Episode 105 – No Job too Small

In which Panthor learns that Prince Adam and He-Man are one and the same.

In Snake Mountain, Evil-Lyn, Beast-Man and Whiplash are gathered miserably round the spyglobe. Skeletor has gone away for a weekend break in Skegness, but before going, he has instructed his employees not to do anything to aggravate He-Man. However, on learning from the spyglobe that King Randor is sending Prince Adam to Phantos (last seen in the early disappointing effort She-Demon of Phantos), Evil-Lyn decides to disregard Skeletor’s orders, and forms an ill-advised plan to kidnap Adam.

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Prince Adam: “My gearstick is absolutely enormous, Teela.”

Arriving on Phantos, Adam, Man-at-Arms, Teela and Orko indulge in a spot of sightseeing in the Phantosian desert. After talking in a ridiculously high-pitched voice for no apparent reason, Adam decides to make things easier for his kidnappers by wandering out of sight of his friends. Evil-Lyn doesn’t capitalise on this opportunity though, instead choosing to wake some dinosaurs up, who chase our heroes around for a while, until He-Man shows up to deal with them.

With He-Man occupied with the dinosaurs, Evil-Lyn, Beast-Man and Whiplash successfully kidnap Man-at-Arms, Teela and Orko and take them back to Snake Mountain. Once there, Evil-Lyn makes the unexpected decision to use her new invention – the Reducto Ray – to shrink our heroes so they’re only about a foot high. She offers absolutely no explanation for this behaviour, though in fairness He-Man breaks into Snake Mountain and interrupts before she can finish gloating.

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Teela: “There’s got to be some pun here about being too big for your boots.”

Evil-Lyn somehow has time to set up an elaborate trap, involving boulders, the Reducto Ray and a cage containing the miniature heroes. She and Beast-Man then proudly explain how the trap works, in the belief that it leaves He-Man completely unable to save his friends. Evil-Lyn offers to release her prisoners in exchange for the surrender of Eternia, so He-Man is sent off to check whether this would be acceptable to King Randor. Knowing King Randor’s usual idiocy, he’ll probably agree.

Once He-Man has gone, Evil-Lyn, Beast-Man and Whiplash stand around laughing evilly for ages, then go off to have a party to celebrate the imminent surrender of Eternia. They’ll be waiting a while though: instead of going to Randor, He-Man has nipped behind a rock, turned back into Adam, and re-entered Snake Mountain. His reasoning is that for this conundrum, he needs brains rather than muscles. I have to say that He-Man – despite looking like a complete moron – has in the past demonstrated some reasonable degree of brainpower. Moreover, Adam’s allegedly “brainy” solution to the problem is to use the Reducto Ray on himself so that he is also tiny.

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Prince Adam: “This escapade will guarantee me a guest spot in Honey I Shrunk the Kids.”

Once he has conferred this dubious benefit on himself, Adam manages to release his friends from the cage. He then successfully restores them all to their original size, and quickly ushers his friends out of the room, with the vague promise that he’ll catch up later. He then transforms back into He-Man, with no evident purpose other than to use the Reducto Ray on Panthor, Beast-Man and Whiplash and to taunt Evil-Lyn.

 

In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms explains that muscle power is all very well, but imagination and inventiveness are much better. He advises us to exercise our bodies to become strong, but also to exercise our minds by reading books and doing our homework. And, presumably, by not watching cartoons like this one.

 

Character checklist

On Team Goody, we’ve got Prince Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, King Randor, and a big guy called Mishy or something similar. On Team Baddy, there’s Evil-Lyn, Beast-Man, Whiplash and Panthor.

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Prince Adam: “No, Mishy, you may not have any lines.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

He-Man can’t be bothered to offer an excuse this week, and leaves it to Man-at-Arms, who manages the pathetic, “Don’t worry, Teela, I’m sure he’s okay.”

 

Insults

Evil-Lyn gets the obligatory “fool” out of the way early on, addressing Beast-Man. Beast-Man retaliates with “foolish witch”, and then refers to He-Man as “that cursed He-Man”, and I must say it was quite a surprise to discover that his vocabulary stretches that far. Evil-Lyn mockingly calls Orko “little one” twice, and He-Man refers to Skeletor as Evil-Lyn’s “misguided master”, which was a quite pleasing use of alliteration. A less pleasing alliterative insult from He-Man to Beast-Man was “beast-brain”, which is not particularly original by this stage of the series. Finally, Teela calls Orko a “silly little thing”, which was plainly meant to be affectionate, but I prefer to interpret it as vicious.

 

Does it have the Power?

I really enjoyed this episode. Evil-Lyn has rarely been better: she’s intelligent and very unpleasant, and her voice work and animation combined to portray her as a purring, seductive villainess. Her one error was her odd decision to leave her prisoners unguarded while she went off to have a party; overconfidence is always the downfall of Eternian baddies.

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Evil-Lyn: “I’m going to have a party. And no, He-Man, you’re not invited.”

The notion of a perfectly balanced trap that could not be solved with muscle power was a good idea; lately, there have been quite a few episodes that have tried to mess with the formula by making He-Man helpless one way or another (in Hunt for He-Man, he was poisoned and in need of medicine, and in Not So Blind, he was struck blind), which suggests the writers were getting bored of a hero who can defeat everything easily. This week’s move in that direction was particularly inventive. My quibble is – as mentioned above – He-Man has just as many brains as Adam, so it wasn’t really necessary for him to turn back, and it actually led to some clunky dialogue later as Adam tried to explain the constant interchange between himself and He-Man.

One final point – Adam transforms into He-Man right in front of Panthor this week. Since Panthor can’t speak, it must be hugely frustrating for him to know this secret and not be able to tell Skeletor! So that’s something on which to ponder as you enjoy this instalment.

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Episode 080 – The Shadow of Skeletor

In which King Randor does some moonlighting as a scientist.

The episode opens with Ram-Man again proving his “moron” credentials: he walks into the Palace theatre, sees Man-e-Faces with his monster face on, and decides that he must be a monster. He attacks Man-e-Faces and accidentally destroys the theatre scenery, then gets really defensive about it. This is all despite the fact that he definitely knows who Man-e-Faces is; Prince Adam says they are friends. Ram-Man must therefore know about Man-e-Faces’ ability, and consequently it really is massively stupid of him to not be able to figure out that the monster dressed as Man-e-Faces is not in fact a monster.

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Man-e-Faces: “Jesus, Ram-Man, could you be more of an idiot?”

This demented quarrel is interrupted by the only person on Eternia thicker than Ram-Man: Beast-Man, who has contrived to lose control of his stupid flying machine and head straight for the Palace dome. He-Man decides to intervene by spinning round on the spot really quickly, until he takes off and flies through the sky as a whirlwind, sucking in the flying machine and depositing it a safe distance away. Well done, He-Man. Now that you’ve proved you can fly, that means Stratos and Buzz-Off need never appear again.

He-Man turns back into Adam and leads an expedition to check out the flying machine. When Skeletor gets on the radio demanding a progress report, Man-e-Faces imitates Beast-Man’s voice, but doesn’t manage to learn any information about what Skeletor is hoping Beast-Man will achieve. Despite this, Adam claims Man-e-Faces has done good work, in the sort of patronising tone used to encourage very stupid children.

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Adam: “Well DONE, Man-e-Faces! I’ll write your name down in the Good Effort Book today!”

Man-at-Arms repairs the auto-pilot on the flying machine, while Man-e-Faces creates a whole body Beast-Man disguise. The auto-pilot takes the ship right through the atmosphere, to the Moon of Darkness, where a photon blaster fires at Eternia’s other moon, referred to as the Bright Moon. Man-at-Arms points out that the blaster might have hit the moon colony, so everyone except Man-e-Faces boards a shuttle to go and check if the colony has survived.

On arrival at the Bright Moon, our heroes meet Professor O’Ryan, who looks suspiciously similar to King Randor. It’s almost as if Filmation reused the animation and thought pedantic people like me wouldn’t notice – but surely they wouldn’t do that? Anyway, a transmission comes in from King Barble of the Dark Moon, who accuses the inhabitants of the Bright Moon of attacking them and declares the Treaty of Friendship over.

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Professor O’Ryan: “What? No, of course I haven’t got a crown on underneath this silly hat.”

Our heroes quickly deduce that Skeletor must be behind the mysterious attacks that are being blamed on the Bright Moon. They are quite right: Man-e-Faces – in his Beast-Man outfit – has met up with Evil-Lyn, Mer-Man, Trapjaw and Whiplash, and they all crowd round while Skeletor gets on Skype to reveal the full plan, which boils down to “try to cause a war by being unpleasant”. I really don’t know what Skeletor stands to gain by having the Dark and Bright Moons go to war, and I suspect he doesn’t either.

Adam and Ram-Man take a shuttle across to the Dark Moon, where they arrive just in time for Skeletor and the real Beast-Man to show up and unmask Man-e-Faces’ disguise. Adam changes into He-Man, and he and Ram-Man save Man-e-Faces; this is achieved by Ram-Man ramming Whiplash and Evil-Lyn back through space to Eternia. Even a child would debate the sanity of this method, but at least it leads to Man-e-Faces and Ram-Man making friends again, which I’m sure you cared about. He-Man then destroys the photon blaster, renegotiates the treaty between the Dark and Bright Moons, and finds time to throw Skeletor and Trapjaw into a pond.

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Trapjaw: “There’s a sort of weary inevitability about this turn of events.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Ram-Man and Man-e-Faces appear to deliver the fairly predictable moral lesson that if you get into an argument, you should be careful to not lose your temper and say things you might regret later. This is all very well, but there’s then a slightly unexpected turn of events where Ram-Man says, “Now we’re better friends than ever” and appears to put his hand on Man-e-Faces’ arse.

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Man-e-Faces: “Our relationship shall be explored more thoroughly in fan-fic.”

 

Character checklist

This episode features a pretty sizeable number of Eternia’s inhabitants: Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Orko, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Ram-Man, Man-e-Faces, King Randor, Professor O’Ryan, King Barble, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Trapjaw, Evil-Lyn, Mer-Man and Whiplash. I probably forgot someone in that lot, and if so, you can tell me all about it in the comments below.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Despite two transformations, there are no excuses. On the other hand, the episode does contain an absolutely brilliant sequence in which Adam thinks he will have to turn into He-Man in front of Teela, Ram-Man and Man-e-Faces, and he gets as far as “By the …” before the crisis is averted. He hilariously concludes, “By the way, Teela, remind me to show you my new jacket when we get home.”

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Adam: “Oh no! I left my copy of Eternian E-Turn-Ons on the bed, and Mother’s heading for my room!”

 

Insults

Skeletor calls Beast-Man a “fool”, but he doesn’t sound like his heart is really in it. He also calls Adam a “troublemaker”, sounding similarly uninterested. Evil-Lyn, on the other hand, sounds hugely invested in calling King Barble a “dope”.

 

Does it have the Power?

I don’t know quite why, but unfortunately this one doesn’t really work for me. It’s nice to see Skeletor with one of his stupid plots, and all his henchmen happily getting involved, but there just doesn’t seem to be any point to him trying to cause a war between the two moons. As far as I could tell from the episode, neither moon had anything to do with Castle Grayskull or the Royal Palace, which seem to be the two targets Skeletor tends to go for. He just seems to be causing mischief for no apparent gain and a rather substantial cost. He’d have been better advised to just shoot his photon blaster at the Palace.

I don’t have a lot of time for Man-e-Faces, because I think his face-changing ability is just plain stupid, and I don’t have any time at all for Ram-Man, because he’s really irritating. Therefore, the plot concerning them falling out and making friends was unlikely to capture my interest, and sure enough, it didn’t. In short, I’d say the only real reason to watch this episode is the – admittedly brilliant – moment where Adam nearly betrays his He-Manic identity.

Episode 005 – She-Demon of Phantos

In which Stratos appears, but doesn’t say a word or contribute anything.

This week, we catch up with Prince Adam and Man-at-Arms on the moon of Phantos, where they have come to visit Queen Elmora and buy some photanium, which is used for making weapons and shields. Adam notices that Elmora seems miserable, but Man-at-Arms doesn’t give a monkeys, and insists they return to Eternia. After they leave the room, a curtain pulls back to reveal Skeletor and Mer-Man, as well as some presumably evil dude with spikes on his head and a weird arm, who we later learn goes by the name of Strong Arm.

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Skeletor helpfully explains that Adam’s shipment of photanium is worthless metal, and that the real photanium will be coming to Snake Mountain. Elmora demands that now she has co-operated, Skeletor should release his prisoners. Skeletor being Skeletor, of course, he doesn’t, instead choosing to cast a spell to make Elmora really old and bent to Skeletor’s will.

Back on Eternia, Man-at-Arms has made weapons out of the worthless metal, and they keep breaking. No one is cruel enough to suggest that maybe Man-at-Arms is just rubbish at making weapons, and instead wonder if maybe Elmora has cheated them. Adam, Man-at-Arms and Cringer pop off to Castle Grayskull, where the Sorceress confirms that Skeletor has forced Elmora into an alliance. This revelation prompts a speedy He-Man transformation.

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At the Palace, Man-at-Arms tells Teela she can’t come to Phantos, even though there appears to be space on this jaunt for the ever-useless Stratos and some unfamiliar green lunatic who’s so non-descript he only gets two lines and a rubbish name. Cut to the quick by this insult, Teela tags along anyway, undetected.

As our heroes troll across a plain on Phantos, they are cheerily greeted by a vision of the aged Elmora. He-Man helps the situation by tactfully not recognising her, though I suppose it doesn’t help that she’s talking in Evil-Lyn’s voice. This is probably why Evil-Lyn didn’t appear in this episode. Anyway, the discussion doesn’t go well, and Elmora kidnaps Battle-Cat and Stratos, and might well have done more if Teela didn’t intervene, earning herself a telling off from Man-at-Arms and a sleazy thank you from He-Man.

It’s now time to break into Elmora’s castle. He-Man decides that this must be done through the photanium refinery, and furthermore they must go in disguise. Since the refinery workers wear grey jumpsuits, He-Man and his friends decide that half a jumpsuit each will be sufficient. And thus it proves, since they only manage to move halfway across a room before discarding the disguises in favour of having a tussle with Mer-Man and Strong Arm. It transpires in this scene that Strong Arm’s arm can be extended to quite surprising lengths, a la Inspector Gadget.

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Rather surprisingly, Strong Arm’s crazy arm ability proves to be an advantage in this fight, and he actually manages to shut He-Man inside a coffin thing. This explains why we never see Strong Arm again. Skeletor must have fired him after this episode for being dangerously competent. What is slightly odder is that after capturing He-Man, Strong Arm and Mer-Man run away from Man-at-Arms, Teela and the green dude. Fortunately, He-Man breaks out of the coffin in very little time, as I think we all knew he would.

The next scene gives us an explanation of who the green fellow is – he’s called Lizard Man, and based on his characteristics, I think I could have come up with that name myself. He-Man rids himself of Lizard Man and Man-at-Arms at this juncture, telling them to go away and find Battle-Cat and Stratos, and not to disturb him while he and Teela break into Elmora’s chambers.

Meanwhile, Queen Elmora amuses herself by filling up episode run time with flashbacks about how she used to chain He-Man up and he’d break out, in happy carefree days before that brazen hussy Teela came into He-Man’s life and created so much tension. Though that may just be my interpretation. Anyway, thinking about these happy memories gives Elmora sufficient willpower to knock Mer-Man and Strong Arm out. This displeases Skeletor to such an extent that he casts another spell on Elmora, which has the effect that every time she sees He-Man, she will see him as Skeletor.

Now, this is a clever spell, and it does have the intended effect. When He-Man comes sauntering in, Elmora does indeed see him as Skeletor. The lapse in logic is only too apparent though – Skeletor told Elmora precisely what he was going to do, so at the very least Elmora ought to be thinking, “Now hang on, is this actually Skeletor?” Things only get more confusing when the real Skeletor appears, claiming He-Man is Skeletor, though he rather gives the game away by engaging in dialogue which immediately reveals that he’s the baddy. Still Elmora doesn’t grasp the obvious and opts to chain both He-Man and Skeletor up. Once He-Man breaks out, Elmora is able to conclude who the real enemy is. I feel it would have been easier if He-Man had simply punched Skeletor.

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He-Man tells Skeletor to release Elmora from the spell, or he’ll stay chained up for ever. Skeletor isn’t fond of this proposal and complies, after which He-Man releases him. Skeletor promptly teleports away, leaving Strong Arm and Mer-Man to run off. The episode ends with Prince Adam telling Teela that he’s tasted her potatoes before. And yes, that is out of context.

 

In today’s adventure …

He-Man goes completely bat-shit this week, explaining that if viewers are driving a car, they have to consider safety. Well, yes, but since the intended viewers are 4 years old, they also have to consider other matters. If the writer had stopped to think about it for more than a nanosecond, he’d have found that the obvious moral is Teela disobeying Man-at-Arms’ orders, which could have been tied in with safety if necessary. They could also have done something about not always believing your eyes, as Elmora found out in that lengthy bit with the double Skeletors. But no, it’s driving cars. For God’s sake.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance:

No one thinks it’s worth explaining on this occasion. Though to be honest, I think we need an excuse for Stratos’ appearance. He doesn’t say anything or do anything. He’s useless.

 

Characters appearing:

This week features Prince Adam, He-Man, Skeletor, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Cringer, Battle-Cat, the Sorceress, Mer-Man, Strong Arm, Queen Elmora, as well as some factory workers and slave drivers. It also features Stratos and Lizard Man, but as I believe I’ve alluded to before, it doesn’t really need to.

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Insults:

Thanks to Beast Man being absent from the episode, we also have an absence of insults.

 

Egg on your face?

Yup, none of this either. Orko barely features, so there’s no hilarious magic tricks.

 

Does it have the Power?

Well, it’s not the best, though it’s not awful. I get the feeling someone really liked the phrase “She-Demon”, and shoehorned it into a title, since it’s not enormously relevant – He-Man tries to make out that Elmora is a demon, but she blatantly isn’t. There’s an overabundance of characters – Lizard Man and Stratos are incredibly superfluous – and Skeletor unfolds his plan, such as it is, at a glacial pace. The scene at the end with Elmora not being able to tell whether He-Man is Skeletor or not got old pretty quickly. So actually, forget what I said about it not being awful. It is.