Episode 91 – Assault on the Hive

In which Skeletor shows up for one last hurrah.

This episode opens with She-Ra chatting on Skype to Sweet Bee, who is still flying around the galaxy in the Hive looking for a new home, and we are treated to a brief recap of the relevant bits of the episode Sweet Bee’s Home. You may recall in that episode, She-Ra was dead set against Sweet Bee’s people settling on Etheria; today, she seems to have done a complete u-turn and is trying to persuade Sweet Bee and the rest of her bee friends to come and join the Rebellion. Sweet Bee is not at all keen on this notion, however, and ends the chat rather hurriedly.

It now emerges that the Hive is being observed by a malevolent power, and that power is Skeletor, who’s been absent from the She-Ra series for so long that I thought he’d settled into graceful retirement, perhaps in a little villa on the Costa del Sol. Far from it. He’s barely on screen for 10 seconds before he’s up to his old tricks, shrieking out his latest moronic plan in between gratuitously insulting his henchmen.

Skeletor: “Just like old times, eh, guys?”

This time, Skeletor’s plot is to enslave the entire race of Bee People and use them to defeat Horde Prime. I don’t want to pour cold water on your scheme, Skeletor, but if every single Bee Person can be defeated by you, Beast-Man and Trapjaw, what the flying fuck makes you think they’ll be any use whatsoever against Horde Prime?

Anyway, Skeletor successfully captures the bee people and hijacks the Hive, but he is foolish enough to let Sweet Bee escape. She leaps into a scout ship and flies off to ask for She-Ra’s help, which is all too eagerly granted. She-Ra is also considerate enough to call He-Man and let him know that he’s got a second chance with Sweet Bee, so He-Man comes bouncing over to Etheria with all due enthusiasm.

She-Ra: “Loving my new Apple iSword.”

Sweet Bee points out that the Hive is deep in space, and her scout ship is a one-person craft only. This conundrum is our cue for things to go completely mental. Swift Wind pipes up to state that he “can’t fly that fast in space”, a statement which I at first thought was as close as the writers would ever come to admitting that he shouldn’t be able to fly in space at all. Instead, Swift Wind flies our heroes out into space anyway (no helmets or space suits, obviously, and plenty of talking in a vacuum) and contacts his friend, Crystal Sundancer, who is a red winged horse. For whatever bonkers reason, Crystal Sundancer CAN fly really fast through space, so He-Man and She-Ra board him instead.

En route to the Hive, our heroes run into two big purple balls chasing a big red ball. These balls all have extendable necks and heads which look vaguely lizard-like. With no idea what’s going on or why this chase is occurring, He-Man leaps off Crystal Sundancer and drifts off into space, hoping to help the big red ball. Why he does this is completely beyond me. It feels like the writer of this episode was having some sort of literary spasm.

Crystal Sundancer: “This … is odd.”

In the meantime, She-Ra and Sweet Bee reach the Hive, where Skeletor has hypnotised all the Bee People, and is using them to fire force rays at our heroes. Pleasingly, he manages to defeat both She-Ra and Sweet Bee, but it all starts to unravel for him when He-Man re-enters the episode, riding the big red ball. Skeletor, Beast-Man and Trapjaw are easily defeated, and He-Man delivers a little lecture to the Bee People informing them that sometimes, it is necessary to fight to ensure peace.

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee is on Eternia today, outside Castle Grayskull! How the hell did he get there? He doesn’t explain, instead simply leaping into his latest crazy monologue, which this time concerns the fact that if you really want something, it’s worth working to get it. I don’t think I’d have ever worked that out on my own, so thanks, Loo-Kee. You can’t begin to understand just how helpful you are.

Loo-Kee: “I can be infuriating on Eternia as well as Etheria, you know.”

Character checklist

This one’s got She-Ra, Swift Wind, Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Sweet Bee, Netossa, Loo-Kee, the Bee People, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Trapjaw, Hordak, Catra, and how could we forget Crystal Sundancer and the purple and red balls? On the other hand, I don’t think Adora was in it, but maybe I just wasn’t paying attention.

Insults

Yes, well, with Skeletor about, it’s inevitable that there’d be a lot of insults. Disappointingly, though, we aren’t treated to anything particularly imaginative. Skeletor calls Trapjaw a “tin-head” twice, and then calls a Bee Person called Drone 7 a “bug-brain” and a “bee-man”, before turning his attention to Sweet Bee to tell her she’s a “bee-lady”. Drone 7 retorts that Skeletor is a “bone-faced monster”, and Sweet Bee refers to Trapjaw as a “can opener with a bad temper”. Last but not least, Skeletor tells the big red ball that it is a “miserable cat”, which seems a little odd. If anything, it looks like a lizard and acts like a dog, so I’m not quite sure what he’s on about there.

Trapjaw: “Honestly couldn’t explain why I’ve waited till my final appearance to reveal that I’m basically Superman.”

Does it have the Power?

It starts well and ends well, but the ten minutes in the middle of the episode are slow and a lot of it is just weird. I can’t shake the feeling that all the nonsense with the purple and red balls (introduced as Dinosaubs), and with Crystal Sundancer, was inserted purely as toy advertisements, though I don’t know if these were ever actually produced as toys. I know I’m on the internet, so I could look it up, but in the spirit of petulant stubbornness, I’m not going to. All I will say in addition to this subject is that Crystal Sundancer’s voice is really creepy, like an older person trying to sound young in order to trick a child. It quite disturbed me.

Otherwise, as mentioned above, the beginning of the episode was great; it’s always a pleasure to see Skeletor, and for Beast-Man and Trapjaw to reappear after all this time was a delight as well. Skeletor was entertainingly evil, and it’s been an enormously long time since we saw him and He-Man face off as we do at the end of this episode. The He-Man/Sweet Bee romance angle has been dropped, which is just as well, because without Frosta around to keep things tart, I’m sure it would have been sickening.

In short, this is an entertaining but flawed offering, which is worth watching, but with the caveat that you may as well skip from the moment Swift Wind flies into space until She-Ra and Sweet Bee arrive at the Hive. Still, purely for having Skeletor in it, this one gets a pass.

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.

Bonus Update: He-Man and Skeletor go to Georgia

He-Man went to Armenia and got lost; Skeletor went to Azerbaijan and found Snake Mountain. Now, they join forces to travel the remaining Caucasian country together…

Skeletor is overjoyed to be on the road again, especially in a country with such excellent food as Georgia!
Skeletor’s sightseeing begins with a trip to Bagrati Cathedral… but it looks like there’s someone here to keep an eye on him…
Skeletor has found a hollow tree – an ideal new base of operations – in Kutaisi Botanic Gardens.
Skeletor has come to Ancient Colchis and found the Golden Fleece! Wasn’t difficult. Even He-Man could have done this.
Just when he thought the day’s sightseeing was over, Skeletor has found a cable car to ride! He’s very excited.
At the top of the cable car, Skeletor found a fake Eiffel Tower, which he loved – but he still can’t shake the feeling that someone’s watching him…
“Gelati monastery? That kind of sounds like gelato, amirite? Can I have an ice cream?” asks Skeletor, rudely.
Skeletor is quite pleased with his new cave hideout in Sataplia.
Skeletor has just settled down to enjoy a nice dish of chizhibizhi – but who’s this interloper at the other end of the table?
Another day, another cave system hideout.
Skeletor’s loving the view (except for one specific aspect of it) at Okatse Canyon.
Nice day out at the Dadiani Palace for Skeletor.
Skeletor has awarded himself a pancake for lunch.
Skeletor is practicing his smug pose, which he will adopt after he pushes He-Man off this bridge (which is the longest pedestrian bridge in Europe, for those who are interested).
Skeletor has quite a track record in trying to destroy dams – luckily He-Man’s on hand to stop him this time!
“That’s a fast-flowing river,” mused Skeletor. “It would be a shame if anyone were to fall in.”
Lovely glass of wine and a wooden fire at the end of a busy day for Skeletor.
Out for a quick walk in the mountains above Mestia.
Skeletor out for an evening walk in the rain, coming across a Svan tower.
And today in scenes cut from the cartoon…
In Ushguli village, Skeletor is enthralled with this stunning vista of Svan towers.
Just two mortal enemies sharing a glass of chacha brandy.
Skeletor’s got a long drive today, so he’s just saying goodbye to the mountains of Svaneti with a short walk first.
There’s Skeletor, trying the old ‘make it look like I’m pushing over the lighthouse’ trick.
He-Man and Skeletor like Batumi’s nuts architecture, but they are concerned they won’t get much sleep, party town that this is!
He-Man and Skeletor there, trying to imitate the Ali & Nino sculpture.
Skeletor’s found himself a nice castle to play in. It does begin with ‘G’, but sadly it’s Gonio, not Grayskull.
He-Man is well pleased with his new castle. But Skeletor isn’t far away….
Skeletor says, “That’s fine, He-Man. You can have that manky old castle. I’m having this entire palace complex! #Winning.”
Skeletor is loving his day trip to Vardzia cave monastery.
Khertvisi – yet another castle for the lads to squabble over.
A nice sit down for the lads in Borjomi Central Park.
I’ve treated the guys to khinkali for lunch.
Skeletor sits high above Borjomi town.
He-Man has been uncharacteristically violent with Skeletor this morning at Timotesubani Monastery.
He-Man and Skeletor showing off a Soviet sculpture in Gori.
Here are He-Man and Skeletor, doing some kind of weird interpretative dance in front of the birthplace of Stalin.
Keeping these guys supplied with khachapuri is getting expensive.
The guys posing for next year’s calendar above Mtskheta, Georgia’s holiest city.
Skeletor there, trying to look all dark and foreboding at Ananuri Fortress.
Skeletor was in a bit of a hurry but he enjoyed his quick stop at the Russian-Georgian Friendship Monument.
Skeletor giving He-Man a kick as He-Man sits down to rest on the trek up to the Gergeti Trinity Church, Stepantsminda.
He-Man and Skeletor return to the Russian-Georgian Friendship Monument, as they felt they were a little hurried last time.
Skeletor likes Alaverdi Cathedral so much, he says he’ll even give up being evil if he can live there.
When in wine country….
Still in Georgia’s wine region, so obviously He-Man and Skeletor have … come to a Mexican restaurant and got a margarita?
Skeletor is loving his trip to Sighnaghi, but thinks it feels more like Italy than Georgia…
Here’s He-Man and Skeletor chilling out together on a qvevri – a large pot which is buried in the ground to allow wine to ferment and age. They are hoping to sample the contents later.
He-Man and Skeletor posing in front of the ‘Always’ Bridge in Tbilisi. Not sure why He-Man’s standing like that.
Skeletor’s coped with a fair few bizarre situations in his time, but he has no idea how to act in a decadent early 20th century style coffee house.
Are He-Man and Skeletor flying? No, it’s just the immensely disconcerting glass floor in the Georgian Museum of Fine Arts.
He-Man and Skeletor have been told that as they’re not puppets, they will not be allowed to perform at Tbilisi’s puppet theatre.
Skeletor enjoying the view from the Narikala Fortress, but mindful of the big drop behind him.
Last evening in Georgia – He-Man and Skeletor think they’re going to miss the wine!
In Yerevan, Armenia, Skeletor suspects that the artwork at this amusement park may have ripped him off.
“Would you like to share my ice-cream and lemonade, He-Man?”
“Oh yes please Skeletor, thank you.”
“Calm your tits, He-Man, I only asked if you’d like to. Didn’t say you could.”

It’s likely that at this point He-Man’s frustration with his travelling companion boiled over; there are certainly no more pictures.

Thanks for putting up with this nonsense…

Bonus Update: Skeletor Goes to Azerbaijan

After He-Man’s recent trip to Armenia, Mega-Construx Skeletor felt that he could do just as well, if not better. Consequently, he accompanied me on a tour of Azerbaijan, which culminated in a remarkable discovery…

And here we go! Skeletor is on a very empty flight to Baku.
Skeletor is loose in Fountains Square. He’s a bit disappointed that the fountains aren’t on right now. He’ll try again later.
Skeletor has found his way to the Maiden’s Tower in Baku.
Skeletor loves Baku’s Old Town walls.
Quick trip down to the Caspian Sea for Skeletor.
Great, so not only is Skeletor a wino like He-Man, he’s an exhibitionist too.

We’re going to get on so well.
Skeletor is not really helping this girl do her make-up.
Skeletor has popped in for a quick drink at the nostalgia-heavy, jazz-playing Old School Cafe.
Skeletor has climbed up high to get a panoramic view of the Bay of Baku.
Skeletor may be slightly out of focus, but he’s still enjoying his visit to the Flame Towers.
Skeletor is feeling a little intimidated by his dining companion in this ice cream parlour.
Skeletor has come to visit the Palace of the Shirvanshahs.
Skeletor does not need to visit the Cool Barber Shop because he has no hair (or skin, eyes, etc). However, he would like it to be noted that he still has a better haircut than He-Man.
Skeletor is rather impressed with the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre.
This is Skeletor’s first photo in almost 24 hours. Angry at his lack of prominence, he has come to the town of Qala and conjured up this statue to exact his vengeance.
Skeletor has some new wheels.
“Let destruction reign!” cried Skeletor, as he stood before the burning hillside of Yanar Dag.
Skeletor has considered a dip in the Caspian Sea at the beach resort of Sumqayit, but decided against it.
Skeletor has his head in his hands because he came to Shahdag Ski Resort but forgot to check whether there would be any snow.
Skeletor is rather surprised to find a Tower Bridge replica in the town of Xacmaz.
Skeletor found it easy conquering this rock, and associated castle and fountain, in Ismaylli. Admittedly, there was no sign of He-Man.
Sure, sure, Skeletor, you help yourself. What’s mine is yours. Never mind that I need that coffee to function. You go ahead.
Skeletor is enjoying a day out in the mountain village of Lahic.
Skeletor has trekked up to the tea house at Yeddi Gozel Falls. As you can see, he’s well pleased with himself.
Another victory for Skeletor, having come to another ski resort (Qabala) at an inappropriate time of the year.
Nice day out at the Udi Ethnographic Complex for Skeletor.
Skeletor considers that the Winter Palace in Sheki would be just about suitable lodgings for him.
Big plate of nice cheesy pide for Skeletor’s lunch.
Skeletor on his evening outing to Kutmukhi Church.
Skeletor isn’t quite sure where to start with his bowl of Sheki local delicacy, piti.
Skeletor is well impressed with the Caucasian Albanian church at Kis.
Skeletor has made his way to Ganja, where he is enjoying looking round the 17th century buildings in the main square.
Paws off, Skeletor! This crazy generous portion of cake is all mine!
Quick trip to the seaside town of Astara on the Iranian border for Skeletor today.
Skeletor is pleased with the utterly ludicrous number of sugars that have been supplied for his coffee in Lankaran.
Skeletor has popped up to Lerik in the Talysh Mountains for the afternoon.
Skeletor feels at home around the mud volcanoes of Qobustan.
Just chilling out at Qobustan Petroglyphs Park.
“Good morning, Baku,” says out-of-focus Skeletor.
At Shikhov, Skeletor has found his ideal beach: sandy with blue sea, but with just the vaguest hint of terrible desolation.
Skeletor is disappointed that he’s been told in no uncertain terms that he can’t have any of my pomegranate chicken at the excellent Nakhchivan Restaurant.
However, Skeletor will not be denied a cocktail.
Skeletor is on the mountain roads.
Mountain vistas in Europe’s highest village, Xinaliq.
Skeletor getting properly ambitious now.
Spicy times for Skeletor at Baku’s market.
After a long delay, Skeletor arrives at the obsessively neat enclave of Nakhchivan.
Skeletor has come along to view the suspiciously new looking Tomb of Noah.
Day trip out to Lake Batabat. Let’s hope it’s not Lake Batrosabatros.

(That joke met with zero acclaim on my Instagram. Here, on a dedicated Masters of the Universe page, I’m hoping for a better reaction.)
And finally…

Big day for Skeletor today. He’s at Alinja Castle, and that jagged peak in the background is Ilan Dag, which translates into English as……… SNAKE MOUNTAIN!

Skeletor has found his home.

And here ends the happy story of Skeletor’s visit to Azerbaijan.

Episode 56 – Of Shadows and Skulls

In which Skeletor gains the upper hand.

The episode begins with the rebels under attack, but thanks to a bit of a blunder from Shadow Weaver, they manage to escape. Hordak is properly livid with Shadow Weaver as a result, and after the ensuing discussion, Shadow Weaver decides to throw in her lot with Skeletor instead. She contacts him in Snake Mountain, and offers him anything he needs to conquer Eternia, in exchange for his help in toppling Hordak.

Skeletor agrees, but secretly plans to betray Shadow Weaver and conquer both Eternia and Etheria for himself. I say “secretly” – what I mean is that he manages to refrain from shrieking out this cunning plan for at least 20 seconds. Still Shadow Weaver remains unaware, and merrily transports Skeletor to Etheria.

Shadows 1
Skeletor: “I’m considering installing Shadow Weaver with that effect here permanently to save on light bulbs.”

Light Hope somehow gets wind of this development, and summons She-Ra to tell her all about it. She-Ra reacts with an air of weariness, barely restraining herself from saying, “For God’s sake, Skeletor again?” Instead, she flies off on Swift Wind to try to find Skeletor and Shadow Weaver, and stop them from doing whatever they want to do.

Our dynamic duo are in Snake Tongue Pass, happily occupying themselves in ambushing Hordak and a convoy of Horde tanks. Skeletor is enjoying this mightily, laughing his fool head off and waving his arms around like a complete maniac, but then has to get down to the serious business of a full-on duel with Hordak. After a pretty mental battle, Skeletor prevails, but is interrupted by the arrival of She-Ra – and then, to my surprise, he defeats her too.

Shadows 2
Skeletor: “I really have to wonder why Hordak has such ridiculously flat feet.”

With Hordak and She-Ra out of action, Skeletor cuts to the inevitable betrayal bit. He asks Shadow Weaver to put Hordak in a magic cage, and when she does so, he slams the door on her as well. He then indulges himself in a completely demented chuckle, before carting She-Ra off to the Fright Zone, where he seats himself in Hordak’s throne and introduces himself to Catra, Mantenna, Leech, Grizzlor and Scorpia as their new boss.

Shadows 3
Skeletor: “Hands up anyone who’s more competent than Beast-Man.”

With only four minutes of the episode’s runtime left to sort out this whole mess, it’s worryingly up to Bow and Madame Razz to break into the Fright Zone and release She-Ra. This task is made easier since the Horde team are taking advantage of Hordak’s absence to beat Imp up, and are thus not guarding the Fright Zone as efficiently as they should.

Once Bow manages to free her, She-Ra starts putting all the Horde Troopers out of action with her traditional high kicks, and uses a convenient seesaw to catapult Skeletor out of the Fright Zone. Once he’s outside, he is met by Hordak and Shadow Weaver, who have managed to free themselves from the magic cage. Fearing that Skeletor will give the game away, Shadow Weaver quickly teleports him back to Eternia, while She-Ra and her crowd sneak off back to Whispering Wood.

Shadows 4
Shadow Weaver: “Me? Up to something? No, definitely not.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee is in Whispering Wood, not that that will come as a particular surprise to you. He talks to us today about revenge, explaining that trying to get revenge didn’t help Shadow Weaver and it won’t help us either. He counsels us to instead try to forgive and forget, and says “because that usually works.” It’s incredibly hard not to read a sarcastic undertone to this phrase.

 

Character checklist

This excellent episode features Adora, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Bow, Kowl, Madame Razz, Light Hope, Loo-Kee, Skeletor, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Catra, Mantenna, Leech, Grizzlor, Scorpia, Imp and Spikor.

 

Excuse given for Adora’s disappearance

“I’m going to try and find a way out of here,” says Adora, when the rebels are pinned down at the beginning. It’s not a particularly good excuse, and it’s pretty unbelievable that the rebels wouldn’t already have tried to find a way out.

Shadows 5
Adora: “Bow, why do you look so worried about Kowl landing on your head?”

 

Insults

Perhaps inevitably for an episode that finds Skeletor in such fine form, there are vast swathes of insults flying about today. Shadow Weaver calls Imp a pretty scathing “pig-faced little worm”, and Imp retaliates with the far less effective “Shadow Wimpy”. Hordak gets in on the act too, calling Shadow Weaver a “useless trickster”. At the end of the episode, Bow refers to Hordak as a “villain”.

All the remaining insults in the episode are dispensed by or directed at Skeletor. She-Ra opts to call him a “villain”, a “bone brain” and a “bonehead”, to which Skeletor responds with the pretty mild “fool”. He reserves greater ire for Hordak, who also receives a “fool”, but is further burned with “dolt” and something that sounds like “bone breath”. Hordak responds with “bone-headed bogwobbler” (which I think we’ve heard before) and “bony buffoon” (which, oddly, I don’t think we have heard before).

Skeletor also finds time to describe his new army of Catra, Mantenna, Leech, Grizzlor and Scorpia as “slugs”, and early on in the episode we are treated to an unexpected and unwelcome cameo appearance from Spikor, who unceremoniously departs the story after being called a “nail-head”.

Shadows 6
Spikor: “To be honest, I’m only here to try to shift my peg-warming action figures.”

 

Oh No, Bow!

The episode opens with the rebels hiding from some Horde Troopers in a quarry. Kowl thinks that the Troopers don’t know where the rebels are, so Bow immediately sticks his head up so the Troopers can see him. Sure enough, he nearly gets shot. I’m genuinely bewildered that someone this incompetent is still alive.

 

Does it have the Power?

Hell, yes. Compared to his pretty lacklustre showings in Loo-Kee Lends a Hand and My Friend, My Enemy, Skeletor is at his lunatic best in this episode. The scene in which he battles Hordak is particularly good, and it’s very satisfying that he always beats Hordak whenever they have a duel. It’s almost as if, deep down, the writers knew Skeletor was infinitely better. It’s also very pleasing that he managed to capture She-Ra. He’s portrayed as thoroughly evil, entirely competent and completely hilarious – a winning combination.

The rest of the characters have their moments. I loved Shadow Weaver’s duplicity, and her cunning move at the end to prevent her betrayal being uncovered. Catra and Scorpia leading the charge to beat Imp up is hilarious as well, and She-Ra and her cronies aren’t annoying. This one’s a definite winner.

Episode 51 – My Friend, My Enemy

In which She-Ra demonstrates her inherent goodness, and makes sure we all know about it.

Unexpectedly, this episode opens with Catra purring her head off and presenting Hordak with a nice tasty berry pie. Hordak is very pleased and gobbles up the pie, pausing only briefly to ask Catra where it came from. Catra evades this question by claiming that it was sent by a secret admirer, but it soon emerges that the pie was baked by Skeletor himself, who has popped over to Etheria.

Friend 1
Hordak: “This is definitely a trap, isn’t it.”

Naturally, Skeletor hasn’t been baking pies out of the goodness of his heart. This particular pie contains an ingredient that will make Hordak disappear, after which Skeletor intends to take his place as leader of the Horde. I’m not quite sure what’s in it for Catra; their discussion doesn’t suggest she’ll be getting a promotion, but perhaps she’s just as fed up as I am with Hordak.

While Skeletor and Catra are having a convivial chat, Hordak takes a crowd of Horde Troopers to Whispering Wood for a little set-to with the Rebellion. While there, they manage to capture Glimmer and whisk her off to the Fright Zone – but Hordak then starts to feel sick and disappear. Madame Razz successfully diagnoses Hordak as having eaten some doom berries, and gleefully pronounces that he will fade into another dimension and probably never come back.

Friend 2
Glimmer: “Gosh, wouldn’t it be convenient if I could, you know, teleport?”

She-Ra – whose mental state is as always precarious – decides to try to cure Hordak, and flies off to the Crystal Castle to consult Light Hope. Light Hope starts off by talking in his usual incomprehensible riddles, but then evidently concludes that She-Ra is too stupid to work it out, and simply tells her that Hordak can only be cured if someone cries over him. I shouldn’t imagine there are too many people queuing up to do that, but She-Ra confidently toddles off to find someone.

Hordak tells She-Ra that a wizard called Noah might be willing to cry for him, so She-Ra loads Hordak onto Swift Wind’s back and they fly off to look for Noah. Skeletor and Catra, however, get wind of this plan, and Skeletor manages to arrive at Noah’s cave in time to prepare a little welcome party. After a brief and typically unsuccessful attempt to trap She-Ra in a tunnel, Skeletor opts to try negotiation, informing She-Ra that unless she stops trying to help Hordak, she will never see Glimmer again.

Friend 3
Noah: “Let me out! I’ve got an ark to catch!”

She-Ra says, “That’s cool, I can live with that,” and asks Noah to cry for Hordak, but Noah refuses on the basis that he doesn’t like Hordak. Skeletor sniggers his head off at this turn of events, but She-Ra is moved to pity and begins to cry over Hordak herself. With Hordak cured, Skeletor doesn’t see the need to stick around, so he disappears, leaving Catra in the lurch.

Noah teleports Hordak, She-Ra and Swift Wind to the Fright Zone, where She-Ra rescues Glimmer and flies off. Back in Whispering Wood, She-Ra tells Bow, Glimmer and Madame Razz the full story, and oddly refers to Hordak as a human being, rather than a robotic pig-skeleton. Then Glimmer makes some mindless joke or other, and they all laugh as the episode ends.

Friend 4
She-Ra: “Chicken, Bow?”

 

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee. Tree. Whispering Wood. I don’t think I have to say any more about that. He reminds us that this week, She-Ra got upset because Hordak didn’t have any friends, and he suggests that maybe we should make friends with someone who doesn’t have any. I think I’ll start by making friends with Hordak.

 

Character checklist

Today, it’s Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Glimmer, Bow, Kowl, Madame Razz, Light Hope, Loo-Kee, Noah, Hordak, Catra, Grizzlor, Mantenna, Imp, some Horde Troopers, and everybody’s favourite – Skeletor.

Friend 6
Skeletor: “You’re easily the best of the baddies on She-Ra, Catra. Care to join my team?”

 

Insults

Glimmer addresses a Horde Trooper as a “big tin ape”, and Bow shrieks out “metal head” to someone, either a Horde Trooper or Hordak, though I’m not sure which. This week’s obligatory “fool” is dispensed from Hordak to Catra.

 

Oh No, Bow!

During the battle, Bow decides to walk around backwards for no evident reason. This would be cause enough for inclusion in this category, but it also results in his tripping over a pillow and being shot, which makes it doubly stupid.

Friend 5
Bow: “Never forget, I’m really competent.”

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s good to see Skeletor, as always, but it’s hardly his best appearance. The first scene, in which his evil plot was unveiled, was really good fun, but thereafter he was barely involved, and even when he was on screen, he didn’t have much of his classic sneer about him. It was good to see Catra throwing in her lot with him, as it re-establishes her as a scheming villainess in her own right, and not just another henchman, but all in all, their pairing up seemed a bit wasted.

The rest of the story was fine; I believe this one is regarded as a bit of a classic, largely because of She-Ra’s speech about her sympathy for Hordak not having any friends. Unfortunately, I can’t say I particularly agree. It wasn’t awful or anything, but it didn’t move me in the way some episodes have. I’d say this one’s worth a watch, but not a lot more.

Episode 35 – Gateway to Trouble

In which Modulok defects from Snake Mountain.

I genuinely had no idea that He-Man was going to be such a regular presence on She-Ra. I thought he’d only pop up for very special episodes, not every other week like he has done lately. This time, Adam and Cringer visit Etheria simply for the dubious pleasure of seeing Adora, though of course they are quickly called upon to intervene when an evil mastermind sets a cunning plot in motion.

That evil mastermind, unexpectedly, is Skeletor, and his cunning plot is to create an enormous interdimensional rift, and to send the entire Eternian Palace through it to Etheria. His motivation is, apparently, so that he can rid himself of his Eternian nemeses and annoy Hordak at the same time. Assisting him in this noble venture are Modulok, introduced in a few rubbish He-Man episodes, and Tung Lashor, who we last encountered in Book Burning. I have no idea why Tung Lashor would now be working for Skeletor, but let’s not question it.

Gateway 1
Tung Lashor: “It’s a great honour to work for you, Skeletor. Better than my previous boss, anyway.”

Modulok is the brains behind the interdimensional rift, having invented a device called a Gate Maker. For whatever reason, he suddenly takes it into his head to betray Skeletor and to head to Etheria himself, where he offers the Gate Maker to Hordak. Skeletor enters into hot pursuit, arriving on Etheria just before the gateway closes behind him.

Observing Skeletor’s arrival, Adam and Adora transform into He-Man and She-Ra. I know I harp on about this every time it happens, but the way the stock transformation footage is edited together is so incredibly awkward that I think it needs constant mentioning to try to encourage the creators to stop doing it. Admittedly, this would be more effective if I were writing this in 1986 when the cartoon was still in production, but I was barely capable of lucid thought at that time.

Gateway 2
Cringer: “Just hanging out in a bush.”

Anyway, He-Man and She-Ra waste no time in capturing Skeletor and asking him why he’s on Etheria. Skeletor merrily spills the beans, and offers to work with He-Man and She-Ra to prevent Hordak getting his hands on the Gate Maker. This proposal is met with a less than enthusiastic response, but our heroes agree to it and set off.

Weirdly, Skeletor’s first move is to head to Whispering Wood, where he fashions himself a new throne out of rock. He then randomly insults a Twigget before deciding he’s had enough of the truce and clearing off. He reaches the Fright Zone easily, but discovers that Modulok has already passed his Horde entrance exam, and handed over the Gate Maker to Hordak. Skeletor and Hordak have a brief battle, in which Skeletor prevails, and he heads off to find Modulok.

Gateway 3
Modulok: “People say I’m clever, but it’s simply in comparison to Mantenna.”

Unfortunately for him, Modulok has departed the Fright Zone and headed back to Whispering Wood, where he demonstrates the Gate Maker’s power for Hordak and Shadow Weaver. Hordak is about to send a fleet of spaceships through the gateway to invade Eternia, but He-Man and She-Ra re-enter the episode at this point and blow up the Gate Maker. The Sorceress then opens her own gateway back to Eternia for He-Man’s use, and Skeletor seizes the opportunity to head home as well.

 

In today’s adventure…

Loo-Kee was quite nicely visible in the rebels’ camp, just before He-Man and She-Ra learn that Skeletor has done a runner. It’s a possibility that Loo-Kee’s visibility is in direct inverse proportionality to the sanity of his moral lesson, however; this week, he cautions us not to go through any gateways to trouble that we might encounter. I’m not even going to dignify that with a discussion.

Gateway 4
Loo-Kee: “Have you ever stopped to consider why I’m always hiding? It’s because the police want to interview me under caution.”

 

Character checklist

This one has a fairly outre cast list: Adora, She-Ra, Kowl, some Twiggets, Loo-Kee, Hordak, Mantenna, Shadow Weaver, sure, but also Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, the Sorceress, Skeletor, Modulok and Tung Lashor. Oh, and obviously a load of Horde Troopers, but they go without saying really.

 

Excuse given for Adora and Adam’s transformation

Adora transforms into She-Ra twice, and Adam into He-Man once. None of these occasions comes with an excuse, though in fairness, there’s only Cringer and Kowl around at the time.

Gateway 5
Skeletor: “Say, guys, you haven’t seen Adam and Adora around, have you?”

 

Insults

Kowl gets surprisingly aggressive in the early stages of the episode, calling one Horde Trooper a “swamp slug” and addressing another as “rivet head” and “coward”. We are also witness to Modulok calling Tung Lashor the possibly misheard “long lips”. The real delights in store here are, of course, between Skeletor and Hordak; the latter addresses the former as “bonehead” and “bone-faced bog wobbler”, to which Skeletor retaliates with a wonderfully sneering “oversized rust bucket”.

 

Does it have the Power?

I can’t deny I’m pretty happy with this one. As noted above, He-Man’s appearances on Etheria are two-a-penny, but Skeletor showing up is a much rarer treat. It doesn’t hurt that he’s brilliantly written in this episode, with some excellent lines given great life by the voice actor. On the downside, I’d have liked his truce with He-Man and She-Ra to last more than 30 seconds, as it would have been very entertaining to watch him try to work together with them, but at least we did get his very amusing battle with Hordak.

Gateway 6
Skeletor: “This is my favourite moment in the entire series.”

The other elements of the story were good as well; Modulok seemed to fit here better than he did in either of his appearances in He-Man, and he seems to have made the permanent transfer from Skeletor’s crew to the Horde, so I expect we’ll see him again. Tung Lashor’s appearance in Snake Mountain was just random, though; there was no reason for him to be there. I suspect it was a bit of product placement.

Anyway, while this isn’t quite as good as Horde Prime Takes a Holiday – another episode in the same vein – it’s definitely a highlight. Enjoy!

Episode 18 – Horde Prime Takes a Holiday

In which She-Ra’s arse nearly catches fire.

Hordak’s boss, Horde Prime, has summoned Hordak and Mantenna aboard his flagship, where we learn that they are to be left in charge of the Horde’s most powerful warship while Horde Prime goes on holiday to a planet called Tropica. Since Horde Prime appears to be an amorphous cloud of gas with robotic arms, it seems unlikely that he would particularly enjoy a fortnight on the Costa del Sol, but that’s what’s presented to us.

Horde Prime 1
Hordak: “No, I don’t think I will try a bout of fisticuffs with you, thanks, Horde Prime.”

Horde Prime boards his transport ship to Tropica, pausing only to inform Hordak that under no circumstances whatsoever should he actually use the warship for anything. Of course, once Horde Prime has gone, Hordak – being a complete tool – immediately voices an intention to use it to conquer both Etheria and Eternia. Luckily, the Sorceress has got wind of this dastardly notion, and sends He-Man to Etheria to resolve the situation.

Hordak takes the flagship on a very casual fly-by over the heads of some rebels, provoking Adora into turning into She-Ra. He then fires the flagship’s freeze ray at the Whispering Woods, and it’s so powerful that even He-Man and She-Ra combined cannot stop it. It’s fortunate, therefore, that Skeletor shows up at this juncture, and not wanting to be left out of the fun, decides to steal the Horde flagship himself, which rather distracts Hordak from firing the freeze ray.

Horde Prime 2
Skeletor: “I do appreciate the effort gone into drawing me from beneath to make me look imposing… but it does seem to have had the unintended side effect of making my head look really small.”

Skeletor and Hordak engage in a lengthy duel, in which they do a fair amount of cosmetic damage to the flagship whilst shrieking alliterative insults at one another. Skeletor eventually gets the better of Hordak, but in the meantime, He-Man has thrown a grappling hook onto the ship, allowing She-Ra to climb all the way up through the atmosphere, into outer space, and on board. She makes a slight concession to realism by putting on a space helmet to allow herself to breathe, but this just somehow makes the whole thing more ludicrous because she doesn’t consider putting a spacesuit on over her skimpy dress.

She-Ra finds Skeletor merrily chuckling away and crowing “Hail Skeletor!” to himself as he starts the ship’s engines. Down on the surface of Etheria, He-Man is dragged along by the end of the grappling line, until he eventually brings the ship to a halt. Skeletor pumps even more power into the ship’s engine, hoping to drag He-Man up into space, but this proves his undoing; when the moment is right, She-Ra cuts the grappling line, sending the ship flying at full speed into an asteroid.

Horde Prime 3
He-Man: “This will make a lovely shot for my 2019 calendar.”

Horde Prime’s flagship is reduced to rubble, which upsets Skeletor mightily. He’s wise enough to know when he’s beaten though, and when he spots that what remains of the ship is about to explode, he teleports back to Snake Mountain and out of our lives. Notably, he doesn’t attempt to save Hordak, but She-Ra – being completely mental – does.

There’s then an unexpected moment where She-Ra’s arse nearly catches fire as she and Hordak plummet through the atmosphere. This being a cartoon for children, she manages to resist all the obvious puns about having a hot ass, so I’ll let you substitute your own. Even without such jokes, the episode ends on a reasonably funny note as Hordak attempts to explain the destruction of the flagship to Horde Prime.

Horde Prime 4
She-Ra: “Yeah, this is one of those pictures that defies description.”

 

In today’s adventure…

I feel completely cheated this week. Despite me looking really hard for Loo-Kee – especially after I actually found him last time – at the end of the episode, it turns out he wasn’t in it at all! Instead, we get He-Man and She-Ra delivering the moral. If Loo-Kee isn’t going to be there, they need to warn us of that at the start! Otherwise it’s completely unfair! I am literally shaking with rage.

He-Man and She-Ra’s moral is that our bodies are our own, and no one should touch them without our permission. There’s also an unwelcome cameo from Orko, who threatens to punch anyone who touches us. She-Ra recognises that Orko’s contribution is less than helpful, and tells him to shut up, while He-Man points unnervingly at the camera and says that we shouldn’t feel ashamed if someone touches us in a bad way, but should tell someone we trust. He lists some bizarre suggestions of people we might trust: our parents, teachers, doctors, counsellors, ministers or rabbis. These latter two seem to be something of an afterthought, and have the air of an ad-lib, if it were possible for cartoon characters to ad-lib.

Horde Prime 5
She-Ra: “Er, He-Man, you’re coming across a bit strong, what with the finger pointing and all.”

Anyway – great message, and one we haven’t heard before from He-Man, but with zero relevance to the story, unless we’re supposed to consider Horde Prime’s flagship is his body, and Skeletor and Hordak were touching him inappropriately? And also – where the Jesus Christ was Loo-Kee?

 

Character checklist

This fantastic crossover episode features Adora, Spirit, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Prince Adam, He-Man, Bow, Kowl, the Sorceress, Horde Prime, Hordak, Skeletor, Mantenna and a new boy called Multibot. As noted above, there’s also a brief appearance from Orko, though it would have been better had it been even briefer.

 

Excuse given for Adora and Adam’s disappearances

Adam doesn’t give an excuse, being only in the presence of the Sorceress. Adora, on the other hand, gives the plausible explanation that she is going “to find She-Ra”.

Horde Prime 6
Bow: “Jesus, I’m stoned again.”

 

Insults

It’s another of those episodes with a real wealth of stingers. Hordak addresses Horde Prime as “slime”, allegedly accidentally, and Horde Prime surprisingly lets him get away with it. Mantenna is called a “bug-eyed buffoon” by Horde Prime and a “bug-eyed boob” by Hordak, but the real joy is to be found when Hordak and Skeletor start slagging each other off. Hordak tells Skeletor he’s a “treacherous turncoat two-faced traitor”, a “boneface” and a “blasted blue bungler”, while Skeletor counters with “bat-ears”, “blasted Horde bully boy” and the possibly misheard “conniving claim-jumper”.

He-Man refers to Skeletor and Hordak as “evil monsters” and also might call them “a gaggle of evils”, though the sound seemed a bit funny at this point, so it’s quite likely that’s not what he said. Finally, what He-Man/Skeletor showcase would be complete without Skeletor calling He-Man a “pitiful fool”?

Horde Prime 7
Skeletor: “Loving my new wheels.”

 

Oh No, Bow!

Bow has a very minimal contribution to this episode, and that’s observing that the flagship “looks like some sort of spaceship”. Yes, of course it does, Captain Obvious. That’s because it IS a spaceship.

 

Does it have the Power?

This episode is essentially an episode of He-Man and his battle with Skeletor, with She-Ra and Hordak along for the ride – so of course it gets a hearty thumbs-up from me. We’ve seen He-Man often enough in recent episodes that it’s actually not all that special for him to show up, but to see Skeletor again, especially with him being at his most maliciously evil, is an absolute treat. The whole thing is just an excuse for everyone to have a massive barney with each other while hollering insults, and it’s a total romp.

Horde Prime 8
She-Ra: “This helmet will definitely stop me from freezing to death.”

I was particularly fond of the return to the bizarre and insane feats of strength that featured so often in the He-Man cartoon – He-Man throwing a grappling hook into outer space is mental, as is She-Ra climbing through the atmosphere and through the vacuum of space to reach the ship. The concessions to reality (including She-Ra putting on a space helmet, and her starting to burn up on re-entering the atmosphere) just made the mental bits seem even crazier.

In short, I very much enjoyed this episode, and I’m sure you will too.

Episode 05 – Battle for Bright Moon

In which Skeletor comes up with one last hurrah.

The Eternian royal family are having dinner, telling Adora all about Orko, who I pray to God isn’t in this episode. The one good thing about having Madame Razz around is that presumably we need never see Orko again. Anyway, during the dinner, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Webstor and Kobra Khan bust into the Palace, disguising themselves as chefs. They bring Hordak with them, disguised as a cake. There seems to be no particular reason for these disguises, since they return to their normal appearances as soon as possible. Perhaps Hordak has a weird chef fetish. Nothing would surprise me about him at this point.

Bright Moon 1
Skeletor: “This may be my stupidest disguise yet.”

Anyway, the baddies kidnap Adora and escape, thanks to a singularly poor effort from Man-at-Arms and Teela. Skeletor then betrays Hordak, and sends him back to Etheria without Adora. Skeletor claims that this is because he has better use for the Princess of Eternia than Hordak, but shortly thereafter he reveals that he has absolutely no idea what to do with her, so clearly he’s just backstabbed Hordak for the sheer malevolent hell of it.

Skeletor orders Beast-Man to put Adora in the dungeon, a task which naturally he is incapable of carrying out. Adora quickly evades him and turns into She-Ra, then has an amusing battle with pretty much every single one of Skeletor’s warriors. He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Teela arrive just after She-Ra has finished fighting, and find her draped casually over a pillar. Teela demands to know who the hell this bimbo is, and He-Man introduces her as his “friend, She-Ra.” You can see cold fury in Teela’s eyes as she thinks she’s been jilted.

Bright Moon 2
Teela: “Don’t you know it’s not cool to bring your new girlfriend to meet the ex, He-Man?”

This irrelevant little interlude over, Adora returns to the Palace, where she explains to Randor and Marlena that she feels honour-bound to go back to Etheria and help to free it from the Horde’s oppression. With the help of the Sorceress, she and Spirit are transported back into the Whispering Woods. Adam and Cringer come too, because they know that really, all the viewers want to see is He-Man. Seeing a vast quantity of Horde flyers, they both adopt their alter-egos, in a really awkwardly cut-together sequence of their stock transformation animation.

He-Man and She-Ra find Glimmer, Bow, Queen Angela and Kowl planning to attack Castle Bright Moon, and drive the Horde out. She-Ra demonstrates that she has the power to talk to animals, and so she recruits a bear and some oversized rats to help them. He-Man seems quietly unconvinced about how useful these animals will be, but he stands back and lets Glimmer make an inspirational speech, after which all the rebels throw food in the air, as if they’re politely heckling.

Bright Moon 3
She-Ra: “Ah, he’s cute, guys! Can I keep him?”

The rebels approach Castle Bright Moon and demand its surrender, but naturally Hordak isn’t interested, and unleashes a vast array of robots and machines. These are destroyed by all the members of the Rebellion, in scenes designed to show us what they can do. The only notable talent demonstrated is from She-Ra, who finds that she is capable of healing wounds just by touching them. She’s quite useful to have around, even if she is incredibly patronising.

That evening, the rebels celebrate their successful re-capture of Castle Bright Moon, and reinstall Angela as Queen. He-Man departs for Eternia, but She-Ra is aware that Etheria is still in danger from the Horde, so she determines to stay. She leaps onto Swift Wind, and flies off dramatically. He-Man watches her go, and thinks, “Christ, what a poser.”

Bright Moon 4
She-Ra: “Look at me! EVERYBODY. LOOK AT ME.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Again, we aren’t blessed with any pearls of wisdom, so I’ll substitute my own. It’s a piece of advice aimed at She-Ra’s voice actor: if you go around talking really slowly and deliberately, as if you think children are moronically stupid, then they will hate you. And so will I.

 

Excuse given for Adam and Adora’s disappearances

Adam doesn’t bother with an excuse. On the other hand, He-Man gives She-Ra a lesson in being super-evasive; when Teela asks where Adora is, She-Ra stumbles for an answer. He-Man leaps in with, “Oh, she’s safe,” a statement that She-Ra repeats like an idiot. Bizarrely, Teela accepts this as gospel truth, despite the fact that she’s got absolutely no idea who She-Ra is, and He-Man couldn’t possibly know where Adora is at this stage. Teela is a complete moron.

Bright Moon 6
He-Man: “Now, this is really important, She-Ra. Don’t tell Teela about your secret identity. Just don’t. No reason why not, obviously. But don’t.”

 

Character checklist

I might as well copy out the entire character list from He-Man.org for this one. Let’s see: there’s Adora, She-Ra, Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Spirit, Swift Wind, Teela, Man-at-Arms, the Sorceress, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Glimmer, Bow, Kowl, Queen Angella, Madame Razz, Broom, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Tri-Klops, Trapjaw, Kobra Khan, Webstor, some Horde Troopers, some Palace Guards, some random rebels, and the bear and the giant rats. No Orko though, much to my relief.

 

Insults

It’s a pretty vicious script this week. Webstor kicks things off by calling the Eternian Palace Guards “suckers”, and Skeletor follows this up by calling Webstor and Kobra Khan “clods”, “nincompoops” and “beebrains”. The first of these seems particularly unfair, since it comes at a moment they’ve actually done something right. Skeletor also finds time for an old favourite, referring to Beast-Man as “furface”. It’s nice to see that some things never change.

Bright Moon 7
Palace Guard: “I am contractually obliged to order you to stop, even though I know I’m completely useless.”

Adora’s insult for Beast-Man is less effective: “fangs”. While I admit he does have fangs, it’s hardly insulting. She’s going to have to work harder at this, and indeed in her She-Ra guise she manages to summon up the more apposite “bonebrain” for Skeletor. Other characters similarly have harsh words for Skeletor, including “villain” from Man-at-Arms and “traitor” from Hordak.

Hordak opts for the tired old “fool” when insulting Queen Angela, and He-Man achieves the surprising “jarhead” for Hordak. The award for oddest insult, though, has to go to Skeletor, who spends some time trying to get through to King Randor on the wireless radio, seemingly only in order to call him a “royal boob”.

Bright Moon 8

 

Oh No, Bow!

Towards the end of the episode, Bow rescues Madame Razz and a weird green thing from a Horde Trooper. This in itself is a sufficiently stupid action to warrant an inclusion in this category, but after he does so, he stands on a very tall pillar and leaps off. We never see him again in the episode after that. I know that he landed safely, as all Filmation characters who leap from tall objects do, but I prefer to imagine that he landed in a mangled heap and had to be carted off to A & E.

 

Does it have the Power?

Because I’m feeling generous today, and also because Hordak didn’t make any snorting noises, then I’ll say that yes it does. It’s really nice to see a good send-off for Skeletor and co., something which you’ll recall we were largely robbed of in the He-Man series. The bit with the chef disguises was a suitable reminder of all the demented schemes Skeletor has come up with over the years, and I loved the wonderfully in-character moment when Skeletor betrayed Hordak.

Bright Moon 5
Skeletor: “Am I really being retired in favour of that idiot Hordak?”

Taken as a whole, these five episodes have been an effective introduction to She-Ra, especially the character of its eponymous heroine. We’ve seen her go from evil Horde member to hero of the Rebellion, which is quite a character arc. She is voiced by an incredibly irritating woman though, so I hope some improvements are made there.

So we understand the series set-up and its villains quite well. Hordak and Shadow Weaver get a showing today, though neither distinguishes themselves particularly. At least they aren’t annoying. We have also had a short introduction to the series heroes, but I feel there’s room to grow here. For a film essentially acting as a series pilot, what we’ve seen has focussed far more on the heroic characters we already know, rather than the new ones we’ll be spending time with for the next 88 episodes.

Bright Moon 9
Glimmer: “Do you think we’ll get any development in this series?”

But perhaps I’m crazy for wanting to spend more time with Bow, Glimmer and Madame Razz. I expect this time next week I’ll be pining to see Man-at-Arms and Teela again.

Episode 04 – Reunions

In which Glimmer, Madame Razz and Broom unleash the full extent of their infuriating natures.

Hurrah! We finally get the full introduction sequence. Adora approaches the camera, introduces herself, and explains how she becomes She-Ra (by drawing her sword and crying, “For the Honour of Grayskull!”, in case you’ve forgotten). She also reminds us that Spirit becomes Swift Wind, and informs us that her secret is shared by Kowl, a glowing mass of energy called Light Hope, and that bloody Madame Razz. Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Mantenna and Leech are shown to us to represent the Horde, and we are reminded that they are evil. All of this information is dispensed in an enormously patronising tone, and thus I much preferred it when there was no introduction.

After a lengthy recap of last week’s events, we open with He-Man and She-Ra hanging out in a clearing in Whispering Woods. Evidently not being quite sure whether he believes She-Ra’s claim that she is his twin sister, He-Man uses She-Ra’s sword to contact the Sorceress, who confirms that it is true, and moreover embarks on a flashback to fill He-Man in on the story.

Reunions 1
She-Ra: “Listen, He-Man, have you ever seen Blood Brothers? It’s basically like that.”

Adam and Adora were born to Queen Marlena and King Randor, but soon after their births, the Palace of Eternia came under attack from an evil force from another dimension – the Horde. Hordak was their leader even then, and Skeletor was his subordinate and favourite pupil. Knowing Adam and Adora were destined for greatness, Hordak and Skeletor crept into the Palace to kidnap them. Interrupted mid-kidnap, Hordak escaped with Adora, abandoning Skeletor to the tender mercies of the royal family and Man-at-Arms. Despite a lengthy search, Hordak and Adora could not be found.

Reunions 3
Hordak: “It’s always embarrassing looking back at old photos and seeing the dorky fashions you used to think were cool.”

Once all this backstory has been related, He-Man asks She-Ra for a big hug. I’ve often found He-Man a little creepy, and never more so than now. Once that’s over with, they turn back into Adam and Adora and return to the rebel camp. With Adam vouching for her, the rebels are easily persuaded that Adora is now on their side.

With this resolved, we move on to a short subplot: Queen Angela of Bright Moon, where Glimmer comes from, disappeared during a major battle with the Horde, and it has been determined that she is now a slave to an individual called Hunger, the queen of the Harpies of Talon Mountain, or some such. Glimmer, who is Angela’s daughter, wants to rescue her, and Adora and Adam offer to do so. They turn back into their alter egos, and fly off on Swift Wind.

Despite a great deal of footage featuring Hunger and the other Harpies screeching their idiot heads off, He-Man and She-Ra have very little difficulty in carrying out their rescue mission. Returning to Whispering Woods, Angela and Glimmer have as touching a reunion as is possible when you’re both voiced by massively irritating actresses. Despite the high level of fury Glimmer and Angela inspired in me at this point, they are still upstaged by Madame Razz, who weeps buckets for no reason.

Reunions 2
Queen Angela: “Why don’t you have wings like me, Glimmer?”

Touched by the mother-and-daughter reunion, Adora decides that now would be a good time to visit Eternia and meet her own parents. She, Adam, Spirit and Cringer all return to Eternia through the Sorceress’ gateway, where Adora is introduced to her parents – as well as Man-at-Arms and Teela – and they all weep so much that it looks like their eyes have been replaced with taps. Randor even tells Adam that he’s really pleased with him for bringing Adora home, which has to be a first.

Reunions 4
King Randor: “Hurrah! A child who might not be as useless as Adam.”

Unbeknownst to them, Hordak has opted to come through the gateway as well. Once on Eternia, he makes his way to Snake Mountain, where he has a slanging match with Skeletor, followed by a short battle. Finally, the two agree to work together to recapture Adora, after which Hordak promises to leave Skeletor in peace. He also snorts like a demented pig for our delight and delectation, as the words ‘To be continued’ flash across our screen.

 

In today’s adventure…

I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise, but there is no moral again. I, however, did pick up a few helpful life hints from the episode, chief among them being that if I go through an interdimensional portal, I should always check behind me in case my mortal enemy has come too.

Reunions 5
Skeletor: “Check out my big stupid stick, Hordak.”

 

Character checklist

Everyone and his mother is invited to this party. We’ve got Adora, She-Ra, Spirit, Swift Wind, Bow, Glimmer, Queen Angela, Madame Razz, Broom, Kowl, Prince Adam, He-Man, Cringer, Teela, Man-at-Arms, King Randor, Queen Marlena, the Sorceress, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Hunger the Harpy, Skeletor, and loads of Horde Troopers, rebels, etc. I may well have forgotten someone from this list, but it’s probably the largest cast in any episode so far.

 

Excuse given for Adam and Adora’s disappearances

Adora and Adam happily turn into She-Ra and He-Man and back again repeatedly in this episode, but only in each other’s company, and mostly offscreen, luckily. They therefore don’t give any excuses. Still, the subject is touched upon shortly before they go to Eternia, when Adam explains that Adora mustn’t tell Randor and Marlena about her secret identity, or that of He-Man. Instead of saying, “Well, why the bloody hell not?”, Adora simply agrees. That’s a missed opportunity for the writers to explain that one. Unless, of course, the writers can’t explain that one.

Reunions 6
The Sorceress: “No, I will not explain why your identities have to be secret. There definitely is a reason though.”

 

Insults

The Sorceress kicks things off by referring to Hordak as a “vicious tyrant”. The next insults come with Bow and Glimmer each calling each other a “fool”, and Queen Angela calls the Harpies “vile minions”. Hunger is the most prolific insulter of the episode, given she shouts at her Harpies when they fail, calling them “blunderers” and “birdbrains”, then turns her attention to He-Man and She-Ra with “fools” and “dolts”. In his final scene, Hordak calls Skeletor a “traitor to the Horde”, and refers to Adam and Adora as “Eternian fools”. It’s good to see that this cartoon is going to continue the obsession with fools.

 

Oh No, Bow!

In his only scene, Bow doesn’t want to rescue Queen Angela because he thinks the rebels aren’t strong enough to defeat the Harpies. He’s completely wrong, of course, given He-Man and She-Ra manage it within three minutes.

Reunions 7
Bow: “Don’t undermine me, Kowl.”

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s nice to get the full story behind the Horde’s kidnapping of Adora, and particularly fun to see a vague origin for Skeletor – who’d have thought he was a former pupil of Hordak? It’s a great decision for Skeletor and Hordak to now hate each other; it would have been rather too neat if they’d been allies, and it’s far more in character for Skeletor to refuse to share power with anyone.

I’m not quite sure why the Queen Angela bit was here, as it didn’t feel relevant to the rest of the episode’s story. Still, as part of a complete film, it possibly makes more sense. We’ll have to find out next week. As it stands, it’s simply another demonstration of how annoying Glimmer and Madame Razz are.

And speaking of annoying, Hordak’s pig noises are really beginning to get on my tits now. His habit of transforming himself into machinery (in this episode, he becomes a rocket, a drill, and uses his stupid arm cannon again) is also not as funny as the writers evidently think it is. I feel that this cartoon could be a really long slog if Hordak doesn’t get a better voice and character soon.