Masters of the Universe

In which Dave isn’t very good at DIY.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In today’s adventure…

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

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



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

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

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

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


Does it have the Power?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Episode 105 – No Job too Small

In which Panthor learns that Prince Adam and He-Man are one and the same.

In Snake Mountain, Evil-Lyn, Beast-Man and Whiplash are gathered miserably round the spyglobe. Skeletor has gone away for a weekend break in Skegness, but before going, he has instructed his employees not to do anything to aggravate He-Man. However, on learning from the spyglobe that King Randor is sending Prince Adam to Phantos (last seen in the early disappointing effort She-Demon of Phantos), Evil-Lyn decides to disregard Skeletor’s orders, and forms an ill-advised plan to kidnap Adam.

Small 1
Prince Adam: “My gearstick is absolutely enormous, Teela.”

Arriving on Phantos, Adam, Man-at-Arms, Teela and Orko indulge in a spot of sightseeing in the Phantosian desert. After talking in a ridiculously high-pitched voice for no apparent reason, Adam decides to make things easier for his kidnappers by wandering out of sight of his friends. Evil-Lyn doesn’t capitalise on this opportunity though, instead choosing to wake some dinosaurs up, who chase our heroes around for a while, until He-Man shows up to deal with them.

With He-Man occupied with the dinosaurs, Evil-Lyn, Beast-Man and Whiplash successfully kidnap Man-at-Arms, Teela and Orko and take them back to Snake Mountain. Once there, Evil-Lyn makes the unexpected decision to use her new invention – the Reducto Ray – to shrink our heroes so they’re only about a foot high. She offers absolutely no explanation for this behaviour, though in fairness He-Man breaks into Snake Mountain and interrupts before she can finish gloating.

Small 2
Teela: “There’s got to be some pun here about being too big for your boots.”

Evil-Lyn somehow has time to set up an elaborate trap, involving boulders, the Reducto Ray and a cage containing the miniature heroes. She and Beast-Man then proudly explain how the trap works, in the belief that it leaves He-Man completely unable to save his friends. Evil-Lyn offers to release her prisoners in exchange for the surrender of Eternia, so He-Man is sent off to check whether this would be acceptable to King Randor. Knowing King Randor’s usual idiocy, he’ll probably agree.

Once He-Man has gone, Evil-Lyn, Beast-Man and Whiplash stand around laughing evilly for ages, then go off to have a party to celebrate the imminent surrender of Eternia. They’ll be waiting a while though: instead of going to Randor, He-Man has nipped behind a rock, turned back into Adam, and re-entered Snake Mountain. His reasoning is that for this conundrum, he needs brains rather than muscles. I have to say that He-Man – despite looking like a complete moron – has in the past demonstrated some reasonable degree of brainpower. Moreover, Adam’s allegedly “brainy” solution to the problem is to use the Reducto Ray on himself so that he is also tiny.

Small 3
Prince Adam: “This escapade will guarantee me a guest spot in Honey I Shrunk the Kids.”

Once he has conferred this dubious benefit on himself, Adam manages to release his friends from the cage. He then successfully restores them all to their original size, and quickly ushers his friends out of the room, with the vague promise that he’ll catch up later. He then transforms back into He-Man, with no evident purpose other than to use the Reducto Ray on Panthor, Beast-Man and Whiplash and to taunt Evil-Lyn.


In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms explains that muscle power is all very well, but imagination and inventiveness are much better. He advises us to exercise our bodies to become strong, but also to exercise our minds by reading books and doing our homework. And, presumably, by not watching cartoons like this one.


Character checklist

On Team Goody, we’ve got Prince Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, King Randor, and a big guy called Mishy or something similar. On Team Baddy, there’s Evil-Lyn, Beast-Man, Whiplash and Panthor.

Small 4.jpg
Prince Adam: “No, Mishy, you may not have any lines.”


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

He-Man can’t be bothered to offer an excuse this week, and leaves it to Man-at-Arms, who manages the pathetic, “Don’t worry, Teela, I’m sure he’s okay.”



Evil-Lyn gets the obligatory “fool” out of the way early on, addressing Beast-Man. Beast-Man retaliates with “foolish witch”, and then refers to He-Man as “that cursed He-Man”, and I must say it was quite a surprise to discover that his vocabulary stretches that far. Evil-Lyn mockingly calls Orko “little one” twice, and He-Man refers to Skeletor as Evil-Lyn’s “misguided master”, which was a quite pleasing use of alliteration. A less pleasing alliterative insult from He-Man to Beast-Man was “beast-brain”, which is not particularly original by this stage of the series. Finally, Teela calls Orko a “silly little thing”, which was plainly meant to be affectionate, but I prefer to interpret it as vicious.


Does it have the Power?

I really enjoyed this episode. Evil-Lyn has rarely been better: she’s intelligent and very unpleasant, and her voice work and animation combined to portray her as a purring, seductive villainess. Her one error was her odd decision to leave her prisoners unguarded while she went off to have a party; overconfidence is always the downfall of Eternian baddies.

Small 5.jpg
Evil-Lyn: “I’m going to have a party. And no, He-Man, you’re not invited.”

The notion of a perfectly balanced trap that could not be solved with muscle power was a good idea; lately, there have been quite a few episodes that have tried to mess with the formula by making He-Man helpless one way or another (in Hunt for He-Man, he was poisoned and in need of medicine, and in Not So Blind, he was struck blind), which suggests the writers were getting bored of a hero who can defeat everything easily. This week’s move in that direction was particularly inventive. My quibble is – as mentioned above – He-Man has just as many brains as Adam, so it wasn’t really necessary for him to turn back, and it actually led to some clunky dialogue later as Adam tried to explain the constant interchange between himself and He-Man.

One final point – Adam transforms into He-Man right in front of Panthor this week. Since Panthor can’t speak, it must be hugely frustrating for him to know this secret and not be able to tell Skeletor! So that’s something on which to ponder as you enjoy this instalment.

Episode 102 – Revenge is Never Sweet

In which He-Man tries on a smashing new helmet.

The Attack Trak has broken down in the desert, and Adam and Teela are fixing it. Well, actually, Adam’s fixing it, because that’s what men do, and Teela is sitting next to him, watching enthralled, and curling her legs round herself coquettishly, because that’s what women do. Orko offers to help with some magic, which is politely if forcefully refused, and he floats away looking for some trouble to get himself and the others into.

Revenge 1
Teela: “Get on with it, Adam. I’ve got lots of gender stereotyping confirmation to do today.”

Trouble comes along pretty quick. Remember Kothos from The Witch and the Warrior? No, neither did I. Well, he was an evil magician who ended up being turned into a Sand Slug by Evil-Lyn. Orko, being thick as bricks, is persuaded to turn him back, and Kothos embarks on a new career of mayhem. He starts by freezing our heroes to the spot, then decides to exact his revenge on Evil-Lyn.

However, he goes about this in an unusual and – dare I say it – even sensible way. He contacts Skeletor, offering to trade Evil-Lyn for Adam, Teela, Orko, Cringer and He-Man. This last is fairly ambitious, since Kothos doesn’t have He-Man, nor does he have a hope of getting him. Skeletor – who seems to have reacquired his brains since his last appearance in The Greatest Show on Eternia – agrees, but only on condition that Kothos actually capture He-Man first.

In an effort to lure He-Man into a trap, Kothos puts his four captives on a raft, shoves it into the middle of a lake, and then unfreezes them. His reasoning is that He-Man will come barrelling along and be overcome by Kothos’ magic. Adam instantly dives into the lake and swims far enough away to become He-Man without being observed, then returns and shows off by surfing the raft to safety.

Revenge 2
Orko: “Yes, I could float across the lake and fetch help, but I’m not going to.”

Unfortunately, once they reach dry land, Kothos freezes them all again – except He-Man, for whom he arranges a special magic helmet, which effectively neutralises him. Kothos then calls Skeletor to report that he now has He-Man. He doesn’t mention that he’s lost Prince Adam, but Skeletor couldn’t give a flying fox about that. He eagerly puts Evil-Lyn in a cage and flies off to meet Kothos. He reassures Evil-Lyn that he’s simply playing along with Kothos and that she’s in no danger, but he gives a demented little chuckle that left me entirely unsure what he’s actually going to do.

On arrival, Skeletor reveals his true colours and happily exchanges Evil-Lyn for He-Man and co. Kothos wheels Evil-Lyn’s cage into his giant flying palace, which has just arrived on the scene, while Skeletor stands around in the desert praising his own skills in duplicity. Evil-Lyn, however, from her cage uses her magical powers to remove the silly helmet from He-Man’s head, and He-Man promises to rescue her from Kothos as soon as he can.

Revenge 3
Skeletor: “He-Man, you simply have to tell me where you get your adorable hats.”

First, though, he has to deal with Skeletor, which is achieved with consummate ease. With Skeletor out of the way, Team He-Man decides to go the extra mile and really earn their Hero of the Year awards, by going to save Evil-Lyn from Kothos. Equipping themselves with Sky Sleds, He-Man, Teela and Orko fly up to the floating palace, while Cringer is told to go home.

The floating palace is well equipped with a variety of traps, which range from the mildly perilous to the actively tedious. While He-Man wastes time with giant hands, trapdoors and lecturing Kothos on the futility of revenge, Teela and Orko find Evil-Lyn and release her. Unfortunately, Evil-Lyn refuses to go quietly and decides to go to get her revenge on Kothos. At about this point, I’d say our heroes ought to leave them to it, but of course they don’t. Evil-Lyn is stupid enough to fall out of a window though, so there’s no need to deal with her. Kothos, on the other hand, in return for He-Man’s help against Evil-Lyn, swears never to be evil again. Hurrah!

Revenge 4
Kothos: “Looking forward to a life of being good.”


In today’s adventure…

Teela and Orko deliver the not unexpected moral that getting your own back will simply lead to escalation, and suggest that you should talk things over and start afresh instead. This is not a view that Skeletor subscribes to, I expect. I’d have loved to see the scene where Evil-Lyn returns to Snake Mountain after having freed He-Man. Skeletor is unlikely to have been pleased.


Character checklist

Everyone and his mother shows up for this week’s outing: Prince Adam, He-Man, Cringer, Battle-Cat, Teela, Orko, Kothos, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Beast-Man, and Kothos’ guards. Incidentally, for those of you who give a toss about such things, Kothos’ guards are re-uses of the Tork animation from Just a Little Lie.

Revenge 5
Evil-Lyn: “This is the sort of thing that prevents me getting onto the front cover of What Witch every month.”


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

“He’s just fine,” He-Man explains dismissively, when Teela asks.



It’s all about Evil-Lyn calling people a “fool” this week: Kothos is the lucky recipient twice and his guards once.


Does it have the Power?

The title of the episode put me in a bad mood; it led me to expect one of the more tedious moralising instalments, so imagine my surprise when we were presented with an entertaining episode. Kothos wasn’t that exciting in The Witch and the Warrior, and he wasn’t much better this time, but as a plot device to get the story going, he served his purpose pretty well. Skeletor’s scenes were brilliant, of course, and the whole thing zips by most enjoyably. Recommended.

Episode 094 – Journey to Stone City

In which Evil-Lyn gets her deviousness on.

Prince Adam, Man-at-Arms and Orko are out in the Vine Jungle, hunting for the ancient ruins of Stone City. According to legend, Stone City contains a great treasure, which explains why Evil-Lyn, Webstor and Kobra Khan have been tracking our heroes for three days, hoping to capture the great treasure for themselves. They are curiously ill-informed as to what the treasure is, but I’m sure it’ll be something that they can use to conquer Eternia once and for all.

After he gets into a really quite random argument with a tree, Orko discovers a complete map showing the way to the City. Rather than following our heroes any further, Evil-Lyn chooses this moment to make her move, stealing the map and setting up a less than impressive stone trap. Adam turns into He-Man, busts out of the trap, and sets off after Evil-Lyn, Webstor and Kobra Khan. Attack Trak claims the villains have quite a head start, but this is a transparent attempt to add some tension, since they sauntered off about 45 seconds previously.

Stone City 1
Orko: “Yes, okay, I may have overdone it on the LSD at Glasto this year.”

Evil-Lyn, Webstor and Kobra Khan arrive at the City to discover that it is populated by hundreds of stone statues. They indulge in a spot of looting, nicking a large machine and teleporting it back to Snake Mountain for later – but come to a halt when one of the statues starts moving, then comes alive and proclaims “Free! Free! At last!” For some reason, this freaks the villains right out, and they run away.

The newly awakened man introduces himself as Volkan, and tells Evil-Lyn that the people of Stone City are its greatest treasure. This news does not please Evil-Lyn one bit, and she becomes even less pleased when Volkan announces his intention to wake up the rest of his people and resume the fight against evil. Unfortunately, it emerges that the stolen machine is the Life Bringer, and without it, Volkan cannot wake the other statues.

Stone City 2
Evil-Lyn: “I never thought I’d be the most sensibly dressed person in the room.”

Evil-Lyn now exhibits her usual cunning, and explains that He-Man has nicked the Life Bringer. Volkan is as gullible as every other one-shot guest star and believes her, despite her ridiculously evil laugh and the fact that Webstor loudly says, “WHAT?” and has to be shushed. Evil-Lyn takes Volkan to Castle Grayskull and invites him to break in to retrieve the Life Bringer. The Sorceress, as ever unable to repel an attack, instantly chickens out and summons He-Man.

Just as Volkan brings the jawbridge down, He-Man arrives and jumps into his path. He attempts to talk matters over, but Volkan is more interested in shooting red energy beams out of his torso, which is understandable. I wish I could do that. Anyway, Volkan learns the hard way that red energy beams don’t impress He-Man, and he winds up lying on his back with Evil-Lyn, Webstor and Kobra Khan shouting at him.

Stone City 3
Volkan: “Draw me like one of your French girls, He-Man.”

Evil-Lyn makes something of a tactical error at this stage and tells Volkan that she has the Life Bringer after all, and says she’ll give it back if He-Man surrenders Castle Grayskull. He-Man has zero interest in this deal, perhaps because he hasn’t got the foggiest what the Life Bringer is, though admittedly there is a clue in its name. The villains thus teleport back to Snake Mountain, while Volkan apologises to He-Man, who agrees to help him recover the Life Bringer.

He-Man and Volkan head to Snake Mountain and start pummelling the walls down. Skeletor puts in a cameo appearance to tell He-Man completely pointless lies, and then attempts to drop the Life Bringer directly onto He-Man’s head. Returning to Stone City, Man-at-Arms reinstalls the Life Bringer and Volkan uses it to awaken his people. He then apologises again for the earlier misunderstanding, and offers his services if ever they are needed in the future. He-Man doesn’t say anything, but you can see the look of faint scorn on his face at the implication that Volkan could ever help with anything.

Stone City 4
Man-at-Arms: “Okay, we’ve tried turning it off and on again.”


In today’s adventure…

Orko delivers the moral this week, telling us that we should always listen to He-Man’s side of the story before deciding who to blame. It is possible that this advice was supposed to be more generally applicable, but I choose to believe that I should listen to He-Man before making any future decisions.


Character checklist

A few unusual faces here, among the standard crowd. Prince Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Orko, the Sorceress, Skeletor and Evil-Lyn are of course the regulars, but it’s nice to see appearances from Webstor and Kobra Khan. Volkan is of course the character of the week, as is that tree, for whatever reason. There’s also all of the inhabitants of Stone City, and I can’t remember whether I count the Attack Trak as a character, but let’s err on the safe side and mention it.

Stone City 5
Attack Trak: “Yay, a picture of me and only me!”


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam turns into He-Man while trapped inside a stone cube with Man-at-Arms and Orko. Therefore, he doesn’t need to give an excuse to these two, but he’s lucky no one’s outside watching when he emerges. Not even Teela is stupid enough to disregard Adam’s substitution for He-Man while inside a stone cube.



There’s some unusual insults in this episode, beginning with Kobra Khan telling Webstor, “You don’t smell too good.” In a similar vein, a tree addresses Orko to say, “You talk too much.” Volkan calls Kobra Khan a “Snake-man” which I think was supposed to be insulting. We’re back on more familiar territory when Evil-Lyn calls Volkan a “fool” twice, once behind his back and subsequently to his face.


Does it have the Power?

This is an all-round entertaining episode, which builds a bit of history and legend into our usual setting. The hunt for a treasure in ancient ruins is a pretty standard motif, and it’s good to see the twist that the treasure is the people. Equally entertaining is Evil-Lyn’s scornful reaction to this revelation. Her cunning plan to blame He-Man for the Life Bringer’s disappearance is entirely in character and confirms her position as Skeletor’s most intelligent sidekick.

Stone City 6
Webstor: “This will make a lovely entrance to the new Skeletor theme park.”

Skeletor himself gets some hugely fun moments, my favourite being the brilliant ending in which he decrees that since Evil-Lyn and Webstor (though, oddly, not Kobra Khan) like stone statues so much, they must spend the next month chiselling an enormous statue of him. His attitude when He-Man attacks Snake Mountain is also joyfully belligerent. In short, this episode offers everything you’d want from a classic He-Man romp: you shouldn’t miss it.

Episode 092 – The Littlest Giant

In which He-Man reveals an unnecessary talent for baking.

Oh, what? Really? This is actually genuinely unfair. After last week’s less than enthralling foray into the world of the Widgets, we are treated to a second episode all about them today. This time, the focus is on Squinch, with whom the viewer is clearly supposed to identify. His problem is that he’s really small – though in comparison to the other Widgets, he’s pretty average – and he believes that if he were as big as He-Man, he’d be a hero too. He’s probably right, but do you care? I don’t.

When a massive tree blows down in a gale, blocking the entrance to the Widgets’ fortress, Squinch tries to chop it in half, but completely fails. The other Widgets summon He-Man, who clearly hasn’t got anything better to do, because he arrives almost immediately and moves the tree, giving Squinch deep-seated feelings of inadequacy. Again I ask though – do you care?

Littlest 1
He-Man: “Face it, Squinch. You just aren’t anywhere near as interesting as me.”

The plot now takes an unexpected if completely nonsensical turn: Squinch goes to Snake Mountain to ask Skeletor to make him as big as He-Man. Evil-Lyn gives Squinch a golden box and tells him to give it to He-Man – without telling him where it came from – and in return, she will grant Squinch’s wish. Disregarding the numerous times Skeletor and Evil-Lyn have messed with the Widgets, Squinch believes them and runs off to give He-Man the box.

The animators give He-Man a look of utterly insane delight when Squinch gives him the box, but once he opens it, it’s a completely different story. The box contains some evil magic which knocks He-Man and Battle-Cat out, after which Skeletor loads them into his flying machine and zooms off, crowing happily and doing utterly unnecessary loop-the-loops.

Littlest 2
He-Man: “Best golden box ever.”

Of course, Skeletor goes wrong at this point. The logical next step is to drop He-Man into a lava pit or something equally concerning, but instead he opts to put He-Man in a cage made out of laser beams. Evil-Lyn then magics up a brick wall to surround the laser cage, just for good measure. Skeletor then decides that this week his objective is to steal King Randor’s crown, rather than the secrets of Grayskull, so he heads off to the Palace accordingly.

In the meantime, the Widgets have gone to the Palace to warn Man-at-Arms, Teela and Orko. Working off the usual model in He-Man where forgiveness is just one sentence away, Squinch admits that it’s his fault – and is then subjected to a barrage of abuse from our three heroes. Once that’s over with, Man-at-Arms decides that he doesn’t really want He-Man to be rescued, because he sends Teela, Orko and Squinch to do the job. I wouldn’t trust these clowns to fetch a pint of milk from Sainsbury’s, and he thinks they can get He-Man out of Snake Mountain?

Sure enough, Evil-Lyn manages to tie Teela and Orko up within half a second of their arrival. Squinch, on the other hand, manages to release He-Man, and the whole crowd of them return to the Palace just in time to find Skeletor lounging about on the throne. There follows a really stupid fight in the Palace kitchen, which culminates in He-Man baking a giant loaf of bread with Skeletor, Beast-Man and Panthor inside it.

Littlest 3
Skeletor: “Every time I think I’ve had my most humiliating defeat, something even worse happens.”

He-Man then congratulates Squinch, in a piece of dialogue which sounds slightly dubious: “It doesn’t matter how big your body is, but how big you are inside.” I’ve tried and tried, but I can’t come up with a double entendre for this. There must be one there somewhere though. Any ideas?


In today’s adventure…

As a special treat, Squinch is allowed to do the moral segment of this episode. He wastes it though: if I’d been him, I’d have taken the opportunity to say, “If you’re a hugely annoying cartoon character like me, why not just piss off?” or something of the like. Instead, he goes through the predictable motions of mumbling about how it doesn’t matter what you look like, so long as you always do your best. He then concludes by suggesting that there’s probably someone who wants to be just like you, so you should always be on the lookout for stalkers.


Character checklist

This time, it’s Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, King Randor, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Evil-Lyn, Panthor, Squinch, the other Widgets, and a bunch of Palace guards. Jacob from last week does not appear, thankfully.

Littlest 4
Laura the Widget: “I only agreed to participate in this episode if the producers gave me a massive supply of drugs.”


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Yet again, nothing. Prince Adam’s getting really lazy about this.



There’s a lot of people, mainly baddies, referring to Squinch as “little one”, though only Skeletor does this with sufficient sneer to make it a definitive insult. Evil-Lyn does up the ante with “little fool” though.

The episode concludes with He-Man calling Orko a “big clown”. This is accompanied by some absolutely terrifying animation of Orko, half-hidden in shadow, laughing in an actively sinister way about nothing at all. I am definitely going to dream about this tonight, and it’s not going to be fun.

Littlest 5
He-Man: “I have never been this terrified ever before.”


Does it have the Power?

If I’m going to be absolutely fair, it’s not that bad. I maintain that Squinch and the Widgets are really annoying, and putting them in two episodes in a row is completely uncalled for. On the other hand, this one’s a lot more watchable than last week’s effort, even if the plot relies on Squinch trusting Evil-Lyn, which is something that would genuinely never happen, given their history (which stretches all the way back to the twelfth episode of the series, Evil-Lyn’s Plot). It did entertain me to see Skeletor being baked into a loaf of bread, which happened for absolutely no purpose other than for He-Man to be a dick. In addition, if you’re the sort of person who desperately wants He-Man and Teela to get it on, this episode contains some blink-and-you’ll-miss-it animation of the two of them lying on the ground in a sultry fashion, Teela’s arm round He-Man. This is about as X-rated as this cartoon gets, so enjoy.

Littlest 6
Teela: “I’m pretty sure my legs must be broken for me to be in this position.”

Episode 059 – The Witch and the Warrior

In which that creepy idiot Malik makes an unwelcome comeback.

Malik, the stupid wizard from the less than exciting episode Wizard of Stone Mountain, seems to have branched out into a new career guarding the Fountain of Life, in the desert city of Arridan, from the evil wizard Kothos. As the episode opens, we find him deciding that Kothos’ attacks are becoming too frequent, and accordingly he contacts the Palace to request the help of He-Man and Teela.

Prince Adam: “Why is there a massive picture of that twat Malik on your wall, Teela?”

As soon as He-Man arrives, Kothos provides a nice big sand monster for He-Man’s delight and delectation. While He-Man is thus occupied, Evil-Lyn sneaks into the temple with intent to steal the waters of the Fountain for Skeletor. Teela attempts to stop her, but during their battle, Kothos arranges for the entire temple to fly away with both Teela and Evil-Lyn inside it. Kothos then strips Evil-Lyn of her magical powers, and abandons both her and Teela in the middle of the desert.

Teela proposes a truce, at which prospect Evil-Lyn snarls and then accepts. They trudge through the desert, helping each other to find water, defeat a Sand Devil, and light a fire for warmth once night sets in. Around the campfire, the two of them grudgingly admire each other’s skills and bemoan the fact that they’re on opposite sides.

He-Man, in the meantime, has been distracted from Teela’s predicament by Clawful, who lures him into a battle in a cave. This battle does not go too well for Clawful, who ends up encased in concrete and hurled all the way back to Snake Mountain, where he is greeted with distinct displeasure by Skeletor. He-Man then gathers Man-at-Arms, Orko and Battle-Cat, and sets off with Malik for Kothos’ hideout to recover the stolen temple.

Clawful: “I think I need to lay off the ketamine.”

Teela and Evil-Lyn sneak into Kothos’ lair, where Evil-Lyn recovers her magic powers. He-Man and his group also show up at this point, and there follows a not particularly entertaining fight with Kothos’ guards, while Evil-Lyn nips off to prevent Kothos drinking the waters of the Fountain of Life. She does this by turning him into a Sand Slug, but then passes out from her injuries sustained in the battle.

Kothos: “I think my finger is exploding.”

Malik transports the temple back to Arridan, then uses some of the Fountain’s waters to heal Evil-Lyn. Evil-Lyn declares the truce over, but decides that she’s had more than enough of the Fountain, and heads back to Snake Mountain without trying to steal it again. Then He-Man revives one of his long-forgotten annoying habits and winks at the camera, which is clearly because the writer couldn’t think of a pithy line on which to close the episode.


In today’s adventure…

Teela is the one delivering the moral, but instead of talking about cooperation, she decides to go off on one about making the best of a bad situation. Yes, okay, that was demonstrated in the episode as well, I suppose, but come on – this episode was a perfect showcase for working together with people you don’t like. I suppose the writers don’t want to make things too obvious, but if you’re going to have a moral segment at the end of the cartoon, it’s never going to be all that subtle, is it?

Teela: “Look, writers! Me and Evil-Lyn are working together! Surely you can do something with that, no?”

Character checklist

Oh, there’s loads of people today. Of course, there’s Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Malik, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Clawful, Kothos, and a whole horde of nameless cannon fodder on both Malik and Kothos’ teams.


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

No excuse is given when Adam turns into He-Man. Later in the episode, He-Man transforms Cringer into Battle-Cat, and he does it right in front of Malik, thus completely blowing Cringer’s cover once and for all. Well done, He-Man.



There’s quite a bit of nastiness flying around this week: Teela calls Evil-Lyn an “evil witch”, and Evil-Lyn reciprocates with “impudent fool”. Teela also implicitly calls Evil-Lyn a “vicious creature” by suggesting that it takes one to know one when Evil-Lyn discusses her knowledge of Eternia’s beasties. Kothos calls his guards “fools” and refers to Evil-Lyn as a “nuisance”, but it’s perhaps He-Man who takes first prize this week with his outstandingly inventive “lobster lips” for Clawful.

He-Man: “I’ve got a great insult stored up to use on you, Clawful. You’ll cry for weeks.”

Does it have the Power?

I must say, of all the characters who needed a comeback, Malik wouldn’t be my first choice. Wizard of Stone Mountain was rubbish, and I didn’t need to be reminded of it. Still, Malik’s presence was pretty much irrelevant, and I suppose it’s nice to see the writers creating a little bit of continuity in Eternia.

The Teela and Evil-Lyn plotline was very enjoyable, showing the benefits of cooperation and demonstrating that Evil-Lyn has quite a bit more depth than most of Skeletor’s clowns: I can’t imagine Beast-Man forming a truce with anyone, no matter how much he needed to. The story was complemented by a lot of excellent animation work going into Evil-Lyn this week: her disgusted grimace when she realises she has to work with Teela is superb, and when she’s at the campfire, she flicks her cloak to make sure it doesn’t go up in flames, which is a completely unnecessary attention to detail which I really appreciated in He-Man’s world of frequently recycled stock animation.

Evil-Lyn: “What do you mean, you didn’t bring any marshmallows?”

And if you’re easily entertained, there was more Viagra voiceover work from He-Man, when he addresses the sand monster: “So that’s your trick, eh? Soft one minute and solid the next.” Probably worth watching for that alone.

Episode 046 – Eternal Darkness

In which I reveal perhaps more about my psyche than I should.

As this week’s instalment opens, King Randor (who, incidentally, sleeps in a separate bed from Queen Marlena) is having a nightmare, in which a gentleman called Darkdream claims to be back. Man-at-Arms, Teela, Prince Adam and Cringer all have similar nightmares, leading Adam to conclude that Darkdream must have escaped the chamber where he was sealed by Man-at-Arms at some indiscriminate point in the past.

King Randor: “Oh no, the Nazgul! Or, at least, a cheap Nazgul knock-off.”

This does not prove entirely true. Darkdream is indeed active again, but for now he cannot leave the chamber. He has plans to amend this, and since he is unable to survive in light, he has called on the aid of Evil-Lyn and some sort of gnome called Tabor to forever darken the Eternian sun. Tabor’s powers extend to messing with the orbit of Eternia’s moon, and his plan is to cause a neverending eclipse, allowing Darkdream to go where he wishes.

Back at the Palace, Adam, Teela and Man-at-Arms are sitting about debating how Darkdream’s chamber could have been opened. It does not appear to have occurred to any of them to go and have a look, and it takes Orko – of all people – to suggest that some recent explosions in the Crimson Valley might have something to do with it. Only at that point do Adam and Teela decide to check on the seal.

There’s then an indication that the episode was running a little short, since we’re treated to a good 90 seconds of footage of Adam and Teela flying along, without saying anything. Finally, Teela falls asleep at the wheel, prompting Adam to casually comment, “Darkdream has taken over Teela’s mind again,” making it sound like this sort of thing happens every day and is only a minor inconvenience.

Prince Adam: “I very much hope the Hampshire County Police don’t see this.”

Luckily, Adam becomes He-Man for a few seconds, prevents a crash landing, then becomes Adam again before waking Teela up. After a quick investigation, they determine that the seal is cracked but not fully open. They then inexplicably return to the Palace and waste time talking about how they have to close the seal quickly. Idiots.

This delay gives Tabor time to carry out his spell, and he moves the moon in front of the sun. For some crazed reason, this makes the gravity in the Palace go haywire – everyone floats up to the ceiling, then become pinned to the floor. Man-at-Arms tries to claim this is because of the eclipse (well, actually, first he tries to blame Orko, which did make me chuckle), but we all know this sort of thing doesn’t happen in eclipses. The real explanation is that the writers thought it would be funny.

Teela: “There is literally no reason for this to be happening.”

Just because things aren’t desperate or insane enough, Man-at-Arms now reveals that the moon is going to crash into Eternia, so they’d better get along to Castle Grayskull with all due speed. On arrival, they discover that Darkdream, Tabor and Evil-Lyn are already there, having captured the Sorceress in falcon form, as well as Stratos, who is putting in a somewhat random appearance.

Man-at-Arms informs Darkdream of the impending collision between Eternia and the moon, and rather surprisingly, Darkdream concedes that this would be a bad thing. He demands that Tabor reverse the spell, but Tabor cannot do so. Man-at-Arms’ alternative plan, therefore, is for He-Man to detonate a vast quantity of explosives in Eternia’s upper atmosphere. Just to give you an idea of precisely what a “vast quantity of explosives” consists of, He-Man describes it as “enough to blow this whole planet to bits”. I’m sure I can’t be alone in thinking this is a bad idea.

The Sorceress: “Stratos, thanks for showing up, but shouldn’t you, you know, try to achieve something?”

But as it happens, after the detonation, the moon returns to its normal orbit, as if nothing had happened. This means that the sun reappears, which in turn means that Darkdream and Tabor fade away. Where they go to is unexplained, because the writers instead chose to finish the episode with a hilarious Orko sequence.


In today’s adventure…

Teela takes the time to explain that bad dreams aren’t real, so it’s fine to talk them over with your parents or friends. This is good, because I recently had a dream where Helo from Battlestar Galactica was in the middle of a messy break up with Zooey Deschanel, and it was my job to bring them endless supplies of coffee, which they didn’t like. It was quite a scary dream, but now I’ve talked it over with you guys, I feel so much better.

Zooey: “Get out, Helo. Just get out.”


Character checklist

Lots of people parade around the screen for our amusement today, including Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, the Sorceress, Stratos, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Darkdream, Evil-Lyn and Tabor.


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam turns into He-Man twice this week, but doesn’t see fit to explain himself either time.



Darkdream leads the field this week, reasonably enough calling Tabor a “fool” when he reveals he cannot undo his spell, and also calling Evil-Lyn a “cowardly witch” when she does a runner.

Darkdream: “I might as well repeat the Nazgul joke, since I don’t have any additional witty comments.”


Egg on your face?

This category is a bit resurgent of late: the episode ends with Orko conjuring up a rain cloud right over Man-at-Arms’ head. Did I laugh? Hell, yeah.


Does it have the Power?

This one’s a bit unfortunate, really, because it did have potential to be really quite good. The idea of Darkdream having the power to cause nightmares is quite creepy, and in the early stages he seemed pretty threatening. The episode then completely undermined itself with its stupid excursion into gravity problems, and then overegged the pudding by veering off into an essentially unrelated story about the moon crashing into the planet. The solution to this conundrum – which boiled down to setting off an enormous bomb – seemed particularly unimaginative.

Other questions abounded: why was Evil-Lyn allied to Darkdream, and why was she in the episode at all, given she contributed nothing? Why did Adam and Teela go to check out Darkdream’s prison without any means of sealing him back in? How did Evil-Lyn get into Darkdream’s prison in the first place if it was still sealed? And finally, what on earth was Stratos doing in this episode? He got about two lines and didn’t do anything other than get tied up. He’s an incompetent clown.

So no, it doesn’t really have the Power. But in its early stages, it looked like it might, which just makes it more frustrating.

Episode 028 – The Defection

In which no one does anything for ages, and even when they do something, it’s boring.

In the Palace courtyard, we find Orko demonstrating some magic tricks which actually go correctly, thus depriving me of the opportunity to include anything in the Egg in your face category. Adam and Man-at-Arms patronisingly tell Orko how he’s got much better, which leads Orko to go off on a completely irrelevant rant about how good people always remain good and evil ones remain evil. In Orko’s mind, no one ever changes. He has perhaps forgotten how – to take two recent examples – Dragoon and Jeremy both, you know, changed.

Defection 1

Meanwhile, in a new and exciting location called the Isle of Tears, a sorceress called Sibylline is yammering away about how she used to be a good sorceress, but now a little troll called Gorgon has made her into a bad one, and she wishes she was good again. Gorgon doesn’t take kindly to this and throws Sibylline in the dungeon, where she joins King Danton, who she had previously helped Gorgon to imprison. Sibylline has enough magic to teleport herself to freedom, and tells Danton she will seek help from King Randor and He-Man.

Once Sibylline arrives at the Palace, King Randor agrees to help free Danton, but then apparently doesn’t order anyone to do anything about it, leading to a series of disjointed scenes where Sibylline hangs round the Palace sniffing flowers and rescuing Randor and Marlena from an escaped dragon, while Orko huffs around claiming not to trust her.

Defection 2

Adam and Man-at-Arms decide that this situation warrants a visit to Castle Grayskull, though I have no idea why. The Sorceress suggests that Sibylline must be given a chance to demonstrate that she genuinely has changed her ways from evil to good, which Adam and Man-at-Arms muse on thoughtfully. Well, here’s a suggestion, you clowns – why don’t you just go and rescue King Danton like you normally would, assuming that Sibylline’s true intentions will become clear en route? Why have they started treading so carefully? It’s as if He-Man is normally Captain Kirk, but this week has been replaced with Picard.

King Randor finally gets to the point and orders our heroes to go to the Isle of Tears and rescue Danton, which quickly results in their being landed in the dungeon with him. Evil-Lyn, who has been recruited by Gorgon as a replacement evil sorceress, is pleased to point out that even He-Man can’t break through two feet of solid steel. He-Man quickly proves them wrong on this point, knocking down the door and then bowing with a slight frisson of sarcasm.

Defection 4

And so to the inevitable confrontation. He-Man knocks down about a million walls and then traps Gorgon in a submarine, while Sibylline defeats Evil-Lyn in a magical duel. Evil-Lyn makes the not unexpected move of saving herself and leaving Gorgon to He-Man’s tender mercies, after which King Danton is restored to his throne. All join me in a whoop-whoop.


In today’s adventure…

Well, here come He-Man and Teela to tell us that people can change – and that includes you. If you have a bad habit you want to change, you no longer have the luxury of claiming you can’t. I, for example, have the bad habit of watching He-Man. Thanks to this episode, I now know that I can stop if I want to. The thing is, like so many bad habits, watching He-Man feels so good.


Characters appearing

As far as regular characters go, we have Prince Adam, He-Man, Cringer, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, the Sorceress and Evil-Lyn. Less common among today’s stars are Sibylline, Gorgon and King Danton.


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance:

Adam turns into He-Man when he sees Orko drowning, which is just plain bizarre since Orko could have simply levitated out of the water. Moreover, I’d have left Orko to it. Anyway, my point is that it’s another of those occasions where there’s only those in the know around, so no one bothers with an excuse.

Defection 5



I thought we were going to go the whole episode without an unkind word, but Evil-Lyn spoils it in the last two minutes by calling Gorgon a “fool!” Which, admittedly, he is.

Defection 3


Does it have the Power?

I don’t think it does really, no. The overall plot is okay, I suppose, but it’s so ridiculously slow. The episode doesn’t seem to think it can sustain a long assault on the Isle of Tears, so sees fit to have Sibylline hanging round the Palace for ages in the middle of the story, for no reason. We also have an utterly pointless visit to Castle Grayskull where the Sorceress reveals no useful information whatsoever. It only gets going once Randor finally makes the mental link that hey, perhaps they’d better stop this evil Gorgon dude, and sends his crowd to the Isle of Tears. And even when they get there, it’s not enormously diverting. Probably best to avoid this one.

Episode 026 – Ordeal in the Darklands

In which Evil-Lyn does some Photoshopping.

With Skeletor away for a few days on his annual trip to Butlins, Evil-Lyn and Tri-Klops have been left in charge. Evil-Lyn swiftly reveals that she plans to use Skeletor’s absence as an opportunity to conquer Eternia for herself, which she will do with the aid of the wizard Quor, Keeper of the Crimson Scourge. Tri-Klops points out that Quor is a peaceful man, but Evil-Lyn suggests that may change if he believes He-Man has kidnapped his daughter Meera.

Darklands 1

Accordingly, Tri-Klops heads to the Darklands, where he surprisingly efficiently kidnaps Meera, and takes her back to Snake Mountain. Subsequently, Evil-Lyn goes to see Quor and shows him some Photoshopped footage alleging to show He-Man and Man-at-Arms kidnapping Meera. Quor takes very little persuasion to determine that he must hunt He-Man down.

Over at the Palace, Teela tells Orko that she’s thinking of going to the Darklands for a few days, just to see if she’ll survive. Man-at-Arms, listening in on this conversation, tells Teela that it’s too dangerous, though he doesn’t point out that there seems to be no reason whatsoever for her proposed trip. Teela’s insane trip to the Darklands is comparable to Britain leaving the EU: pointless and dangerous.

Well, guess what, kiddoes? For the fifty millionth time, Teela decides that she doesn’t like people telling her what to do and sets off for the Darklands anyway. Orko follows her with the intention of keeping her safe, and I’m sure she’ll be very grateful. Naturally, it takes all of 10 seconds in the Darklands for Teela to be kidnapped by some odd blue people with shark fins on their heads, and Orko whizzes off to fetch the inevitable He-Man.

Darklands 2

Teela is taken before Quor, for whom the walking sharks appear to work. He is prepared to let her go, until he learns of her association with He-Man, after which she becomes He-Man bait. In the meantime, Man-at-Arms provides some exposition, explaining that years ago, the Red Scourge ran rampant across Eternia, but into every generation a Slayer is born. No, wait. Into every generation, a wizard is born, and currently it’s Quor who must contain the Scourge.

Once in the Darklands, He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Orko allow themselves to be captured and taken to Quor’s headquarters. Quor accuses our heroes of kidnapping Meera, but they quickly deduce that Evil-Lyn is to blame. Naturally enough, Quor won’t listen, so He-Man beats up some shark people, while Teela and Orko escape. They head straight to Snake Mountain, where they rescue Meera. I would be impressed at their achieving this without He-Man, if it weren’t for the fact that the only resistance they encounter is Tri-Klops saying, “Stop,” very unenthusiastically.

Darklands 3

In the meantime, Quor has teleported He-Man into a dungeon containing a massive red fire-breathing cat, which turns out to be the Crimson Scourge. He-Man spends the remainder of the episode carefully demolishing the wall of the dungeon brick by brick, which is odd given he’d normally just knock it down with a single punch. By the time he finally gets out, Teela and Orko have brought Meera home.

There’s just time for He-Man to have a quick barney with the Scourge, which he defeats by diverting a river at it. He uses his bare hands to divert the river. I’ll let you consider whether you think that would work, but my money’s on not. Then there’s apologies all round, from Teela for disobeying her father, and from Quor for being a tosser. The episode ends with Orko opening his hat, shaking a mechanical hand inside it, and then laughing like a complete maniac.

Darklands 4


In today’s adventure…

Teela and Man-at-Arms have a touching little dialogue in which Man-at-Arms reveals that parents usually have a good reason for refusing their little darlings anything. Teela claims that she should have listened to him in the first place, though we all know that we’ll see this moronic plot line again, probably next week. In addition, it’s not as if Teela being in the Darklands would have particularly affected anything in this story – Quor would still have thought He-Man was a kidnapper even if Teela hadn’t been prancing around. The real moral is that you shouldn’t listen to blatantly evil women when they show you doctored CCTV footage.


Characters appearing

This week treats us to the delights of Quor, Meera and the Red/Crimson Scourge, as well as the more regular appearances of Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, Evil-Lyn and Tri-Klops. And the shark-finned weirdos, who don’t get or deserve names.

Darklands 5


Excuse for Prince Adam’s disappearance:

No excuse today. Adam barely appears before turning into He-Man, and there’s only Man-at-Arms and Orko around when he transforms.



This one got off to a good start, with Evil-Lyn calling Tri-Klops a “coward” within the first minute or so, but there the insults stopped. Without Skeletor about, this perhaps isn’t surprising.


Does it have the Power?

It’s a pretty average outing this time. I can’t specifically remember, but I’m almost entirely certain we’ve seen Teela disobeying Man-at-Arms before, with tragic consequences, and as noted above, I’m sure it’ll happen again. It’s thus rather difficult to be invested in what is basically a cut-out-and-reuse plot line. Quor was all right, in that the episode went to great length to show that he was not evil, just deceived, and as such he’s a much better executed version of Malik from that Stone Mountain debacle a few weeks back. A tighter script might have benefitted things – everything was very slow to unfold, for one thing, and for another, no one seemed quite sure whether the Scourge was Red or Crimson, leading me to suspect there were a few careless rewrites. In short, I wouldn’t really recommend it, but if you like He-Man, you probably won’t be infuriated by it either.

Episode 021 – The Royal Cousin

In which we all try not to snigger at the name of Man-at-Arms’ new invention.

If you enjoyed the issues explored with Adam’s cousin Edwina a few episodes ago, but prefer for your sullen and selfish people to be young boys dressed in a leotard and a waistcoat, then this is the episode for you. (Of course, if you do have these preferences, please don’t get in touch. I scare easily.) The spoiled brat this week is Adam’s cousin Jeremy, who instantly starts being unpleasant to Adam, Man-at-Arms and Orko.

Jeremy starts playing with Man-at-Arms’ new Rock Softener (I assure you, this is not a euphemism) and destroys a table full of worthless-looking items. Adam and Man-at-Arms take this badly, leading Jeremy to start whinging to Orko about how he’s sick of grown-ups spoiling all his fun. As if to prove the point, Adam offloads Jeremy onto Ram-Man, of all people, and heads off to the Eternian plains to help Man-at-Arms test the Rock Softener.

Cousin 1

Ram-Man’s idea of entertainment for Jeremy is leaping repeatedly into a pool of water, and so it’s perhaps no surprise that Jeremy takes the first opportunity to nick off with a Sky Sled. Ram-Man seizes the back of it as Jeremy flies off, but Jeremy refuses to land, instead taking the Sky Sled and Ram-Man for a joyride out to the Eternian plains. By the time Jeremy relents and agrees to land, the Sky Sled is broken and he is unable to bring it down safely.

Luckily, Adam and Man-at-Arms are in this vicinity testing the Rock Softener, and once He-Man arrives on the scene, the situation is resolved. Jeremy is really excited to see He-Man, but He-Man just tells Jeremy off, and rightly so. Unbeknownst to our heroes, Evil-Lyn and Tri-Klops are also hanging out in the Eternian plains, and decide to use Jeremy’s dissatisfaction to get their grubby mitts on the Rock Softener.

Cousin 2

Once back at the Palace, Jeremy is sent to his room, but he instantly sneaks out and goes to the street market, where believe it or not, he meets Evil-Lyn in disguise. She buys him a Magneto Boomerang, and in return asks Jeremy to steal the Rock Softener. This deal goes down without a hitch, and when Man-at-Arms realises the Rock Softener is gone, he explains that it could be used to soften the walls of Castle Grayskull. Once he learns that this could lead to Eternia falling to the forces of evil, Jeremy confesses all.

Cousin 3

Evil-Lyn and Tri-Klops are already at Grayskull, rather inexplicably using the Rock Softener on the jawbridge, the only part of Grayskull that isn’t made of rock. This lapse in logic notwithstanding, it seems to be working. When Man-at-Arms and He-Man arrive, He-Man immediately blunders into the beam of the Rock Softener and starts getting softened, while Man-at-Arms contrives to get his foot stuck in a plant. Luckily, Jeremy is also on hand to use his Magneto Boomerang to retrieve the Rock Softener.

From here, it all goes down as expected: Man-at-Arms traps Evil-Lyn and Tri-Klops in his Porta-Prison, while He-Man pops inside Castle Grayskull to sort out some stupid growing glowing globe that was causing some bother. And finally, Jeremy apologises to everyone for being such a dick.


In today’s adventure…

Orko and He-Man tell us that all Jeremy really wanted was to be noticed, but they’re convinced that there’s no point in being noticed if no one likes what you’re doing. The best thing to do is to be polite and helpful, and then people will like you. This moral is almost on target, but the episode seemed more concerned with the benefits of listening to people when they tell you not to do things, as it might prove dangerous. Still, it makes relative sense.


Characters appearing

Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Ram-Man, the Sorceress, Orko, Skeletor, King Randor, Evil-Lyn, Tri-Klops, Jeremy and the man who sells the Magneto Boomerang to Evil-Lyn. This last character is one of the most complex characters to ever appear in this cartoon, and possibly in all of fiction. What are his motivations? His inner demons? How did his life take such strange turns, leading him to Eternia’s marketplace? I suspect we’ll never know.

Cousin 4


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance:

Adam changes into He-Man twice on screen this week, but in neither case is an excuse offered. However, as the episode begins, our heroes are discussing a very recent incident, in which Adam “was out on some royal business.”



Tri-Klops comes off worst this week, being called a “Fool” by both Skeletor and Evil-Lyn, and also being referred to as “Three eyes” by Evil-Lyn, which is undeniably accurate but probably not meant as a compliment. Evil-Lyn also receives a “Fool” from Skeletor. Jeremy also implicitly slags off Man-at-Arms by hinting that Duncan is a rubbish name.

Cousin 5


Does it have the Power?

Well, it’s not completely rubbish, but it’s not really a highlight either. We already went through this spoiled brat storyline with Edwina, and I’m pretty confident we’ll see it again at various points in the future. The main highlight is the immature laughs you can get from dialogue about the Rock Softener. My particular favourite was He-Man’s comment, “No more Mr Soft Guy,” after he had been released from the Softener’s beam. He should get some voice-over work for Viagra.

And with that, I’m going on holiday, so there’ll be no more reviews for 10 days or so!