Episode 38 – Zoo Story

In which we discover that Hordak has a sideline in zoo administration.

She-Ra, Bow and Kowl are out in the Forest of Freedom, hoping to discover why all the animals of the forest have begun to disappear. They quickly spot a rare bird, and just as quickly see a dark shadow fly by and envelope the bird. Once the shadow disappears, the bird has gone as well. Bow suggests climbing a hill to try to further the investigation.

Zoo 1
Bow: “I wonder, if I suggest that Adora is a rare bird, would she slap me?”

At the top of the hill, Adora, Bow and Kowl spot a pair of Horde transports, bearing Grizzlor and Mantenna to some presumably nefarious deed. Bow temporarily absents himself for a short outbreak of imbecility (see Oh No, Bow! below), so Adora transforms herself into She-Ra. She and Bow then have a brief word with Mantenna, learning that he and Grizzlor were on their way to deliver some cages to Outpost Six.

While She-Ra and Bow have been thus occupied, Kowl and a female koala-owl creature have been captured by the mysterious black shadow, which soon reveals itself to house a scary Horde vulture-like individual who introduces himself as Vultak. Vultak is a surprisingly chatty fellow, and explains the plot for the benefit of slower viewers: he flies around capturing animals and putting them in Hordak’s zoo. Kowl and his lady friend are to be the star attractions in the zoo, apparently.

Zoo 2
Vultak: “Christ alone knows why Hordak would want you in his zoo.”

She-Ra and Bow head straight to Outpost Six to try to get a better handle on the situation. After banging a few Horde Trooper heads together, they quickly learn of the existence and the location of the zoo, so they begin to make their way there. And not a moment too soon: Kowl and Female Kowl are being thrown in cages and bossed around by the zoo’s staff, which consists solely of Vultak and a crowd of hovering dustbins. Vultak seems to like his job, but with employees like this, I can’t imagine he gets much in the way of office banter.

Zoo 3
Vultak: “My employees are rubbish. Chortle!”

After a discussion on the nature of freedom, as well as a comparison of zoos and prisons, Kowl and Kowla manage to bust out of their cell. They don’t get very far, of course, since the main entrance to the zoo is locked. Just as Vultak corners them, however, She-Ra and Bow burst in, release all the animals, and put Vultak in a cage instead, to see how he likes it. Believe it or not, he doesn’t like it.

 

In today’s adventure…

Sheer luck led me to be glancing directly at Loo-Kee today, as he skulked at the very edge of the screen in Outpost Six. The lesson today is that we often don’t appreciate the things we have. Examples of things we have include sunsets, flowers and family, presumably in that order of importance. While it’s a reasonable moral, I can’t help but think this episode would have been a good opportunity to talk about zoos, endangered species, or treating animals with care.

 

Character checklist

This time, it’s an outing for Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Kowl, Kowla, Loo-Kee, Vultak, Mantenna, Grizzlor, some Horde Troopers, and the flying bins. I also can’t remember if I normally include Bow’s horse Arrow in this list, but if so, then he’s here today.

Zoo 5
Mantenna: “Why does this sort of thing happen to me with tedious regularity?”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

Bow asks why She-Ra has shown up, to which She-Ra simply replies that she has “heard animals were disappearing from Freedom Forest”. This doesn’t seem to satisfy Bow, who persists in asking what happened to Adora. She-Ra isn’t interested in this discussion, replying only with a terse, “She left.”

 

Insults

Grizzlor starts the ball rolling by calling Mantenna “bug-eyes”, leading to an entirely disproportionate response from Mantenna, who retaliates with “hairball”, “fur-brain”, “fur breath” and “fur ball”. Mantenna also refers to Bow as “stupid” and “crazy”, and even Kowl concedes that Bow is “foolish”. Vultak is a fan of the ever-popular “little fool” describing Kowl, to which Kowl responds with the far more imaginative “feathered freak”.

 

Oh No, Bow!

Despite being well aware that he’s massively outnumbered, and despite not having any ostensibly clever tricks up his sleeve, Bow decides to take on Grizzlor, Mantenna, a vast but unspecified number of Horde Troopers, and a pair of tanks. Even Mantenna, one of the stupidest people on Etheria, thinks this is a demented thing to do. Naturally, Bow is very speedily defeated, and only saved from the Fright Zone’s dungeons by the inevitable arrival of She-Ra.

Zoo 4
Bow: “Oh, balls.”

 

Does it have the Power?

This is the only She-Ra episode I had on video when I was little – recorded from ITV in those heady days of the late 1980s. Therefore, it’s the only one which is even vaguely familiar to me. I certainly recall deriving my definitions of “disappearance” and “vanish” from a random speech Bow makes during the episode; he states that things that vanish are gone for ever, whereas things that disappear must appear somewhere else. To this day, I’m not sure if this definition is actually true, but I do genuinely try to choose my words carefully with regard to disappearing and vanishing.

That random remembrance aside, it was a pleasure to see this episode. I didn’t know it off by heart, like I did with A Trip to Morainia and Disappearing Dragons, but as the story unfolded, I did find it familiar in a nostalgic way. Vultak instantly rang a bell – his design is quite striking – and the appearance of the female Kowl also brought memories flooding back.

It doesn’t hurt, of course, that it happens to be a good episode. The dialogue is snappy, it moves along at a sensible pace, and there’s some good stuff in there about the importance of freedom. It does find the time to criticise zoos that are only interested in displaying animals, rather than preserving them, but I’d have liked that to be made more explicit in Loo-Kee’s moral; I can imagine it going over a child’s head otherwise. Even so, this is a good episode, which I expect you’ll enjoy.

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Episode 16 – Return of the Sea Hawk

In which Adora and Sea Hawk establish some relationship ground rules.

Do you remember the Elves of Seaworthy, from Sea Hawk’s first episode? And did you dislike them quite intensely? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, you’ll probably be quite pleased with the opening scene this week, which features Catra and Grizzlor sailing a Horde prison ship into Seaworthy Harbour, and loading all the Elves aboard as prisoners. This is the first stage of Catra’s latest and probably not greatest scheme – to lure Adora and Sea Hawk into attempting a rescue.

Return 1
Catra: “Tough crowd.”

In Whispering Woods, Adora is revealing to Madame Razz that she fancies the pants off Sea Hawk, but Sea Hawk is only interested in She-Ra. Not unexpectedly, Madame Razz has little in the way of useful advice, so perhaps it’s just as well that they are distracted by the arrival of the news of Catra’s little ploy. Madame Razz heads off to find Sea Hawk, while Adora becomes She-Ra and flies off to Seaworthy.

Once She-Ra locates the prison ship, Catra gets slightly over-enthusiastic and shoots a pair of nuclear warheads at her. Although She-Ra successfully dodges these, she is subsequently captured when Catra contrives to give her a severe electric shock. Catra chains Swift Wind up, and imprisons She-Ra in a forcefield, but doesn’t have much time to gloat before Sea Hawk arrives in his flying ship.

Return 2
Catra: “Looks like She-Ra and Swift Wind have been living it up in Wetherspoons again.”

Despite having every opportunity, Catra doesn’t repeat her electric shock trick on Sea Hawk, and it’s entirely due to this incomprehensible error of judgement that her entire plan starts going tits up. Sea Hawk finds She-Ra in her forcefield, attempting to break through. Well, I assume that’s what she’s doing, but the animation quality suffers one of its rare lapses here and simply makes She-Ra look like she’s rubbing her breasts against the forcefield for thrills. Sea Hawk puts a stop to this, releasing She-Ra just in time for her to have a bit of a barney with Catra.

Sea Hawk trots off to release the Elves, but gets seized from behind by Grizzlor, and needs to be rescued by She-Ra, who sees fit to stand seductively by the doorway and flirt a little bit before doing so. Once that sickening sequence is over with, Sea Hawk loads the Elves aboard his ship, and She-Ra knocks a hole in the bottom of the prison ship, in a blatant attempt to murder Catra and Grizzlor. She-Ra and Sea Hawk then take the Elves back to Seaworthy, ignoring the fact that there’s nothing to stop Catra from just trying the same thing again next week.

Return 3
Sea Hawk: “Sorry about having my mouth gaping open like this. I’m well aware that I look like the village idiot.”

The episode ends with Sea Hawk revealing to Adora that he doesn’t think of She-Ra as a potential lover, but he’d be very interested in taking a walk with Adora. Adora correctly interprets this as, “I’d like to jump your bones,” and they head off screen with a spring in their steps.

 

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee – the location of whom was once again impossible to spot in the episode – informs us that if you like someone, you should tell them, and there’s every possibility that they’ll respond in kind. The word ‘like’ is clearly quite loaded with a deeper meaning here, and I’m damned if I’m taking dating advice from a blue-tailed pixie like Loo-Kee.

Return 4
Loo-Kee: “Listen to me, and you’ll be set up with your life partner in no time.”

 

Character checklist

It’s a pretty well-populated episode, this one, involving Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Madame Razz, Broom, Sea Hawk, Swen, some Twiggets, the Sea Elves, Loo-Kee, Catra, Grizzlor, and the omnipresent Horde Troopers.

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

The transformation takes place off screen today, which is a relief, because this is the second episode I’ve watched today, and the incessant She-Ra music is beginning to get permanently embedded in my head. So, anyway, there’s no excuse on this occasion.

 

Insults

Well, this is probably a new record. Grizzlor takes a fair number of fur-related insults, including “furface” and “furball” from Catra, and the rather stronger “fur-faced nightmare” from Sea Hawk. The nameless Horde Troopers get a touch of abuse, with Sea Hawk calling a pair of them “metalheads”, and another being on the sharp receiving end of “fool” from Catra.

Return 5
Grizzlor: “Catra, please, pretty please, can I get a personality soon?”

Early on, one of the Twiggets calls another one a “twigbrain”, and Catra calls She-Ra a “muscle-bound meddler”, though not to her face. She-Ra also calls Catra a “cat lady”, and threatens to trim her whiskers. Sea Hawk addresses Madame Razz to tell her, “You are a little heavy,” which I don’t think is the way to a lady’s heart.

And finally, Catra has it in for Sea Hawk, whom she calls a “fool”, a “rebel-loving slug”, and a “worm”. Sea Hawk bizarrely responds to this latter with, “Flattery will get you nowhere.” I understand his desire to engage in witty banter, but that one needed a bit of work.

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s got Catra in it, so of course it does. She really livens up the Horde by actually having a discernible personality. It may help, of course, that I like cats, but the writers have really captured a cat’s spiteful nature. I like the fact that Catra seems to be acting as a jilted lover around Sea Hawk; she seems personally betrayed by him, with interesting consequences. I also enjoyed the shot of her drinking milk out of a saucer.

Return 6
Grizzlor: “Catra, could you please stop slurping that milk??”

Otherwise, I can take or leave the plot about Adora and Sea Hawk getting it on, and I certainly didn’t need the bit where Madame Razz got together with Swen the pirate. The main plot featuring the imprisonment of the Sea Elves was simple but effective, and the whole thing was pretty enjoyable. This one gets a thumbs-up.

Episode 07 – The Sea Hawk

In which She-Ra recruits some pirates.

She-Ra is messing about, flying on Swift Wind over the ocean, with no evident purpose. Naturally, she soon comes across a sinking ship crewed by Sea Elves, and is obliged to rescue them and take them to the nearby port of Seaworthy. Once at Seaworthy, She-Ra meets Mayor Gumby, who solemnly informs her that a monster has been terrorising the village for some time. She-Ra doesn’t seem to believe the Elves, though I can’t see why not. On Etheria, the presence of a monster isn’t inherently implausible. Still, she kindly and patronisingly offers to go and find the monster.

Sea Hawk 1
She-Ra: “I’m rather sick of this hole business.”

She-Ra quickly finds a large vessel hidden in a nearby bay, and she decides that this must be the monster. Good thinking, She-Ra! Boats do look like monsters – if you’re mental. Investigating further, She-Ra notes that the ship has some weird sails and flies a pirate flag. Spotting the pirates robbing a warehouse, she opts to turn back into Adora before confronting them. I don’t know why.

Adora manages to move about 20 feet before she is intercepted by a big tall ginger pirate, who turns out to be the captain and is called Sea Hawk. Managing to persuade the crew that she is lost and looking for Seaworthy, they offer to give her a lift – though they’re going via Horde Harbour. One of the pirates, Swen, recognises Adora and asks her to try to persuade Sea Hawk to join the Rebellion.

Sea Hawk 2
Sea Hawk: “I wonder if you could explain this stupid black band round my head.”

Adora puts in a halfway decent effort to recruit Sea Hawk, but before there are any tangible results, the ship arrives at Horde Harbour. Catra and Grizzlor greet Sea Hawk, pay him for some goods, and send their Horde Troopers onto the ship to collect the merchandise. Because Adora is an idiot, she stands around on deck and is immediately recognised by the Troopers. Catra places her under arrest, with Sea Hawk’s reluctant help.

Sea Hawk thinks about what he has done, and finally decides to throw his lot in with the rebels. His first act of rebellion will be to rescue Adora, and with this in mind, he activates his ship’s weird sails, which enables it to fly. Sea Hawk easily boards Catra and Grizzlor’s ship, nicks the keys to the cells, and releases Adora. Adora thanks him by saying, “I knew there was good in you,” in such a sickly voice that I would have locked her up again if I were Sea Hawk.

Sea Hawk 3
Catra: “In the Big Evil Purple Cat stakes, I’m definitely better than Panthor.”

Adora then ducks into a cupboard, turns into She-Ra, and gratuitously kicks the cupboard door off its hinges before emerging. She then comes to the rescue of Sea Hawk, who has been cornered by Catra, before disappearing and turning back into Adora. This is to the great disappointment of Sea Hawk, who has clearly got the hots for She-Ra. He agrees to join the Rebellion, quite possibly only as part of a long-term strategy to get off with She-Ra.

 

Character checklist

This swashbuckling tale features Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Loo-Kee, Sea Hawk, Swen, the other pirates, the Sea Elves, Mayor Gumby, Hordak, Catra, Grizzlor and some Horde Troopers.

Sea Hawk 4
Adora: “Guys, you can’t both dance with me.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Today, I didn’t see Loo-Kee during the episode, because he was ridiculously well-hidden in an establishing shot of Seaworthy. I was still spluttering about how difficult it was to see him, so I wasn’t really concentrating on the moral, but I think it was about looking for the good in people, even if they seem evil, like Sea Hawk.

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

Sea Hawk asks She-Ra if Adora got away. She-Ra knows a good opportunity when she sees it, and replies, “Yes.”

 

Insults

Lots and lots of insults this week. We get off to a mild start when Sea Hawk calls Swen a “sympathetic fool” for offering to give Adora a lift to Seaworthy. Things hot up a bit more with Hordak referring to Adora as a “rebel traitor”, and then all hell lets loose when Sea Hawk starts fighting Catra and Grizzlor. He refers to Grizzlor as “piggy” (more appropriate for Hordak, I’d have thought), and Catra as “whiskers” and “cat lady”, and then – a bit oddly – to the pair of them as “squids”. Finally, he calls Hordak “old bony”.

Sea Hawk 5
Sea Hawk: “Now may not be the time to mention this, Grizzlor, but you look like you’re wearing a stupid balaclava.”

Catra manages to fire off one insult to Sea Hawk, calling him a “treacherous pirate dog”. Grizzlor only achieves insulting Catra, whom he calls a “cheater”. There’s a possibility that this was supposed to be a pun on “cheetah”, but I can’t say for certain without acquiring a copy of the script, which is a level of dedication to which I’m not willing to go.

 

Does it have the Power?

Yes, I suppose so. It’s still quite difficult to tell which the good episodes of She-Ra are, so with my current low expectations, I think we could call this one a decent offering. It’s perhaps a little soon for another baddy-turns-into-a-goody episode, since we had this with Adora not all that long ago, but Sea Hawk is a likeable character, and certainly comes across as more competent than Bow, the only other male lead.

We’re still not seeing the other members of the Rebellion much; She-Ra seems to be a bit of a lone wolf. That doesn’t concern me too much, given how irritating I find some of those characters. Catra is definitely an interesting baddy; the writers have managed to make her character rather catty, in both senses. Grizzlor, on the other hand, remains a complete nonentity, and despite being on screen for no more than 60 seconds this week, Hordak still manages to emit six pig snorts, so he’s still not in my good books.

Episode 02 – Beast Island

In which Bow begins his long and illustrious career of incompetence.

Opening shortly after He-Man’s capture by Adora, the remaining members of the Great Rebellion are trying to determine where he has been taken. Thanks to some magic from Madame Razz – whose irritating spells put her firmly in the role of a wannabe-Orko – they locate him on Beast Island. Glimmer asks brainlessly why the Horde would have taken him there, to which Bow replies that Beast Island is the location of the Horde’s prison. I realise that this is for the benefit of the viewers, but it makes Glimmer seem incredibly thick. As the leader of the Rebellion, she really ought to know where the Horde’s prison is.

Beast Island 1
Madame Razz: “So, you thought Orko was annoying, did you?”

In the prison, He-Man is chained up. He is struggling to break his chains and making noises which make him sound constipated. Unable to stand this unpleasant racket anymore, Adora – having nicked the power sword given to He-Man by the Sorceress last week – pops along for a little chat, in the course of which she reveals that she believes the Horde are caring, just rulers, and that the rebels are the evil ones. The full name of the Horde action figures was the Evil Horde, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt that that’s not their full name in the cartoon. She should, however, perhaps take a clue from the fact that Horde HQ is called the Fright Zone, which in all honesty is not the sort of name nice people give to their homes.

He-Man plants a seed in her mind that perhaps the Horde are the baddies after all, and suggests that she go out into Etheria, to speak to the people and learn the truth. Adora takes him up on the notion, gets onto her horse Spirit, and rides out of the prison. Hordak and Shadow Weaver wonder whether she may need watching, but ultimately decide that she is loyal, thanks to years of training from Hordak, and spells of control from Shadow Weaver.

Beast Island 2
Hordak: “Got to hand it to you, Shadow Weaver, you picked up a mighty fine bargain at DFS with this baby.”

Meanwhile, the rebels magic themselves up a flying ship, which they use to reach Beast Island. On arrival, they treat themselves to a stupid fight with a stupid monster before getting down to the serious business of rescuing He-Man. The Horde – including a Beast-Man rip-off called Grizzlor, who I don’t believe we met last week – put a variety of traps in their way, and to get past each and every one of them, they need Battle-Cat’s help. These no-hopers are not going to do well once He-Man and Battle-Cat return to Eternia and leave them to it.

He-Man is back to his constipation noises trick by the time the rebels find him. Of course, He-Man is only there as bait, and they all find themselves frozen in place, with a blast from Hordak’s silly arm-cannon. Grizzlor carts them all off to a cell – all except Kowl, who evades capture by some unspecified means, and then releases He-Man once all the baddies have gone.

Beast Island 3
He-Man: “Battle-Cat, you’re fired. Kowl has been far more useful today.”

He-Man releases all the rebels from their cell – though probably only out of a feeling of obligation, or because Battle-Cat is locked up with them – and in so doing, sets off the burglar alarm. The rebels run for it into a landing bay, where they nick a flyer and escape – though He-Man makes a point of demolishing the entire prison first. This has the unintended side effect of making Glimmer get the hots for him, which He-Man completely ignores.

In the meantime, Adora has been trotting around Etheria, witnessing a heart-rending montage of the Horde Troopers being mean to the villagers, by throwing them into rivers, nicking their horses and destroying their homes. She quickly comes to realise that the Horde are evil. How she could have missed this previously is beyond me, but I suppose that’s how brainwashing works. She returns to the Fright Zone to confront Hordak and Shadow Weaver, but is singularly ineffective in whatever she was hoping to achieve. Shadow Weaver simply puts her into a magical sleep, and takes the power sword. Then she and Hordak laugh their maniacal heads off for the purposes of a non-too-threatening cliff-hanger.

Beast Island 4
Adora: “Hey, you guys! You’re evil!”

 

In today’s adventure…

No moral lesson again, but I think we have all learned that if you discover you have been brainwashed all your life into thinking evil is good, and vice versa, then you should probably have some kind of objective in mind when you waltz into the chief brainwasher’s house and tell him that you’re wise to his little game. If you don’t have an objective, or a plan, or any backup, then you’re liable to get knocked out and re-brainwashed.

 

Character checklist

What a treat to spend time with these new characters! We have the old familiar He-Man and Battle-Cat, but otherwise it’s all newbies. There’s Adora, Glimmer, Bow, Madame Razz, Kowl, Broom, some green people, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Grizzlor, some Horde Troopers and some random Etherians.

Beast Island 5
Glimmer: “This is such a very nice flying ship.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

There’s no excuse for last week’s disappearance, and oddly enough, Bow and Glimmer etc seem to have forgotten all about their new friend Prince Adam and aren’t worried about where he’s gone. This is despite the fact that – as far as they know – he was quite possibly a Horde spy and they’ve shown him where the secret rebel headquarters are.

 

Insults

Grizzlor seems to think that adding ‘rebel’ to any other noun makes for a super insult. To be fair, it works well enough this episode with “rebel fools” and “rebel dogs”, both of which he applies to Glimmer, Bow, Kowl, Madame Razz, Broom and Battle-Cat. Elsewhere, we find a Horde Trooper nicking a horse and calling it a “miserable nag”, and shortly thereafter addressing the horse’s owner as a “little fool”. He-Man still can’t seem to muster up much enthusiasm for this Etherian jaunt, since the best he can manage to call Hordak is a “villain”.

And finally, Glimmer may well have said something insulting to a pair of Horde Troopers, but her voice was too sweet for me to understand it. It sounded like “Buzz”, which is possibly a reference to Kevin’s hideous brother from Home Alone and is thus incredibly insulting. On the other hand, it’s possibly not.

Beast Island 6
Horde Trooper: “I’m okay with being nameless cannon fodder, but I’m not cool with being associated with Buzz.”

 

Oh No, Bow!

I have a sneaking suspicion that throughout this cartoon, Bow is going to prove to be a massive failure at pretty much everything he does. Therefore, I am going to start up a little section to record every single time he does something stupid. In this episode, he adopts the traditional Man-at-Arms style by tripping up on a vine and being inexplicably unable to stand up while a monster attacks him, requiring rescue by Battle-Cat.

Bow also gets frozen by Hordak’s sleeping gas, but since everyone else does as well, it’s probably unfair to single him out for particular ridicule. Except that he deserves it.

Beast Island 7
Bow: “Yeah, fair play, I am as thick as bricks.”

 

Does it have the Power?

Again, since it’s part of a wider story, it’s not easy to tell. Frankly, I suspect the only particularly relevant part of this episode was Adora’s voyage of self-discovery; the rest of it (i.e. the vast majority) featuring He-Man being rescued did not contribute enormously to the overall story. In terms of character, nobody did anything to redeem my opinions from last week: Glimmer is still infuriating, and Shadow Weaver still has potential. Madame Razz confirmed my suspicions that she is going to be as annoying as Orko, if not possibly more so. The only new development is not a good thing: Hordak has a weird habit of snorting like a pig, which is off-putting.

Still, as part of the story, it gets Adora to where she needs to be, if nothing else. A grudging thumbs-up from me, I suppose.