Episode 078 – Betrayal of Stratos

In which Skeletor demonstrates an unexpected desire to learn how to fly.

I’m very much hoping that this will be an episode about Stratos betraying He-Man and turning evil, so He-Man can finally punch his stupid goggled face. Unfortunately, it seems far more likely that it will actually be about someone betraying Stratos, especially since the episode begins with Skeletor, Beast-Man, Trapjaw and Tri-Klops attacking Stratos’ home of Avion, and someone has destroyed the defensive shield generator.

The bird people see Skeletor’s attack off easily anyway, while Stratos attempts to repair the shield generator. Hawk, a bird woman with a suspiciously evil voice, finds Stratos making the repairs, and interprets this as meaning that Stratos must have been responsible for the sabotage. The bird people put Stratos on trial, and dismissing his absolutely pathetic attempts to defend himself, sentence him to exile.

Betrayal 1
Stratos: “Come on guys, you may all look the same, but you don’t have to dress the same too.”

Like an idiot, Stratos’ next move is to land for a rest in the nest of an enormous flying monster, which means that He-Man has to get involved. He-Man sees off the monster by throwing some melons at it, then listens to Stratos’ story and decides that he and Orko will help Stratos to unmask the real culprit.

Meanwhile, Skeletor and his army return to Avion, and the bird people discover that now their guns have been sabotaged as well. This means two things: firstly, Stratos couldn’t possibly be the saboteur, and secondly and more importantly, Skeletor is able to steal the Egg of Avion, which is a ridiculous item that will apparently allow Skeletor to grow wings. Exactly how he thinks this will help him is beyond me, given he’s already got a wide range of flying machines. Maybe it’s just for the sheer joy of feeling the wind between his feathers. Anyway, since I suspect his plot won’t reach that stage, it doesn’t matter too much.

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Skeletor: “This is going to net me so many points in the Eternian Easter Egg Hunt this year.”

Learning of the loss of the Egg, He-Man, Stratos and Orko go to see the Sorceress, who says that Skeletor will have hidden the Egg in the Demon Zone. The Demon Zone is apparently the home of Whiplash, and it can only be entered through a door in the Mountains of Doom (or possibly Mountains of Dune; I tend to stop paying attention whenever the Sorceress is talking). Oddly, it transpires that the door can only be opened twice a year, which means that given his excessive presence in recent episodes, Whiplash probably can’t go home all that often.

When they reach the door, He-Man and Stratos enter like normal people but Orko manages to be so slow that he gets left outside. Given the door’s limit of two openings per year, I’d guess this means He-Man and Stratos are now trapped in the Demon Zone till next year – the door must have been opened once already to allow the Egg to come in. I am fully prepared for this logical conclusion to be ignored.

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Orko: “It’s a shame I’m so stupid I can’t even go through a door successfully.”

Sure enough, in the very next scene, the door opens again, as Whiplash sends a snake out to deal with Orko, which leads to a genuinely amusing scene as the snake chases Orko around the forest. In the meantime, He-Man and Stratos confront Whiplash, who finds himself tied to a pole by his tail. I think Whiplash has quite a sad time really. That tail is too easy a target.

He-Man and Stratos then find Hawk in a cage, who admits to sabotaging the shields and to bringing the Egg to the Demon Zone, where instead of the riches she was promised, she was imprisoned. Stratos starts gleefully rejoicing in Hawk’s downfall, but He-Man releases her with his trademark, “Everyone deserves a second chance.”

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He-Man: “Welcome to my kinky dungeon, Hawk.”

After recovering the Egg, He-Man, Stratos and Hawk return it to Avion, where Hawk admits before the people that she was responsible for the sabotage. Then all the bird people cheer for He-Man, causing his already immense ego to expand to a whole new level of smug.

 

In today’s adventure…

He-Man’s message this week is all about forgiveness, and once again utters the phrase, “Everyone deserves a second chance.” I genuinely wonder how many chances he gave Skeletor on their first encounter. Though in fairness, given he basically allows Skeletor to escape every week, he’s actually given Skeletor about five thousand chances now.

 

Character checklist

Today we are witness to the antics of Prince Adam, He-Man, Stratos, Orko, the Sorceress, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Trapjaw, Tri-Klops, Hawk, loads of Stratos clones, a big red demon, and the ubiquitous Whiplash.

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Skeletor: “Come on lads, it’s 2-for-1 at Burger King today!”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

It’s not an excuse as such, but He-Man explains his presence by saying, “I was just in the neighbourhood.”

 

Insults

Skeletor considers that the inhabitants of Avion are all “bird-brains”, which seems reasonable. He also refers to Trapjaw and Tri-Klops as “imbeciles”, which again is accurate. A fire demon has the temerity to call Whiplash a “fool”. Whiplash develops an entertaining habit of talking to himself, muttering about He-Man, Stratos and Orko being “pests” and Orko being a “half-pint sorcerer”. Whiplash also says, “Now it’s time to find that muscle-headed moron”, which presumably refers to He-Man, but the target of this remark is not actively specified.

Betrayal 6
Fire Demon: “I fear I’m not as scary as I should be.”

 

Does it have the Power?

It all starts well enough, with Skeletor’s assault on Avion and the subsequent exile of Stratos, but it goes downhill a bit with the introduction of the Demon Zone, especially with its nonsensical rules concerning the door. I’m genuinely getting fed up of Whiplash now; he’s not that interesting, so we don’t need to see him week-in week-out. Still, I’d chalk this one up as worthwhile enough, if only for the mental image of Skeletor growing wings, which appears to be his overall ambition this week.

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Episode 065 – The Heart of a Giant

In which Orko goes looking for drugs and finds a friendly giant.

Adam, Cringer, Man-at-Arms and Orko are out in the Eternian wilderness, looking for a bright orange weed that grows on trees. The only explanation offered as to why they want this weed is that Man-at-Arms needs it for one of his “experiments”, no doubt the same type of “experiment” that a lot of liberal-leaning students set up.

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Orko: “This crop should net me a fortune on Koh Samui this year.”

In the course of searching for the weed, Orko encounters a giant, who he instantly assumes is a monster. Nothing could be further from the truth, however; Orko manages to knock himself out, and the giant brings him back to his friends safely, then disappears into the undergrowth. Adam decides that they need to poke their noses into the giant’s business, to find out who he is. God alone knows why Adam should think this: perhaps it’s time for Eternia’s regular census? Pausing only to transform into He-Man and Battle-Cat, our heroes go off to look for the giant.

Hovering above the jungle in a bizarrely shark-shaped flying machine is the baddy of the week. He is a collector of strange creatures, and the episode’s writer doesn’t bother to give him a name, so I’ll refer to him as Boring-Man. The creatures he’s collected are reuses of individuals from various other rubbish episodes: there’s Gorgon from The Defection, the two-headed man from Orko’s Missing Magic, and a four-armed dude who might well also have featured in Orko’s Missing Magic, but I can’t remember and don’t want to watch that episode again to make sure. Anyway, Boring-Man wants to add the giant to his collection.

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Boring-Man: “Not only do I have a collection of recycled animation creatures, I wouldn’t mind betting my spaceship interior is recycled from Star Trek: the Animated Series.”

He-Man and co. are just in time to see the giant being captured, at which point Boring-Man decides that He-Man and Orko would also be worthy exhibits. He captures Orko, then throws a giant scorpion out of his airship to distract He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Battle-Cat while he flies away. He-Man defeats the scorpion using his favourite tactic of diverting a river at it, then sets off after Boring-Man.

On board the ship, Boring-Man explains to Orko and the giant that they are now permanent fixtures in his circus, and then announces an inexplicable intention to add Stratos to the collection as well. Once Boring-Man leaves the room, Orko strikes up a friendship with the giant, who introduces himself as Canbro and explains that he is an outcast, because people ridicule or fear him. Once these pleasantries are over, Orko and Canbro escape their cage and set about building a radio with which to contact He-Man.

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Orko: “Well, I’m massively incompetent at the best of times, so I hope you’re good at building radios, because I’m very unlikely to be any help.”

Orko informs He-Man via radio that Stratos is next on the hit list, so our heroes head for Avion, arriving in time to rescue the ever-incompetent Stratos from Boring-Man’s clutches. He-Man then boards the ship and immediately gets entangled in cords of solid titanium, from which Boring-Man claims “even he cannot escape”, and all I’m going to say about that statement is that it’s a classic case of misplaced confidence.

He-Man opens all the cages and takes all the creatures to see Boring-Man, who collapses on the floor shrieking “No!” Just as the creatures are about to attack Boring-Man, however, Canbro intervenes to stop them, demonstrating his peaceful and merciful nature. As the episode ends, Man-at-Arms offers Canbro a job as a lab assistant, which Canbro accepts, though I’ll bet we never see him again.

 

In today’s adventure…

Orko provides the very sane and relevant moral that judging people by their appearance – as he initially did with Canbro – is not a good way to behave. This is a perfectly sensible lesson, demonstrated nicely by the episode’s story, for the first time in a while.

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Canbro: “I know the entire point of this episode is to not judge by appearances, but by God, I look disturbing.”

Character checklist

Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Orko, Man-at-Arms, Stratos, Canbro and Boring-Man are our principal movers and shakers this week. Well, Stratos isn’t exactly a mover or shaker, though I imagine you could have guessed that.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Adam doesn’t give an excuse, and he doesn’t even have a sensible reason for turning into He-Man this week. He just does it on a whim.

 

Insults

All the insults this week are dished out by Boring-Man, who calls his Gorgon animation reuse a “mindless brute”, calls Canbro “big but dumb”, and refers to his entire collection as “dumb beasts”.

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He-Man: “Once again, I’m going to have to make a mental note to cut down on my LSD intake.”

Does it have the Power?

It’s not the most enthralling of episodes, but neither is it anywhere near as rubbish as some recent offerings. It’s obvious from the moment Canbro shows up that he’s not going to be a baddy, so it’s fortunate that the episode doesn’t waste much time trying to pretend he is. The real villain of the piece is genuinely nondescript – Boring-Man is an apt name for him – and his whole plot feels pretty tired, being too similar to the recent Pawns of the Game Master and Castle of Heroes. In addition, He-Man’s fight with the scorpion isn’t very exciting, and Stratos seems to have been dropped in just for the sheer why-not of it. All in all, I’d call this one pretty determinedly average.

Episode 016 – Reign of the Monster

In which we are treated to several million Stratos clones, none of whom are any more useful than the original.

In Stratos’ kingdom of Avion, He-Man, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko and Ram-Man have arrived for a celebration, which involves showing off the Staff of the Elders and using it to create some fireworks. Not surprisingly, it transpires that the Staff is the only thing capable of releasing a scary-looking beast called Molchrum from a block of crystal, and consequently Skeletor is quite keen to get his inexplicably blue hands on it. His Viking-helmeted minions (introduced later as Torgs) attack Avion, and succeed in kidnapping Stratos and stealing the Staff.

Reign of the Monster 1

The Sorceress provides a bit of exposition. Not only will Molchrum destroy Castle Grayskull if he is released, but if the Staff is used for evil and then not used to undo that evil, it will explode, taking half of the planet with it. I feel that even Skeletor would want to avoid that outcome, so here’s hoping this one can be resolved by simply talking things through.

He-Man and his crowd find Skeletor and the Torgs in fairly short order in a cave, but Skeletor unveils his most demented plan yet: he’s made about 50 clones of Stratos, all of which are under his spell. Exactly what he hopes to achieve with this is anybody’s guess. As expected, the real Stratos quickly breaks free of Skeletor’s spell, which makes all the other Stratoses vanish. Forgive me for not cheering.

Reign of the Monster 2

This pointless interlude with multiple Stratoses has at least bought Skeletor some time, which he puts to effective use by releasing Molchrum from the crystal. Molchrum traps He-Man and co. behind a wall of rock, which is precisely the sort of prison He-Man can never escape from. Skeletor then commits a second tactical error by popping off with Molchrum to Castle Grayskull, leaving the Staff of the Elders in the hands of the King of the Torgs.

Sure enough, He-Man punches the rock wall and escapes. He takes Man-at-Arms and Ram-Man to Grayskull, leaving the others to retrieve the Staff. He-Man occupies himself in tying Molchrum up, while Man-at-Arms and Ram-Man go for Skeletor. Man-at-Arms advises Skeletor to surrender because “it’s two against one”. Who are you kidding, Man-at-Arms? Even I wouldn’t surrender to you and Ram-Man. Sure enough, it takes Skeletor only two seconds to trap these two clowns in a tree.

Reign of the Monster 3

Teela’s contingent retrieves the Staff after a lengthy and not-at-all interesting fight with the Torgs, and Stratos takes it to Grayskull as fast as he can. He passes it to He-Man, who starts trying to imprison Molchrum again. Sadly, the Staff begins to explode, so He-Man instead hurls it into orbit. I’m not sure why, but the Staff’s subsequent explosion results in Molchrum being trapped in crystal again, and then the Staff returns to Eternia all in one piece, which makes no sense whatsoever.

The episode finishes with Skeletor escaping as usual, Man-at-Arms and Ram-Man being released from the tree, and all the heroes return to Avion for the festival, where Orko is molested by a bratty boy with a remote control spaceship. I don’t normally like bratty children, but this one has my sympathy and support.

Reign of the Monster 4

 

In today’s adventure…

Orko reminds us that it’s best not to eat anything if we don’t know what it is. Then he salutes like he’s in the US Navy, and chuckles like he’s been really funny. He hasn’t. I don’t pretend to understand how this little adventure with Molchrum is relevant to safe eating, but equally I can’t see any sensible moral lessons that can be drawn, other than if you’re writing a He-Man episode, there’s no point having Ram-Man included if he’s not going to say or do anything.

 

Characters appearing

Today it’s He-Man, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Stratos, Ram-Man, Orko, the Sorceress, Skeletor, some Torgs, and Molchrum, though I’m not certain quite how far a weird centaur-with-tentacles can be considered a character.

Reign of the Monster 5

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

The episode begins with He-Man already live and kicking, and Adam isn’t even mentioned. Perhaps He-Man’s finally realised there’s absolutely no point to this double identity lark.

 

Insults

Perhaps because Beast-Man isn’t involved, everyone is very polite. Beast-Man just brings out the worst in people.

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s a very meat and potatoes episode. Skeletor gets a monster, takes it to Castle Grayskull, and gets defeated. Stories with a plot like this need to have something a bit more to avoid being quickly forgettable, and Reign of the Monster doesn’t. I enjoyed the utter pointlessness of the multiple Stratoses, and I also liked He-Man rubbing his hands as if they were sore after he’d punched the rock wall – a surprisingly subtle piece of animation which is something of a rare concession to reality. But it’s not really enough. There’s nothing wrong with this episode, but neither would I ever bother to watch it again.

Episode 007 – The Curse of the Spellstone

In which He-Man leaves it to a bunch of villagers to defeat the baddies.

In a frankly scary-looking locale on Eternia, Skeletor and Evil-Lyn bust into the Temple of the Fire People, to find something called the Spellstone, which they immediately set to work causing a massive storm. Meanwhile, at the Palace, there’s fun and games as Prince Adam deliberately ruins one of Orko’s magic tricks, while Man-at-Arms demonstrates his new weather control system. Naturally enough, the weather control system doesn’t work, but Man-at-Arms manages to cover his ineptitude by blaming the Spellstone.

Adam takes this as his cue to transform into He-Man, which he has been doing with very little provocation in the last few episodes. He collects his least useful companions – Ram-Man and Stratos – and heads off to confront Skeletor in the Temple. When they get there, He-Man is actually knocked over by one of Skeletor’s robots, which I think must be a one-time-only occurrence for the series.

Spellstone 1

In the meantime, a crowd has gathered to watch Man-at-Arms and Teela occupy themselves fighting fires that have been caused by the Spellstone’s lightning storm. Evil-Lyn has disguised herself as an old crone and hangs out in the crowd, spreading discontent. She persuades the villagers that King Randor and Man-at-Arms are to blame for the fires, having incurred the wrath of the Elders of Eternia.

Evil-Lyn urges the villagers to use what I assume to be a very fast-growing plant called the Creeping Horrock on the Palace. Apparently, the Horrock was used in former times to punish criminals; now its purpose appears to be chasing people through the Palace corridors. Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, and the King and Queen hole up in a room and spend the rest of the episode trying to get out.

Spellstone 2

Back at the Temple, He-Man and his gang spend a fair bit of screen time destroying multitudes of Skeletor’s stupid robots, before getting down to the serious business of falling down a trapdoor into a pit, which Skeletor then proceeds to fill with water. It doesn’t seem to occur to Stratos that he could fly out of this trap, but fortunately they are released by a contingent of Fire People. The Fire People accuse our heroes of stealing the Spellstone and won’t listen to reason, prompting a bit of a barney, which is all resolved when He-Man saves the Fire People’s boss from a big red monster.

And so to the final confrontation. He-Man and his crew return to the Palace, where they find Skeletor, Evil-Lyn and Trapjaw idling about insulting the villagers. Evil-Lyn uses the Spellstone to create a hurricane to send our heroes flying, at which point the villagers decide the whole thing is their fault, which it definitely isn’t. At any rate, they grab the Spellstone and give it to He-Man, who uses it to stop the Creeping Horrock. As usual, the baddies hightail it back to Snake Mountain. And that puts an end to that.

Spellstone 3

 

In today’s adventure …

Man-at-Arms talks very seriously to us about considering the possible implications of any practical jokes you may have in mind. If you’re not careful, you could lose a finger, an arm, or even an eye. These are the only possibilities presented. It’s another of those moral lessons which is undeniably true, but utterly irrelevant to the drivel we’ve just watched. But thanks, Man-at-Arms.

 

Excuse given for Adam’s disappearance

Adam can barely wait this week to turn into He-Man, and just wanders off unobtrusively to do so. Nonetheless, I am surprised that while the King and Queen were being chased through the Palace by the Horrock, neither of them expressed the least bit of concern about Adam’s whereabouts.

Spellstone 4

Characters appearing

Lots of people put in an appearance today, including Prince Adam, He-Man, Cringer, Battle-Cat, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Trapjaw, Stratos, Ram-Man, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, King Randor, Queen Marlena, some Fire People, and some villagers. They might have had names. I didn’t bother to listen if they did.

 

Insults

Rather surprisingly, Evil-Lyn has the temerity to call Skeletor a “blundering skull-face” when she discovers that He-Man has escaped the trapdoor and water scenario that Skeletor set up. In fact, Evil-Lyn’s got a bit of an attitude on her this week, going so far as to suggest that when their plot succeeds, she and Skeletor will rule Eternia jointly. Skeletor is oddly tolerant of her behaviour, leading me to wonder if there’s a bit of romance in the air.

 

Does it have the Power?

Yes, I suppose so. The Creeping Horrock bit is massively illogical (it used to be used to punish criminals, but the only way to stop it is with the Spellstone, which everyone thought was a myth?) and goes on far too long, but otherwise it’s an entertaining romp for all concerned. He-Man gets to show off how magnanimous he is by refusing to fight the Fire People, and it’s quite amusing when you consider the entire threat is ended simply by the expedient of having some nameless villager push Evil-Lyn over. In short, it’s a fun trip to Eternia, but nothing particularly special.

Episode 005 – She-Demon of Phantos

In which Stratos appears, but doesn’t say a word or contribute anything.

This week, we catch up with Prince Adam and Man-at-Arms on the moon of Phantos, where they have come to visit Queen Elmora and buy some photanium, which is used for making weapons and shields. Adam notices that Elmora seems miserable, but Man-at-Arms doesn’t give a monkeys, and insists they return to Eternia. After they leave the room, a curtain pulls back to reveal Skeletor and Mer-Man, as well as some presumably evil dude with spikes on his head and a weird arm, who we later learn goes by the name of Strong Arm.

She Demon 1

Skeletor helpfully explains that Adam’s shipment of photanium is worthless metal, and that the real photanium will be coming to Snake Mountain. Elmora demands that now she has co-operated, Skeletor should release his prisoners. Skeletor being Skeletor, of course, he doesn’t, instead choosing to cast a spell to make Elmora really old and bent to Skeletor’s will.

Back on Eternia, Man-at-Arms has made weapons out of the worthless metal, and they keep breaking. No one is cruel enough to suggest that maybe Man-at-Arms is just rubbish at making weapons, and instead wonder if maybe Elmora has cheated them. Adam, Man-at-Arms and Cringer pop off to Castle Grayskull, where the Sorceress confirms that Skeletor has forced Elmora into an alliance. This revelation prompts a speedy He-Man transformation.

She Demon 2

At the Palace, Man-at-Arms tells Teela she can’t come to Phantos, even though there appears to be space on this jaunt for the ever-useless Stratos and some unfamiliar green lunatic who’s so non-descript he only gets two lines and a rubbish name. Cut to the quick by this insult, Teela tags along anyway, undetected.

As our heroes troll across a plain on Phantos, they are cheerily greeted by a vision of the aged Elmora. He-Man helps the situation by tactfully not recognising her, though I suppose it doesn’t help that she’s talking in Evil-Lyn’s voice. This is probably why Evil-Lyn didn’t appear in this episode. Anyway, the discussion doesn’t go well, and Elmora kidnaps Battle-Cat and Stratos, and might well have done more if Teela didn’t intervene, earning herself a telling off from Man-at-Arms and a sleazy thank you from He-Man.

It’s now time to break into Elmora’s castle. He-Man decides that this must be done through the photanium refinery, and furthermore they must go in disguise. Since the refinery workers wear grey jumpsuits, He-Man and his friends decide that half a jumpsuit each will be sufficient. And thus it proves, since they only manage to move halfway across a room before discarding the disguises in favour of having a tussle with Mer-Man and Strong Arm. It transpires in this scene that Strong Arm’s arm can be extended to quite surprising lengths, a la Inspector Gadget.

She Demon 3

Rather surprisingly, Strong Arm’s crazy arm ability proves to be an advantage in this fight, and he actually manages to shut He-Man inside a coffin thing. This explains why we never see Strong Arm again. Skeletor must have fired him after this episode for being dangerously competent. What is slightly odder is that after capturing He-Man, Strong Arm and Mer-Man run away from Man-at-Arms, Teela and the green dude. Fortunately, He-Man breaks out of the coffin in very little time, as I think we all knew he would.

The next scene gives us an explanation of who the green fellow is – he’s called Lizard Man, and based on his characteristics, I think I could have come up with that name myself. He-Man rids himself of Lizard Man and Man-at-Arms at this juncture, telling them to go away and find Battle-Cat and Stratos, and not to disturb him while he and Teela break into Elmora’s chambers.

Meanwhile, Queen Elmora amuses herself by filling up episode run time with flashbacks about how she used to chain He-Man up and he’d break out, in happy carefree days before that brazen hussy Teela came into He-Man’s life and created so much tension. Though that may just be my interpretation. Anyway, thinking about these happy memories gives Elmora sufficient willpower to knock Mer-Man and Strong Arm out. This displeases Skeletor to such an extent that he casts another spell on Elmora, which has the effect that every time she sees He-Man, she will see him as Skeletor.

Now, this is a clever spell, and it does have the intended effect. When He-Man comes sauntering in, Elmora does indeed see him as Skeletor. The lapse in logic is only too apparent though – Skeletor told Elmora precisely what he was going to do, so at the very least Elmora ought to be thinking, “Now hang on, is this actually Skeletor?” Things only get more confusing when the real Skeletor appears, claiming He-Man is Skeletor, though he rather gives the game away by engaging in dialogue which immediately reveals that he’s the baddy. Still Elmora doesn’t grasp the obvious and opts to chain both He-Man and Skeletor up. Once He-Man breaks out, Elmora is able to conclude who the real enemy is. I feel it would have been easier if He-Man had simply punched Skeletor.

She Demon 4

He-Man tells Skeletor to release Elmora from the spell, or he’ll stay chained up for ever. Skeletor isn’t fond of this proposal and complies, after which He-Man releases him. Skeletor promptly teleports away, leaving Strong Arm and Mer-Man to run off. The episode ends with Prince Adam telling Teela that he’s tasted her potatoes before. And yes, that is out of context.

 

In today’s adventure …

He-Man goes completely bat-shit this week, explaining that if viewers are driving a car, they have to consider safety. Well, yes, but since the intended viewers are 4 years old, they also have to consider other matters. If the writer had stopped to think about it for more than a nanosecond, he’d have found that the obvious moral is Teela disobeying Man-at-Arms’ orders, which could have been tied in with safety if necessary. They could also have done something about not always believing your eyes, as Elmora found out in that lengthy bit with the double Skeletors. But no, it’s driving cars. For God’s sake.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance:

No one thinks it’s worth explaining on this occasion. Though to be honest, I think we need an excuse for Stratos’ appearance. He doesn’t say anything or do anything. He’s useless.

 

Characters appearing:

This week features Prince Adam, He-Man, Skeletor, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Cringer, Battle-Cat, the Sorceress, Mer-Man, Strong Arm, Queen Elmora, as well as some factory workers and slave drivers. It also features Stratos and Lizard Man, but as I believe I’ve alluded to before, it doesn’t really need to.

She Demon 5

 

Insults:

Thanks to Beast Man being absent from the episode, we also have an absence of insults.

 

Egg on your face?

Yup, none of this either. Orko barely features, so there’s no hilarious magic tricks.

 

Does it have the Power?

Well, it’s not the best, though it’s not awful. I get the feeling someone really liked the phrase “She-Demon”, and shoehorned it into a title, since it’s not enormously relevant – He-Man tries to make out that Elmora is a demon, but she blatantly isn’t. There’s an overabundance of characters – Lizard Man and Stratos are incredibly superfluous – and Skeletor unfolds his plan, such as it is, at a glacial pace. The scene at the end with Elmora not being able to tell whether He-Man is Skeletor or not got old pretty quickly. So actually, forget what I said about it not being awful. It is.

Episode 003 – Disappearing Act

In which Orko first demonstrates his ability to hash things up.

This week, we open with possibly one of Skeletor’s most dastardly plans – he forces a volcano to erupt, which he expects will devastate the Eternian Plains and make everyone flee. Once everyone flees, Skeletor will make his move on Castle Grayskull. Clever, eh? A flawless plan, in fact, except for one factor – He-Man, who is immediately on hand to stop the eruption by shooting the volcano. This upsets Skeletor so much that he decides it’s time to use the Invisibility Helmet he just happens to have lying around.

In the meantime, we are treated to an extended vignette in which Orko is trying to clean his room by magic. Naturally, this goes wrong and the end result is that he makes Prince Adam’s magic sword vanish. This is bad news – without his sword, how will Adam ever become He-Man again? The situation becomes even more dire when Man-at-Arms arrives and says Skeletor’s Doom Buster is in the woods, meaning Skeletor himself must be nearby.

Disappearing Act 1

And so it proves. Skeletor is nearby. He’s also invisible. Despite being invisible, he’s hiding behind a curtain, which is considerate of him, because it means Adam and Orko can see him when he moves. There is a very short one-sided confrontation, in which Skeletor freezes Adam and Orko, takes Adam to the Banshee Jungle, and informs Orko that if our heroes want Adam back, they’ll have to send He-Man to collect him. This seems like a bad idea, since as far as Skeletor knows, the likely outcome here is that He-Man will indeed show up, punch Skeletor, rescue Adam, and that’ll be the end of it. But advance planning has never really been Skeletor’s strength.

Man-at-Arms, Orko and Cringer consult the Sorceress, and learn that the sword has been transported back in time. Orko and Cringer are dispatched to the past to get the sword back, and it doesn’t take them long to discover that Adam’s sword is now in the possession of a distinctly dangerous looking large fellow, who seems to be using it to trim his fingernails. Despite attracting the attention of a huge collection of odd creatures, Orko and Cringer surprisingly competently retrieve the sword and return to the present.

Disappearing Act 4

Adam, in a cage in the Banshee Jungle, uses a plot device called a “bleeper” (possibly the least imaginative name for a machine in any animation ever) to attract the attention of his mate Stratos and also – less welcome – a horde of wolfbats. Once the wolfbats are dealt with, Adam tells Stratos to go away and find Man-at-Arms, who has been set to work building a remote-control He-Man. As soon as Stratos finds Man-at-Arms, he is told to go away and find Teela. I get the impression that no one really wants Stratos around.

Disappearing Act 2

Man-at-Arms, Orko and Cringer take the sword to Adam’s cage. Instead of passing it through the bars to him, they helpfully place it just out of reach outside the cage. Once Adam points out he can’t reach it, Orko passes it through the bars like he should have done all along, and Adam congratulates him on righting his initial mistake. Yeah, well done, Orko. Anyway, once he’s in possession of the sword, Adam becomes He-Man and heads off to dole out some justice.

Disappearing Act 5

In the meantime, the remote control He-Man has been leading Skeletor on a merry dance through the jungle, but this comes to a sorry end when the fake He-Man’s face falls off. Even Skeletor is not fooled following this. The whole sorry saga comes to a satisfying end when He-Man literally huffs and puffs and blows Skeletor and Beast-Man down. Beast-Man is captured and Man-at-Arms claims he’ll be taken to a prison mine, which sounds excitingly like slave labour and calls to mind the possibility of war crimes. Skeletor, on the other hand, does a perfect forward roll, but this doesn’t deter He-Man, who somehow contrives to get those beastly wolfbats from earlier to chase Skeletor away. Beast-Man seems to find this rather funny, or as funny as someone who’s about to be taken away to a life of hard labour can find anything.

Disappearing Act 3

 

In today’s adventure…

Man-at-Arms explains that He-Man used his brain to beat Skeletor, which is better than using his muscles. It’s a fair point, but one which applies to any number of stories. A more appropriate moral would be that Orko tried to take a shortcut to tidying his room, and look how that worked out. We could have learned that if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly. But thanks to Man-at-Arms choosing an irrelevant moral, I never learned that important lesson. And now just look at me. I might sue Man-at-Arms.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

It would be bizarre if anyone offered one this week, given the whole point of the episode was that he didn’t disappear.

 

Characters featured

A new section here, requested by the good folks of He-Man.org. This episode features, in no particular order, Prince Adam, He-Man, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Man-at-Arms, Orko, Stratos, the Sorceress, Teela, some farmers, and a selection of monsters from Eternia’s dim and distant past.

 

Insults

Yet another rough ride for Beast-Man, who is called “Furface” and “Fool”, both by Skeletor. What’s more, in neither case did it seem particularly deserved.

Disappearing Act 6

 

Does it have the Power?

Yes, definitely. It’s a clever storyline, presenting a rather interesting dilemma – what if it’s literally impossible to do what needs to be done? Admittedly, the solution offered seems to be to go back in time and get your sword back from a giant, but there’s a limit to how these episodes relate to real life. Anyway, we are given three separate storylines running at the same time, giving each of our heroes something to do, and Skeletor and Beast-Man are entertainingly threatening. And when He-Man eventually does appear, it’s with a sense that in this case, it’s well-earned. Plus there’s that great bit at the start where we learn you can stop volcanoes erupting by shooting them with big-ass lasers. What’s not to like?