Episode 91 – Assault on the Hive

In which Skeletor shows up for one last hurrah.

This episode opens with She-Ra chatting on Skype to Sweet Bee, who is still flying around the galaxy in the Hive looking for a new home, and we are treated to a brief recap of the relevant bits of the episode Sweet Bee’s Home. You may recall in that episode, She-Ra was dead set against Sweet Bee’s people settling on Etheria; today, she seems to have done a complete u-turn and is trying to persuade Sweet Bee and the rest of her bee friends to come and join the Rebellion. Sweet Bee is not at all keen on this notion, however, and ends the chat rather hurriedly.

It now emerges that the Hive is being observed by a malevolent power, and that power is Skeletor, who’s been absent from the She-Ra series for so long that I thought he’d settled into graceful retirement, perhaps in a little villa on the Costa del Sol. Far from it. He’s barely on screen for 10 seconds before he’s up to his old tricks, shrieking out his latest moronic plan in between gratuitously insulting his henchmen.

Skeletor: “Just like old times, eh, guys?”

This time, Skeletor’s plot is to enslave the entire race of Bee People and use them to defeat Horde Prime. I don’t want to pour cold water on your scheme, Skeletor, but if every single Bee Person can be defeated by you, Beast-Man and Trapjaw, what the flying fuck makes you think they’ll be any use whatsoever against Horde Prime?

Anyway, Skeletor successfully captures the bee people and hijacks the Hive, but he is foolish enough to let Sweet Bee escape. She leaps into a scout ship and flies off to ask for She-Ra’s help, which is all too eagerly granted. She-Ra is also considerate enough to call He-Man and let him know that he’s got a second chance with Sweet Bee, so He-Man comes bouncing over to Etheria with all due enthusiasm.

She-Ra: “Loving my new Apple iSword.”

Sweet Bee points out that the Hive is deep in space, and her scout ship is a one-person craft only. This conundrum is our cue for things to go completely mental. Swift Wind pipes up to state that he “can’t fly that fast in space”, a statement which I at first thought was as close as the writers would ever come to admitting that he shouldn’t be able to fly in space at all. Instead, Swift Wind flies our heroes out into space anyway (no helmets or space suits, obviously, and plenty of talking in a vacuum) and contacts his friend, Crystal Sundancer, who is a red winged horse. For whatever bonkers reason, Crystal Sundancer CAN fly really fast through space, so He-Man and She-Ra board him instead.

En route to the Hive, our heroes run into two big purple balls chasing a big red ball. These balls all have extendable necks and heads which look vaguely lizard-like. With no idea what’s going on or why this chase is occurring, He-Man leaps off Crystal Sundancer and drifts off into space, hoping to help the big red ball. Why he does this is completely beyond me. It feels like the writer of this episode was having some sort of literary spasm.

Crystal Sundancer: “This … is odd.”

In the meantime, She-Ra and Sweet Bee reach the Hive, where Skeletor has hypnotised all the Bee People, and is using them to fire force rays at our heroes. Pleasingly, he manages to defeat both She-Ra and Sweet Bee, but it all starts to unravel for him when He-Man re-enters the episode, riding the big red ball. Skeletor, Beast-Man and Trapjaw are easily defeated, and He-Man delivers a little lecture to the Bee People informing them that sometimes, it is necessary to fight to ensure peace.

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee is on Eternia today, outside Castle Grayskull! How the hell did he get there? He doesn’t explain, instead simply leaping into his latest crazy monologue, which this time concerns the fact that if you really want something, it’s worth working to get it. I don’t think I’d have ever worked that out on my own, so thanks, Loo-Kee. You can’t begin to understand just how helpful you are.

Loo-Kee: “I can be infuriating on Eternia as well as Etheria, you know.”

Character checklist

This one’s got She-Ra, Swift Wind, Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Sweet Bee, Netossa, Loo-Kee, the Bee People, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Trapjaw, Hordak, Catra, and how could we forget Crystal Sundancer and the purple and red balls? On the other hand, I don’t think Adora was in it, but maybe I just wasn’t paying attention.

Insults

Yes, well, with Skeletor about, it’s inevitable that there’d be a lot of insults. Disappointingly, though, we aren’t treated to anything particularly imaginative. Skeletor calls Trapjaw a “tin-head” twice, and then calls a Bee Person called Drone 7 a “bug-brain” and a “bee-man”, before turning his attention to Sweet Bee to tell her she’s a “bee-lady”. Drone 7 retorts that Skeletor is a “bone-faced monster”, and Sweet Bee refers to Trapjaw as a “can opener with a bad temper”. Last but not least, Skeletor tells the big red ball that it is a “miserable cat”, which seems a little odd. If anything, it looks like a lizard and acts like a dog, so I’m not quite sure what he’s on about there.

Trapjaw: “Honestly couldn’t explain why I’ve waited till my final appearance to reveal that I’m basically Superman.”

Does it have the Power?

It starts well and ends well, but the ten minutes in the middle of the episode are slow and a lot of it is just weird. I can’t shake the feeling that all the nonsense with the purple and red balls (introduced as Dinosaubs), and with Crystal Sundancer, was inserted purely as toy advertisements, though I don’t know if these were ever actually produced as toys. I know I’m on the internet, so I could look it up, but in the spirit of petulant stubbornness, I’m not going to. All I will say in addition to this subject is that Crystal Sundancer’s voice is really creepy, like an older person trying to sound young in order to trick a child. It quite disturbed me.

Otherwise, as mentioned above, the beginning of the episode was great; it’s always a pleasure to see Skeletor, and for Beast-Man and Trapjaw to reappear after all this time was a delight as well. Skeletor was entertainingly evil, and it’s been an enormously long time since we saw him and He-Man face off as we do at the end of this episode. The He-Man/Sweet Bee romance angle has been dropped, which is just as well, because without Frosta around to keep things tart, I’m sure it would have been sickening.

In short, this is an entertaining but flawed offering, which is worth watching, but with the caveat that you may as well skip from the moment Swift Wind flies into space until She-Ra and Sweet Bee arrive at the Hive. Still, purely for having Skeletor in it, this one gets a pass.

The He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special

In which the Christmas spirit comes to Eternia. And Etheria. But mostly Eternia.

Merry Christmas to you all. I’m sure that, like me, you’ve spent every Christmas Day for the last 30 years watching the Christmas Special on repeat until your mind melts. However, it has come to my attention that there are a few unfortunate souls who haven’t yet been introduced to this classic of Christmas television, so I will here summarise the plot and then review it.

In the Royal Palace, King Randor and Queen Marlena welcome a vast phalanx of Eternia and Etheria’s foremost freaks of nature to celebrate Adam and Adora’s birthday. There’s Moss-Man flirting outrageously with Queen Angela, Snout Spout hanging out with Fisto, Stratos hulking ominously over Castaspella, and Glimmer being studiously ignored by Cringer. Sy-Klone is also present, though he seems to have been relegated to the role of a waiter. Don’t worry about all these names; they’re only here as background action-figure advertisements, and they don’t do anything important. It’s a lovely panning shot, but let’s get with the story.

Cringer: “You’d better not come near me with any of this nonsense.”

Prince Adam and Man-at-Arms have skived off from the decorating in order to build a Sky Spy, a rocket which Man-at-Arms claims will allow them to learn of Skeletor’s every move. Of course, it’s not long before a combination of Orko’s innate stupidity and Man-at-Arms’ exceptionally poor design work means that Orko accidentally launches the rocket, with himself inside.

Skeletor is cruising about in the Collector, evidently simply looking for trouble, and the runaway rocket soon attracts his attention. Once Adam and Adora realise that Skeletor has noticed the Sky Spy, they become He-Man and She-Ra to stop Skeletor getting his bony blue hands on it. In this, they are successful: they inflict some gratuitous damage on the Collector, forcing Skeletor to turn and head for home. However, with his unerring talent for making a situation worse, Orko casts a spell on the Sky Spy which causes it to fly off into outer space.

He-Man and She-Ra – who as we all know can of course breathe, talk and survive in the vacuum of space – fly out of Eternia’s atmosphere and give chase.  On this occasion, however, the Sky Spy engages its warp drive, and our heroes lose track of it. They return to Eternia, unaware that Orko was on board anyway, though I have to wonder how far they’d care, even if they did know.

Prince Adam: “If I mash these controls enough, maybe I can arrange it so Orko will never come back.”

The Sky Spy crash-lands on Earth, and Orko emerges to immediately find two children about to be buried by an avalanche. He casts a spell to save them, and as a consequence of this idiotic act, we’re stuck with these bratty kids for the rest of the Christmas Special. They’re called Alicia and Miguel, and they are kind enough to explain to Orko all about Christmas. It turns out that Christmas is about presents, peace and goodwill towards men. There is evidently no goodwill towards women. Jesus is also conspicuous by his absence.

Orko: “Why are you kids so oddly fine with this?”

Back on Eternia, Man-at-Arms successfully tracks the Sky Spy to Earth, and at the same time, Marlena and Teela realise that Orko is missing. They put two and two together, and Teela says with undisguised glee, “Are you saying we’ll never get Orko back?” Man-at-Arms suggests using a transport beam to travel to Earth, but this will require the use of a kerium water crystal, which must be obtained from Etheria.

She-Ra returns to Etheria, where she meets up with Mermista. Mermista was apparently not invited to the party on Eternia, which seems a trifle harsh. Choosing to ignore this snub, Mermista agrees to help She-Ra acquire the water crystal, which is achieved by having a short and lacklustre fight with one of those ubiquitous dragon-like creatures, this one known imaginatively as the Beast Monster.

Mermista: “Yes, well, we’ll talk later about exactly how my invite got lost in the post.”

Once the crystal is in She-Ra’s grubby mitts, she is confronted by three tall robots which introduce themselves as Monstroids. It seems that someone at Mattel was well aware of the success of the Transformers, because these are second-rate rip-offs. The Monstroids imprison She-Ra in a forcefield, for no readily apparent reason, and then they fly off. Once they’re gone, She-Ra releases herself from the forcefield with ease. This little sequence is the very epitome of a pointless advertising scene.

She-Ra brings the crystal back to Man-at-Arms, who uses it to activate his transporter beam. As an aside note, I don’t know why Man-at-Arms keeps inventing things that rely on nearly unobtainable power sources. Off the top of my head, this transporter beam is one such example, as is the Palace radio transmitter in Three on a Dare (which needed rainbow quartz from Snake Mountain), and he also reveals that the entire planet needs Eternium in Double Edged Sword. Forward planning is clearly not his strong suit.

Anyway, once he turns on the transporter beam, a glowing light appears next to Orko and the children, which finally distracts them from the endless nattering about Father Christmas. They all walk into the light, which somehow – do not ask me how, because it defies logic – makes the entire Sky Spy disappear and rematerialise on Eternia. Orko introduces Alicia and Miguel to the inhabitants of the Palace, though he notably limits the introductions to the more normal-looking citizens. Snout Spout, Moss-Man and Sy-Klone are no longer anywhere to be seen.

King Randor: “Welcome to Eternia, where only perfectly normal people live. Yes, sir.”

With Alicia and Miguel on Eternia spreading the message of Christmas goodness, Horde Prime is disturbed. Or I assume he’s disturbed. He sounds like he’s talking underwater, frankly, so I haven’t really got a clue what he’s saying. He definitely summons both Hordak and Skeletor, and tells them to do something or another, which – based on what they subsequently go off to do – is capture the children.

Hordak gets there first, kidnapping the children with a tractor beam, and taking Orko too for good measure. Once he gets them back to Etheria, however, he is ambushed by the Monstroids, who have decided to capture the children to deliver them to Horde Prime and claim some kind of reward. Hordak gives the children up without a fight, and they end up locked up in a cell with Orko, who starts off on one of his infuriating “it’s all my fault” kicks. Yes it is, Orko, and it’s always all your fault. Why don’t you learn not to piss about with stuff that’s nothing to do with you?

Alicia: “Sure, sure, he’s really evil and everything, but when he’s doing this stupid little dance he doesn’t seem that intimidating.”

This irritating little sequence comes to an end with the beginning of an even more irritating sequence, in which some tiny robots called the Manchines come to the rescue. There are only two things I think I need to say about the Manchines: firstly, they plumb new depths of annoying, and secondly, one of them is called Cutter, which is possibly the most serial-killer name I’ve ever heard. They may seem to be rescuing the kids, but it can only be a matter of time before things turn nasty.

Luckily, He-Man and She-Ra show up to take the children out of Cutter’s hands, but less fortunately, Skeletor does likewise. He manages to get away with Alicia and Miguel, as well as some abomination of nature called Relay, who is a Manchine Puppy. He-Man and She-Ra give chase, but rather half-heartedly, and as a result, Skeletor escapes.

Not for long, of course. No. Now it’s time for Hordak to get involved again. He shoots down Skeletor’s Sky Sled, which crashes to a landing in some snowy mountains. Skeletor is then subjected to his most heinous character assassination since The Greatest Show on Eternia, when Alicia and Miguel tell him all about Christmas being the season of goodwill, and he actually listens. He gives the children nice warm coats and even saves that bloody dog Relay from freezing. In total fairness, this sequence does contain some of the funniest lines in the entire Christmas Special, as Skeletor tries and completely fails to understand how Christmas works.

Skeletor: “Nothing else about this episode works, but at least I remain a creation of comic genius.”

Eventually, the whole sorry situation comes to a head when He-Man, She-Ra, Hordak and Horde Prime all locate Skeletor and the children. There’s an almighty ruckus, the end result of which is that Skeletor takes a stand and saves the children from Horde Prime. He then claims to feel unwell, and unceremoniously exits while He-Man and She-Ra laugh at him. Which is nice of them.

Back at the Palace, Man-at-Arms has recharged the water crystal sufficiently to return the children to Earth. Before they go, Prince Adam dresses up as Father Christmas and gives them some flying belts, which I hope Man-at-Arms didn’t invent, given how often Man-at-Arms’ inventions break. Once they’re gone, Father Christmas Adam saunters up to Adora and says “Ho ho ho!” in a tone that implies he’d like some Christmas sex, immediately. For once, Adora doesn’t seem to be in the mood, but before the situation can turn ugly, Orko appears terrifyingly close to the camera and wishes everyone a merry Christmas. The End.

Adora: “Not tonight, brother, I have a headache.”

In today’s adventure…

Adam and Orko deliver this week’s moral, in which Adam explains that not everyone celebrates Christmas, but the spirit of love, joy and caring is within us all. Orko adds that Christmas is also about peace, happiness, and – most importantly – presents. At this, Adam turns to mug at the camera with one of the weirdest expressions I’ve ever seen him pull. I assume it’s meant to look like mild exasperation with Orko’s obsession with presents, but unfortunately he looks like he’s quite seriously mentally disturbed. Frankly, I’ve never seen an expression that more succinctly conveys the phrase, “I will kill again.”

Prince Adam: “Sleep well, kiddies. Sleep well.”

Character checklist

Oh good god, I don’t feel like I can successfully list all the characters in this car crash. I mean, it definitely includes Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Teela, Glimmer, Bow, Kowl, Alicia, Miguel, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Madame Razz, Broom, Stratos, Fisto, Snout Spout, Sy-Klone, Moss Man, Ram Man, Mechaneck, Zodak, Man-e-Faces, Flutterina, Peekablue, Frosta, Castaspella, Queen Angela, Perfuma, Mermista, Sea Hawk, the Twiggets, Dree Elle, Yuckers, the Widgets, Loo-Kee, Skeletor, Hordak, Two Bad, Webstor, Rattlor (who’s working for Skeletor this time, though he only has one line, and it’s not to explain what he’s doing there), Spikor, Catra, Modulok, Multibot, Horde Prime, the Monstroids, the Manchines (including Relay), and Alicia and Miguel’s parents, but for all I know it includes billions of others too.

Skeletor: “I don’t understand why I couldn’t bring my usual henchmen instead of being landed with you lot.”

Excuse given for Adora and Adam’s transformations

Despite numerous transformations, some of which take place in the easily over-looked Palace courtyard, neither Adam nor Adora nor anyone else seek to explain their absence.

Insults

Fittingly for a feature-length episode, we’ve got a feature-sized quantity of insults. We start relatively sedately, with Two-Bad’s purple head calling his blue one a “lamebrain”, and the blue head retaliating with “motormouth”.

Once Two-Bad’s got his little personality disorder out of the way, the majority of the rest of the insults are directed at Skeletor or the Monstroids. Swift Wind refers to the Monstroids as “evil robots”, whereas Hordak considers one of them to be a “bucket of bolts”. He-Man and She-Ra get in on the act with “metal-mouth” and “iron head” respectively. None of these insults is particularly imaginative, but everyone’s just warming up at this stage.

She-Ra: “Oh, Christ, the Monstroids. It seems a bit unfair to go reminding us of Day of the Flowers on Christmas Day.”

 Hordak’s in a foul mood with Skeletor this week, calling him “bone-brain”, “bonehead” and “skull-faced scoundrel” on various occasions. He-Man’s heart doesn’t seem to be in it, but he does at least contrive to join in by calling Skeletor a “bone-face”. Skeletor doesn’t even dignify this with a response, but does tell Hordak that he’s a “miserable excuse for a villain”. He then refers to Alicia and Miguel as “troublesome tots” and to Relay as a “dratted dog”, a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly concur.

Finally, Hordak says that Alicia and Miguel are “goody-goods” and “little fools”, while She-Ra tells Horde Prime that he is a “troublemaker”. This last is entirely accurate, and I suspect Horde Prime is pleased about it, but I’m pretty sure She-Ra wasn’t trying to be complimentary.

Skeletor: “Oddly, not much in the way of insults from me today.”

Oh No, Bow!

In the scene at the start where our heroes are decorating the Palace, Bow is engrossed in unnecessarily painting a box, which is the most complicated task that anyone dared to assign him. Even so, he’s still got the nerve to tell Peekablue that the stars she’s painting on the wall ought to be purple. Bow is clearly big in the world of interior design, as evidenced by the fact that he lives in a campsite in the woods, and therefore has loads of experience in the subject.

Bow then disappears from the episode, until about halfway through when he pops up again in order to lean against a tree, thrusting his crotch provocatively in the direction of Alicia and Miguel, and to teach them to sing a horrendous song about joy and Christmas spirit. It’s dreadful. Bow’s done some horrific things in the past, but this really does go the extra mile. Go away, Bow. I never want to see you again.

Miguel: “I feel like if I try to leave, these guys are going to get nasty.”

Does it have the Power?

I don’t like being overly negative, especially when it’s plain that the writers and production team have really tried to craft a great Christmas special, but this one has never really done anything for me, and I don’t know why. I think part of the problem is that an awful lot of it comes across as an advert, rather than a story – the Monstroids and the Manchines, in particular, really felt like they were only there to sell toys.

Snout Spout: “Everyone you see in the following panning shot is available to buy.”

Looking back over the episode summary, I’d say that I enjoyed the Special mostly up to the point where Alicia and Miguel arrived on Eternia, after which it goes downhill quite rapidly with the endless capturing and rescuing of the children. As mentioned above, Skeletor has some brilliant lines when he has custody of the children, but this is pretty much the only point in the whole special at which the dialogue really comes to life.

Speaking of Skeletor, I think I’m more open than many He-Man fans when it comes to his character. I know that his crazy desire to bring the circus to Snake Mountain in The Greatest Show on Eternia infuriated many, but I – while not welcoming it with open arms – didn’t particularly mind. However, his behaviour in this episode is perhaps one step too far. I simply cannot believe that Skeletor would ever do anything good, especially not giving up a reward from Horde Prime for capturing the children. It just doesn’t ring true. My impression of Skeletor is that he can be petty and small-minded (as with the circus incident), but he just doesn’t have it in him to do good.

Skeletor: “Somewhere, somehow, something has gone hideously wrong.”

Everything else this time is pretty much by-the-numbers. He-Man, She-Ra and Hordak are all present and correct, as are the lead supporting casts from the respective shows, but no one does anything inspiring. It’s nice to see Man-at-Arms again, though it would have been good if Teela could have had a few more lines. Glimmer gets short shrift, as always, but who cares about her? In summary, I’m afraid I can’t say I loved this episode, but being honest, if you’re a He-Man fan, you’re going to be watching it this Christmas anyway.

Episode 87 – The Inspector

In which Adora and Adam put on the worst disguises ever.

This week is a rare treat: we open on Eternia, where He-Man and Man-at-Arms are hanging out, testing a new shield that Man-at-Arms has invented. It’s good to see Man-at-Arms again, even if it does remind me that he’s almost as big a tit as Bow is. Anyway, soon enough, He-Man is summoned by the Sorceress to Castle Grayskull, and off he goes, leaving Man-at-Arms behind. This is surely the last time we see Man-at-Arms, and it feels like I’ve left a small piece of my soul behind.

He-Man: “Well, this is like the good old days.”

At Castle Grayskull, the Sorceress gets on Skype with Adora and Madame Razz on Etheria. Adora relates a hard-luck story about how the rebels were fooled by one of the most obvious traps I’ve ever seen, and have all been captured by Hordak. Adora and Madame Razz are the only ones who managed to escape, and Adora has lost her sword. Consequently, they’d really like He-Man’s help to get them out of this self-inflicted mess. Personally, I have no sympathy at all, but He-Man is a much nicer person than I am.

In the meantime, Hordak is celebrating his victory and congratulating Spicester, who is the gentleman who lured the rebels into the trap in the first place. His celebration is short-lived, however; Horde Prime gets in touch and announces that he is sending Inspector Darkney to make a thorough assessment of Hordak’s operation, and to discover why Hordak has completely failed to defeat She-Ra.

Hordak: “Come on Spicester. We’ll just have one drink.”

The moment He-Man arrives on Etheria, he is ambushed by Mantenna, and the one-sided battle is observed by Darkney. He-Man subsequently captures Darkney, and in a fit of insanity, decides to impersonate him and go to the Fright Zone. In total fairness, the impersonation does involve turning back into Prince Adam and putting on a fake beard, so I imagine Hordak will be completely fooled.

Actually, I don’t know why I’m being so sarcastic. Of course Hordak is fooled, even though Adam has brought Public Enemy Number One, Adora, along with him, and her only concession to a disguise is a big red cloak. Adam and Adora then put Hordak through a variety of humiliating exercises, seemingly purely for their own entertainment, before locking him in a cell and getting down to the serious business of locating Adora’s sword so she can become She-Ra.

Prince Adam: “Whose disguise is worse, do you think?”

Adam then dresses She-Ra and all the rebel prisoners up in Horde Trooper costumes, and marches them out of the Fright Zone. It’s Catra – putting in her first appearance for absolutely ages – who smells a rat, and rescues Hordak from his cell. Hordak gets in a big tank and gives chase to the prisoners, but comes up against He-Man and She-Ra, and the encounter goes about as well for him as you might expect.

Back in Whispering Wood, Adam accepts the thanks of Bow and Netossa for rescuing them, and then does a little flirting with Adora which makes for rather uncomfortable viewing. Cersei and Jaime have nothing on these two.

Netossa: “Not in front of the children, you deviants.”

In today’s adventure…

Not unexpectedly, Loo-Kee is in a tree in Whispering Wood today. He witters on about the love that families have for each other, which is definitely a topic he’s never touched on before. The writers had blatantly run out of life lessons to dispense by this point.

Character checklist

This trip to Etheria features Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Prince Adam, He-Man, Madame Razz, Bow, Netossa, Man-at-Arms, the Sorceress, Loo-Kee, some random rebels, Hordak, Catra, Spicester, Mantenna, Grizzlor, Inspector Darkney, and some Horde Troopers.

Insults

The word of the week is evidently “bumbling”, since it appears on no less than four separate occasions. Mantenna and Hordak both refer to some Horde Troopers as “bumbling robots”, Hordak calls Spicester a “bumbling fool”, and Darkney calls Hordak a “bumbling bozo”. Darkney also considers Hordak to be a “miserable excuse for a Horde commander” and furthermore believes He-Man and Adora to be “blasted rebels”.

Inspector Darkney: “I feel this could have gone better.”

In return, the rebels only manage a couple of barbs in the Horde’s direction: Madame Razz says that Darkney is an “unpleasant man”, and He-Man calls Mantenna “bug-eyes”. The Horde do, however, manage to insult each other on a few further occasions: Catra says that Spicester is a “measly sneak”, and Hordak rather surprisingly calls Catra and Spicester “baboons”. This could have been “buffoons”, but I prefer “baboons”.

Does it have the Power?

I enjoyed this episode, though I certainly wouldn’t rave about it. It was, as noted above, good to see Man-at-Arms again, and the opening scene felt like the beginning of a He-Man episode rather than a She-Ra one, which was pleasingly nostalgic. The plot once again revolves around people being captured and needing to be rescued, but with the added spice of the inspector impersonation, this storyline doesn’t feel as tired as it often does.

He-Man: “Sorceress, couldn’t we see what’s on BBC2 instead?”

Speaking of spice, I’m at a loss to understand the need for Spicester, and I certainly don’t know why he’s called that. He doesn’t look particularly spicy, and he doesn’t go round throwing spices at people, which in the He-Man universe are the only two reasons why he might have a name like that. Neither, unfortunately, is he especially interesting. The only good thing about him is that Catra clearly doesn’t like him, which was vaguely amusing.

Anyway, this one’s not bad at all, especially if you ignore Spicester. You could definitely do worse.

Episode 85 – Sweet Bee's Home

In which He-Man is subject to sexual harassment in the workplace.

Prince Adam is back on Etheria yet again, but his holiday comes to an end when he and Adora witness the Horde shooting down an unarmed spaceship. They adopt their alter egos and go running off to lend whatever assistance they can, accompanied by Mermista and Frosta, the latter of whom takes an immediate shine to He-Man.

He-Man: “Christ.”

The spaceship has crashed in the Polar Sea, so Hordak takes a bunch of Horde Troopers on a team away day to the Sea to recover it. Of course, our heroes arrive just in the nick of time, and divide their company. He-Man and Frosta occupy themselves with some flirting while they attend to the Horde Troopers, leaving She-Ra and Mermista to dive into the water to rescue the spaceship’s pilot.

Once He-Man has defeated all the Troopers, Frosta leaps on him, with the intention of taking a starring role in Filmation’s first 18-rated cartoon. Unfortunately for her, She-Ra and Mermista reappear with the pilot, and accuse He-Man of molesting Frosta. Once that’s sorted out, He-Man pulls the pilot’s helmet off, revealing a sexy ginger-haired woman. Well, judging by He-Man’s reaction, he thinks she’s sexy. Anyone in their right mind would disagree, but we’ve established on many occasions that He-Man is not in his right mind.

Frosta: “He-Man, eyes forward.”

The rebels take the pilot to Whispering Wood, where she introduces herself as Sweet Bee. It’s clear that we’re heading for a love triangle situation, since He-Man clearly can’t do enough for Sweet Bee, while Frosta is prancing about in the background pouting because she can’t get He-Man’s attention. I can’t help but wonder what Teela would say about all this.

Sweet Bee explains that her home sun exploded in a supernova, but her people escaped in a large ship known as the Hive. Sweet Bee was searching for a new world for her people to colonise. He-Man immediately leaps in and volunteers Etheria as a suitable planet, which is a bit rich considering he doesn’t even live there. Sure enough, She-Ra intervenes and points out that if Sweet Bee’s people come to Etheria, they are likely to be enslaved by the Horde.

He-Man: “I’ve had such a good idea.”

Once this is explained, Sweet Bee determines that she must warn her people, but Mermista tells her that her spacecraft has been stolen by the Horde. Unbeknownst to the rebels, the situation is much worse than that: Shadow Weaver has disguised herself as Sweet Bee and contacted the Hive, inviting them to come to Etheria to become Hordak’s slaves. She doesn’t mention that last bit.

He-Man, She-Ra, Frosta, Sweet Bee and Mermista all come bounding along to the Fright Zone to recapture the spaceship, and get involved in a super exciting battle, punctuated by amusing little quips and a very pleasing scene in which Frosta rescues He-Man from Shadow Weaver’s magic. It’s even more pleasing because She-Ra takes a back seat and doesn’t really do anything.

At the last moment, however, Hordak destroys the communication equipment and the launching jets of Sweet Bee’s ship, ensuring there is no way to warn the Hive against approaching Etheria. Of course, He-Man and She-Ra have a plan; Sweet Bee gets into the ship, and they throw it into space. Sweet Bee reaches the Hive and they depart, searching for a more suitable home. Once she’s established that Sweet Bee has really gone, Frosta starts draping herself all over He-Man again, much to his discomfort.

She-Ra: “Possibly the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.”

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee is in the Fright Zone today, probably because he’s a traitor and is planning to sell all the Rebellion’s secrets to Hordak. His moral is that Frosta’s aggressive sexual overtures in today’s episode were way beyond the norms of acceptable workplace behaviour, and he suggests that He-Man should speak to his line manager or consult the union. Okay, okay, I’m lying again. Actually, he advises us that if our family ever moves house, we shouldn’t be sad about it.

Character checklist

So, today we’ve got Adora, Prince Adam, She-Ra, He-Man, Spirit, Swift Wind, Frosta, Sweet Bee, Mermista, some guys from the Hive, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, and, of course, some Horde Troopers.

Insults

Hordak is the only one dishing out insults today, telling one of his Troopers that it is a “tin dolt” and referring to Sweet Bee as a “bee-brain”. I’m very surprised that we didn’t have Frosta calling Sweet Bee a bitch, but there we go.

Hordak: “I’m feeling particularly evil today.”

Oh No, Bow!

Bow’s not in this episode, for which I’m glad. With all the hormones raging between He-Man, Frosta and Sweet Bee, Bow would undoubtedly achieve Maximum Sleaze.

Does it have the Power?

There must have been something in the water at the Filmation office around about this time in the production history of She-Ra, given we’ve had three episodes involving romance recently. Romeo and Glimmer was the first attempt, while the opening scene of Just the Way You Are also suggested love was in the air between Adam and Glimmer.

Sweet Bee’s Home, though, is definitely the most successful episode concerning this theme, mostly because it’s not sugary-sweet. The only time it approaches saccharine is when Sweet Bee introduces herself and He-Man responds by saying her name is sweet. Even then, the focus of the scene is on Frosta, who is standing in the foreground wiggling her hips crossly and imitating He-Man.

She-Ra: “This is all getting silly…”

That’s not the only great animation in this episode: whenever Frosta is involved, there’s something entertaining going on. Early on, the scene where He-Man is battling the Horde Troopers at the Polar Sea, he’s essentially battling to keep Frosta off him as well. Pretty much any time Sweet Bee says anything, Frosta can be seen glaring at her. There’s even a moment when Mermista compliments He-Man, and Frosta gives her a death stare, as if to say, “don’t you get involved too”.

Frosta: “I will kill again.”

Eventually, at the end, He-Man gives up and surrenders to Frosta. There’s even a kiss sound effect after the episode fades to black. And that concludes one of the best She-Ra episodes we’ve ever seen.

Episode 83 – She-Ra Makes a Promise

In which Bow might as well rename himself Captain Obvious.

This episode begins with a really random scene where all the rebels argue about what their favourite food is. With the sole exception of one of the Twiggets, they eventually agree that they all very much enjoy some weird foodstuff called golden spuffles. I am sure your lives are greatly enriched by your acquisition of this information. Anyway, the Twigget who hates spuffles suddenly decides that he fancies Adora’s pants off, so he decides to go and get some spuffles for her.

Twiggets: “Nice to get the limelight for a change. Allows us to show off that we’re insane.”

Unfortunately, golden spuffles only grow on the banks of a river in the Fright Zone, which means the stupid Twigget – whose name is Sprocker – gets himself captured pretty much immediately. His captor is Octavia, that green tentacled lady we last saw ages ago in Treasures of the First Ones. Her big idea is to use Sprocker as bait to capture She-Ra, which is such a stunningly original plan that Hordak agrees to it at once.

Hordak sends Adora a note to explain that the rebels will never see Sprocker again, unless She-Ra shows up at the Fright Zone, unaccompanied, unarmed, and mentally unbalanced. He doesn’t actually say that last bit, in case I needed to clarify there. Adora decides that she has no choice, so she pops off into the woods and transforms into She-Ra.

Once She-Ra gets to the Fright Zone, Hordak promises to release Sprocker and never attack the rebels again, if She-Ra will promise to place herself under arrest, never try to escape, and obey all Hordak’s commands to the letter. She-Ra agrees to these terms and is escorted out to the dungeons, while Hordak keeps his word and releases Sprocker.

She-Ra: “You idiot. I don’t even like those stupid golden spuffle things. I was just saying that to shut you lot up.”

Locked in her cell, She-Ra decides to escape – but then realises that she has made a promise, and will not break it. She instead concludes that the best thing to do is stand around in the dungeon shouting, “He-Man! He-Man! I need help!” Yes you do, She-Ra, but not in the way you think. Anyway, He-Man astoundingly manages to hear She-Ra, and enthusiastically appears on Etheria to bust her out of prison.

In the meantime, Hordak has violated his side of the bargain by capturing Bow, Madame Razz and Broom. He’s also, somewhat unusually, taken the trouble to arrest Bow’s horse, though I suppose in fairness the horse does have a bigger brain than Bow does. He carts them off to Beast Island, which means He-Man and She-Ra have to go to Beast Island as well and bring them back. After they’ve dealt with that, He-Man and She-Ra stare at each other with expressions suggesting that they have the sort of sibling love that society isn’t prepared to accept.

He-Man: “Incest is just a social construct, maaan.”

In today’s adventure…

I feel like the animators couldn’t be bothered trying to hide Loo-Kee today, since the episode’s very first shot is a massive close-up of his face. His advice today is that it’s okay if we feel a sort of sexual feeling for our siblings, but it’s probably best if we don’t act on it, and it’s better yet if we could move to a planet in a different dimension to avoid temptation.

Once again, of course, I’m lying, but my idea was about 100 billion times more interesting than Loo-Kee’s drivel, which is that we must always tell our parents where we’re going. I must have missed this episode as a child, since I have been known to go on holiday for two weeks without telling my parents, and if I’d seen this episode and learned this lesson, I’d never do that.

Loo-Kee: “Only 10 episodes left, and then you’ll never have to see me again.”

Character checklist

Okay, lads, we’ve got Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Prince Adam, He-Man, Bow, Kowl, Madame Razz, Broom, Sprocker, the other Twiggets, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Octavia, Mantenna, Imp, and some Horde Troopers.

Insults

Madame Razz considers Sprocker a “scallywag”, which is exceptionally mild. I think he’s a dick. Hordak starts off imaginatively, with “armour-plated pop-eye” for Mantenna, but he all too quickly lapses back into old habits, by calling Mantenna a “fool” and addressing Bow and Madame Razz as “fools” as well. Bow retaliates by referring to the entire Horde as “cowards”.

Oh No, Bow!

When Adora receives Hordak’s note asking She-Ra to come unarmed to the Fright Zone, Bow chirps up, “It could be a trap!” You know what, Bow, you might be on to something there. You’re right. It definitely COULD be a trap. There’s certainly an outside possibility, isn’t there? That’s a degree of prescience bordering on the fucking supernatural you’ve got going on there, Bow. It’s a wonder MI5 haven’t recruited Bow, given his uncanny grasp of the subtleties of counter-intelligence.

To put it another way – of course it’s a trap, you complete and total tool. Now shut up, unless you’ve got anything to contribute, which we all know you haven’t.

Bow: “I wonder if maybe this is a trap too?”

Does it have the Power?

This one clearly started out in the writer’s room as a quite interesting notion. I like the idea of She-Ra being forced into making a bargain with Hordak, but frankly that’s the only good thing about this episode. The setup to the promise bit is less than compelling: the golden spuffles nonsense is completely random, and She-Ra could have easily rescued Sprocker and done a runner without having to enter into any kind of deal. Once she’s locked up, she does agonise a little about breaking the promise, but seems to think that calling on He-Man to rescue her does not constitute trying to escape. She’s then let off the hook all too easily because Hordak goes back on his side of the deal: it could have been an interesting episode if She-Ra had had to choose to break her promise when Hordak had kept his. All in all, we have a missed opportunity here, which is somehow more frustrating than the episodes that never had a hope of being any good. Still, there’s enough of a decent effort here to make it worth a watch.

Bonus Update: He-Man and Skeletor go to Georgia

He-Man went to Armenia and got lost; Skeletor went to Azerbaijan and found Snake Mountain. Now, they join forces to travel the remaining Caucasian country together…

Skeletor is overjoyed to be on the road again, especially in a country with such excellent food as Georgia!
Skeletor’s sightseeing begins with a trip to Bagrati Cathedral… but it looks like there’s someone here to keep an eye on him…
Skeletor has found a hollow tree – an ideal new base of operations – in Kutaisi Botanic Gardens.
Skeletor has come to Ancient Colchis and found the Golden Fleece! Wasn’t difficult. Even He-Man could have done this.
Just when he thought the day’s sightseeing was over, Skeletor has found a cable car to ride! He’s very excited.
At the top of the cable car, Skeletor found a fake Eiffel Tower, which he loved – but he still can’t shake the feeling that someone’s watching him…
“Gelati monastery? That kind of sounds like gelato, amirite? Can I have an ice cream?” asks Skeletor, rudely.
Skeletor is quite pleased with his new cave hideout in Sataplia.
Skeletor has just settled down to enjoy a nice dish of chizhibizhi – but who’s this interloper at the other end of the table?
Another day, another cave system hideout.
Skeletor’s loving the view (except for one specific aspect of it) at Okatse Canyon.
Nice day out at the Dadiani Palace for Skeletor.
Skeletor has awarded himself a pancake for lunch.
Skeletor is practicing his smug pose, which he will adopt after he pushes He-Man off this bridge (which is the longest pedestrian bridge in Europe, for those who are interested).
Skeletor has quite a track record in trying to destroy dams – luckily He-Man’s on hand to stop him this time!
“That’s a fast-flowing river,” mused Skeletor. “It would be a shame if anyone were to fall in.”
Lovely glass of wine and a wooden fire at the end of a busy day for Skeletor.
Out for a quick walk in the mountains above Mestia.
Skeletor out for an evening walk in the rain, coming across a Svan tower.
And today in scenes cut from the cartoon…
In Ushguli village, Skeletor is enthralled with this stunning vista of Svan towers.
Just two mortal enemies sharing a glass of chacha brandy.
Skeletor’s got a long drive today, so he’s just saying goodbye to the mountains of Svaneti with a short walk first.
There’s Skeletor, trying the old ‘make it look like I’m pushing over the lighthouse’ trick.
He-Man and Skeletor like Batumi’s nuts architecture, but they are concerned they won’t get much sleep, party town that this is!
He-Man and Skeletor there, trying to imitate the Ali & Nino sculpture.
Skeletor’s found himself a nice castle to play in. It does begin with ‘G’, but sadly it’s Gonio, not Grayskull.
He-Man is well pleased with his new castle. But Skeletor isn’t far away….
Skeletor says, “That’s fine, He-Man. You can have that manky old castle. I’m having this entire palace complex! #Winning.”
Skeletor is loving his day trip to Vardzia cave monastery.
Khertvisi – yet another castle for the lads to squabble over.
A nice sit down for the lads in Borjomi Central Park.
I’ve treated the guys to khinkali for lunch.
Skeletor sits high above Borjomi town.
He-Man has been uncharacteristically violent with Skeletor this morning at Timotesubani Monastery.
He-Man and Skeletor showing off a Soviet sculpture in Gori.
Here are He-Man and Skeletor, doing some kind of weird interpretative dance in front of the birthplace of Stalin.
Keeping these guys supplied with khachapuri is getting expensive.
The guys posing for next year’s calendar above Mtskheta, Georgia’s holiest city.
Skeletor there, trying to look all dark and foreboding at Ananuri Fortress.
Skeletor was in a bit of a hurry but he enjoyed his quick stop at the Russian-Georgian Friendship Monument.
Skeletor giving He-Man a kick as He-Man sits down to rest on the trek up to the Gergeti Trinity Church, Stepantsminda.
He-Man and Skeletor return to the Russian-Georgian Friendship Monument, as they felt they were a little hurried last time.
Skeletor likes Alaverdi Cathedral so much, he says he’ll even give up being evil if he can live there.
When in wine country….
Still in Georgia’s wine region, so obviously He-Man and Skeletor have … come to a Mexican restaurant and got a margarita?
Skeletor is loving his trip to Sighnaghi, but thinks it feels more like Italy than Georgia…
Here’s He-Man and Skeletor chilling out together on a qvevri – a large pot which is buried in the ground to allow wine to ferment and age. They are hoping to sample the contents later.
He-Man and Skeletor posing in front of the ‘Always’ Bridge in Tbilisi. Not sure why He-Man’s standing like that.
Skeletor’s coped with a fair few bizarre situations in his time, but he has no idea how to act in a decadent early 20th century style coffee house.
Are He-Man and Skeletor flying? No, it’s just the immensely disconcerting glass floor in the Georgian Museum of Fine Arts.
He-Man and Skeletor have been told that as they’re not puppets, they will not be allowed to perform at Tbilisi’s puppet theatre.
Skeletor enjoying the view from the Narikala Fortress, but mindful of the big drop behind him.
Last evening in Georgia – He-Man and Skeletor think they’re going to miss the wine!
In Yerevan, Armenia, Skeletor suspects that the artwork at this amusement park may have ripped him off.
“Would you like to share my ice-cream and lemonade, He-Man?”
“Oh yes please Skeletor, thank you.”
“Calm your tits, He-Man, I only asked if you’d like to. Didn’t say you could.”

It’s likely that at this point He-Man’s frustration with his travelling companion boiled over; there are certainly no more pictures.

Thanks for putting up with this nonsense…

Episode 75 – Day of the Flowers

In which Orko yet again earns a special place in hell.

Prince Adam, Snout Spout and Orko have come on a special trip for a festival called the Day of the Flowers, in which the beauty of Etheria will be celebrated. Previous episodes of She-Ra had led me to believe that Snout Spout already lived on Etheria, but let’s gloss over petty whinges like that, since as this episode goes on, we’ll have plenty more to complain about.

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Prince Adam: “Sane people would bring their parents with them to visit their sister. But not me! I bring this guy.”

Let’s start with complaining about Orko. After his last atrocity of an appearance, in The Greatest Magic, I was ready to sign up for an Orko-free future, but no – here he is again, playing stupid magic tricks and setting the episode’s plot in motion by making Adam and Adora’s swords disappear. You cock, Orko. Can’t you just leave well enough alone?

I feel like I’ve been getting ever more furious over the last few episodes of She-Ra, but you’ve got to admit I’m being sorely provoked.

An old man arrives at the festival, begging for help because a group of gigantic evil robots known as the Monstroids have kidnapped all the men and boys from his village to work in Hordak’s nucleon mines. Adam and Adora try to transform, but of course their swords have gone, resulting in a mildly satisfying scene where they get livid with Orko, and then decide to try to defeat the Monstroids as themselves.

Flowers 2
Adora: “Right. You didn’t bring Mother. You didn’t bring Father. You brought Snout Spout. And you brought this div. Don’t bother to visit again, Adam.”

The Monstroids approach the site of the flower festival, so Adam, Adora, Snout Spout and Frosta stand on a mountain looking down at them, in a misguided attempt to look intimidating. No doubt realising that no one would ever be intimidated by a man with Adam’s dress sense, however, they quickly move on to making more elaborate plans, which involve Frosta and Snout Spout making ice bombs, and Adora throwing them at the Monstroids. This is very boring, but it’s at least mildly better than Adam’s role in the plan, which is to stand around shouting at Orko.

This episode is such a tedious mess that I rather lost interest around about this point, but suffice it to say that there’s a whole lot more of Adam and Adora alternately yelling at and encouraging Orko, while the Monstroids continue to stamp around the flower fields with zero sense of urgency. In the meantime, Madame Razz hangs around, having evidently been written as a fusty old-fashioned eight-year-old who’s been given too much lemonade: “Oh dearie my! This is so exciting!” I can assure you, Madame Razz, that it’s not exciting in the slightest.

Flowers 3
Monstroid: “If you find us boring, just pretend we’re mechs from Scythe. That might make us interesting for up to 3 seconds.”

As you have no doubt predicted, Orko eventually manages to get the swords back, and Adam and Adora are free to turn into She-Ra and He-Man. The writers appear to have finally realised that cutting the transformation sequences together just plain doesn’t work, so at least they are good enough to take turns. Once these two are on the scene, of course, the Monstroids are turned into scrap metal, and I hope I never see them – or Orko – again.

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee was hiding in a tree, again, but I didn’t see him. I’m willing to let it pass this time. He suggests that we should believe in ourselves, and then we can do anything. If only I’d believed in myself, I could have turned this tripefest of an episode off.

Character checklist

Adora, Prince Adam, She-Ra, He-Man, Snout Spout, Orko, Madame Razz, Broom, Bow, Glimmer, loads of rebels, Loo-Kee, Hordak, the Monstroids, some Horde Troopers, and some poor unfortunate soul who’s been christened with the name of Ore Captain Sludge-Man, and as such had some pretty insurmountable obstacles right from the beginning of his life.

Flowers 4
Frosta: “He-Man looks like he’s going to propose to his sister.”

Insults

Hordak refers to the Monstroids as “drumheads”, and that’s all you’re getting on the insults front. However, if you fancy a spot of innuendo, we do bear witness to Adora saying, “Making things big is something you’re very good at, Orko.” Do with that as you wish.

Oh No, Bow!

If I really wanted to stretch a point, I’d argue that Bow drives like a complete maniac in the opening scene of this episode. Thereafter, he has sufficient wisdom to absent himself from the remainder of this thrilling instalment.

Does it have the Power?

Towards the beginning of this episode, Hordak snaps, “You’re not getting enough nucleon out of those mines, Ore Captain Sludge-Man!” It’s dialogue like this that makes me wonder if the voice actors ever had sudden flashes of despair, a la Alan Rickman in Galaxy Quest. “I was Richard III …”

Flowers 5
Ore Captain Sludge-Man: “Lost wealth may be replaced by industry, lost knowledge by study, lost health by temperance or medicine, but lost time is gone forever.”

Unfortunately, that little insight into the minds of the voice actors was the only entertaining thing about this episode, which is the third appalling effort in a row. It is at least different from the other two rubbish episodes, though. Unlike The Time Transformer, which was insane, and Above It All, which was disjointed, Day of the Flowers is just achingly boring. There are endless shots of the Monstroids trampling through the flower field, and of Orko again and again trying to get the swords back. Adora and even Adam are really patronising too, in their efforts to encourage Orko. This is another dreadful episode. She-Ra needs to pull her socks up.

Bonus Update: He-Man Goes to Armenia

Time for something a bit different today. In mid-June, I went to Armenia, and I took my new Mega-Construx He-Man figure with me. His exploits were detailed on Instagram, but if you missed them, the full story is now revealed here…

dig
He-Man arrives in Yerevan, and stands in front of a very faint Mount Ararat.

dav
And now He-Man is checking out the 2800 fountains, one for each year of Yerevan’s existence.

dav
He-Man learns about the complex relationship between sculpture and architecture in post-Soviet Armenia.

sdr
He-Man, when you’re in Armenia, you should eat Armenian food, not Mexican…

dav
And now you’re on the cocktails. For God’s sake, He-Man.

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Here’s He-Man at the Holy See of Echmiadzin, the holiest place in Armenia.

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And now he’s checking out the ruins of Zvartnots cathedral, destroyed in an earthquake over 1000 years ago.

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He-Man’s been busy today. He’s now at Khor Virap, where Armenia became the world’s first Christian country, in 301 AD. He-Man is fun and educational.

dav
He-Man is now at Noravank monastery, which is very hot even at 6.30pm.

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He-Man has climbed (driven) to the top of the Selim Pass. He’s facing the wrong way to enjoy the view though.

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He-Man is now at the spa town of Jermuk, where he considered a shower in the warm salty water coming from this tap, but decided against it in case it washed his paintwork off.

sdr
He-Man defying death on a narrow bridge at Jermuk waterfall. He is now well behind schedule and has a long drive ahead of him.

dav
This is He-Man at Karahunj, Armenia’s Stonehenge. Unfortunately, He-Man was being a right dick this evening and wouldn’t stand up, so here he is just after he fell over for the 170 billionth time.

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What’s that you say, He-Man? You’d like a go on the world’s longest non-stop reversible aerial tramway? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

dav
He-Man is feeling very pleased with his visit to Tatev monastery.

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He-Man, get your greedy hands off my chips!

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He-Man has come to see 7000 year old petroglyphs in the mountains above Sisian.

sdr
He-Man loves posing on the numberplate of his Soviet jeep.

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He-Man is not at all keen to get out of the car in the thunderstorm at Varodnovank monastery.

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He-Man’s tour of Armenia continues with a visit to Noratus cemetery.

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He-Man feels he deserves a bit of chillax time at Lake Sevan.

sdr
He-Man is still living it up, now at the rather tacky resort of Sevanavank.

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He-Man, I think you’re getting a bit overfamiliar with me now.

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Amazing breakfast for He-Man in Dilijan.

sdr
He-Man feels that Dilijan’s Soviet monument to the unity of the Caucasian peoples would not look out of place on Eternia.

fbt
He-Man is quite affronted that I was too ashamed to ask that he be included in this selfie at Ijevan Wine Factory.

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He-Man is rather sulkily hiking the Transcaucasian Trail.

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He-Man’s day begins with a quick trip to the enticingly named Chemical Factory Workers’ Park.

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He-Man reconnects with the type of TV on which he enjoyed his heyday.

fbt
He-Man’s trip ends rather abruptly with some bad news. He appears to have slipped out of my pocket somewhere along the way. I went back to check if he was in the abandoned Soviet industrial cable car behind me (not a place I’d planned to visit once, let alone twice), but no luck. I suppose I should count myself lucky I didn’t lose my wallet or car keys or something, but I feel bereft.

He-Man is clearly unreliable. On my next trip, I’m bringing Skeletor instead.

Episode 55 – Loo-Kee Lends a Hand

In which Loo-Kee takes a trip to Eternia.

Oh, well this is going to be good. I’m sure Loo-Kee’s contribution will prove invaluable. What’s he going to do? Leap out of hiding and recite moralistic gibberish at Hordak? Maybe She-Ra will be using him as a distraction so she can sneak up on Hordak while Loo-Kee’s getting blasted to smithereens. I don’t imagine I’d be the only one happy with that.

The story begins with She-Ra and Frosta rescuing some Horde slaves and taking them into Whispering Wood, where Bow entertains them by playing a harp. Poor slaves. After all they’ve been through, making them listen to Bow is perhaps taking things a tad too far. Anyway, She-Ra realises that with so many released slaves hanging out at Rebel HQ, they’re going to need some extra food, so she despatches Glimmer off to Sainsbury’s to buy supplies.

Loo-Kee 1
Glimmer: “I thought Sainsbury’s did home delivery these days.”

In the meantime, Hordak has invented something called a Time Stop Device. I’m sure you can deduce what this does, but in case you’re having difficulty, it can be used to freeze its target in time. Shadow Weaver and Imp take the Device to the market, where they plant it in Glimmer’s shopping cart. They then engage in some pointless bickering before returning to the Fright Zone.

When Glimmer returns with her shopping, she opens the box containing the Device, and it instantly activates, freezing the entire rebel camp. Shortly thereafter, Loo-Kee ambles along, looking for somewhere to hide, and he quickly deduces that something’s not right. At this point, a portal opens for Loo-Kee and takes him to the Crystal Castle, where Light Hope blabs the Adora/She-Ra secret, and sends Loo-Kee to Eternia to fetch He-Man.

Loo-Kee 2
Loo-Kee: “No one’s happy about me taking centre-stage this week, least of all me.”

Light Hope is evidently flirting with incompetence this week, since he decides that Snake Mountain is the most appropriate Eternian location to which to send Loo-Kee. On arrival, Loo-Kee manages to teleport himself to the Palace, where he explains the situation to Prince Adam and Orko. They all pop off to Castle Grayskull, where Adam turns into He-Man, and the Sorceress opens a portal back to Etheria for the three of them.

He-Man manages to release Adora from the time freeze by way of some technobabble reason, and she becomes She-Ra. The two of them then locate the Time Stop Device and start pulling it around, which is very difficult, because – as Orko wisely points out – it’s not easy to move something that’s stuck in time. He says this so sagely that the implication is that it’s useful advice with practical value to viewers, as opposed to complete nonsense.

Loo-Kee 3
He-Man: “Thanks for inviting me to Etheria, sis, but you didn’t really have to show me this bit of your weird bondage kit.”

The Time Stop Device doesn’t react well to He-Man and She-Ra hauling it around; suddenly, She-Ra realises that it’s causing a massive storm and might make Etheria blow up. They therefore do what they ought to have done all along and just smash the Device to pieces. This sets time moving again, which has the unfortunate side effect of allowing Bow to resume his harp playing.

 

In today’s adventure…

Well, I’d have to have been seven kinds of stupid to not spot Loo-Kee today, and perhaps in recognition of this, he doesn’t use his monologue to explain where he was. Instead, he discusses the fact that although he doesn’t have many powers, and is very small, he was still able to help He-Man and She-Ra. He seems to be channelling The Lord of the Rings in his conclusion that little people can do big things.

Loo-Kee 4
Orko: “Wow! Someone just as annoying as me!”

 

Character checklist

Today’s episode features pretty much everybody you could think of. For clarity’s sake, that’s Adora, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, the Sorceress, Loo-Kee, Glimmer, Bow, Madame Razz, Broom, Kowl, Frosta, Light Hope, Orko, Hordak, Catra, Shadow Weaver, Mantenna, Imp, Skeletor, Beast-Man, some Horde Troopers, and loads of rebels.

 

Insults

Shadow Weaver calls Imp a “squirt” and a “toad”, and Hordak calls Mantenna a “fool”. Far more entertaining, of course, is Skeletor’s brief cameo, in which he calls Beast-Man an “imbecile”.

Loo-Kee 5
Beast-Man: “Skeletor, could I draw your attention to paragraph 5 of the Bullying in the Workplace pamphlet that Unite passed out last week?”

 

Oh No, Bow!

Special points are awarded this week because Adora actually utters the phrase “Oh no, Bow!” That being said, Bow doesn’t actually do anything particularly stupid, apart from playing his harp in the deluded belief that he’s good at it.

 

Does it have the Power?

Last time Filmation attempted a storyline concerning time stopping, in He-Man’s Time Doesn’t Fly, the result was simultaneously insane and incredibly dull. This episode is definitely an improvement on that effort, but I can’t quite make up my mind as to whether it’s actually any good. It’s so easy to be blinded by joy at the appearance of He-Man and Skeletor, and thus lulled into a false impression. I think I’d say that this is certainly worth watching, but it’s not perhaps the special event it seems to think it is.

Episode 35 – Gateway to Trouble

In which Modulok defects from Snake Mountain.

I genuinely had no idea that He-Man was going to be such a regular presence on She-Ra. I thought he’d only pop up for very special episodes, not every other week like he has done lately. This time, Adam and Cringer visit Etheria simply for the dubious pleasure of seeing Adora, though of course they are quickly called upon to intervene when an evil mastermind sets a cunning plot in motion.

That evil mastermind, unexpectedly, is Skeletor, and his cunning plot is to create an enormous interdimensional rift, and to send the entire Eternian Palace through it to Etheria. His motivation is, apparently, so that he can rid himself of his Eternian nemeses and annoy Hordak at the same time. Assisting him in this noble venture are Modulok, introduced in a few rubbish He-Man episodes, and Tung Lashor, who we last encountered in Book Burning. I have no idea why Tung Lashor would now be working for Skeletor, but let’s not question it.

Gateway 1
Tung Lashor: “It’s a great honour to work for you, Skeletor. Better than my previous boss, anyway.”

Modulok is the brains behind the interdimensional rift, having invented a device called a Gate Maker. For whatever reason, he suddenly takes it into his head to betray Skeletor and to head to Etheria himself, where he offers the Gate Maker to Hordak. Skeletor enters into hot pursuit, arriving on Etheria just before the gateway closes behind him.

Observing Skeletor’s arrival, Adam and Adora transform into He-Man and She-Ra. I know I harp on about this every time it happens, but the way the stock transformation footage is edited together is so incredibly awkward that I think it needs constant mentioning to try to encourage the creators to stop doing it. Admittedly, this would be more effective if I were writing this in 1986 when the cartoon was still in production, but I was barely capable of lucid thought at that time.

Gateway 2
Cringer: “Just hanging out in a bush.”

Anyway, He-Man and She-Ra waste no time in capturing Skeletor and asking him why he’s on Etheria. Skeletor merrily spills the beans, and offers to work with He-Man and She-Ra to prevent Hordak getting his hands on the Gate Maker. This proposal is met with a less than enthusiastic response, but our heroes agree to it and set off.

Weirdly, Skeletor’s first move is to head to Whispering Wood, where he fashions himself a new throne out of rock. He then randomly insults a Twigget before deciding he’s had enough of the truce and clearing off. He reaches the Fright Zone easily, but discovers that Modulok has already passed his Horde entrance exam, and handed over the Gate Maker to Hordak. Skeletor and Hordak have a brief battle, in which Skeletor prevails, and he heads off to find Modulok.

Gateway 3
Modulok: “People say I’m clever, but it’s simply in comparison to Mantenna.”

Unfortunately for him, Modulok has departed the Fright Zone and headed back to Whispering Wood, where he demonstrates the Gate Maker’s power for Hordak and Shadow Weaver. Hordak is about to send a fleet of spaceships through the gateway to invade Eternia, but He-Man and She-Ra re-enter the episode at this point and blow up the Gate Maker. The Sorceress then opens her own gateway back to Eternia for He-Man’s use, and Skeletor seizes the opportunity to head home as well.

 

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee was quite nicely visible in the rebels’ camp, just before He-Man and She-Ra learn that Skeletor has done a runner. It’s a possibility that Loo-Kee’s visibility is in direct inverse proportionality to the sanity of his moral lesson, however; this week, he cautions us not to go through any gateways to trouble that we might encounter. I’m not even going to dignify that with a discussion.

Gateway 4
Loo-Kee: “Have you ever stopped to consider why I’m always hiding? It’s because the police want to interview me under caution.”

 

Character checklist

This one has a fairly outre cast list: Adora, She-Ra, Kowl, some Twiggets, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Mantenna, Shadow Weaver, sure, but also Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, the Sorceress, Skeletor, Modulok and Tung Lashor. Oh, and obviously a load of Horde Troopers, but they go without saying really.

 

Excuse given for Adora and Adam’s transformation

Adora transforms into She-Ra twice, and Adam into He-Man once. None of these occasions comes with an excuse, though in fairness, there’s only Cringer and Kowl around at the time.

Gateway 5
Skeletor: “Say, guys, you haven’t seen Adam and Adora around, have you?”

 

Insults

Kowl gets surprisingly aggressive in the early stages of the episode, calling one Horde Trooper a “swamp slug” and addressing another as “rivet head” and “coward”. We are also witness to Modulok calling Tung Lashor the possibly misheard “long lips”. The real delights in store here are, of course, between Skeletor and Hordak; the latter addresses the former as “bonehead” and “bone-faced bog wobbler”, to which Skeletor retaliates with a wonderfully sneering “oversized rust bucket”.

 

Does it have the Power?

I can’t deny I’m pretty happy with this one. As noted above, He-Man’s appearances on Etheria are two-a-penny, but Skeletor showing up is a much rarer treat. It doesn’t hurt that he’s brilliantly written in this episode, with some excellent lines given great life by the voice actor. On the downside, I’d have liked his truce with He-Man and She-Ra to last more than 30 seconds, as it would have been very entertaining to watch him try to work together with them, but at least we did get his very amusing battle with Hordak.

Gateway 6
Skeletor: “This is my favourite moment in the entire series.”

The other elements of the story were good as well; Modulok seemed to fit here better than he did in either of his appearances in He-Man, and he seems to have made the permanent transfer from Skeletor’s crew to the Horde, so I expect we’ll see him again. Tung Lashor’s appearance in Snake Mountain was just random, though; there was no reason for him to be there. I suspect it was a bit of product placement.

Anyway, while this isn’t quite as good as Horde Prime Takes a Holiday – another episode in the same vein – it’s definitely a highlight. Enjoy!