Episode 109 – Orko’s New Friend

In which we meet another of Orko’s nice friends, which as usual is a real treat.

The episode gets off to a very unpromising start, with Adam, Teela and Orko waiting in the Palace courtyard to greet Squanch, who is an old friend of Orko’s from Trolla. Orko warns Adam and Teela that Squanch has an “active imagination”, which is duly interpreted as “a compulsive liar”. Sure enough, Squanch embarks on a blatantly fictitious story – but is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of the Intergalactic Police.

I had hoped that the Intergalactic Police might arrest Squanch (and possibly Orko too, if it’s a really good day), but sadly, they’re only there to deliver a warning to Prince Adam: two criminals called the Slavemaster and the Jawbreaker have been tracked to Eternia. They proceed to give a detailed description of what these two lowlifes do, but since it’s fairly evident from their names, I shan’t bore you by spelling it out.

New Friend 1
Policeman: “The only reason I haven’t arrested you yet, Orko, is because I can’t bear the thought of having to take you away in my spaceship.”

Adam and Teela pop off to tell King Randor about the Slavemaster and the Jawbreaker, while Orko and Squanch have an argument about Squanch’s perpetual lies. They patch things up, however, when they discover the Slavemaster’s ship parked in the forest. Unbelievably, they decide to try to capture the Slavemaster themselves, rather than fetching He-Man, which all too quickly results in Orko’s capture.

Squanch escapes and flies straight back to the Palace, but Adam, Teela and Man-at-Arms don’t believe his story. They are eventually persuaded to check, but when Squanch leads them back to the forest, the Slavemaster’s ship is gone. Adam and Teela are just gearing up to savage Squanch with some barbed remarks about lying, but Man-at-Arms discovers some evidence that Squanch is telling the truth.

Reasoning that the Slavemaster will want to capture powerful slaves, Man-at-Arms arranges a fairground show at which He-Man is the prize exhibit. He-Man demonstrates his strength to the awed crowd by lifting an enormous pair of concrete weights, over which Teela has artfully draped herself. By showing off thus, He-Man and Man-at-Arms hope to lure the Slavemaster into attempting to capture He-Man, and even if it doesn’t work, it’s certainly given the moronic inhabitants of Eternia a nice day out. It also helps to fill some time in this episode, which is proving quite devoid of substance.

New Friend 2
Teela: “He-Man’s out picking up women again.”

The Jawbreaker shows up at the fair and He-Man allows himself to be captured. He is taken down to the Slavemaster’s mines, where he joins Orko and a variety of other interestingly-animated slaves (an elephant wearing a nappy, in particular, drew my attention). Once there, He-Man runs riot and frees all the slaves, then captures the Slavemaster and the Jawbreaker, and they are despatched to their home planet to stand trial.

New Friend 3
Elephant: “I have escaped from a website catering to people with a very specialist interest.”

Finally, Squanch has a heart-to-heart with all of our heroes about his lying addiction, and admits that he just wants everyone to like him. I wish, just for once, He-Man would say, “Well, no chance of that, you div,” and stalk off. But no, as usual, He-Man reassures him that everyone does like him, just for being himself. He-Man is wrong. I can think of one person who actively despises Squanch.

 

In today’s adventure…

Orko reminds us that this episode has been a rubbish version of the Boy Who Cried Wolf, in case any of the stupider viewers hadn’t grasped the subtle complexities in the story. What did surprise me was the curious reluctance of the writers to use the word “lie”; Squanch is always “telling stories”, except right at the end when he admits he’s been “lying”. I assume the writers felt that it would emphasise the difference between stories and lies, but all it did was make me wonder why they were going to such lengths to dance around the word “lie”.

 

Character checklist

This claptrap subjects us to outings for Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Orko, Teela, Man-at-Arms, the Sorceress, Squanch, the Slavemaster, the Jawbreaker, the Intergalactic Police, and loads of background characters including the other slaves and some general inhabitants of Eternia.

New Friend 4
Slavemaster: “Remind me again, what’s the point of this episode?”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

We don’t even see Adam transform into He-Man today; he’s there in one scene and then it’s He-Man in the next. The best excuse we get is Adam’s musing comment, “This might be a job for He-Man.”

 

Insults

The Slavemaster kicks things off by calling his slaves collectively “fools”, a theme on which the Jawbreaker elaborates by calling Man-at-Arms an “old fool”. He-Man gets involved by referring to the Jawbreaker as a “metal-brain”, and the Jawbreaker retaliates with the unusual “flesh-face”. I’m pretty sure we’ve heard this odd turn of phrase before, but I can’t remember where and I certainly can’t be bothered to look it up.

New Friend 5
Squanch: “Here’s another insult: I’m a complete waste of space.”

 

Does it have the Power?

There are numerous things wrong with this episode:

  1. The title. Orko doesn’t have a new friend at all. He’s got an old friend. Both would be equally annoying, but they might as well have been accurate.
  2. The Jawbreaker. His dialogue makes him sound thick as bricks (“Right you are, boss – huh huh huh,” he says, in one memorable sequence), and his voice is a really odd and distracting blend of He-Man and Beast-Man’s usual voices.
  3. Everything else. God, it was rubbish.
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