In which Skeletor goes above and beyond in his efforts to cause mental havoc.
Well now, this is a promisingly mental title. I have a good feeling about this episode. We begin with Man-at-Arms demonstrating his new Duplication Machine, which makes a half-size duplicate of anything. Initially, this is put to use making lots of rangleberries for Cringer to gorge himself on, but Skeletor and Whiplash are in the vicinity and decide they want the machine for themselves.
Despite Skeletor’s singularly incompetent attempt to force them to crash land in the Tar Swamp, our heroes return to the Palace without too much trouble. Once there, they find that King Randor and Queen Marlena are talking to three teddy bears called Jerba, Jeeba and Jay. Jerba, Jeeba and Jay apparently live in a forest where they avoid being eaten by other animals by using a mineral called vambite to become invisible. At this point, I was beginning to wonder if I’d watched too much He-Man and was experiencing a completely insane delusion.
Jerba, Jeeba and Jay are visiting the Palace to ask for help, because their supply of vambite is mysteriously disappearing. Rather than voicing the saner opinion that he doesn’t want a crowd of invisible teddy bears cluttering up Eternia, Prince Adam suggests using Man-at-Arms’ Duplication Machine to make some more vambite.
Unfortunately, before they can do so, Skeletor and Whiplash cut a hole in the Palace floor and nick the Duplication Machine. He-Man obligingly gives chase in the Attack Trak, and despite no one inviting him, Mechaneck tags along too. Mechaneck has a noticeably different voice from his last appearance, but in fairness, there’s only five or six voice actors to do the entire cast of He-Man, so it’s no surprise that they’d forget how to do one of the voices every now and again.
And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. In an act of complete lunacy, Skeletor gets into the Duplication Machine and creates a vast quantity of half-sized duplicates of himself, which he then instructs to follow him to the Palace. This is behaviour so ridiculous and so utterly pointless that it doesn’t even qualify as a plan: it’s just a random act of mayhem.
After messing about in the Attack Trak for a while, He-Man receives a call from Moss-Man, who is one of He-Man’s more useless allies. Moss-Man is hanging out at the Palace pretending to be a bush, and has observed Skeletor and his miniatures arriving. He-Man and Mechaneck turn the Attack Trak back round, and return to the Palace to find that about fifty miniature Skeletors are standing around, waving their staffs and muttering.
For some reason, He-Man says he doesn’t fancy his chances against all the little Skeletors, but frankly I don’t see why not. Nonetheless, he and Mechaneck opt to enter the Palace by a secret tunnel, and join the King and Queen in the throne room. Man-at-Arms is also lurking about there, and lest you had forgotten about them, Jerba, Jeeba and Jay are there too.
Man-at-Arms advises He-Man that if he destroys the Duplication Machine, all the mini-Skeletors will disappear. He-Man claims he can’t get past all the Skeletor Juniors who are guarding the throne room, but he definitely could if he tried; I reckon he secretly finds the whole thing pretty amusing and can’t be bothered to sort it out. Anyway, Jerba, Jeeba and Jay give He-Man their last piece of vambite, and he becomes invisible long enough to sneak out of the Palace.
Finally, He-Man, Battle-Cat and Jerba (or Jeeba or Jay) go to Snake Mountain, where Skeletor is happily occupied in creating even more tiny versions of himself. He-Man manages to get all the mini-Skeletors arguing amongst themselves, after which he is free to destroy the Duplication Machine. If you care – which I most decidedly did not – it also transpires that Skeletor has been nicking vambite, so the Jerba, Jeeba and Jay plotline gets a happy end too.
In today’s adventure…
Man-at-Arms hangs out in the Palace courtyard to inform us that no matter how much we want it, having too much of something will usually lead to it disagreeing with us. He’s talking about sweets, but it’s nicely illustrated by a shot from the episode of all the mini-Skeletors disagreeing with each other. I like this very much.
This outstandingly crazy episode features a bumper cast list, including Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Mechaneck, Moss-Man, Sy-Klone, Whiplash, Two Bad, Modulok, Jerba, Jeeba, Jay, and more Skeletors than you can shake a Havoc Staff at.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
On the first occasion, Adam is accompanied only by Man-at-Arms, Orko and Cringer, none of whom need to hear an excuse. The second time, as soon as he sees Skeletor, Adam doesn’t bother to give an excuse but simply legs it. No wonder King Randor thinks he’s a coward.
Skeletor addresses his miniatures as “wonderfully horrible creatures”, which is probably meant as a compliment, but if you try using it in the office as a compliment I don’t think it’ll have the desired effect. We’re on more familiar territory when Skeletor calls He-Man, Battle-Cat and Jerba “fools”, and Whiplash refers to the latter two as “mangy”. There’s also a disappointing moment, when Skeletor addresses Jerba and gears up for a sensational burn with a dramatic “SILENCE, YOU …” and then seems to lose all his momentum, finishing with the rather lame “soon-to-be-prisoner.”
Egg on your face?
A triumphant return for this category sees Orko accidentally create a vast quantity of rangleberries, which fall and explode on Man-at-Arms’ head. In case you were wondering, this is not at all funny. The same thing happens later, with rangleberries raining down on the miniature Skeletors, and it isn’t any funnier on its second showcasing. It is still less amusing when it happens for a third time at the very end of the episode.
Does it have the Power?
Well, I was hoping for a mental episode, and by golly, it delivered. This episode is probably what madness looks like. I don’t think this cartoon has been this deranged since that one with the giant camp pink rabbit. Skeletor’s decision to create hundreds of miniatures of himself is completely unhinged and without seeming motive. It’s extremely funny just because it’s so ridiculous – but it’s also oddly menacing. The voice acting has very little humour to it, and it’s a strangely perfect decision to play this one straight, since although it’s completely crazy, it somehow comes across as a viable threat.
The episode is guilty of the semi-regular crime of extremely obvious product placement. Evil Warriors now available at Toys R Us are Two Bad and Modulok, neither of whom speak but are just casually standing around to demonstrate their existence. Heroic Warriors include He-Man’s new friend Sy-Klone, who can wave his arms around and produce a whirlwind, as well as the afore-mentioned Moss-Man, who gets a very odd introduction. He’s hanging out at the Duplication Machine test site, doing no harm, but Man-at-Arms tells him in no uncertain terms to piss off, which he does.
Other than action figure adverts, this episode is brilliant, especially coming after the recent lacklustre efforts. Very highly recommended indeed.