Episode 093 – Trouble’s Middle Name

In which Negator puts in an unexpected and unwelcome repeat appearance.

He-Man, Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms, Teela and Orko are invited to a ceremony at the Temple of the Sun. The Keepers of the Temple use the Sunstone to perform acts of charity, such as curing illnesses, but now the Sunstone’s batteries need recharging. This can only be done once a century, when the sun is in a certain position, and requires the presence of the universe’s most powerful forces of good.

Trouble
Orko: “Hmm, let’s see. A mysterious artefact, right at the beginning of the episode. No, can’t possibly be anything bad.”

En route to the Temple, our heroes come across a giant bottle in the sand. Battle-Cat is the only member of the team with an ounce of brains, suggesting that they leave it well alone, but his idiotic companions overrule him and open the bottle. This releases a Trollan who introduces himself as Prankster, and he promises to be more annoying than the average Trollan, in that he comes from a region renowned for its practical jokes. Prankster is insistent that his real name must remain secret, and Orko explains that if Prankster’s real name is revealed, he will have to return to Trolla.

Pausing only to magic up some impressive moustaches for Orko and Battle-Cat, Prankster disappears, and our heroes continue on their way to the Temple. Their departure is observed by Negator, who if I’m not mistaken, was the baddy in the less than impressive episode Game Plan. On this occasion, Negator intends to absorb the power of the Sunstone for himself and become the Most Powerful Man in the Universe (TM).

Trouble 2
Negator: “If I pose sufficiently suavely, I might get on the cover of What Spaceship? next month.”

Prankster’s tricks are irritating but ultimately benign, but Negator develops a nasty habit of taking the tricks and developing them into a much more serious form. Prankster conjures up some butterflies, which Negator turns into wolf bats. When Prankster creates some tiny insects, Negator magnifies them to dangerous proportions. Of course, Prankster gets the blame for Negator’s enhancements, though he doesn’t seem to care.

Once our heroes reach the Temple, the Keepers begin the ceremony, which appears to be no more complex than raising the Sunstone on a plinth so that it is very slightly nearer to the sun. This is evidently what Negator has been waiting for, since he now makes his move, seizing the Sunstone and using it for the unexpected purpose of doubling his size. He then erects a forcefield, which prevents He-Man from reaching him, and settles down to absorb the Sunstone’s power.

Trouble 3
Negator: “Must admit, I was expecting a bigger turnout for my gig tonight.”

Outside, Prankster is trying to come up with a super practical joke, and eventually opts to conjure up a raincloud to block out the sun. As soon as he does this, the Sunstone is unable to recharge its energy from the sun, so starts draining power out of Negator instead. As he shrinks, Negator pointlessly shoots what remains of the Sunstone’s power into the raincloud, causing an energy storm. He then shrinks so much that he disappears inside the Sunstone.

He-Man then does something incomprehensible which enables him to fly up into the energy storm, where he does something else incomprehensible to get the Sunstone’s energy back. This is all wrapped up nice and neatly and as quickly as possible, to ensure that there is enough time for Prince Adam to find out what Prankster’s real name is, and thus send him back to Trolla – notably without thanking him for his raincloud joke which, like it or not, did save the day.

Trouble 4
Prince Adam: “Prankster, this scroll has the story of Rumplestiltskin on it. You may as well start back to Trolla now.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela not unexpectedly considers that this episode taught us that practical jokes have a way of getting out of hand. Well, judging by this week’s evidence, that’s only the case if there’s some blue-skinned freak hanging round putting his own finishing touches to your jokes. Prankster is actually the hero of this episode – if he hadn’t pulled his raincloud stunt, who knows what would have happened? The moral we all learned, therefore, is that practical jokes are really useful, until someone interferes.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam makes his transformation alone, and no one seems to want to know where he is, so no excuses are needed this week.

 

Character checklist

Well, whoop whoop de loop, it’s Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Orko, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Negator, Prankster, and a variety of Temple of the Sun gentlemen in silly hats.

Trouble 5
Temple Keeper: “Got to be honest, our outfits would look a bit better if they included some trousers.”

 

Insults

There’s a moment when Orko and Teela refer to the absent Skeletor as “rotten”, but that’s all we get this time.

 

Does it have the Power?

I wouldn’t describe it as my favourite by any stretch, but it’s not offensively awful either. Prankster isn’t very interesting, but at least he never crosses the line into infuriating as I had feared he would. Similarly, Negator’s evil plot is fairly dull but serviceable. There’s very little to say about this episode one way or the other; it exists, it goes by relatively pleasantly, but doesn’t distinguish itself at all.

Episode 054 – Game Plan

In which He-Man plays a computer game.

Happy Boxing Day to you all. I hope you all had a great Christmas. As you sit there finishing off your turkey and stuffing and plum puddings and what have you, spare a thought for me, please, because I’ve had to waste my time watching Game Plan. To make matters worse, it’s not an even slightly Christmas-themed episode. I hope your hearts are bleeding for me.

Anyway, as the episode opens, Adam borrows Man-at-Arms’ new invention – a beam ray – to create a sculpture of Orko. I have no idea why he would want to do this, and clearly the writers don’t either, giving Adam only the excuse that “it’s a surprise”. Naturally, the beam ray can also be used as a weapon, and equally naturally, a loony called Negator wants to nick it.

Game Plan 1.jpg
Orko: “You look a little different from your Tinder profile pic.”

Negator is a computer games obsessive looking for a living subject to insert into his latest game. Concluding that Teela and Man-at-Arms are ideal participants, he doesn’t bother to try to actually put them in his game. Instead, he invites Man-at-Arms to work for him, and then destroys a dam for no readily apparent reason. Luckily, He-Man is on hand to stop the ensuing flood, and Negator disappears, vowing to return. I for one can’t wait.

Once back at the Palace, Negator disguises himself as a guard and knocks on Teela’s door, informing her that Prince Adam wants to meet her out in the desert, and didn’t say why. Teela, being the massive moron that she is, doesn’t think to question this, and trots off, while Negator takes time out to smirk evilly at the camera. Once Teela is safely captured, Negator contacts Man-at-Arms to repeat his employment offer, and this time, Man-at-Arms is forced to accept. He heads out to the desert to meet Negator.

game-plan-2
Man-at-Arms: “All right, Negator, I’ll work for you. But there’d better be an on-site gym and a decent pension plan.”

Quickly deducing there’s something wrong, He-Man decides to go to the desert too, taking Ram-Man with him. Once in the desert, the episode takes a momentary turn for the weird when He-Man allows himself to be eaten by a giant cloud with teeth, which whisks him off to join Teela in Negator’s hideout. Ram-Man and Battle-Cat enter the hideout via more conventional means, using an air vent, which is eminently more sensible.

Teela and Battle-Cat are quickly captured, but He-Man and Ram-Man successfully make their way to Negator’s control centre. Negator, however, finally gets to the point and inserts He-Man and Ram-Man into his computer game. The game is a hugely boring maze, which occupies our heroes for the remaining five minutes of the episode as they navigate its none-too-interesting traps.

game-plan-3
He-Man: “Ram-Man, can you see this thing too, or am I off my tits on LSD again?”

Once they find the exit to the maze, He-Man and Ram-Man emerge back into Negator’s hideout. Unsure of how to wrap the episode up, the writer opts for a slightly deranged conclusion in which He-Man blows up Negator’s computer, Negator converts himself into pink glowing energy and disappears, and Battle-Cat complains that he’s hungry. Genius.

 

In today’s adventure…

Not unexpectedly, today’s moral is all about games, and how it’s natural to want to win. I thought that this would be a sensible point about not being a sore loser, or not cheating, both of which are things that Negator did. Instead, He-Man advises us not to be so eager to win that we injure ourselves, which is a rather strange direction for this moral to take.

 

Character checklist

I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise to you to learn that this week’s offering grants us sight of Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Ram-Man and Negator. There’s also a pair of weird hooded beings, in case you’re interested.

game-plan-4
Negator: “Right, time to relax and watch Homes Under the Hammer. Oh, Christ, what’s Man-at-Arms doing on Homes Under the Hammer? Where’s the remote?”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

He-Man shows up while Adam is trapped in a tunnel, courtesy of Negator. Consequently, the excuse is readily to hand: “Don’t worry, he got out the other end of the tunnel,” He-Man explains to the credulous Teela.

 

Insults

Eager to remind us not to ram things with our heads like Ram-Man does, the writer has Battle-Cat call Ram-Man “dumb” after he rams the air vent open. Elsewhere, He-Man informs Negator that he is going to be “the big loser”, which is probably fighting talk rather than an actual insult. Meanwhile, Negator very oddly calls He-Man and Ram-Man “pigeons”, which just seems odd.

game-plan-5
He-Man: “Even if I stand around gormlessly with my mouth hanging open, I still look at least five times more intelligent than Ram-Man.”

 

Does it have the Power?

This episode is all over the shop. Inserting living participants into a computer game is an interesting idea, and one that I suspect seemed very up-to-date in 1983, but the impression I get is that the writer didn’t know how to make this concept last the full 20 minutes, thus leading to the completely gratuitous scene at the start with the dam being destroyed, and to the 10 minutes worth of messing around capturing Teela, Man-at-Arms and Battle-Cat, until eventually Negator decides to get down to business and actually play the game with He-Man and Ram-Man in it. On the one hand, I should be grateful for this, because when they are actually in the game, the episode is really dull – but on the other, it’s equally dull before the game starts. In short, this is best described as a reasonable idea put into very poor practice, and I suggest you don’t concern yourselves with it.