again? The situation becomes even more dire when Man-at-Arms arrives and says Skeletor’s Doom Buster is in the woods, meaning Skeletor himself must be nearby.

Disappearing Act 1

And so it proves. Skeletor is nearby. He’s also invisible. Despite being invisible, he’s hiding behind a curtain, which is considerate of him, because it means Adam and Orko can see him when he moves. There is a very short one-sided confrontation, in which Skeletor freezes Adam and Orko, takes Adam to the Banshee Jungle, and informs Orko that if our heroes want Adam back, they’ll have to send He-Man to collect him. This seems like a bad idea, since as far as Skeletor knows, the likely outcome here is that He-Man will indeed show up, punch Skeletor, rescue Adam, and that’ll be the end of it. But advance planning has never really been Skeletor’s strength.

Man-at-Arms, Orko and Cringer consult the Sorceress, and learn that the sword has been transported back in time. Orko and Cringer are dispatched to the past to get the sword back, and it doesn’t take them long to discover that Adam’s sword is now in the possession of a distinctly dangerous looking large fellow, who seems to be using it to trim his fingernails. Despite attracting the attention of a huge collection of odd creatures, Orko and Cringer surprisingly competently retrieve the sword and return to the present.

Disappearing Act 4

Adam, in a cage in the Banshee Jungle, uses a plot device called a “bleeper” (possibly the least imaginative name for a machine in any animation ever) to attract the attention of his mate Stratos and also – less welcome – a horde of wolfbats. Once the wolfbats are dealt with, Adam tells Stratos to go away and find Man-at-Arms, who has been set to work building a remote-control He-Man. As soon as Stratos finds Man-at-Arms, he is told to go away and find Teela. I get the impression that no one really wants Stratos around.

Disappearing Act 2

Man-at-Arms, Orko and Cringer take the sword to Adam’s cage. Instead of passing it through the bars to him, they helpfully place it just out of reach outside the cage. Once Adam points out he can’t reach it, Orko passes it through the bars like he should have done all along, and Adam congratulates him on righting his initial mistake. Yeah, well done, Orko. Anyway, once he’s in possession of the sword, Adam becomes He-Man and heads off to dole out some justice.

Disappearing Act 5

In the meantime, the remote control He-Man has been leading Skeletor on a merry dance through the jungle, but this comes to a sorry end when the fake He-Man’s face falls off. Even Skeletor is not fooled following this. The whole sorry saga comes to a satisfying end when He-Man literally huffs and puffs and blows Skeletor and Beast-Man down. Beast-Man is captured and Man-at-Arms claims he’ll be taken to a prison mine, which sounds excitingly like slave labour and calls to mind the possibility of war crimes. Skeletor, on the other hand, does a perfect forward roll, but this doesn’t deter He-Man, who somehow contrives to get those beastly wolfbats from earlier to chase Skeletor away. Beast-Man seems to find this rather funny, or as funny as someone who’s about to be taken away to a life of hard labour can find anything.

Disappearing Act 3


In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms explains that He-Man used his brain to beat Skeletor, which is better than using his muscles. It’s a fair point, but one which applies to any number of stories. A more appropriate moral would be that Orko tried to take a shortcut to tidying his room, and look how that worked out. We could have learned that if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly. But thanks to Man-at-Arms choosing an irrelevant moral, I never learned that important lesson. And now just look at me. I might sue Man-at-Arms.


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

It would be bizarre if anyone offered one this week, given the whole point of the episode was that he didn’t disappear.


Characters featured

A new section here, requested by the good folks of This episode features, in no particular order, Prince Adam, He-Man, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Stratos, the Sorceress, Teela, some farmers, and a selection of monsters from Eternia’s dim and distant past.



Yet another rough ride for Beast-Man, who is called “Furface” and “Fool”, both by Skeletor. What’s more, in neither case did it seem particularly deserved.

Disappearing Act 6


Does it have the Power?

Yes, definitely. It’s a clever storyline, presenting a rather interesting dilemma – what if it’s literally impossible to do what needs to be done? Admittedly, the solution offered seems to be to go back in time and get your sword back from a giant, but there’s a limit to how these episodes relate to real life. Anyway, we are given three separate storylines running at the same time, giving each of our heroes something to do, and Skeletor and Beast-Man are entertainingly threatening. And when He-Man eventually does appear, it’s with a sense that in this case, it’s well-earned. Plus there’s that great bit at the start where we learn you can stop volcanoes erupting by shooting them with big-ass lasers. What’s not to like?

Episode 002 – The Shaping Staff

In which Evil-Lyn and Beast-Man turn King Randor into a goat.

This week, we open with He-Man doing some training by fighting some odd monsters. Afterwards, he comments to Man-at-Arms that Prince Adam will be late for dinner unless He-Man hurries. Man-at-Arms acknowledges the point, says, “I’ll see you there,” and helpfully drives off without offering He-Man a lift. Sure enough, we then cut to the Palace, where King Randor, Queen Marlena, Man-at-Arms and Teela are round the dinner table, being “entertained” by Orko’s magic. Prince Adam blunders in, runs directly into the only bit of furniture in an otherwise empty room, and falls over. All the assembled company then tell Adam he’s always too busy having fun, while he apologises over and over.

Shaping Staff 1

The Adam-baiting session is interrupted by the magical appearance of Majestra, a sultry sorceress who claims to wish to entertain the gathering with wondrous illusions. The gathering is entranced by her magic, which is admittedly better than Orko’s but is still pretty boring. However, the action heats up when Majestra introduces the Cabinet of Wonders, into which King Randor eagerly gets. The door is closed, and when it reopens, Randor is gone! Judging by the horrified expressions on everyone’s faces, you’d think they didn’t live in a world in which teleportation is normal – indeed, you’d think that they hadn’t seen Majestra teleport into this very room about 2.5 seconds ago.

But never fear, the Cabinet is closed and opened again, and Randor returns. He starts stuffing his face with chicken, and invites Majestra to remain in the Palace a little longer. He escorts Majestra to her room, in the course of which Majestra calls Randor a fool and says he nearly ruined everything, and Randor responds that no one suspects. Unfortunately for them, Orko has overheard this conversation. Fortunately for them, Orko’s only conclusion is that “There’s something funny going on around here”, which is perhaps a little bit of an understatement.

Viewers whose brains are bursting trying to solve this puzzle need wait no longer, since the very next scene reveals that Majestra is really Evil-Lyn! Shocked? I was. Her Cabinet of Wonders has in fact teleported King Randor into a dungeon, and replaced him with Beast-Man, who has been somehow disguised as Randor using a plot device called the Shaping Staff. After explaining the plot, Evil-Lyn transforms Randor into a goat. Orko, who has been listening in, is detected and turned into a cricket, though eagle-eyed viewers like myself will note that Orko in cricket form still looks like Orko, just a bit smaller and possessing legs.

Shaping Staff 2

The disguised Beast-Man and Evil-Lyn now tell Prince Adam and Man-at-Arms that in the morning, the Eternian Palace guards will be marching on Castle Grayskull to conquer it. Adam is suspicious, leading Evil-Lyn to decide to deal with him in the morning. This delay proves her undoing, since not unnaturally, Orko the cricket finds his way to Prince Adam’s bedroom and spills the beans. This scene is particularly pleasing because it reveals that Prince Adam’s pyjamas involve a short white skirt.

To help the animators out, Adam opts to get dressed into his normal white shirt and pink waistcoat thing before turning into He-Man. And just in the nick of time too, as Evil-Lyn and Beast-Man arrive to do whatever they were planning on doing with Adam. In the ensuing battle, Evil-Lyn manages to turn Teela into a frog – prompting the most hilarious close-up of He-Man’s face ever – and transforms He-Man into a golden statue, which is a pretty damn disturbing turn of events, if you ask me. All appears to be going Evil-Lyn’s way, even giving her the confidence to address Battle-Cat and Man-at-Arms thus: “You two are not worth bothering about.” This turns out to be true.

Shaping Staff 3

Over at Castle Grayskull, Skeletor is waiting for Evil-Lyn and Beast-Man to show up. To entertain himself, he announces that he will create an evil version of He-Man, which he does out of thin air. If Skeletor has such powers, one wonders why he and his team need the Shaping Staff at all. Anyway, Skeletor’s evil He-Man (called Faker) is a perfect copy, except he has glowing white eyes. While this isn’t ideal, it is better than the action figure version of Faker, which had blue skin. Not even Man-at-Arms is stupid enough to overlook that.

Anyway, Faker lures the Sorceress outside Castle Grayskull, where Evil-Lyn turns her into a tree (albeit a tree with the Sorceress’s head, which isn’t weird at all). Luckily, even when he’s a golden statue, He-Man is still able to communicate with the Sorceress telepathically. He helpfully suggests that she try to break the tree spell, which seems not to have occurred to her. Once the Sorceress returns herself to her normal form, with apparently minimal effort, she restores He-Man to normal, whose first priority is to throw Faker into a bottomless gorge.

Shaping Staff 4

Skeletor gets involved again, but is interrupted by the arrival of millions of Man-at-Arms clones, who I expect are the Palace guards, and from here on in it all goes tits up for Skeletor, Evil-Lyn and Beast-Man. Skeletor does get the chance to execute a perfect forward roll, though I’m not sure why he does it, but in doing so he drops the Shaping Staff. This proves to be a mistake, since He-Man simply breaks the Staff in half, restoring King Randor, Teela and Orko to normal. There is an argument that the show would have been better without at least one of these individuals, but I digress. Skeletor claims that he will restore Faker from the bottomless gorge, but I can only assume he doesn’t, because he’s never seen again. Then he trots off back to Snake Mountain, and our heroes go back to the Palace. Hurrah!


In today’s adventure…

Orko delivers a solemn little lecture on how dangerous strangers – in this case, sultry evil sorceresses like Majestra – can be. He reassures viewers that strangers are unlikely to turn them into animals, but curiously doesn’t go into what the dangers posed by strangers are, instead contenting himself with advising us to just float away. I wish Orko had been abducted by a stranger at this point in the series. It would have spared us so much future pain.


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

No one bothers to give an excuse this week, though at the end Teela does start haranguing Adam for never being around when he’s needed. I’ve never understood why they didn’t just tell Teela about the He-Man/Prince Adam situation. If a numbskull like Orko can be trusted with this information, I really don’t see why she can’t.



“Fool!” – Evil-Lyn to Beast-Man, while they are disguised as Majestra and King Randor. It’s barely even worth reporting.


Egg on your face?

This week Cringer is the lucky recipient of an egg in his face, dropped during the hilarious failure of Orko’s magic trick.

Shaping Staff 5 


Does it have the Power?

Well, it’s definitely a step up from The Cosmic Comet, but let’s be honest, that’s not too challenging. These early episodes of He-Man are actually rather interesting (relatively speaking) in that Skeletor and his cronies are presented as credible adversaries, rather than the clowns they would quickly become. As such, there’s not so much ludicrousness as we would later become accustomed to, and consequently these episodes are much less amusing. Still, it’s quite a fun episode, especially when Skeletor rolls out his rubbish fake version of He-Man. It’s worth a watch.