Episode 121 – The Magic Falls

In which Orko loses his magic, and we’re all expected to give a toss.

Today’s episode opens on Eternia Day, a day of special celebration on which King Randor invites the needy amongst his people into the Palace and does whatever he can do to help them. At Snake Mountain, Skeletor and Evil-Lyn hatch a diabolical plot to steal the Sceptre of Power, an artefact of immense power which is wielded by Randor only on Eternia Day. Evil-Lyn uses her magic to disguise Kobra Khan as a needy citizen of Eternia, and off he pops to the Palace.

Magic Falls 1
King Randor: “Tell me honestly, Adam, is this sceptre a bit tacky?”

This is all well and good and pretty much in line with every other plan Skeletor and Evil-Lyn have ever come up with, but it suddenly varies from the norm when Evil-Lyn claims that Orko will probably be able to see through the disguise. This is despite the fact that Orko has been completely oblivious every single other time one of Skeletor’s cronies has disguised themselves to come into the Palace. This lapse in logic notwithstanding, Skeletor and Evil-Lyn ambush Orko out in the forest, and remove his magic powers.

Magic Falls 2
Skeletor: “We’ve been waiting here hours, Evil-Lyn. Are you sure this is a bus stop?”

Man-at-Arms gleefully claims that he can’t do anything to restore Orko’s powers, but Orko himself suggests that they visit a legendary magic waterfall, the gateway to which is somewhere beneath the surface of Eternia. That’s pretty vague, though Adam optimistically claims it’ll only take a few hours to find. He turns into He-Man, and takes Orko on an expedition to find the falls.

They very quickly find a magic door, which refuses to let them in until they say “please”. Orko manages this simple feat, but He-Man instead succumbs to a fit of temper and tries to wrest the door off its hinges. He is consequently denied entry, and so turns back into Adam to get round the “no He-Man” rule. Once inside, he smugly transforms into He-Man again, flicking Vs at the door as he does so.

Magic Falls 3
He-Man: “Whoa, that was some party last night. Now, where am I?”

The two of them navigate a number of stupid hazards in the caves, eventually meeting a loopy old man who identifies himself as the Gatekeeper. He’s really annoying, so we won’t dwell on him too much, but suffice it to say that he transports He-Man and Orko (after a great deal of time wasting) into another dimension, where they find the magic waterfall. Orko submerges himself in its waters, sadly doesn’t drown in the process, and gets his magic back.

In the meantime, Kobra Khan has assumed his disguise, and barged his way to the front of the queue of the needy people of Eternia. The Eternia Day ceremony begins, and Kobra Khan is just about to do something nefarious, when Orko arrives and immediately unmasks the villain. The episode ends with Kobra Khan being sent off to the tender mercies of the Gatekeeper, which I think is a far worse fate than he deserves.

Magic Falls 4
Kobra Khan: “Let’s not overreact, Orko.”


In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms and Orko conclude that they learned all about cooperation today. This is largely due to a very short scene in which Adam and Orko had to work together to defeat some tentacles. We’ve had this lesson eight billion times before, so it doesn’t really seem necessary. My pick for moral would have been the importance of persistence: there was a point in the episode when Orko despaired of ever getting his magic back, and had to be persuaded not to give up. I don’t recall that theme ever being discussed in the morals before.


Character checklist

A nice wide-ranging cast today brings us Prince Adam, He-Man, Orko, Man-at-Arms, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Kobra Khan, Beast-Man, Trapjaw, the Gatekeeper, and some random unnamed Eternian citizens.

Magic Falls 5
He-Man: “Gotta say, I’m not a massive fan of this latest addition to the National Portrait Gallery.”


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Despite two transformations, we aren’t lucky enough to get an excuse for either.



It’s fairly thin on the ground today, the only offerings being “cowards” from Kobra Khan to Beast-Man and Trapjaw, and a gratuitous “meddling fool” from Skeletor in reference to Orko.


Egg on your face?

I didn’t think we’d get anything in this category, but suddenly – in the moral segment, no less – we were treated to the familiar and hilarious sight of Orko accidentally throwing an egg into Man-at-Arms’ face. It was no more and no less amusing than usual.

Magic Falls 6
Orko: “Laugh, go on. You know it’s funny.”


Does it have the Power?

It must have been getting very difficult for the writers at this stage in the series. After 120 episodes of He-Man, they were clearly running out of possible storylines, and were forced to borrow from everything that had gone before. This one helps itself liberally to Orko’s Missing Magic and The Shaping Staff, and I’m pretty confident we’ve had one previously that contained a concept similar to the Gatekeeper as well. This repetition is understandable, but it does give episodes such as The Magic Falls an air of tiredness. It’s perhaps unfair, but if this episode had come a lot earlier in the show’s run, it would have been much more enjoyable. As it is, it’s fine, but not a must-see.


Episode 118 – Orko’s Return

In which Beast-Man and Trapjaw make the elementary mistake of kidnapping Orko.

Well, it’s nice to know that Orko will be making a return, after his really, really long absence. This episode starts out in the wilderness, where Trapjaw and Beast-Man, somewhat surprisingly, are planting some crops. This is no ordinary plant, however – it grows within seconds into an enormous orange crystal mountain. Beast-Man mysteriously claims that it will show King Randor who’s boss, which might be true if King Randor is interested in a bollock-kicking contest over who’s got the biggest orange mountain. I suspect he isn’t.

Return 1
Trapjaw: “Beast-Man, you’ve been shopping at Claire’s Accessories again, right?”

The next scene shows Orko in the Palace, performing magic tricks which are actually working for once. The assembled crowd are amazed at this display of competence, especially Prince Adam, who is for some reason animated with his jaw hanging open like a first-class moron. The animators have also seen fit to give him a quite stunning hunchback. When Orko disappears, the court assumes it’s part of his magic show – but in reality, he has been magicked away by Beast-Man and Trapjaw.

Beast-Man and Trapjaw instantly send a message to King Randor, demanding to be addressed in future as Mr Beast-Man and Mr Trapjaw. They’ve evidently been watching Reservoir Dogs again. Randor isn’t at all interested, until these two clowns reveal that they’ve kidnapped Orko, at which point Randor becomes only marginally more interested. Beast-Man demands all the photanium in Eternia in exchange for Orko’s release, but Teela points out that this would leave the Palace defenceless, as if she thinks this isn’t Beast-Man’s intention. In any case, Teela seems to think that photanium is more useful than He-Man in terms of defending the Palace.

Return 2
King Randor: “Not a massive fan of this new bubble mixture.”

Beast-Man then uses an amulet called the Amber Crystal of Mallarka on Orko, locking his magic so he can only use it for the express purposes defined by Beast-Man and Trapjaw. This is an outstandingly bad idea, since Orko develops a “hilarious” habit of wilfully misinterpreting said express purposes, and the rest of the episode is filled with intermittent scenes of Orko’s magic doing increasingly stupid things to Beast-Man and Trapjaw.

He-Man and Man-at-Arms soon find the orange mountain, where Beast-Man shoots a volley of energy bolts at them, and then treats them to a huge holographic projection of his face, welcoming them to the Amber Fortress. He then proceeds to laugh like a complete lunatic, while He-Man and Man-at-Arms decide to pop off to Castle Grayskull to ask advice. The Sorceress reveals that the Amber Crystal was created in ancient times by an insectoid race called the Polteeth, so He-Man’s next move is to visit them.

Return 3
He-Man: “This episode is like Pol-ing-teeth. Geddit? Oh fine, suit yourselves.”

The Sorceress had said that the Polteeth are now peaceful, but when He-Man and Man-at-Arms arrive, the Polteeth surround them, point spears, and take them captive. He-Man glances at Man-at-Arms, as if to say, “Thanks for the up-to-date intel, Sorceress.” Refusing to help our heroes, the Polteeth queen orders them off her territory. With suspiciously convenient timing, He-Man then rescues one of the Polteeth from falling off a cliff, and the queen changes her mind and agrees to help. I wouldn’t mind betting He-Man engineered the whole cliff danger business.

Using an Amulet Nullifier given to him by the Polteeth queen, He-Man returns to the Amber Fortress and successfully gets inside. He finds the Amber Crystal and destroys it, which makes the entire fortress disappear. He also discovers that Orko has irritated Beast-Man and Trapjaw so extensively that they are only too pleased to hand him over. This makes He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Orko laugh as if they’re demented.

Return 4
He-Man: “I haven’t laughed this much since I watched On The Buses last week.”


In today’s adventure…

The moral today would appear to be that if you get taken hostage, you should make every effort to infuriate your captors. This seems a trifle unwise. Instead, Orko shows up to suggest that we shouldn’t play tricks on our friends, because people might get hurt. This pearl of wisdom is followed by a repeat performance of that animation of Adam with his mouth hanging open. I don’t know why.


Character checklist

This one’s got a pretty standard cast list – Prince Adam, He-Man, Orko, Man-at-Arms, Teela, the Sorceress, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Beast-Man and Trapjaw. The only characters out of the ordinary are the multitudes of Polteeth.


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

It’s getting very tedious to report, but once again, Adam doesn’t give an excuse because the only person present at transformation time is Man-at-Arms.



Orko calls Beast-Man a “fuzzball”, and Beast-Man tells He-Man and Man-at-Arms that they are “fools”. Not terribly exciting, really.

Return 5
Beast-Man: “Got a killer three-piece suite at DFS this weekend.”


Does it have the Power?

I may be getting a bit jaded, but despite there being nothing much wrong with it, this episode doesn’t really seem like a winner, aside from the delightfully mental Mr Beast-Man and Mr Trapjaw business. At this point in the series, it’s getting a bit tedious to see the kidnap and ransom plot wheeled out yet again. In case you haven’t detected it, I’ve never been a fan of Orko’s persistent stupid magic tricks, and so watching him playing silly jokes on Beast-Man and Trapjaw for most of the episode wasn’t a lot of fun. The business with the Polteeth seemed like time-wasting too. As I say, there’s nothing terrible about the episode, but neither is it all that exciting. It’s probably worth a watch, but don’t look forward to it or anything.

Episode 117 – Beauty and the Beast

In which we witness a fairly pointless retelling of a certain fairytale.

This week, we find Prince Adam, Teela, Orko and Sy-Klone listening to an old man telling the story of Beauty and the Beast. Just as he finishes, a squadron of Skeletor’s robot fighter ships arrives, followed by Skeletor himself. Not surprisingly, He-Man very quickly appears, and he and Sy-Klone dispose of a vast quantity of robots while making stupid quips.

Beauty 1
Prince Adam: “Teela may be the beauty, but which of us is the beast?”

While He-Man is thus occupied, Skeletor nips into the Palace and kidnaps Teela and Orko. He freezes them, seals them into two coffin-like pods, and blasts them off to an undisclosed location. He then crows that in order to get them back, Randor will have to negotiate. Skeletor seems to be overlooking the fact that Randor probably doesn’t particularly want them back. I certainly don’t.

The pods land in a room containing a table piled high with food, mostly croissants, presumably because they are easy to animate. Teela and Orko unfreeze and emerge from the pods, and instantly help themselves to the feast. They are interrupted by a huge dude with bat-wings instead of ears, who mumbles something about being the Monster of Morigor. He’s very indistinct and difficult to understand, but I think we can safely assume that this guy is the Beast and Teela is Beauty.

Beauty 2
The Monster: “Can I interest you people in some of these fine wares?”

After demolishing a ridiculously huge pile of robot fighter ships, He-Man finally realises that he’s being distracted, and zooms off to find Teela and Orko are missing. He sets off to Snake Mountain, where he has a little discussion with Skeletor – or rather, a holographic projection of Skeletor, who has presumably got fed up of being defeated in person. Skeletor offers to return Teela and Orko in return for the entire kingdom of Eternia, terms which He-Man rejects as being a bit silly.

He-Man then heads to Castle Grayskull to ask the Sorceress where Teela and Orko are. For no particular reason, he decides to change back into Adam before he does so; I suspect this is purely so he can kill thirty seconds later in the episode when he turns back into He-Man. The Sorceress informs Adam that Teela and Orko are being held by the Monster of Morigor, and issues some dire but boring warnings about how dangerous the road to the Monster’s castle is.

Beauty 3
The Sorceress: “Just thought you’d appreciate a brief scene of time-wasting.”

Sure enough, Adam turns back into He-Man, and sets off to Morigor. Observing him on the spyglobe, Skeletor gets in touch with the Monster to warn him of He-Man’s impending arrival. During the course of this conversation, it emerges that Skeletor is responsible for the Monster’s beastly appearance, and that he has threatened to put the same curse on all the people of Morigor if the Monster refuses to serve him.

When He-Man arrives, the Monster unleashes a really big, really boring robot, which naturally does not slow He-Man down for more than a second. He-Man then happily occupies himself running through a stupid maze, while the Monster discusses the situation with Teela, apologising for his behaviour but claiming he has no choice and blaming his ugly appearance.

Beauty 5
Teela: “I’m not sure which person in this room has the worst fashion sense. But for once, it’s not me.”

Teela persuades him that his appearance doesn’t matter, and that ugly actions are worse than an ugly face. When Skeletor shows up to oversee matters, the Monster refuses to obey him, which is great but Skeletor doesn’t really seem to care. He-Man then arrives and waves his sword around for a bit until Skeletor and his minions run away. Finally, Teela kisses the Monster – fairly chastely, since she knows He-Man’s looking on – and he recovers his former, allegedly handsome, appearance. His handsome appearance is not entirely dissimilar to that of a 1970s Blue Peter presenter, so it’s not that appealing.


In today’s adventure…

The moral is nicely integrated into the story for a change; instead of directly addressing the viewer in the usual patronising manner, we get a little bonus scene in which He-Man, Teela and the former Monster discuss the beauty and ugliness of actions. As they do so, the Monster grins as if he’s demonically possessed. It’s a smile that will haunt my dreams.

Beauty 6
The Monster: “I’m not sure exactly why I’m smiling like a sexual predator.”


Character checklist

This episode offers a nice day out for Prince Adam, He-Man, Cringer, Battle-Cat, Teela, Orko, Sy-Klone, the Sorceress, the Monster, the storyteller, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Beast-Man, Whiplash, and a few of the Monster’s mates.


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

In the first scene, when the robots attack, Adam gets Teela out of the way by saying to her, “You’d better check the perimeter.” While Teela does run off to do just that, Sy-Klone and – more importantly – Skeletor are still there to witness Adam transforming into He-Man in the middle of the courtyard.

As noted above, there’s a bizarre moment in the middle of the episode in which He-Man turns back into Adam for a visit to Grayskull, then back into He-Man again. There’s no reason for this, and we don’t get a second excuse.



All quiet on the Western Front today, with Skeletor offering only “fool” to Whiplash, and a collective “fools” to encompass Evil-Lyn, Beast-Man and Whiplash.

Beauty 7
Skeletor: “Selfie!”


Does it have the Power?

All in all, it’s a pretty average affair, being noteworthy for nothing particularly good or bad. Skeletor’s plan was uninspired this week; though he managed to cause a great deal of havoc with his hundreds of robot fighter ships, the best he could subsequently manage was kidnapping Teela and Orko, which he’s done billions of times before. His decision to then put them in the guard of one of his least committed servants was bordering on idiotic.

He-Man didn’t do much better, limiting himself this week to blowing up robots and finding his way through tedious mazes while Teela got on with the actual plot. I didn’t really care about the Monster, partly because I couldn’t understand a word he said, and partly because I knew exactly where the story was going from the moment the storyteller at the beginning of the episode related Beauty and the Beast.

Beauty 4
Teela: “He-Man, I’ve got to say, you look a little bit special.”

This episode won’t win any converts to He-Man, but I suppose it’s a relatively pleasant way to pass 20 minutes. That’s the best I can say, I’m afraid.

Episode 114 – Battle of the Dragons

In which a war between dragons is somehow boring.

This week, we are introduced to a very evil-looking dragon called Morningstar, who has hatched a plan to rule Eternia. This plan hinges on the acquisition of the Ice Crystal, which will allow Morningstar to put out the fire from which Granamyr draws his powers, after which he plans to depose Granamyr and start a war with the humans.

With the Crystal in his possession, Morningstar heads straight for Darksmoke and uses it to put out Granamyr’s fire. When Granamyr kicks off about it, Morningstar claims that the fire was extinguished by humans. It’s unfortunate, therefore, that He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Orko are even now arriving for a visit to Darksmoke to celebrate the anniversary of the treaty between dragons and humans. Overriding Granamyr’s concerns, Morningstar sends a squadron of dragons who force the Wind Raider to crash land.

Battle 1
He-Man: “Typical Easyjet.”

Morningstar persuades most of the dragons to prepare for war, but Granamyr refuses to join them. When He-Man’s party finally arrives at Darksmoke, Granamyr fills them in on the situation. Though he believes Morningstar that some humans put out his fire, he does not wish for war over it – but without his magic, he cannot prevent the other dragons. He then casually mentions that his fire can only be re-lit with flames from the Pit of Shadows, in the same sort of fashion that a child might just happen to mention they’d like a new bike or something in the run-up to Christmas.

Of all people, it’s Orko who picks up on this subtle hint, and promises to retrieve the flames for Granamyr. Of course, he’s accompanied by He-Man and Man-at-Arms, and the three of them manage to get hold of some of the flames with no trouble. They return to Granamyr and relight his fire, after which Granamyr persuades the majority of the dragons to call off their attacks on human villages.

Battle 2
Man-at-Arms: “Pretty sure Take That did a song based on the plot to this episode.”

Naturally, Morningstar doesn’t listen to Granamyr, and so the two of them breathe fire at each other for a while. Granamyr wins, as you may well have predicted, then shows mercy, and there’s time enough for a return visit to Darksmoke and a less-than-amusing joke to finish the episode. Despite it not being at all funny, we are treated to at least 30 seconds’ worth of Man-at-Arms, He-Man and Granamyr laughing like hysterical hyenas.


In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms draws inspiration from Granamyr and Morningstar’s fire-breathing competition, at the end of which Granamyr did not press the matter further. Man-at-Arms tells us that winning is no excuse for bad manners, and reminds us that being a good winner is as important as being a good loser. It’s tempting to say Man-at-Arms is a loser, but he’s too easy a target, so I won’t.


Character checklist

It’s not big on the regulars, limiting itself to Prince Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Orko, but it makes up for that with a reasonably hefty guest cast, consisting of Granamyr, Morningstar, a dude called Targon, and a whole load of dragons and some human villagers.

Battle 3
Granamyr: “Orko, you can either get off my head voluntarily or as a result of some serious violence.”


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s transformation

As usual these days, Adam transforms with only Man-at-Arms around, and thus doesn’t bother with the tired excuses.



It’s the first time in quite a while, but no one insults anyone else today. Unless of course I missed it, because this episode was pretty boring and I wouldn’t mind betting I zoned out quite often while it was on.

Battle 4
Morningstar: “Check out my new bling.”


Does it have the Power?

This is a disappointing episode, all the more so because I have really enjoyed the other three episodes involving Granamyr, so I was rather looking forward to this one. It’s all the more tragic given this is most likely Granamyr’s last appearance (there’s only 16 episodes left, folks, and it’s unlikely he’ll be showing up again), so it’s a shame he goes out on a damp squib.

I understand what they were aiming at with this episode, but it all came across as quite stunningly mediocre. There was never a sense of threat or peril, and frankly Orko got far too much screen time, while He-Man and Man-at-Arms seemed to be sleepwalking through the story and didn’t really do anything. I somehow just didn’t care about Morningstar and his plot, and Granamyr seemed far too vulnerable as compared to his previous appearances.

There were two points I really liked though, one at the start and one at the end. We first meet Morningstar when he’s talking to a dude named Targon, who has brought him the Ice Crystal. This scene is cleverly constructed, giving Targon his own motivations and schemes (he’s plainly intending to double-cross Morningstar at some point), to the extent that the viewer thinks Targon is the episode’s main baddy. Then Morningstar simply freezes him with the Ice Crystal, and we never see him again! It’s a great subversion of the viewer’s expectations.

Battle 5
Targon: “I’m suddenly a bit concerned about my long-term prospects.”

The other moment comes at the end of the episode, just as Granamyr and He-Man are wrapping things up at Darksmoke. Over the course of the episode, the dragons have destroyed a human village. Normally, in this cartoon, we’d see the villagers standing round laughing their heads off at the end of the episode, forgetting the fact that they now have no homes. Here, Granamyr actually promises to rebuild the village. It’s a very nice touch of realism rarely seen in He-Man World.

These two immensely positive points, however, don’t really redeem the dull 18 minutes that they bookend. If I were you, I’d ignore this episode and pretend that Granamyr’s story finished with Disappearing Dragons.

Episode 110 – The Problem with Power

In which King Randor reveals that he thinks Skeletor is subtle.

This magnum opus begins at Snake Mountain, where General Tataran (last seen in the Star Trek rip-off The Arena) has popped by in response to Skeletor’s invitation. Skeletor has a cunning plan to defeat He-Man, which requires the presence of Tataran because as a goblin, he literally doesn’t have a heart – and thus, he doesn’t have a heartbeat. This seems very important to Skeletor, who declares that with this advantage, he can arrange for He-Man to defeat himself.

Problem 1
Skeletor: “Whassat, pal? Startin’ trouble?”

Shortly thereafter, word reaches the Palace that Skeletor has enslaved a village by the Crystal Sea and is forcing the inhabitants to build a giant construction. King Randor is worried, claiming that “it’s not like Skeletor to be so obvious in his actions.” Who the hell are you kidding, Randor? Skeletor is the very definition of obvious. His picture is next to the word ‘obvious’ in the OED. Despite his new-found and demented belief in Skeletor’s grasp of subtleties, Randor sends Adam, Man-at-Arms and Orko to investigate.

Arriving to find that Skeletor’s new structure is an enormous dimensional gate, Adam notices that one of the support beams looks weak, and opts to transform into He-Man – presumably in order to offer his services to Skeletor as a skilled construction worker. While He-Man is transforming, Skeletor occupies himself in disguising General Tataran as a human worker, equipping him with a forcefield to protect him from harm, and instructing him to stand near the weak support beam.

Problem 2
Skeletor: “Oh, is that the time? Got to dash, I’m late for my lunch date with Evil-Lyn.”

He-Man approaches Skeletor and trades the usual pleasantries, until Skeletor shoots at Orko, thus provoking He-Man into attacking. Skeletor dodges round the weak support, dishing out taunts mercilessly until He-Man punches the support beam in frustration. The disguised Tataran activates his protective forcefield and allows himself to be crushed by a huge falling rock.

He-Man unearths Tataran and checks for a heartbeat, but of course cannot find one, and concludes that he is dead. Skeletor – now disguised as another villager – claims that Tataran was his brother, and denounces He-Man as an irresponsible killer. The rest of the villagers join in, and turn their backs on He-Man, who walks sadly away.

Problem 3
He-Man: “This situation is actually a bit more serious than a facepalm, but there we go.”

Orko tries to persuade He-Man that it was an accident and that such things happen. He-Man, however, is utterly devastated: he believes that because he acted unthinkingly, a man has died. This is a violation of a promise he made when he first became He-Man: to do the right thing and to protect the innocent. He sends Orko away, and mooches off to Castle Grayskull, where he stands on the topmost tower and concludes that, having broken his promise, he is unworthy of wielding his power. He draws the power sword, turns back into Prince Adam, and drops the sword into the abyss surrounding the castle.

Problem 4
He-Man: “Every other piece of work about this episode includes this picture, so who am I to argue with tradition?”

Some time goes by – exactly how much is unclear – and word reaches the Palace that Skeletor has rebuilt the dimensional gate, big enough to bring an army of goblins through. Randor suggests calling on He-Man for help, but Man-at-Arms explains that He-Man is not available. An all-out assault by the Palace Guard is ruled out, in favour of Teela going on a stealth suicide mission with a mesotronic bomb to destroy the gate. As he watches his friend go, Adam realises the full ramifications of his rejection of He-Man’s power.

Meanwhile, Orko has discovered the truth about Skeletor’s deception, but on his way to inform He-Man, he is captured and taken to Snake Mountain. Finally escaping, he returns to the Palace and tells Adam. Adam flies straight to Grayskull, retrieves the sword from the abyss, makes his transformation and finds time for a barney with a giant spider. He then heads to the dimensional gate, arriving just in time to save Teela from the mesotronic bomb blast, and then carry her off into the sunset.

Problem 5
He-Man: “I have definitely earned this dramatic end of the episode.”


In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms thinks that the most relevant take-home from today’s adventure is that we should always wear a seatbelt when we’re in a car, and we should never play with matches because we might destroy our toys, our home, our family and ourselves. Really and truly? After this downright excellent episode teaching us the importance of using power responsibly, the writers felt that wittering on about seatbelts and matches was the point to hammer in? I despair sometimes.


Character checklist

The stars of today’s outing are Prince Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, the Sorceress, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Skeletor, General Tataran, Trapjaw, some other goblins, a load of villagers, and a giant spider.

Problem 6
Trapjaw: “Hey, Skeletor, check this guy’s funky dance moves.”


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

On the first occasion, Adam evidently feels that because only Man-at-Arms and Orko are in immediate proximity to him, he doesn’t need to offer an excuse. He seems to be overlooking the fact that he makes his transformation while standing on a ridge in full view of the entire village and – more importantly – Skeletor. Even so, he gets away with it.

On the second occasion, Adam is alone in the abyss with the giant spider, so I think we’ll forgive him for not offering an excuse in this scenario.



Not only is this a fantastic episode for its story and its message, it’s also brilliant if you hate Orko’s guts and want to see Skeletor ripping him to shreds with such cutting remarks as “little vermin”, “worthless wizard” and “foolish Orko”. He also finds time to call He-Man a “fool”, all the goblins “cowards”, and sneeringly address Man-at-Arms as “tin-hat”, while positioning his clawed blue hand in the campest possible pose.

Despite only appearing in one scene, Trapjaw manages to antagonise General Tataran to the extent that he is addressed as a “walking can-opener” and described as “not too bright”. Skeletor himself is the recipient of a number of unkind comments, including “evil creep” from Orko and the slightly odder “evil face” from Teela. Orko also says that Skeletor is “silly-looking”. Advice to cartoon producers: it’s best not to draw attention to this sort of thing.

Problem 7
Skeletor: “Silly-looking? Takes one to know one, Orko.”


Does it have the Power?

I’m not sure if it’s possible to be intimidated by a He-Man episode, especially if you’re 34 years old and reasonably sane, as I consider myself to be. Nonetheless, if such intimidation were possible, it’s definitely how I felt as I approached this episode. It has a staggeringly high regard among the dedicated fans of the show, and if that weren’t enough, it’s the only episode of the original Filmation He-Man series that I’d never seen before. High stakes indeed.

I’m happy to report that it’s absolutely superb, aside from the very minor quibble about the completely off-topic moral. This is the sort of story that could only be produced in the 80s, with a hero who is so completely heroic. Most fictional characters now have greater shades of grey, and heroes have dark sides. A modern day He-Man would probably have considered Tataran’s death to be an acceptable loss; he’d have felt bad, but wouldn’t have been so completely destroyed as He-Man is in this episode. It’s interesting that a story with such a moral quandary actually only works with a hero who is so black-and-white.

Problem 8
Prince Adam: “This is more of a double-facepalm situation. That seems about proportionate.”

So here we have He-Man being provoked into angry destructive rage, and – to all intents and purposes – killing someone. (The fact that he actually didn’t is, I think, immaterial – it’s eminently plausible that he could have, and in fact, apparently early versions of the script specified that he did.) Was He-Man’s response proportionate? He considers himself a failure for having caused one death – but in rejecting his powers, he was likely to cause many more. It’s actually a He-Man episode for which you can debate morality, and presents the conundrum remarkably well.

I genuinely wonder what I would have thought of this if I’d seen it as a child. As an adult, all I can say is that this has to be the best episode of He-Man ever produced. Incredible stuff.

Episode 109 – Orko’s New Friend

In which we meet another of Orko’s nice friends, which as usual is a real treat.

The episode gets off to a very unpromising start, with Adam, Teela and Orko waiting in the Palace courtyard to greet Squanch, who is an old friend of Orko’s from Trolla. Orko warns Adam and Teela that Squanch has an “active imagination”, which is duly interpreted as “a compulsive liar”. Sure enough, Squanch embarks on a blatantly fictitious story – but is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of the Intergalactic Police.

I had hoped that the Intergalactic Police might arrest Squanch (and possibly Orko too, if it’s a really good day), but sadly, they’re only there to deliver a warning to Prince Adam: two criminals called the Slavemaster and the Jawbreaker have been tracked to Eternia. They proceed to give a detailed description of what these two lowlifes do, but since it’s fairly evident from their names, I shan’t bore you by spelling it out.

New Friend 1
Policeman: “The only reason I haven’t arrested you yet, Orko, is because I can’t bear the thought of having to take you away in my spaceship.”

Adam and Teela pop off to tell King Randor about the Slavemaster and the Jawbreaker, while Orko and Squanch have an argument about Squanch’s perpetual lies. They patch things up, however, when they discover the Slavemaster’s ship parked in the forest. Unbelievably, they decide to try to capture the Slavemaster themselves, rather than fetching He-Man, which all too quickly results in Orko’s capture.

Squanch escapes and flies straight back to the Palace, but Adam, Teela and Man-at-Arms don’t believe his story. They are eventually persuaded to check, but when Squanch leads them back to the forest, the Slavemaster’s ship is gone. Adam and Teela are just gearing up to savage Squanch with some barbed remarks about lying, but Man-at-Arms discovers some evidence that Squanch is telling the truth.

Reasoning that the Slavemaster will want to capture powerful slaves, Man-at-Arms arranges a fairground show at which He-Man is the prize exhibit. He-Man demonstrates his strength to the awed crowd by lifting an enormous pair of concrete weights, over which Teela has artfully draped herself. By showing off thus, He-Man and Man-at-Arms hope to lure the Slavemaster into attempting to capture He-Man, and even if it doesn’t work, it’s certainly given the moronic inhabitants of Eternia a nice day out. It also helps to fill some time in this episode, which is proving quite devoid of substance.

New Friend 2
Teela: “He-Man’s out picking up women again.”

The Jawbreaker shows up at the fair and He-Man allows himself to be captured. He is taken down to the Slavemaster’s mines, where he joins Orko and a variety of other interestingly-animated slaves (an elephant wearing a nappy, in particular, drew my attention). Once there, He-Man runs riot and frees all the slaves, then captures the Slavemaster and the Jawbreaker, and they are despatched to their home planet to stand trial.

New Friend 3
Elephant: “I have escaped from a website catering to people with a very specialist interest.”

Finally, Squanch has a heart-to-heart with all of our heroes about his lying addiction, and admits that he just wants everyone to like him. I wish, just for once, He-Man would say, “Well, no chance of that, you div,” and stalk off. But no, as usual, He-Man reassures him that everyone does like him, just for being himself. He-Man is wrong. I can think of one person who actively despises Squanch.


In today’s adventure…

Orko reminds us that this episode has been a rubbish version of the Boy Who Cried Wolf, in case any of the stupider viewers hadn’t grasped the subtle complexities in the story. What did surprise me was the curious reluctance of the writers to use the word “lie”; Squanch is always “telling stories”, except right at the end when he admits he’s been “lying”. I assume the writers felt that it would emphasise the difference between stories and lies, but all it did was make me wonder why they were going to such lengths to dance around the word “lie”.


Character checklist

This claptrap subjects us to outings for Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Orko, Teela, Man-at-Arms, the Sorceress, Squanch, the Slavemaster, the Jawbreaker, the Intergalactic Police, and loads of background characters including the other slaves and some general inhabitants of Eternia.

New Friend 4
Slavemaster: “Remind me again, what’s the point of this episode?”


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

We don’t even see Adam transform into He-Man today; he’s there in one scene and then it’s He-Man in the next. The best excuse we get is Adam’s musing comment, “This might be a job for He-Man.”



The Slavemaster kicks things off by calling his slaves collectively “fools”, a theme on which the Jawbreaker elaborates by calling Man-at-Arms an “old fool”. He-Man gets involved by referring to the Jawbreaker as a “metal-brain”, and the Jawbreaker retaliates with the unusual “flesh-face”. I’m pretty sure we’ve heard this odd turn of phrase before, but I can’t remember where and I certainly can’t be bothered to look it up.

New Friend 5
Squanch: “Here’s another insult: I’m a complete waste of space.”


Does it have the Power?

There are numerous things wrong with this episode:

  1. The title. Orko doesn’t have a new friend at all. He’s got an old friend. Both would be equally annoying, but they might as well have been accurate.
  2. The Jawbreaker. His dialogue makes him sound thick as bricks (“Right you are, boss – huh huh huh,” he says, in one memorable sequence), and his voice is a really odd and distracting blend of He-Man and Beast-Man’s usual voices.
  3. Everything else. God, it was rubbish.

Episode 107 – The Gambler

In which He-Man prevents Eternia’s version of Chernobyl.

At a fair arranged by the Widgets to celebrate the opening of their new corodite reactor, Adam, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko and a Widget named Smudge meet a conjuror called Melbrag. I like to think that this is the stage name of the esteemed South Bank Show presenter Melvin Bragg, but I may be some distance off the mark here. Anyway, Smudge wins a small diamond from Melbrag, after which Teela lets slip that Smudge is the chief guard of the corodite reactor. This is information in which Melbrag seems a little too interested, not that our moronic heroes notice.

Gambler 1
Man-at-Arms: “God, the budget for Glastonbury has really plummetted.”

This pleasant scene comes to an abrupt halt when Man-at-Arms reveals that some of the corodite in the mine has been contaminated with selenium. He-Man sounds just a bit impatient when he says, “But what does that mean?” He seems quite keen to get to the bit where he can hit someone, and he doesn’t think he’ll get there by talking about contaminated rocks. Man-at-Arms explains that the corodite is now useless, and He-Man suggests dumping it somewhere safe. You know, like nuclear waste disposal.

Smudge has been hanging out with Melbrag, gambling for bigger and bigger stakes. He has won a huge pile of diamonds, after which Melbrag puts up his Wind Raider as a stake, and requests that Smudge bet some corodite against it. Despite his misgivings, Smudge agrees on the basis that he’s thus far won every time. Can you say “set-up”? Smudge can’t. To my distinct lack of surprise, Smudge loses, and Melbrag takes a fairly modest lump of corodite.

Gambler 2
Melbrag: “I may have a stupid outfit, but at least I have a better dress sense than Prince Adam.”

To replace the corodite taken by Melbrag, Smudge nips into the mine, takes a lump of the selenium-soiled corodite and puts it in the reactor. Rather surprisingly, he then immediately confesses to He-Man that he’s given some corodite to Melbrag, and He-Man heads off, eagerly anticipating the moment he can smash Melbrag’s face in.

He-Man and Smudge find Melbrag leaning casually against his ship. He reveals that he is intending to sell the corodite to Skeletor, and traps the pair of them in a forcefield while he trots off to seal the deal. Skeletor doesn’t show up in person: he sends his new sidekick Spikor to get the corodite. However, Spikor disappears from the episode as quickly and inauspiciously as he entered it when He-Man punches his vehicle.

Gambler 3
He-Man: “Oh, hello, Spikor. Did you know you’re the most irritating of Skeletor’s team, bar none?”

It’s at about this point that Smudge tells He-Man about the contaminated corodite that he’s put in the reactor, a revelation that doesn’t please He-Man one bit. Nonetheless, he still takes time out to vandalise Melbrag’s ship before heading back to the reactor, which is perhaps why he isn’t in time to stop King Randor flicking the switch to turn the reactor on. The reactor starts to explode, so He-Man lifts the entire thing up and throws it into space. Everybody cheers, and while I agree it’s good that there was no explosion, no one seems too upset that this new reactor – the pride of Eternia – has been destroyed. In particular, I’d expect Man-at-Arms, who’s spent some time inventing the thing, to be a bit upset.

Gambler 4
Man-at-Arms: “Er, He-Man, what’s wrong with your face?”


In today’s adventure…

Adam tells us about the need to respect other people’s property, like Smudge didn’t when he gambled with the corodite. Adam’s advice essentially boils down to “don’t nick things”, but he doesn’t seem to want to come right out and use any of the relevant words, like “steal”, “thief”, “burglar”, “petty larceny” or “kleptomania”.

Other interesting morals which could have been used for this episode include the predictable “don’t get into gambling, because it’s hard to stop” and the rather more surprising “you have to dispose of contaminated nuclear material safely”.


Character checklist

This exciting excursion to Eternia features Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, King Randor, Smudge, Melbrag and Spikor. Melbrag also has a pair of guards, whose names either weren’t mentioned or weren’t sufficiently interesting for me to pay attention. And, of course, there’s loads of Widgets, but the less said about them, the better.

Gambler 5
He-Man: “As you know, I generally abhor violence, but a crowd of numpties like this is pushing me to my limits.”


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam is disinclined to explain himself today. There’s a brief return to the theme of King Randor being irritated that Adam is missing though, which is always nice to see.



The episode goes a long way before starting on insults, and even when it gets going, they’re not all that good. Smudge is called a “silly Widget” by Melbrag, and a “shrimp” by one of Melbrag’s guards. Smudge retaliates by calling Melbrag’s guards “small and foolish”, while Melbrag is a little more vicious with them by calling them “bunglers” and “fools”. And finally, Smudge dishes out an insult which would have made me cry when I was little: he says to Melbrag, “You’re a really bad person.” Ouch.


Egg on your face?

In an early trick performed by Melbrag, Orko recommends that Man-at-Arms takes the sphere on the right. Foolishly heeding this advice, Man-at-Arms does so and receives a face full of water for his troubles. During this sequence, Adam is rather oddly animated in the background of the shot, looking at Orko with an expression somewhere between mild antipathy and complete loathing.

Gambler 6
Prince Adam: “Orko, has anyone ever mentioned to you how utterly repulsive you are?”


Does it have the Power?

It’s not a highlight. As always, the Widgets are really annoying, though on this occasion it’s only Smudge who actually speaks, so it could be worse. There’s rather too much messing about in the middle, with Melbrag capturing, losing, and recapturing He-Man, and the plot doesn’t seem to know what to do with itself, veering from a rabid diatribe against the dangers of gambling to the unexpected theme of safe nuclear waste disposal.

In addition, though I’m always keen to see new baddies, Spikor’s appearance came across as nothing more than a five second advertisement for his action figure. In further addition, he has an absolutely infuriating voice, so I hope we don’t see him too much in the future. In short, I’d be happy to never watch this one again.

Episode 106 – The Bitter Rose

In which Orko reveals that his sexual predilections go beyond vanilla.

This week’s episode seems to have a missing opening scene or something, because with no explanation whatsoever, Orko’s girlfriend Dree Elle is hanging out at the Palace, and she’s massively depressed for no apparent reason. Orko resolves to do something nice to snap her out of this unexplained downer.

Man-at-Arms (in his unlikely capacity as Eternia’s foremost embroiderer) reveals a tapestry of the legendary Bitter Rose, and tells the story of the Rose’s origins (in summary, a woman was really upset and cried every day, then turned into a rose, or something insane like that). Orko decides that this mythical flower would make the perfect gift, so heads off to Rose Mountain and successfully picks the Bitter Rose.

Bitter 1.jpg
Man-at-Arms: “Yes, yes, I embroidered this myself. Definitely didn’t nick it from someone who can actually embroider. No.”

Unfortunately, this triggers an avalanche, which is bad news for a bunch of butterfly men who appear to live inside the mountain. Their first reaction is to call a meeting, despite the fact that holding a meeting inside a collapsing mountain is about as stupid as you can get. The only butterfly man with an ounce of brains is Garth (first seen in Eye of the Beholder many episodes ago), who heads to the Palace to ask for help.

At the Palace, Man-at-Arms is demonstrating his new invention. It’s called a Matchorator, but despite a reasonable chunk of screen time devoted to Man-at-Arms explaining it, I can’t figure out what it’s meant to do. However, Man-at-Arms does say that the Matchorator still has a few flaws, so he wouldn’t like to try it on a unique specimen. I am pretty sure, therefore, that very soon he’s going to have to try it on the unique Bitter Rose.

Once this piece of either blatant scene-setting or random irrelevance is over, Garth arrives at the Palace to report that Orko has nicked the Bitter Rose and caused Rose Mountain to start collapsing. He-Man heads straight for the Mountain, where he spends a fair chunk of the episode’s run time in building a wall to prevent rocks hitting the butterfly men’s village. He and Teela then waste further time playing baseball with falling rocks. This was truly riveting entertainment.

Bitter 2.jpg
Battle-Cat: “He-Man, why are you dancing with that log?”

Luckily, Skeletor enters the episode to inject a bit of random animosity to proceedings. Getting wind of the fact that Orko has acquired the Bitter Rose, Skeletor – with no evident purpose – decides that he’d like the Rose for himself. He sends Beast-Man and Trapjaw off to get it, which rather surprisingly results in Orko’s speedy capture. There’s then a (potentially unintended) hilarious bit where Beast-Man makes a rubbish joke, and Trapjaw just looks at him, leaves a pause just long enough to imply that he thinks Beast-Man is mental, and then changes the subject.

He-Man decides that he will spend the rest of the episode hoofing boulders about, and thus it is left to Garth to rescue Orko from Snake Mountain. Orko appears vaguely apologetic for causing this trouble, and agrees to head back to Rose Mountain to replant the stolen flower. Unfortunately, Beast-Man and Trapjaw are in hot pursuit, and they accidentally shoot and kill the Bitter Rose. They then return to Snake Mountain and make a replica of the Rose, in a futile effort to deceive Skeletor.

Bitter 3
Skeletor: “This is going to be the picture on my new range of Valentine’s Day merchandise.”

Meanwhile, Man-at-Arms – not entirely unexpectedly – decides to take the Rose to his lab and use the Matchorator on it. The Matchorator doesn’t work, so Orko and Dree Elle do some mumbo jumbo about having good intentions and love and ra ra ra, which makes the Rose come back to life. The whole crowd of them return to Rose Mountain and replant the Rose.

The Bitter Rose then transforms into the woman who was mentioned when Man-at-Arms unveiled his stupid tapestry. Orko develops a really weird hunchback and begs the woman to punish him, but she informs him she’s not into that sort of freaky business. Speaking as if she’s drugged up to the eyeballs on Valium, she ponderously yammers on about the power of love, then disappears. Praise be. Also: what the hell?

Bitter 4.jpg
Dree Elle: “Jesus, Orko, what the hell is wrong with you now?”


In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms tries to tell us that Orko nearly caused disaster today by doing something that he knew was wrong. I’m usually the first in line to criticise Orko, but frankly all he thought he was doing today was picking a flower. Yes, a rare and special flower, but he was fully intending to replant it when he got it to the Palace anyway – he even said as much. One could even argue that he was attempting to preserve a one-of-a-kind species by taking it to a more secure environment. That might be going a touch far in Orko’s defence, but still, it’s a bit excessive to make out that he was deliberately doing something wrong.


Character checklist

Populating this excitingly deranged dribble of an episode are Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, Dree Elle, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Trapjaw, Garth, loads of butterfly people, and the weird rose woman.

Bitter 5
Rose woman: “Dree Elle, if I give you this rose, please will you make sure your creepy boyfriend stays away from me?”


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

“Come on, Cringer, let’s find He-Man,” says Adam, and walks into a very small bush in the Palace courtyard. He then emerges seconds later as He-Man. Dree Elle and Teela are watching, and even if they are so monumentally thick that they don’t work out the dual identity thing, they must at the very least wonder why He-Man is skulking about in a shrubbery.



Although Trapjaw does take the time to call Beast-Man a “fur-brain”, it should come as no surprise when I reveal that Skeletor is responsible for most of this week’s vitriol. He calls Orko a “little menace”, then turns on Beast-Man and Trapjaw, who he refers to as “dolts” and then, rather unexpectedly, “meatheads”. The episode ends with him shrieking at them, “You no-good rotten excuses for …” before being too overcome with rage to speak properly.

Bitter 6
Trapjaw: “Beast-Man, there’s no need to look so incredibly put out. This is no stupider than what we normally do.”


Does it have the Power?

This cartoon is customarily insane, but sometimes it really surpasses itself. This week was one of those occasions. I would like to know why Dree Elle was present, why she was so bloody miserable, why Skeletor decided to get involved, why it was deemed necessary for He-Man to spend the entire episode pushing rocks about, and why the writers thought that the episode would be best served with a grand finale featuring a sexualised half-woman-half-rose thing talking dopily about peace and love, man. So basically, no, I don’t believe it does have the Power.

Episode 104 – The Secret of Grayskull

In which we don’t learn the secret of Grayskull.

We start in the Palace courtyard, where it transpires – to my considerable surprise – that Skeletor has arranged a free fireworks display for our heroes. It turns out that he hasn’t done this out of the goodness of his heart – the fireworks turn into magical spiders, which run riot, start fires, and inspire Randor to spout rubbish like, “My sword has never rung truer.” With the situation serious, He-Man and Battle-Cat appear on the scene and create a rainstorm, extinguishing the fire-spiders.

Secret 1
Prince Adam: “Father, are you plagiarising your lines from trashy fantasy novels?”

During the battle with the firework-spiders, Orko utterly fails to accomplish anything, so decides that it’s time for him to run away again. This must be the 50th time he’s run away, and since he never ever learns how much he’s loved by our excessively tolerant heroes, I think they should just accept that Orko is a deeply troubled individual with attachment issues, and consign him to Eternia’s asylum.

Even though his fireworks are getting their asses kicked at the Palace, Skeletor evidently has nothing better to do with his day than watch Orko on his stupid spyglobe. When he sees Orko come across a lamp, he decides to pretend that it’s a magic lamp, and disguises himself as a genie to grant Orko three wishes. He seems to have no particular goal in mind here, other than just messing with Orko’s head, which I suppose is a laudable enough ambition. When Orko wishes that his friends would like him, Skeletor responds that this is impossible and that his friends secretly hate his guts (I’m paraphrasing here, but I wish I wasn’t).

Skeletor magics up a portal which will allegedly take Orko back to Trolla and convinces him to go through it; just as Orko is about to do so, Zoar swoops in and grabs him. Skeletor shakes his fists impotently and takes half of his genie outfit off, leaving us with the very pleasing vision of Skeletor in white baggy trousers.

Secret 2
Skeletor: “Just got these off the Madness official merchandise site.”

Taking Orko to Grayskull, Zoar transforms back into the Sorceress and embarks on that beastly pep talk we’ve heard her give to Orko 8 million times before. Yes, his friends love him, yes, God alone knows why, yes, yes, yes. Then – and I have absolutely no idea what made the writers think this was a good idea – the Sorceress unveils a massive cinema screen and starts showing clips of previous episodes in which people prove that they love Orko. Orko is finally convinced, and sets off home.

En route, he is ambushed by Skeletor, Trapjaw, Clawful and Kobra Khan. Skeletor laughs in a higher pitched voice than normal – suggesting that his sanity is close to breaking point this week – then he gets down to serious business, putting a truth spell on Orko and demanding to know how to enter Grayskull. Orko says that he must correctly answer the jawbridge’s riddle, which was news to me. I was under the impression that the Sorceress had to let you in, or you had to drag the door open.

Secret 3
Orko: “Definitely shouldn’t have had that last joint.”

Skeletor asks the jawbridge for a riddle, and it dispenses a stupid one, adding a weird little chuckle to the end. Skeletor cannot solve the riddle himself, but Orko can, and being still under the truth spell, he is forced to answer. The jawbridge opens, but before Skeletor and his band of clowns can merrily trot inside, the Sorceress appears. Naturally, Skeletor is not too perturbed by this, and simply threatens to blast Orko off in a rocket to another galaxy if the Sorceress doesn’t allow him entry.

Given the Sorceress earlier spent so much time reassuring Orko, she presumably feels that it would be hypocritical of her to say, “Go on then, see if I care.” Instead, she agrees and telepathically contacts Prince Adam. In short order, He-Man comes blundering along to save Orko, after which the Sorceress casts a spell to make the interior decorations of Castle Grayskull come alive. This freaks Skeletor and his men out, and they run away, while the Sorceress stands around making snarky remarks.

Secret 4
Trapjaw: “This is even scarier than Jacob Rees-Mogg’s politics.”


In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms explains that when your parents punish you, it’s not because they don’t love you, but because they need to teach you. What I genuinely don’t understand about the Man-at-Arms/Orko relationship is why Man-at-Arms feels it’s his place to punish Orko at all. Not only is Orko not his child, he’s actually a grown-up magician from another dimension. Frankly, Man-at-Arms is lucky that Orko has accepted this abusive relationship, though he’d better watch out for the day Orko finally snaps and goes to the police. I need to stop drinking in the afternoons.


Character checklist

Ooh, gosh, there’s loads of them today. There’s Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man and Battle-Cat, obv. Then there’s Man-at-Arms, Teela, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Skeletor, Trapjaw, Clawful, and Kobra Khan. Pretty sure there were a couple of other characters in it, too. Annoying ones. Oh yes: Orko and the Sorceress, a dream team from the depths of hell.

Secret 5
The Sorceress: “I reckon the only way the pair of us could be more irritating is if I ran away and you had to do the pep talk to bring me back.”


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

When Randor tells Man-at-Arms to go and get his new Fire Shuttle, Adam chimes in, “I’d better give him a hand.” This is enough to fool Randor and Teela, though why they think Man-at-Arms will need help to fetch a vehicle is anybody’s guess.



It’s a good episode if you want to see people belittling Orko (and who doesn’t?): Skeletor calls him a “little insect” twice, a “fool”, and a “little pest”. Trapjaw also feels secure enough in himself to label Orko a “twit” and a “shrimp”. Skeletor also dishes out “crab-faced coward” to Clawful, “fools” to Clawful and Trapjaw collectively, and “goody-goody witch” to the Sorceress. Even the usually mild-mannered Sorceress lowers herself to Skeletor’s level, addressing him as “fool”. This is the sort of thing that Skeletor is likely to either ignore entirely or dramatically overreact to; sadly, this time he opts for the saner course and doesn’t comment.


Egg on your face?

In the fireworks scene, Orko magics up a huge number of buckets falling from the sky, one of which falls onto Man-at-Arms’ head. I just knew it would. Later on, the Sorceress’ cinema treats us to an unnecessary flashback to the trick seen in Diamond Ray of Disappearance, in which Man-at-Arms ended up covered in eggs.

Secret 6
Man-at-Arms: “I am Lord Buckethead and will topple Teresa May at the next election.” (NB. This is a political joke that I suspect will only make sense to inhabitants of the UK. It isn’t particularly funny and would have been better timed if it had been posted six months ago, so don’t worry, you’re not missing out.)


Does it have the Power?

When I saw the title, I got very excited. I thought that maybe now we’d get an explanation of what the secret of Grayskull is, and also perhaps a vague clue about why Skeletor is so keen to get into what appears to be merely a big empty castle with dingy rooms. I should have known better. It seems pretty clear that the writers don’t know what the secret of Grayskull is (Orko even says that no one knows), so any kind of sensible explanation for the entire premise of the show is too much to hope for.

Instead, we get a recycling of one of the traditional plotlines: Orko running away. At the end, he claims to have learnt his lesson and that he’ll never again believe his friends don’t love him – and he’d better keep his word this time, or I shall write a strongly worded letter to Filmation about it. Seriously – please, no more episodes about Orko feeling inadequate.

The rest of it was pretty entertaining, being honest. Skeletor’s impersonation of a genie was mental, obviously, but in a good way. Trapjaw and Clawful had some good fun moments; Clawful came across as slyly manipulative in a very mean way, which was funny. It was great to see Skeletor gain entry to Castle Grayskull, and his change of heart when the decorations came alive was hilarious. In short, I’d recommend this one, especially if you fast-forward through the totally unnecessary Orko bits.


Episode 103 – The Good Shall Survive

In which He-Man takes time out to solemnly inform the audience not to eat baking soda.

In Buzz-Off’s kingdom, the year’s honey harvest has just been completed, when suddenly the giant bees come under attack from some other humanoid insects, known as Tykons. With Buzz-Off away at the Palace, the bees are completely useless, so Orko – who for whatever reason is hanging around the colony, showing magic tricks to unfortunate young bees – is despatched to the Palace to get help.

Skeletor watches the Tykons on his spy globe and comes up with one of his stupider plans – if he can get the Tykons to eat all the food in the Palace warehouse, he believes that Randor will have to hand over the secrets of Castle Grayskull. Skeletor doesn’t seem to have a firm grasp of the principles of cause and effect when it comes to food – in Island of Fear, he also tried a plan which boiled down to “steal food, get secrets of Grayskull”. Nonetheless, he finds the Tykons and leads them towards the kingdom’s only honey warehouse.

Good 1
Skeletor: “I wish my spyglobe could get Netflix, then I wouldn’t have to watch this idiot.”

At the Palace, Orko successfully explains the Tykon situation, and He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms and Buzz-Off set off to go to the bee colony. He-Man defeats Skeletor this week by speaking sternly to him, which frightens him so much that he walks backwards into a pool of water. He-Man then enters the honey warehouse and tries to explain to the Tykons about the morality (or lack thereof) of stealing.

The Tykons don’t listen, and use their stings to put He-Man to sleep. Well, the dialogue describes it as their stings, but since it’s actually energy rays shot out of their eyes, this seems to be a misnomer, or at the least a serious miscommunication between the writers and the animators. Anyway, our heroes bring He-Man back to the Palace to recover, where they discuss what to do, and decide to try to teach the Tykons about cooperation rather than stealing.

Good 2
Man-at-Arms: “He’s unconscious. Roll him over, Teela, and we’ll write ‘kick me’ on his back. He’ll never know which of us did it.”

The Tykons, however, have already reached the Palace warehouse and eaten everything in it. This includes a Baking Soda Pie which Orko has moronically if conveniently made. He-Man addresses the camera to explain that eating too much baking soda can make you sick. I don’t believe that this was genuinely a major problem among children in the 1980s, but the earnestness with which he gives this little speech suggests that it was a message the writers desperately wished to convey.

Anyway, now that the Tykons are feeling unwell, they retreat to the cave from which they came. He-Man and his mates track them to the cave, where we are treated to noises which sound like the Tykons are projectile-vomiting all over the place. I need hardly add that they aren’t. They are, on the other hand, more receptive to reason now, and He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Buzz-Off persuade them to become friends. This scene is notable largely because Man-at-Arms is stammering like crazy, and it sounds like the voice actor has forgotten his lines and is only barely clinging on to sanity.

At Snake Mountain, Skeletor is eagerly if dementedly awaiting a call from King Randor, who he anticipates will be begging for food. In this, he is sadly disappointed. He-Man comes blundering in with Buzz-Off and the lead Tykon, and – after gratuitously putting Skeletor, Webstor and Kobra Khan upside-down in a vase – steals all of Eternia’s food back. There is then some odd animation of He-Man sauntering sexily into the Palace throne room, where Randor happily accepts the Tykons as friends and makes them the guards of the honeycomb fields.

Good 3
He-Man: “Catwalk queen. Own it.”


In today’s adventure…

He-Man tells us about the right and wrong way to get what we want, be it a toy, some candy or a cake. These are the only things I ever want, so He-Man’s got a good handle on me. He should work in advertising. Anyway, he informs us that the wrong way to get these things is to steal them, whereas the right way is to ask. He claims that doing this will result in us getting back more than we give. Well, of course it will – we’re not giving anything, you moron. I should also add that he dispenses this sage advice in a much calmer and gentler voice than usual, and it’s so relaxing that you could put it on a cassette tape and go to sleep with it playing softly in the background. Then you’d wake up and He-Man’s morals would have infused your entire being. I’d definitely sign up for that.


Character checklist

Well, here we are again, for another of our regular doses of Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena and Skeletor. Less regular attendees today are Buzz-Off, Kobra Khan and Webstor. Even less regular are the Tykons and a whole crowd of bee people.

Good 4
Skeletor: “Do you two really have to sneeze in unison?”


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

“Father, I’ll find He-Man,” says Adam. He then addresses Cringer, “Come on, we’ve got a job to do, old buddy.” It’s so painfully obvious to even the dimmest viewer what’s going on here. Even a complete imbecile who’d never seen this programme before would suspect, and yet Randor, Marlena, Teela and Buzz-Off – all of whom are present – don’t seem to twig.



Teela calls the Tykons “horrible creatures”, and Skeletor refers to Webstor and Kobra Khan as “fools”. There’s also a point where Skeletor addresses no one in particular and gets halfway through saying, “you puny little –” before He-Man rudely interrupts him, so we never find out what this was going to be, though I’m sure it would have been seriously cutting.


Egg on your face?

Orko teleports himself all the way from the bee colony into the Palace, which is an impressive trick. It’s less impressive that upon arrival at the Palace, he immediately drops like a stone into a bowl of white stuff (possibly ice cream, possibly porridge) which splatters all over Buzz-Off.

Good 5
Teela: “For Christ’s sake, Orko. You’re stoned again?”


Does it have the Power?

Let’s deal with the good parts first, because there aren’t an awful lot of them. In fact, I can’t really think of any. I suppose that grudgingly I’d admit the story isn’t dreadful, though it’s hardly that original or exciting either. I think the only mildly interesting thing about the episode is that I’m pretty sure He-Man actually hits a Tykon, where normally he doesn’t punch people, only objects.

The downsides of the episode, however, are numerous. Firstly, Buzz-Off has a really annoying voice, and so do all the Tykons. The Tykons’ dialogue is also infuriating, consisting largely of baby-sentences like, “Want honey.” They’re like a thin nasal version of the Sugar Puffs monster.

Skeletor seems to be going through the motions this week, with his insane plan which never gets close to success. There is no sense of peril at any stage; even when He-Man breaks into Snake Mountain at the end, the music is chilled out rather than the usual exciting backbeat. The writer exhibits a serious lack of imagination with names – the insects are called Tykons, their leader is called Tykor, and a little bee-child is called Tyke.

Good 6
Tykons: “We may be clones, but would it have been asking too much to give us distinguishing names?”

And finally, there’s a genuine WTF moment at the end. Orko creates an exploding dumpling, which Teela suggests might be useful next 4th July. So, the Eternians celebrate the American Independence Day, do they? Even without that stretch, I’ve never heard of exploding dumplings being a traditional part of Independence Day. Any Americans in my readership, please feel free to correct me here.