In which we return to the rich and exciting storyline potential offered by the need to stop 5-year-olds taking cocaine.
Teela, Orko and Prince Adam are eagerly awaiting the arrival of some children named Jonno and Chad. Cringer is quite sensibly not looking forward to the appearance of these no-doubt dreadful individuals, but Teela tells him that he’s got to at least try to be nice. I hope this is the episode where Cringer reverts to his animal instincts and tears the children limb from limb.
It transpires that Jonno is at the Palace to receive the disturbingly titled Boy of the Year Award, but after dropping Chad off, he mysteriously flies off again. Knowing that the audience would be unable to contain their excitement as to Jonno’s destination, the writers wisely reveal that he has gone off to meet Count Marzo, last seen in The Once and Future Duke.
Marzo has evidently remembered how to be evil again, after forgetting at the end of his previous appearance. He offers Jonno the opportunity to sniff a black flower, so long as Jonno promises to arrange for Marzo to meet all the other children at the awards ceremony. Jonno strikes the bargain, and wanders off, happily inhaling the flower. Marzo helpfully explains to the camera that his plan is to make the children of Eternia so dependent on his flowers that they will do anything he tells them. This will somehow lead to Marzo ruling Eternia. Great plan. I bet He-Man won’t see through it.
Jonno shows up at the awards ceremony, stoned off his tits. He stands on top of a high wall and nearly falls off. He-Man arrives just in time, but instead of saving Jonno himself, he opts to pick Teela up and throw her onto the wall as well. Then it’s down to Teela to save Jonno, while He-Man stands at the bottom of the wall with a really odd smirk on his face.
Back at the Palace, Prince Adam finds the black flower in Jonno’s shuttle. Orko is able to identify it as a Black Nightmare, a plant from Trolla that can affect one’s mind. In some ways, it’s a bit like a drug, guys, and DRUGS ARE BAD. Orko reveals, however, that all the Black Nightmares were eradicated from Trolla years ago, and goes off to call his Uncle Montork about it. It had me worried for a moment there, but luckily, Montork doesn’t actually appear. Offscreen he informs Orko that Count Marzo must be responsible.
Count Marzo next decides to kidnap Jonno and Chad, and takes them to a spot out in the desert to which he claims every child on Eternia will be coming that night. He wants Jonno to introduce all the children to the flower, and recruit them into Marzo’s army. Jonno has no problem with this, until Marzo gives Chad a flower. Chad promptly goes into the worst display of acting stoned I’ve ever heard, though I admit voice-acting a stoned child is a fairly challenging brief. Anyway, on seeing this, Jonno utters the phrase uttered by every child that guest-stars on He-Man: “Oh no! And it’s all my fault!”
I’ll admit, he reacts pretty well. He seizes a radio transmitter from Marzo, and broadcasts to all the children, telling them to turn back. Marzo isn’t pleased about this, so summons a pair of wolfbats and then does a runner when he sees Adam, Teela, Orko and Cringer arriving. Naturally, he escapes, but at least Jonno and Chad are saved.
I thought this episode would be over at this stage, but for some reason Adam is absolutely determined to pursue Count Marzo to the ends of the universe. Normally, he’s happy to let the baddies get away, but not this time. So we are treated to a brief but insane diversion to the planet Erronia, where Marzo is hiding. Marzo ends up being taken to a prison planet. Naturally, I was overjoyed at this outcome.
In today’s adventure…
Teela wants to know if we know anyone who uses drugs. She wants to know their name, their address, their national insurance number, and whether they’ve got previous. She wants to know if we think this hypothetical drug user should be locked up for ever, and if we don’t think that, Teela wants to know why not. Teela wants to know if we use drugs, and wants to let us know that if we do, the firing squad is too good for us. Teela has our best interests at heart.
This sorry excuse for a Public Information Film features Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Orko, the Sorceress, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Chad, Jonno, Count Marzo, Count Marzo’s sidekick, and all the loopy attendees of the Boy of the Year Award ceremony.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
We are treated to three transformations this week – just like we were the last time He-Man decided to Say No To Drugs. On both occasions, this is plainly because there’s not enough story to fill the time otherwise.
The first time, seeing Jonno is standing on a high wall and out of his mind, Prince Adam gives the best excuse he’s ever managed: “I’ll fetch something to reach him.” He gets out of sight and transforms, returning as He-Man. Brilliant excuse, with the minor drawback that when Adam doesn’t come back with a ladder or whatever, everyone will think he’s completely useless.
The second time, Adam tells Teela and Orko to chase Count Marzo, and once they’re out of sight, he transforms into He-Man. He’s overlooking the fact that Jonno and Chad are less than five metres away from him, so they are guaranteed to see this transformation. Admittedly, Chad is still stoned out of his skull, and Jonno is very concerned about him, so perhaps they didn’t notice?
The third time, there’s no attempt at an excuse offered, and on top of this, it’s completely inconceivable that Teela wouldn’t work out the dual identity situation. It’s so bloody stupid that I’m not even going to discuss it.
I think this episode must hold the record for the number of uses of the word “fool”, which really is saying something in a series this obsessed with fools. Marzo calls Jonno a “young airhead” early on, but thereafter it’s all about the fools. Marzo addresses his giant pink sidekick as a “fool”, then calls Jonno a “young fool” and a “fool boy”. Then Jonno calls himself a “fool” an astonishing four times, three of which are in the course of the same sentence.
Does it have the Power?
Well, in its favour, this episode is big on continuity with previous episodes. Chad is the same character as the one from Double Edged Sword, Marzo has previously appeared in The Once and Future Duke, and we get a reference to Uncle Montork from various tripefests such as Orko’s Favourite Uncle. So if continuity is your thing, you’re in for a treat.
Equally, if ridiculously unsubtle drugs stories are your thing, then this is the episode for you. It’s not quite as bad as A Friend in Need, though it does come dangerously close, and it’s still fair to describe this episode as an utterly appalling waste of time. I remain convinced that the target audience for this programme (4 or 5 year olds in 1980s America) were not threatened by the use of illegal drugs, and even if they were, they wouldn’t refuse to take them simply because a cartoon muscle-bound oaf told them not to. The episode is boring and irritating in equal measure, and its message is unnecessary. So don’t bother.