Episode 122 – Search for a Son

In which we learn that Man-at-Arms has ripped Mechaneck’s head off.

This episode opens with a blatant and, dare I say it, desperate piece of advertising. Mechaneck is in the Palace courtyard, playing Frisbee with a child called Derek, and Derek says, “It’s fun to play with Mechaneck.” Clearly the Mechaneck figure wasn’t selling well (can’t think why not) so the writers inserted this not particularly subliminal message in a transparent attempt to boost sales.

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Mechaneck: “Please buy my figure. It’s great. Please.”

Anyway, with very little provocation, Man-at-Arms shows up and tells Derek about Mechaneck’s past. Apparently, Mechaneck has a son called Philip, but on a visit to Dragon Mountain at some indeterminate point in the past, a massive storm blew up and Philip flew away in the wind. Mechaneck hurt his neck in the storm and fainted, at which point Man-at-Arms found him.

Man-at-Arms now gets on to a more interesting part of the story: because Mechaneck had hurt his original neck, Man-at-Arms gave him a bionic one – a procedure which almost certainly involved ripping Mechaneck’s head off and then reattaching it. This explains why Mechaneck has this ridiculous feature. It doesn’t explain why he was called “Mechaneck” before Man-at-Arms started doing experimental and possibly illegal neck replacement surgery on him. Frankly, Mechaneck is the sort of name you’d only have if you also already had a mechanical neck. The coincidence is almost too much, and I for one have become a firm believer in predestination as a result.

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Mechaneck: “What have you done to me, you crazed experimentalist?”

And now we learn what happened to Philip. He’s somehow fallen into the clutches of Count Marzo, who has previously appeared in both The Once and Future Duke and The Eternia Flower, and who in both these less-than-classic episodes was the hatcher of evil plots that involved children. Marzo is a little bit icky. I’m not sure why Philip doesn’t just run away from Marzo, because there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly compelling him to stay. Maybe this will be explained later. Probably not.

Back at the Palace, preparations are afoot for Randor, Marlena, Man-at-Arms, Teela and Mechaneck to go on an outing somewhere. Shortly before they leave, Mechaneck receives a visit from Marzo, who offers to return Philip in exchange for Mechaneck delivering Randor and Marlena. It seems Marzo wants to be King, and thinks that taking Randor prisoner is the way to achieve this. Mechaneck rejects the offer and runs off to tell Man-at-Arms, who instantly adds Adam and Cringer to the ranks of those unfortunate enough to go on the outing.

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King Randor: “Get out of my way, everyone. You’re standing between me and my throne.”

As they cross the desert, Mechaneck discovers an old fort containing an oasis, and recommends that the party stop for a rest. Would you believe it, the fort is a trap, and Marzo pops in for a little gloat. This doesn’t last long, since Adam turns into He-Man and opts for the standing-there-looking-stern approach, which is not very effective, given Marzo manages to successfully kidnap Randor and Marlena.

Marzo takes the King and Queen to his mountain fortress, where Philip is also imprisoned. He-Man and his gang – now featuring an unnecessary and unwelcome appearance from Buzz-Off – engage in all manner of silly shenanigans trying to break in, and finally succeed. Once they are inside, the episode gets no more exciting, featuring lots and lots of time-wasting until Philip falls down a pit and has to be rescued by Mechaneck, who extends his neck down the hole and allows Philip to hold onto it to come back up. What’s interesting here is that Philip says, “It’s good to be in your arms again, father!” rather than a more prescient comment like, “What the hell happened to your neck?” If I didn’t see my father for a matter of months, and when I finally did, he was able to extend his neck to at least 10 foot in length like Inspector Gadget, I’d definitely have a few things to say.

Son 4
Philip: “Father, hi …. is there something different about you?”

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela explains that we should always look where we’re going, and take care not to trip over. This draws inspiration from two completely irrelevant bits of the episode, in which Teela and Philip weren’t taking care. I think a more obvious moral is if you get caught in a storm and hurt your neck, you should absolutely insist on seeing a doctor, rather than a lunatic in a green and yellow body suit who wants to try twisted experiments on you. There is a chance that this moral was in the original first draft, but was rejected on the basis of being overly specific.

 

Character checklist

A very large contingent of our favourite idiots pops up today, including several who definitely didn’t need to be involved. There’s Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Mechaneck, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Buzz-Off, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Orko, Philip, Derek, Count Marzo, and Count Marzo’s big pink boring sidekick. There’s also loads of other Buzz-Offs, which is lovely.

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Count Marzo: “Stop right now, thank you very much, I need somebody with a human touch.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

“He’s safe, Teela. I don’t think we’ll need his help,” says He-Man. It turns out that He-Man is right. He didn’t need Buzz-Off’s help either, or Orko’s, or Teela’s. None of these people should have been in this episode.

 

Insults

It’s Marzo with a chip on his shoulder this week, especially in an early scene in which he variously calls Philip a “fool”, a “foolish boy”, an “ungrateful wretch” and a “scoundrel”. Marzo also has a “fool” for Mechaneck and another “fool” for his big pink servant, whose name escapes me. He-Man does address the big pink servant as “Blinky”, but I’m not sure if this is his name or just a completely irrelevant insult.

Son 6
Prince Adam: “Look how manly I am when I pose like this, Cringer!”

 

Does it have the Power?

Not really. It’s admirable, I suppose, for trying to fill in the blanks and explain why Mechaneck has his bionic neck, but the explanation raises more questions than it answers, and frankly, Eternia is so full of freaks as it is, I wasn’t really crying out for an explanation concerning Mechaneck. Nor was I particularly bothered in an exploration of his past, and I certainly wasn’t keen to see Count Marzo again. That being said, this is definitely the best of Marzo’s appearances, but that’s hardly high praise. As so often these days, this isn’t a classic, but it’s equally perfectly watchable.

Episode 112 – The Eternia Flower

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.

Flower 1
Cringer: “I may look benign, but I’m well savage.”

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.

Flower 2
Count Marzo: “This plan is so dull, even my sidekick looks bored out of his mind.”

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.

Flower 3
Orko: “Yeah, yeah, it’s a Black Nightmare. This one time, me and Dree Elle did a fuckload of these in Amsterdam, and, well, anyway, let’s just say Interpol have advised me never to return to the Netherlands.”

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.

Flower 4
Count Marzo: “It’s so humiliating to have been arrested by Teela, of all people.”

 

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.

 

Character checklist

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.

Flower 5
Chad: “Don’t look so upset, Teela, you might win Boy of the Year next year.”

 

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?

Flower 6
Jonno: “I’m really sorry, He-Man. Look how repentant I am.”

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.

 

Insults

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.

Flower 7
Teela: “Look, Jonno, if you keep on taking drugs you’ll soon enough have to deal with Gustavo Fring. And believe you me, you don’t want that.”

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.

Episode 058 – The Once and Future Duke

In which four characters lose their memories, but regrettably I can’t forget about this episode.

An amnesiac boy rescued from a carnivorous plant turns out to be David of Abra, an old childhood playmate of Adam and Teela. What is odd here is that David is still 8 years old, while Teela and Adam have matured into however old they’re meant to be. The royal family take it in turns to ask David questions to which he clearly cannot remember the answers, so he responds every time with a whinging “I don’t know” which quickly becomes very annoying.

duke-1
King Randor: “Adam, do you have to look quite so much like a child molester?”

Adam contacts the Sorceress, who helpfully explains the entire plot. David did grow up properly, but just as he was about to become Duke of Abra and become the new Keeper of the Ring of Remembrance, his evil uncle Count Marzo cast a spell to revert him to childhood and erase his memory. Marzo now is in possession of the Ring of Remembrance, and David can only be restored to his proper age if the Ring is recovered.

Man-at-Arms uses his dementedly-named Eterniascope to detect the Ring’s current location: the Lake of the Lost. Adam and Teela set off to recover the Ring, while Orko plays hide and seek with David. But tragedy strikes – Marzo teleports into the Palace, kidnaps David, and erases Man-at-Arms’ memory. Orko opts not to bother with Man-at-Arms, and instead stows away in the Marzomobile as it departs the Palace. (I don’t know why the Marzomobile is even at the Palace; Marzo teleported in, if you’ll recall.)

duke-2
Man-at-Arms: “A spanner is unquestionably the right tool for getting a post-it note off my helmet.”

Once safely ensconced in Chateau Marzo, Orko overhears Marzo’s cunning plan to doctor the water of the Lake of the Lost so that anyone who swims in it will have their memory erased. Orko manages to escape on a friendly dragon, but moronically falls into the Lake himself and loses his memory. This is He-Man’s perfect opportunity to get rid of Orko once and for all, but does he take it? Does he buggery.

Instead, He-Man deduces that Orko’s memory has been lost as a result of his dip in the Lake, so he empties the Lake of water. He and Teela then discover that the Lake bed is covered in fake Rings, but for absolutely no reason whatsoever the real Ring is attracted to He-Man’s sword like a magnet, thus rendering this entire scene completely pointless.

duke-3
He-Man: “Who needs H. Samuel when there’s loads of rings just lying around here, eh, Teela?”

He-Man puts the water back in the Lake by a method which I’m not even going lower myself to discuss, then restores Orko’s memory with the Ring, and Team He-Man then all hurtle off for Count Marzo’s castle. Marzo arranges for some fog to appear, causing Teela and Orko to lose their way and head into a tunnel, while He-Man gets momentarily frozen in a giant ice cube.

Luckily, Teela and Orko’s tunnel leads directly into the castle, allowing them to rescue David. This is nice for a few seconds, before the whole incompetent bunch of them are recaptured by Marzo. Of course, He-Man shows up at precisely the right moment to rescue them all, and as an added bonus, he arranges for Marzo to fall into the Well of Forgetfulness where he consequently forgets to be evil, however that works.

duke-4
Count Marzo: “I may have forgotten who I am and what’s going on, but I imagine I can say with certainty that I despise the four of you.”

As the episode ends, Man-at-Arms’ memory is restored (ironically, I’d forgotten that he’d lost it), and David gets his memory and adulthood back. Then Orko manages to transform himself into a giant draughts board, which is just plain mental.

 

In today’s adventure…

He-Man takes time out from his busy schedule to reassure us that we won’t lose our memory if we go swimming (so thank Christ for that), but it is important to remember the rules of water safety, which he specifies, in order of importance, as: 1) don’t play jokes in the water, 2) swim near adults, 3) never swim alone, and 4) don’t drown.

 

Character checklist

We’re lucky enough to catch glimpses of Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Orko, Man-at-Arms, King Randor, Queen Marlena, the Sorceress, David, Count Marzo and some weird muscular grey monster with a bowl haircut.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

On being confronted by the afore-mentioned grey monster with the bowl haircut, Adam legs it, saying, “I’ll see if there’s a way around it.” The monster is no bigger than your average inhabitant of Eternia, so this does sound a little crazy.

duke-5
Teela: “Didn’t you used to be in the Stone Roses?”

At the end of the episode, Adam also offers, “Looks like I missed all the fun.” Don’t worry, Adam. It wasn’t fun.

 

Insults

It’s pretty quiet on this score today, the only insult being Orko rather enigmatically calling his friendly dragon a “buzzhead”.

 

Does it have the Power?

I thought this episode was drivel from beginning to end. I didn’t care about David, and still less about Marzo. I didn’t really follow what Marzo was trying to achieve: I assume he wanted to be Duke of Abra himself, but he never specified this, and his plot was a stupid way of going about it. It quickly degenerated into endless scenes of Marzo trying increasingly tedious methods of capturing our heroes, though again what he intended to do with them when captured went unexplained. Marzo also rubbed me up the wrong way by having a really unsettling animation effect on several occasions when the camera transitioned to him: the picture goes fuzzy and then spins round and round in an epilepsy-inducing spiral. Definitely don’t bother with this episode.