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 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 49 – For Want of a Horse

In which Bow puts in a truly pitiful performance.

Hordak returns to the Fright Zone in a fearful temper, having just had a conversation with Horde Prime. It transpires that it will be Horde Prime’s birthday shortly, and he wants a really good present. Hordak, of course, doesn’t know what to get him, and after fielding a monumentally silly idea from Grizzlor, who recommends getting him a tie, he accepts Shadow Weaver’s suggestion that he should kidnap Swift Wind as a birthday gift.

Horse 1
Hordak: “I’m surrounded by idiots. Myself included.”

Shadow Weaver’s plan for the kidnap involves knocking a hole in a dam, and waiting for She-Ra, Swift Wind and Bow to show up to repair it. She-Ra occupies herself fixing the dam, while Bow and Swift Wind wait in the village, giving Shadow Weaver the chance to disguise herself as a sweet blond girl and pretend to be running away from a Horde Trooper. This distracts Bow long enough for another Horde Trooper to freeze Swift Wind and drag him away.

Shadow Weaver considers taking Bow prisoner as well, but She-Ra reappears in time to prevent such an unfortunate event. Instead, Shadow Weaver contents herself with gloating that Swift Wind will make a perfect present for Horde Prime, and vanishes. She-Ra, of course, heads straight for the Fright Zone, with Bow in tow to offer help. You know, like Bow normally helps.

Horse 2
She-Ra: “No, Bow. I’m not going to ‘ride you instead of Swift Wind’.”

On arrival in the Fright Zone, She-Ra quickly abandons Bow in favour of going for a swim in a river that flows directly below Hordak’s throne room. There she meets Mantenna, who has been dropped through Hordak’s trapdoor into the river. Mantenna informs her that Swift Wind has been taken to the space port, and then realises he really ought to try to capture her. He is no more successful in this venture than you might think, and ends up running off to sound the alarm.

She-Ra finds her way to the space port and frees Swift Wind with very little trouble. On emerging from the Fright Zone, they find that Bow has come barging along trying to save them, which results in all three of them having to have a final confrontation with Shadow Weaver, not that that takes very long. They all fly off into the sunset, leaving Hordak to give Horde Prime a tie after all.

Horse 3
Mantenna: “Best day ever.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Oh Loo-Kee, you think you’re so clever, hiding next to the broken dam. But I saw you, and I’ll see you every time from now on. He explains that “there’s a very special kind of love between people and animals”, and he makes a few recommendations of specialist niche websites that cater to people who enjoy that kind of love. Just joking, of course: actually, he recommends we treat animals with patience and kindness, which may lead to them becoming our best friends.

 

Character checklist

This very enjoyable episode features Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Mantenna, Grizzlor, Horde Prime, and – of course – some Horde Troopers.

Horse 4
Hordak: “All these characters are now available at Toys R Us.”

 

Insults

It’s a bad day for Horde Troopers, especially at Shadow Weaver’s hands; one is addressed as a “fool” and a pair of them as “tin-headed cowards”. She has a point: they’re scared of Bow, of all people. She also, rather surprisingly, calls two Horde Troopers “useless balls” towards the end of the episode. Bow gets in on the act with the less imaginative but more sane “rotten robots”.

She-Ra calls Bow a “brave, wonderful fool”, though not to his face, and after Hordak throws Mantenna in the river, he calls him a “soggy simpleton”. The best insult this week is one I can’t believe we’ve never heard before: Shadow Weaver calls She-Ra “Wing-head”, presumably in reference to her silly tiara.

 

Oh No, Bow!

Bow is supposed to be guarding Swift Wind when the kidnap takes place, but he is all too easily distracted by Shadow Weaver’s disguise. It’s actually a pretty sophisticated plan, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for falling for it. Anyone except Bow, of course, who’s a first-class fool.

Horse 5
Bow: “Oh Jesus. I’ve ballsed up again, haven’t I?”

Later on, of course, Bow is responsible for coming into the Fright Zone and trying to rescue She-Ra when she doesn’t need rescuing, the result being an unnecessary fight with Shadow Weaver. He’s such an idiot.

 

Does it have the Power?

Here we have our first hands-down success in ages. The storyline is, of course, nothing special, but it’s got such wit and energy that it’s impossible not to enjoy it. The opening scene is really very funny, and has a great payoff at the end when Hordak does take Grizzlor’s suggestion and gives Horde Prime a tie. There’s other moments of great humour throughout, and yet in the middle of all this clowning, we get a scene of genuine nastiness, as Hordak gloats over Swift Wind, telling him that he will never fly again, and will be left in a dungeon to never see the sky or the sunset, where his mane will turn grey and his wings will wither. It’s definitely the nastiest and most calculatedly unpleasant we’ve ever seen Hordak being, and I feel it could even give Skeletor a run for his money. To sum up: watch it, immediately.

Episode 18 – Horde Prime Takes a Holiday

In which She-Ra’s arse nearly catches fire.

Hordak’s boss, Horde Prime, has summoned Hordak and Mantenna aboard his flagship, where we learn that they are to be left in charge of the Horde’s most powerful warship while Horde Prime goes on holiday to a planet called Tropica. Since Horde Prime appears to be an amorphous cloud of gas with robotic arms, it seems unlikely that he would particularly enjoy a fortnight on the Costa del Sol, but that’s what’s presented to us.

Horde Prime 1
Hordak: “No, I don’t think I will try a bout of fisticuffs with you, thanks, Horde Prime.”

Horde Prime boards his transport ship to Tropica, pausing only to inform Hordak that under no circumstances whatsoever should he actually use the warship for anything. Of course, once Horde Prime has gone, Hordak – being a complete tool – immediately voices an intention to use it to conquer both Etheria and Eternia. Luckily, the Sorceress has got wind of this dastardly notion, and sends He-Man to Etheria to resolve the situation.

Hordak takes the flagship on a very casual fly-by over the heads of some rebels, provoking Adora into turning into She-Ra. He then fires the flagship’s freeze ray at the Whispering Woods, and it’s so powerful that even He-Man and She-Ra combined cannot stop it. It’s fortunate, therefore, that Skeletor shows up at this juncture, and not wanting to be left out of the fun, decides to steal the Horde flagship himself, which rather distracts Hordak from firing the freeze ray.

Horde Prime 2
Skeletor: “I do appreciate the effort gone into drawing me from beneath to make me look imposing… but it does seem to have had the unintended side effect of making my head look really small.”

Skeletor and Hordak engage in a lengthy duel, in which they do a fair amount of cosmetic damage to the flagship whilst shrieking alliterative insults at one another. Skeletor eventually gets the better of Hordak, but in the meantime, He-Man has thrown a grappling hook onto the ship, allowing She-Ra to climb all the way up through the atmosphere, into outer space, and on board. She makes a slight concession to realism by putting on a space helmet to allow herself to breathe, but this just somehow makes the whole thing more ludicrous because she doesn’t consider putting a spacesuit on over her skimpy dress.

She-Ra finds Skeletor merrily chuckling away and crowing “Hail Skeletor!” to himself as he starts the ship’s engines. Down on the surface of Etheria, He-Man is dragged along by the end of the grappling line, until he eventually brings the ship to a halt. Skeletor pumps even more power into the ship’s engine, hoping to drag He-Man up into space, but this proves his undoing; when the moment is right, She-Ra cuts the grappling line, sending the ship flying at full speed into an asteroid.

Horde Prime 3
He-Man: “This will make a lovely shot for my 2019 calendar.”

Horde Prime’s flagship is reduced to rubble, which upsets Skeletor mightily. He’s wise enough to know when he’s beaten though, and when he spots that what remains of the ship is about to explode, he teleports back to Snake Mountain and out of our lives. Notably, he doesn’t attempt to save Hordak, but She-Ra – being completely mental – does.

There’s then an unexpected moment where She-Ra’s arse nearly catches fire as she and Hordak plummet through the atmosphere. This being a cartoon for children, she manages to resist all the obvious puns about having a hot ass, so I’ll let you substitute your own. Even without such jokes, the episode ends on a reasonably funny note as Hordak attempts to explain the destruction of the flagship to Horde Prime.

Horde Prime 4
She-Ra: “Yeah, this is one of those pictures that defies description.”

 

In today’s adventure…

I feel completely cheated this week. Despite me looking really hard for Loo-Kee – especially after I actually found him last time – at the end of the episode, it turns out he wasn’t in it at all! Instead, we get He-Man and She-Ra delivering the moral. If Loo-Kee isn’t going to be there, they need to warn us of that at the start! Otherwise it’s completely unfair! I am literally shaking with rage.

He-Man and She-Ra’s moral is that our bodies are our own, and no one should touch them without our permission. There’s also an unwelcome cameo from Orko, who threatens to punch anyone who touches us. She-Ra recognises that Orko’s contribution is less than helpful, and tells him to shut up, while He-Man points unnervingly at the camera and says that we shouldn’t feel ashamed if someone touches us in a bad way, but should tell someone we trust. He lists some bizarre suggestions of people we might trust: our parents, teachers, doctors, counsellors, ministers or rabbis. These latter two seem to be something of an afterthought, and have the air of an ad-lib, if it were possible for cartoon characters to ad-lib.

Horde Prime 5
She-Ra: “Er, He-Man, you’re coming across a bit strong, what with the finger pointing and all.”

Anyway – great message, and one we haven’t heard before from He-Man, but with zero relevance to the story, unless we’re supposed to consider Horde Prime’s flagship is his body, and Skeletor and Hordak were touching him inappropriately? And also – where the Jesus Christ was Loo-Kee?

 

Character checklist

This fantastic crossover episode features Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Prince Adam, He-Man, Bow, Kowl, the Sorceress, Horde Prime, Hordak, Skeletor, Mantenna and a new boy called Multibot. As noted above, there’s also a brief appearance from Orko, though it would have been better had it been even briefer.

 

Excuse given for Adora and Adam’s disappearances

Adam doesn’t give an excuse, being only in the presence of the Sorceress. Adora, on the other hand, gives the plausible explanation that she is going “to find She-Ra”.

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Bow: “Jesus, I’m stoned again.”

 

Insults

It’s another of those episodes with a real wealth of stingers. Hordak addresses Horde Prime as “slime”, allegedly accidentally, and Horde Prime surprisingly lets him get away with it. Mantenna is called a “bug-eyed buffoon” by Horde Prime and a “bug-eyed boob” by Hordak, but the real joy is to be found when Hordak and Skeletor start slagging each other off. Hordak tells Skeletor he’s a “treacherous turncoat two-faced traitor”, a “boneface” and a “blasted blue bungler”, while Skeletor counters with “bat-ears”, “blasted Horde bully boy” and the possibly misheard “conniving claim-jumper”.

He-Man refers to Skeletor and Hordak as “evil monsters” and also might call them “a gaggle of evils”, though the sound seemed a bit funny at this point, so it’s quite likely that’s not what he said. Finally, what He-Man/Skeletor showcase would be complete without Skeletor calling He-Man a “pitiful fool”?

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Skeletor: “Loving my new wheels.”

 

Oh No, Bow!

Bow has a very minimal contribution to this episode, and that’s observing that the flagship “looks like some sort of spaceship”. Yes, of course it does, Captain Obvious. That’s because it IS a spaceship.

 

Does it have the Power?

This episode is essentially an episode of He-Man and his battle with Skeletor, with She-Ra and Hordak along for the ride – so of course it gets a hearty thumbs-up from me. We’ve seen He-Man often enough in recent episodes that it’s actually not all that special for him to show up, but to see Skeletor again, especially with him being at his most maliciously evil, is an absolute treat. The whole thing is just an excuse for everyone to have a massive barney with each other while hollering insults, and it’s a total romp.

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She-Ra: “This helmet will definitely stop me from freezing to death.”

I was particularly fond of the return to the bizarre and insane feats of strength that featured so often in the He-Man cartoon – He-Man throwing a grappling hook into outer space is mental, as is She-Ra climbing through the atmosphere and through the vacuum of space to reach the ship. The concessions to reality (including She-Ra putting on a space helmet, and her starting to burn up on re-entering the atmosphere) just made the mental bits seem even crazier.

In short, I very much enjoyed this episode, and I’m sure you will too.