Episode 105 – No Job too Small

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

In today’s adventure…

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

 

Character checklist

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

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

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

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

 

Insults

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

 

Does it have the Power?

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

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

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

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

Episode 044 – The Region of Ice

In which Skeletor, Beast-Man and Trapjaw go above and beyond in their efforts to be completely mental.

A skiing holiday for the royal family and Orko quickly goes wrong when everyone except Orko vanishes. Orko is left to solve the mystery alone, and quickly determines that the royal family have fallen through a trapdoor into a downward-sloping tunnel. Orko descends the tunnel, peculiarly complaining about the lack of stairs. Why should he care? He couldn’t use stairs even if they were there, so what’s his beef? (I do wonder if the writer had ever seen an episode of He-Man before. Maybe he had merely been given a list of characters to use and, not unnaturally, assumed that they all had legs.)

Anyway, Orko quickly discovers that the missing persons have been transported into a large cavern and encased in ice. The perpetrator of this indignity is a fellow in another of those ubiquitous Viking helmets, which seem to be Eternian shorthand for “slightly rubbish villain”. This fellow chatters away to himself, explaining that their Majesties will remain iced up until He-Man comes to rescue them.

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Orko listens in and realises that with Adam trapped in the ice, He-Man isn’t likely to show up. He therefore decides that the most appropriate course of action is to pretend to be He-Man and demand his friends’ release. The Viking man unexpectedly believes this claim, and explains that Skeletor has taken his daughter Snowflake prisoner, and will only release her in exchange for the royal family.

Orko promises to try to rescue Snowflake, and negotiates Adam’s release from the ice, describing him as his assistant. Luckily, despite being frozen inside a block of ice, Adam has heard every word, and happily plays along with the notion that Orko is He-Man. Once they return to the surface, Orko tries to persuade Adam to become He-Man and rescue the others, but Adam reminds Orko of the promise he made, so instead they head off to rescue Snowflake.

En route to Snake Mountain, He-Man starts making passive-aggressive digs at Orko about being the assistant. He continues to do this, at random intervals, throughout the rest of the episode. Once they arrive at their destination, He-Man decides that instead of knocking a hole in the wall like he’d normally do, it is necessary for him and Orko to enter through the mouth of the snake. It appears that he decides this primarily so there’ll be a dramatic point at which to cut to the commercial break, but that’s his prerogative, I suppose.

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Inside Snake Mountain, Skeletor, Beast-Man and Trapjaw are indulging in a spot of bickering that’s pointless beyond even their usual depths of insanity. Skeletor keeps moaning and waving his arms around because he can only see snow on his monitor, Beast-Man seems even more miserable than usual and is pessimistically – though admittedly realistically – claiming that Skeletor’s plan won’t work, while Trapjaw is laughing manically at absolutely nothing.

With only this dream team to oppose him, therefore, it’s perhaps unsurprising that He-Man gets the advantage, in a number of fight scenes that veer just the wrong side of mental. The fight with Trapjaw, for example, involves He-Man picking up a stick and making the non sequitur comment of, “This is the ten foot pole I wouldn’t touch you with, Trapjaw.” He then proceeds to touch Trapjaw with the pole, thus contradicting himself within less than a second of his making his statement.

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After rescuing Snowflake from her dungeon He-Man gets in a completely ridiculous fight with Beast-Man. He is on particular form in this fight, making endless nonsensical jokes about cold soup and playing catch. I can only conclude he’s showing off to Snowflake, but she isn’t all that impressed; after He-Man makes a particularly demented comment, she doesn’t laugh and pointedly says, “I’d appreciate it if we could get out of this place now.”

Discovering that his prisoner is escaping, Skeletor pulls a lever which allegedly makes Snake Mountain come alive. He-Man does make a valiant attempt to convince us that the snake’s mouth is shut and he has to force it open, but this concept seemed to be beyond the animators, so the mouth is wide open all along, making He-Man look like a first-class chump.

And so it comes to pass that Snowflake is returned to her father and the royal family are released. Snowflake says she really wants to thank He-Man, or indeed, “Both my He-Men,” in a sultry tone which implies she’d willingly have sex with either He-Man or Orko, and possibly both at the same time. But naturally enough, the episode doesn’t dwell on this.

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In today’s adventure …

Man-at-Arms shows up to inform us that our appearance, honesty and the way we act are the things that show our character. Well, yes to the last two, but my appearance doesn’t have a whole lot to do with my character. Man-at-Arms’ point is that if you make a promise you don’t intend to keep, that shows bad character, and he advises us to always think before we speak. Good advice, but I was distracted by the fact that the animators inexplicably appear to have given Man-at-Arms some black antennae.

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Character checklist

A nicely traditional cast this week, featuring Prince Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Skeletor, Beast-Man and Trapjaw, with special guest stars Princess Snowflake and the Viking man.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam changes into He-Man with only Orko present, so he doesn’t concern himself with an excuse this time.

 

Insults

Skeletor achieves being on screen for about 30 seconds before giving in to temptation and shouting “fool!” at Beast-Man. Rather surprisingly, the rest of the episode is insult-free. On the other hand, He-Man is full of utterly insane wisecracks this week.

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Does it have the Power?

This is exactly the sort of episode I think of when I recommend He-Man to people, which isn’t as often as you might think. It’s got pretty much everything: a short mystery to solve, followed by a ludicrous plot from Skeletor, and topped off with a super trip for He-Man to Snake Mountain, where he gets to wreak havoc to his heart’s content, while Skeletor rages impotently. If I wished to pick holes, the worst I can say is that the baddies seemed a little too willing to simply stand there while He-Man makes his half-witted jokes, whereas in reality they’d have attacked him half an hour ago. But expecting realism from He-Man is the sort of attitude that gets you checked into an institution for your own safety.

Episode 011 – Masks of Power

In which Skeletor finally spends some time behind bars.

We join Prince Adam, Man-at-Arms and Orko as they discover the City of the Ancient Ones, which is deep in a mysterious jungle. Adam provides a little backstory: though the last rulers of the City – the Wizard Deinos and his Witch Queen Tarella – were evil, Adam hopes to rediscover their power and use it for the good of Eternia.

Not unexpectedly, Skeletor also has his eye on said power, and blow me down if he doesn’t want to use it for evil. In the middle of complaining about the absence of Beast-Man and Evil-Lyn, Skeletor is interrupted by two morons called Aaron and Una teleporting into Snake Mountain. They offer to do whatever Skeletor asks so they can become Evil Warriors. Skeletor opts to put them through a few tests, which they pass with A*s, after which they are packed off to the City of the Ancients to recover the Power Masks of King Deinos.

Masks of Power 1

On arrival at the City, Aaron and Una immediately figure out that the Masks are kept in the cellar, and find them in fairly short order. Aaron announces that as soon as they put the Masks on, the power will be theirs, but this doesn’t seem to be how it works out – in actuality, once they put the Masks on, they are possessed with the spirits of Deinos and Tarella. Well, the episode says they’re possessed, but they seem to have been out-and-out replaced with the evil Ancients.

Masks of Power 2

Adam sprints out of the room and returns seconds later as He-Man, who swiftly corners Deinos and Tarella. Instead of surrendering, they opt to levitate out of a convenient hole in the ceiling, and stump off to look for the Sword of the Ancients. After a fight with a giant rhino, He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Orko climb out of the pit, then head for Castle Grayskull to ask the Sorceress what to do next.

The Sorceress reveals that the Sword of the Ancients is embedded King Arthur-style in a block of solid quartz, deep beneath Snake Mountain, and that that is where Deinos and Tarella will be found. Apparently, the Sword is second only to He-Man’s own sword in terms of power, but luckily, Skeletor doesn’t even know it’s there.

Over at Snake Mountain, Deinos and Tarella have a lively discussion with Skeletor concerning who’s the boss in this situation. Skeletor gets the worst of it, winding up trapped behind a load of stalagmites, and is thus rather pleased to see He-Man when he shows up a few minutes later. In return for his release, Skeletor tells He-Man which way his unwelcome visitors went. After He-Man trolls off, Skeletor reflects that he wants to be in on the action too, and follows.

Masks of Power 3

In the final denouement, Deinos and Tarella take a back seat as He-Man grabs the Sword of the Ancients and Skeletor manages to nick He-Man’s sword. Then the Sword of the Ancients starts talking about how awesome it is, which is nice, and combines itself with He-Man’s sword. I wish I was making this up, but this is insane beyond even He-Man’s usual claptrap. The end result is that Deinos and Tarella disappear and are replaced with Aaron and Una again, while Skeletor shakes his fists in impotent rage. Aaron and Una repent of their desire to serve evil, and He-Man threatens to take Skeletor to prison, which just sounds a bit pathetic. Not surprisingly, Skeletor is unconcerned, and teleports away. The end.

 

In today’s adventure…

Teela shows up to tell us that the important take-home from this little jaunt is how to react when you make a mistake. Her perspective is that if you admit your mistake rather than covering it up or lying about it, you’ve taken the first step towards resolving it. Orko thinks he is justified in claiming he has never made a mistake. The sheer nerve of it.

Masks of Power 4

 

Excuse for Prince Adam’s disappearance:

Given Man-at-Arms and Orko both know the secret and are the only heroes present, it’s reasonable enough that no screen time is devoted to this.

 

Characters appearing

Nothing too exciting to report this week, of course: Prince Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Orko, the Sorceress, Skeletor, Aaron, Una, Deinos and Tarella feature in the main story, and Teela shows up in the moral segment.

 

Insults

He-Man can’t resist quipping that Skeletor looks at home behind bars when they find him trapped by the stalagmites, but otherwise everyone gets along rather splendidly this time.

 

Egg on your face?

Man-at-Arms gets a pot of water emptied over him thanks to Orko’s magic, though in fairness to Orko his magic was working perfectly well until he was distracted by the unexpected appearance of a giant floating head. Man-at-Arms is not amused nonetheless, though he finds it funnier a moment later when Orko contrives to drop three large urns on top of himself.

Masks of Power 5

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s a bit of a weird episode which doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do with itself. The first half is all set up for He-Man to confront Deinos and Tarella in the City of the Ancients, but then it diverts to a Snake Mountain setting. There doesn’t seem to be any reason why the Sword of the Ancients couldn’t be in the City of the Ancients (and frankly it would make more sense if it were), making this change of heart even more baffling. It’s also odd that when “possessed by spirits”, Aaron and Una were actually completely replaced by people who looked nothing like them; it might have been easier to accept their apology if we’d actually seen them being evil. On the plus side, it’s quite entertaining watching Skeletor get his comeuppance in a battle with a more powerful evil force, but ultimately, it hasn’t really got much going for it.