Masters of the Universe

In which Dave isn’t very good at DIY.

This magnum opus of cinema begins with some helpful narration, which explains the basic concept of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and it remains broadly similar to the premise that we all know and love. On this outing, Castle Grayskull sits at the centre of the universe, and it contains the power needed for someone to become Master of the Universe. The Sorceress of Grayskull guards this power from the forces of evil.

Immediately after the credits, we are introduced to Skeletor. This is no doubt because the filmmakers knew he was far and away the best thing about the film, and was thus needed as soon as possible in order to hold our attention. Skeletor has evidently been watching Star Wars, since he has a huge army of Imperial Storm Troopers, the only difference being that they are dressed in black rather than white. Skeletor is less subtle in his evilness than the Galactic Empire.

Anyway, rather to my surprise, Skeletor has already captured Castle Grayskull, and is lounging about on the throne. The budget evidently didn’t stretch to showing the battle in which he managed to gain access to the castle. Evil-Lyn is present, wearing a bin bag and a tin foil hat, and she reports that He-Man is continuing to lead the resistance. The Sorceress is also present, and is just as given to talking in irritating, unhelpful cryptic hints as she was in the Filmation series.

Skeletor makes a public service announcement to Eternia, informing them that he has taken control of Grayskull. He-Man stands on a hill in order to pose dramatically while Skeletor makes this broadcast, then introduces himself to the audience by having a random fight with some Storm Troopers. Man-at-Arms and Teela appear at this juncture, the latter of whom looking as though she’s escaped from the set of an intergalactic remake of Grease. He-Man gives her a welcoming hug and cops a quick feel of her backside.

Before Man-at-Arms can complain that He-Man hasn’t fondled his rear end too, we are treated to the appearance of a ghastly Orko-substitute called Gwildor. Gwildor is the inventor of a device called the Cosmic Key, which can open a doorway between any two locations. He explains that Evil-Lyn stole the Cosmic Key, and used it to allow Skeletor and his Storm Troopers to enter Grayskull. Once this exciting plot point is established, our heroic party waltzes into Grayskull themselves, and after a less than enlightening conversation with the Sorceress, they are pinned down by Skeletor.

I’d love to say it’s an exciting fight, but unfortunately all I could think of during this scene was that Star Wars does this sort of thing so much better. And frankly, I don’t even like Star Wars. The scene ends with Gwildor using another copy of his stupid Cosmic Key to open a gateway to a random location, through which our heroes escape.

These events cover the first 15 minutes of the film, and it’s all been pretty standard silly Eternian shenanigans up to this point. It’s not been good, as such, but it’s been watchable. Unfortunately, Gwildor’s gateway takes He-Man and his mates to Earth, and so the film now takes an unwelcome left turn into a boring story in which our heroes set to work looking for the second copy of the Cosmic Key, which they have somehow lost. They are pretty sure that it must be somewhere on Earth, so they split up to try to search the entire planet. I’m sure this won’t take long, especially since splitting up seems to mean that He-Man goes one way, while the other three go to a cheap version of KFC and steal some fried chicken.

In this cheap version of KFC, we meet Monica from Friends. She does have another name in this film, but obviously I didn’t listen to it. When we first meet her, it’s the end of her final shift at the knock-off KFC. She therefore changes out of her uniform right behind the counter where all the customers can see her. This seems odd behaviour, but as this film goes on, we’ll learn that Monica is a pretty odd person.

Monica has just broken up with her boyfriend, who is Tom Paris from Star Trek: Voyager. Tom Paris also has another name, but we’re going to call him Tom Paris because I think it’s funny, and there are precious few other laughs in this film. Tom Paris and Monica have broken up for no readily apparent reason, but they still act like they’re together anyway, regularly hugging and kissing throughout the film. “Why?” you ask. “Why not?” the filmmakers reply, shrugging their shoulders.

Monica and Tom Paris go to the local cemetery, where Monica ribbits on about how her parents have recently died in a plane crash, which is tragic, so it’s no surprise that she’s easily distracted when she finds the Cosmic Key. The Cosmic Key looks like a bomb, so Monica eagerly picks it up and beams with demented delight. Tom Paris is no less insane; he decides the Key must be a musical instrument, and laughs merrily as it emits sparks. These two have a complete death wish. If I’d found that thing, I’d be calling the bomb disposal squad, not carrying it round and chuckling like a halfwit.

The next scene confirms that Tom Paris is a complete moron; he takes the Key to his band’s rehearsal space, and plugs it into his amp. Come on, Tom Paris. It doesn’t look like an instrument in the slightest. I’ll admit it makes silly noises, but that’s sheer coincidence. I’m also unconvinced that Gwildor would have installed an Earth-compatible audio jack on the Cosmic Key.

Of course, thanks to Tom Paris’ stupid mucking about, Skeletor and Evil-Lyn are able to lock on to the Key’s current location, and so they send an advance party of baddies through a gateway to recover it and ambush He-Man. The baddies include:

  1. Blade, a dude who wears an eye patch and has a pair of knives strapped to his head.
  2. Saurod, a vaguely reptilian gentleman in a silly black armoured suit. Saurod has the dubious honour of being incinerated by Skeletor in the not-too-distant future.
  3. Beast-Man, who looks like a Poundland version of Chewbacca.
  4. Karg, who looks like a Family Bargains version of Beast-Man.

Hilarious japes ensue when these four bound happily through the gateway and corner Monica in the band’s rehearsal space. I’m sure this scene is great, but I’m watching and writing this on the Southwestern Trains service from Waterloo to Portsmouth, and there’s an enormously stupid woman sat behind me shrieking into her mobile about some horrible house she’s renovating, so I was rather distracted. Listen lady, no one cares about your house. I’m watching He-Man.

Actually, to be honest, I’m not watching He-Man. He-Man has been mysteriously absent from this film for the last quarter of an hour, and instead I’ve been watching a load of really cheap messing about with Monica from Friends crawling around under a table while four individuals – allegedly the best assassins in the galaxy – inexplicably fail to capture her. Come on, He-Man. If you don’t show up soon, I’m going to start randomly skipping ahead.

Ah, here he is. Right on cue, Monica blunders into He-Man while she’s running away from Blade and Skeletor’s other dicks. Unfortunately, that bloody woman’s started up again, so I have more information about her plastering and painting contract with “Dave” than I do about He-Man and Monica. Apparently, Dave isn’t doing his job very well. On the plus side, we’ve just left Clapham Junction and I know for a fact there’s no signal from here until at least Woking, so the beastly fool will shut up soon. On the minus side, Dave and his ineptitude is actually quite a lot more interesting than this film is at the moment.

With the help of his chicken-pilfering colleagues Teela and Man-at-Arms, He-Man repels the attack of Blade and co. as easily as he would in the cartoon. It’s now time to seek some answers from Monica, who is surprisingly not too worried about the appearance of a buff bodybuilder equipped with a sword, a laser pistol, and wearing nothing more than his pants and a red cloak. He-Man laboriously explains the entire plot to her, and she happily accepts it all as if this sort of thing happens all the time. She and Tom Paris are definitely doing some serious hallucinogenic drugs. Loo-Kee would not approve.

Tom Paris teams up with a police inspector and spends some time cruising the streets looking for Monica, while Gwildor nicks a car and takes Team He-Man on a ride looking for Tom Paris. With both sets of characters out looking for each other, it naturally takes a fair while before anything of interest happens, so I have occupied myself in tuning back in to the ongoing saga of Dave the Rubbish Painter. Turns out he’s painted the outside of the house blue, but he was supposed to paint the inside. That is, admittedly, a pretty poor effort, but there’s still no need for the idiot woman to inform the entire train.

Eventually, all our heroes reunite, and are pinned down in a music shop by Evil-Lyn, Blade, Beast-Man and Karg. Saurod is no longer present, owing to the above-mentioned incineration. Gwildor attempts to reactivate the Cosmic Key so they can all go back to Eternia, though I don’t know why they want to go back there. The only reason they’re on Earth in the first place is because they were defeated on Eternia and had to run away. Nothing’s changed, so why bother going back?

This very good question is not answered, because before Gwildor can reactivate the Key, we get a huge case of “what the fuck is wrong with you, Monica?” Basically, Evil-Lyn pretends to be Monica’s dead mother and asks Monica to fetch the Cosmic Key for her, and Monica does so. At this stage in the film, Monica knows the following:

  1. Her mother died in a plane crash.
  2. There is an evil being called Skeletor, who requires something called the Cosmic Key to dominate the entire universe.
  3. The Cosmic Key is currently in Monica’s possession.
  4. Her mother, despite being dead, is currently standing outside a music shop asking Monica to fetch the Cosmic Key, an artefact of great power in which she has heretofore displayed absolutely zero interest.

Knowing all the above, why the Jesus Christ would Monica choose to simply hand over the Cosmic Key? The only plausible answer is that she is completely brain-dead. On reflection, that explains it.

He-Man has again gone AWOL from the film, in favour of endless scenes of the police inspector standing around bellowing that he’s going to arrest everyone. He should start with Dave the Painter, I think, who is clearly dangerously incompetent, given the current thread of that moronic woman’s conversation. Still, once Monica’s done her little Cosmic Key giveaway, He-Man reappears looking mightily fucked off, and he looks even more so when Evil-Lyn opens a gateway to Eternia, from which Skeletor emerges in a massive tank. I didn’t know that was part of the plan, but I’m increasingly getting the impression that the writers have only the vaguest notion of the concept of narrative.

There’s now an interminable sequence involving He-Man flying around on a hoverboard shooting Storm Troopers. If I knew when Back to the Future 2 came out, I might have concluded that Masters of the Universe was ripping that off as well as Star Wars, but since I’m not sure, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. Instead, I’ll settle for commenting that this bit is less than compelling, and has the feel of a bit only inserted at the last minute because the producers suddenly realised they had a bit of cash left over. It’s certainly not relevant to the plot, not that I can really remember what the plot is supposed to be by this stage.

Skeletor, meanwhile, is merrily driving his tank up and down the high street as if he’s part of a Thanksgiving parade. He moves at an infinitesimally slow pace, and yet still manages to capture all of our heroes, with the exception of that dick of a policeman, who has been missing from the film for some time. I’m not sure if this is because he’s going to make a grand re-entry at some stage, or simply because the writers have forgotten about him.

He-Man strikes a bargain with Skeletor, agreeing to return to Eternia as a slave if Skeletor will spare the lives of Man-at-Arms, Teela, etc. As opposed to the Filmation version, this incarnation of Skeletor has some conception of the long game, and actually keeps his word, taking He-Man away but leaving the other goodies alive and at liberty. Unfortunately, Gwildor reveals that the Cosmic Key is now fused or broken or something, which means that they are stranded on Earth.

Already in training for Star Trek: Voyager, Tom Paris is insistent that there must be a deus ex machina available for use at this stage. And thus it proves. Because Tom Paris can remember the sequence of stupid noises the Key made when he thought it was a musical instrument, Gwildor is able to reprogram the Key with Eternia’s coordinates! Hurrah! Despite a last minute reappearance from the stupid policeman, trying to delay proceedings, the gateway is opened, and it’s over to Eternia for all our heroes.

They arrive just in time to miss a serious display of overacting from Skeletor, who has absorbed all the powers of Grayskull, thanks to some bollocks about the moon rising and some magical eye opening. As a result of this, he’s put on a new outfit, which looks considerably tackier than his previous effort. Once Teela etc arrive, there’s an almighty ruckus in Grayskull’s throne room, which comes to an almost satisfactory conclusion when He-Man raises his sword and cries, “I have the Power!” before launching into a Star Wars-aping duel with Skeletor.

Well, of course, He-Man wins, and sends Skeletor plummeting down into a pit. I don’t know why there’s a massive pit in the middle of the throne room, but why the hell not? The film ends with He-Man restoring the Sorceress to power, and for no readily apparent reason she allows the halfwit policeman to go into retirement on Eternia. Gwildor sends Monica and Tom Paris back to Earth, where Monica finds that her parents have been magically and inexplicably restored to life. I cannot express how happy I was at this revelation. If I hadn’t been on the train, I’d have cheered.

And finally – there’s a post-credits sting in which Skeletor pops his head up from beneath some pink liquid and announces to the camera, “I’ll be back.” Unfortunately, this version of Skeletor was never able to come back, due to his subsequent arrest for copyright infringement of Star Wars and the Terminator, and possibly Back to the Future.

 

In today’s adventure…

You know as well as I do that there was no moral segment to this film. A moral segment at least implies a degree of coherent thought about what story the writers were trying to tell, and I don’t think that coherent thought was anywhere near the production of this film. I have therefore taken it upon myself to supply a couple of moral lessons drawn from the film:

  • If you meet a man dressed in nothing more than pants, bra and a red cloak, don’t worry: he’s the Most Powerful Man in the Universe, not a sex pest. Though, worryingly, I suppose he could be both.
  • If you find a mysterious glowing piece of machinery in a crater, it’s probably a special Japanese musical instrument, not a bomb. You should definitely fiddle about with it and press all the buttons.
  • If you’re an American policeman, act like a complete dick throughout any weird proceedings, and you’ll be rewarded by being allowed to retire to Eternia.
  • If your parents have recently died, they will probably reappear later, with zero explanation.
  • If you’re Monica from Friends, don’t worry – no one will remember you appeared in this atrocity of a film. If, on the other hand, you’re Tom Paris, this is probably the pinnacle of your career, and is about twenty times better than Star Trek: Voyager.
  • If you’re redecorating your house, don’t call Dave the Painter.

 

Insults

For the first 45 minutes or thereabouts, the only person doing any insulting is Teela. She calls Gwildor a “worm” and what sounds like a “Fenurrian wombat”. This may not be what she said; Teela doesn’t speak very clearly. Shortly afterwards, she refers to Earth as “a barbaric world”, as part of a bizarre little interlude in which she and Gwildor make an unexpected and somewhat half-hearted case for vegetarianism.

Once Teela’s finished, it’s time for the baddies to take their turn. Blade starts off by calling either Beast-Man or Karg an “animal”. It’s not entirely clear which of them he’s addressing, and they’re both present and would both fit this description. Evil-Lyn shortly thereafter shrieks “fools”, though I don’t know who she was talking about. Frankly, only about half of the sentences uttered in this film seem to have any kind of relevance to the preceding piece of dialogue.

It’s only towards the end that Skeletor gets into his stride, starting off by calling Gwildor a “minute minion”, and then proceeds to describe Earth as a “primitive and tasteless planet”. These barbs are only warm-ups for the main event, which I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for: the high point of the entire film, when Skeletor keeps up the He-Manic tradition of referring to He-Man as a “fool”.

Elsewhere, the police inspector calls Tom Paris a “moron kid”, and finally, the woman behind me on the train referred to Dave the Painter as a “fucking idiot”.

 

Does it have the Power?

Let’s just say it’s easy to see why this didn’t get a sequel, and didn’t go on to spawn the multi-film franchise that it was plainly aiming at. It isn’t a complete disaster, but it is a 90% disaster. I hate deriding things for looking cheap, because obviously there’s only so much money they were given and that’s that, but this film really does look like it was put together in a weekend with whatever materials could be salvaged from the bins behind B&Q.

The lack of budget is obviously the reason for the film primarily being set on Earth; it’s a lot easier to film on streets, fast food restaurants and music shops than it is to build impressive sets for various exotic Eternian locations. The problem is that in a Masters of the Universe film, we want to see Eternia, not Earth. We want to see Snake Mountain, not a KFC knockoff, and we want the Royal Palace, not Monica’s parents’ house.

As far as characters and actors go, it’s difficult to pick a favourite. Skeletor made a reasonably good impression at first, but let himself down with some dreadful acting in the final 15 minutes of the film. It’s not really fair to compare him to Filmation’s Skeletor, who is indisputably the greatest character in the history of television, but I have to conclude that this Skeletor never really cut the mustard. He’s certainly evil, but comes across as rather more doleful than his usual gleeful nature, as if someone’s making him be evil, but he can’t really be bothered.

And speaking of can’t be bothered, I think that description fits a lot of other characters, notably He-Man, Man-at-Arms and the Sorceress. None of them – especially the Sorceress – ever give the impression that they’re involved in this film for anything other than a paltry pay check. Teela, bless her heart, does give it her best effort, but I rather wish she hadn’t been trying so hard. The same can be said for that div of a policeman. I’m not even going to discuss Gwildor.

Monica and Tom Paris do the best they can with some pretty appalling material; Monica gets a rawer deal, given that atrocious scene in the middle where she idiotically gave away the Cosmic Key to Evil-Lyn. It’s a hard sell, having to convincingly behave like a complete moron and then scream “NOOOOO!!!!” when you realise what you’ve done, but Monica just about gets there. All Tom Paris has to do is hang around being a typical American teenager – albeit one who appears to be out of his head on LSD, given his casual acceptance of the bizarre proceedings – and this seems to be within his abilities.

Plotwise, the film is pretty straightforward, and despite my comments above, it’s relatively logical, insofar as He-Man is ever logical. The only confusing bit is the apparent existence of two Cosmic Keys, which has the ring of a last-minute rewrite when someone realised that if Skeletor has nicked the Cosmic Key, how can Gwildor accidentally transport our heroes to Earth? “Quick – make Gwildor have another copy of the Key – that’ll sort it!”

I’m trying, desperately, to think of something nice to say about the film, and thus prove that I’m not a negative person, forever carping on about why things are rubbish. Unfortunately, I’m finding it difficult to come up with anything. I think it’s probably best to quietly draw a veil over this entry, and move on to The New Adventures of He-Man. Surely that must be better than this?

Episode 93 – Swifty's Baby

In which the writers really drop the ball.

Oh Jesus Christ, it’s the Bibbets again. I had thought, what with this being the last ever episode, that I was at least safe from having to see those freaky child clowns again. This week, Catra is attacking them, no doubt for a very good reason, but the episode doesn’t bother to tell us what that reason is. Instead, She-Ra shows up mighty quick and puts an end to Catra’s fun. The Bibbets do not appear again, so they obviously just popped up for a cameo and to raise my blood pressure.

Catra: “What the fuck is this exploding bird doing here?”

Once she’s dealt with Catra, She-Ra flies off on Swift Wind, who is wittering on and on about having a surprise for She-Ra. He says “it’s tiny, but it’s the biggest thing that ever happened to me.” Given the title of the episode, I have a strong suspicion I know what he’s talking about, and if she’s not as thick as two short planks, She-Ra ought to know too.

She-Ra and Swift Wind travel to Unicorn Island, last seen in the episode The Unicorn King, where Swift Wind introduces She-Ra to his mate, Star Wind. With much blushing, Star Wind explains that she and Swift Wind are going to have a baby very soon, and She-Ra makes a load of sickening cooing noises. The only thing preventing this scene going into complete saccharine overload is Imp, who has followed our heroes to the island and now learns of the impending birth.

She-Ra: “So, you and Star Wind have been doing the dirty, eh? You old rascal. Is this the right moment for a hung like a donkey joke?”

Imp takes this information back to the Fright Zone, where Hordak embarks on a tediously predictable plan: he will capture Star Wind, so She-Ra will come to rescue her, at which point he will capture She-Ra as well. You’ve tried endless variations of this plan, Hordak, and it never works. I suppose this is the last episode, though; maybe the series ends because Hordak wins. I’m on the edge of my seat.

Just before the commercial break, of course, the Horde manage to capture Star Wind, and even injure Swift Wind. I’m not quite sure in what way he’s injured, since the cartoon isn’t exactly graphic about it, but he’s certainly lying around moaning, so it must be serious. She-Ra cures him with her magical medical abilities, and then off they go to Beast Island to rescue Star Wind, accompanied by lots of other helpful unicorns. To add a deadline to proceedings, Swift Wind reveals that if the baby is born anywhere other than Unicorn Island, it will only be an ordinary horse.

She-Ra: “Flying while under the influence again, Swifty? The police will have your licence for sure this time.”

Hordak puts a forcefield up around Beast Island, but She-Ra swims down to the sea bed, and digs a tunnel down and then up, emerging in the prison, coincidentally and fortuitously right next to Star Wind. Hordak has prepared a surprise for She-Ra, however: another forcefield, one which is actually capable of stopping her for more than 2.5 seconds. But, to everyone’s delight, Swift Wind comes to the rescue, and releases She-Ra and Star Wind.

Star Wind: “I’ve tried and I’ve tried, but I just can’t seem to make my face suggest that I care.”

Then there’s a whole load of garbled rubbish, which concerns the fact that the baby is on its way, and so Star Wind cannot now make it back to Unicorn Island in time. In addition, the dungeon starts to flood, thanks to She-Ra’s stupid tunnel, which is all the excuse She-Ra needs to jump on the back of the Unicorn King, fly out into fucking space, and pull the moon with a grappling hook to reverse the tide and stop the water flowing into the dungeon.

This mental feat is achieved only just in time: the baby is born mere feet away from the water. As predicted, however, it is no unicorn, just a normal horse. Swift Wind and Star Wind, however, exhibit great maturity and explain that since he’s their baby, it doesn’t make any difference to them. This is a perfect message, but unfortunately it’s undone by She-Ra, who shrieks, “For the honour of Grayskull” and turns the baby into a unicorn anyway, which suggests that it did matter, but his parents just weren’t saying so.

 

In today’s adventure…

Goodbye, Loo-Kee. It makes me so happy that I’ll never have to look at your moronic face again, or listen to your idiotic squeaky voice. This time, he reveals that the birth of a child is the best thing in the world, because every time a child is born, the hope for all things good and beautiful is born again too. Unfortunately, I’m more in accord with Hordak this week, who at an early stage casually comments, “I hate babies.”

Hordak: “I’ve warned you before about your choice of TV show, Mantenna.”

Character checklist

For this last hurrah, it’s She-Ra, Swift Wind, Star Wind, a cacophony of other unicorns, including the baby, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Imp, Catra, Mantenna, and oodles of Horde Troopers.

 

Insults

Catra reels off her usual triumvirate of insults for her Horde Troopers, calling them “bumblers”, “fools” and “cowards” in rapid succession. Otherwise, we only have Mantenna addressing Swift Wind as a “crazy unicorn”.

 

Oh No, Bow!

Bow couldn’t even be bothered to show up for the last episode. Useless, I tell you. Useless.

She-Ra: “Christ! Last time I woke up like this, I’d been Rohypnolled by Bow.”

Does it have the Power?

I was really proud of the writers for about 30 seconds there at the end. It looked like they were for once really going to show us, rather than tell us, that it doesn’t matter if people are different, when the baby turned out to be a normal horse. Swift Wind and Star Wind seemed really proud of their baby anyway, and they seemed perfectly happy. So why did She-Ra have to ruin it by making the baby into a unicorn? It suggests that sometimes, simply being who we are just isn’t good enough.

So there’s that crushing disappointment. The rest of the episode was no better; She-Ra was particularly infuriating this week, and the foray into outer space suggests an obsession on the writers’ part. I don’t know why She-Ra going into space annoys me so much, given the other implausible things that happen in this cartoon, but all I can say is that it winds me up a treat. I suppose, in complete fairness, it wouldn’t be a proper send-off for She-Ra if she didn’t go into space in her last outing. On the other hand, I’m glad she’s never got a chance to do it again.

She-Ra: “Tally-ho!”

The only good thing to say about this episode is that it’s great fun imagining the animators’ faces this week: “You want me to draw what? How do I draw a heavily pregnant unicorn?” (In the end, they decided not to bother, and just drew a normal unicorn.) Similarly, the voice actress playing Star Wind must have shuddered when given the script, given it includes a few moments where she has to pretend to be a unicorn in the early stages of giving birth. Still, the opportunity to imagine the brief discomfort of a few people in 1986 is not nearly enough to redeem this episode, and thus it is that I must report that She-Ra goes out with a whimper, not a bang.

Episode 92 – The Bibbet Story

In which Bow hangs out with a gang of half-naked children.

This unpromisingly titled episode begins with one of those stupid, long and irrelevant scenes in which She-Ra smashes up a vast quantity of Horde tanks. She-Ra episodes used to start this way very frequently, but seem to have dropped the practice recently, so it’s not particularly welcome to see it started up again here. It goes on for about five minutes, and the only reason for it is to establish that after this defeat, Hordak is running out of robots.

Mantenna: “I wish I hadn’t agreed to appear this week.”

Consequently, Hordak decides to build a new factory for the production of new Troopers. Shadow Weaver suggests building the factory in Bibbetland, and using the Bibbets as slaves. I don’t know who the Bibbets are, but that sounds fine to me, because I have a suspicion that they’ll be really annoying.

By sheer coincidence, Adora and Bow decide to pay a visit to Bibbetland, where they discover the Horde building their new factory. Instead of doing anything about it, however, they opt to build a campfire and go to sleep. While they sleep, they are discovered by a pair of Bibbets called Dee and Coo, and as predicted above, they are really annoying. They are also completely terrifying. They look like half-naked child clowns, with Afros. They are going to haunt me until the day I die.

Dee and Coo: “Fear us.”

Dee and Coo steal Adora’s sword and Bow’s, er, bow, then when Adora and Bow give chase, they lure them straight into a trap. The Bibbets believe our heroes to be Horde soldiers, and it takes all of Adora’s powers of debate to persuade them otherwise. I say powers of debate. In actuality, Adora says, “We’re not Horde soldiers” about 15 times, with Bow occasionally chiming in to say the same thing, until the Bibbets get fed up.

The Bibbets are ruled over by an Elder, who is not dressed as a clown, but as some kind of cross between a Red Indian chief and Papa Smurf. There’s also another Bibbet inexplicably dressed in a red cloak, some blue underpants, and a strawberry hat. I am well aware that you’d be arrested pretty pronto if you went out in pretty much any of the costumes worn in this cartoon, but there’s something about the blue-underpants-red-cloak Bibbet that looks really wrong.

Elder Bibbet: “Christ, IICSA’s going to want another word with me, isn’t it?”

Anyway, the Elder Bibbet tells Dee and Coo to give the sword and the bow back to Adora and Bow, but the Bibbets refuse, instead running off with the weapons to fight the Horde. This troubles the Elder, as the Bibbets are a peaceful people, who have never known fighting before. He agrees to send two Bibbets with Adora and Bow to recover the weapons, but specifies that they will not fight against the Horde.

Inevitably, Dee and Coo get captured by Horde Troopers, meaning Adora and Bow have to break into the factory to rescue them. They also recover their weapons, which means that She-Ra is able to put in an appearance – and only just in time, too, because there’s a load more Horde tanks which need smashing up.

She-Ra: “Some might think I’m running off to deal with the Horde tanks. I’m actually trying to run out of this episode entirely.”

In the meantime, Bow has popped back to see the Elder, and persuaded him that sometimes it is necessary to fight to protect your home, etc. We’ve heard a lot on this theme lately (last episode, in Assault on the Hive, for example) and it’s hard to shake the feeling that the writers room had been taken over by neoconservative Reaganist hawks. I certainly can’t imagine He-Man, in the earlier days of his series, preaching to militarise an entire society in the name of freedom.

But let’s hear less about politics, and more about Bibbets. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. Bow and his new Bibbet army march off to lend She-Ra their assistance, not that she needs it, since she’s perfectly adept at smashing up tanks all by herself, thank you very much. She also destroys the factory, in case you cared. I certainly didn’t.

Bow: “Look! I got these freaky child clowns to build a pumpkin catapult! How clever am I! God, I have a mental age of three and a half.”

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee is skulking around in a tree in Whispering Wood, to my distinct lack of surprise. What’s slightly more surprising is his choice of moral: after the entire episode preached to us that we have to fight to protect our freedom, Loo-Kee now does a complete about-face and says that fighting doesn’t prove how brave we are; instead, it’s braver to choose not to fight. This is more in tune with the usual message promoted by this cartoon, but it’s also damnably confusing given this episode’s subject matter. Maybe Loo-Kee dozed off and didn’t watch properly. I certainly wouldn’t blame him.

Character checklist

This tripe is populated by Adora, She-Ra, Bow, Loo-Kee, the Elder Bibbet, Dee, Coo, the red-cloak-blue-pants Bibbet, various other Bibbets, Hordak, Mantenna, Shadow Weaver, Mantenna, and the usual scores of Horde Troopers.

She-Ra: “Don’t touch him, Elder, you might catch something.”

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

“I’ll stay here and see what I can do,” Adora says, which is not a bad excuse, except for the fact that at this stage there’s nothing left that particularly needs doing, and Bow should realise this. But he doesn’t, obviously.

Insults

“Muscle-maiden” is a popular choice this week, being employed for She-Ra by both Hordak and a Horde Trooper. The Bibbet Elder refers to Dee and Coo as “foolish young people”, and a Horde Trooper addresses either Dee or Coo as a “mean little thing”. In response, Dee or Coo tells the Trooper that it is a “rotten robot”. I didn’t know which was Dee and which was Coo, just for clarity.

Oh No, Bow!

Bow’s in full perv mode today, picking flowers and placing them in Adora’s hair, with creepy chat-up lines like, “a pretty flower for a pretty lady”. Later on, Bow tries to charm his way into She-Ra’s pants by smiling at her a little too widely and schmoozing, “I’m always glad to see you, She-Ra.” Astonishingly, neither Adora nor She-Ra tells him to piss off.

She-Ra: “Bow, if you don’t take that seedy smirk off your face right now, I’m going to strangle you with my tiara.”

Does it have the Power?

No, of course it doesn’t. From the lengthy and unnecessary opening scene, through the horrifying and irritating Bibbets, all the way up to the totally contradictory messages about fighting or not fighting, this episode is a waste of my time. It’s not hilariously bad either; it’s just bad. It gets a big thumbs-down. Thank you for your attention.

Episode 90 – Shades of Orko

In which Man-at-Arms tries to steal Bow’s thunder.

My enthusiasm for this episode is slightly muted before I’ve even hit play, simply because of the title. I can’t think of a single episode with the word Orko in the title that hasn’t been below average at best. Orko’s Missing Magic was the best of the bunch, but only in that it wasn’t a complete atrocity. On the other hand, Orko’s Favourite Uncle was an atrocity, and so was its sequel, The Return of Orko’s Uncle. Orko’s Return was tedious, and Orko’s New Friend was terrible. The only episode I’ve vaguely enjoyed with Orko in the title was the hard-to-find “lost” episode, He-Man Loses Patience And Rips Orko’s Head Off. Though I may have dreamed that one.

Still, let’s see if Shades of Orko can buck the trend. I mean, we all know it can’t, but let’s at least try, shall we? It starts promisingly enough, with Shadow Weaver summoning some shadowbeasties to attack the village of Thaymor. Bow brings this news to She-Ra and Glimmer, but before they can get on with defending Thaymor, one of those beastly portals opens, and Orko pops through. He is accompanied by Man-at-Arms, which is surprising, not to mention irritating, since I bid Man-at-Arms a fond farewell three episodes ago and now I’m going to have to do it again.

She-Ra: “Get off my planet.”

These two have come to deliver some electric forceshields, but get roped in to help against the shadowbeasties. The forceshields prove to be quite useful in the battle at Thaymor, and it’s amusing how surprised She-Ra sounds when she exclaims, “It works! Man-at-Arms’ forceshield works!” It definitely seems that she has prior experience of Man-at-Arms’ rubbish inventions.

Once the battle is won and the shadowbeasties repelled, Shadow Weaver herself teleports in, and performs an unexpected spell to remove Orko’s shadow. I can hear the She-Ra voice actress fighting not to snigger at the sheer ludicrousness as she says sternly, “Give it back”. Needless to say, Shadow Weaver does not comply, and teleports out again to Horror Hall.

Orko: “Stop right there before I pelt you with eggs or something equally hilarious.”

Just to give this slightly stupid premise a bit of mild peril, Man-at-Arms reveals that by nicking Orko’s shadow, Shadow Weaver has also stolen his magic. I don’t want to be accused of victim-blaming here, but Orko’s lost his magic on at least two previous occasions that I can recall: the afore-mentioned Orko’s Missing Magic, and also in The Magic Falls. It seems to me that he doesn’t really look after it all that well, and shouldn’t expect He-Man and She-Ra to gallivant about recovering it for him all the time.

Anyway, we now cut to Horror Hall, where Orko’s shadow has done a runner and is flying all around the place, leading Shadow Weaver, Grizzlor and some weirdo Horde robot on a merry chase. This bit of the episode goes on and on for literally five minutes without anything of note happening.

Grizzlor: “Sorry to waste your time like this.”

Back in Thaymor, our heroes are still standing exactly where we last saw them, having made apparently zero effort to get Orko’s shadow back. They all seem to think it’s absolutely impossible to get to Horror Hall, despite them having walked or flown there on several previous occasions. Instead, She-Ra indulges herself in a needless conversation with Light Hope, who reveals that though She-Ra can get the team into Horror Hall, it will be up to Orko to get them all out. This seems like a stupid arbitrary rule drawn up to give the episode some tension, but okay.

Using some why-the-hell-not magic, She-Ra opens a portal to Horror Hall, and the assembled crowd of dimwits pile through. Once inside, it doesn’t take long for them to locate Orko’s shadow, which reattaches itself to Orko with very little fanfare. Instead, the episode focuses at this stage on She-Ra having a long and unnecessary fight with various Horde baddies, until Orko uses his reacquired magic to separate Shadow Weaver from her own shadow. After this, our heroes stand around in Horror Hall laughing their idiot heads off at this hilarious reversal in Shadow Weaver’s fortunes. Then the episode just ends there, without Orko having to fulfil Light Hope’s stupid prophecy about getting everyone out of Horror Hall.

She-Ra: “Man-at-Arms, why are you hunching like that?”

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee is in Whispering Wood near the start of the episode. He’s lying on his back and looks like he might be dead, but no such luck. He informs us that when Shadow Weaver took Orko’s shadow, that was stealing, and stealing is always wrong. I am reminded of a moral dilemma that was presented to me in my Psychology A-level class: Jack has a wife who is ill, and a drug can save her. However, Jack and his wife cannot afford the drug, so Jack breaks into the pharmacy, steals the drug, and uses it to save his wife’s life. Is this act of stealing wrong? Admittedly, this is rather deep, and not a topic into which I would expect Loo-Kee to delve, but still.

Character checklist

On Etheria today, we have Adora, She-Ra, Glimmer, Bow, Orko, Man-at-Arms, Light Hope, Loo-Kee, some villagers, Shadow Weaver, Grizzlor, Leech, Rattlor, Mantenna, and the weird Horde robot.

Mantenna: “Bet you’d forgotten I can do this.”

Insults

There’s some fairly vicious stuff flying around today. Orko kicks off by referring to the entire Horde as “meanies”, and gets more specific by informing Shadow Weaver that she’s only “got half a mind”. Shadow Weaver retaliates by calling Orko a “miserable excuse for a wizard”, a “little bozo” and a “little pest”, and she goes on to refer to Grizzlor and the weirdo Horde robot as “fools”, “buffoons” and “worthless bumblers”. Finally, Mantenna gets in on the act by telling Grizzlor, Rattlor, Leech and the weirdo Horde robot that they are “dullards”.

Oh No, Bow!

When She-Ra opens the portal to Horror Hall, Bow instantly chirps up to say, “Hurry up, that portal won’t stay open for long!” What the hell do you know about it, Bow? Have you been taking evening classes in magicportalology? Thought not. For all you know, that portal might stay open until half past three this afternoon, until this time next April, or until some nebulous time in the future like when the UK exits the European Union. There’s just no way to know. Now shut up.

Special mention must also go to Man-at-Arms, who in the final fight scene observes Bow being shot with a freeze ray and shouts, “Oh Bow, no!” He then blunders into the freeze ray and gets frozen himself. In many ways, Man-at-Arms is just as useless as Bow, though admittedly he isn’t such an arrogant cock.

Man-at-Arms: “It’s difficult to say exactly how I thought this might help.”

Does it have the Power?

I’m going to have to be completely honest: this one does buck the Orko trend rather well. It’s relatively imaginative for Shadow Weaver to steal a shadow, even if that does ultimately mean the repetition of the missing magic plotline seen a few times previously. It’s also good to see Man-at-Arms again; this one feels like a much better send-off for him than his brief cameo appearance in The Inspector. I’m not going to do my teary-eyed farewell for him again though.

On the production side of things, this episode treats us to some unusual and effective animation work; Shadow Weaver is often depicted from ground-level, looking up at her, which is a great way of making her seem imposing and intimidating. There’s also a fantastic panning shot from Grizzlor, through the weirdo Horde robot and Rattlor to Leech, which is used when She-Ra is cornered by these four, and it’s pretty scary. We also get some new music; I particularly liked the dramatic drum-roll which greets the fade-in after the commercial break.

Leech: “Pretty sure this is going to be my last appearance, so I’d like to thank all my fans for their support over the years. I do have fans, right?”

There are annoying things about this episode, such as Orko, though he’s not as bad as he could be. She-Ra too is her usual irritating self, Light Hope is a moron, and Glimmer is as useless as ever. For some reason, Bow really got on my nerves this week, and I can’t help thinking it’s not healthy to get as annoyed with a cartoon character as I sometimes do with him. Still, I shan’t be seeing him much more, and I may well miss him once we move into the uncharted territory that awaits us after the end of She-Ra…

Episode 89 – Hordak's Power Play

In which one of the worst people in the galaxy arrives on Etheria.

Observing an Argonian spaceship fly close to Etheria, Hordak decides to shoot it down and steal the ship’s power cell. He is successful in the first half of this plan, but the ship lands in the village of Flax, near the home of an old man called Doctor Blankford. Doctor Blankford immediately goes to fetch Adora, Bow and Kowl, and thus it is that Hordak is unable to complete the second half of his scheme. Having said that, he does give it a reasonably good try.

In the meantime, the pilot of the spaceship emerges. He is a handsome square-jawed individual called Larg, who carries with him the air of public schools, rugger every Wednesday afternoon, and lashings of ginger beer. In short, he’s a complete twat. He is aware that the Horde rules Etheria, and as such concludes that everyone on the planet must be an evil Hordesman. Consequently, he sets himself up as Head Boy and starts bossing the villagers around. I’m sure this is logical in the mind of someone who’s essentially Julian from the Famous Five, but it made no sense to me.

Larg: “Hang on, hang on, I’m getting a weird sensation in my brain…. What’s happening? Oh, I remember – this is what having a logical thought feels like. Don’t like it. Better not let it happen again.”

Bow and Adora arrive in Flax to find two villagers loading stuff into a cart, under Larg’s instructions. They seem absolutely terrified of Larg, which is just plain odd. Adora sends Bow off to check something nicely non-specific, while she transforms into She-Ra and goes to have a chat with Larg. During the course of this chat, she persuades Larg that she does not work for the Horde and also tells him off for forcing the villagers to work for him.

Before Larg can defend himself, Hordak and his army of Troopers show up, and there follows a long tedious fight in which She-Ra smashes billions of tanks to pieces. Eventually, however, a Horde Trooper manages to shoot She-Ra with a sleep ray, and she tumbles to the ground. Good. Of course, Hordak doesn’t drop her in the sea or a volcano at this point, like any self-respecting villain would; in fact, he doesn’t even bother to lock her up. He just leaves her on the ground. What is his problem?

She-Ra: “I really need to stop with these all-nighters at Wetherspoons. I never know where I’m going to wake up.”

With She-Ra temporarily out of action, Hordak nicks the Argonian spaceship and takes it off to the Fright Zone. Larg chooses this moment to reveal that the ship’s power cell is not working properly and is liable to explode, and if it does, it will take all of Etheria with it. I can’t imagine Hordak would be very keen for that to happen, so here’s hoping an amicable solution can be reached this week.

She-Ra, Bow and Larg sneak into the Fright Zone. Well, I say sneak. What they actually do is walk into the Fright Zone with zero regard for secrecy, and as a result have to have a pointless fight with Catra and some Horde Troopers. Obviously, they win the fight, but it alerts Hordak to their presence, and he decides to plug the Argonian power cell into a massive forcefield, and turn it on. I don’t know why he does this, since She-Ra is already inside the Fright Zone, so it’s hardly going to afford him any protection, but we’ve already established that logic is not Hordak’s strongest point.

Hordak: “When weird machinery glows like this, it’s usually good news, right?”

Of course, the forcefield overloads the power cell, and so She-Ra is forced to cut a hole in the forcefield and throw the power cell into outer space. Once that sensible solution has been enacted, She-Ra contacts the Argonian home world and tells them to come and collect Larg before he converts the entire Rebellion into public school alumni.

In today’s adventure…

I happened to see Loo-Kee lurking behind a rock today, largely only because I paused the episode at precisely the right moment when I wanted to write my character assassination of Larg. Loo-Kee is also interested in a character assassination of Larg: he tells us that Larg was wrong to boss the villagers around, and suggests that we should treat people with respect. Heard it before, Loo-Kee. Hopefully never hear it again.

Larg: “How dare that freaky little pixie say such unkind, if accurate, things about me?”

Character checklist

Today, it’s all about Adora, She-Ra, Bow, Kowl, Larg, Doctor Blankford, Loo-Kee, some villagers, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Catra, and some Horde Troopers. A nice and simple cast after last time’s extravaganza.

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

There’s no excuse, and while I know normally I wouldn’t bother with this section if there’s no excuse, I just think it bears special mention that Adora stands right in the village square to turn into She-Ra, with even less regard for the “secret” part of the “secret identity” business than usual.

Insults

The Horde are a little more imaginative than usual this week: Catra calls a Horde Trooper a “clumsy can of cogs”, while Hordak opts to call She-Ra a “muscle-maiden” and an “irritating Amazon”. Not bad, guys. Better than “fool”, at any rate.

Catra: “I can explain.”

Does it have the Power?

There are times when I’m in the middle of these episode summaries and I stop and really think about the nonsense I’m writing. This was one of those times. This episode is sheer gibberish from start to finish, and yet, despite its insanity, it isn’t at all entertaining. Larg is irritating, She-Ra is irritating, and above all, Hordak is irritating. Bow, rather surprisingly, isn’t irritating, but he doesn’t do anything of note either. The plot meanders about a bit aimlessly, and there are several attempts at humour that fall really flat. I couldn’t say this episode is a complete trainwreck, but equally I can’t think of any reason why you might ever want to watch it.

The He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special

In which the Christmas spirit comes to Eternia. And Etheria. But mostly Eternia.

Merry Christmas to you all. I’m sure that, like me, you’ve spent every Christmas Day for the last 30 years watching the Christmas Special on repeat until your mind melts. However, it has come to my attention that there are a few unfortunate souls who haven’t yet been introduced to this classic of Christmas television, so I will here summarise the plot and then review it.

In the Royal Palace, King Randor and Queen Marlena welcome a vast phalanx of Eternia and Etheria’s foremost freaks of nature to celebrate Adam and Adora’s birthday. There’s Moss-Man flirting outrageously with Queen Angela, Snout Spout hanging out with Fisto, Stratos hulking ominously over Castaspella, and Glimmer being studiously ignored by Cringer. Sy-Klone is also present, though he seems to have been relegated to the role of a waiter. Don’t worry about all these names; they’re only here as background action-figure advertisements, and they don’t do anything important. It’s a lovely panning shot, but let’s get with the story.

Cringer: “You’d better not come near me with any of this nonsense.”

Prince Adam and Man-at-Arms have skived off from the decorating in order to build a Sky Spy, a rocket which Man-at-Arms claims will allow them to learn of Skeletor’s every move. Of course, it’s not long before a combination of Orko’s innate stupidity and Man-at-Arms’ exceptionally poor design work means that Orko accidentally launches the rocket, with himself inside.

Skeletor is cruising about in the Collector, evidently simply looking for trouble, and the runaway rocket soon attracts his attention. Once Adam and Adora realise that Skeletor has noticed the Sky Spy, they become He-Man and She-Ra to stop Skeletor getting his bony blue hands on it. In this, they are successful: they inflict some gratuitous damage on the Collector, forcing Skeletor to turn and head for home. However, with his unerring talent for making a situation worse, Orko casts a spell on the Sky Spy which causes it to fly off into outer space.

He-Man and She-Ra – who as we all know can of course breathe, talk and survive in the vacuum of space – fly out of Eternia’s atmosphere and give chase.  On this occasion, however, the Sky Spy engages its warp drive, and our heroes lose track of it. They return to Eternia, unaware that Orko was on board anyway, though I have to wonder how far they’d care, even if they did know.

Prince Adam: “If I mash these controls enough, maybe I can arrange it so Orko will never come back.”

The Sky Spy crash-lands on Earth, and Orko emerges to immediately find two children about to be buried by an avalanche. He casts a spell to save them, and as a consequence of this idiotic act, we’re stuck with these bratty kids for the rest of the Christmas Special. They’re called Alicia and Miguel, and they are kind enough to explain to Orko all about Christmas. It turns out that Christmas is about presents, peace and goodwill towards men. There is evidently no goodwill towards women. Jesus is also conspicuous by his absence.

Orko: “Why are you kids so oddly fine with this?”

Back on Eternia, Man-at-Arms successfully tracks the Sky Spy to Earth, and at the same time, Marlena and Teela realise that Orko is missing. They put two and two together, and Teela says with undisguised glee, “Are you saying we’ll never get Orko back?” Man-at-Arms suggests using a transport beam to travel to Earth, but this will require the use of a kerium water crystal, which must be obtained from Etheria.

She-Ra returns to Etheria, where she meets up with Mermista. Mermista was apparently not invited to the party on Eternia, which seems a trifle harsh. Choosing to ignore this snub, Mermista agrees to help She-Ra acquire the water crystal, which is achieved by having a short and lacklustre fight with one of those ubiquitous dragon-like creatures, this one known imaginatively as the Beast Monster.

Mermista: “Yes, well, we’ll talk later about exactly how my invite got lost in the post.”

Once the crystal is in She-Ra’s grubby mitts, she is confronted by three tall robots which introduce themselves as Monstroids. It seems that someone at Mattel was well aware of the success of the Transformers, because these are second-rate rip-offs. The Monstroids imprison She-Ra in a forcefield, for no readily apparent reason, and then they fly off. Once they’re gone, She-Ra releases herself from the forcefield with ease. This little sequence is the very epitome of a pointless advertising scene.

She-Ra brings the crystal back to Man-at-Arms, who uses it to activate his transporter beam. As an aside note, I don’t know why Man-at-Arms keeps inventing things that rely on nearly unobtainable power sources. Off the top of my head, this transporter beam is one such example, as is the Palace radio transmitter in Three on a Dare (which needed rainbow quartz from Snake Mountain), and he also reveals that the entire planet needs Eternium in Double Edged Sword. Forward planning is clearly not his strong suit.

Anyway, once he turns on the transporter beam, a glowing light appears next to Orko and the children, which finally distracts them from the endless nattering about Father Christmas. They all walk into the light, which somehow – do not ask me how, because it defies logic – makes the entire Sky Spy disappear and rematerialise on Eternia. Orko introduces Alicia and Miguel to the inhabitants of the Palace, though he notably limits the introductions to the more normal-looking citizens. Snout Spout, Moss-Man and Sy-Klone are no longer anywhere to be seen.

King Randor: “Welcome to Eternia, where only perfectly normal people live. Yes, sir.”

With Alicia and Miguel on Eternia spreading the message of Christmas goodness, Horde Prime is disturbed. Or I assume he’s disturbed. He sounds like he’s talking underwater, frankly, so I haven’t really got a clue what he’s saying. He definitely summons both Hordak and Skeletor, and tells them to do something or another, which – based on what they subsequently go off to do – is capture the children.

Hordak gets there first, kidnapping the children with a tractor beam, and taking Orko too for good measure. Once he gets them back to Etheria, however, he is ambushed by the Monstroids, who have decided to capture the children to deliver them to Horde Prime and claim some kind of reward. Hordak gives the children up without a fight, and they end up locked up in a cell with Orko, who starts off on one of his infuriating “it’s all my fault” kicks. Yes it is, Orko, and it’s always all your fault. Why don’t you learn not to piss about with stuff that’s nothing to do with you?

Alicia: “Sure, sure, he’s really evil and everything, but when he’s doing this stupid little dance he doesn’t seem that intimidating.”

This irritating little sequence comes to an end with the beginning of an even more irritating sequence, in which some tiny robots called the Manchines come to the rescue. There are only two things I think I need to say about the Manchines: firstly, they plumb new depths of annoying, and secondly, one of them is called Cutter, which is possibly the most serial-killer name I’ve ever heard. They may seem to be rescuing the kids, but it can only be a matter of time before things turn nasty.

Luckily, He-Man and She-Ra show up to take the children out of Cutter’s hands, but less fortunately, Skeletor does likewise. He manages to get away with Alicia and Miguel, as well as some abomination of nature called Relay, who is a Manchine Puppy. He-Man and She-Ra give chase, but rather half-heartedly, and as a result, Skeletor escapes.

Not for long, of course. No. Now it’s time for Hordak to get involved again. He shoots down Skeletor’s Sky Sled, which crashes to a landing in some snowy mountains. Skeletor is then subjected to his most heinous character assassination since The Greatest Show on Eternia, when Alicia and Miguel tell him all about Christmas being the season of goodwill, and he actually listens. He gives the children nice warm coats and even saves that bloody dog Relay from freezing. In total fairness, this sequence does contain some of the funniest lines in the entire Christmas Special, as Skeletor tries and completely fails to understand how Christmas works.

Skeletor: “Nothing else about this episode works, but at least I remain a creation of comic genius.”

Eventually, the whole sorry situation comes to a head when He-Man, She-Ra, Hordak and Horde Prime all locate Skeletor and the children. There’s an almighty ruckus, the end result of which is that Skeletor takes a stand and saves the children from Horde Prime. He then claims to feel unwell, and unceremoniously exits while He-Man and She-Ra laugh at him. Which is nice of them.

Back at the Palace, Man-at-Arms has recharged the water crystal sufficiently to return the children to Earth. Before they go, Prince Adam dresses up as Father Christmas and gives them some flying belts, which I hope Man-at-Arms didn’t invent, given how often Man-at-Arms’ inventions break. Once they’re gone, Father Christmas Adam saunters up to Adora and says “Ho ho ho!” in a tone that implies he’d like some Christmas sex, immediately. For once, Adora doesn’t seem to be in the mood, but before the situation can turn ugly, Orko appears terrifyingly close to the camera and wishes everyone a merry Christmas. The End.

Adora: “Not tonight, brother, I have a headache.”

In today’s adventure…

Adam and Orko deliver this week’s moral, in which Adam explains that not everyone celebrates Christmas, but the spirit of love, joy and caring is within us all. Orko adds that Christmas is also about peace, happiness, and – most importantly – presents. At this, Adam turns to mug at the camera with one of the weirdest expressions I’ve ever seen him pull. I assume it’s meant to look like mild exasperation with Orko’s obsession with presents, but unfortunately he looks like he’s quite seriously mentally disturbed. Frankly, I’ve never seen an expression that more succinctly conveys the phrase, “I will kill again.”

Prince Adam: “Sleep well, kiddies. Sleep well.”

Character checklist

Oh good god, I don’t feel like I can successfully list all the characters in this car crash. I mean, it definitely includes Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Teela, Glimmer, Bow, Kowl, Alicia, Miguel, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Madame Razz, Broom, Stratos, Fisto, Snout Spout, Sy-Klone, Moss Man, Ram Man, Mechaneck, Zodak, Man-e-Faces, Flutterina, Peekablue, Frosta, Castaspella, Queen Angela, Perfuma, Mermista, Sea Hawk, the Twiggets, Dree Elle, Yuckers, the Widgets, Loo-Kee, Skeletor, Hordak, Two Bad, Webstor, Rattlor (who’s working for Skeletor this time, though he only has one line, and it’s not to explain what he’s doing there), Spikor, Catra, Modulok, Multibot, Horde Prime, the Monstroids, the Manchines (including Relay), and Alicia and Miguel’s parents, but for all I know it includes billions of others too.

Skeletor: “I don’t understand why I couldn’t bring my usual henchmen instead of being landed with you lot.”

Excuse given for Adora and Adam’s transformations

Despite numerous transformations, some of which take place in the easily over-looked Palace courtyard, neither Adam nor Adora nor anyone else seek to explain their absence.

Insults

Fittingly for a feature-length episode, we’ve got a feature-sized quantity of insults. We start relatively sedately, with Two-Bad’s purple head calling his blue one a “lamebrain”, and the blue head retaliating with “motormouth”.

Once Two-Bad’s got his little personality disorder out of the way, the majority of the rest of the insults are directed at Skeletor or the Monstroids. Swift Wind refers to the Monstroids as “evil robots”, whereas Hordak considers one of them to be a “bucket of bolts”. He-Man and She-Ra get in on the act with “metal-mouth” and “iron head” respectively. None of these insults is particularly imaginative, but everyone’s just warming up at this stage.

She-Ra: “Oh, Christ, the Monstroids. It seems a bit unfair to go reminding us of Day of the Flowers on Christmas Day.”

 Hordak’s in a foul mood with Skeletor this week, calling him “bone-brain”, “bonehead” and “skull-faced scoundrel” on various occasions. He-Man’s heart doesn’t seem to be in it, but he does at least contrive to join in by calling Skeletor a “bone-face”. Skeletor doesn’t even dignify this with a response, but does tell Hordak that he’s a “miserable excuse for a villain”. He then refers to Alicia and Miguel as “troublesome tots” and to Relay as a “dratted dog”, a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly concur.

Finally, Hordak says that Alicia and Miguel are “goody-goods” and “little fools”, while She-Ra tells Horde Prime that he is a “troublemaker”. This last is entirely accurate, and I suspect Horde Prime is pleased about it, but I’m pretty sure She-Ra wasn’t trying to be complimentary.

Skeletor: “Oddly, not much in the way of insults from me today.”

Oh No, Bow!

In the scene at the start where our heroes are decorating the Palace, Bow is engrossed in unnecessarily painting a box, which is the most complicated task that anyone dared to assign him. Even so, he’s still got the nerve to tell Peekablue that the stars she’s painting on the wall ought to be purple. Bow is clearly big in the world of interior design, as evidenced by the fact that he lives in a campsite in the woods, and therefore has loads of experience in the subject.

Bow then disappears from the episode, until about halfway through when he pops up again in order to lean against a tree, thrusting his crotch provocatively in the direction of Alicia and Miguel, and to teach them to sing a horrendous song about joy and Christmas spirit. It’s dreadful. Bow’s done some horrific things in the past, but this really does go the extra mile. Go away, Bow. I never want to see you again.

Miguel: “I feel like if I try to leave, these guys are going to get nasty.”

Does it have the Power?

I don’t like being overly negative, especially when it’s plain that the writers and production team have really tried to craft a great Christmas special, but this one has never really done anything for me, and I don’t know why. I think part of the problem is that an awful lot of it comes across as an advert, rather than a story – the Monstroids and the Manchines, in particular, really felt like they were only there to sell toys.

Snout Spout: “Everyone you see in the following panning shot is available to buy.”

Looking back over the episode summary, I’d say that I enjoyed the Special mostly up to the point where Alicia and Miguel arrived on Eternia, after which it goes downhill quite rapidly with the endless capturing and rescuing of the children. As mentioned above, Skeletor has some brilliant lines when he has custody of the children, but this is pretty much the only point in the whole special at which the dialogue really comes to life.

Speaking of Skeletor, I think I’m more open than many He-Man fans when it comes to his character. I know that his crazy desire to bring the circus to Snake Mountain in The Greatest Show on Eternia infuriated many, but I – while not welcoming it with open arms – didn’t particularly mind. However, his behaviour in this episode is perhaps one step too far. I simply cannot believe that Skeletor would ever do anything good, especially not giving up a reward from Horde Prime for capturing the children. It just doesn’t ring true. My impression of Skeletor is that he can be petty and small-minded (as with the circus incident), but he just doesn’t have it in him to do good.

Skeletor: “Somewhere, somehow, something has gone hideously wrong.”

Everything else this time is pretty much by-the-numbers. He-Man, She-Ra and Hordak are all present and correct, as are the lead supporting casts from the respective shows, but no one does anything inspiring. It’s nice to see Man-at-Arms again, though it would have been good if Teela could have had a few more lines. Glimmer gets short shrift, as always, but who cares about her? In summary, I’m afraid I can’t say I loved this episode, but being honest, if you’re a He-Man fan, you’re going to be watching it this Christmas anyway.

Episode 88 – Portrait of Doom

In which She-Ra has a near brush with disaster.

Oh, Christ, Bow’s playing his harp again. Luckily, he’s not singing today, but nonetheless it’s an atrocious racket. The assembled Twiggets, however, seem to think he’s great, and shower him with unwarranted praise, leading him to yammer on about how he’s going to be a big hit at the forthcoming Summer Moon Festival. This in turn leads the Twigget Spritina to wander off sadly, bemoaning the fact that she is rubbish at everything so won’t be performing at the festival.

Well, you know what happens whenever anyone gets sad because they’re rubbish, don’t you? That’s right, they run into a baddy, who will be in disguise and will embroil our unlucky protagonist in some stupid scheme. This time is no different. In this case, the baddy in question is Catra, and the stupid scheme revolves around a magic painting kit which Catra lends to Spritina, and tells her to paint portraits of all her friends with it.

Spritina: “Say cheese.”

Spritina starts by painting Netossa, who immediately complains of feeling tired, and then disappears from view altogether. Spritina has already run off to the festival by this stage, and happily occupies herself painting pictures of Kowl, Broom, and Bow, who all disappear as well. As far as I’m concerned, this episode is going really well; hopefully Spritina will move on to paint Adora, Madame Razz and Glimmer. And Loo-Kee, if she can find him.

The missing rebels are transferred onto portraits hanging in the Fright Zone, where they only exist in two-dimensional form, and are unable to move. If I were Hordak, I’d burn these portraits right now, especially the one of Bow. Instead, Hordak satisfies himself with telling Shadow Weaver how excellent her magic paints are, while Catra pouts in the background. Failing to capitalise on an advantage is the principal and fundamental mistake exhibited by every baddy in this series ever.

Hordak: “Well, I can see why it’s free to get into the National Portrait Gallery. I wouldn’t pay to look at this nonsense.”

Spritina is just about to start painting Adora when Madame Razz bounces up, bearing the news that all their stupid rebelly friends have vanished and Catra’s Horde Troopers are attacking Bright Moon. While the remaining rebels start a fruitless search for their missing colleagues, Adora transforms into She-Ra and ponces off to Bright Moon, though not before clocking that there’s something odd with Spritina’s paintings.

Madame Razz begins an investigation into the magic painting kit, and unfortunately an investigation for Madame Razz means sitting in a circle with the Twiggets, shrieking, “Razzle dazzle, mazzle azzle, uzzle buzzle” and other nonsensical variants on that theme. This descent into total madness somehow gets the results required, and Madame Razz learns that Bow and co. are trapped on canvas in the Fright Zone.

Madame Razz heads to Bright Moon to alert She-Ra to this pretty damn disturbing turn of events, while Spritina achieves the difficult goal of making the situation even worse by going to the Fright Zone and getting herself captured. Luckily, She-Ra arrives in the Fright Zone in the nick of time, rescues Spritina, and also grabs the portraits.

She-Ra: “Do I look weirdly exhausted?”

They all merrily return to Whispering Wood, where Madame Razz recites more “wizzle wuzzle” gibberish and restores the two-dimensional rebels to life. I’d love to say that Bow has always been two-dimensional so it’s difficult to tell the difference, but that’s a far too obvious joke, so I wouldn’t dream of making it.

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee evaded my eager gaze today, but blow me down if he didn’t turn out to have been in a tree in Whispering Wood. He offers a disjointed little moral about how we shouldn’t wish we could play musical instruments, but instead concentrate on being ourselves rather than trying to be like other people. Taken to its logical conclusion, this approach would result in no one being able to play musical instruments. Good one, Loo-Kee.

Character checklist

Here we have Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Kowl, Glimmer, Netossa, Queen Angela, Madame Razz, Broom, the Twiggets (including Spritina), Loo-Kee, loads of rebels, Hordak, Catra, Shadow Weaver, and some Horde Troopers.

Catra: “Yeah, well done, Shadow Weaver. Well done. So clever of you.”

Insults

Everything’s ticking along beautifully, without an angry word being exchanged, right up to around the 17th minute, when it all goes to pot with Hordak bellowing “bumbling purr-brain” at Catra. This was surprising, largely because I thought he was going to say “bumbling pervert”. Catra evidently decides to let off some steam at this unfair treatment by telling Spritina and another Twigget called Sprint that they are “rebel scum”.

Oh No, Bow!

I think this episode must have been a massive ego boost for Bow. In stark comparison to the levels of distress exhibited about Netossa, Kowl and Broom, loads of people seem really concerned about Bow’s whereabouts, and Queen Angela seems to reckon that the Rebellion will be unable to defend Bright Moon without him. This is, of course, entirely untrue, since Bow has very rarely proven himself to have any abilities whatsoever, and notably She-Ra does not appear to think there’s any urgency to rescuing him.

She-Ra: “Worst Christmas present ever.”

Does it have the Power?

This episode has an imaginative concept, which I imagine would have been quite scary for a child; to be trapped on a canvas, unable to move, would not be a great way to end your days. Even though it’s Shadow Weaver’s plan, for some reason Hordak entrusts it to Catra to carry it out, and that’s a good move, because Catra is at her most deliciously evil this week. It’s a pleasure to see her back on form. Aside from the irritating Madame Razz “razzle dazzle” nonsense, and the slightly irrelevant Horde attack on Bright Moon, this episode is a strong entry, and worth a watch.

Episode 87 – The Inspector

In which Adora and Adam put on the worst disguises ever.

This week is a rare treat: we open on Eternia, where He-Man and Man-at-Arms are hanging out, testing a new shield that Man-at-Arms has invented. It’s good to see Man-at-Arms again, even if it does remind me that he’s almost as big a tit as Bow is. Anyway, soon enough, He-Man is summoned by the Sorceress to Castle Grayskull, and off he goes, leaving Man-at-Arms behind. This is surely the last time we see Man-at-Arms, and it feels like I’ve left a small piece of my soul behind.

He-Man: “Well, this is like the good old days.”

At Castle Grayskull, the Sorceress gets on Skype with Adora and Madame Razz on Etheria. Adora relates a hard-luck story about how the rebels were fooled by one of the most obvious traps I’ve ever seen, and have all been captured by Hordak. Adora and Madame Razz are the only ones who managed to escape, and Adora has lost her sword. Consequently, they’d really like He-Man’s help to get them out of this self-inflicted mess. Personally, I have no sympathy at all, but He-Man is a much nicer person than I am.

In the meantime, Hordak is celebrating his victory and congratulating Spicester, who is the gentleman who lured the rebels into the trap in the first place. His celebration is short-lived, however; Horde Prime gets in touch and announces that he is sending Inspector Darkney to make a thorough assessment of Hordak’s operation, and to discover why Hordak has completely failed to defeat She-Ra.

Hordak: “Come on Spicester. We’ll just have one drink.”

The moment He-Man arrives on Etheria, he is ambushed by Mantenna, and the one-sided battle is observed by Darkney. He-Man subsequently captures Darkney, and in a fit of insanity, decides to impersonate him and go to the Fright Zone. In total fairness, the impersonation does involve turning back into Prince Adam and putting on a fake beard, so I imagine Hordak will be completely fooled.

Actually, I don’t know why I’m being so sarcastic. Of course Hordak is fooled, even though Adam has brought Public Enemy Number One, Adora, along with him, and her only concession to a disguise is a big red cloak. Adam and Adora then put Hordak through a variety of humiliating exercises, seemingly purely for their own entertainment, before locking him in a cell and getting down to the serious business of locating Adora’s sword so she can become She-Ra.

Prince Adam: “Whose disguise is worse, do you think?”

Adam then dresses She-Ra and all the rebel prisoners up in Horde Trooper costumes, and marches them out of the Fright Zone. It’s Catra – putting in her first appearance for absolutely ages – who smells a rat, and rescues Hordak from his cell. Hordak gets in a big tank and gives chase to the prisoners, but comes up against He-Man and She-Ra, and the encounter goes about as well for him as you might expect.

Back in Whispering Wood, Adam accepts the thanks of Bow and Netossa for rescuing them, and then does a little flirting with Adora which makes for rather uncomfortable viewing. Cersei and Jaime have nothing on these two.

Netossa: “Not in front of the children, you deviants.”

In today’s adventure…

Not unexpectedly, Loo-Kee is in a tree in Whispering Wood today. He witters on about the love that families have for each other, which is definitely a topic he’s never touched on before. The writers had blatantly run out of life lessons to dispense by this point.

Character checklist

This trip to Etheria features Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Prince Adam, He-Man, Madame Razz, Bow, Netossa, Man-at-Arms, the Sorceress, Loo-Kee, some random rebels, Hordak, Catra, Spicester, Mantenna, Grizzlor, Inspector Darkney, and some Horde Troopers.

Insults

The word of the week is evidently “bumbling”, since it appears on no less than four separate occasions. Mantenna and Hordak both refer to some Horde Troopers as “bumbling robots”, Hordak calls Spicester a “bumbling fool”, and Darkney calls Hordak a “bumbling bozo”. Darkney also considers Hordak to be a “miserable excuse for a Horde commander” and furthermore believes He-Man and Adora to be “blasted rebels”.

Inspector Darkney: “I feel this could have gone better.”

In return, the rebels only manage a couple of barbs in the Horde’s direction: Madame Razz says that Darkney is an “unpleasant man”, and He-Man calls Mantenna “bug-eyes”. The Horde do, however, manage to insult each other on a few further occasions: Catra says that Spicester is a “measly sneak”, and Hordak rather surprisingly calls Catra and Spicester “baboons”. This could have been “buffoons”, but I prefer “baboons”.

Does it have the Power?

I enjoyed this episode, though I certainly wouldn’t rave about it. It was, as noted above, good to see Man-at-Arms again, and the opening scene felt like the beginning of a He-Man episode rather than a She-Ra one, which was pleasingly nostalgic. The plot once again revolves around people being captured and needing to be rescued, but with the added spice of the inspector impersonation, this storyline doesn’t feel as tired as it often does.

He-Man: “Sorceress, couldn’t we see what’s on BBC2 instead?”

Speaking of spice, I’m at a loss to understand the need for Spicester, and I certainly don’t know why he’s called that. He doesn’t look particularly spicy, and he doesn’t go round throwing spices at people, which in the He-Man universe are the only two reasons why he might have a name like that. Neither, unfortunately, is he especially interesting. The only good thing about him is that Catra clearly doesn’t like him, which was vaguely amusing.

Anyway, this one’s not bad at all, especially if you ignore Spicester. You could definitely do worse.

Episode 86 – Glimmer Come Home

In which Glimmer falls for an incredibly stupid trick.

Today’s episode opens with some Horde Troopers confiscating food from various rebel-aligned villages, which does not sit well with Adora, Bow and Glimmer. Glimmer is all for going in guns blazing, but Adora tells her not to be reckless, and instead suggests heading back to camp to come up with a plan. Bow loves this idea, mostly because it means he can agree with Adora so she might ultimately sleep with him, but Glimmer is far less impressed, if her scowly face is anything to go by.

Once back at Rebel HQ, Adora shuts herself up in a tent and comes up with a plan, eventually conceding to meet the other rebels one by one to tell them what to do. She assigns Glimmer the low-importance-but-high-prestige job of distracting the Troopers with a light show, but Glimmer throws a wobbly and insists on being allowed to fight, despite having never shown any aptitude in this area whatsoever.

Madame Razz: “This bozz-eyed look is intended to discourage you from trying to enter this tent.”

When Adora continues to insist on the light show, Glimmer stomps out and bites Bow’s head off (sadly not literally). She then stands around in the forest whinging about how self-important Adora is – which is true, but Glimmer’s by no means any better. Glimmer then decides to come up with her own plan to recover the food, and this plan seems to involve lying around sulking at a lake.

Things take a turn for the unexpected when Glimmer’s reflection in the lake starts talking to her. Her reflection convinces her that Adora is taking all the credit that should be Glimmer’s, and suggests that Glimmer go off and start her own rebellion, and that this new rebellion should employ Horde Troopers. Glimmer doesn’t smell a rat, which is telling evidence of how mind-wrenchingly stupid she is, so she merrily trots off to find some Troopers.

Glimmer: “Hey! My eyes are shut but my reflection’s eyes are open. Should I be suspicious?”

It will, I’m sure, come as no surprise to you that this sweet-talking reflection was in fact Shadow Weaver in a cunning disguise, and she orders a pair of Horde Troopers to go along with Glimmer’s silly rebellion. Just in case the Horde Troopers aren’t up to the task, Shadow Weaver herself goes along, in another disguise which makes her look like she’s escaped from Planet of the Apes. When these three find Glimmer, they instantly sign on the dotted line to join Glimmer’s Rebellion Ltd.

Shadow Weaver: “Hello! I look excitingly insane today.”

Back at Rebel HQ, She-Ra realises that Glimmer’s been gone for longer than her usual allocated sulking time, so she starts looking for her. Once Glimmer is located, she spits venom at She-Ra (again, sadly not literally) and tells her that they’re no longer friends. She’s even gone so far as to block She-Ra on Facebook, so it’s pretty serious. Glimmer and her three fake rebels then scoot off, crowing about how good their rebellion is.

It’s difficult for me to decide whether I loathe She-Ra or Glimmer more, but at least She-Ra’s got a brain. She instantly clocks that the Planet of the Apes lookalike is bad news, and very quickly works out that it must be Shadow Weaver in disguise. Even so, she isn’t quick enough to intervene before Shadow Weaver reveals her true identity, places Glimmer under arrest, and for extra security coats Glimmer’s hands in candy floss.

Shadow Weaver: “This will work. And it isn’t mental.”

Shadow Weaver then has a very brief confrontation with She-Ra, before running away and leaving Glimmer to apologise – though I don’t think she sounds very sincere. They then work together to recapture the stolen food and deliver it back to the villages, after which we are treated to a mercifully short but nonetheless infuriating She-Ra monologue on the nature of teamwork.

In today’s adventure…

It’s easy enough to spot Loo-Kee today, standing innocently under a bush, as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. I bet it was him who really convinced Glimmer to go off to the Horde. Anyway, he reinforces the message about teamwork, which was clearly being aimed at children on sports teams who have been placed in the area of least responsibility on the field.

Character checklist

Today’s little excursion into lunacy features Adora, She-Ra, Glimmer, Bow, Madame Razz, Broom, the Twiggets, Loo-Kee, a bunch of random rebels, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, and the inevitable load of Horde Troopers.

She-Ra: “You’ve been an utter moron this time, Glimmer, I don’t mind telling you.”

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

Adora graces us with an excuse for once. It’s not a very good one, but it’ll do. She simply says, “Bow, you take the other rebels to the Horde food warehouse. I’ll meet you there later.”

Insults

Bow calls some Horde Troopers “robot goons”, and then it’s all quiet on the insults for a very long time. Right at the end of the episode, Shadow Weaver suddenly gets all excited and calls Glimmer a “foolish girl” and resurrects the mildly popular “muscle maiden” for She-Ra.

Oh No, Bow!

Bow is remarkably unconcerned when he learns that Glimmer has teamed up with a pair of Horde Troopers and a weird monkey thing. His attitude is that they should just leave her to it and let her get captured. Actually, on reflection, this is a perfectly sensible attitude. Oh Yes, Bow!

Bow: “Maybe I won’t be the stupidest person on screen today.”

Does it have the Power?

It’s certainly not as much of an atrocity as it could have been. Glimmer is incredibly stupid to fall for Shadow Weaver’s trick in the first place, and it’s not particularly clear what Shadow Weaver was really trying to achieve by going through these convoluted shenanigans, but it has to be said that when Shadow Weaver is on form – as she is today – she’s a really quite intimidating and scary presence, and that makes up for quite a few of the episode’s shortcomings. Simply taking the story into account, this one’s pretty poor, but the execution is snappy enough that it’s a decent offering. You could do worse.

Episode 85 – Sweet Bee's Home

In which He-Man is subject to sexual harassment in the workplace.

Prince Adam is back on Etheria yet again, but his holiday comes to an end when he and Adora witness the Horde shooting down an unarmed spaceship. They adopt their alter egos and go running off to lend whatever assistance they can, accompanied by Mermista and Frosta, the latter of whom takes an immediate shine to He-Man.

He-Man: “Christ.”

The spaceship has crashed in the Polar Sea, so Hordak takes a bunch of Horde Troopers on a team away day to the Sea to recover it. Of course, our heroes arrive just in the nick of time, and divide their company. He-Man and Frosta occupy themselves with some flirting while they attend to the Horde Troopers, leaving She-Ra and Mermista to dive into the water to rescue the spaceship’s pilot.

Once He-Man has defeated all the Troopers, Frosta leaps on him, with the intention of taking a starring role in Filmation’s first 18-rated cartoon. Unfortunately for her, She-Ra and Mermista reappear with the pilot, and accuse He-Man of molesting Frosta. Once that’s sorted out, He-Man pulls the pilot’s helmet off, revealing a sexy ginger-haired woman. Well, judging by He-Man’s reaction, he thinks she’s sexy. Anyone in their right mind would disagree, but we’ve established on many occasions that He-Man is not in his right mind.

Frosta: “He-Man, eyes forward.”

The rebels take the pilot to Whispering Wood, where she introduces herself as Sweet Bee. It’s clear that we’re heading for a love triangle situation, since He-Man clearly can’t do enough for Sweet Bee, while Frosta is prancing about in the background pouting because she can’t get He-Man’s attention. I can’t help but wonder what Teela would say about all this.

Sweet Bee explains that her home sun exploded in a supernova, but her people escaped in a large ship known as the Hive. Sweet Bee was searching for a new world for her people to colonise. He-Man immediately leaps in and volunteers Etheria as a suitable planet, which is a bit rich considering he doesn’t even live there. Sure enough, She-Ra intervenes and points out that if Sweet Bee’s people come to Etheria, they are likely to be enslaved by the Horde.

He-Man: “I’ve had such a good idea.”

Once this is explained, Sweet Bee determines that she must warn her people, but Mermista tells her that her spacecraft has been stolen by the Horde. Unbeknownst to the rebels, the situation is much worse than that: Shadow Weaver has disguised herself as Sweet Bee and contacted the Hive, inviting them to come to Etheria to become Hordak’s slaves. She doesn’t mention that last bit.

He-Man, She-Ra, Frosta, Sweet Bee and Mermista all come bounding along to the Fright Zone to recapture the spaceship, and get involved in a super exciting battle, punctuated by amusing little quips and a very pleasing scene in which Frosta rescues He-Man from Shadow Weaver’s magic. It’s even more pleasing because She-Ra takes a back seat and doesn’t really do anything.

At the last moment, however, Hordak destroys the communication equipment and the launching jets of Sweet Bee’s ship, ensuring there is no way to warn the Hive against approaching Etheria. Of course, He-Man and She-Ra have a plan; Sweet Bee gets into the ship, and they throw it into space. Sweet Bee reaches the Hive and they depart, searching for a more suitable home. Once she’s established that Sweet Bee has really gone, Frosta starts draping herself all over He-Man again, much to his discomfort.

She-Ra: “Possibly the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.”

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee is in the Fright Zone today, probably because he’s a traitor and is planning to sell all the Rebellion’s secrets to Hordak. His moral is that Frosta’s aggressive sexual overtures in today’s episode were way beyond the norms of acceptable workplace behaviour, and he suggests that He-Man should speak to his line manager or consult the union. Okay, okay, I’m lying again. Actually, he advises us that if our family ever moves house, we shouldn’t be sad about it.

Character checklist

So, today we’ve got Adora, Prince Adam, She-Ra, He-Man, Spirit, Swift Wind, Frosta, Sweet Bee, Mermista, some guys from the Hive, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, and, of course, some Horde Troopers.

Insults

Hordak is the only one dishing out insults today, telling one of his Troopers that it is a “tin dolt” and referring to Sweet Bee as a “bee-brain”. I’m very surprised that we didn’t have Frosta calling Sweet Bee a bitch, but there we go.

Hordak: “I’m feeling particularly evil today.”

Oh No, Bow!

Bow’s not in this episode, for which I’m glad. With all the hormones raging between He-Man, Frosta and Sweet Bee, Bow would undoubtedly achieve Maximum Sleaze.

Does it have the Power?

There must have been something in the water at the Filmation office around about this time in the production history of She-Ra, given we’ve had three episodes involving romance recently. Romeo and Glimmer was the first attempt, while the opening scene of Just the Way You Are also suggested love was in the air between Adam and Glimmer.

Sweet Bee’s Home, though, is definitely the most successful episode concerning this theme, mostly because it’s not sugary-sweet. The only time it approaches saccharine is when Sweet Bee introduces herself and He-Man responds by saying her name is sweet. Even then, the focus of the scene is on Frosta, who is standing in the foreground wiggling her hips crossly and imitating He-Man.

She-Ra: “This is all getting silly…”

That’s not the only great animation in this episode: whenever Frosta is involved, there’s something entertaining going on. Early on, the scene where He-Man is battling the Horde Troopers at the Polar Sea, he’s essentially battling to keep Frosta off him as well. Pretty much any time Sweet Bee says anything, Frosta can be seen glaring at her. There’s even a moment when Mermista compliments He-Man, and Frosta gives her a death stare, as if to say, “don’t you get involved too”.

Frosta: “I will kill again.”

Eventually, at the end, He-Man gives up and surrenders to Frosta. There’s even a kiss sound effect after the episode fades to black. And that concludes one of the best She-Ra episodes we’ve ever seen.