Episode 122 – Search for a Son

In which we learn that Man-at-Arms has ripped Mechaneck’s head off.

This episode opens with a blatant and, dare I say it, desperate piece of advertising. Mechaneck is in the Palace courtyard, playing Frisbee with a child called Derek, and Derek says, “It’s fun to play with Mechaneck.” Clearly the Mechaneck figure wasn’t selling well (can’t think why not) so the writers inserted this not particularly subliminal message in a transparent attempt to boost sales.

Son 1
Mechaneck: “Please buy my figure. It’s great. Please.”

Anyway, with very little provocation, Man-at-Arms shows up and tells Derek about Mechaneck’s past. Apparently, Mechaneck has a son called Philip, but on a visit to Dragon Mountain at some indeterminate point in the past, a massive storm blew up and Philip flew away in the wind. Mechaneck hurt his neck in the storm and fainted, at which point Man-at-Arms found him.

Man-at-Arms now gets on to a more interesting part of the story: because Mechaneck had hurt his original neck, Man-at-Arms gave him a bionic one – a procedure which almost certainly involved ripping Mechaneck’s head off and then reattaching it. This explains why Mechaneck has this ridiculous feature. It doesn’t explain why he was called “Mechaneck” before Man-at-Arms started doing experimental and possibly illegal neck replacement surgery on him. Frankly, Mechaneck is the sort of name you’d only have if you also already had a mechanical neck. The coincidence is almost too much, and I for one have become a firm believer in predestination as a result.

Son 2
Mechaneck: “What have you done to me, you crazed experimentalist?”

And now we learn what happened to Philip. He’s somehow fallen into the clutches of Count Marzo, who has previously appeared in both The Once and Future Duke and The Eternia Flower, and who in both these less-than-classic episodes was the hatcher of evil plots that involved children. Marzo is a little bit icky. I’m not sure why Philip doesn’t just run away from Marzo, because there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly compelling him to stay. Maybe this will be explained later. Probably not.

Back at the Palace, preparations are afoot for Randor, Marlena, Man-at-Arms, Teela and Mechaneck to go on an outing somewhere. Shortly before they leave, Mechaneck receives a visit from Marzo, who offers to return Philip in exchange for Mechaneck delivering Randor and Marlena. It seems Marzo wants to be King, and thinks that taking Randor prisoner is the way to achieve this. Mechaneck rejects the offer and runs off to tell Man-at-Arms, who instantly adds Adam and Cringer to the ranks of those unfortunate enough to go on the outing.

Son 3
King Randor: “Get out of my way, everyone. You’re standing between me and my throne.”

As they cross the desert, Mechaneck discovers an old fort containing an oasis, and recommends that the party stop for a rest. Would you believe it, the fort is a trap, and Marzo pops in for a little gloat. This doesn’t last long, since Adam turns into He-Man and opts for the standing-there-looking-stern approach, which is not very effective, given Marzo manages to successfully kidnap Randor and Marlena.

Marzo takes the King and Queen to his mountain fortress, where Philip is also imprisoned. He-Man and his gang – now featuring an unnecessary and unwelcome appearance from Buzz-Off – engage in all manner of silly shenanigans trying to break in, and finally succeed. Once they are inside, the episode gets no more exciting, featuring lots and lots of time-wasting until Philip falls down a pit and has to be rescued by Mechaneck, who extends his neck down the hole and allows Philip to hold onto it to come back up. What’s interesting here is that Philip says, “It’s good to be in your arms again, father!” rather than a more prescient comment like, “What the hell happened to your neck?” If I didn’t see my father for a matter of months, and when I finally did, he was able to extend his neck to at least 10 foot in length like Inspector Gadget, I’d definitely have a few things to say.

Son 4
Philip: “Father, hi …. is there something different about you?”

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela explains that we should always look where we’re going, and take care not to trip over. This draws inspiration from two completely irrelevant bits of the episode, in which Teela and Philip weren’t taking care. I think a more obvious moral is if you get caught in a storm and hurt your neck, you should absolutely insist on seeing a doctor, rather than a lunatic in a green and yellow body suit who wants to try twisted experiments on you. There is a chance that this moral was in the original first draft, but was rejected on the basis of being overly specific.

 

Character checklist

A very large contingent of our favourite idiots pops up today, including several who definitely didn’t need to be involved. There’s Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Mechaneck, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Buzz-Off, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Orko, Philip, Derek, Count Marzo, and Count Marzo’s big pink boring sidekick. There’s also loads of other Buzz-Offs, which is lovely.

Son 5
Count Marzo: “Stop right now, thank you very much, I need somebody with a human touch.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

“He’s safe, Teela. I don’t think we’ll need his help,” says He-Man. It turns out that He-Man is right. He didn’t need Buzz-Off’s help either, or Orko’s, or Teela’s. None of these people should have been in this episode.

 

Insults

It’s Marzo with a chip on his shoulder this week, especially in an early scene in which he variously calls Philip a “fool”, a “foolish boy”, an “ungrateful wretch” and a “scoundrel”. Marzo also has a “fool” for Mechaneck and another “fool” for his big pink servant, whose name escapes me. He-Man does address the big pink servant as “Blinky”, but I’m not sure if this is his name or just a completely irrelevant insult.

Son 6
Prince Adam: “Look how manly I am when I pose like this, Cringer!”

 

Does it have the Power?

Not really. It’s admirable, I suppose, for trying to fill in the blanks and explain why Mechaneck has his bionic neck, but the explanation raises more questions than it answers, and frankly, Eternia is so full of freaks as it is, I wasn’t really crying out for an explanation concerning Mechaneck. Nor was I particularly bothered in an exploration of his past, and I certainly wasn’t keen to see Count Marzo again. That being said, this is definitely the best of Marzo’s appearances, but that’s hardly high praise. As so often these days, this isn’t a classic, but it’s equally perfectly watchable.

Episode 079 – Disappearing Dragons

In which heroes and villains alike unite to hurl insults at a mute robot.

Responding to an invitation from Granamyr, He-Man and Orko make their way to Darksmoke, where Orko proceeds to wind Granamyr up a right treat. Sadly, before Granamyr can murder Orko, He-Man intervenes to ask why they were invited. Granamyr explains that dragons have been disappearing from Dragon Mountain, and that he has been unable to discover the cause, so he requests He-Man’s assistance in investigating.

He-Man decides to undertake a search of the Eternian wilderness, and calls on his new friends Mechaneck and Buzz-Off to help. It takes our heroes a very short space of time to find two of Skeletor’s cronies, Webstor and Kobra Khan, trying to use a mysterious machine on a dragon. In attempting to prevent them, Orko manages to activate the machine, resulting in He-Man, Mechaneck, Buzz-Off, Webstor and Kobra Khan all disappearing. Before Orko can attempt to reverse the effect, the machine blows up.

Disappearing
Webstor: “Why is there a giant ear at the front of the screen?”

Orko summons Granamyr, who helps him to repair the machine. In the meantime, the heroes and villains appear in an unfamiliar place which He-Man instantly identifies as “another dimension”, though how he can tell this so quickly is not made clear. Webstor and Kobra Khan do a runner to a city, and He-Man, Mechaneck and Buzz-Off decide to follow them, where they quickly discover a whole load of caged dragons.

Two men and a woman now show up, and imprison our heroes in a forcefield from which even He-Man cannot escape. They explain that they are the only three remaining survivors of a war that devastated their race, the Dami, and that their sole remaining pleasure is to force dragons to fight each other in a gladiatorial arena. In return for providing dragons, they will supply Kobra Khan and Webstor with the means to conquer Eternia.

Disappearing 2
Dami: “Yes, we’re inspired by the Romans. And before you ask, yes, Romans did have goofy helmets like this.”

He-Man not unexpectedly gets on his customary high horse about this, but his protests fall on deaf ears. However, on a suggestion from Kobra Khan, the Dami offer He-Man an alternative: if he fights and defeats an enormous stupid robot called Bellatron, they will release He-Man, Mechaneck, Buzz-Off and the dragons. He-Man accepts this deal of a lifetime, and is transported from the forcefield into the arena.

The battle with Bellatron is pretty tedious, except for the really rather odd bit in which we get a point-of-view shot from Bellatron’s perspective in which it is made clear that he is aiming his weapons directly at He-Man’s crotch. Rather unusually, Bellatron actually gets to a stage where he is about to defeat He-Man, but Granamyr and Orko show up just in time to get involved too. Once Bellatron is destroyed, the Dami – reasonably enough – declare the match invalid because He-Man had outside assistance.

Disappearing 3
Bellatron: “The reason Skeletor never wins is because he never attempts to shoot He-Man in the balls.”

While He-Man and his mates go and have a gratuitous fight with Webstor and Kobra Khan, Granamyr decides that an appropriate punishment for the Dami will be to make them fight each other for his entertainment. He-Man isn’t cool with this, and persuades Granamyr that an eye for an eye does not constitute justice. Instead, the Dami are told to go and rebuild their world. This presumably involves repopulation, but with a starting gene pool consisting of only three people, I suspect this is doomed to failure.

 

In today’s adventure…

The moral of this week’s episode is that you should not hurt or tease animals, but instead treat them with kindness. This will be, as He-Man so intelligently puts it, “more fun for you, and for the animal!” He says this in that special tone of his that implies he’s making a really funny joke, and has a massive great big smirk on his face the whole time, which leads me to suspect that He-Man secretly gets a whole load of pleasure in pulling the wings off flies. Or possibly pulling the wings off Buzz-Off.

 

Character checklist

This episode gives us a fairly unusual cast. Obviously, there’s Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Orko and the Sorceress, but Granamyr, Mechaneck, Buzz-Off, Webstor and Kobra Khan are quite out of the ordinary. Bellatron and the Dami – introduced as Verdor, Kara and Bylon – are the one-shot characters of the week. Typing that, I’ve just realised that Bellatron and the Dami is an ace name for a band.

Disappearing 4
He-Man: “Go on, Granamyr! Eat him! He’s asking for it! He’s been asking for it for 78 episodes now!”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Not only do we get no excuse this week, it’s a rare beast indeed because the transformation actually takes place off screen. For possibly the first time ever, we don’t have to sit through the recycled “By the Power of Grayskull” animation. That alone makes this episode worth watching.

 

Insults

This episode quite possibly breaks the all-time record for insults. Towards the beginning, Orko rather unwisely decides to call Granamyr “lizard-breath” and a “big bully”, while Webstor and Kobra Khan trade the insults “Web-head” and the possibly misheard “Snake-pus”. Mechaneck gets in on the act, calling Kobra Khan a “snake-face”, while Webstor retaliates by referring to Buzz-Off as a “bee-brain” and He-Man as a “muscle-bound meddler”. Elsewhere, Kobra Khan considers Orko a “meddling little wizard” and Buzz-Off rather mildly calls the Dami “bats”.

Finally, pretty much everyone has unkind things to say about Bellatron, perhaps in the secure knowledge that since he can’t talk, he won’t be answering back. Buzz-Off starts the ball rolling with “hunk of junk” and Mechaneck attempts to top this with “rolling rust pot”. Webstor sees the fun everyone else is having, so joins in with the distinctly unimaginative “stupid robot”. He-Man then contributes the slightly odd “bucket-face”, and follows it up with “overgrown teapot”. While this latter is not particularly amusing now, I had this episode on VHS when I was little, and I can remember me and my sister rewinding it to watch this quip over and over, then laughing till the tears rolled down our cheeks. My sister and I were very stupid children.

Disappearing 5
Bellatron: “Hey, armour-plated killing machines have feelings too, you know.”

 

Does it have the Power?

For the reasons just outlined, I do have a very soft spot for this episode, but I think even without the history I have with it, I’d consider it a good one. Granamyr is a great character, the new animation for the Dami’s world is beautifully ominous, and it’s good to see this cartoon tackling blood sports in such a head-on manner. As an introduction for Kobra Khan and Mechaneck, for whom this is their first appearance, it serves pretty well, both of them coming across as relatively competent – and in Kobra Khan’s case, rather threatening. On the downside, both Webstor and Buzz-Off have really irritating voices. That’s only a very minor complaint though – this episode is well worth your time.