Episode 92 – The Bibbet Story

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

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

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

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

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

Dee and Coo: “Fear us.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In today’s adventure…

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

Character checklist

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

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

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

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

Insults

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

Oh No, Bow!

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

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

Does it have the Power?

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

Episode 90 – Shades of Orko

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

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

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

She-Ra: “Get off my planet.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In today’s adventure…

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

Character checklist

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

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

Insults

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

Oh No, Bow!

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

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

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

Does it have the Power?

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

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

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

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

Episode 89 – Hordak's Power Play

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In today’s adventure…

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

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

Character checklist

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

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

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

Insults

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

Catra: “I can explain.”

Does it have the Power?

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

The He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In today’s adventure…

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

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

Character checklist

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

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

Excuse given for Adora and Adam’s transformations

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

Insults

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh No, Bow!

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

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

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

Does it have the Power?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Episode 88 – Portrait of Doom

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

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

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

Spritina: “Say cheese.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In today’s adventure…

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

Character checklist

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

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

Insults

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

Oh No, Bow!

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

She-Ra: “Worst Christmas present ever.”

Does it have the Power?

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

Episode 84 – Bow’s Magical Gift

In which Bow waves his wand around.

Hmm, yes. I’m sure Bow tells all the ladies he’s got a “magical gift” for them, but I’m not certain it’s a good idea to write an episode focussing on it. Still, here goes. We begin with Glimmer out for a walk in the forest, where she is immediately kidnapped by Shadow Weaver and Grizzlor. Shadow Weaver brandishes a wand and comments, “This wizard wand will handle Glimmer easily.” Frankly, Shadow Weaver, a dead badger could handle Glimmer easily. She’s utterly useless.

Luckily, She-Ra and Bow are on the scene, and to his credit, Bow is the mastermind behind Glimmer’s rescue. He even manages to steal the wand, and this is where the whole thing starts to go wrong. Bow begins to experiment with the wand, performing stupid magic tricks in pathetic attempts to impress the various ladies of the Rebellion.

She-Ra: “I swear to God, Bow, if you make any even VAGUELY sexual innuendoes involving that stupid wand, I will not be responsible for my actions.”

In the meantime, Horde Prime arrives in orbit around Etheria, and orders Hordak to round up the entire village of Glenmar to work in a new factory on Hordeworld. By the time the next scene rolls around, the Horde seem to have forgotten about this instruction, and are instead stealing a vast quantity of food for Horde Prime. Still, the end result is the same: Bow intervenes, using his newly acquired wand to stop the Horde Troopers.

She-Ra arrives on the scene and throws a hissy fit. She claims this is because Bow was not using his wand with due care and attention, but I have a suspicion that her real motive is because he stole her thunder. I say “her real motive” as if she’s a real person. Christ, I’ve been watching this cartoon so much I’m beginning to think it’s a fly-on-the-wall documentary.

Bow: “But, She-Ra, it’s…”
She-Ra: “Bow, think VERY carefully before you complete that sentence.”

Anyway, Horde Prime has another quick word with Hordak and tells him off for being a bit rubbish. He then comes up with a brilliant plan: if Hordak captures Bow, then the rest of the rebels will come and try to rescue him, and then Hordak can capture all of them. This is so simple, it’s genius. I don’t know why Hordak’s never thought of this for himself, except for all the billions of times he has. Someone needed to tell the She-Ra writers that kidnapping is not the only plausible plotline.

Worried about Bow’s growing obsession with the wand, She-Ra pops along to see Castaspella, a character who hasn’t appeared for ages, and even when she was around she was so vapid that I’d forgotten by now she even exists. Castaspella reveals that the wand is a powerful device, but it was made by Apple, so you have to plug it in every half an hour to make sure it stays charged. Bow hasn’t been doing this, which means the wand’s batteries must by now be nearly drained.

Villagers: “Would anyone really mind if we indulged in a spot of mob violence against Bow?”

Hordak finally remembers about the Glenmar village business, and rounds up the villagers. Of course, he’s now only doing this in order to lure Bow into a trap, and since the wand’s batteries die right at a crucial moment, things look pretty grim. Luckily, and inevitably, She-Ra appears, and from this point on, we are witness to yet another humiliating defeat for Hordak. Bow concludes that he’s been an idiot, and no one disagrees with him.

In today’s adventure…

I’ve got really rubbish at spotting Loo-Kee lately, although I’m sorry to say that I don’t really care. If you want to know, he was behind a tree in the village, and his pearl of wisdom for the day is that power is best when it’s used to help others. I could have sworn he says that power is like string in this respect, which is so completely nuts that I can’t help but conclude I’ve misheard somehow.

Loo-Kee: “Hello! String! Power! I’m mental.”

Character checklist

On today’s trip to Etheria, I spotted Adora, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Glimmer, Castaspella, Loo-Kee, three randomers who I think were called the Star Sisters, some villagers, some Twiggets, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Grizzlor, Horde Prime, and some Horde Troopers. As Swift Wind was in it I expect Spirit was too, but I don’t remember seeing him.

Insults

Hordak starts the ball rolling by calling Grizzlor and Shadow Weaver “idiots”, but thereafter the whole thing degenerates into an endless stream of shrieks of “fool!” We get one from Hordak to Bow, another from Hordak to Grizzlor, and one from Horde Prime to Hordak. A Horde Trooper at least attempts to mix it up a bit by calling a villager a “selfish fool”.

Horde Trooper: “Why are you insulting the villagers when you could be insulting Bow?”

Oh No, Bow!

Well, yes. This episode might as well be called “Oh No, Bow!” given the subject matter. He’s a complete tool in each and every scene, but special note has to go to the time he attempts to impress the Star Sisters by using the wand to pick up a rock with two Twiggets on it. Why he thinks they’d be impressed by this is less than clear. His only reward for this behaviour is a stern lecture from Adora: “Showing off to have fun is one thing, but showing off in a way that might hurt others … ooh, that’s not so good.”

Even with this less-than-ringing endorsement, he carries on messing about with the wand until its batteries die. Unfortunately, the batteries die while he’s waving a boulder about, resulting in the destruction of a man’s house. At the end of the episode, Bow, Glimmer and She-Ra all volunteer to rebuild the house. Don’t think I’m ungrateful or anything, but if these three offered to build me a house, I’d politely decline in favour of someone with a good rating on Checkatrade, or at the very least in favour of someone who didn’t live in a forest.

Glimmer: “Yep, I may be useless at everything else, but I’m surprisingly good at architecture.”

It’s also worth mentioning that Horde Prime claims that the wand has made Bow into “an over-confident show-off”. I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Bow has always been an over-confident show-off, ever since he first minced onto the screen back in Into Etheria. It’s so nice to know that I only have 9 more episodes left, and after that, this idiot version of Bow will be out of my life forever.

Does it have the Power?

Actually, this one’s pretty good fun. It’s always entertaining to see Hordak having to answer to his boss, so the Horde Prime scenes are worth the price of admission alone. Shadow Weaver is also relatively on form, and even Grizzlor is actually mildly amusing. Adora and She-Ra are rather tedious this week, it has to be admitted, being in full humourless harridan mode. Bow is the star of the show, though, and just about manages to carry it without being terribly annoying. In addition, after some of the lacklustre efforts lately, this one feels a bit more energetic. Just for not being dreadful, I’m going to award this episode a pass.

Episode 83 – She-Ra Makes a Promise

In which Bow might as well rename himself Captain Obvious.

This episode begins with a really random scene where all the rebels argue about what their favourite food is. With the sole exception of one of the Twiggets, they eventually agree that they all very much enjoy some weird foodstuff called golden spuffles. I am sure your lives are greatly enriched by your acquisition of this information. Anyway, the Twigget who hates spuffles suddenly decides that he fancies Adora’s pants off, so he decides to go and get some spuffles for her.

Twiggets: “Nice to get the limelight for a change. Allows us to show off that we’re insane.”

Unfortunately, golden spuffles only grow on the banks of a river in the Fright Zone, which means the stupid Twigget – whose name is Sprocker – gets himself captured pretty much immediately. His captor is Octavia, that green tentacled lady we last saw ages ago in Treasures of the First Ones. Her big idea is to use Sprocker as bait to capture She-Ra, which is such a stunningly original plan that Hordak agrees to it at once.

Hordak sends Adora a note to explain that the rebels will never see Sprocker again, unless She-Ra shows up at the Fright Zone, unaccompanied, unarmed, and mentally unbalanced. He doesn’t actually say that last bit, in case I needed to clarify there. Adora decides that she has no choice, so she pops off into the woods and transforms into She-Ra.

Once She-Ra gets to the Fright Zone, Hordak promises to release Sprocker and never attack the rebels again, if She-Ra will promise to place herself under arrest, never try to escape, and obey all Hordak’s commands to the letter. She-Ra agrees to these terms and is escorted out to the dungeons, while Hordak keeps his word and releases Sprocker.

She-Ra: “You idiot. I don’t even like those stupid golden spuffle things. I was just saying that to shut you lot up.”

Locked in her cell, She-Ra decides to escape – but then realises that she has made a promise, and will not break it. She instead concludes that the best thing to do is stand around in the dungeon shouting, “He-Man! He-Man! I need help!” Yes you do, She-Ra, but not in the way you think. Anyway, He-Man astoundingly manages to hear She-Ra, and enthusiastically appears on Etheria to bust her out of prison.

In the meantime, Hordak has violated his side of the bargain by capturing Bow, Madame Razz and Broom. He’s also, somewhat unusually, taken the trouble to arrest Bow’s horse, though I suppose in fairness the horse does have a bigger brain than Bow does. He carts them off to Beast Island, which means He-Man and She-Ra have to go to Beast Island as well and bring them back. After they’ve dealt with that, He-Man and She-Ra stare at each other with expressions suggesting that they have the sort of sibling love that society isn’t prepared to accept.

He-Man: “Incest is just a social construct, maaan.”

In today’s adventure…

I feel like the animators couldn’t be bothered trying to hide Loo-Kee today, since the episode’s very first shot is a massive close-up of his face. His advice today is that it’s okay if we feel a sort of sexual feeling for our siblings, but it’s probably best if we don’t act on it, and it’s better yet if we could move to a planet in a different dimension to avoid temptation.

Once again, of course, I’m lying, but my idea was about 100 billion times more interesting than Loo-Kee’s drivel, which is that we must always tell our parents where we’re going. I must have missed this episode as a child, since I have been known to go on holiday for two weeks without telling my parents, and if I’d seen this episode and learned this lesson, I’d never do that.

Loo-Kee: “Only 10 episodes left, and then you’ll never have to see me again.”

Character checklist

Okay, lads, we’ve got Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Prince Adam, He-Man, Bow, Kowl, Madame Razz, Broom, Sprocker, the other Twiggets, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Octavia, Mantenna, Imp, and some Horde Troopers.

Insults

Madame Razz considers Sprocker a “scallywag”, which is exceptionally mild. I think he’s a dick. Hordak starts off imaginatively, with “armour-plated pop-eye” for Mantenna, but he all too quickly lapses back into old habits, by calling Mantenna a “fool” and addressing Bow and Madame Razz as “fools” as well. Bow retaliates by referring to the entire Horde as “cowards”.

Oh No, Bow!

When Adora receives Hordak’s note asking She-Ra to come unarmed to the Fright Zone, Bow chirps up, “It could be a trap!” You know what, Bow, you might be on to something there. You’re right. It definitely COULD be a trap. There’s certainly an outside possibility, isn’t there? That’s a degree of prescience bordering on the fucking supernatural you’ve got going on there, Bow. It’s a wonder MI5 haven’t recruited Bow, given his uncanny grasp of the subtleties of counter-intelligence.

To put it another way – of course it’s a trap, you complete and total tool. Now shut up, unless you’ve got anything to contribute, which we all know you haven’t.

Bow: “I wonder if maybe this is a trap too?”

Does it have the Power?

This one clearly started out in the writer’s room as a quite interesting notion. I like the idea of She-Ra being forced into making a bargain with Hordak, but frankly that’s the only good thing about this episode. The setup to the promise bit is less than compelling: the golden spuffles nonsense is completely random, and She-Ra could have easily rescued Sprocker and done a runner without having to enter into any kind of deal. Once she’s locked up, she does agonise a little about breaking the promise, but seems to think that calling on He-Man to rescue her does not constitute trying to escape. She’s then let off the hook all too easily because Hordak goes back on his side of the deal: it could have been an interesting episode if She-Ra had had to choose to break her promise when Hordak had kept his. All in all, we have a missed opportunity here, which is somehow more frustrating than the episodes that never had a hope of being any good. Still, there’s enough of a decent effort here to make it worth a watch.

Episode 82 – The Locket

In which Sorrowful and Sea Hawk make pointless reappearances.

Hurrah! It’s a triumphant return for Sorrowful the S&M dragon! Last seen absolutely ages ago in The Laughing Dragon, Sorrowful appears to have taken up a successful career as a storyteller, entertaining the rebels with tales of his exploits against the Horde. After Sorrowful has told his less-than-enthralling story, a girl called Dina pesters Adora for a tale. Adora responds by showing her half of a magic locket, given to her by Sea Hawk at the end of their last dirty weekend.

Sorrowful: “They told me I’d sell out the O2, and yet here I am in this half-empty dive.”

Imp, who is lurking about pointlessly, causes a disruption by tickling Sorrowful, and takes advantage of the ensuing chaos to nick the locket from Dina. Once the rebels realise what has happened, Adora, Bow, Kowl, Madame Razz and Sorrowful give chase – and despite being refused permission to come too, Dina follows. I’m sure this won’t end badly.

Imp brings the locket to Shadow Weaver, who immediately starts trying to figure out what magic powers it has. She sends Rattlor out to delay the rebels, and he initially does an outstandingly poor job, even managing to be bested by Bow. On the other hand, he does succeed in capturing Dina, which I think we all saw coming really. Rattlor then ups his game considerably, and captures Adora as well.

Rattlor: “Horde Troopers on my left – good job. Horde Troopers on my right – why the hell are you doing that stupid dance?”

Sea Hawk and Swen now show up at the Horde base, and Shadow Weaver captures Sea Hawk as well. This is turning into a seriously incompetent outing for the rebels. Shadow Weaver discovers that Sea Hawk has the other half of the locket, and demands to know the magic secret. When it emerges the locket will only work for Adora and Sea Hawk, Shadow Weaver snaps, “I don’t care about your worthless locket.” You and me both, Shadow Weaver.

Adora, Sea Hawk and Dina are transferred to the Fright Zone, where Hordak shouts at them for a while before they start escaping. I’ve never been impressed with the reaction speeds of the baddies in She-Ra, but in this scene they are even less responsive than Windows 8. They simply stand around and watch as our heroes do a runner. Eventually, Hordak recaptures Dina, so Adora becomes She-Ra right in the middle of the throne room, just in case none of the Horde knew about the secret identity.

There’s then a massive load of tedious mucking about, which finally and mercifully concludes with Sorrowful rescuing Dina, and She-Ra nicking the locket back off Shadow Weaver. Then Dina apologises for going along on the stupid mission when she was told not to, and Adora puts on a stupid cross-eyed expression for no readily apparent reason. And then it ends, thank God.

Adora: “Yes, I’m off my tits on smack again. Sorry, kids.”

In today’s adventure…

I didn’t find Loo-Kee in today’s rubbish episode, and I am quite distraught about it. He advises us to always think about how what we’re doing might affect other people, which is precisely what Dina didn’t do today. A reasonable moral, but not reasonable enough to redeem this episode.

Character checklist

Perhaps hoping that billions of characters would distract us from the many many problems with this episode, we’re treated to a fair range today. There’s Adora, She-Ra, Bow, Madame Razz, Kowl, Broom, Sea Hawk, Swen, Sorrowful, Dina, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Rattlor, Mantenna, Leech, Catra, Imp, loads of Horde Troopers, and a load of random rebels.

Dina: “Yes, okay, I wish I hadn’t got involved now.”

Insults

Madame Razz calls Imp a “little sneak” twice, so she’s obviously pretty pleased with that one. We’re also lucky enough to get the obligatory “fools”, dispensed by Rattlor to his Horde Troopers. Shadow Weaver calls Sea Hawk a “rebel traitor”, after which She-Ra goes on the offensive, calling Hordak a “monster” and Shadow Weaver a “Horde witch”.

Oh No, Bow!

Look at the picture below. What the hell is Bow doing? He walks up to She-Ra and Sea Hawk as if he’s got a hunchback, then stands there looking like this. What is his problem? Apart from being mental, of course.

She-Ra: “Yeah, I’m just going to ignore that.”

Does it have the Power?

This episode is just incredibly amateurish. The storyline barely exists, and the vague threads that are there don’t know whether they want to be about the locket’s magic powers or Sorrowful’s weird relationship with Dina. Sea Hawk seems to be randomly inserted into an episode in which he really doesn’t belong, and the other rebels have nothing to do, so they spend their time just being pointlessly shot at. To top it off, the dialogue is really badly written, the voice actors appear to be sleepwalking their way through, and the whole thing is incredibly wooden. This one really is towards the bottom of the barrel.

Episode 80 – The Perils of Peekablue

In which Loo-Kee gets on about drugs again.

Good God, this episode starts with a slow pan through the Fright Zone that lasts so long I thought the entire episode was going to comprise a weird, experimental mood piece. Once the creepy music stops playing and something actually happens, after what seems like 5 minutes, we are treated to a scene in which a prisoner called Peck escapes from the dungeons, and makes a bid for freedom.

Little does this unfortunate dude know that Hordak has let him escape on purpose, simply so that he can test his new weapon, a device called the Grabber. The Grabber is good for one thing, and that’s grabbing people who are running about on the ground. Peck is grabbed, and returned to the dungeons, while Hordak declares the test a success.

Peck: “I feel like I should somehow have seen this coming.”

Shadow Weaver points out that the Grabber is only any use if the Horde can see what it is trying to grab, and notes that if Hordak wants to grab anyone in Whispering Wood, he won’t be able to because Horde magic cannot penetrate the trees. All of this rubbish is an unnecessarily long preamble to Hordak’s decision to capture Peekablue, a rebel whose ability is to see anywhere.

When the Horde Troopers show up to kidnap Peekablue, She-Ra is on the scene, and if there’s one thing She-Ra loves, it’s beating the merry hell out of Horde Troopers. On this occasion, however, the merry hell beating is counter-productive: while She-Ra is so occupied, some other Horde Troopers successfully make off with Peekablue. Once Peekablue is at the Fright Zone, Shadow Weaver casts a spell on her, enslaving her into complete obedience to the Horde.

Peekablue: “Hordak, you need a new toaster.”

With Peekablue guiding the Grabbers, Hordak starts snatching up rebels left right and centre. The first one he captures is the ever useful Glimmer, followed by the even less useful Bow, both of whom are conveyed to the Fright Zone for a scene of pointless gloating, after which they are despatched to the dungeon. Shortly thereafter, Adora allows herself to be captured by the Grabber, and joins her friends in the finest cell the Fright Zone has to offer.

 I’m not really sure what Adora was hoping to achieve by deliberately getting herself locked up, but luckily the rebels have been placed in a cell with Peck. You remember Peck, that irrelevant dude from the start of the episode? Anyway, it turns out that Peck has spent the last six years of his imprisonment digging a tunnel, but gave up when it only led deeper into the dungeons. Well, Peck, perhaps you should have angled your tunnel upwards rather than down. That’s the thing about digging tunnels that maybe Peck doesn’t know: you can actually choose what direction you dig them.

Peck: “Yes yes, this is definitely an escape tunnel and definitely not my sex dungeon.”

Well, there’s no need to dwell on Peck any longer. Now he’s revealed the existence of his tunnel, he can go back to being irrelevant. Adora nips down the tunnel and turns into She-Ra, after which she comes back to rescue Bow, Glimmer and Peck. In the course of this rescue, Glimmer reveals that she has the power to turn herself and other people invisible, which is a new one. Glimmer’s powers are so weirdly variable. Remember when she was randomly able to fly that one time?

She-Ra then goes off to rescue Peekablue, and helpfully manages to break the mind control spell as well. The whole crowd of rebels then return happily to Whispering Wood, where they discover that Peck is the father of another rebel called Keeber, though I should add there is no particular reason why the viewer should give a monkey’s about this revelation. Then there’s a very bad joke, and a lot of hearty laughter, in which I did not partake.

Peekablue: “Yeah, it’s great to be here with you lot and your tedious ‘jokes’.”

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee eluded me today, so I expect he’s feeling pretty pleased with himself. He’s off on one about drugs again, claiming that Shadow Weaver’s mind control spell is pretty much the same thing as drugs, and so presumably if we take drugs we might find ourselves working for the Horde. I wonder what happened to Loo-Kee in the past with drugs, since he seems very keen to involve them in pretty much any conversation, no matter how tangential they are to the subject in hand.

Character checklist

Today we are lucky enough to see Adora, She-Ra, Glimmer, Peekablue, Flutterina, Peck, Keeber, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, and some Horde Troopers. Surprisingly, there’s cameo appearances for Prince Adam, Cringer and Orko. And let’s not forget Bow, who manages to look very special indeed at the end of the episode.

Bow: “There’s a fair chance I’ve been on some of those drugs Loo-Kee was wittering about.”

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

“Adora’s safe, don’t worry,” says She-Ra, when she comes to rescue Bow, Glimmer and Peck. I think it would have been better if She-Ra had said, “Adora went back to the Whispering Woods, and left you clowns to rot in here. She hates your stupid faces.”

Insults

There’s a fair few imaginative insults this week, though Hordak sets a low starting bar by referring to Peck as a “pitiful fool” and then just a “fool”. He’s similarly dull with Shadow Weaver, who also gets a “fool”, but he then outdoes himself by calling Glimmer a “sparklehead”.

Hordak: “Just popping on Twitter to tell She-Ra she’s a fool.”

The rebels are clearly in a bad mood too; Bow addresses the Grabber as a “tin trespasser”, and then goes nuts at Hordak, calling him a “beast”, an “evil vicious monster” and “bat-ears”. Glimmer gets in on the act with “cruel creature” and “monster”, while Peekablue rounds up with “cruel, evil, heartless tyrant”. Hordak seems pretty pleased with this last description, so it’s up to you whether you’d choose to define it as an insult or not.

Does it have the Power?

No, but neither is it stupefyingly bad. It’s just a pretty average day on Etheria, really, with nothing to elevate it to the heavens or bring it crashing down into the depths. Watch it, don’t watch it, I don’t care.

Episode 78 – When Whispering Woods Last Bloomed

In which we meet two new recruits to Team She-Ra.

Adora and Madame Razz are out in the forest, feeding a variety of interestingly deformed animals, but have to put a stop to this when they hear the unmistakeable sound of Catra capturing Bow and a load of other rebels. That means it’s leotards off and tiaras and red capes on for Adora, who in her She-Ra guise puts Catra and the Horde to flight pretty speedily. The whole thing is watched from a vantage point by two ladies, called Spinnerella and Netossa, who decide the most appropriate follow-up to all the excitement is to go to the pub.

Netossa: “Lovely little boozer, eh, Spinnerella?”

They are met there by Shadow Weaver, who has heard of Spinnerella’s amazing power. In case you’re having difficulty with this one, I can here reveal that Spinnerella’s power is to spin round really fast, creating a hurricane. Shadow Weaver hopes to persuade Spinnerella to use this power to knock down the trees of Whispering Wood, and to this end she captures Netossa in a magical forcefield, then tells Spinnerella that Netossa has been kidnapped by the rebels.

Spinnerella offers to use her powers to shift the trees out of the way, so that Hordak can send in his Troopers to rescue Netossa. I think it’s fair to say that Spinnerella is an idiot. I reckon I could have seen through this plot, even if I hadn’t had the benefit of watching 77 previous episodes of Hordak’s silly schemes. Still, we mustn’t dwell on that. Let’s move on to the good bit.

The good bit is where Spinnerella hitches a lift in a Horde truck down to the trees of Whispering Wood. She then starts spinning, and the hare-brained plan actually works; for the first time I can remember, the Horde manage to enter Whispering Wood. Unfortunately, it all begins unravelling a few seconds later, when Spinnerella addresses Adora and Bow to demand Netossa’s release. Naturally, Adora and Bow don’t have a clue what she’s talking about, and say as much.

Spinnerella: “I’ll huff and puff and I’ll blow your tower down. Okay, I’ll spin and blow it down, but nothing sensible rhymes with spin.”

Spinnerella doesn’t believe them, so carries on spinning. Adora trots off to become She-Ra, then contacts Light Hope to find out who and where Netossa is. Light Hope supplies this information in a pretty sane manner – comparative to his last appearance, Out of the Cocoon, in which he was as loony as loony can be.

Armed with Light Hope’s information, She-Ra beetles off to the Fright Zone and rescues Netossa. After the situation is explained to her, Netossa comes with She-Ra and tells Spinnerella that she’s a complete moron, so Spinnerella obligingly changes sides and spins Hordak out of the forest. With Hordak gone, She-Ra tells Spinnerella that she’s damaged all the trees, and asks her to spin in the opposite direction to put them back to rights. Yes, She-Ra. I’m sure that’ll work. Oh. It does. But you’ve got to admit, in any world governed by sanity, it wouldn’t work.

Netossa: “Well, I hope you feel ashamed of yourself, you idiot.”

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee is in a tree in Whispering Wood, but sadly not one of the ones that got blown down. He tells us that we really should enjoy trees, as well as protecting them. If only Bolsonaro were watching.

Character checklist

Well, there are of course the newbies, Spinnerella and Netossa, and a decent selection of the regulars: Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Madame Razz, Broom, Kowl, Light Hope, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Catra, Grizzlor, Mantenna, Imp, and all those Horde Troopers, obviously.

Adora: “Feeding time at the zoo. You too, Madame Razz.”

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

“I’ll go for help,” Adora offers, generously. Once she’s gone, She-Ra miraculously shows up! Who’d have thought it?

Insults

Hordak addresses Catra, Mantenna and Grizzlor as “fools”, after which Catra and Imp trade barbs: Catra calls Imp a “little creep”, and Imp retaliates with “little feline failure”, which is a rather satisfying turn of phrase which I might use while addressing my cat. Elsewhere, the only contribution Netossa makes to the episode is standing in her jail cell shouting “big chunks of scrap metal”, “walking junk piles” and “walking vacuum cleaners” at the Horde Troopers.

Oh No, Bow!

Adora tells Bow to “do your best” while she goes to get help. When she returns after having turned into She-Ra, gone to the Fright Zone, rescued Netossa and come back again, Bow has achieved absolutely nothing. He hasn’t even moved. If this is his best effort, I dread to think what his worst is.

Adora: “Bow, did you leave your hairdryer on again?”

Does it have the Power?

It’s a decent enough introduction to Spinnerella and Netossa, though the emphasis is very much on the former; we learn that she’s capable of generating a whirlwind and is incredibly gullible. I’m not really sure how much use Spinnerella will be: I’m pretty sure that She-Ra is more than capable of spinning and generating a whirlwind by herself. I can’t think of a specific episode to prove it, but She-Ra can do everything else, so the whirlwind trick seems likely.

Anyway, all we learn about Netossa is that she’s got a net (hence her name, presumably) and she’s good at getting captured. Admittedly, that’s pretty much all she needs to be one of She-Ra’s sidekicks, but since there’s plenty of other clowns who fulfil this role, I don’t expect we’ll be seeing Netossa again. I’m going to be honest here: I don’t actually care if we see Netossa or Spinnerella again or not, so either way is a win for me.

The story is not very exciting, really. For one thing, Hordak tricking people into helping him is not a new idea, and for another, it’s not long since we had an episode about Shadow Weaver using the wind to defeat the rebels, and while this episode is much better than Above It All, it’s still not good by any objective standards. Unless you really want to know where Spinnerella and Netarsa came from, I’d conclude there’s no need to watch this episode.

As noted last review, I haven’t got loads of time at the moment; we’re still on a very much as-and-when basis. I’m hoping to have another review up next week, but no promises.