Episode 121 – The Magic Falls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In today’s adventure…

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


Character checklist

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

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


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

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



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


Egg on your face?

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

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


Does it have the Power?

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


Episode 119 – Visitors From Earth

In which He-Man gets a nice walk in the vacuum of space.

ADMIRAL PATRICK: Tape on. Interview commences 10:00 hours 23rd November 1984. Present: presiding officer Admiral Patrick, and pilots Colonel Mark Blaze and Major Andrea Steele.

MAJOR STEELE: Good morning.

COLONEL BLAZE: Good morning.

PATRICK: Right, I’d like to get some things straightened out here. Obviously, your mission was successful, somehow, and that’s a great relief, but there’s a lot in your official report which has given the upper echelons … cause for concern, shall we say.

STEELE: That’s understandable. I can barely believe it really happened.

PATRICK: Could you please just take me through it again, for the benefit of the tape?

BLAZE: Very well. As you know, the two of us launched in a small vessel equipped with a nuclear warhead, with a mission to destroy the meteor that was headed straight for Earth. It was imperative that we succeed, or all life on Earth would be wiped out.

STEELE: But before we could get to the meteor, we were pulled off course by a blue, red and orange stripey wobbly space tunnel. That isn’t the official designation for such a thing, but that’s definitely what it looked like.


Visitors 1
Figure 1: The stripey wobbly space tunnel

STEELE: We reappeared in a strange solar system, which for no apparent reason I described as “some sort of other galaxy”. There was a planet below, and instead of trying to get back to Earth and complete our mission, we decided to land to check out some life readings.

BLAZE: Once we got through the atmosphere though, we suddenly changed our minds and decided we couldn’t possibly land near the life readings. I made a slightly odd decision and insisted that Andrea use her ejector seat. This was for no purpose whatsoever, but in my defence Andrea didn’t object.

STEELE: That’s true. So I ejected out and Blaze flew off. We were clever enough to leave our locator beacons turned on, so that after this unnecessary separation, we’d be able to find each other again. I landed in a place called the Palace of Eternia, surrounded by a bunch of very exciting people.

Visitors 2
Figure 2: The inhabitants of the Palace of Eternia

PATRICK: This would be the King Randor, Queen Marlena, Prince Adam, Teela, Man-at-Arms and Orko mentioned in your report?

STEELE: That’s right, and Queen Marlena identified herself as Marlena Glenn, the astronaut who disappeared from Earth many years ago. I explained the situation about the meteor – just in case anyone wanted to know – and then begged them to help me find Colonel Blaze. I admit, I wouldn’t have needed their help if I hadn’t pointlessly used my ejector seat, but you know how sometimes these things happen.

Visitors 3
Figure 3: Major Steele explains the situation with the meteor

BLAZE: In the meantime, I found myself flying towards a scary looking establishment which I later discovered was called Snake Mountain. I realised I couldn’t fly over it, so I decided to land. In retrospect, I should have just flown round it. I don’t know why that didn’t occur to me at the time, but the suggestion that I’m completely out of my head does spring to mind. Anyway, I was met by some massive freaks called Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Beast-Man, Two-Bad and Spikor, who took me prisoner.

PATRICK: Ah yes, of course. Your report indicates that they put you in a giant cylinder, which they described as a “truth scanner”.

Visitors 4
Figure 4: The truth scanner

BLAZE: That’s right. And I told them everything about the missile. Skeletor wanted to use the missile to blow up a castle, which the others thought was a great idea. Except Two-Bad, who didn’t seem to know what he thought about the situation, since he had two heads and thus two brains. Though neither brain seemed particularly effective.

PATRICK: Yes, well, I’ve been beginning to get a bit concerned about certain peoples’ brains myself.

STEELE: Back at the Palace, Teela was out looking for Colonel Blaze, while I was dossing about with Prince Adam and Cringer, his giant green and yellow talking tiger. Then a signal came on the location beacons, showing me where the colonel was. I instantly leaped on a vehicle I’d never seen before and drove it off without needing to learn how to use it. Prince Adam watched me go, and seemed to have some kind of clever plan up his sleeve.

PATRICK: Almost as if he might be going to help in some way?

STEELE: That’s right, but I was wrong, because by the time I got to Snake Mountain, Prince Adam was nowhere to be seen, and this big dude called He-Man was there with Battle-Cat, who is a green and yellow talking tiger with armour. We sneaked into Snake Mountain together and rescued Colonel Blaze by means of some really stupid tricks that ultimately ended in Two-Bad getting buckets stuck on both of his heads. It’s worth noting that during this procedure, He-Man had a really ridiculous smirk on his face.

Visitors 5
Figure 5: Two-Bad and Beast-Man

PATRICK: I don’t think that is worth noting. What about the missile?

BLAZE: Skeletor had removed it from our ship, and damaged the firing mechanism too. Fortunately, Man-at-Arms arrived at that point in a Wind Raider, beaming all over his stupid moustachioed face, and helped me to fix the ship.

STEELE: In the meantime, I went with He-Man to Castle Grayskull, where Skeletor was trying to use the missile to blow the doors down. When we got there, we had a quick fight with Skeletor and Evil-Lyn, in the middle of which I rather irrelevantly explained to He-Man that my father had taught me how to cook. After that, Skeletor idiotically knocked the missile down into the abyss, and then just buggered off.

Visitors 6
Figure 6: He-Man and Skeletor

PATRICK: I must confess, I am quite caught up in this exciting story. What happened after that?

STEELE: He-Man took the Wind Raider and flew down into the abyss, where he caught the missile and brought it back.

PATRICK: Bit of an anti-climax, that one. But anyway, what next?

STEELE: Well, He-Man did a pretty stupid fly-by in his Wind Raider, waving happily to me with the nuclear warhead in the back. But once he’d finished showing off, we found out that not only had Man-at-Arms not managed to repair our vessel, he had inexplicably made it at least double in size.

BLAZE: Skeletor had set the missile to explode in 49 minutes, and we were pretty despondent, because we didn’t think there was any way to get back to Earth and blow up the meteor in that length of time. Everyone else was coming up with solutions, and I was blundering about shooting holes in their ideas. I’m quite annoying, if you want the honest truth.

STEELE: Luckily, Queen Marlena figured out how to get back to Earth, which essentially boiled down to “go back the way you came”. I don’t know why we didn’t think of that, but it’s probably because we’re nuts. Anyway, He-Man came with us. Because the firing mechanism was damaged, He-Man decided to pop out into the vacuum of space and throw the missile at the meteor. In case you’re interested, He-Man can talk in space, though as usual he didn’t say anything sane.

Visitors 7
Figure 7: He-Man in space

BLAZE: Then we went back to Eternia, dropped He-Man off, and came back to Earth.

PATRICK: Right, good. I think I’ve heard enough. You two are dismissed from the Space Service on grounds of complete mental collapse. However, I will be putting in a good word for you at a company called Filmation, where I think you’ll fit right in.


In today’s adventure…

Queen Marlena explains that today we learned that helping others is really good. I don’t recall particularly noticing that, but there wasn’t a more obvious moral to be learned, so okay.


Character checklist

This episode is well-populated, featuring Prince Adam, He-Man, Cringer, Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Major Steele, Colonel Blaze, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Beast-Man, Two-Bad and Spikor.

Visitors 8
Figure 8: Spikor


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam doesn’t feel the need to explain himself, since he’s all alone in the courtyard at the time.



It’s mostly between Beast-Man and Two-Bad today, with the former calling the latter a “two-faced practical joker”, and the latter retaliating with the business-as-usual “furface” and the slightly odder “furry fossil”. He-Man also gets a rare burn in by referring to Skeletor’s brain as “a nice, safe, empty place”.


Does it have the Power?

This one’s noteworthy for me primarily because it’s one I recorded off ITV when I was little, but the tape finished just as the missile was hurtling down the abyss. I remember spending a lot of time puzzling about how He-Man was going to get the missile back, which is odd, because it’s obvious that he’d just fly down far enough and catch it. No one ever said I was that bright a child. Besides that none-too-interesting reminiscence, I haven’t got much to say about this episode, other than that it’s all right and that you could do much worse, especially at this stage in the series.

Episode 116 – Here, There, Skeletors Everywhere

In which Skeletor goes above and beyond in his efforts to cause mental havoc.

Well now, this is a promisingly mental title. I have a good feeling about this episode. We begin with Man-at-Arms demonstrating his new Duplication Machine, which makes a half-size duplicate of anything. Initially, this is put to use making lots of rangleberries for Cringer to gorge himself on, but Skeletor and Whiplash are in the vicinity and decide they want the machine for themselves.

Despite Skeletor’s singularly incompetent attempt to force them to crash land in the Tar Swamp, our heroes return to the Palace without too much trouble. Once there, they find that King Randor and Queen Marlena are talking to three teddy bears called Jerba, Jeeba and Jay. Jerba, Jeeba and Jay apparently live in a forest where they avoid being eaten by other animals by using a mineral called vambite to become invisible. At this point, I was beginning to wonder if I’d watched too much He-Man and was experiencing a completely insane delusion.

Skeletors 1
Jeeba: “Don’t mind us, we’re just passing through on our way back to the Land of Sylvanian Families.”

Jerba, Jeeba and Jay are visiting the Palace to ask for help, because their supply of vambite is mysteriously disappearing. Rather than voicing the saner opinion that he doesn’t want a crowd of invisible teddy bears cluttering up Eternia, Prince Adam suggests using Man-at-Arms’ Duplication Machine to make some more vambite.

Unfortunately, before they can do so, Skeletor and Whiplash cut a hole in the Palace floor and nick the Duplication Machine. He-Man obligingly gives chase in the Attack Trak, and despite no one inviting him, Mechaneck tags along too. Mechaneck has a noticeably different voice from his last appearance, but in fairness, there’s only five or six voice actors to do the entire cast of He-Man, so it’s no surprise that they’d forget how to do one of the voices every now and again.

Skeletors 2
Prince Adam: “A large hole has appeared in the Palace floor. The royal family are looking into it. Oh, fine, you make a better joke then.”

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. In an act of complete lunacy, Skeletor gets into the Duplication Machine and creates a vast quantity of half-sized duplicates of himself, which he then instructs to follow him to the Palace. This is behaviour so ridiculous and so utterly pointless that it doesn’t even qualify as a plan: it’s just a random act of mayhem.

After messing about in the Attack Trak for a while, He-Man receives a call from Moss-Man, who is one of He-Man’s more useless allies. Moss-Man is hanging out at the Palace pretending to be a bush, and has observed Skeletor and his miniatures arriving. He-Man and Mechaneck turn the Attack Trak back round, and return to the Palace to find that about fifty miniature Skeletors are standing around, waving their staffs and muttering.

Skeletors 3
Skeletor: “There is no way I’ll ever be able to top this.”

For some reason, He-Man says he doesn’t fancy his chances against all the little Skeletors, but frankly I don’t see why not. Nonetheless, he and Mechaneck opt to enter the Palace by a secret tunnel, and join the King and Queen in the throne room. Man-at-Arms is also lurking about there, and lest you had forgotten about them, Jerba, Jeeba and Jay are there too.

Man-at-Arms advises He-Man that if he destroys the Duplication Machine, all the mini-Skeletors will disappear. He-Man claims he can’t get past all the Skeletor Juniors who are guarding the throne room, but he definitely could if he tried; I reckon he secretly finds the whole thing pretty amusing and can’t be bothered to sort it out. Anyway, Jerba, Jeeba and Jay give He-Man their last piece of vambite, and he becomes invisible long enough to sneak out of the Palace.

Skeletors 4
Mechaneck: “He-Man, I’ve had enough of this. I’m leaving. Want to come too?”

Finally, He-Man, Battle-Cat and Jerba (or Jeeba or Jay) go to Snake Mountain, where Skeletor is happily occupied in creating even more tiny versions of himself. He-Man manages to get all the mini-Skeletors arguing amongst themselves, after which he is free to destroy the Duplication Machine. If you care – which I most decidedly did not – it also transpires that Skeletor has been nicking vambite, so the Jerba, Jeeba and Jay plotline gets a happy end too.


In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms hangs out in the Palace courtyard to inform us that no matter how much we want it, having too much of something will usually lead to it disagreeing with us. He’s talking about sweets, but it’s nicely illustrated by a shot from the episode of all the mini-Skeletors disagreeing with each other. I like this very much.

Skeletors 5
Skeletor: “This is simply glorious.”


Character checklist

This outstandingly crazy episode features a bumper cast list, including Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Mechaneck, Moss-Man, Sy-Klone, Whiplash, Two Bad, Modulok, Jerba, Jeeba, Jay, and more Skeletors than you can shake a Havoc Staff at.


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

On the first occasion, Adam is accompanied only by Man-at-Arms, Orko and Cringer, none of whom need to hear an excuse. The second time, as soon as he sees Skeletor, Adam doesn’t bother to give an excuse but simply legs it. No wonder King Randor thinks he’s a coward.

Skeletors 6
Prince Adam: “Got to dash, there’s a special offer on Honey Nut Loops at Sainsbury’s.”



Skeletor addresses his miniatures as “wonderfully horrible creatures”, which is probably meant as a compliment, but if you try using it in the office as a compliment I don’t think it’ll have the desired effect. We’re on more familiar territory when Skeletor calls He-Man, Battle-Cat and Jerba “fools”, and Whiplash refers to the latter two as “mangy”. There’s also a disappointing moment, when Skeletor addresses Jerba and gears up for a sensational burn with a dramatic “SILENCE, YOU …” and then seems to lose all his momentum, finishing with the rather lame “soon-to-be-prisoner.”


Egg on your face?

A triumphant return for this category sees Orko accidentally create a vast quantity of rangleberries, which fall and explode on Man-at-Arms’ head. In case you were wondering, this is not at all funny. The same thing happens later, with rangleberries raining down on the miniature Skeletors, and it isn’t any funnier on its second showcasing. It is still less amusing when it happens for a third time at the very end of the episode.

Skeletors 7
Skeletor: “I don’t know how to react to this.”


Does it have the Power?

Well, I was hoping for a mental episode, and by golly, it delivered. This episode is probably what madness looks like. I don’t think this cartoon has been this deranged since that one with the giant camp pink rabbit. Skeletor’s decision to create hundreds of miniatures of himself is completely unhinged and without seeming motive. It’s extremely funny just because it’s so ridiculous – but it’s also oddly menacing. The voice acting has very little humour to it, and it’s a strangely perfect decision to play this one straight, since although it’s completely crazy, it somehow comes across as a viable threat.

The episode is guilty of the semi-regular crime of extremely obvious product placement. Evil Warriors now available at Toys R Us are Two Bad and Modulok, neither of whom speak but are just casually standing around to demonstrate their existence. Heroic Warriors include He-Man’s new friend Sy-Klone, who can wave his arms around and produce a whirlwind, as well as the afore-mentioned Moss-Man, who gets a very odd introduction. He’s hanging out at the Duplication Machine test site, doing no harm, but Man-at-Arms tells him in no uncertain terms to piss off, which he does.

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Moss-Man: “Admittedly, I have no real reason to be here.”

Other than action figure adverts, this episode is brilliant, especially coming after the recent lacklustre efforts. Very highly recommended indeed.

Episode 111 – Double Trouble

In which we’re expected to care when some one-time guest star begins acting evil.

At the Palace, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela and Orko greet Koldar, an ally of He-Man’s, who has come for a visit. I’m sure we’ve seen Koldar before, because I recognise his Viking helmet and gold armour, but I’m pretty certain he wasn’t called Koldar last time, whenever it was. Anyway, Koldar seems a pleasant enough chap, and comes equipped with a robotic horse called Shadowmaster, who can disappear into any shadow. This is a great ability, but not at all relevant to the episode.

Double 1
Orko: “Even this stupid horse hates me.”

Meanwhile, a powerful lightning strike at Snake Mountain opens up a secret passage, and Skeletor, Evil-Lyn and Beast-Man investigate. They find the Mirror of Morivad, a legendary device which can create an evil double of anyone. Skeletor immediately decides to use it to defeat He-Man, and with this in mind, sends Beast-Man off to create a diversion.

Beast-Man’s diversion – as usual – consists of him sending some stupid monsters to attack a settlement. While He-Man and his mates deal with the situation, Koldar is lured into a cave by Evil-Lyn, kidnapped, and taken to Snake Mountain, where Skeletor uses the Mirror on him. Skeletor then instructs the newly created evil Koldar double to steal the secrets of Castle Grayskull.

Double 2
Koldar: “Now I see myself, I must admit I look pretty stupid.”

On returning to the Palace, Evil-Koldar signs up for the next tourist trip round Grayskull. Once inside, he blows his cover pretty quickly by setting off a smoke bomb and doing a runner. As we cut to the commercial break, the camera zooms in on He-Man’s face, and I have to say, I’ve never seen him look this immensely pissed off before.

The Sorceress shows up at this point, and after He-Man explains that Koldar used to be an ally, she says she cannot help, because Castle Grayskull is supposed to be a safe haven for the friends of He-Man. While it’s no surprise that she can’t help (when has she ever?), her reasoning is deeply unsound, and though He-Man says, “I understand,” it’s quite plain that he’s livid at her weaselling out of helping yet again. He then indulges in a spot of hyperbole, claiming that he’ll search Grayskull for ever if he has to. Knowing He-Man, he’ll get bored after 30 seconds, and find a monster to have a fight with instead.

Double 3
He-Man: “See this, Sorceress? This is my ‘despairing-eyes-to-the-heavens’ face.”

Evil-Koldar soon locates a large face on a wall between two doors, which introduces itself as the Guardian of Grayskull. The Guardian explains that behind one door are the secrets, and behind the other is “what you deserve”. To get the secrets, Evil-Koldar must correctly answer the question, “Why do you want the secrets?”

Evil-Koldar’s response is typically megalomaniac – he says that he wants the secrets for the power they will bestow upon him, which will allow him to rule the entire universe. Needless to say, that is the wrong answer, and the Guardian instructs Evil-Koldar to open the left door. When he does so, he is disintegrated into tiny shards of glass. Watching smugly, He-Man somehow concludes that Evil-Koldar must have been a mirror duplicate, and heads back to the Palace.

On arrival, he is surprised to find Teela and Man-at-Arms hanging around in a corridor, shooting the breeze with Skeletor. It turns out, however, that this is a well-behaved version of Skeletor, created by the Mirror, thanks to the real Koldar tricking the real Skeletor. Good-Skeletor leads He-Man to Snake Mountain and they rescue Koldar. This done, Good-Skeletor returns into the Mirror, and smashes it for good measure.

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


In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms explains that very few people are entirely good or entirely bad, which is a perfectly sensible bit of advice and fairly relevant to the episode’s events. He’s then interrupted by Orko, who tells us because no one is entirely good or bad, we shouldn’t judge people by the way they look. This is at least slightly relevant to the episode’s events, but completely irrelevant to what Man-at-Arms was just saying. It feels rather as though the episode was written by two people who couldn’t agree on what the moral should be, so they chucked them both in.


Character checklist

Being put through their paces today are Prince Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, the Sorceress, Good-Koldar, Evil-Koldar, Good-Skeletor, Normal-Skeletor, Beast-Man, Evil-Lyn and Shadowmaster. The episode also features a rare appearance from Queen Marlena without being accompanied by her ever-present husband.

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Queen Marlena: “I don’t understand the joke, but I’m going to laugh along politely.”


Excuse for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Teela tells Adam early on to come along to meet Koldar, but Adam essentially tells her to get lost. When she does so, he transforms, and Adam is not mentioned again.



Fairly slim pickings this week: Koldar addresses Skeletor to say “you’re mad,” which instantly draws Skeletor’s usual comeback: “fool”. Later on, both Good-Skeletor and the real Skeletor call Beast-Man a “fool” simultaneously.


Does it have the Power?

This episode is a great deal of fun. While it might have had a bit more impact if it had been Teela or Man-at-Arms acting evil, rather than a rubbish new character like Koldar, it’s an enjoyable romp nonetheless. The highlight of the episode is an extremely funny scene towards the end, in which Beast-Man is given contradictory orders by both Skeletors. The one criticism I might have is that Good-Skeletor is accepted by He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Teela all too easily. One could argue that there wasn’t enough time in the episode to go into that, but I’d respond that if the episode was too long, you could cut that pointless scene with the Sorceress.

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Beast-Man: “I’ve literally never been this confused.”

One final point: this episode contains some outstanding dialogue from He-Man, when he booms at Evil-Koldar: “You’re trespassing in the Hall of He-Man.” I have to get a soundclip of that to be my ringtone. Just imagine the admiring looks of people on the train when that goes off.

Episode 110 – The Problem with Power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In today’s adventure…

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


Character checklist

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

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


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

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

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



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

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

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


Does it have the Power?

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

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

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

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

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

Episode 108 – Teela’s Triumph

In which I finally realise that Man-at-Arms is wearing an all-in-one bodysuit.

In Castle Grayskull, the Sorceress has been joined for a friendly chitchat by a freaky floating pink head. The two of them watch Man-at-Arms and Teela on a magic mirror, idly conversing about how awesome Teela is and how much the Sorceress is looking forward to the day she can reveal that she is Teela’s mother. Suddenly, the Sorceress decides she can wait no longer, so she turns into her falcon form and flies off to tell Teela all about it.

Triumph 1
The Sorceress: “This pink head thing could just be the result of too much cheese before bedtime.”

Unfortunately, the Sorceress’ route takes her past Snake Mountain, where Skeletor is messing about with inter-dimensional weapons again. To demonstrate his new gun to Evil-Lyn and Trapjaw, he shoots Zoar and sends her to another world. Zoar appears in a landscape of volcanoes and raining lava, and indulges in a monologue about how hopeless her situation is, and how even He-Man will be unable to find her. It seems to go without saying that her super duper daughter Teela will be similarly unable.

Luckily, the freaky pink head appears to Adam, Cringer, Teela and Man-at-Arms to inform them that the Sorceress has vanished. Man-at-Arms tells Adam to find He-Man, and the pink head tells Teela that she must replace the Sorceress at Castle Grayskull. Teela presciently asks why, but the pink head dodges the question with, “I can’t tell you.” This seems to be adequate for Teela, but let’s not forget she is the least perceptive person on an entire planet of people with eyes closed to the obvious.

Triumph 2
Teela: “No need to question too much as to why I’ve got to be the Sorceress. I’m sure it all makes sense.”

Teela arrives at Castle Grayskull, where – to the beat of an outstandingly trippy 80s soundtrack – the pink head guides her through the lessons she must learn to become the new Sorceress. These lessons do not include the knowledge concerning He-Man’s secret identity, which I would argue is hands down the most important thing for the Sorceress. How else will she call for help when she inevitably gets into some stupid form of trouble?

Meanwhile, in an effort to find out where the Sorceress is, He-Man goes to Snake Mountain to have a heart-to-heart with Skeletor, which proves to be a surprisingly subtle fencing match of a conversation. It ends, however, with He-Man being blasted with the Dimension Gun and sent to the volcano planet, after which Skeletor abandons all pretence at subtlety and shrieks, “That’s the end of He-Man!” while happily waving his arms around.

Triumph 3
He-Man: “Hmm. Skeletor’s version of Butlin’s leaves something to be desired.”

Skeletor’s next move is to leap on the Grayskull Express train, and arrives at the castle gates pronto, with his usual intent to unlock the secrets. Teela, who isn’t doing very well in her training course run by the floating pink head, decides to disguise herself as the Sorceress, which she does very badly. To his eternal credit, Skeletor sees through this deception, so Teela has no choice but to fight.

Back on Volcano World, the Sorceress has opted to lurk inside a cave full of lava, which is as sensible as it sounds. It’s not terribly surprising, therefore, that she gets trapped inside, which means He-Man has to turn himself into a drill and dig her out. Once this implausible feat is achieved, the Sorceress is able to use He-Man’s sword to return them to Eternia.

Triumph 4
He-Man: “So that’s how many times this week I’ve had to rescue you, Sorceress? I ought to be charging a finder’s fee.”

They arrive to find Teela has tied Evil-Lyn up with more ropes than looks strictly necessary, but hasn’t bothered to do anything about Skeletor – presumably because Skeletor equally hasn’t bothered to do anything except lounge about on Castle Grayskull’s throne. The appearance of the Sorceress and He-Man spooks Skeletor so much that he simply runs away. There’s just enough time for the Sorceress to tell Teela that her mother would be very proud of her, and for Teela to reciprocate that she wishes her mother was just like the Sorceress. There is also enough time for me to vomit copiously into a bucket.


In today’s adventure…

We’re treated to a pretty muddled moral this week, delivered by Man-at-Arms, who tells us that we have to try to do difficult things and must always do our best. There’s really not a lot I can say about that, so instead I’d like to focus on a question about Man-at-Arms that has bothered me for a while. You know how he wears green, with yellow armour on top? It really bothers me that he has green hands too. They’re not gloves, because they blend seamlessly with his green sleeves. The only explanation is that he’s wearing a green all-in-one latex bodysuit, which is a horrible thought.

Triumph 5
Man-at-Arms: “Loving my green body stocking.”


Character checklist

It’s a relatively tight cast today, featuring Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, the Sorceress, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Trapjaw and the giant pink head. It’s also a special occasion, since there’s no sign of Orko.


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

No excuse as such, but Man-at-Arms does pointedly say that Adam had better find He-Man. And what do you know, he does!



It’s a relatively imaginative selection today, what with Evil-Lyn calling Battle-Cat “mangy”, though notably not to his face. Teela comments, “You don’t have a mind” to Trapjaw, which seems fair enough. Skeletor lowers the standard, though, by offering the dull “fool” to Evil-Lyn.

Triumph 6
Evil-Lyn: “I’ll grant you, it was fairly foolish of me to let this happen.”


Does it have the Power?

There’s quite a bit to like about this one, though I’d hesitate to describe it as a classic. Skeletor – as usual – has some sparkling dialogue, and his scene with He-Man in the middle of the episode, in which they each try to learn from the other where the Sorceress is, is definitely a highlight. The Volcano Planet is beautifully animated, and there’s a great atmosphere of desolation in those scenes, conveying nicely – without ever saying it – that this is a dead world, with no inhabitants and no hope.

That being said, the Sorceress is useless as ever, simply cowering in a cave until He-Man shows up, and being honest, their method of returning to Eternia is as deus ex machina as they come. I also have very little time for Teela, so the scenes of her learning to be the Sorceress – and being too monumentally stupid to work out why she’s been selected for this honour – did not interest me. In addition, I have very little conception as to why the Sorceress can’t tell Teela who her mother is; it feels like an arbitrary rule made up just for the hell of it.

Still, this all sounds like I didn’t like this episode, which isn’t the case at all. It’s well worth a watch.

Episode 106 – The Bitter Rose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In today’s adventure…

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


Character checklist

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

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


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

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



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

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


Does it have the Power?

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

Episode 104 – The Secret of Grayskull

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In today’s adventure…

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


Character checklist

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

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


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

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



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


Egg on your face?

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

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


Does it have the Power?

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

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

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


Episode 103 – The Good Shall Survive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In today’s adventure…

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


Character checklist

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

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


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

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



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


Egg on your face?

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

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


Does it have the Power?

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

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

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

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

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

Episode 102 – Revenge is Never Sweet

In which He-Man tries on a smashing new helmet.

The Attack Trak has broken down in the desert, and Adam and Teela are fixing it. Well, actually, Adam’s fixing it, because that’s what men do, and Teela is sitting next to him, watching enthralled, and curling her legs round herself coquettishly, because that’s what women do. Orko offers to help with some magic, which is politely if forcefully refused, and he floats away looking for some trouble to get himself and the others into.

Revenge 1
Teela: “Get on with it, Adam. I’ve got lots of gender stereotyping confirmation to do today.”

Trouble comes along pretty quick. Remember Kothos from The Witch and the Warrior? No, neither did I. Well, he was an evil magician who ended up being turned into a Sand Slug by Evil-Lyn. Orko, being thick as bricks, is persuaded to turn him back, and Kothos embarks on a new career of mayhem. He starts by freezing our heroes to the spot, then decides to exact his revenge on Evil-Lyn.

However, he goes about this in an unusual and – dare I say it – even sensible way. He contacts Skeletor, offering to trade Evil-Lyn for Adam, Teela, Orko, Cringer and He-Man. This last is fairly ambitious, since Kothos doesn’t have He-Man, nor does he have a hope of getting him. Skeletor – who seems to have reacquired his brains since his last appearance in The Greatest Show on Eternia – agrees, but only on condition that Kothos actually capture He-Man first.

In an effort to lure He-Man into a trap, Kothos puts his four captives on a raft, shoves it into the middle of a lake, and then unfreezes them. His reasoning is that He-Man will come barrelling along and be overcome by Kothos’ magic. Adam instantly dives into the lake and swims far enough away to become He-Man without being observed, then returns and shows off by surfing the raft to safety.

Revenge 2
Orko: “Yes, I could float across the lake and fetch help, but I’m not going to.”

Unfortunately, once they reach dry land, Kothos freezes them all again – except He-Man, for whom he arranges a special magic helmet, which effectively neutralises him. Kothos then calls Skeletor to report that he now has He-Man. He doesn’t mention that he’s lost Prince Adam, but Skeletor couldn’t give a flying fox about that. He eagerly puts Evil-Lyn in a cage and flies off to meet Kothos. He reassures Evil-Lyn that he’s simply playing along with Kothos and that she’s in no danger, but he gives a demented little chuckle that left me entirely unsure what he’s actually going to do.

On arrival, Skeletor reveals his true colours and happily exchanges Evil-Lyn for He-Man and co. Kothos wheels Evil-Lyn’s cage into his giant flying palace, which has just arrived on the scene, while Skeletor stands around in the desert praising his own skills in duplicity. Evil-Lyn, however, from her cage uses her magical powers to remove the silly helmet from He-Man’s head, and He-Man promises to rescue her from Kothos as soon as he can.

Revenge 3
Skeletor: “He-Man, you simply have to tell me where you get your adorable hats.”

First, though, he has to deal with Skeletor, which is achieved with consummate ease. With Skeletor out of the way, Team He-Man decides to go the extra mile and really earn their Hero of the Year awards, by going to save Evil-Lyn from Kothos. Equipping themselves with Sky Sleds, He-Man, Teela and Orko fly up to the floating palace, while Cringer is told to go home.

The floating palace is well equipped with a variety of traps, which range from the mildly perilous to the actively tedious. While He-Man wastes time with giant hands, trapdoors and lecturing Kothos on the futility of revenge, Teela and Orko find Evil-Lyn and release her. Unfortunately, Evil-Lyn refuses to go quietly and decides to go to get her revenge on Kothos. At about this point, I’d say our heroes ought to leave them to it, but of course they don’t. Evil-Lyn is stupid enough to fall out of a window though, so there’s no need to deal with her. Kothos, on the other hand, in return for He-Man’s help against Evil-Lyn, swears never to be evil again. Hurrah!

Revenge 4
Kothos: “Looking forward to a life of being good.”


In today’s adventure…

Teela and Orko deliver the not unexpected moral that getting your own back will simply lead to escalation, and suggest that you should talk things over and start afresh instead. This is not a view that Skeletor subscribes to, I expect. I’d have loved to see the scene where Evil-Lyn returns to Snake Mountain after having freed He-Man. Skeletor is unlikely to have been pleased.


Character checklist

Everyone and his mother shows up for this week’s outing: Prince Adam, He-Man, Cringer, Battle-Cat, Teela, Orko, Kothos, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Beast-Man, and Kothos’ guards. Incidentally, for those of you who give a toss about such things, Kothos’ guards are re-uses of the Tork animation from Just a Little Lie.

Revenge 5
Evil-Lyn: “This is the sort of thing that prevents me getting onto the front cover of What Witch every month.”


Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

“He’s just fine,” He-Man explains dismissively, when Teela asks.



It’s all about Evil-Lyn calling people a “fool” this week: Kothos is the lucky recipient twice and his guards once.


Does it have the Power?

The title of the episode put me in a bad mood; it led me to expect one of the more tedious moralising instalments, so imagine my surprise when we were presented with an entertaining episode. Kothos wasn’t that exciting in The Witch and the Warrior, and he wasn’t much better this time, but as a plot device to get the story going, he served his purpose pretty well. Skeletor’s scenes were brilliant, of course, and the whole thing zips by most enjoyably. Recommended.