Episode 27 – The Eldritch Mist

In which we get a vague hint that Adora and Adam enjoy an overly close sibling relationship.

Adora puts in a visit to Mysticor, where she finds Castaspella using a magical device called the Pool of Vision to ogle Prince Adam. This is essentially the Etherian equivalent of hidden-cam spyware, and Castaspella certainly seems to be getting off on it. Eventually, Castaspella’s aching loins become too much for her to take, so she magically transports Adam to Etheria, where he immediately turns on the charm in a sleazy effort to get into Castaspella’s pants.

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Castaspella: “Wowsers, look at that handsome hunk of man meat.”

Luckily, before things can get too vile for words, Kowl shows up to report that there’s a Horde ship just arrived at Whispering Wood. Castaspella teleports the four of them to the appropriate location, where they observe Shadow Weaver casting a spell from the Eldritch Book of Dark Magic. The spell creates an orange mist that covers the entire forest, preventing anyone from entering or exiting. Luckily, Adora, Adam, Castaspella and Kowl are on the outside, and it’s not very long before Adora and Adam make their awkward joint transformation into their heroic alter egos.

He-Man and She-Ra waste no time in ditching Castaspella and Kowl, instead choosing to go to ask Light Hope’s advice. Light Hope doesn’t really help, simply saying that the spell can be reversed if the Eldritch Book is read by someone who can use magic. This of course means Castaspella, and since He-Man suddenly realises he wants Castaspella to have his babies anyway, he puts on a truly goofy grin and insists they hurry back.

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She-Ra: “He-Man, could you please at least try not to look so stupid?”

Castaspella teleports herself, He-Man and She-Ra into the Fright Zone to steal the book, but Hordak quickly becomes aware of their presence. Shadow Weaver pops up and teleports Castaspella away, leaving He-Man and She-Ra to find their way to the throne room. They have a brief fight with Hordak, but he’s so incompetent this week that he basically defeats himself.

Meanwhile, Castaspella and Shadow Weaver have appeared in Shadow Weaver’s private chambers, where the two of them have a magical duel and a good chat about old times. As previously hinted, Shadow Weaver originates from Mysticor, and it seems that she and Castaspella used to be friends before she was corrupted by Hordak. Once Castaspella defeats Shadow Weaver, by trapping her in the arms of a terrifying oversized teddy bear, she, He-Man and She-Ra are free to steal the Eldritch Book and head off to Whispering Wood.

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Shadow Weaver: “Okay guys, fun’s fun, but can we send Bungle back to the Rainbow house now please?”

Castaspella uses the Book to remove the orange mist from the forest. I could harp on about the fact that she somehow gets inside the forest before doing this, but that would be a bit petty of me, I suppose. Instead, we get a scene featuring Prince Adam and Castaspella flirting ridiculously, until Adora interrupts to say, “All right, you two! He’s MY brother!” as if she thinks that this gives her 24-hour access to Adam’s bed. The only explanation that I can think of for this weird display of jealousy is that maybe the purity of the Eternian royal bloodline is maintained by incest. Luckily, before the cartoon can explore this further, Adam returns to Eternia.

 

In today’s adventure…

Jesus Christ, Loo-Kee, how the bloody hell was I supposed to see you there? He was literally behind a tree, with his nose poking out. Honestly, it’s ridiculous. He doesn’t have much of use to say either, simply advising us to seek help from experienced people when we need it. Yes, yes, yes. I think devotees of He-Man and She-Ra would by this stage have got this message into their thick skulls.

 

Character checklist

This episode is a lovely day out for Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Prince Adam, He-Man, Castaspella, Bow, Kowl, Glimmer, Madame Razz, Broom, Light Hope, the Twiggets, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, and the ever-present Horde Troopers. And Bungle.

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Prince Adam: “Shall we use this shot for our album cover?”

 

Excuse given for Adora and Adam’s disappearances

I’m convinced that they don’t bother giving excuses because they’re well aware that everyone on Etheria knows the secret. I swear, they’re so obvious about it that it can only be because they don’t care.

 

Insults

No insults this time, though there’s a touch of good-natured ribbing from She-Ra to He-Man when she realises that He-Man is drooling over Castaspella.

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He-Man: “She-Ra, does the term ‘third wheel’ mean anything to you?”

 

Does it have the Power?

While it’s always a treat to see He-Man livening up Etheria, I’m not generally that interested in his love life. Maybe there’s a hugely entertaining story to be told about a love triangle involving him, Castaspella and Prince Adam, but if so, this wasn’t it. It didn’t help that the voice actor seemed to have forgotten how to do He-Man’s voice, sounding pretty weedy throughout.

The storyline about the orange mist was very by-the-numbers, but the hints of Shadow Weaver’s back story were more interesting; it doesn’t particularly build on what we learned in A Loss for Words, but it’s nice to get a sense that there is some history behind these characters that we don’t yet fully know. The former friendship between Shadow Weaver and Castaspella could potentially make for an interesting episode in the future; even if not, it’s good that the characters aren’t complete blank slates.

My final verdict, I suppose, is that it’s no classic, and probably very slightly above average. I doubt anyone would rush to endorse it, nor condemn it.

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Episode 15 – He Ain’t Heavy

In which Shadow Weaver unleashes a powerful hoover.

Shadow Weaver and Grizzlor break into a retired wizard’s house, and – despite his warnings of danger – steal an artefact called the Moon Mirror. In the Fright Zone, Hordak congratulates Shadow Weaver on her unexpected competence and reveals his plan: when the moons are aligned, the Moon Mirror can create a bridge between universes, so Hordak is going to use it to kidnap Prince Adam. He will then capture Adora when she comes charging to the rescue.

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Shadow Weaver: “Pretty sure the background in here is where Granamyr used to live.”

Hordak achieves the first of these objectives, successfully kidnapping Adam, and even managing to steal his sword. He then sends a letter to Adora, informing her of Adam’s capture and demanding her surrender. Also included with the letter is a bomb, which might have made her surrender difficult if it had worked.

Adora, of course, heads off to the Fright Zone, after telling Bow and Glimmer that they mustn’t come with her. Once out of sight, she turns into She-Ra and flies off, managing to reach the Fright Zone’s dungeons with very little effort. Adam has been spending his time trying to reach his sword through the bars of his cage, without success, but this becomes unnecessary when She-Ra arrives and rips the door off. Adam then turns into He-Man with a faint air of irritation.

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Prince Adam: “I’m literally fuming.”

Bow and Glimmer remain in the Whispering Woods, studying a map to try to work out where they can get some food. They are interrupted by the retired wizard from the first scene, who introduces himself as Cattelus. He asks for help in retrieving his Moon Mirror, informing them that if used incorrectly, the Mirror could destroy Etheria. Bow leaps at the chance and hurtles off to the Fright Zone with Cattelus, hoping to recover the Mirror and help Adora at the same time.

Learning of Adam’s escape, Hordak orders Shadow Weaver to reactivate the Mirror and kidnap King Randor. Shadow Weaver warns Hordak that the moons are no longer aligned, and so the Mirror will be uncontrollable, but being a first class nitwit, Hordak tells her to do it anyway. Naturally, Shadow Weaver can’t control the Mirror, and opens a bridge to somewhere less than pleasant identified as the Doom Dimension.

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Shadow Weaver: “Properly love a good night down the Hacienda.”

It would seem that the Doom Dimension would be more appropriately named the Vacuum Cleaner Dimension, since its chief characteristic is to suck everything into it. Bow and Cattelus don’t do anything except cling desperately to pillars, while He-Man and She-Ra solve the situation by throwing an enormous statue of Hordak at the Mirror, which makes the Mirror explode.

The episode doesn’t see fit to explain what happens to Cattelus, or how He-Man gets back to Eternia, instead choosing to end with Adora back in Whispering Woods, making stupid jokes which only work if the rebels are familiar with the musical output of the Hollies, which logic would suggest they aren’t.

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Glimmer: “You’re talking as if you think you’re being funny, Adora, but these jokes make literally no sense.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Today, Loo-Kee was in a shot of Whispering Woods that I don’t even recall being in the episode. Obviously, I didn’t see him. He yammers on to us about safety, specifically mentioning knives, tools and matches as examples of things in the house that might hurt us. I assume this was supposed to be vaguely linked to the baddies not using the Moon Mirror safely, but in that case, surely Loo-Kee should have mentioned magical artefacts in his list of unsafe household objects.

 

Character checklist

Well, as you’ll have surely deduced by now, we have another guest appearance by Prince Adam and He-Man today. Teela also puts in a showing. The regulars are Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Glimmer, Bow, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Grizzlor, and some Horde Troopers. Cattelus is the one hit wonder.

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Bow: “I don’t know, Glimmer. It’s a nice enough table, but I’m sure we could get a cheaper one at Ikea.”

 

Excuse given for Adora and Adam’s disappearances

Bow asks He-Man and She-Ra where Adam and Adora are; He-Man seems only capable of smirking in a stupid way, while She-Ra gives the most minimal reply possible: “Safe.”

I know I’ve been down this road before, but I really do have to wonder about this secret identity business. Okay, maybe it’s plausible for Adora and She-Ra to be different people, in the eyes of the rebels, but surely they can put two and two together that He-Man only seems to come to Etheria when Prince Adam does?

 

Insults

Hordak addresses his letter to “the traitorous outlaw rebel Adora”. Otherwise, there’s nothing to report here, unless we really want to stretch a point and allow He-Man’s description of the Hordak statue as an “ugly monument”.

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He-Man: “Ugly it may be, but a genuine collector’s item too.”

 

Oh No, Bow!

Bow claims he’ll cause a distraction so he and Cattelus can break into the Fright Zone. What he actually does is cause a rock fall that nearly kills him and Cattelus. Remarkably, Bow seems to consider this a success.

 

Does it have the Power?

I felt like I was watching a vastly improved version of the previous episode, Friendship. It’s exactly the same plot, even following several of the same story points: for example, the Horde sending Adora a letter, and Bow being told to wait behind and then coming anyway. Still, it somehow had a lot more pizzazz to it, possibly because the person being rescued was Prince Adam and not some random “friend” who we’d never seen before and doubtless will never see again. The final crisis with the Doom Dimension was also much more interesting than the grand finale to Friendship, whatever that was. I can’t even remember now.

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She-Ra: “Putting my hairdryer on full strength was possibly a mistake.”

This is probably as good a place to mention as any, but I’m still waiting for most of the Rebellion to play anything other than a supporting role. Bow, of course, is getting a fair amount of screen time, but it does seem like the writers don’t know what to do with Glimmer, Madame Razz or any of the others. Additionally, the opening credits say that someone called Light Hope knows Adora’s secret identity; why have we not even met this Light Hope individual yet?

Episode 13 – King Miro’s Journey

In which we spend some time with Adora and Adam’s grandpa.

We open with a real treat this week – a panning shot of the Palace of Eternia! It brought back memories of happier days. In Eternia’s equivalent of the National Portrait Gallery, a man shows a child the portraits of past kings, and takes the opportunity to recap the plot of the He-Man episode Search for the Past, in which He-Man and King Randor rescued Randor’s father King Miro from the clutches of the Enchantress.

King Miro himself now shows up, and asks Prince Adam to take him to meet Adora, who he has not seen since she was a baby. Adam agrees, and with the off screen assistance of the Sorceress, they arrive on Etheria, only to quickly antagonise a group of Horde Troopers. Though Adam and Miro quickly win the ensuing battle, the Horde Troopers follow them into Whispering Woods. We are led to believe that this is a problem, but it’s actually not; the Twiggets arrange for the Troopers to get lost pretty smartish.

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Prince Adam: “Erm, Grandpa? I’m not sure that potato is going to intimidate the Horde Troopers.”

The two of them soon locate the Rebellion’s camp, where Adora and Madame Razz are making preparations to disrupt a forthcoming visit from a Horde Inspector. Miro tells Adora that there’s so much he wants to tell her, and Adora responds that there’s so much she wants to ask. They then do no telling or asking of anything, instead going back to wittering about the Inspector, whom they decide to attack at a location called Crystal Something or Other.

Meanwhile, Hordak and Shadow Weaver greet the Inspector, but he brushes off their obsequiousness and informs them that Horde Prime is not pleased with the continuing success of the Rebellion. He further explains that he has a plan for the defeat of the rebels, which involves establishing an impenetrable crystal dome around Whispering Woods, to prevent the rebels ever getting out. Hordak is not pleased at this, largely because he hates inspectors more than he does rebels, and no doubt he isn’t keen for the Inspector to take all the credit.

King Miro 2
Inspector: “You can bow all you like, Hordak, but we’re still going to need to discuss that debacle with Horde Prime’s nephew from last week.”

In the morning, preparing for their attack on the Inspector, Adam and Adora send King Miro off with Madame Razz, which just shows how much they really like him. They then transform into He-Man and She-Ra simultaneously, and the two transformation sequences are cut together just as awkwardly as they were back in Battle for Bright Moon.

The Inspector successfully activates the crystal dome generator, surrounding Whispering Woods. King Miro and Madame Razz then show up, and Miro starts criticising Hordak, possibly calculating that while he’s stuck behind a crystal dome, nothing untoward can happen to him. This proves incorrect; Hordak sets a bunch of robotic bats on him, which serves him right, as far as I’m concerned. Still, Miro manages to defeat the bats using a mirror. King Mirror, if you will.

King Miro 3
King Miro: “I’m not the best zoo exhibit, being honest.”

In the meantime, He-Man and She-Ra discover the crystal dome, and don’t opt for the usual “punch it really hard” tactic, instead choosing to try something slightly more intelligent: He-Man lifts it up, and She-Ra balances it on the tip of her sword to carry it away. The episode doesn’t show us where she put it, but I like to think she put it over the Fright Zone.

King Miro decides that it’s now time for him to return to Eternia, even though he’d really like to stay. He doesn’t give any explanation as to why he has to go back, since he’s not exactly doing anything that important there, and he’s shown himself today to be more useful than the majority of the rebels. Once he and Adam have left, Adora goes for a joyride on Spirit, spouting some remarkable gibberish about not wanting to fly in case she crashes into her heart, which is soaring. Clearly she’s been at Madame Razz’s stash of LSD again.

King Miro 4
Adora: “Definitely might crash into my heart. That’s well plausible, that is.”

 

In today’s adventure…

No, I didn’t see Loo-Kee, which I’m sure will come as a tremendous surprise to you. He was in the Eternian Palace courtyard, in case you want to know. His moral drawn from this episode is that family is the most important thing in your life. He emphasises “your” in a really weird way, implying that he has far more important things in his life, but we don’t.

 

Character checklist

Some less regular attendees today, as I’m sure you’ll have guessed. Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Madame Razz, Broom, Loo-Kee, the Twiggets, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Mantenna and the Horde Troopers are standard fare, but Adam, He-Man, King Miro, the Horde Inspector, and the man and the boy in Eternia’s Portrait Gallery are variety, and thus a treat for the eyes.

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He-Man: “Oh, do stop trying to upstage me with that bloody unicorn, She-Ra.”

 

Excuse given for Adora and Adam’s disappearances

“Only She-Ra can talk to the animals,” says Adora, as she prepares to interrogate a bird over suspected Horde activities in an early scene. Later on, when Adam and Adora transform together, they don’t give excuses, being too excited over the prospect of changing at the same time.

 

Insults

Surprisingly slim pickings today, with only Hordak making a contribution at all, referring to all his Horde Troopers as “clowns” and calling the Inspector a “coward”.

 

Does it have the Power?

I very much doubt that anyone had been wondering what had happened to King Miro after the less than enthralling events of Search for the Past, but this was a pretty decent return performance for him. Miro has a distinct air of competence about him, and is a well-drawn character who refuses to be intimidated by the Horde, even when he’s at a clear disadvantage. It strikes me that he’d be a better king than Randor, frankly, who I can only remember achieving anything once (in Prince Adam No More, if you must know).

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King Miro: “Come on, don’t try to tell me you don’t love skulking round portrait galleries dressed as Robin Hood.”

It’s also very pleasing to see Adam and He-Man again; I knew we would at some stage, but wasn’t expecting it to happen so soon. The simple but effective plot with the Inspector was good as well, especially since it gave some much needed character to Hordak: his dislike for the Inspector was very good, and it led to an amusing recurring joke in which he repeatedly threw Mantenna down a trapdoor just to cheer himself up. All in all, this one’s recommended.

Episode 127 – The Ancient Mirror of Avathar

In which Trapjaw chucks it all in to join the Royal Navy Reserves.

The episode opens with Adam introducing Moss-Man to Melaktha. I say Moss-Man is introduced to Melaktha, but in actual fact, Adam is clearly addressing the viewers, hoping to sell Moss-Man action figures. He even runs through Moss-Man’s special ability, which is to fall asleep and disguise himself as the nearest plant. I don’t see how this ability is ever going to help He-Man defeat Skeletor, but perhaps we’ll find out today.

Avathar 1
Melaktha: “Adam, how is this weird little leprechaun ever going to help?”

Moss-Man and Melaktha have joined Adam to go on a pleasure cruise to try to discover the ancient island continent of Avathar, which Melaktha is convinced is not a myth. Trapjaw has stowed away on their ship, disguising himself rather pathetically as a pirate, and he puts in a quick call to Evil-Lyn and Two-Bad at Snake Mountain to inform them that our heroes are searching for Avathar. They think Skeletor will be interested, but unless he needs a coursework topic for his GCSE in Archaeology, this seems unlikely to me.

Naturally, it doesn’t take long for our heroes to find the island of Avathar, and Melaktha gets straight into the archaeology – at least, when he’s not being pointlessly rude to Moss-Man. Investigating a demonic-looking statue, Melaktha unlocks a secret passage leading underground, which turns out to lead to the former museum of Avathar. Moss-Man strikes up a conversation with the moss on the walls, from which he learns that the Ancient Mirror of Avathar is hidden in a secret chamber.

Avathar 3
Prince Adam: “Thanks for the outing to the tackiest antique shop on Eternia, Melaktha.”

Our heroes find their way into the secret chamber with considerable ease, and gaze upon the Mirror. Adam asks what the Mirror is, at which point the Mirror wakes up and speaks to them. After ripping off the dialogue used by the Guardian of Forever in the famous Star Trek episode, it gets down to business and explains that it holds the entire knowledge of the former Avathar Empire. Adam and Melaktha immediately grab it and take it back aboard their ship, while Moss-Man loots all the other treasures in the museum. These people are not responsible archaeologists.

Trapjaw, still in his laughable pirate disguise, calls Snake Mountain again to give a progress update and to request instructions. Two-Bad, who seems to have taken an assertiveness course since his appearance last week, orders him to nick the Mirror and bring it to Snake Mountain. Trapjaw attempts to take advantage of a sudden thunderstorm to do just that, but due to his usual degree of incompetence, he is immediately discovered by Adam and Moss-Man.

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Two-Bad: “Worst snowglobe ever.”

Unfortunately, because of a subplot involving an idiot boy and his dad who live in a lighthouse, the ship is accidentally misguided onto some rocks, and runs aground. He-Man puts in an appearance to save the ship from sinking, then tows the ship safely to the docks. And then, to my distinct surprise, the episode ends, without making any kind of an attempt to wrap things up. It just stops.

 

In today’s adventure…

He-Man treats us to a little lecture about how boring jobs are still worth doing. Various characters throughout the episode have had a weird obsession with this theme, so it comes as no surprise to find it trotted out as the moral.

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Lighthouse keeper: “Our jobs and lives are very very dull.”

 

Character checklist

This week, we have the pleasure of the company of Prince Adam, He-Man, Melaktha, Moss-Man, Trapjaw, Evil-Lyn, Two-Bad, the lighthouse keeper, the idiot boy, and a large number of sailors. Oh, and also the Mirror, obviously.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

The first transformation comes when Adam in alone is a room, and so he doesn’t need to give an excuse. The second transformation equally comes with no excuse, and is noteworthy for Adam’s curious decision to turn into He-Man right in front of Trapjaw.

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Prince Adam: “Say there, sailor, you look a bit like Trapjaw. Unfortunate coincidence for you, I guess.”

 

Insults

Melaktha rudely refers to Moss-Man as Adam’s “green friend”, which is true but is definitely not meant politely. Two-Bad calls Trapjaw a “tin head”, but Trapjaw achieves a new low when he refers to himself as a “scurvy knave”.

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s really, really odd. I’ve complained in the past about episodes not knowing what they wanted to do with themselves, but I’m struggling to think of an episode that’s quite as disjointed as this one. The plotlines battling for attention in this episode are:

  1. The quest for the Mirror, and the knowledge it can bestow. This one takes up quite a lot of the first half of the episode, and seems to be the main storyline, but once our heroes have acquired the Mirror and stashed it on the boat, it never appears again – except right at the end, when the lighthouse boy and his dad use it to reflect light at the ocean. Quite how they got their hands on the Mirror is not explained.
  2. As a subplot of the above, there’s Trapjaw trying to nick the Mirror. This is clearly just here to bulk the episode out, since it’s a plotline that goes absolutely nowhere and does nothing.
  3. The stupid boy in the lighthouse. After the quest for the Mirror, the episode decides it wants to focus on this individual, who is a pretty standard Filmation child. He doesn’t want to do the lighthouse job because it’s boring, so he goofs off, and ultimately discovers that he’s caused a disaster. Cue much hand-wringing, apologies, and forgiveness from his disappointed but understanding father.
  4. Melaktha’s odd prejudice towards Moss-Man. In the early part of the episode, Melaktha clearly hates Moss-Man’s guts, but he gets over this when Moss-Man saves his life.
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Mirror: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, what’s the oddest episode of them all?”

With all this going on, it’s plain that it’s not all going to get a fair showing. The Mirror plotline is particularly poorly served, since there’s a lot of build-up and excitement around the Mirror’s discovery, and then nothing at all happens. Trapjaw’s plotline could have been safely cut, and I’d have been happier if the lighthouse rubbish hadn’t been involved.

So all in all, it’s a bit of a mess, but – especially in the first half – an enjoyable one. It’s particularly good if you’re a massive Moss-Man fan; I’m sure there must be at least one of you out there.

Episode 123 – Mistaken Identity

In which Modulok builds Eternia’s first railway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

In today’s adventure…

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

 

Character checklist

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

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

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

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

 

Insults

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

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

 

Does it have the Power?

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

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

 

Episode 101 – Not So Blind

In which He-Man and Ram-Man take a blind boy to a cave.

Prince Adam overhears an old man in the marketplace telling some children stories about He-Man’s exploits, so he wanders along to join in. One of the children presciently asks why He-Man doesn’t just smash Skeletor into little bones, and Adam explains that He-Man tries not to hurt any living being. He then goes on to lamely explain that Skeletor will be punished for his evil one day, but the children are unconvinced, as was I.

All the children leave, except one boy, who is blind. His name – for no readily apparent reason – is Loose, and he expresses a desire to meet He-Man. Adam offers him the chance to go on an adventure with He-Man, and Loose accepts. First needing to ask permission from his parents, he leads Adam to his home. It is made clear at this juncture that Loose may be blind, but he is perfectly capable of taking care of himself.

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Storyteller: “I’ve got the best hat ever, and don’t even try to tell me otherwise.”

Adam evidently decides that he doesn’t like Loose very much, because he next introduces him to Ram-Man, who is definitely not the person I’d most want to meet if I visited Eternia. As Adam pops off to turn into He-Man, Loose feels Ram-Man’s face and asks him various questions like, “Where is your neck?” and “How do you turn your head?” This is all intended to demonstrate that the blind boy can ‘see’ as well as any of us, but it comes perilously close to pointing out just how stupid Ram-Man’s character design is.

He-Man now appears and introduces himself to Loose, then suggests that the three of them go to find the legendary Singing Crystals. This whole sequence feels as if it’s the start of a ride in the He-Man Theme Park; I can just imagine lots of people being packed into a fake Attack Trak, while He-Man and Ram-Man deliver overblown lines about going to find something rare and exciting, just for the fun of it. Maybe it’s a business venture the two of them will take up when they retire.

Blind 2
He-Man: “Loose, I’m sorry I had to involve Ram-Man, but he’s contractually obliged to appear.”

Anyway, the three companions make their way through the wilderness, as Loose explains that he uses his other senses to find his way with ease. This is demonstrated in a few scenes of relative subtlety which show Ram-Man tripping over a rock that Loose had successfully avoided, and Loose concluding how old a bridge is by feeling the rope and listening to the wooden planks.

Finally, they reach the caves of the Singing Crystals, which are bright and shimmery, but more importantly for Loose, they genuinely do sing when they are touched. Unfortunately, one of the Crystals falls and shatters in a bright explosion, and because He-Man and Ram-Man are both stupid enough to look right at it, they are blinded by the flash.

Blind 3
Loose: “There’s just something about this scene that screams 1980s disco.”

Debating what to do, Loose says that he will be able to lead the party home, which he does with considerable ease, until they get to the old bridge. While they are on the bridge, one end collapses and the three of them find themselves hanging on for dear life, and unable to climb up because the boards are loose. He-Man manages to throw a lasso into a nearby tree and hoist the party up, a feat which ordinarily would be second nature for him, but gives him some difficulty while he is unable to see.

The trio navigate a number of other hazards before they successfully return to the Palace, where Man-at-Arms (in his capacity as Palace Optician, to add to his hundreds of other jobs) restores He-Man’s sight. There’s no mention of Ram-Man’s sight being restored, but I think we can take it as a given that this happens too. Loose then relates the story to the other children, who call him a liar until He-Man comes along to give him some street cred.

Blind 4
He-Man: “Ello, ello, ello, what’s all this then?”

 

In today’s adventure…

Would you know it, children that are blind or handicapped are not helpless, and have feelings and desires just like the rest of us. It’s easy for me to poke fun, but actually this moral is well worth the inclusion.

 

Character checklist

It’s one of those rare episodes without a villain, and it’s even rarer in that it’s a good one (see The Starchild and The Remedy, if you can stomach it). That results in a pretty tight cast list, consisting simply of Prince Adam, He-Man, Ram-Man, Loose, the storyteller, a bunch of children, and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance from Man-at-Arms.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam mutters, “Please excuse me, but, uh, there’s something that I’ve got to do,” just after introducing Loose to Ram-Man. He goes just out of sight – and presumably earshot – to transform, then reappears as He-Man and says, “Adam can’t make it.”

Blind 5
Adam: “Maybe if I shrug my shoulders so it looks like I have no neck, I won’t have to go on this stupid expedition with Ram-Man.”

 

Insults

With the possible exception of the other children calling Loose a “liar” at the end of the episode, there are no insults on show today.

 

Does it have the Power?

This is an episode that could have gone one of two ways: either outstandingly good or toe-curlingly bad. I’m happy to report that it is the former. Loose’s blindness is handled with considerable sensitivity, and there are some scenes included that genuinely make you think, especially if you’re four years old. My favourite such scene was on the way to the caves, when He-Man offers to carry Loose over the bridge. Loose responds, “Are you going to carry Ram-Man across?” before requesting to be treated like anybody else. The message is clearly received, without ever descending into patronising drivel.

Blind 6
Loose: “I wonder how anyone managed to construct this ridiculously long and flimsy bridge.”

The conceit of turning He-Man and Ram-Man blind was also good; we’d all seen Loose being capable beforehand, but it really upped the game when our heroes were rendered helpless and had to be led to safety by another character. I also enjoyed the fact that there was no villain in the episode. The only criticism I might level is that I have no idea why Loose has such a stupid name. On the other hand, characters in He-Man are often named after their ability, so I suppose it’s lucky that he didn’t wind up with a tactless name like Blindor or No-Eyes-Man.

In short, this is a surprisingly mature episode, and well worth a watch.

Episode 098 – Search for the Past

In which Prince Adam leaps out of a moving Wind Raider for no reason whatsoever.

Man-at-Arms and Orko go shopping down at the market. You might think that the episode can’t get any more exciting than that, but it does. At one trader’s stall, Man-at-Arms spots a golden bracelet which used to belong to King Randor’s father, King Miro, and demands to know where he found it. On learning that it came from the Swamps of Enchantment, Man-at-Arms takes the bracelet to Randor, and the two of them decide to go to the Swamps to find Miro.

Search 1
King Randor: “You’re nicked.”

Concerned for her husband, Queen Marlena asks Adam and Cringer to go to the Swamps as well. She is right to be worried: Man-at-Arms’ stupendous incompetence has already led to Randor being kidnapped by the Enchantress, a sexy sorceress who was responsible for Miro’s disappearance many years ago.

Adam and Cringer fly to the Swamps in the Wind Raider. Once they get there they decide not to land the Wind Raider like normal, but instead jump out and float down using parachutes, leaving the Wind Raider to land itself. This is bizarre behaviour, the only reason for which Adam gives is the non sequitur phrase, “In that spinach?” Adam is mental.

Search 2
Cringer: “This sequence must have been a devil of a job for the animators.”

They quickly locate Man-at-Arms, and decide to turn into He-Man and Battle-Cat for good measure. They soon decide that Randor must be being held in Lost Mountain, which is a mountain hovering in mid-air directly above the Swamps. Unsure of how to get up to the mountain, He-Man comments that it would be good to have a Wind Raider. There is no hint in his voice that it’s his own bloody insane fault that they don’t.

Without a Wind Raider available, He-Man instead catapults himself onto the mountain using a bent tree, and sets off to find the missing royals. He finds King Miro first, who is in a rock cabin at the very top of a mountain spire, and he reveals that Randor is probably being held in Castle Fear, back on solid ground. They set off together, awarding themselves a fight with a stupid monster en route.

Search 3
King Miro: “Thank goodness you’re not my grandson Adam. I’d do my nut if he dyed his hair neon orange.”

He-Man and Miro parachute off Lost Mountain and head for Castle Fear, picking up Man-at-Arms and Battle-Cat as they go. The Enchantress tries to defeat the assembled party with various stupid monsters and magic tricks, but fails entirely. Once she’s dealt with, Randor offers Miro his throne back, but Miro declines, opting instead to roam Eternia and learn about its people anew. I predict that after two weeks of learning about imbeciles like Ram-Man and Buzz-Off, Miro will be back at the Palace, begging to live with Randor and Adam, who are at least borderline sane.

 

In today’s adventure…

Orko gives us two morals for the price of one this week:

  • You can’t do bad things without being punished for them.
  • If you have a grandmother or grandfather, you are really lucky.

The first of these wasn’t exactly demonstrated; Orko tries to make out that the Enchantress got punished, but she didn’t really – she just got carried off camera by a giant slug (sorry, I didn’t mention that in the synopsis). What happened to her thereafter is anyone’s guess. The second wasn’t really demonstrated either: having a grandfather in this episode led to He-Man having to mess about catapulting himself onto floating mountains and other such rubbish, which I’d hesitate to describe as lucky. My guess is that the writers knew each of these lessons singularly was too weak to carry the episode, so they thought that if they mashed them together, that would be good enough.

Search 4
The Enchantress: “I wonder why so many female magicians on Eternia wear birds on their heads.”

 

Character checklist

This week’s effort treats us to Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, King Randor, Queen Marlena, King Miro, Man-at-Arms, Orko, the Enchantress, the marketplace trader, and the massive slug.

 

Insults

The Enchantress does a lot of insulting this week, but her voice is really soft so I couldn’t tell what she was saying a lot of the time. It’s a definite fact that she refers to her sluggy servant thing as a “bothersome insect”, a “slimy slug”, a “fool”, and “sludge”. She also calls Miro a “royal buffoon” and might call Randor a “fool”, but her soft voice lets her down here. He-Man refers to one of the stupid monsters as an “ugly snowball”, and two more as “mudballs”, which suggests He-Man has acquired a sudden and unexpected obsession with balls.

Search 5
Stupid monster: “Smugger than Nigel Farage on 24th June 2016.”

 

Egg on your face?

It barely qualifies, but since this category has been quiet lately, I should report that Orko’s stupid clumsiness brings a huge pile of oranges down on his head.

 

Does it have the Power?

There’s an inherent problem with episodes like this one. From the moment the prospect arises that King Miro might be alive, we know he will be, because Filmation doesn’t do tragic. We also know, however, that even though he’s alive, he’s not going to take his throne back from Randor. Further to that, we’re pretty confident that we’ll never see him again. Consequently, it’s really difficult to get invested in the plotline, because it’s not going to have any long-term impact. And yes, I know that every episode restores matters to the status quo at the end, but most of them don’t offer potentially huge changes as a consequence of the episode’s events, like this one does.

Search 6
King Miro: “I’m leaving now, Adam. There’s no need to ever mention me again.”

It doesn’t help, I suppose, that the Enchantress is a boring and utterly motiveless baddy, and that Randor and Miro don’t really seem to care when they are reunited. Adam makes a valiant attempt to convince us that he’s pleased to meet his grandfather, but while we’re on the subject of Adam, his behaviour with the Wind Raider this week was so far outside the realms of logic that I’m tempted to conclude he’s cracked under the pressure and gone completely insane.

So, unfortunately, I wasn’t a fan of this one. I recommend missing it.

That’s the last review for a couple of weeks now. Should be back around about 4th November. Don’t miss me too much.

Episode 096 – Battlecat

In which Man-at-Arms releases an ancient demon and blames everybody else.

This episode begins with an extended sequence in which Man-at-Arms, Teela and Adam all properly lay into Orko for being irresponsible and generally annoying. If their vitriol were directed at anyone else, I’d call it a massive case of going overboard, but when it’s Orko, he deserves anything that anyone chooses to throw at him. Once that’s done with, Orko decides to mess about in Man-at-Arms’ lab to create a potion to make Cringer brave.

Battlecat 1
Prince Adam: “Jesus Christ, this is pretty scary for pre-watershed fare.”

Well, I was as shocked as any of you when this doesn’t work. Instead, Orko conjures up a seriously terrifying transparent cat demon, which luckily is pretty stupid and is consequently easily trapped in a bottle. Predictably, Man-at-Arms is livid, and after shouting about it for a while, decides that the best thing to do now is to tell – at length – the story of how Adam first met Cringer. This is a random choice, even for Man-at-Arms’ customary inexplicable behaviour, so I can only conclude that he’s completely lost it.

The story begins with a roughly 12 year old Adam heading off on a camping trip on his own, because nothing bad could ever happen on Eternia. Sure enough, Adam quickly comes under attack from a sabre-cat, but he drives it away using a device that imitates animal noises. Once the sabre-cat leaves, Adam finds Cringer, who is still a kitten and possibly the cutest cartoon cat ever. Cringer is injured, so Adam brings him back to the Palace and asks Man-at-Arms to save him.

Battlecat 2
Cringer: “Adopt me. Please adopt me. I am the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen.”

Because Filmation couldn’t be bothered to animate a character called the Palace Vet, Man-at-Arms successfully restores Cringer to health. Cringer earns his name when he takes fright at a crowd of the most hideous children I’ve ever seen, for which I can’t say I blame him. He is also terrified when the disembodied head of the Sorceress appears to have a chat with Adam, which again is reasonable.

Years pass, until one day Melaktha and his archaeological team find a temple in the Tikon Jungle which is over 100 centuries old. Marlena suggests that Man-at-Arms goes on the expedition to investigate, because he is the most skilled person on Eternia at deciphering ancient writings. Excuse me? So Man-at-Arms is the Palace inventor, vet, and poly-linguist? Couldn’t they have given this skill to someone else – you know, someone like Stratos, who doesn’t seem to have any abilities?

Battlecat 3
Man-at-Arms: “I reckon if I stand here in this pose, looking at the paper seriously, everyone will think I’m doing some difficult translation work rather than just reading the Daily Star.”

Anyway, Adam, Teela and Cringer all tag along on the expedition, and quickly get some hints that the temple is super evil. Shortly before nightfall, Adam and Teela find a doorway to the temple, which has been bricked up. They inform Man-at-Arms, but he tells them to wait till morning before investigating. This does not suit Adam and Teela, who return to the door and succeed in opening it very slightly, before giving up and trotting off to bed.

In the morning, despite translating the ancient writings on the temple as meaning “WARNING – EVIL!”, Man-at-Arms decides to blast open the door. This releases a big blue demon thing called a Gedge, and the combined might of Teela, Ram-Man and the Palace Guards fails to slow it down. Adam thus decides that He-Man is needed and, seemingly on a whim, during the transformation he points his sword at Cringer, who becomes the mighty Battle-Cat. Genuinely, this move seems to be prompted by him thinking, “Hmm, I wonder what will happen if I shoot this energy at the cat?”

The Sorceress appears in a vision to explain that to defeat the Gedge, He-Man will have to be clever, which is precisely the sort of useful advice she’s always giving. I seriously doubt He-Man was thinking, “To defeat this monster, I’ll have to be really stupid.” Anyway, He-Man does some stuff which barely qualifies as clever in my book, and successfully reseals the Gedge in the temple. It’s worth pointing out that Man-at-Arms tries his damnedest to seal He-Man and Battle-Cat inside as well, so I’m sure He-Man will be keeping a close eye on him in the future.

Battlecat 4
The Sorceress: “No, He-Man. No matter how miserable you look, I will not buy you another ice cream.”

Man-at-Arms ends this rambling and irrelevant story by attempting to tie it in with Orko’s actions at the beginning of the episode, claiming that the Gedge wouldn’t have got out if Adam and Teela hadn’t ignored his instructions. This is entirely untrue. Yes, Adam and Teela did open the door a crack, but the Gedge didn’t get out until Man-at-Arms rocked up with his massive charges of dynamite and blew up the door. Still, Orko nods and pretends to have taken in the lesson, but I’m sure next time he’ll be happily meddling again.

 

In today’s adventure…

Orko and Man-at-Arms talk about poisons this week. They show us a big bottle with a massive skull-and-crossbones on it, and inform us that we mustn’t touch bottles that look like this, of which there were absolutely loads in my house when I was growing up. This lesson might have sunk in more effectively if the animators hadn’t chosen to draw Man-at-Arms with his mouth hanging open in a really gormless smile for this scene.

Battlecat 5
Man-at-Arms: “Don’t worry about me, I’m completely out of my mind.”

Anyway, the real lesson of this episode, quite clearly, is that if you are in a position of authority – like Man-at-Arms – and act quickly to shift the blame to someone else, you’ll get away scot free. I can’t believe his blatancy in trying to make out the whole business with the Gedge was Adam and Teela’s fault, when it was definitely him and his explosives obsession that caused the problem.

 

Character checklist

Oh, you know the drill by now. It would barely qualify as a He-Man episode if it didn’t have Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Orko, Man-at-Arms, Teela and the Sorceress in it. It’s also got King Randor, Queen Marlena, Melaktha, some random woman, a load of horrible children, some Palace guards, some workmen, and a surprise appearance from Ram-Man, who we haven’t seen in a while. The Gedge is in it too, but who the hell gives a monkeys about that?

Battlecat 6
Gedge: “Sorry for being such a rubbish monster.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

No one asks and no one cares.

 

Insults

It’s been a long, long time since we’ve had an episode with no insults in it, but this one qualifies, unless one counts the beastly bullying children shrieking “Cringer! Cringer!” at Cringer.

 

Does it have the Power?

Apart from the outstandingly cute scenes of Cringer as a kitten, there’s not much going for this one. While I do appreciate the efforts to fill in the background of some of our characters, I don’t really care about the first time Cringer became Battle-Cat, especially not when it’s because of a massively boring monster like the Gedge. It’s almost as if they wanted to do an episode about the first time Adam became He-Man, but chickened out and compromised with Battle-Cat.

Battlecat 7
He-Man: “Hey, homies, check out my new wheels.”

In its favour, the episode does start off looking like it’s going to be a dreadful episode about Orko, and it skirts round that pitfall pretty neatly. But Man-at-Arms seems to have only a very flimsy excuse for relating the Battle-Cat story in the first place, and frankly he’d have been better off not telling it, because the behaviour he exhibits in the story is frankly reprehensible.

In short, I suppose I’d better recommend watching it, because at least you’ll know a bit of Adam and Cringer’s history. But it’s only a grudging recommendation, because it’s pretty boring history. If you do skip it, then don’t worry, I won’t blame you. But Man-at-Arms will.

Episode 090 – One For All

In which Teela nearly succeeds in removing Orko from the episode altogether.

Adam, Cringer, Teela and Orko are having a day out exploring an archaeological site, when they receive word that a horde of space pirates have descended on a peaceful farming village to steal food supplies. Teela very sensibly decides to send Orko back to the Palace to alert Man-at-Arms, perhaps in the naive hope that Orko will then remain at the Palace and not appear in the rest of the episode. This hope is entirely unjustified.

Adam, Cringer and Teela show up at the village, where they completely fail to defeat the pirates – all of whom put together are, I must say, less intelligent than Ram-Man. In this display of ineptitude, Adam manages to lose his sword, and a big red rock-like pirate nicks it. Then the lead pirate, imaginatively named Sticky Fingers, shoots tar out of his fingers and roots our idiot heroes to the spot, while the pirates load their ship with food.

One For All 1
Sticky Fingers: “Got to say, I’m impressed at your stag do outfits, lads.”

I must have glanced away from the screen for a moment and missed some crucial information, because the next thing I knew, Adam, Teela and Cringer were in jail in some unspecified location. Luckily, two of the villagers – Rose and Harel – arrive to bust them out, take them to a warehouse to hide, then explain that the other villagers are too frightened to stand up to the pirates.

Before an intelligent discourse on how to stand up to bullies can begin, this notion is abandoned in favour of the introduction of a stupid two-legged monster with an elephant’s trunk and a rhino’s horn, which tracks our heroes to their hiding place. Thankfully, this ridiculous creation is defeated with the judicious use of some pepper, clogging up its trunk and rendering it incapable of further troublemaking.

One For All 2
Adam: “And the award for Least Expected Monster Ever goes to…”

Adam, Teela, Rose and Harel give the other villagers a pep talk in Bullying 101, advising them to work together and present a united front to the pirates. Adam then reveals that he has an idea, which is evidently inspired by frequent viewings of Home Alone, consisting as it does of the construction of a variety of stupid traps including jail cells suspended on ropes and deep pits, in which a good proportion of the pirates very shortly manage to get themselves trapped.

In the meantime, Cringer successfully recovers Adam’s sword, and He-Man appears on the scene very shortly thereafter. He quickly captures Sticky Fingers, after which Man-at-Arms finally arrives and promises to bring the pirates to justice. He-Man then congratulates the villagers on their newfound skills in working together to build traps, and Orko pops up again for a grand finale in which he idiotically makes Man-at-Arms invisible. Man-at-Arms probably welcomes this, since he can now punch Orko in the face without anyone ever knowing he was there.

One For All 3
Man-at-Arms: “Orko! How can I maintain my unearned reputation for competence if you keep dicking around making me invisible?”

 

In today’s adventure…

Adam is very proud of his efforts with the villagers this week, and comes along to tell us all about cooperation. Lifting heavy objects and doing boring jobs are easier if you get someone else to help you. They’re even easier if you get someone else to do it instead of you, but Adam doesn’t say that.

 

Character checklist

Right, well, it’s Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Orko, Man-at-Arms, Rose, Harel, Sticky Fingers, and a whole host more pirates and villagers, the names of whom I remain entirely uninformed and uninterested.

One For All 4
Villagers: “Most of us don’t have or deserve names.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

When the space pirates first appear on the scene, Teela runs off telling Adam to stay right where he is. This should be all the excuse Adam needs, but he still decides to try to give the game away by commenting, “All right, Teela. Adam will stay right where he is.” Fortunately, Teela is out of earshot by this stage, so doesn’t start questioning why Adam’s started referring to himself in the third person.

 

Insults

Some pretty mild fare this week, with nothing more serious than Sticky Fingers referring to his entire cabal as “fools”, and Orko calling Sticky Fingers a “miserable pirate”.

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s an unpromising storyline which actually turns out to be relatively good fun. The writer clearly put himself into a corner with his introduction of these pirates, who never even approach being threatening. He must therefore have realised that He-Man would make mincemeat of them in an instant, so conjured up the subplot concerning the theft of the sword. This has the pleasing (if possibly unintended) by-product of portraying Adam as surprisingly competent; it’s nice to see what he can do when he’s forced to by an inability to He-Manise himself. Cringer too gets a moment in the limelight, successfully stealing the power sword back from Sticky Fingers.

One For All 5
Cringer: “Hashtag winning.”

On the downside, the pirates – despite some interesting animation designs – are all entirely lacking in personality, with the exception of Sticky Fingers, who’s not that exciting. The whole storyline is pretty slow as well: the episode is forced to pad things out with an irrelevant five minute section at the start where He-Man has to rescue Rose from falling down a chasm.

In short, though, this episode is better than you might expect. Don’t think you’re getting a classic, but you’ll probably enjoy it.

Episode 085 – The Rainbow Warrior

In which Adam learns his secret isn’t quite as safe as he thought.

Good Lord. Skeletor’s in an absolutely foul mood this morning. We find him in Snake Mountain, shouting at Beast-Man and Trapjaw for no evident reason other than to let off some steam. In the course of the crazed yammering, however, Skeletor comes up with a plan, which can’t really be described as his greatest. He intends to defeat He-Man by turning the Palace Guards against him. Skeletor does not appear to have considered that even Beast-Man can defeat the Palace Guards, so it’s not going to give He-Man any trouble. This plan is so rubbish that even Skeletor appears to have forgotten about it by the time his next scene rolls around.

Rainbow 1.jpg
Beast-Man: “Skeletor, this plan is so stupid, even I could have come up with it.”

At the Palace, Queen Marlena reminisces about her time as an astronaut from Earth. She visits her old ship – the Rainbow Explorer – which is now in the Eternian Museum, and we are treated to a flashback showing Marlena’s arrival on Eternia. Her ship crashed in the Eternian plains, where a hilariously unbearded young King Randor found her and sleazily suggested she come back to the Palace as his guest. Fortunately, the episode does not attempt to show us Randor and Marlena’s courtship, merely summing up with, “Then I fell in love with you.”

Rainbow 2.jpg
Marlena: “You so need to grow a beard. You look like you’re two years old.”

Almost entirely oblivious to Marlena’s nostalgia, Randor chirpily invites her to come to a picnic on the beach, which she declines. And so it is that Marlena is not in the Wind Raider when Skeletor successfully captures it, freezing Randor, Adam, Man-at-Arms, Orko and Teela and securing them in chains just outside Snake Mountain. He then sends a message to the Palace, demanding unconditional surrender.

Marlena refuses this kind offer, and orders the Palace Guards to prepare for battle. Without Teela or Man-at-Arms to lead them, they are uncertain of victory – until Marlena puts on her old astronaut suit and takes command, flying the Rainbow Explorer. Leading the Guards to Snake Mountain, Marlena shoots the chains from Adam’s wrists, and he runs off to try to find He-Man. This he does, with astonishing alacrity.

Skeletor unleashes a fleet of robots on Sky Sleds to destroy the Palace Guards, but Marlena shows off her flying skills, shooting Skeletor’s robots out of the sky. She then gets into a dogfight with Skeletor’s ship, the Doom Buster, and Marlena successfully forces Skeletor to crash. In the meantime, He-Man doesn’t really do a lot, to be honest. He does confront Skeletor in the wreckage of the crashed ship, but Skeletor rather unexpectedly flies away using what appears to be an inbuilt jetpack.

Rainbow 3
Skeletor: “Laters.”

Marlena lands the Rainbow Explorer, and takes off her astronaut helmet, revealing her identity. This shocks absolutely everyone, even He-Man, who stumbles, “Mother – uh, your Majesty.” Back at the Palace, Adam asks Marlena why she chose to free him, rather than someone useful – and she replies, “A mother always knows her own son, and what he is capable of doing.” I think it’s therefore safe to say that Marlena is fully aware of Adam’s double life.

 

In today’s adventure…

This episode comes with a little sequence which barely qualifies as a moral: Teela and Marlena agree to teach other to fly the Sky Sleds and the Rainbow Explorer. The lesson – given with an astonishing degree of subtlety compared to every single other episode – is that older people have a lot of knowledge, and they also remember what it’s like to be young. Fair enough, though it seems to me that the moral this week is that your mother always knows what you’re up to. Which is a disturbing thought.

 

Character checklist

Prince Adam, He-Man, Queen Marlena, King Randor, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Teela, plenty of unnamed Palace guards, Skeletor, Beast-Man and Trapjaw make up the perfect cast to this tale.

Rainbow 4
He-Man: “Pre-Glasto group photo, guys!”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Teela hands it to Adam on a silver platter this week, by telling him to run away and find He-Man. Adam does not need telling twice.

 

Insults

As noted above, Skeletor uses the entire first scene simply to berate his henchmen, providing a possibly unmatched wealth of imaginative insults which you can use on your friends, assuming you don’t want them to be your friends anymore. Skeletor calls Trapjaw a “tin-tongued dolt” and a “metal-munching moron”, and calls Beast-Man a “flea-bitten furbrain”. He refers to them collectively as “fools”, “stupid assistants”, a “dim-witted duo”, and a “pathetic pair of pitiful pinheads”. He also taps Trapjaw’s head and comments, “Just as I suspected – hollow.”

It’s not just Beast-Man and Trapjaw who draw his wrath: he refers to He-Man as a “poor fool” and a “muscle-bound moron”, though there’s nothing out of the ordinary there. Skeletor also is the recipient of a number of insults: Queen Marlena calls him a “demon”, while Teela says he is an “evil monster” and a “hooded hoodlum”. And finally, there’s a slightly strange moment when Trapjaw addresses Skeletor and – perhaps a little unwisely – comments, “You look a little fat.”

Rainbow 6
Skeletor: “Say what, Trapjaw?”

 

Does it have the Power?

Yes, it absolutely does. It’s a real treat to get another super episode so soon after the outstanding Into the Abyss, but The Rainbow Warrior is also a series highlight. I never thought I’d be particularly interested in Queen Marlena’s back story, but this episode was very effective in showing us her arrival on Eternia and conveying her sense of nostalgia for her astronaut days, even though she is happy with her life as Queen.

The point at which she flies the Rainbow Explorer into battle is almost a punch-the-air moment, and it’s notable that He-Man contributed very little to Skeletor’s defeat. I’d actually suggest that he could have been left out of this episode and I possibly wouldn’t have even noticed. Marlena’s decision to free Adam, and her subsequent hinting that she knows the secret, is also a really great moment.

Rainbow 5
Prince Adam: “How can Mother know my secret? I thought the whole thing was completely watertight.”

But the icing on the cake is – as so often – Skeletor. As well as the numerous insults recorded above, he is also gifted more hugely comedic dialogue. Early on, he comments, “I’ve tried to invade Castle Grayskull six times.” Beast-Man corrects him, “Seven, boss…”, to which Skeletor snaps back, “Six! The first time was only practice. I was teasing the poor fool.” His plan once again appears to boil down to ‘capture some people, then wait for them to be rescued’, which is sheer buffoonery, and it’s almost heartbreaking to see this poor skeleton want something so much, and be far too incompetent to achieve it. In addition, his final exit on a jet pack was a touch of demented genius.

Watch this one: you won’t be disappointed.