Episode 93 – Swifty’s Baby

In which the writers really drop the ball.

Oh Jesus Christ, it’s the Bibbets again. I had thought, what with this being the last ever episode, that I was at least safe from having to see those freaky child clowns again. This week, Catra is attacking them, no doubt for a very good reason, but the episode doesn’t bother to tell us what that reason is. Instead, She-Ra shows up mighty quick and puts an end to Catra’s fun. The Bibbets do not appear again, so they obviously just popped up for a cameo and to raise my blood pressure.

Catra: “What the fuck is this exploding bird doing here?”

Once she’s dealt with Catra, She-Ra flies off on Swift Wind, who is wittering on and on about having a surprise for She-Ra. He says “it’s tiny, but it’s the biggest thing that ever happened to me.” Given the title of the episode, I have a strong suspicion I know what he’s talking about, and if she’s not as thick as two short planks, She-Ra ought to know too.

She-Ra and Swift Wind travel to Unicorn Island, last seen in the episode The Unicorn King, where Swift Wind introduces She-Ra to his mate, Star Wind. With much blushing, Star Wind explains that she and Swift Wind are going to have a baby very soon, and She-Ra makes a load of sickening cooing noises. The only thing preventing this scene going into complete saccharine overload is Imp, who has followed our heroes to the island and now learns of the impending birth.

She-Ra: “So, you and Star Wind have been doing the dirty, eh? You old rascal. Is this the right moment for a hung like a donkey joke?”

Imp takes this information back to the Fright Zone, where Hordak embarks on a tediously predictable plan: he will capture Star Wind, so She-Ra will come to rescue her, at which point he will capture She-Ra as well. You’ve tried endless variations of this plan, Hordak, and it never works. I suppose this is the last episode, though; maybe the series ends because Hordak wins. I’m on the edge of my seat.

Just before the commercial break, of course, the Horde manage to capture Star Wind, and even injure Swift Wind. I’m not quite sure in what way he’s injured, since the cartoon isn’t exactly graphic about it, but he’s certainly lying around moaning, so it must be serious. She-Ra cures him with her magical medical abilities, and then off they go to Beast Island to rescue Star Wind, accompanied by lots of other helpful unicorns. To add a deadline to proceedings, Swift Wind reveals that if the baby is born anywhere other than Unicorn Island, it will only be an ordinary horse.

She-Ra: “Flying while under the influence again, Swifty? The police will have your licence for sure this time.”

Hordak puts a forcefield up around Beast Island, but She-Ra swims down to the sea bed, and digs a tunnel down and then up, emerging in the prison, coincidentally and fortuitously right next to Star Wind. Hordak has prepared a surprise for She-Ra, however: another forcefield, one which is actually capable of stopping her for more than 2.5 seconds. But, to everyone’s delight, Swift Wind comes to the rescue, and releases She-Ra and Star Wind.

Star Wind: “I’ve tried and I’ve tried, but I just can’t seem to make my face suggest that I care.”

Then there’s a whole load of garbled rubbish, which concerns the fact that the baby is on its way, and so Star Wind cannot now make it back to Unicorn Island in time. In addition, the dungeon starts to flood, thanks to She-Ra’s stupid tunnel, which is all the excuse She-Ra needs to jump on the back of the Unicorn King, fly out into fucking space, and pull the moon with a grappling hook to reverse the tide and stop the water flowing into the dungeon.

This mental feat is achieved only just in time: the baby is born mere feet away from the water. As predicted, however, it is no unicorn, just a normal horse. Swift Wind and Star Wind, however, exhibit great maturity and explain that since he’s their baby, it doesn’t make any difference to them. This is a perfect message, but unfortunately it’s undone by She-Ra, who shrieks, “For the honour of Grayskull” and turns the baby into a unicorn anyway, which suggests that it did matter, but his parents just weren’t saying so.

 

In today’s adventure…

Goodbye, Loo-Kee. It makes me so happy that I’ll never have to look at your moronic face again, or listen to your idiotic squeaky voice. This time, he reveals that the birth of a child is the best thing in the world, because every time a child is born, the hope for all things good and beautiful is born again too. Unfortunately, I’m more in accord with Hordak this week, who at an early stage casually comments, “I hate babies.”

Hordak: “I’ve warned you before about your choice of TV show, Mantenna.”

Character checklist

For this last hurrah, it’s She-Ra, Swift Wind, Star Wind, a cacophony of other unicorns, including the baby, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Imp, Catra, Mantenna, and oodles of Horde Troopers.

 

Insults

Catra reels off her usual triumvirate of insults for her Horde Troopers, calling them “bumblers”, “fools” and “cowards” in rapid succession. Otherwise, we only have Mantenna addressing Swift Wind as a “crazy unicorn”.

 

Oh No, Bow!

Bow couldn’t even be bothered to show up for the last episode. Useless, I tell you. Useless.

She-Ra: “Christ! Last time I woke up like this, I’d been Rohypnolled by Bow.”

Does it have the Power?

I was really proud of the writers for about 30 seconds there at the end. It looked like they were for once really going to show us, rather than tell us, that it doesn’t matter if people are different, when the baby turned out to be a normal horse. Swift Wind and Star Wind seemed really proud of their baby anyway, and they seemed perfectly happy. So why did She-Ra have to ruin it by making the baby into a unicorn? It suggests that sometimes, simply being who we are just isn’t good enough.

So there’s that crushing disappointment. The rest of the episode was no better; She-Ra was particularly infuriating this week, and the foray into outer space suggests an obsession on the writers’ part. I don’t know why She-Ra going into space annoys me so much, given the other implausible things that happen in this cartoon, but all I can say is that it winds me up a treat. I suppose, in complete fairness, it wouldn’t be a proper send-off for She-Ra if she didn’t go into space in her last outing. On the other hand, I’m glad she’s never got a chance to do it again.

She-Ra: “Tally-ho!”

The only good thing to say about this episode is that it’s great fun imagining the animators’ faces this week: “You want me to draw what? How do I draw a heavily pregnant unicorn?” (In the end, they decided not to bother, and just drew a normal unicorn.) Similarly, the voice actress playing Star Wind must have shuddered when given the script, given it includes a few moments where she has to pretend to be a unicorn in the early stages of giving birth. Still, the opportunity to imagine the brief discomfort of a few people in 1986 is not nearly enough to redeem this episode, and thus it is that I must report that She-Ra goes out with a whimper, not a bang.

Episode 92 – The Bibbet Story

In which Bow hangs out with a gang of half-naked children.

This unpromisingly titled episode begins with one of those stupid, long and irrelevant scenes in which She-Ra smashes up a vast quantity of Horde tanks. She-Ra episodes used to start this way very frequently, but seem to have dropped the practice recently, so it’s not particularly welcome to see it started up again here. It goes on for about five minutes, and the only reason for it is to establish that after this defeat, Hordak is running out of robots.

Mantenna: “I wish I hadn’t agreed to appear this week.”

Consequently, Hordak decides to build a new factory for the production of new Troopers. Shadow Weaver suggests building the factory in Bibbetland, and using the Bibbets as slaves. I don’t know who the Bibbets are, but that sounds fine to me, because I have a suspicion that they’ll be really annoying.

By sheer coincidence, Adora and Bow decide to pay a visit to Bibbetland, where they discover the Horde building their new factory. Instead of doing anything about it, however, they opt to build a campfire and go to sleep. While they sleep, they are discovered by a pair of Bibbets called Dee and Coo, and as predicted above, they are really annoying. They are also completely terrifying. They look like half-naked child clowns, with Afros. They are going to haunt me until the day I die.

Dee and Coo: “Fear us.”

Dee and Coo steal Adora’s sword and Bow’s, er, bow, then when Adora and Bow give chase, they lure them straight into a trap. The Bibbets believe our heroes to be Horde soldiers, and it takes all of Adora’s powers of debate to persuade them otherwise. I say powers of debate. In actuality, Adora says, “We’re not Horde soldiers” about 15 times, with Bow occasionally chiming in to say the same thing, until the Bibbets get fed up.

The Bibbets are ruled over by an Elder, who is not dressed as a clown, but as some kind of cross between a Red Indian chief and Papa Smurf. There’s also another Bibbet inexplicably dressed in a red cloak, some blue underpants, and a strawberry hat. I am well aware that you’d be arrested pretty pronto if you went out in pretty much any of the costumes worn in this cartoon, but there’s something about the blue-underpants-red-cloak Bibbet that looks really wrong.

Elder Bibbet: “Christ, IICSA’s going to want another word with me, isn’t it?”

Anyway, the Elder Bibbet tells Dee and Coo to give the sword and the bow back to Adora and Bow, but the Bibbets refuse, instead running off with the weapons to fight the Horde. This troubles the Elder, as the Bibbets are a peaceful people, who have never known fighting before. He agrees to send two Bibbets with Adora and Bow to recover the weapons, but specifies that they will not fight against the Horde.

Inevitably, Dee and Coo get captured by Horde Troopers, meaning Adora and Bow have to break into the factory to rescue them. They also recover their weapons, which means that She-Ra is able to put in an appearance – and only just in time, too, because there’s a load more Horde tanks which need smashing up.

She-Ra: “Some might think I’m running off to deal with the Horde tanks. I’m actually trying to run out of this episode entirely.”

In the meantime, Bow has popped back to see the Elder, and persuaded him that sometimes it is necessary to fight to protect your home, etc. We’ve heard a lot on this theme lately (last episode, in Assault on the Hive, for example) and it’s hard to shake the feeling that the writers room had been taken over by neoconservative Reaganist hawks. I certainly can’t imagine He-Man, in the earlier days of his series, preaching to militarise an entire society in the name of freedom.

But let’s hear less about politics, and more about Bibbets. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. Bow and his new Bibbet army march off to lend She-Ra their assistance, not that she needs it, since she’s perfectly adept at smashing up tanks all by herself, thank you very much. She also destroys the factory, in case you cared. I certainly didn’t.

Bow: “Look! I got these freaky child clowns to build a pumpkin catapult! How clever am I! God, I have a mental age of three and a half.”

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee is skulking around in a tree in Whispering Wood, to my distinct lack of surprise. What’s slightly more surprising is his choice of moral: after the entire episode preached to us that we have to fight to protect our freedom, Loo-Kee now does a complete about-face and says that fighting doesn’t prove how brave we are; instead, it’s braver to choose not to fight. This is more in tune with the usual message promoted by this cartoon, but it’s also damnably confusing given this episode’s subject matter. Maybe Loo-Kee dozed off and didn’t watch properly. I certainly wouldn’t blame him.

Character checklist

This tripe is populated by Adora, She-Ra, Bow, Loo-Kee, the Elder Bibbet, Dee, Coo, the red-cloak-blue-pants Bibbet, various other Bibbets, Hordak, Mantenna, Shadow Weaver, Mantenna, and the usual scores of Horde Troopers.

She-Ra: “Don’t touch him, Elder, you might catch something.”

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

“I’ll stay here and see what I can do,” Adora says, which is not a bad excuse, except for the fact that at this stage there’s nothing left that particularly needs doing, and Bow should realise this. But he doesn’t, obviously.

Insults

“Muscle-maiden” is a popular choice this week, being employed for She-Ra by both Hordak and a Horde Trooper. The Bibbet Elder refers to Dee and Coo as “foolish young people”, and a Horde Trooper addresses either Dee or Coo as a “mean little thing”. In response, Dee or Coo tells the Trooper that it is a “rotten robot”. I didn’t know which was Dee and which was Coo, just for clarity.

Oh No, Bow!

Bow’s in full perv mode today, picking flowers and placing them in Adora’s hair, with creepy chat-up lines like, “a pretty flower for a pretty lady”. Later on, Bow tries to charm his way into She-Ra’s pants by smiling at her a little too widely and schmoozing, “I’m always glad to see you, She-Ra.” Astonishingly, neither Adora nor She-Ra tells him to piss off.

She-Ra: “Bow, if you don’t take that seedy smirk off your face right now, I’m going to strangle you with my tiara.”

Does it have the Power?

No, of course it doesn’t. From the lengthy and unnecessary opening scene, through the horrifying and irritating Bibbets, all the way up to the totally contradictory messages about fighting or not fighting, this episode is a waste of my time. It’s not hilariously bad either; it’s just bad. It gets a big thumbs-down. Thank you for your attention.

Episode 89 – Hordak’s Power Play

In which one of the worst people in the galaxy arrives on Etheria.

Observing an Argonian spaceship fly close to Etheria, Hordak decides to shoot it down and steal the ship’s power cell. He is successful in the first half of this plan, but the ship lands in the village of Flax, near the home of an old man called Doctor Blankford. Doctor Blankford immediately goes to fetch Adora, Bow and Kowl, and thus it is that Hordak is unable to complete the second half of his scheme. Having said that, he does give it a reasonably good try.

In the meantime, the pilot of the spaceship emerges. He is a handsome square-jawed individual called Larg, who carries with him the air of public schools, rugger every Wednesday afternoon, and lashings of ginger beer. In short, he’s a complete twat. He is aware that the Horde rules Etheria, and as such concludes that everyone on the planet must be an evil Hordesman. Consequently, he sets himself up as Head Boy and starts bossing the villagers around. I’m sure this is logical in the mind of someone who’s essentially Julian from the Famous Five, but it made no sense to me.

Larg: “Hang on, hang on, I’m getting a weird sensation in my brain…. What’s happening? Oh, I remember – this is what having a logical thought feels like. Don’t like it. Better not let it happen again.”

Bow and Adora arrive in Flax to find two villagers loading stuff into a cart, under Larg’s instructions. They seem absolutely terrified of Larg, which is just plain odd. Adora sends Bow off to check something nicely non-specific, while she transforms into She-Ra and goes to have a chat with Larg. During the course of this chat, she persuades Larg that she does not work for the Horde and also tells him off for forcing the villagers to work for him.

Before Larg can defend himself, Hordak and his army of Troopers show up, and there follows a long tedious fight in which She-Ra smashes billions of tanks to pieces. Eventually, however, a Horde Trooper manages to shoot She-Ra with a sleep ray, and she tumbles to the ground. Good. Of course, Hordak doesn’t drop her in the sea or a volcano at this point, like any self-respecting villain would; in fact, he doesn’t even bother to lock her up. He just leaves her on the ground. What is his problem?

She-Ra: “I really need to stop with these all-nighters at Wetherspoons. I never know where I’m going to wake up.”

With She-Ra temporarily out of action, Hordak nicks the Argonian spaceship and takes it off to the Fright Zone. Larg chooses this moment to reveal that the ship’s power cell is not working properly and is liable to explode, and if it does, it will take all of Etheria with it. I can’t imagine Hordak would be very keen for that to happen, so here’s hoping an amicable solution can be reached this week.

She-Ra, Bow and Larg sneak into the Fright Zone. Well, I say sneak. What they actually do is walk into the Fright Zone with zero regard for secrecy, and as a result have to have a pointless fight with Catra and some Horde Troopers. Obviously, they win the fight, but it alerts Hordak to their presence, and he decides to plug the Argonian power cell into a massive forcefield, and turn it on. I don’t know why he does this, since She-Ra is already inside the Fright Zone, so it’s hardly going to afford him any protection, but we’ve already established that logic is not Hordak’s strongest point.

Hordak: “When weird machinery glows like this, it’s usually good news, right?”

Of course, the forcefield overloads the power cell, and so She-Ra is forced to cut a hole in the forcefield and throw the power cell into outer space. Once that sensible solution has been enacted, She-Ra contacts the Argonian home world and tells them to come and collect Larg before he converts the entire Rebellion into public school alumni.

In today’s adventure…

I happened to see Loo-Kee lurking behind a rock today, largely only because I paused the episode at precisely the right moment when I wanted to write my character assassination of Larg. Loo-Kee is also interested in a character assassination of Larg: he tells us that Larg was wrong to boss the villagers around, and suggests that we should treat people with respect. Heard it before, Loo-Kee. Hopefully never hear it again.

Larg: “How dare that freaky little pixie say such unkind, if accurate, things about me?”

Character checklist

Today, it’s all about Adora, She-Ra, Bow, Kowl, Larg, Doctor Blankford, Loo-Kee, some villagers, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Catra, and some Horde Troopers. A nice and simple cast after last time’s extravaganza.

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

There’s no excuse, and while I know normally I wouldn’t bother with this section if there’s no excuse, I just think it bears special mention that Adora stands right in the village square to turn into She-Ra, with even less regard for the “secret” part of the “secret identity” business than usual.

Insults

The Horde are a little more imaginative than usual this week: Catra calls a Horde Trooper a “clumsy can of cogs”, while Hordak opts to call She-Ra a “muscle-maiden” and an “irritating Amazon”. Not bad, guys. Better than “fool”, at any rate.

Catra: “I can explain.”

Does it have the Power?

There are times when I’m in the middle of these episode summaries and I stop and really think about the nonsense I’m writing. This was one of those times. This episode is sheer gibberish from start to finish, and yet, despite its insanity, it isn’t at all entertaining. Larg is irritating, She-Ra is irritating, and above all, Hordak is irritating. Bow, rather surprisingly, isn’t irritating, but he doesn’t do anything of note either. The plot meanders about a bit aimlessly, and there are several attempts at humour that fall really flat. I couldn’t say this episode is a complete trainwreck, but equally I can’t think of any reason why you might ever want to watch it.

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 84 – Bow’s Magical Gift

In which Bow waves his wand around.

Hmm, yes. I’m sure Bow tells all the ladies he’s got a “magical gift” for them, but I’m not certain it’s a good idea to write an episode focussing on it. Still, here goes. We begin with Glimmer out for a walk in the forest, where she is immediately kidnapped by Shadow Weaver and Grizzlor. Shadow Weaver brandishes a wand and comments, “This wizard wand will handle Glimmer easily.” Frankly, Shadow Weaver, a dead badger could handle Glimmer easily. She’s utterly useless.

Luckily, She-Ra and Bow are on the scene, and to his credit, Bow is the mastermind behind Glimmer’s rescue. He even manages to steal the wand, and this is where the whole thing starts to go wrong. Bow begins to experiment with the wand, performing stupid magic tricks in pathetic attempts to impress the various ladies of the Rebellion.

She-Ra: “I swear to God, Bow, if you make any even VAGUELY sexual innuendoes involving that stupid wand, I will not be responsible for my actions.”

In the meantime, Horde Prime arrives in orbit around Etheria, and orders Hordak to round up the entire village of Glenmar to work in a new factory on Hordeworld. By the time the next scene rolls around, the Horde seem to have forgotten about this instruction, and are instead stealing a vast quantity of food for Horde Prime. Still, the end result is the same: Bow intervenes, using his newly acquired wand to stop the Horde Troopers.

She-Ra arrives on the scene and throws a hissy fit. She claims this is because Bow was not using his wand with due care and attention, but I have a suspicion that her real motive is because he stole her thunder. I say “her real motive” as if she’s a real person. Christ, I’ve been watching this cartoon so much I’m beginning to think it’s a fly-on-the-wall documentary.

Bow: “But, She-Ra, it’s…”
She-Ra: “Bow, think VERY carefully before you complete that sentence.”

Anyway, Horde Prime has another quick word with Hordak and tells him off for being a bit rubbish. He then comes up with a brilliant plan: if Hordak captures Bow, then the rest of the rebels will come and try to rescue him, and then Hordak can capture all of them. This is so simple, it’s genius. I don’t know why Hordak’s never thought of this for himself, except for all the billions of times he has. Someone needed to tell the She-Ra writers that kidnapping is not the only plausible plotline.

Worried about Bow’s growing obsession with the wand, She-Ra pops along to see Castaspella, a character who hasn’t appeared for ages, and even when she was around she was so vapid that I’d forgotten by now she even exists. Castaspella reveals that the wand is a powerful device, but it was made by Apple, so you have to plug it in every half an hour to make sure it stays charged. Bow hasn’t been doing this, which means the wand’s batteries must by now be nearly drained.

Villagers: “Would anyone really mind if we indulged in a spot of mob violence against Bow?”

Hordak finally remembers about the Glenmar village business, and rounds up the villagers. Of course, he’s now only doing this in order to lure Bow into a trap, and since the wand’s batteries die right at a crucial moment, things look pretty grim. Luckily, and inevitably, She-Ra appears, and from this point on, we are witness to yet another humiliating defeat for Hordak. Bow concludes that he’s been an idiot, and no one disagrees with him.

In today’s adventure…

I’ve got really rubbish at spotting Loo-Kee lately, although I’m sorry to say that I don’t really care. If you want to know, he was behind a tree in the village, and his pearl of wisdom for the day is that power is best when it’s used to help others. I could have sworn he says that power is like string in this respect, which is so completely nuts that I can’t help but conclude I’ve misheard somehow.

Loo-Kee: “Hello! String! Power! I’m mental.”

Character checklist

On today’s trip to Etheria, I spotted Adora, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Glimmer, Castaspella, Loo-Kee, three randomers who I think were called the Star Sisters, some villagers, some Twiggets, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Grizzlor, Horde Prime, and some Horde Troopers. As Swift Wind was in it I expect Spirit was too, but I don’t remember seeing him.

Insults

Hordak starts the ball rolling by calling Grizzlor and Shadow Weaver “idiots”, but thereafter the whole thing degenerates into an endless stream of shrieks of “fool!” We get one from Hordak to Bow, another from Hordak to Grizzlor, and one from Horde Prime to Hordak. A Horde Trooper at least attempts to mix it up a bit by calling a villager a “selfish fool”.

Horde Trooper: “Why are you insulting the villagers when you could be insulting Bow?”

Oh No, Bow!

Well, yes. This episode might as well be called “Oh No, Bow!” given the subject matter. He’s a complete tool in each and every scene, but special note has to go to the time he attempts to impress the Star Sisters by using the wand to pick up a rock with two Twiggets on it. Why he thinks they’d be impressed by this is less than clear. His only reward for this behaviour is a stern lecture from Adora: “Showing off to have fun is one thing, but showing off in a way that might hurt others … ooh, that’s not so good.”

Even with this less-than-ringing endorsement, he carries on messing about with the wand until its batteries die. Unfortunately, the batteries die while he’s waving a boulder about, resulting in the destruction of a man’s house. At the end of the episode, Bow, Glimmer and She-Ra all volunteer to rebuild the house. Don’t think I’m ungrateful or anything, but if these three offered to build me a house, I’d politely decline in favour of someone with a good rating on Checkatrade, or at the very least in favour of someone who didn’t live in a forest.

Glimmer: “Yep, I may be useless at everything else, but I’m surprisingly good at architecture.”

It’s also worth mentioning that Horde Prime claims that the wand has made Bow into “an over-confident show-off”. I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Bow has always been an over-confident show-off, ever since he first minced onto the screen back in Into Etheria. It’s so nice to know that I only have 9 more episodes left, and after that, this idiot version of Bow will be out of my life forever.

Does it have the Power?

Actually, this one’s pretty good fun. It’s always entertaining to see Hordak having to answer to his boss, so the Horde Prime scenes are worth the price of admission alone. Shadow Weaver is also relatively on form, and even Grizzlor is actually mildly amusing. Adora and She-Ra are rather tedious this week, it has to be admitted, being in full humourless harridan mode. Bow is the star of the show, though, and just about manages to carry it without being terribly annoying. In addition, after some of the lacklustre efforts lately, this one feels a bit more energetic. Just for not being dreadful, I’m going to award this episode a pass.

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.

Episode 79 – Romeo and Glimmer

In which the writers don’t have the balls to stick to the ending of the story they’re adapting.

The rebels have gathered at Castle Bright Moon, where they receive intelligence suggesting that Hordak is planning an attack shortly. When huge Horde armies arrive and surround the castle, Bright Moon’s guards manage to capture a Horde soldier, called Corporal Romeo, who refuses to give up any further information on the upcoming attack. Noting that Romeo’s arm is hurt, Glimmer offers to take him to the medical room to cure it.

Romeo: “Oh no. Being captured is bad enough. Having to interact with Adora is terrible.”

At the medical room, Glimmer spends a fair bit of time staring dopily into Romeo’s face, then starts shrieking at him for his allegiance to the Horde. Romeo defends himself, apparently sincerely believing that the Horde is a force for good. You know that scene in the new She-Ra series where Bow shouts at Adora about the Horde being called THE EVIL HORDE? Romeo could benefit from that conversation. Anyway, he tries to make friends with Glimmer, but she won’t have it and stomps off to help defend the castle.

In a massive tank outside the castle, Hordak and Entrapta fire a new weapon at the protective forcefield, which rather surprisingly brings the forcefield crashing down. Of course, the first thing they find on the other side is She-Ra, poncing about with an insufferable air of self-importance. With very little effort, she picks up the tank and hurls it back to the Fright Zone.

She-Ra: “Sword to fireworks.”

We then cut back to Romeo, pacing about in the medical room. He is talking to himself, muttering, “Hordak always told us the rebels were animals.” There’s then a touch of regret in his voice as he concludes, “But Glimmer isn’t like an animal at all.” It’s clear that he has fallen for Glimmer, but decides that his duty is to escape and return to Hordak. In the course of his escape, he overhears Queen Angela saying that until Bright Moon’s forcefield is repaired, the castle will remain vulnerable, and he determines to bring this info back to the Horde.

Discovering that Romeo has done a runner, Glimmer develops a near-obsession with recapturing him. She heads off with Kowl in tow, finding Romeo just before he leaves rebel territory, and they have another impassioned debate about whether the Horde are good or evil. This ends when Romeo leaps on Glimmer, appears to grope her, and then whisks her off to meet Hordak.

Glimmer: “Hey! Personal space!”

Romeo informs Hordak of the vulnerability of the force shield, but then foolishly starts answering back when Hordak orders Glimmer to be locked up. The end result of the scene is that both Glimmer and Romeo end up being booked in for an all-expenses-paid stay in a five star dungeon. While there, they indulge in yet another discussion, after which Romeo agrees to join the Rebellion, though possibly only to shut Glimmer up.

Kowl brings word back to Bright Moon of Glimmer’s capture, and She-Ra goes barrelling along to rescue her. She releases Glimmer and Romeo from their cell, and then finds time to smash up a squadron of Horde Troopers and free a whole load more prisoners. Once they all return to Bright Moon, Glimmer makes eyes at Romeo and starts trying to act seductive, which is fairly uncomfortable viewing, if I’m honest.

Glimmer: “I’ve spent some time trying to think of a sexual innuendo involving the word ‘Horde’, but I can’t.”

In today’s adventure…

I was so engrossed in this week’s fascinating instalment that I entirely forgot to look for Loo-Kee, though I wasn’t altogether surprised when he revealed he was in a tree. He witters on about friendship and how it’s really valuable and all that. I’m getting heartily sick of Loo-Kee and his gibberish.

Character checklist

This majestic entry features Adora, She-Ra, Glimmer, Bow, Kowl, Queen Angela, Romeo, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Entrapta, Imp, and a super selection of Horde Troopers.

Entrapta: “Em, Hordak, I’m sure you did this to Octavia too at one point. It’s a little bit inappropriate.”

Insults

Entrapta calls She-Ra a “muscle maiden” and says something that sounds very much like “little fink” to Imp, but I don’t know what that means. Otherwise, we only have Kowl slightly oddly calling a Horde Trooper a “turkey”.

Oh No, Bow!

Adora has to remind Bow at the start that the rebels don’t torture people for information, which comes as something of a disappointment to Bow, judging by his face. He’s itching to beat the living daylights out of Romeo.

Does it have the Power?

I’m sure the writers thought they were paying respectful tribute to Shakespeare by attempting to rework his play into this episode, but all they did was craft a really boring story. The only good thing about it was that it gave me momentary hope that they’d stick to the original and make Glimmer stab herself to death at the end. Perhaps inevitably, this doesn’t happen, and I now realise I was foolish to expect it. With that hope dashed, though, there’s no reason whatsoever to watch this.

Episode 78 – When Whispering Woods Last Bloomed

In which we meet two new recruits to Team She-Ra.

Adora and Madame Razz are out in the forest, feeding a variety of interestingly deformed animals, but have to put a stop to this when they hear the unmistakeable sound of Catra capturing Bow and a load of other rebels. That means it’s leotards off and tiaras and red capes on for Adora, who in her She-Ra guise puts Catra and the Horde to flight pretty speedily. The whole thing is watched from a vantage point by two ladies, called Spinnerella and Netossa, who decide the most appropriate follow-up to all the excitement is to go to the pub.

Netossa: “Lovely little boozer, eh, Spinnerella?”

They are met there by Shadow Weaver, who has heard of Spinnerella’s amazing power. In case you’re having difficulty with this one, I can here reveal that Spinnerella’s power is to spin round really fast, creating a hurricane. Shadow Weaver hopes to persuade Spinnerella to use this power to knock down the trees of Whispering Wood, and to this end she captures Netossa in a magical forcefield, then tells Spinnerella that Netossa has been kidnapped by the rebels.

Spinnerella offers to use her powers to shift the trees out of the way, so that Hordak can send in his Troopers to rescue Netossa. I think it’s fair to say that Spinnerella is an idiot. I reckon I could have seen through this plot, even if I hadn’t had the benefit of watching 77 previous episodes of Hordak’s silly schemes. Still, we mustn’t dwell on that. Let’s move on to the good bit.

The good bit is where Spinnerella hitches a lift in a Horde truck down to the trees of Whispering Wood. She then starts spinning, and the hare-brained plan actually works; for the first time I can remember, the Horde manage to enter Whispering Wood. Unfortunately, it all begins unravelling a few seconds later, when Spinnerella addresses Adora and Bow to demand Netossa’s release. Naturally, Adora and Bow don’t have a clue what she’s talking about, and say as much.

Spinnerella: “I’ll huff and puff and I’ll blow your tower down. Okay, I’ll spin and blow it down, but nothing sensible rhymes with spin.”

Spinnerella doesn’t believe them, so carries on spinning. Adora trots off to become She-Ra, then contacts Light Hope to find out who and where Netossa is. Light Hope supplies this information in a pretty sane manner – comparative to his last appearance, Out of the Cocoon, in which he was as loony as loony can be.

Armed with Light Hope’s information, She-Ra beetles off to the Fright Zone and rescues Netossa. After the situation is explained to her, Netossa comes with She-Ra and tells Spinnerella that she’s a complete moron, so Spinnerella obligingly changes sides and spins Hordak out of the forest. With Hordak gone, She-Ra tells Spinnerella that she’s damaged all the trees, and asks her to spin in the opposite direction to put them back to rights. Yes, She-Ra. I’m sure that’ll work. Oh. It does. But you’ve got to admit, in any world governed by sanity, it wouldn’t work.

Netossa: “Well, I hope you feel ashamed of yourself, you idiot.”

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee is in a tree in Whispering Wood, but sadly not one of the ones that got blown down. He tells us that we really should enjoy trees, as well as protecting them. If only Bolsonaro were watching.

Character checklist

Well, there are of course the newbies, Spinnerella and Netossa, and a decent selection of the regulars: Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Madame Razz, Broom, Kowl, Light Hope, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Catra, Grizzlor, Mantenna, Imp, and all those Horde Troopers, obviously.

Adora: “Feeding time at the zoo. You too, Madame Razz.”

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

“I’ll go for help,” Adora offers, generously. Once she’s gone, She-Ra miraculously shows up! Who’d have thought it?

Insults

Hordak addresses Catra, Mantenna and Grizzlor as “fools”, after which Catra and Imp trade barbs: Catra calls Imp a “little creep”, and Imp retaliates with “little feline failure”, which is a rather satisfying turn of phrase which I might use while addressing my cat. Elsewhere, the only contribution Netossa makes to the episode is standing in her jail cell shouting “big chunks of scrap metal”, “walking junk piles” and “walking vacuum cleaners” at the Horde Troopers.

Oh No, Bow!

Adora tells Bow to “do your best” while she goes to get help. When she returns after having turned into She-Ra, gone to the Fright Zone, rescued Netossa and come back again, Bow has achieved absolutely nothing. He hasn’t even moved. If this is his best effort, I dread to think what his worst is.

Adora: “Bow, did you leave your hairdryer on again?”

Does it have the Power?

It’s a decent enough introduction to Spinnerella and Netossa, though the emphasis is very much on the former; we learn that she’s capable of generating a whirlwind and is incredibly gullible. I’m not really sure how much use Spinnerella will be: I’m pretty sure that She-Ra is more than capable of spinning and generating a whirlwind by herself. I can’t think of a specific episode to prove it, but She-Ra can do everything else, so the whirlwind trick seems likely.

Anyway, all we learn about Netossa is that she’s got a net (hence her name, presumably) and she’s good at getting captured. Admittedly, that’s pretty much all she needs to be one of She-Ra’s sidekicks, but since there’s plenty of other clowns who fulfil this role, I don’t expect we’ll be seeing Netossa again. I’m going to be honest here: I don’t actually care if we see Netossa or Spinnerella again or not, so either way is a win for me.

The story is not very exciting, really. For one thing, Hordak tricking people into helping him is not a new idea, and for another, it’s not long since we had an episode about Shadow Weaver using the wind to defeat the rebels, and while this episode is much better than Above It All, it’s still not good by any objective standards. Unless you really want to know where Spinnerella and Netarsa came from, I’d conclude there’s no need to watch this episode.

As noted last review, I haven’t got loads of time at the moment; we’re still on a very much as-and-when basis. I’m hoping to have another review up next week, but no promises.

Episode 77 – The Caregiver

In which Adora’s nanny suddenly clocks that Hordak’s a bit weird.

Well, you’ve got to hand it to this cartoon sometimes. The opening scene of this episode certainly caught me by surprise, if nothing else. Hordak and Shadow Weaver have thrown a small retirement party for an old woman called Shakra, who appears to have reached her pension age. Hordak even gives her a shiny pendant in recognition of her services. Of course, all is not as it seems: Hordak knows that Shakra is intending to join the Rebellion as a part-time job to boost her Fright Zone pension, and the shiny pendant is a spy device which will transmit data back to Hordak.

Shadow Weaver: “It’s far too late to be trying to win Employer of the Year, Hordak.”

Shakra arrives in Whispering Wood, and has a touching reunion with Adora. It turns out that Shakra was responsible for raising Adora through childhood – and considering how evil Adora was in the early episodes of She-Ra, I’m not convinced she did a great job. Anyway, despite misgivings from Bow (and possibly Glimmer, who’s pictured in the background looking concerned but as usual not saying a bloody word), Adora allows Shakra to join the Rebellion and lets her know about a forthcoming plan to attack some Horde robots.

Well, of course, Hordak learns of the plan through the shiny pendant spy device, and comes along to Whispering Wood to set a trap. Bow, Glimmer and Shakra are captured, but Adora and Madame Razz escape, and so it’s not long before the inevitable arrival of She-Ra. She-Ra manages to free Shakra, but Hordak gets away with Bow and Glimmer. If I’m honest, the phrase “good riddance” flitted through my mind.

Glimmer: “Always pleased to fulfil my sole function of being captured.”

After Madame Razz goes through the usual plot point of calling Shakra a traitor, and She-Ra responds with the other usual plot point of defending Shakra, they all bomb off to the Fright Zone to undertake a daring rescue. Shakra takes them to a secret entrance, though I’m not certain how secret it can possibly be, given it’s a huge door with the Horde symbol prominently placed in the middle. Still, in they go, and it does seem to be going well, until Hordak learns of their location through the pendant.

In the course of the subsequent debacle, Shakra suddenly realises that it was really fucking weird of Hordak to give her a retirement present, and voices this concern. I genuinely can’t believe it took her this long to wonder whether Hordak might not have been just being nice. Anyway, She-Ra smashes the pendant, prompting Hordak to come along with a squadron of Horde Troopers.

Naturally, the Horde Troopers prove less than effective, and Hordak himself doesn’t put in a good showing, since he chooses to transform himself into a spinning top with four arms, which is of limited use, to put it mildly. Once that’s dealt with, She-Ra and Shakra come bounding into Shadow Weaver’s lab, where Shadow Weaver is trying to dissect Glimmer. She claims this is so she can extract Glimmer’s magic, but I suspect it might be just because Glimmer is a bloody nightmare.

Bow: “I actively quite like being in Shadow Weaver’s bondage dungeon. Hope She-Ra doesn’t rescue us too quickly.”

To the soundtrack of She-Ra’s funkiest 80s beats, Bow and Glimmer are rescued, and our heroes make their escape. Back in Whispering Wood, Glimmer gushes to Adora about how exciting the whole thing was (could have fooled me), and Madame Razz apologises to Shakra for calling her a traitor. Finally, Adora welcomes Shakra to Whispering Wood, at which point the camera focuses on Shakra’s face while all the other rebels say various mental things like, “We’re glad you’re here!” and “We really like you!” I was particularly taken with Bow, whose voice booms out loud and clear above the others to make the enigmatic statement of “Hey, Shakra! Glad to see you again!” which for some reason came across as outstandingly demented.

In today’s adventure…

Oh, God almighty, I don’t know how to make this entertaining anymore. Loo-Kee is under a bush in Whispering Wood, and I swear that if I have to type “Loo-Kee is under a bush in Whispering Wood” one more time, I’m going to … I’m going to … I don’t know what I’m going to do. There’s not really a lot I can do, short of stop watching, and that seems a trifle perverse, having got so far. Maybe I should just watch and quietly accept it, rather than unnecessarily raising my blood pressure by raging against a 30 year old cartoon. Anyway, his pearl of wisdom is all about not judging people because they look different, which I think is a notion we can all recite in our sleep by now.

Loo-Kee: “Bet you’re pleased to see me, as usual.”

Character checklist

Other than Shakra, there’s no one particularly out of the ordinary here: Adora, She-Ra, Spirit, Swift Wind, Bow, Glimmer, Madame Razz, Broom, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Shadow Weaver and some Horde Troopers.

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

“Adora is safe,” says She-Ra. It’s a pretty boring excuse, but since we rarely get anything these days, I’ll let it slide.

Insults

Madame Razz leads the way this week, randomly addressing a Horde tank as an “overgrown swamp turtle”, and getting pretty personal by telling Hordak that he is “dirt”. Hordak’s response seems fair enough to me, calling Madame Razz a “ridiculous witch”. Finally, Shakra describes Hordak as a “strange man”, which is probably the understatement of the century.

Shakra: “You know, I think there is something a bit weird about this guy who literally has a hood made of bones.”

Oh No, Bow!

When Shakra first arrives in Whispering Wood, she asks to see Adora. Bow’s instant response is, “How do you know Adora’s name?” Well, Bow, given Adora is Public Enemy Number One on Etheria, I would suspect that the entire population knows her name. Added to that, Shakra has clearly come from the Horde, where Adora used to work, and where her notoriety is at its peak. I’d be more suspicious if Shakra didn’t know who Adora was.

Does it have the Power?

It’s not a classic, but it’s by no means a bad way to spend 20 minutes. Well, actually, it is a pretty bad way to spend 20 minutes, but if you’re committed to spending 20 minutes watching She-Ra, it’s not bad by those standards. I enjoyed the bizarre retirement party scene, and Shadow Weaver’s lab experiments on Glimmer gave hints of a darker tone, which I’d have liked to see more of. I can do without storylines of the “this random character is a traitor” variety, as they’ve been done to death, but all in all, this one’s a fairly entertaining episode, which is worth a watch.

Apologies if this review comes out in a weird format: WordPress has changed so I now have to use something called ‘Blocks’, which isn’t very user-friendly as far as I’m concerned. Hopefully I’ve managed to get my head around it, but I won’t know for sure till I press the ‘publish’ button.

Also please note that reviews from hereon may not keep to the ‘every 6 days’ timetable that I’ve been trying to keep to. I have a lot to do at the moment and the upkeep of this blog may have to take a backseat for a few months – but I will be attempting to keep it going as best I can!