Episode 61 – Darksmoke and Fire

In which Granamyr pops up again, although I wish he hadn’t bothered.

Today’s little intrigue centres around Modulok, who has been busy creating a massive missile. It is intended for use next time She-Ra opens a gateway to Eternia and will apparently make said gateway unstable, with the result that She-Ra could be deposited absolutely anywhere. To be honest, this is unlikely to be successful, but Hordak seems impressed.

Luckily, they don’t have long to wait before they can test the missile. For no readily discernible reason, Adora and Light Hope open a gateway to Eternia, so Modulok deploys the missile. Adora ends up on Eternia anyway, which is surprising given the claim she could be deposited in a random location anywhere throughout the universe. To give Modulok a tiny bit of credit, Adora is somewhere in the Eternian wilderness, not in the Palace as she expected.

Darksmoke 1
Hordak: “Modulok, is it possible that you didn’t have time to test the missile because you wasted ages painstakingly painting the Horde logo on it?”

Or is she? Adora suddenly recognises the landscape, and realises that the Palace is gone. Before she has time to muse on this surprising situation, some people run past, chasing someone else. Without giving any thought to who’s in the right and who’s in the wrong, Adora changes into She-Ra and takes the side of the person being chased.

After she chases off the chasers, She-Ra doesn’t have time to discuss the situation before being attacked by a dragon. Luckily, the guy who was being chased intervenes, and fortunately he gets a name at this point, so I can now refer to him as Tarben. The dragon is introduced as Brightstar, and it seems he and Tarben are friends. Tarben thanks She-Ra for her help, and takes her to a place called Dragon Valley.

Darksmoke 2
Tarben: “I’m sensing a distinct disparity in the amount of screen She-Ra and I have been allocated.”

In Dragon Valley, She-Ra meets Granamyr, our old mate of a dragon from some of He-Man’s best episodes. She-Ra seems to know who Granamyr is, having been told about him by He-Man, King Randor, Man-at-Arms and Orko – but these names are unfamiliar to Granamyr. Luckily, before this can get any more confusing, Granamyr casts a spell on She-Ra, and works out that she has arrived on Eternia 1000 years in the past.

The episode then embarks on a convoluted plotline about some idiot dressed in purple who wants to start a war between the local villagers and the dragons. I don’t know what the middle stage of this plan is, but the anticipated endgame is that the purple-clothed idiot will become ruler of Eternia. He burns down a tower full of food and blames it on the dragons, whipping the dim-witted villagers up into a warlike frenzy.

Darksmoke 4
Granamyr: “Nice to see that even 1000 years in the past, I still had a really goofy helmet.”

Tarben now reveals that he is the king, which doesn’t quite ring true given that earlier in the episode the villagers were chasing him around shouting insults at him. Surely they’d have greater respect for their king? Anyway, he pops off to stop the villagers and the dragons fighting, and She-Ra, disregarding the Temporal Prime Directive, goes to help. The rest of the episode showcases She-Ra’s efforts to stop the war, and it’s dull as ditchwater.

I hardly need to tell you that the war is averted, and I certainly don’t need to tell you how she does it, because it’s equal parts boring and stupid. The dragons and the humans make friends, the purple-clothed idiot disappears in a puff of purple smoke, and Granamyr comes up with a way to send She-Ra home so she can stop polluting Ancient Eternia with her self-righteous smuggery.

Darksmoke 5
Tarben: “This bit of Poundland bling will prove I’m king, no question.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee, who was hiding in a tree right at the end of the episode, pops up to tell us that Granamyr was absolutely awesome in He-Man, especially in The Dragon’s Gift, and that it’s a real shame he was subsequently relegated to appear in tripe like this. Oh, all right, no he doesn’t. Instead, he tells us that we shouldn’t try to blame others for our misdeeds, like the purple-clothed idiot tried to blame the dragons. I wonder if the writer of this episode tried to blame it on anyone else. I would have, if I’d written it.

 

Character checklist

I can barely be bothered to recount who turned up this week, but in the interests of completeness, I suppose I’d better tell you it was Adora, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Light Hope, Loo-Kee, Tarben, Brightstar, Granamyr, various dragons and villagers, Hordak, Modulok, Imp, the purple-clothed idiot, and a surprise reappearance for Lokus from Wizard of Stone Mountain. Though it’s possibly just a re-use of his animation. I don’t care either way.

Darksmoke 3
Purple-clothed idiot: “Maybe this serves as an origin story for Lokus, not that anyone wanted one.”

 

Insults

One of the villagers calls Tarben a “rotten dragon-lover”, and another says that dragons are “overgrown lizards”. Otherwise, there’s nothing to report here, except that the purple-clothed idiot repeatedly refers to the Lokus Animation Reuse as “slutty”. I’m not sure if this is a surprisingly extreme insult, a monumentally badly chosen name, or my notoriously unreliable ears playing tricks on me again.

 

Does it have the Power?

I found this episode deeply unsatisfying, and I’m not totally sure why. I think it’s largely that it seemed so pointless somehow; I don’t know why I should care about some extremely minor conflict between dragons and humans way back in Eternia’s past. If it had shown us something new about Granamyr’s character, perhaps demonstrating how he came to be so wise and powerful, then that would be a different story, but here he’s exactly the same as he was in He-Man, evidently not having changed at all in a thousand years.

Darksmoke 6
Adora: “There’s a perfectly rational explanation for this.”

The idea of stranding She-Ra in the past was a good one, but the episode didn’t really seem to go anywhere with it. She-Ra just behaves like she usually does, getting involved in silly situations and not putting any apparent effort into getting home. Tarben is a curiously poorly-drawn character (is he a king or a villager, and why does he like dragons when no one else does?) and the less said about the purple-clothed idiot, the better. I’d whole-heartedly recommend skipping this bilge.

Episode 58 – Black Snow

In which Frosta gets kidnapped by some giant rats.

In response to an urgent summons, She-Ra has come to Frosta’s realm, where Frosta explains that a neighbouring kingdom called Galacia has been blighted with a heavy fall of black snow, which has ruined crops and spread illness. Galacia’s inhabitants, the Selkies, blame Frosta’s people, and are threatening war. Frosta and She-Ra conclude that the black snow must be the work of the Horde, presumably to stir up discord, and so they wander off to try to find proof that will convince the Selkies.

Not surprisingly, it turns out that the Horde are indeed responsible: this week, it’s Modulok who’s calling the shots, and he’s got someone called Multibot with him. I think we’ve seen Multibot before, possibly in Horde Prime Takes a Holiday, but I’m not inclined to check. Modulok has convinced the Selkies that Frosta’s people are responsible, and he promises to deliver Frosta to the Selkies for justice. I might be able to take this more seriously if the Selkies weren’t completely ridiculous giant rats with swords and stupid outfits.

Black Snow 1
Selkies: “Please at least try to pretend we’re a credible threat.”

Modulok is as good as his word, and whips up a blizzard of black snow to temporarily blind She-Ra, while he sets a whirlwind in motion to snatch up Frosta. She-Ra occupies herself with a pointless fight with Multibot, in the course of which she realises that Multibot is far too incompetent to be responsible for the black snow and Frosta’s kidnapping. She quickly flatters Multibot into telling her that Modulok is behind the whole thing, using his new invention, the Weather Wheel.

Black Snow 3
Multibot: “I suspect this will be the only time I’m featured in a picture on this entire blog.”

In the meantime, Frosta and the Selkies have engaged in a circular argument about whether Frosta’s people have caused the black snow or not. Frosta does not convince them, and so they send word to Frosta’s second-in-command, Captain Ron, that Frosta will remain a prisoner until the black snow is removed. Unfortunately, Captain Ron is a massive idiot, and his immediate response is to go to war with the Selkies.

I’m pleased to report that Frosta is entirely capable of busting herself out of her prison cell, which is nice, because normally everyone on Etheria has to wait for She-Ra before they escape. She intervenes before Captain Ron and the Selkies can engage in battle, and the entire situation is resolved when She-Ra hijacks the Weather Wheel and puts a final stop to the black snow.

Black Snow 2
Frosta: “This feels … somehow wrong.”

 

In today’s adventure…

I didn’t see Loo-Kee today, but I don’t care. I’m sure you don’t either. His moral lesson is that being ill isn’t fun. I don’t know about you, but I already knew that, and I was well aware of the fact even when I was four years old. I’m pretty confident that kids in 1980s America didn’t go round getting ill on purpose, but that seems to be the implication here.

 

Character checklist

This week, it’s a day out for She-Ra, Swift Wind, Frosta, Captain Ron, Loo-Kee, the Selkies, Hordak, Modulok, Multibot, and Imp. There are plenty of background characters too, but why dwell on them?

 

Insults

Multibot doesn’t do very well this week. She-Ra calls him a “metalhead” and a “goofy robot”, while Modulok considers him a “nincompoop” and a “bigmouth”. Modulok also refers to Swift Wind as a “beast” and to She-Ra, rather mildly, as a “meddling woman”.

Black Snow 4
Modulok: “I will now play a short composition on my synthesiser.”

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s a refreshing change to get away from our usual environs of the Fright Zone and Whispering Wood, into the frozen kingdoms of Frosta and the Selkies. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all it’s got going for it. The problems presented by the black snow were glossed over far too quickly, and it never seemed to be a pressing concern. I’ve also never found Modulok to be a particularly compelling character, and Multibot was a very tiresome attempt at comic relief. Far more comical, though not intentionally, was the animation of the Selkies. I’d call this episode a lacklustre effort, and only really to be recommended if you’re a massive Frosta fan. I’m sure at least one person in the world must be.

Episode 50 – Just Like Me

In which we have the pleasure of the company of yet another dreadful child.

As the episode begins, Modulok leads a squadron of Horde Troopers into a homestead, where they load up the family’s grain store into Horde transport trucks. Watching from an overlooking ridge, Adora and Bow decide to intervene, and quickly defeat the Troopers. They then meet the family’s daughter, Lena, who despite being only about 8 years old, expresses a desire to join the Rebellion.

Just Like Me 1
Lena: “I may be only young, but I’m ANGRY. Look at my face.”

Adora and Bow treat this with, if not contempt, then at least a degree of bemusement, especially when Lena sees a Horde Trooper, takes fright, and runs off. Adora goes after her, turns into She-Ra, and arrives just in time to save Lena from one of those ubiquitous breaking bridges that seem to plague Etheria and Eternia. In case you’re interested, she achieves this by walking across a tightrope in her high heels, which I’m convinced must be impossible. A circus career awaits.

The episode now lurches into a scene in which She-Ra escapes from Modulok and a huge number of flying Horde robot ships by taking Lena into Whispering Wood. At Rebel HQ, Lena helps Bow pointlessly line up all his arrows on a table, while She-Ra disappears and returns as Adora, bearing the report that the Horde have successfully stolen all the grain. I feel this could have been prevented if She-Ra had been particularly invested in that plotline, but perhaps she’s like me.

Just Like Me 2
Adora: “Be honest, Bow. What are you hoping to achieve here?”

Bow and Lena favour a head-on assault, while Adora is more interested in a spot of level-headed thinking and perhaps the formulation of a plan before blundering in like a bull in a china shop. For some reason, the sight of Bow and Lena waving their fists around persuades Adora that a plan isn’t needed, so she wanders off again to turn into She-Ra.

When She-Ra, Bow and Lena arrive back at the village, they find that Modulok has arrested Lena’s parents for being rebel spies, and taken them away. She-Ra and Bow seize the opportunity to ditch Lena, and leave her in the village while they ride off to rescue her parents. I’m sure it won’t come as any kind of a surprise to you that Lena leaps on a moose and follows them. Well, maybe the moose bit surprises you, but not the following bit.

Just Like Me 3
Lena: “A horse might have been better, but needs moosed. Oh, please yourselves then.”

Luckily, she doesn’t disrupt the ensuing big battle too much, and instead Bow sets her to work recovering the grain while he attempts to rescue her parents, though he simply ends up getting locked in the same cage as them. Modulok then unveils his new weapon – something called the Converter – which is perhaps unique in the history of both He-Man and She-Ra in that it actually defeats our hero. She-Ra is forced to run away, and she re-emerges as Adora.

For some entirely inexplicable reason, Adora is capable of defeating Modulok where She-Ra failed, and tricks him into using the Converter to release Bow and Lena’s parents. Lena’s parents then inflict a further defeat on Modulok, leading Lena to congratulate her parents on their bravery whilst staring at them with uncannily dead eyes. There’s then time for a quick, irrelevant and nauseating lecture on the powers of love, and faith, and good, before the episode mercifully fades to black.

Just Like Me 4
She-Ra: “Bow, stop being creepy round the nice family.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Naturally, the first shot of Whispering Wood this week also features Loo-Kee, though he’s quite difficult to see, so I was rather proud of myself this time. He sees fit to witter on about She-Ra’s powers of love and kindness and fairness, as well as her physical strength. He suggests that maybe we should adopt these powers ourselves, which is perhaps a desperate plea for me to be loving and kind and fair right now about this episode. Tell you what: I will be fair, but not loving or kind. Deal?

 

Character checklist

This one has a nice and tight cast list, not that it helps the quality of the episode: it’s just Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Lena, Lena’s family, Loo-Kee, Modulok, and some Horde Troopers.

Just Like Me 5
Modulok: “It’s nice to appear again, but I’d rather it had been in a better episode.”

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

“You deal with them,” Adora tells Bow, referring to some Horde Troopers. She adds, “I’ll find Lena before she gets into any trouble,” and runs off, turning into She-Ra once she’s out of sight. She even gives another excuse in time for the second transformation, though it’s not as good: “I’ll find She-Ra.” She doesn’t bother for the third transformation, but still, Adora, you’ve shown you can do it, and it’s not that hard. Why don’t you do this more often?

 

Insults

Though not an insult, there’s a moment when Modulok says, “It’s that rebel bowman,” in reference to Bow. I prefer to think of it as Modulok being blissed out on some pretty heavy drugs and saying, “It’s that rebel Bow, maaaan.” Just to be clear, there is nothing in the episode to justify this interpretation, but watching as much She-Ra as I have lately can do strange things to your brain.

Just Like Me 6
Bow: “You may not be on drugs, Modulok, but whoever invented you clearly was.”

Otherwise, Modulok doesn’t do well this week, being addressed as a “creepy crook” and a “big bully” by Lena, and as a “nasty person” and a “hulking Hordeperson” by Lena’s mother. He does retaliate with “little whelp” for Lena, and also comes up with the pretty original “meddling madam” for Adora.

Finally, towards the start of the episode, Lena dismisses Adora by saying, “You’re just a regular woman”, measuring her up against She-Ra and finding her wanting. I personally don’t know any regular women who wear silly red leotards and keep power swords stuffed down their backs, but clearly I hang out with the wrong crowd.

Just Like Me 7
Adora: “You honestly think I’m regular? What is wrong with you?”

 

Oh Yes, Bow!

Bow is his usual cocky self at the beginning of this episode, refusing to call on She-Ra for help because he believes that he and Adora are more than a match for Modulok and his Troopers. Normally, this would be the setup for Bow’s speedy defeat, but he proves surprisingly competent.

 

Oh No, Bow!

On the other hand, Bow is tiresomely keen to attack the Horde this week, and eventually Adora has to tell him to calm the fuck down. Despite his fighting talk, when it eventually comes to the big fight at the end of the episode, his performance is evidently so poor that the episode doesn’t even bother to show him getting captured. We just cut from him being all confident and smug to a scene of him being already behind bars.

 

Does it have the Power?

It veers wildly from moments that are quite good, moments that are quietly average and huge swathes that are massively annoying. Needless to say, the massively annoying bits are those that involve Lena, who is a squawking idiot of a character following a tedious and over-familiar storyline. Bow too is at his worst this week, boasting to Adora about how well he knows She-Ra and insisting every other minute that they should attack the Horde.

Just Like Me 8
Bow: “Just look at us. Hordak will be terrified.”

The good bits aren’t on a level with anything explored in He-Man, but it’s one of the few times we’ve seen a bit of a dissatisfaction on Adora’s part about the secret identity business. Lena and Bow constantly imply that Adora is less good than She-Ra, and thus the scene at the end when she defeats Modulok as herself, rather than as She-Ra, is quite pleasing – though it has to be said it would have been a lot more effective if it had had any kind of internal logic to it as to why she was able to defeat him.

In summary, if we’d had a lot more of the Adora/She-Ra identity crisis, and a whole boatload less of the Lena business, then I’d be heartily recommending this one. As it is, I’d probably say only a few scenes of it are worth your bother.

Episode 35 – Gateway to Trouble

In which Modulok defects from Snake Mountain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

In today’s adventure…

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

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

 

Character checklist

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

 

Excuse given for Adora and Adam’s transformation

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

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

 

Insults

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

 

Does it have the Power?

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

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

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

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

Episode 123 – Mistaken Identity

In which Modulok builds Eternia’s first railway.

Out in the forest, a young lady – apparently called Korea – is passive-aggressively berating her boyfriend Ferrin, because he’s not as awesome as He-Man. Ferrin eventually decides he’s had enough of this, and heads off to get some water. While he’s gone, Korea is attacked by a bird known as a Shrieker, and is saved by He-Man’s convenient presence. Observing this, and knowing Korea thinks that He-Man has a secret identity, Ferrin decides to pretend that he is He-Man.

Mistaken 1
He-Man: “No need for Battle-Cat anymore!”

Shortly thereafter, Ferrin concocts a stupid plan to lend credence to his pretence. He lures He-Man into a cave, then does a very creditable impersonation of Prince Adam by commenting, “You go on ahead, I’ve, uh, got some things to do.” It’s so creditable, in fact, that I’d conclude it’s performed by the same voice actor. He then ensures that Korea sees him going into the cave. When she subsequently sees He-Man emerge, she falls for the trick.

In the meantime, Modulok – who appears to be doing time in Eternia’s top prison – escapes. He runs straight to a scientific lab and gets on Skype to Skeletor, asking to be allowed to join Skeletor’s band of incompetent fools. Skeletor rejects him on the basis of being too rubbish, which frankly is a little bit rich, considering the track record of Skeletor’s gang.

Mistaken 2
Skeletor: “We’re not recruiting at the moment, but tell you what, drop your CV in and I’ll take a look.”

Modulok wanders sadly through the forest, hoping to do something super to prove his abilities to Skeletor, but unsure what. He comes across Korea and Ferrin, and listens in as Ferrin “admits” that he is in fact He-Man. Modulok instantly captures Ferrin and carts him off to a jail cell, and then spends a considerable amount of time trying to persuade him to become He-Man.

Korea runs to the Palace and tells Adam that He-Man is in terrible trouble. Adam thinks she’s a moron, but once he’s heard the whole story, he amiably transforms into He-Man and then tells Korea that Ferrin is a lying bastard. They then troll off to rescue Ferrin, which is achieved with considerable ease. This is thanks in no small part to a really odd moment in which Modulok builds a railway and then boards a train which leads directly into a prison cell. Finally, Korea tells Ferrin that she appreciates him just the way he is, without him having to pretend to be He-Man. The whole thing ends with He-Man reviving his demented winking-at-the-camera trick, which I thought he’d abandoned long ago.

Mistaken 3
Modulok: “I suppose Skeletor’s got a point, if I am stupid enough to arrange for myself to go to jail on a train.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Adam embarks on a muddled definition of the difference between pretending and lying. Apparently, if you say you’re He-Man, it’s lying, not pretending, which must have made the school playgrounds of the 1980s full of liars.

 

Character checklist

Well, well, well, here we go again, with appearances from Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Ferrin, Korea, Teela, Orko, Modulok, Skeletor, and lots of Palace guards.

Mistaken 4
Ferrin: “For God’s sake, Korea, you’ve eaten everything, and you won’t even let me sit on the blanket.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

The first time there’s a transformation, Teela is good enough to provide a readymade excuse, telling Adam to “go for help”. Adam does so, and astoundingly manages to find He-Man. The second time is less noteworthy; there’s no one around when Adam transforms. On the third occasion, Adam tells Korea to “wait here”, and then idly ambles off.

 

Insults

Skeletor gets in a double whammy on Modulok this week, saying, “You are a wimp scientist and you could be a wimp villain.” Poor Modulok. I’d feel sorry for him, if it wasn’t for his later unpleasantness in referring to a big brown monster as a “fool”.

Mistaken 5
Modulok: “Frankly, I’m surrounded by fools.”

 

Does it have the Power?

I wouldn’t rush to recommend it, but it’s not dreadful. It seems to be supposed to be Modulok’s first episode, since it starts off with him being a scientist called Galen Nightcroft, who transforms himself into Modulok. It would be quite good, if it weren’t for the fact that we first met Modulok in Happy Birthday Roboto, about 10 episodes ago.

Otherwise, I can’t help but feel the writer was poking fun at the whole ridiculous double identity business, especially when Modulok says, “A secret identity for He-Man? I never thought of that. Can it be possible?” Korea is a cut above most of the inhabitants of Eternia, since she’s worked out that He-Man must have a secret identity, but just doesn’t know who. The main problem with Korea is that she sounds like she’s close to orgasm every time He-Man is mentioned, which is a little distracting.

 

Episode 113 – Happy Birthday Roboto

In which Roboto and Modulok make their grand entrances.

Following a strange radio signal, He-Man and Man-at-Arms come across a crashed spaceship in the desert. The pilot is still slumped over the controls, and Man-at-Arms deduces that the signal is coming directly from him. On closer investigation, they discover that the pilot is a robot. He’s a pretty cool robot too, with a long horizontal slit instead of an eye, and a see-through chest inside which cogs turn. However, he is damaged, so Man-at-Arms decides to take him back to the lab to fix him.

Roboto 1
He-Man: “This is one of your less impressive sex dolls, Man-at-Arms.”

Once the pilot is repaired, he identifies himself as Roboto, a robot from the planet Robotica. Nice and subtle, as always. Roboto expresses a desire to explore Eternia, a request which King Randor happily grants. Man-at-Arms and Adam show Roboto back into the lab, promising to start the tour of Eternia the following morning.

Unfortunately, a three-legged individual named Modulok has got wind of Roboto’s arrival, and decides to make use of him. He breaks into the lab, kidnaps Roboto, and takes him back to his lair for a speedy reprogramming job. His aim is to erase Roboto’s personality, and to use his power for nefarious purposes.

Roboto 2
Modulok: “Luckily I have other hands available.”

Once the reprogramming is complete, Modulok takes Roboto on an outing to Station Zeta, Eternia’s top research facility. Roboto breaks in, and ties up the scientists while Modulok helps himself to the various inventions. Unfortunately for him, Man-at-Arms and He-Man use their scanners to track Roboto’s radio signal, and arrive at Station Zeta as well.

Modulok starts using the machines at Station Zeta to attack He-Man, and He-Man responds by breaking all the machines. Let’s not forget these are the cutting edge of science, the latest developments from Eternia’s top minds. I’m sure they’ll be very pleased with He-Man. At least Modulok wanted to steal and use the machines, even if it was for evil. He-Man’s just a vandal.

He-Man easily incapacitates Modulok, but Roboto manages to put He-Man out of action, and imprisons him in an exciting glowing cylinder, while Man-at-Arms is tied to a chair. Roboto then frees Modulok, who begins work on a somewhat surprising project to build himself an extra head, into which he will transfer all of Man-at-Arms’ intelligence. He-Man is deeply concerned about this prospect, even though the animation at this point inexplicably makes it look like Man-at-Arms is laughing his head off.

Roboto 3
Modulok: “I’m not sure you understand the gravity of the situation, Man-at-Arms. Stop laughing.”

Speaking in the slow and careful tone he usually reserves for the village idiot, He-Man tries to persuade Roboto that Modulok’s reprogramming is a bad thing. Against all the principles of computing, he is successful, and Roboto attacks Modulok and releases He-Man. He then suffers a short-circuit, and has to be taken back to Man-at-Arms’ lab again, where he is repaired. Then the entire royal family stand around claiming that it’s Roboto’s birthday and that he looks like Man-at-Arms. Just for clarity, he looks absolutely bugger-all like Man-at-Arms, unless you’re completely off your face on hallucinogens.

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela puts in an appearance to tell us that whenever we see someone who needs helping, we shouldn’t think about it, we should just do it. She sounds extremely angry as she says this, perhaps because she’s been left out of the episode until this fairly irrelevant moment.

Roboto 4
Teela: “I had far more to offer than this stupid moral.”

 

Character checklist

The new guys on the scene are of course Roboto and Modulok, but we’re also treated to appearances from our old friends Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena and Teela, though that latter only in the moral, as noted above. There’s also a short cameo for three scientists.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

The first of today’s transformations comes with no excuse and very little in the way of provocation. The second has substantially more provocation, but still no excuse.

 

Insults

Both He-Man and Man-at-Arms refer to Modulok as a “fiend”, which is actually pretty accurate. He’s a rather scary-looking monster who seems to draw inspiration from medieval paintings of hell. Modulok’s insults are equally fitting: he calls He-Man a “muscle-brain” and Roboto a “stupid robot”, the latter of which I can definitely sympathise with.

Roboto 5
Modulok: “I do look like a fiend, so maybe if I put a different head on, I’ll look better.”

The other insults in this episode all occur in a lengthy and completely unnecessary scene in which Orko is trying to get into Man-at-Arms’ lab, and a robot lab guard is trying to stop him. The lab guard calls Orko a “pest”, and in retaliation, Orko calls it a “rust-bucket”, a “junk pile” and – unless I misheard – a “metal pus”. I suspect I did mishear.

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s another of the relatively regular action figure advert episodes, this time showcasing – in case you hadn’t guessed – Roboto and Modulok. The usual problem with such episodes is that the baddy always gets defeated with ease, and the goody is upstaged by He-Man, thus begging the question of why the viewer would want to buy either, since they’re both useless.

Happy Birthday Roboto mostly manages to avoid these pitfalls, by making Roboto actually capable of defeating He-Man (when he’s been reprogrammed), which automatically makes him relatively interesting. Modulok too comes across pretty well. As noted above, he looks really quite scary (though I must say, his voice acting doesn’t do him any favours), and he seems fairly competent – for a villain, at least.

Even so, it’s not the most enthralling of episodes, and I’d hesitate to really recommend it. But it’s not bad at all.