Episode 099 – Hunt for He-Man

In which an idiot child tries to sell He-Man to Skeletor.

Adam and Cringer are out testing the new auto-pilot system that Man-at-Arms has installed in a Wind Raider. Unfortunately, Skeletor decides that he would like to acquire the auto-pilot system, so forces Adam to crash in the Misty Swamps. The Wind Raider lands in a pool of water and begins to sink, which is bad news for Cringer, whose tail is stuck. Adam transforms into He-Man and drags the Wind Raider out of the water, saving Cringer.

Hunt 1
Cringer: “Christ! I’ve just remembered that last time I was in the Wind Raider with Adam, he made me jump out for no reason!”

Unfortunately, something is wrong with He-Man. He complains of feeling weak, and when the two companions get stuck in a trap, he cannot break them out. Luckily, the trap is owned by an old man and his grandson called Drac, rather than Skeletor and his cronies. The old man explains that the swamp water is poisonous, which explains He-Man’s lack of strength, and offers to nurse him back to health.

Drac, however, is in favour of turning He-Man over to Skeletor, arguing that Skeletor would make a powerful friend. His grandfather tells him that he should choose his friends carefully, and orders him to fetch the cart, after which they load He-Man into it and head off to the village. For no evident reason, the cart can hover, for which the only explanation I can come up with is that Filmation couldn’t be bothered to animate wheels. All the way, Drac suggests over and over that Skeletor would give them money and power in return for He-Man; but the grandfather won’t hear of it.

Hunt 2
Drac: “But if we sold He-Man, I could get some new clothes, ones that don’t make me look like I’ve escaped from The Sound of Music.”

Skeletor, Trapjaw and Whiplash cruise the swamps, looking for traces of the Wind Raider. Once they find it is damaged beyond repair, they decide that instead they will try to kidnap some prisoners to work in the mines. Learning through Skeletor’s magic that He-Man is weak and helpless, the three of them get very excited, and head off to capture him.

Unfortunately, on our heroes’ arrival at the village, they find that Skeletor has got there first, and burned the entire place down, kidnapping the populace to work in the mines. Drac now sees the truth about Skeletor and there’s no more talk of selling He-Man out. Unfortunately, all the village’s medicine has been destroyed, so He-Man, Cringer, Drac and the grandfather must journey to the Healing Tree in order to make more.

Hunt 3
Cringer: “Why did I have to pull this stupid levitating cart?”

Our heroes reach the Healing Tree, but Skeletor tracks them down using a Hunter Robot. Since He-Man needs time to heal, Drac comes up with a plan to buy such time. It’s a pretty rubbish plan, to be honest, consisting simply of Drac talking to Skeletor and trying to flatter him, and is so transparent that even Skeletor sees through it in about 15 seconds.

That’s all the time needed though: He-Man makes a full recovery and goes barrelling into Skeletor’s ship, freeing all the prisoners from the village and destroying as many robots as he can get his silly tanned hands on. Skeletor, Whiplash and Trapjaw put in their usual poor efforts at fighting back, and eventually teleport home to Snake Mountain.

Hunt 4
Cringer: “It’s pretty difficult to explain what’s going on here, and frankly it’s not worth it, so let’s move on.”

Drac then says he’s sorry for his earlier imbecility in thinking that Skeletor could be a friend, and He-Man wisely says that evil often looks attractive. All the villagers cheer at this, and He-Man says, “Well, that about wraps it up. Cringer, let’s go home.” He does not say anything about helping to rebuild the village, and none of the villagers seem to care, though I’d have thought it would be one of their top priorities really.

 

In today’s adventure…

The moral this week is delivered by He-Man, Cringer and Drac. Well, actually, it’s delivered by Drac, in a really odd squeaky voice, while He-Man and Cringer hang around looking at him. Drac claims that He-Man’s friendship is the richest treasure in the world, which is lovely for Drac, but it doesn’t have any relevance to a real-life scenario. If anyone tells me that they’re really rich because they’re friends with He-Man, I’m likely to give them a wide berth at best, and try to get them locked up for society’s sake at worst.

Hunt 5
Drac: “You may be my friend, He-Man, but if you don’t take your hand off me right now I’m going to go ape.”

 

Character checklist

Very few of our usual goodies on the scene today – only Prince Adam, Cringer and He-Man. On the villainous side of things, we have Skeletor, Trapjaw and Whiplash, and the guest stars are Drac and his granddad, as well as the other villagers.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Only Adam and Cringer are present at the time, so once again there’s no excuse offered.

 

Insults

Our villains oblige with some reasonable fare this week. We start with the obligatory “fool”, this time offered by Trapjaw to Whiplash. Whiplash is more ambitious, referring to every single one of our heroes as “those goody-goodies at the Palace”. Meanwhile, Skeletor calls Drac a “swamp-child” and calls Whiplash and Trapjaw “dunderheads”. More imaginatively, he comments to Trapjaw, “I could write a book about what you don’t know.”

Hunt 6
Skeletor: “I knew bringing Trapjaw to the garden centre would be a mistake. He wants to look at everything.”

 

Does it have the Power?

I liked this one, but I didn’t love it. It’s commendable for trying to do something different, in portraying He-Man ill and needing the help of others, and the idea of Skeletor hunting down our hero when he’s helpless really should have been exciting, but I felt that it just somehow never managed to ramp up the tension. I did like the burning of the village, which is the most actively evil thing Skeletor’s done since the very early days of the series (remember Disappearing Act, when he forced a volcano to erupt to destroy the farmland?), and the kidnapping of slaves for mining has very dark undertones as well. Skeletor does get some entertaining dialogue too. All in all, there’s plenty to like here, but put together it for some reason didn’t quite reach the level it perhaps could have. Still, it’s better than a lot of other recent offerings.

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Episode 096 – Battlecat

In which Man-at-Arms releases an ancient demon and blames everybody else.

This episode begins with an extended sequence in which Man-at-Arms, Teela and Adam all properly lay into Orko for being irresponsible and generally annoying. If their vitriol were directed at anyone else, I’d call it a massive case of going overboard, but when it’s Orko, he deserves anything that anyone chooses to throw at him. Once that’s done with, Orko decides to mess about in Man-at-Arms’ lab to create a potion to make Cringer brave.

Battlecat 1
Prince Adam: “Jesus Christ, this is pretty scary for pre-watershed fare.”

Well, I was as shocked as any of you when this doesn’t work. Instead, Orko conjures up a seriously terrifying transparent cat demon, which luckily is pretty stupid and is consequently easily trapped in a bottle. Predictably, Man-at-Arms is livid, and after shouting about it for a while, decides that the best thing to do now is to tell – at length – the story of how Adam first met Cringer. This is a random choice, even for Man-at-Arms’ customary inexplicable behaviour, so I can only conclude that he’s completely lost it.

The story begins with a roughly 12 year old Adam heading off on a camping trip on his own, because nothing bad could ever happen on Eternia. Sure enough, Adam quickly comes under attack from a sabre-cat, but he drives it away using a device that imitates animal noises. Once the sabre-cat leaves, Adam finds Cringer, who is still a kitten and possibly the cutest cartoon cat ever. Cringer is injured, so Adam brings him back to the Palace and asks Man-at-Arms to save him.

Battlecat 2
Cringer: “Adopt me. Please adopt me. I am the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen.”

Because Filmation couldn’t be bothered to animate a character called the Palace Vet, Man-at-Arms successfully restores Cringer to health. Cringer earns his name when he takes fright at a crowd of the most hideous children I’ve ever seen, for which I can’t say I blame him. He is also terrified when the disembodied head of the Sorceress appears to have a chat with Adam, which again is reasonable.

Years pass, until one day Melaktha and his archaeological team find a temple in the Tikon Jungle which is over 100 centuries old. Marlena suggests that Man-at-Arms goes on the expedition to investigate, because he is the most skilled person on Eternia at deciphering ancient writings. Excuse me? So Man-at-Arms is the Palace inventor, vet, and poly-linguist? Couldn’t they have given this skill to someone else – you know, someone like Stratos, who doesn’t seem to have any abilities?

Battlecat 3
Man-at-Arms: “I reckon if I stand here in this pose, looking at the paper seriously, everyone will think I’m doing some difficult translation work rather than just reading the Daily Star.”

Anyway, Adam, Teela and Cringer all tag along on the expedition, and quickly get some hints that the temple is super evil. Shortly before nightfall, Adam and Teela find a doorway to the temple, which has been bricked up. They inform Man-at-Arms, but he tells them to wait till morning before investigating. This does not suit Adam and Teela, who return to the door and succeed in opening it very slightly, before giving up and trotting off to bed.

In the morning, despite translating the ancient writings on the temple as meaning “WARNING – EVIL!”, Man-at-Arms decides to blast open the door. This releases a big blue demon thing called a Gedge, and the combined might of Teela, Ram-Man and the Palace Guards fails to slow it down. Adam thus decides that He-Man is needed and, seemingly on a whim, during the transformation he points his sword at Cringer, who becomes the mighty Battle-Cat. Genuinely, this move seems to be prompted by him thinking, “Hmm, I wonder what will happen if I shoot this energy at the cat?”

The Sorceress appears in a vision to explain that to defeat the Gedge, He-Man will have to be clever, which is precisely the sort of useful advice she’s always giving. I seriously doubt He-Man was thinking, “To defeat this monster, I’ll have to be really stupid.” Anyway, He-Man does some stuff which barely qualifies as clever in my book, and successfully reseals the Gedge in the temple. It’s worth pointing out that Man-at-Arms tries his damnedest to seal He-Man and Battle-Cat inside as well, so I’m sure He-Man will be keeping a close eye on him in the future.

Battlecat 4
The Sorceress: “No, He-Man. No matter how miserable you look, I will not buy you another ice cream.”

Man-at-Arms ends this rambling and irrelevant story by attempting to tie it in with Orko’s actions at the beginning of the episode, claiming that the Gedge wouldn’t have got out if Adam and Teela hadn’t ignored his instructions. This is entirely untrue. Yes, Adam and Teela did open the door a crack, but the Gedge didn’t get out until Man-at-Arms rocked up with his massive charges of dynamite and blew up the door. Still, Orko nods and pretends to have taken in the lesson, but I’m sure next time he’ll be happily meddling again.

 

In today’s adventure…

Orko and Man-at-Arms talk about poisons this week. They show us a big bottle with a massive skull-and-crossbones on it, and inform us that we mustn’t touch bottles that look like this, of which there were absolutely loads in my house when I was growing up. This lesson might have sunk in more effectively if the animators hadn’t chosen to draw Man-at-Arms with his mouth hanging open in a really gormless smile for this scene.

Battlecat 5
Man-at-Arms: “Don’t worry about me, I’m completely out of my mind.”

Anyway, the real lesson of this episode, quite clearly, is that if you are in a position of authority – like Man-at-Arms – and act quickly to shift the blame to someone else, you’ll get away scot free. I can’t believe his blatancy in trying to make out the whole business with the Gedge was Adam and Teela’s fault, when it was definitely him and his explosives obsession that caused the problem.

 

Character checklist

Oh, you know the drill by now. It would barely qualify as a He-Man episode if it didn’t have Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Orko, Man-at-Arms, Teela and the Sorceress in it. It’s also got King Randor, Queen Marlena, Melaktha, some random woman, a load of horrible children, some Palace guards, some workmen, and a surprise appearance from Ram-Man, who we haven’t seen in a while. The Gedge is in it too, but who the hell gives a monkeys about that?

Battlecat 6
Gedge: “Sorry for being such a rubbish monster.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

No one asks and no one cares.

 

Insults

It’s been a long, long time since we’ve had an episode with no insults in it, but this one qualifies, unless one counts the beastly bullying children shrieking “Cringer! Cringer!” at Cringer.

 

Does it have the Power?

Apart from the outstandingly cute scenes of Cringer as a kitten, there’s not much going for this one. While I do appreciate the efforts to fill in the background of some of our characters, I don’t really care about the first time Cringer became Battle-Cat, especially not when it’s because of a massively boring monster like the Gedge. It’s almost as if they wanted to do an episode about the first time Adam became He-Man, but chickened out and compromised with Battle-Cat.

Battlecat 7
He-Man: “Hey, homies, check out my new wheels.”

In its favour, the episode does start off looking like it’s going to be a dreadful episode about Orko, and it skirts round that pitfall pretty neatly. But Man-at-Arms seems to have only a very flimsy excuse for relating the Battle-Cat story in the first place, and frankly he’d have been better off not telling it, because the behaviour he exhibits in the story is frankly reprehensible.

In short, I suppose I’d better recommend watching it, because at least you’ll know a bit of Adam and Cringer’s history. But it’s only a grudging recommendation, because it’s pretty boring history. If you do skip it, then don’t worry, I won’t blame you. But Man-at-Arms will.

Episode 090 – One For All

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

In today’s adventure…

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

 

Character checklist

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

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

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

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

 

Insults

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

 

Does it have the Power?

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

One For All 5
Cringer: “Hashtag winning.”

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

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

Episode 084 – Fraidy Cat

In which Skeletor unrealistically imagines that a mechanical bird can defeat He-Man.

We are treated this week to an opening panning shot across the wilderness to Snake Mountain, inside which Skeletor has gathered four villains – Mer-Man, Kobra Khan, Clawful and the omnipresent Whiplash. He explains his plan to them – essentially, they will sneak into the Palace and kidnap Queen Marlena – then he laughs for absolutely ages, evidently blown away by his genius for concocting this elaborate scheme.

Fraidy Cat 1
Skeletor: “Truly, I am the master of Machiavellian plots. Walter White, eat your heart out.”

At the Palace, the royal family are at the table for lunch, but Marlena is late. King Randor sends Cringer off to fetch her, and while he is gone, Kobra Khan nips in and knocks them all out with his sleeping gas. Hearing Kobra Khan’s hissing, Cringer hides under Marlena’s bed, where he falls prey to the sleeping gas and cannot save Marlena from being kidnapped. When Adam and Orko wake up, they go to Marlena’s room and find her missing, so a hasty transformation is in order.

Once outside, Kobra Khan and Mer-Man set off to take Marlena back to Snake Mountain, while Whiplash and Clawful are left behind to lure He-Man into a trap. They set up a false trail for He-Man to follow, which he obligingly does. Once Cringer wakes up, he blames himself for hiding under the bed, but he is then able to determine that the Queen was actually taken in the opposite direction, into the Haunted Forest. With He-Man, Teela and Man-at-Arms going the wrong way, Cringer and Orko set off themselves to rescue Marlena.

Fraidy Cat w
Cringer: “Uh, Orko, do you usually have knees?”

When Kobra Khan arrives back at Snake Mountain with Marlena, Skeletor cordially greets her, even toning down his language: it’s quite clear he wants to say something cutting to Kobra Khan, but he seems to restrain himself. He explains to Marlena that she is the bait for the trap; the ultimate target is He-Man. It seems that the false trail is going to lead He-Man to Screeech, who is a really rubbish robot bird. Skeletor seems to be suffering from a condition I refer to as “unrealistic optimism” if he thinks He-Man is going to be overcome by an electronic eagle.

Once Marlena is safely ensconced in a jail cell, Cringer and Orko arrive to release her, which they manage with surprising efficiency. Marlena informs them of the “threat” from Screeech, and Cringer bravely volunteers to warn He-Man while Orko takes Marlena home. To make Cringer braver, Orko gives him his special bravery medallion, which I just bet turns out to be a placebo.

Whiplash and Clawful’s trail leads He-Man to Snake Mountain, and they even helpfully leave the door open for him, but he quickly determines that this is a trap. I can’t really see why Skeletor wants He-Man to come inside Snake Mountain, if he’s going to be attacked by a robot bird, but there we have it. Realising that He-Man isn’t taking the bait, Skeletor launches Screeech anyway, but just in time, Cringer leaps onto Screeech’s back and takes flight too.

Fraidy Cat 3
Cringer: “I knew Ryanair were a budget airline, but this is taking it a bit far.”

With Cringer making an unholy racket as he flies around on Screeech, He-Man quickly detects the danger. Skeletor then makes the very poor tactical decision to demolish his own lair to making Screeech fly through the walls, which incidentally allows He-Man easy access. Amusing and non-violent defeats are liberally bestowed in the baddies’ direction, before our heroes return to the Palace to find Orko has successfully escorted Marlena home. Oh yes, and they also find the bravery medallion was indeed a placebo. Definitely didn’t see that coming.

 

In today’s adventure…

The moral this week concerns fear, and how sometimes it’s just as important as being brave. This is all very well, but it quickly gets confused by Cringer bleating on about being afraid of being afraid and being afraid of being brave. He-Man clearly doesn’t understand what he’s on about, so he chuckles politely and hopes the episode will fade out quickly.

 

Character checklist

The star of the show is of course Cringer, but he’s ably assisted by a vast array of individuals, including Prince Adam, He-Man, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Skeletor, Clawful, Kobra Khan, Whiplash, Mer-Man and Screeech.

Fraidy Cat 4
Clawful: “Wonder if I could get away with pinching Whiplash’s tail.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Unfortunately, once again, we get nothing.

 

Insults

It’s a bad week for Whiplash and Clawful, who get called a “fool” three times, twice by Skeletor and once by Kobra Khan. Mer-Man fares slightly better, in that he is only called “fool” twice, once from each of the afore-mentioned villains. Skeletor also addresses Screeech as a “stupid machine”, which is entirely fair, and reserves the rather mild “silly cat” for Cringer.

 

Egg on your face?

Orko performs an appalling trick which results in Man-at-Arms getting fruit juice all over his arms. This causes King Randor to laugh in a very high-pitched voice while the camera treats us to an extreme close-up of his face, which was neither necessary nor welcome.

Fraidy Cat 5
Prince Adam: “Dad … you look really weird.”

 

Does it have the Power?

This episode is a really worthy attempt, let down by a few odd moments that don’t quite qualify as plot holes but are nevertheless things that the writer should have thought out a little better:

  • The whole false trail sequence was pointless, since the trail simply led He-Man to Snake Mountain, which is where Marlena was anyway.
  • He-Man chooses the Dragon Walker as his choice of vehicle, then complains that Clawful and Whiplash are getting away. Perhaps if he had picked something capable of moving quicker than a tortoise, he’d have a chance of catching them.
  • It was a little strange how Skeletor seemed to want He-Man to come inside, when an attack from Screeech would surely work better in the open air.

I did like the ease with which Marlena was kidnapped in the early stages, and how competent the group of villains were under Kobra Khan’s leadership; this sequence demonstrated an actual sense of danger. From there, however, the episode seemed to flounder a bit, not knowing what to do with the characters and killing time, until suddenly everything needed wrapping up really quickly. Still, I’d say this episode is no dud, and worth giving it a spin.

Episode 050 – Temple of the Sun

In which I begin to suspect that Man-at-Arms has recently suffered head trauma.

Our story opens with a ragged man called Nepthu crawling through the desert towards the Temple of the Sun. Once he gets inside, he engages in a frantic search for a piece of gold called the Sun Scarab; when he finds this, he uses its powers to transform himself into a strong powerful individual, and announces his intention to rule the universe. As a demonstration of his power, he captures the Sorceress, who happens to be flying around in falcon form. It’s a typical Thursday on Eternia.

temple-1
Nepthu: “I’m sure this will end well.”

Meanwhile, over at the Palace, Man-at-Arms is demonstrating another of his miraculous inventions. This one’s called a “communicator”, and it works in exactly the same way as a radio. Eternia has been shown as possessing radios right from the very first episode, I’m sure. This is the second week in a row that Man-at-Arms has “invented” something that already exists. It’s entirely possible that at some point offscreen, he sustained a serious head injury, and this flurry of inventing things is just part of his re-education programme.

This fascinating and completely irrelevant scene is interrupted by Adam, who receives a telepathic communication from the Sorceress informing him that she is a prisoner in the Temple of the Sun. Cue inspiring music and the entry of He-Man – though curiously, Cringer demands not to become Battle-Cat and to come along in his usual form instead. This is an interesting idea, but unfortunately we only get about halfway through the next scene before Cringer decides to be Battle-Cat after all.

Our heroes arrive at the Temple without too much difficulty, where they are greeted by a whirlwind. He-Man employs a technique we’ve seen before and spins really fast in the opposite direction, which somehow enables him to throw the whirlwind into outer space. I feel the writers of He-Man should stay away from whirlwinds. It brings out their most mental side, which is saying something.

temple-2
He-Man: “If I think hard enough, I expect I can come up with an insane solution to this problem.”

The next hazard to be faced is a giant scorpion, which He-Man defeats by rubbing the desert sand so much that it heats up and forms a nice big pane of glass, behind which the scorpion is trapped. This bit genuinely seems to be included simply so that He-Man can explain to the audience that glass is made from sand, which is nice to know but seems completely random.

Meanwhile, Nepthu has occupied himself in creating a bunch of sand monsters, which he describes as being “as hard as rock and completely invincible”. If you want to nip off to Ladbrokes now to place bets on whether these monsters will defeat He-Man, I’m happy to wait for you to get back. The Sorceress attempts an escape, but Nepthu turns her into solid diamond and laughs crazily.

temple-3
Nepthu: “Snapped up a right bargain in Poundland today.”

Before Nepthu can be spurred to further mayhem, He-Man lets himself into the Temple and enters into a difference of opinion with the sand monsters. Once this is resolved to everyone’s satisfaction (except, obviously, Nepthu’s), Man-at-Arms manages to swipe the Scarab out of Nepthu’s hand. He-Man destroys the Scarab, returning the Sorceress to life and Nepthu to his ragged form. The episode ends with the revelation that Nepthu gets a job as a gardener in the Evergreen Forest.

 

In today’s adventure…

He-Man considers the take-home lesson this week is that Nepthu used power for his own selfish ends, and thus wasn’t a very good leader. He-Man reminds us that being a good leader takes a lot of responsibility, but then seems to remember that the target audience of this cartoon isn’t a symposium for CEOs of multi-national companies, and correspondingly adjusts the direction of the moral by informing us that it’s also important to be responsible when following a leader – i.e. don’t do something wrong just because someone tells you to. Sage advice, actually.

 

Character checklist

There aren’t many characters to entertain us today. It’s only Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, the Sorceress, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko and Nepthu doing the rounds.

temple-4
Prince Adam: “Unfortunately my head appears to be detached from my body, and Man-at-Arms doesn’t have a neck today.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

The writers seem to have settled into a comfortable pattern of only including Man-at-Arms and Orko in these stories, thus negating the need for Adam to explain himself to anyone.

 

Insults

The only insult this week is Adam calling Cringer a “big furball”, and he sounds mightily cross when he does so.

temple-5
Cringer: “How very dare you.”

 

Does it have the Power?

This episode is neither particularly good nor particularly bad – in fact, it’s almost wilfully average. The only part that’s even a bit interesting is the bit where Cringer refuses to become Battle-Cat and insists on helping by himself; there’s always a slight undercurrent of resentment from Cringer when he has to be Battle-Cat, and it was a fun notion for him to demand to contribute on his own merits. The problem is this is undermined almost immediately by him changing his mind shortly thereafter, before he’s had the chance to do anything. A bit of a missed opportunity, really.

Nepthu is not a very interesting villain, and without any background on him, his ambition of conquering the universe seems like it comes from nowhere and isn’t very convincing. The scenes of He-Man facing the whirlwind and the scorpion are nothing but time-wasting, as is the really odd scene of Man-at-Arms inventing the communicator. One nice touch was seeing Nepthu at the end of the episode actually happy with his lot, which is probably a first for a defeated baddy. On the whole, though, I wouldn’t really bother with this episode.

Episode 038 – Valley of Power

In which He-Man learns how to fly.

We begin this week with an unnecessarily long pan through space, finally centring on Eternia, and then another unnecessarily long pan across a valley, which is the titular Valley of Power. The Valley is defended by a pterodactyl-like bird called the Mother Roe, and there is an unpleasant man who wants to steal the Mother Roe’s eggs. Luckily, He-Man stops him. The End.

Oh, you want more detail? Okay, fine. Well, Adam, Teela and Cringer are out on a trip to the Valley, in order to drink from the magical fountain at its centre, which only springs once every thousand years. Teela  encourages Adam and Cringer to drink this water, which will make them as strong and powerful as He-Man and Battle-Cat. The irony here is not lost on Adam and Cringer, who engage in an elaborate exercise in taking the piss, Cringer in particular summoning up depths of sarcasm of which I didn’t think he was capable.

Valley 1

As our heroes arrive at the spring’s location, the unpleasant man manages to steal the Mother Roe’s egg, leading the Mother Roe to attack him. Teela saves the unpleasant man from the Roe’s attack by the questionable method of tripping him up, and he introduces himself as Danavus, which is a relief, since I can now use his name and not continue to refer to him as “the unpleasant man”.

While Teela and Danavus chat about the magical spring, the Roe attacks again, leading Adam and Cringer to run off and mutate into He-Man and Battle-Cat. They are too late to prevent Teela from being carried off by the Roe, so they charge off up the mountainside to the Roe’s nest, while Danavus sits in the now-flowing spring drinking the magical water.

Valley 2

Unfortunately, the stolen egg hatches at this point, and the Baby Roe grows to full size in a matter of seconds. This is probably due to the magical powers of the spring, but it could just be because the episode is mental. Whatever the reason, Danavus proclaims that the Baby Roe is under his complete control, and proves it by using the Baby Roe to snatch He-Man and take him for a joyride through the sky.

Then I’m afraid to say the episode pauses for breath, choosing between going for the sane but dull route or whether to completely lose its mind. Needless to say, it opts for the latter. The Baby Roe drops He-Man from the sky, so He-Man grabs a couple of its feathers and, in his own words, “quickly learn[s] how to fly”. Right. Well. We’ve seen some really special moments on this show up to now, but I think this surpasses them all. Luckily, He-Man himself acknowledges that this was a stupid moment, and addresses the audience via Battle-Cat: “I wouldn’t advise anyone to try it.”

Valley 3

Not to be outdone by He-Man in the implausible acts arena, Battle-Cat reveals a hitherto unsuspected talent for talking to birds in their own language, and forms a truce with the Mother Roe, who agrees to carry to Teela to the Palace, where Danavus is now headed. Once there, Orko makes an unwelcome appearance, and he and Teela sit about on the Palace roof until He-Man and Battle-Cat arrive to take charge.

He-Man despatches Orko and Teela off to Castle Grayskull to get help. The Sorceress mixes a potion made from such infuriating ingredients as “a pinch of baby love” and “some motherly understanding”, which will revert the Baby Roe to its baby form. After a despair-inducing interlude in which Orko drinks some of the potion and briefly reverts to babyhood, Teela carries the potion back to the Palace.

Valley 4

Meanwhile, He-Man and Battle-Cat have successfully grounded Danavus and the Baby Roe. He-Man applies the antidote, which oddly doesn’t make the Baby Roe smaller but does make it more friendly. The Roes fly off happily, and Danavus claims to have learned his lesson. This doesn’t stop He-Man clapping him in handcuffs and laughing like a lunatic.

 

In today’s adventure…

He-Man offers an environmental message, reminding us how Danavus upset the natural order in the Valley of Power, and advising us to enjoy the countryside, but to leave things as we find them, so the next person can enjoy them too. It would be nice if someone had told him that last week, when he spent literally 5 minutes chopping down loads of vegetation in the Vine Jungle. But in principle, very good.

 

Characters appearing

As is evident from my review above, it’s Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Orko, the Sorceress, and Danavus who put on today’s show for us. It’s also the Mother and the Baby Roe, if you think they count.

Valley 5

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance:

To make up for previous occasions when she clearly couldn’t care less, this week Teela is incredibly concerned about Adam and Cringer’s disappearance. He-Man says, “Don’t worry, they’re all right,” which is normally more than enough to satisfy her, but she needs further reassurance about five minutes later, when He-Man reiterates the point with, “Don’t worry about Adam and Cringer, we won’t leave until we know they’re all right.”

 

Insults

He-Man refers to Danavus and the Baby Roe as the “Menace of the skies”, which is fair enough. More surprisingly, he starts sticking the knife into Battle-Cat on the return journey to the Palace, telling him that “An Eternian snail can move faster than this.” Battle-Cat is understandably not amused.

I also have a comment which may be considered insulting: what the Jesus Christ is wrong with Danavus’ teeth? He’s got way too many upper ones and no lower ones. While we’re at it, his eyes have no soul. He’s dead inside. He’s terrifying.

Valley 6

 

Does it have the Power?

As an environmentally friendly message it’s all very well, and it’s not boring for the most part. In fact, I quite appreciate it for being one of the first episodes yet to give some real character to both Cringer and Battle-Cat. Sometimes though, this cartoon strains credulity too far, even for the outlandish premise on which it’s based, and this week’s completely insane – and utterly unnecessary – sequence in which He-Man learns to fly is a case in point. The episode then briefly strays into a scene that literally no one would want to see when it makes Orko into a baby – though it steers itself out of this dreadful dead end pretty quickly. Other than these issues, it’s a reasonable outing, but I wouldn’t be hurrying to recommend it to anyone.

Episode 015 – A Beastly Sideshow

In which Skeletor sneezes his way to defeat.

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

Beastly Sideshow 1

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

Beastly Sideshow 2

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

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

Beastly Sideshow 3

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

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

Beastly Sideshow 4

 

In today’s adventure …

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

 

Characters appearing

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

Beastly Sideshow 5

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

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

 

Insults

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

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

Beastly Sideshow 6.jpg

Does it have the Power?

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