In which He-Man makes sure his hair is just right.
Okay, this has just got weird. Hydron and Flipshot are out in the Starship Eternia, testing out one of the scientists’ new inventions. Apparently, it works, because Flipshot exclaims, “Great! Now we can locate the whores!” There’s every possibility I misheard this, and – frankly – no possibility at all that I heard it correctly, but it did make me wonder if He-Man was taking a new and unexpected direction.
Whether He-Man is out looking for prostitutes or not, he is distracted by Skeletor, who for whatever reason decides to project an enormous image of himself into the sky on Primus and start bellowing taunts. He challenges He-Man to a final battle on the asteroid of Cameroon, which is odd, because I thought Cameroon was an African country, not an asteroid. Perhaps in the far future, Cameroon will detach itself from Earth and fly off as an asteroid. Alternatively, and less realistically, I suppose it could have the same name but be a different place.
He-Man has a conversation with Master Sebrien in which I realised that the “whores” of the first paragraph were in fact “holes”. Apparently, there are holes in Primus’ defensive shield, and now Hydron and Flipshot are able to detect them. That’s good. Anyway, in the course of this same conversation with Master Sebrien, He-Man decides to accept Skeletor’s challenge, and so he goes to Cameroon.
Immediately after He-Man’s departure, those beastly scientists contrive to overload their whore locator, meaning that Primus is once again subject to random Mutant attacks. This in turn means that Hydron, Flipshot, and a load of other random pilots can occupy themselves flying round shooting at Mutant ships for the rest of the episode, while He-Man gets on with the serious bit.
The serious bit at the moment consists of He-Man receiving a telepathic communication from the Sorceress, who advises him to “see with your heart, not with your eyes”. It’s good to know that she’s not lost any of her outstanding ability to be no fucking use whatsoever. Once He-Man gets to Cameroon, he has barely begun his duel with Skeletor before Mara and Caz arrive in the Starship Eternia to pick him up, bearing the news that Primus is under attack from the Mutants.
He-Man is about to board the Starship, but Skeletor activates an “asteroid rain” device, which makes all the neighbouring asteroids (called Chad, Gabon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria) come flying towards Cameroon. Mara and Caz fly off again, leaving He-Man to face the asteroids, which he does magically and nonsensically by remembering the Sorceress’ stupid advice about seeing with his heart. I don’t even pretend to understand how this helps.
Somehow, He-Man seeing with his heart allows him to teleport back to Primus, where he appears inside a municipal structure called the Fountain of Freedom. Fortunately, Skeletor decides to blast the top off the Fountain of Freedom, which allows He-Man to ascend out of it, like some weird kind of space Jesus. He then takes the time to do his hair in a ponytail before beating the living daylights out of Skeletor and the Mutants.
Hydron and Flipshot celebrate the victory by doing some kind of gesture which implies they are members of a Masonic lodge, while Master Sebrien, Caz, Drissy and Mara all stand in front of He-Man, who nods sagely and annoyingly while they gibber that they have learned never to give up. He-Man replies that “it is with the heart that we see and we feel and we fight.” Allow me to explain, He-Man: no it isn’t.
In today’s adventure…
Master Sebrien and Drissy are featured standing in a library, yammering on about how people get heart attacks. They suggest that we should all contact our local Red Cross and go on a course to learn CPR. This is random beyond belief. I know Filmation He-Man and She-Ra sometimes gave us a very tangential moral, but this is so disconnected from the episode’s events that it seems actively mental.
Today’s little crazy-fest is a showcase for Prince Adam, He-Man, Drissy, Caz, Master Sebrien, Mara, Hydron, Flipshot, Gepple, Meldock, Elcon, Krax, Gleep, the Sorceress, Skeletor, Flogg, Slush Head, and I daresay some others. I’m not massively invested in exactly who.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
When Skeletor delivers his challenge, Adam is out wandering around flirting with Drissy. However, this happy scene comes to an end after the challenge is issued, with Adam running off shrieking, “I have to go to see Master Sebrien.” Drissy is not amused, reacting in a way that suggests she’s aiming to be the Teela of the series.
There’s a slightly odd moment when Skeletor either forgets or pretends to forget Flogg’s name and calls him “flush”, which I presume is meant to be an insult. That being said, Skeletor has come up with better insults than this in the past, and indeed does so again shortly thereafter, when he calls He-Man a “goody-goody” and a “sucker for a fair fight”.
Oh Christ, here we go again. Meldock – swiftly proving to be the worst of an appalling bunch – gets a point for breaking the whore detector, or the hole detector, whatever it is. He’s also going to get another point for having such an infuriating voice. Elcon’s going to get one this week as well, because I’ve only just taken a proper look at his outfit, and I can think of no reason whatsoever why a scientist would dress like a perverted Smurf. Unusually, I’m going to take a point away from Gepple, because despite being present, he has the good grace to be entirely silent.
So the scores are:
Does it have the Power?
Well, I suppose, maybe, up to a point. The first half of this is reasonably good, basically until He-Man gets to Cameroon. Once there, this much-vaunted “ultimate challenge” turns out to be a massive damp squib, since it lasts all of 10 seconds before the Starship Eternia arrives to put a stop to it. Coupled with the demented “see with your heart” business – which doesn’t make sense, no matter how you look at it – and He-Man’s entirely inexplicable teleportation back to Primus, the episode quickly becomes an exercise in complete and utter bollocks. The gibberish at the end about heart attacks is simply the icing on a cake of insanity. So no, on balance, I don’t think it does have the Power.
This magnum opus of cinema begins with some helpful narration, which explains the basic concept of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and it remains broadly similar to the premise that we all know and love. On this outing, Castle Grayskull sits at the centre of the universe, and it contains the power needed for someone to become Master of the Universe. The Sorceress of Grayskull guards this power from the forces of evil.
Immediately after the credits, we are introduced to Skeletor. This is no doubt because the filmmakers knew he was far and away the best thing about the film, and was thus needed as soon as possible in order to hold our attention. Skeletor has evidently been watching Star Wars, since he has a huge army of Imperial Storm Troopers, the only difference being that they are dressed in black rather than white. Skeletor is less subtle in his evilness than the Galactic Empire.
Anyway, rather to my surprise, Skeletor has already captured Castle Grayskull, and is lounging about on the throne. The budget evidently didn’t stretch to showing the battle in which he managed to gain access to the castle. Evil-Lyn is present, wearing a bin bag and a tin foil hat, and she reports that He-Man is continuing to lead the resistance. The Sorceress is also present, and is just as given to talking in irritating, unhelpful cryptic hints as she was in the Filmation series.
Skeletor makes a public service announcement to Eternia, informing them that he has taken control of Grayskull. He-Man stands on a hill in order to pose dramatically while Skeletor makes this broadcast, then introduces himself to the audience by having a random fight with some Storm Troopers. Man-at-Arms and Teela appear at this juncture, the latter of whom looking as though she’s escaped from the set of an intergalactic remake of Grease. He-Man gives her a welcoming hug and cops a quick feel of her backside.
Before Man-at-Arms can complain that He-Man hasn’t fondled his rear end too, we are treated to the appearance of a ghastly Orko-substitute called Gwildor. Gwildor is the inventor of a device called the Cosmic Key, which can open a doorway between any two locations. He explains that Evil-Lyn stole the Cosmic Key, and used it to allow Skeletor and his Storm Troopers to enter Grayskull. Once this exciting plot point is established, our heroic party waltzes into Grayskull themselves, and after a less than enlightening conversation with the Sorceress, they are pinned down by Skeletor.
I’d love to say it’s an exciting fight, but unfortunately all I could think of during this scene was that Star Wars does this sort of thing so much better. And frankly, I don’t even like Star Wars. The scene ends with Gwildor using another copy of his stupid Cosmic Key to open a gateway to a random location, through which our heroes escape.
These events cover the first 15 minutes of the film, and it’s all been pretty standard silly Eternian shenanigans up to this point. It’s not been good, as such, but it’s been watchable. Unfortunately, Gwildor’s gateway takes He-Man and his mates to Earth, and so the film now takes an unwelcome left turn into a boring story in which our heroes set to work looking for the second copy of the Cosmic Key, which they have somehow lost. They are pretty sure that it must be somewhere on Earth, so they split up to try to search the entire planet. I’m sure this won’t take long, especially since splitting up seems to mean that He-Man goes one way, while the other three go to a cheap version of KFC and steal some fried chicken.
In this cheap version of KFC, we meet Monica from Friends. She does have another name in this film, but obviously I didn’t listen to it. When we first meet her, it’s the end of her final shift at the knock-off KFC. She therefore changes out of her uniform right behind the counter where all the customers can see her. This seems odd behaviour, but as this film goes on, we’ll learn that Monica is a pretty odd person.
Monica has just broken up with her boyfriend, who is Tom Paris from Star Trek: Voyager. Tom Paris also has another name, but we’re going to call him Tom Paris because I think it’s funny, and there are precious few other laughs in this film. Tom Paris and Monica have broken up for no readily apparent reason, but they still act like they’re together anyway, regularly hugging and kissing throughout the film. “Why?” you ask. “Why not?” the filmmakers reply, shrugging their shoulders.
Monica and Tom Paris go to the local cemetery, where Monica ribbits on about how her parents have recently died in a plane crash, which is tragic, so it’s no surprise that she’s easily distracted when she finds the Cosmic Key. The Cosmic Key looks like a bomb, so Monica eagerly picks it up and beams with demented delight. Tom Paris is no less insane; he decides the Key must be a musical instrument, and laughs merrily as it emits sparks. These two have a complete death wish. If I’d found that thing, I’d be calling the bomb disposal squad, not carrying it round and chuckling like a halfwit.
The next scene confirms that Tom Paris is a complete moron; he takes the Key to his band’s rehearsal space, and plugs it into his amp. Come on, Tom Paris. It doesn’t look like an instrument in the slightest. I’ll admit it makes silly noises, but that’s sheer coincidence. I’m also unconvinced that Gwildor would have installed an Earth-compatible audio jack on the Cosmic Key.
Of course, thanks to Tom Paris’ stupid mucking about, Skeletor and Evil-Lyn are able to lock on to the Key’s current location, and so they send an advance party of baddies through a gateway to recover it and ambush He-Man. The baddies include:
Blade, a dude who wears an eye patch and has a pair of knives strapped to his head.
Saurod, a vaguely reptilian gentleman in a silly black armoured suit. Saurod has the dubious honour of being incinerated by Skeletor in the not-too-distant future.
Beast-Man, who looks like a Poundland version of Chewbacca.
Karg, who looks like a Family Bargains version of Beast-Man.
Hilarious japes ensue when these four bound happily through the gateway and corner Monica in the band’s rehearsal space. I’m sure this scene is great, but I’m watching and writing this on the Southwestern Trains service from Waterloo to Portsmouth, and there’s an enormously stupid woman sat behind me shrieking into her mobile about some horrible house she’s renovating, so I was rather distracted. Listen lady, no one cares about your house. I’m watching He-Man.
Actually, to be honest, I’m not watching He-Man. He-Man has been mysteriously absent from this film for the last quarter of an hour, and instead I’ve been watching a load of really cheap messing about with Monica from Friends crawling around under a table while four individuals – allegedly the best assassins in the galaxy – inexplicably fail to capture her. Come on, He-Man. If you don’t show up soon, I’m going to start randomly skipping ahead.
Ah, here he is. Right on cue, Monica blunders into He-Man while she’s running away from Blade and Skeletor’s other dicks. Unfortunately, that bloody woman’s started up again, so I have more information about her plastering and painting contract with “Dave” than I do about He-Man and Monica. Apparently, Dave isn’t doing his job very well. On the plus side, we’ve just left Clapham Junction and I know for a fact there’s no signal from here until at least Woking, so the beastly fool will shut up soon. On the minus side, Dave and his ineptitude is actually quite a lot more interesting than this film is at the moment.
With the help of his chicken-pilfering colleagues Teela and Man-at-Arms, He-Man repels the attack of Blade and co. as easily as he would in the cartoon. It’s now time to seek some answers from Monica, who is surprisingly not too worried about the appearance of a buff bodybuilder equipped with a sword, a laser pistol, and wearing nothing more than his pants and a red cloak. He-Man laboriously explains the entire plot to her, and she happily accepts it all as if this sort of thing happens all the time. She and Tom Paris are definitely doing some serious hallucinogenic drugs. Loo-Kee would not approve.
Tom Paris teams up with a police inspector and spends some time cruising the streets looking for Monica, while Gwildor nicks a car and takes Team He-Man on a ride looking for Tom Paris. With both sets of characters out looking for each other, it naturally takes a fair while before anything of interest happens, so I have occupied myself in tuning back in to the ongoing saga of Dave the Rubbish Painter. Turns out he’s painted the outside of the house blue, but he was supposed to paint the inside. That is, admittedly, a pretty poor effort, but there’s still no need for the idiot woman to inform the entire train.
Eventually, all our heroes reunite, and are pinned down in a music shop by Evil-Lyn, Blade, Beast-Man and Karg. Saurod is no longer present, owing to the above-mentioned incineration. Gwildor attempts to reactivate the Cosmic Key so they can all go back to Eternia, though I don’t know why they want to go back there. The only reason they’re on Earth in the first place is because they were defeated on Eternia and had to run away. Nothing’s changed, so why bother going back?
This very good question is not answered, because before Gwildor can reactivate the Key, we get a huge case of “what the fuck is wrong with you, Monica?” Basically, Evil-Lyn pretends to be Monica’s dead mother and asks Monica to fetch the Cosmic Key for her, and Monica does so. At this stage in the film, Monica knows the following:
Her mother died in a plane crash.
There is an evil being called Skeletor, who requires something called the Cosmic Key to dominate the entire universe.
The Cosmic Key is currently in Monica’s possession.
Her mother, despite being dead, is currently standing outside a music shop asking Monica to fetch the Cosmic Key, an artefact of great power in which she has heretofore displayed absolutely zero interest.
Knowing all the above, why the Jesus Christ would Monica choose to simply hand over the Cosmic Key? The only plausible answer is that she is completely brain-dead. On reflection, that explains it.
He-Man has again gone AWOL from the film, in favour of endless scenes of the police inspector standing around bellowing that he’s going to arrest everyone. He should start with Dave the Painter, I think, who is clearly dangerously incompetent, given the current thread of that moronic woman’s conversation. Still, once Monica’s done her little Cosmic Key giveaway, He-Man reappears looking mightily fucked off, and he looks even more so when Evil-Lyn opens a gateway to Eternia, from which Skeletor emerges in a massive tank. I didn’t know that was part of the plan, but I’m increasingly getting the impression that the writers have only the vaguest notion of the concept of narrative.
There’s now an interminable sequence involving He-Man flying around on a hoverboard shooting Storm Troopers. If I knew when Back to the Future 2 came out, I might have concluded that Masters of the Universe was ripping that off as well as Star Wars, but since I’m not sure, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. Instead, I’ll settle for commenting that this bit is less than compelling, and has the feel of a bit only inserted at the last minute because the producers suddenly realised they had a bit of cash left over. It’s certainly not relevant to the plot, not that I can really remember what the plot is supposed to be by this stage.
Skeletor, meanwhile, is merrily driving his tank up and down the high street as if he’s part of a Thanksgiving parade. He moves at an infinitesimally slow pace, and yet still manages to capture all of our heroes, with the exception of that dick of a policeman, who has been missing from the film for some time. I’m not sure if this is because he’s going to make a grand re-entry at some stage, or simply because the writers have forgotten about him.
He-Man strikes a bargain with Skeletor, agreeing to return to Eternia as a slave if Skeletor will spare the lives of Man-at-Arms, Teela, etc. As opposed to the Filmation version, this incarnation of Skeletor has some conception of the long game, and actually keeps his word, taking He-Man away but leaving the other goodies alive and at liberty. Unfortunately, Gwildor reveals that the Cosmic Key is now fused or broken or something, which means that they are stranded on Earth.
Already in training for Star Trek: Voyager, Tom Paris is insistent that there must be a deus ex machina available for use at this stage. And thus it proves. Because Tom Paris can remember the sequence of stupid noises the Key made when he thought it was a musical instrument, Gwildor is able to reprogram the Key with Eternia’s coordinates! Hurrah! Despite a last minute reappearance from the stupid policeman, trying to delay proceedings, the gateway is opened, and it’s over to Eternia for all our heroes.
They arrive just in time to miss a serious display of overacting from Skeletor, who has absorbed all the powers of Grayskull, thanks to some bollocks about the moon rising and some magical eye opening. As a result of this, he’s put on a new outfit, which looks considerably tackier than his previous effort. Once Teela etc arrive, there’s an almighty ruckus in Grayskull’s throne room, which comes to an almost satisfactory conclusion when He-Man raises his sword and cries, “I have the Power!” before launching into a Star Wars-aping duel with Skeletor.
Well, of course, He-Man wins, and sends Skeletor plummeting down into a pit. I don’t know why there’s a massive pit in the middle of the throne room, but why the hell not? The film ends with He-Man restoring the Sorceress to power, and for no readily apparent reason she allows the halfwit policeman to go into retirement on Eternia. Gwildor sends Monica and Tom Paris back to Earth, where Monica finds that her parents have been magically and inexplicably restored to life. I cannot express how happy I was at this revelation. If I hadn’t been on the train, I’d have cheered.
And finally – there’s a post-credits sting in which Skeletor pops his head up from beneath some pink liquid and announces to the camera, “I’ll be back.” Unfortunately, this version of Skeletor was never able to come back, due to his subsequent arrest for copyright infringement of Star Wars and the Terminator, and possibly Back to the Future.
In today’s adventure…
You know as well as I do that there was no moral segment to this film. A moral segment at least implies a degree of coherent thought about what story the writers were trying to tell, and I don’t think that coherent thought was anywhere near the production of this film. I have therefore taken it upon myself to supply a couple of moral lessons drawn from the film:
If you meet a man dressed in nothing more than pants, bra and a red cloak, don’t worry: he’s the Most Powerful Man in the Universe, not a sex pest. Though, worryingly, I suppose he could be both.
If you find a mysterious glowing piece of machinery in a crater, it’s probably a special Japanese musical instrument, not a bomb. You should definitely fiddle about with it and press all the buttons.
If you’re an American policeman, act like a complete dick throughout any weird proceedings, and you’ll be rewarded by being allowed to retire to Eternia.
If your parents have recently died, they will probably reappear later, with zero explanation.
If you’re Monica from Friends, don’t worry – no one will remember you appeared in this atrocity of a film. If, on the other hand, you’re Tom Paris, this is probably the pinnacle of your career, and is about twenty times better than Star Trek: Voyager.
If you’re redecorating your house, don’t call Dave the Painter.
For the first 45 minutes or thereabouts, the only person doing any insulting is Teela. She calls Gwildor a “worm” and what sounds like a “Fenurrian wombat”. This may not be what she said; Teela doesn’t speak very clearly. Shortly afterwards, she refers to Earth as “a barbaric world”, as part of a bizarre little interlude in which she and Gwildor make an unexpected and somewhat half-hearted case for vegetarianism.
Once Teela’s finished, it’s time for the baddies to take their turn. Blade starts off by calling either Beast-Man or Karg an “animal”. It’s not entirely clear which of them he’s addressing, and they’re both present and would both fit this description. Evil-Lyn shortly thereafter shrieks “fools”, though I don’t know who she was talking about. Frankly, only about half of the sentences uttered in this film seem to have any kind of relevance to the preceding piece of dialogue.
It’s only towards the end that Skeletor gets into his stride, starting off by calling Gwildor a “minute minion”, and then proceeds to describe Earth as a “primitive and tasteless planet”. These barbs are only warm-ups for the main event, which I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for: the high point of the entire film, when Skeletor keeps up the He-Manic tradition of referring to He-Man as a “fool”.
Elsewhere, the police inspector calls Tom Paris a “moron kid”, and finally, the woman behind me on the train referred to Dave the Painter as a “fucking idiot”.
Does it have the Power?
Let’s just say it’s easy to see why this didn’t get a sequel, and didn’t go on to spawn the multi-film franchise that it was plainly aiming at. It isn’t a complete disaster, but it is a 90% disaster. I hate deriding things for looking cheap, because obviously there’s only so much money they were given and that’s that, but this film really does look like it was put together in a weekend with whatever materials could be salvaged from the bins behind B&Q.
The lack of budget is obviously the reason for the film primarily being set on Earth; it’s a lot easier to film on streets, fast food restaurants and music shops than it is to build impressive sets for various exotic Eternian locations. The problem is that in a Masters of the Universe film, we want to see Eternia, not Earth. We want to see Snake Mountain, not a KFC knockoff, and we want the Royal Palace, not Monica’s parents’ house.
As far as characters and actors go, it’s difficult to pick a favourite. Skeletor made a reasonably good impression at first, but let himself down with some dreadful acting in the final 15 minutes of the film. It’s not really fair to compare him to Filmation’s Skeletor, who is indisputably the greatest character in the history of television, but I have to conclude that this Skeletor never really cut the mustard. He’s certainly evil, but comes across as rather more doleful than his usual gleeful nature, as if someone’s making him be evil, but he can’t really be bothered.
And speaking of can’t be bothered, I think that description fits a lot of other characters, notably He-Man, Man-at-Arms and the Sorceress. None of them – especially the Sorceress – ever give the impression that they’re involved in this film for anything other than a paltry pay check. Teela, bless her heart, does give it her best effort, but I rather wish she hadn’t been trying so hard. The same can be said for that div of a policeman. I’m not even going to discuss Gwildor.
Monica and Tom Paris do the best they can with some pretty appalling material; Monica gets a rawer deal, given that atrocious scene in the middle where she idiotically gave away the Cosmic Key to Evil-Lyn. It’s a hard sell, having to convincingly behave like a complete moron and then scream “NOOOOO!!!!” when you realise what you’ve done, but Monica just about gets there. All Tom Paris has to do is hang around being a typical American teenager – albeit one who appears to be out of his head on LSD, given his casual acceptance of the bizarre proceedings – and this seems to be within his abilities.
Plotwise, the film is pretty straightforward, and despite my comments above, it’s relatively logical, insofar as He-Man is ever logical. The only confusing bit is the apparent existence of two Cosmic Keys, which has the ring of a last-minute rewrite when someone realised that if Skeletor has nicked the Cosmic Key, how can Gwildor accidentally transport our heroes to Earth? “Quick – make Gwildor have another copy of the Key – that’ll sort it!”
I’m trying, desperately, to think of something nice to say about the film, and thus prove that I’m not a negative person, forever carping on about why things are rubbish. Unfortunately, I’m finding it difficult to come up with anything. I think it’s probably best to quietly draw a veil over this entry, and move on to The New Adventures of He-Man. Surely that must be better than this?
Oh, well this is going to be good. I’m sure Loo-Kee’s contribution will prove invaluable. What’s he going to do? Leap out of hiding and recite moralistic gibberish at Hordak? Maybe She-Ra will be using him as a distraction so she can sneak up on Hordak while Loo-Kee’s getting blasted to smithereens. I don’t imagine I’d be the only one happy with that.
The story begins with She-Ra and Frosta rescuing some Horde slaves and taking them into Whispering Wood, where Bow entertains them by playing a harp. Poor slaves. After all they’ve been through, making them listen to Bow is perhaps taking things a tad too far. Anyway, She-Ra realises that with so many released slaves hanging out at Rebel HQ, they’re going to need some extra food, so she despatches Glimmer off to Sainsbury’s to buy supplies.
In the meantime, Hordak has invented something called a Time Stop Device. I’m sure you can deduce what this does, but in case you’re having difficulty, it can be used to freeze its target in time. Shadow Weaver and Imp take the Device to the market, where they plant it in Glimmer’s shopping cart. They then engage in some pointless bickering before returning to the Fright Zone.
When Glimmer returns with her shopping, she opens the box containing the Device, and it instantly activates, freezing the entire rebel camp. Shortly thereafter, Loo-Kee ambles along, looking for somewhere to hide, and he quickly deduces that something’s not right. At this point, a portal opens for Loo-Kee and takes him to the Crystal Castle, where Light Hope blabs the Adora/She-Ra secret, and sends Loo-Kee to Eternia to fetch He-Man.
Light Hope is evidently flirting with incompetence this week, since he decides that Snake Mountain is the most appropriate Eternian location to which to send Loo-Kee. On arrival, Loo-Kee manages to teleport himself to the Palace, where he explains the situation to Prince Adam and Orko. They all pop off to Castle Grayskull, where Adam turns into He-Man, and the Sorceress opens a portal back to Etheria for the three of them.
He-Man manages to release Adora from the time freeze by way of some technobabble reason, and she becomes She-Ra. The two of them then locate the Time Stop Device and start pulling it around, which is very difficult, because – as Orko wisely points out – it’s not easy to move something that’s stuck in time. He says this so sagely that the implication is that it’s useful advice with practical value to viewers, as opposed to complete nonsense.
The Time Stop Device doesn’t react well to He-Man and She-Ra hauling it around; suddenly, She-Ra realises that it’s causing a massive storm and might make Etheria blow up. They therefore do what they ought to have done all along and just smash the Device to pieces. This sets time moving again, which has the unfortunate side effect of allowing Bow to resume his harp playing.
In today’s adventure…
Well, I’d have to have been seven kinds of stupid to not spot Loo-Kee today, and perhaps in recognition of this, he doesn’t use his monologue to explain where he was. Instead, he discusses the fact that although he doesn’t have many powers, and is very small, he was still able to help He-Man and She-Ra. He seems to be channelling The Lord of the Rings in his conclusion that little people can do big things.
Today’s episode features pretty much everybody you could think of. For clarity’s sake, that’s Adora, She-Ra, Swift Wind, Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, the Sorceress, Loo-Kee, Glimmer, Bow, Madame Razz, Broom, Kowl, Frosta, Light Hope, Orko, Hordak, Catra, Shadow Weaver, Mantenna, Imp, Skeletor, Beast-Man, some Horde Troopers, and loads of rebels.
Shadow Weaver calls Imp a “squirt” and a “toad”, and Hordak calls Mantenna a “fool”. Far more entertaining, of course, is Skeletor’s brief cameo, in which he calls Beast-Man an “imbecile”.
Oh No, Bow!
Special points are awarded this week because Adora actually utters the phrase “Oh no, Bow!” That being said, Bow doesn’t actually do anything particularly stupid, apart from playing his harp in the deluded belief that he’s good at it.
Does it have the Power?
Last time Filmation attempted a storyline concerning time stopping, in He-Man’s Time Doesn’t Fly, the result was simultaneously insane and incredibly dull. This episode is definitely an improvement on that effort, but I can’t quite make up my mind as to whether it’s actually any good. It’s so easy to be blinded by joy at the appearance of He-Man and Skeletor, and thus lulled into a false impression. I think I’d say that this is certainly worth watching, but it’s not perhaps the special event it seems to think it is.
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 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.
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’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.
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.
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?
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”.
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”?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In which Prince Adam meets a man with an even worse dress sense.
I had seen virtually every episode of He-Man at least once before embarking on this lunatic mission to review the entire Masters of the Universe canon. Contrastingly, I believe I have only ever watched one episode of She-Ra – something to do with a zoo, as I recall – so the next 93 reviews will be a voyage of discovery for me as well as for you. Of course, memories may well come back to me as I watch, though hopefully not because I repressed them the first time.
According to information I have painstakingly stolen from the internet, She-Ra was first introduced in a feature length film which was released to cinemas, called The Secret of the Sword. These were subsequently edited into the first five episodes of the She-Ra series, and they begin with this episode, Into Etheria. The opening sequence, unlike that of He-Man, tells me virtually nothing about the series set-up, but I assume this is because all will be revealed over the course of these first five episodes. If not, I flatter myself that I have sufficient intellectual capacity to fill in the blanks myself.
We open in the familiar environs of Castle Grayskull, though less familiar is the sight of the Sorceress in skimpy nightwear, having a terrible dream about a robotic skull-faced lunatic called Hordak kidnapping a baby named Adora. Waking with a shriek, the Sorceress sees a power sword – like He-Man’s, but different – floating down from the ceiling, and indicating that she should take it through a yellow portal.
The Sorceress doesn’t take it through the portal, obviously. It might be dangerous, and she’s useless. Besides, she’s got someone to do that sort of thing for her. And so it is that Prince Adam and Cringer are summoned to Grayskull, given the new power sword, and told that he needs to find someone on the other side of the gate. The Sorceress further elaborates that she has no idea where the gate goes, and she won’t tell Adam who he’s looking for. Adam agrees to go, but it’s plain that he’s thinking, “Christ, she’s been nipping at the crème de cassis again.”
They find themselves on a completely mental planet, where all the plant life is a vile shade of pink. Adam, with the aesthetic sense that has led him to wear that hideous pink waistcoat all these years, comments, “Nice place, eh, Cringe?” Cringer retains sufficient brains to not respond. Unexpectedly, once oriented, Adam’s first move is to head for the local pub, where he settles down for a quick meal. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get to take a bite before three large grey robots enter.
These robots are identified as Horde Troopers, and it seems that their objective is to push everyone in the pub around, and then sit down at a table. They are clearly what passes for evil masterminds around here, so of course it takes all of three seconds for Adam to start a barney with them. He is rescued from ignominious defeat by a gentleman called Bow, who surpasses even Adam in the competition for Campest Dresser in the Universe.
We now get a scene where we are introduced to all the baddies, which is amusing in that everybody uses each other’s full names quite extensively, to ensure the viewer gets the hang of it. This is admittedly subtler than the equivalent scene in He-Man’s Diamond Ray of Disappearance, in which Skeletor may as well have been reading out a Toys R Us catalogue as he listed his henchmen. Anyway, you may be interested to know that the chief baddy is that Hordak dude from earlier, and serving him we have a hovering witch called Shadow Weaver, a weird bug-eyed monster called Mantenna, a sexy cat woman called Catra, and a humanoid leech called Leech. There’s also another woman, dressed in typical Filmation style (i.e. virtually nothing) but she’s not important enough to get a name yet. At the end of the scene, Hordak emphasises how evil he is by transforming his arm into a giant cannon, and destroying a bit of his own fortress.
Bow takes Adam to a place called Whispering Woods, and informs him that he is welcome to join the Great Rebellion. We are now treated to a scene in which we meet all the goodies. The leader of the Rebellion is called Glimmer, a pink-haired sickly-sweet loon. Also present is a small green thing called Spragg, and a flying koala-owl crossbreed called Kowl. Finally, we meet an incompetent witch called Madame Razz, and her talking broomstick. Prince Adam’s dead eyes reflect his despair at being lumbered with these halfwits.
Madame Razz brings news that, as vengeance for Bow and Adam defeating the Horde Troopers, the Horde have placed the entire village under arrest. The rebels return to the village in time to see Catra, Mantenna, Leech and that other woman (now given the name of Scorpia) loading the villagers into a slave transport ship. The baddies are under the command of a blond woman, identified as Force Captain Adora. It’s worth noting that Cringer is oddly animated in this scene with his mouth hanging wide open and shaking his head from side to side, as if he’s having an involuntary spasm of some sort.
The rebels attack the Horde, and are as incompetent as you might expect. Sighing heavily, Adam turns into He-Man and defeats every single one of the Horde pretty easily – although unexpectedly, he needs a bit of help from Spragg to defeat Mantenna. As He-Man faces off against Force Captain Adora, he suddenly realises that she is the one the Sorceress sent him to find. He is then shot in the back by a Horde Trooper, largely so that the words ‘To Be Continued’ can flash dramatically across the screen.
In today’s adventure…
I am led to believe that She-Ra normally dispenses moral lessons in the same way He-Man does, but this episode doesn’t come equipped with one. Therefore, I’m ideally placed to suggest my own: if you’re going to send the only competent defender of your planet through a mysterious yellow gateway, it’s at least courteous to tell him who you want him to find and why. That way, he might not be quite so surprised when it happens and therefore might not get shot.
This first episode of She-Ra features pretty much everyone except She-Ra. Let’s see – we’ve got Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, the Sorceress, Man-at-Arms, Bow, Glimmer, Madame Razz, Kowl, Broom, Spragg, Adora, Hordak, Shadow Weaver, Mantenna, Leech, Catra, Scorpia, a load of Horde Troopers, and various other background characters.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
Tricky, this one. Given Adam made the change towards the end of Part 1 of a five-part story, there’s a chance we might get the excuse next time. We certainly didn’t get one this time.
Of course, once we get into the series properly, I will make a subtle change in the title of this category. But on the off chance that you don’t know who She-Ra’s secret identity is yet, then I won’t spoil the surprise.
Plenty of insults flying round this week, though curiously they’re pretty much all dispensed by the goodies. The bard in the pub kicks things off by calling a Horde Trooper a “miserable wretch”. This is followed by Kowl calling Spragg a “ninny”, and Spragg then refers to Cringer as a “pussy cat”, which doesn’t go down well. Glimmer says that the Horde Troopers are “fiends”, while Bow decides that “sucker face” is the best description for Leech. Similarly, Spragg defines Mantenna as “bug-face”.
The only insult from a baddy comes from Scorpia, who addresses He-Man as “muscle man”, which is nothing he’s not heard before. He-Man retaliates with the stinging, “You’re not much of a lady.”
Does it have the Power?
Again, it’s difficult to judge, given it was originally intended to be watched as part of a much bigger feature film. My critics might say that therefore I ought to watch the whole thing in one go, but my response is that I don’t think my nervous disposition could stand it. My initial impression, unfortunately, is not too favourable. Glimmer barely gets any screen time, but I already loathe her with a passion, and Madame Razz too has potential for Orko-level irritation value. Bow is a complete nonentity, albeit one with an appalling dress sense, and the less said about Spragg the better. Oddly, Kowl seems to be okay, so far.
As for the baddies, Hordak is potentially very annoying; maybe he’ll get his own character later, but for now he seems to be doing a low-budget Skeletor impersonation. Shadow Weaver – who was no more than a pair of yellow eyes in darkness, dressed up in a red cloak – seemed interesting but got the least screen time. Mantenna and Leech look like they’re going to be the Beast-Man and Trapjaw of the operation, basically bumbling fools who very occasionally get things right. Scorpia’s voice made her sound incredibly dull-witted. Catra was good though: pleasingly nasty, with the surprising ability to turn herself into a panther.
It’s not easy to say much about the plot, but it seems to have got us where we want to go, without being too innovative. The last minute twist, when He-Man learns that Adora is the one he’s looking for, is quite surprising – or would have been in 1985 anyway. Altogether, I’ll give it a cautious thumbs up, continue to the next episode, and pray that Glimmer gets better.
In which we’re expected to care when some one-time guest star begins acting evil.
At the Palace, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela and Orko greet Koldar, an ally of He-Man’s, who has come for a visit. I’m sure we’ve seen Koldar before, because I recognise his Viking helmet and gold armour, but I’m pretty certain he wasn’t called Koldar last time, whenever it was. Anyway, Koldar seems a pleasant enough chap, and comes equipped with a robotic horse called Shadowmaster, who can disappear into any shadow. This is a great ability, but not at all relevant to the episode.
Meanwhile, a powerful lightning strike at Snake Mountain opens up a secret passage, and Skeletor, Evil-Lyn and Beast-Man investigate. They find the Mirror of Morivad, a legendary device which can create an evil double of anyone. Skeletor immediately decides to use it to defeat He-Man, and with this in mind, sends Beast-Man off to create a diversion.
Beast-Man’s diversion – as usual – consists of him sending some stupid monsters to attack a settlement. While He-Man and his mates deal with the situation, Koldar is lured into a cave by Evil-Lyn, kidnapped, and taken to Snake Mountain, where Skeletor uses the Mirror on him. Skeletor then instructs the newly created evil Koldar double to steal the secrets of Castle Grayskull.
On returning to the Palace, Evil-Koldar signs up for the next tourist trip round Grayskull. Once inside, he blows his cover pretty quickly by setting off a smoke bomb and doing a runner. As we cut to the commercial break, the camera zooms in on He-Man’s face, and I have to say, I’ve never seen him look this immensely pissed off before.
The Sorceress shows up at this point, and after He-Man explains that Koldar used to be an ally, she says she cannot help, because Castle Grayskull is supposed to be a safe haven for the friends of He-Man. While it’s no surprise that she can’t help (when has she ever?), her reasoning is deeply unsound, and though He-Man says, “I understand,” it’s quite plain that he’s livid at her weaselling out of helping yet again. He then indulges in a spot of hyperbole, claiming that he’ll search Grayskull for ever if he has to. Knowing He-Man, he’ll get bored after 30 seconds, and find a monster to have a fight with instead.
Evil-Koldar soon locates a large face on a wall between two doors, which introduces itself as the Guardian of Grayskull. The Guardian explains that behind one door are the secrets, and behind the other is “what you deserve”. To get the secrets, Evil-Koldar must correctly answer the question, “Why do you want the secrets?”
Evil-Koldar’s response is typically megalomaniac – he says that he wants the secrets for the power they will bestow upon him, which will allow him to rule the entire universe. Needless to say, that is the wrong answer, and the Guardian instructs Evil-Koldar to open the left door. When he does so, he is disintegrated into tiny shards of glass. Watching smugly, He-Man somehow concludes that Evil-Koldar must have been a mirror duplicate, and heads back to the Palace.
On arrival, he is surprised to find Teela and Man-at-Arms hanging around in a corridor, shooting the breeze with Skeletor. It turns out, however, that this is a well-behaved version of Skeletor, created by the Mirror, thanks to the real Koldar tricking the real Skeletor. Good-Skeletor leads He-Man to Snake Mountain and they rescue Koldar. This done, Good-Skeletor returns into the Mirror, and smashes it for good measure.
In today’s adventure…
Man-at-Arms explains that very few people are entirely good or entirely bad, which is a perfectly sensible bit of advice and fairly relevant to the episode’s events. He’s then interrupted by Orko, who tells us because no one is entirely good or bad, we shouldn’t judge people by the way they look. This is at least slightly relevant to the episode’s events, but completely irrelevant to what Man-at-Arms was just saying. It feels rather as though the episode was written by two people who couldn’t agree on what the moral should be, so they chucked them both in.
Being put through their paces today are Prince Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, the Sorceress, Good-Koldar, Evil-Koldar, Good-Skeletor, Normal-Skeletor, Beast-Man, Evil-Lyn and Shadowmaster. The episode also features a rare appearance from Queen Marlena without being accompanied by her ever-present husband.
Excuse for Prince Adam’s disappearance
Teela tells Adam early on to come along to meet Koldar, but Adam essentially tells her to get lost. When she does so, he transforms, and Adam is not mentioned again.
Fairly slim pickings this week: Koldar addresses Skeletor to say “you’re mad,” which instantly draws Skeletor’s usual comeback: “fool”. Later on, both Good-Skeletor and the real Skeletor call Beast-Man a “fool” simultaneously.
Does it have the Power?
This episode is a great deal of fun. While it might have had a bit more impact if it had been Teela or Man-at-Arms acting evil, rather than a rubbish new character like Koldar, it’s an enjoyable romp nonetheless. The highlight of the episode is an extremely funny scene towards the end, in which Beast-Man is given contradictory orders by both Skeletors. The one criticism I might have is that Good-Skeletor is accepted by He-Man, Man-at-Arms and Teela all too easily. One could argue that there wasn’t enough time in the episode to go into that, but I’d respond that if the episode was too long, you could cut that pointless scene with the Sorceress.
One final point: this episode contains some outstanding dialogue from He-Man, when he booms at Evil-Koldar: “You’re trespassing in the Hall of He-Man.” I have to get a soundclip of that to be my ringtone. Just imagine the admiring looks of people on the train when that goes off.
In which I finally realise that Man-at-Arms is wearing an all-in-one bodysuit.
In Castle Grayskull, the Sorceress has been joined for a friendly chitchat by a freaky floating pink head. The two of them watch Man-at-Arms and Teela on a magic mirror, idly conversing about how awesome Teela is and how much the Sorceress is looking forward to the day she can reveal that she is Teela’s mother. Suddenly, the Sorceress decides she can wait no longer, so she turns into her falcon form and flies off to tell Teela all about it.
Unfortunately, the Sorceress’ route takes her past Snake Mountain, where Skeletor is messing about with inter-dimensional weapons again. To demonstrate his new gun to Evil-Lyn and Trapjaw, he shoots Zoar and sends her to another world. Zoar appears in a landscape of volcanoes and raining lava, and indulges in a monologue about how hopeless her situation is, and how even He-Man will be unable to find her. It seems to go without saying that her super duper daughter Teela will be similarly unable.
Luckily, the freaky pink head appears to Adam, Cringer, Teela and Man-at-Arms to inform them that the Sorceress has vanished. Man-at-Arms tells Adam to find He-Man, and the pink head tells Teela that she must replace the Sorceress at Castle Grayskull. Teela presciently asks why, but the pink head dodges the question with, “I can’t tell you.” This seems to be adequate for Teela, but let’s not forget she is the least perceptive person on an entire planet of people with eyes closed to the obvious.
Teela arrives at Castle Grayskull, where – to the beat of an outstandingly trippy 80s soundtrack – the pink head guides her through the lessons she must learn to become the new Sorceress. These lessons do not include the knowledge concerning He-Man’s secret identity, which I would argue is hands down the most important thing for the Sorceress. How else will she call for help when she inevitably gets into some stupid form of trouble?
Meanwhile, in an effort to find out where the Sorceress is, He-Man goes to Snake Mountain to have a heart-to-heart with Skeletor, which proves to be a surprisingly subtle fencing match of a conversation. It ends, however, with He-Man being blasted with the Dimension Gun and sent to the volcano planet, after which Skeletor abandons all pretence at subtlety and shrieks, “That’s the end of He-Man!” while happily waving his arms around.
Skeletor’s next move is to leap on the Grayskull Express train, and arrives at the castle gates pronto, with his usual intent to unlock the secrets. Teela, who isn’t doing very well in her training course run by the floating pink head, decides to disguise herself as the Sorceress, which she does very badly. To his eternal credit, Skeletor sees through this deception, so Teela has no choice but to fight.
Back on Volcano World, the Sorceress has opted to lurk inside a cave full of lava, which is as sensible as it sounds. It’s not terribly surprising, therefore, that she gets trapped inside, which means He-Man has to turn himself into a drill and dig her out. Once this implausible feat is achieved, the Sorceress is able to use He-Man’s sword to return them to Eternia.
They arrive to find Teela has tied Evil-Lyn up with more ropes than looks strictly necessary, but hasn’t bothered to do anything about Skeletor – presumably because Skeletor equally hasn’t bothered to do anything except lounge about on Castle Grayskull’s throne. The appearance of the Sorceress and He-Man spooks Skeletor so much that he simply runs away. There’s just enough time for the Sorceress to tell Teela that her mother would be very proud of her, and for Teela to reciprocate that she wishes her mother was just like the Sorceress. There is also enough time for me to vomit copiously into a bucket.
In today’s adventure…
We’re treated to a pretty muddled moral this week, delivered by Man-at-Arms, who tells us that we have to try to do difficult things and must always do our best. There’s really not a lot I can say about that, so instead I’d like to focus on a question about Man-at-Arms that has bothered me for a while. You know how he wears green, with yellow armour on top? It really bothers me that he has green hands too. They’re not gloves, because they blend seamlessly with his green sleeves. The only explanation is that he’s wearing a green all-in-one latex bodysuit, which is a horrible thought.
It’s a relatively tight cast today, featuring Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Teela, Man-at-Arms, the Sorceress, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Trapjaw and the giant pink head. It’s also a special occasion, since there’s no sign of Orko.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
No excuse as such, but Man-at-Arms does pointedly say that Adam had better find He-Man. And what do you know, he does!
It’s a relatively imaginative selection today, what with Evil-Lyn calling Battle-Cat “mangy”, though notably not to his face. Teela comments, “You don’t have a mind” to Trapjaw, which seems fair enough. Skeletor lowers the standard, though, by offering the dull “fool” to Evil-Lyn.
Does it have the Power?
There’s quite a bit to like about this one, though I’d hesitate to describe it as a classic. Skeletor – as usual – has some sparkling dialogue, and his scene with He-Man in the middle of the episode, in which they each try to learn from the other where the Sorceress is, is definitely a highlight. The Volcano Planet is beautifully animated, and there’s a great atmosphere of desolation in those scenes, conveying nicely – without ever saying it – that this is a dead world, with no inhabitants and no hope.
That being said, the Sorceress is useless as ever, simply cowering in a cave until He-Man shows up, and being honest, their method of returning to Eternia is as deus ex machina as they come. I also have very little time for Teela, so the scenes of her learning to be the Sorceress – and being too monumentally stupid to work out why she’s been selected for this honour – did not interest me. In addition, I have very little conception as to why the Sorceress can’t tell Teela who her mother is; it feels like an arbitrary rule made up just for the hell of it.
Still, this all sounds like I didn’t like this episode, which isn’t the case at all. It’s well worth a watch.
We start in the Palace courtyard, where it transpires – to my considerable surprise – that Skeletor has arranged a free fireworks display for our heroes. It turns out that he hasn’t done this out of the goodness of his heart – the fireworks turn into magical spiders, which run riot, start fires, and inspire Randor to spout rubbish like, “My sword has never rung truer.” With the situation serious, He-Man and Battle-Cat appear on the scene and create a rainstorm, extinguishing the fire-spiders.
During the battle with the firework-spiders, Orko utterly fails to accomplish anything, so decides that it’s time for him to run away again. This must be the 50th time he’s run away, and since he never ever learns how much he’s loved by our excessively tolerant heroes, I think they should just accept that Orko is a deeply troubled individual with attachment issues, and consign him to Eternia’s asylum.
Even though his fireworks are getting their asses kicked at the Palace, Skeletor evidently has nothing better to do with his day than watch Orko on his stupid spyglobe. When he sees Orko come across a lamp, he decides to pretend that it’s a magic lamp, and disguises himself as a genie to grant Orko three wishes. He seems to have no particular goal in mind here, other than just messing with Orko’s head, which I suppose is a laudable enough ambition. When Orko wishes that his friends would like him, Skeletor responds that this is impossible and that his friends secretly hate his guts (I’m paraphrasing here, but I wish I wasn’t).
Skeletor magics up a portal which will allegedly take Orko back to Trolla and convinces him to go through it; just as Orko is about to do so, Zoar swoops in and grabs him. Skeletor shakes his fists impotently and takes half of his genie outfit off, leaving us with the very pleasing vision of Skeletor in white baggy trousers.
Taking Orko to Grayskull, Zoar transforms back into the Sorceress and embarks on that beastly pep talk we’ve heard her give to Orko 8 million times before. Yes, his friends love him, yes, God alone knows why, yes, yes, yes. Then – and I have absolutely no idea what made the writers think this was a good idea – the Sorceress unveils a massive cinema screen and starts showing clips of previous episodes in which people prove that they love Orko. Orko is finally convinced, and sets off home.
En route, he is ambushed by Skeletor, Trapjaw, Clawful and Kobra Khan. Skeletor laughs in a higher pitched voice than normal – suggesting that his sanity is close to breaking point this week – then he gets down to serious business, putting a truth spell on Orko and demanding to know how to enter Grayskull. Orko says that he must correctly answer the jawbridge’s riddle, which was news to me. I was under the impression that the Sorceress had to let you in, or you had to drag the door open.
Skeletor asks the jawbridge for a riddle, and it dispenses a stupid one, adding a weird little chuckle to the end. Skeletor cannot solve the riddle himself, but Orko can, and being still under the truth spell, he is forced to answer. The jawbridge opens, but before Skeletor and his band of clowns can merrily trot inside, the Sorceress appears. Naturally, Skeletor is not too perturbed by this, and simply threatens to blast Orko off in a rocket to another galaxy if the Sorceress doesn’t allow him entry.
Given the Sorceress earlier spent so much time reassuring Orko, she presumably feels that it would be hypocritical of her to say, “Go on then, see if I care.” Instead, she agrees and telepathically contacts Prince Adam. In short order, He-Man comes blundering along to save Orko, after which the Sorceress casts a spell to make the interior decorations of Castle Grayskull come alive. This freaks Skeletor and his men out, and they run away, while the Sorceress stands around making snarky remarks.
In today’s adventure…
Man-at-Arms explains that when your parents punish you, it’s not because they don’t love you, but because they need to teach you. What I genuinely don’t understand about the Man-at-Arms/Orko relationship is why Man-at-Arms feels it’s his place to punish Orko at all. Not only is Orko not his child, he’s actually a grown-up magician from another dimension. Frankly, Man-at-Arms is lucky that Orko has accepted this abusive relationship, though he’d better watch out for the day Orko finally snaps and goes to the police. I need to stop drinking in the afternoons.
Ooh, gosh, there’s loads of them today. There’s Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man and Battle-Cat, obv. Then there’s Man-at-Arms, Teela, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Skeletor, Trapjaw, Clawful, and Kobra Khan. Pretty sure there were a couple of other characters in it, too. Annoying ones. Oh yes: Orko and the Sorceress, a dream team from the depths of hell.
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
When Randor tells Man-at-Arms to go and get his new Fire Shuttle, Adam chimes in, “I’d better give him a hand.” This is enough to fool Randor and Teela, though why they think Man-at-Arms will need help to fetch a vehicle is anybody’s guess.
It’s a good episode if you want to see people belittling Orko (and who doesn’t?): Skeletor calls him a “little insect” twice, a “fool”, and a “little pest”. Trapjaw also feels secure enough in himself to label Orko a “twit” and a “shrimp”. Skeletor also dishes out “crab-faced coward” to Clawful, “fools” to Clawful and Trapjaw collectively, and “goody-goody witch” to the Sorceress. Even the usually mild-mannered Sorceress lowers herself to Skeletor’s level, addressing him as “fool”. This is the sort of thing that Skeletor is likely to either ignore entirely or dramatically overreact to; sadly, this time he opts for the saner course and doesn’t comment.
Egg on your face?
In the fireworks scene, Orko magics up a huge number of buckets falling from the sky, one of which falls onto Man-at-Arms’ head. I just knew it would. Later on, the Sorceress’ cinema treats us to an unnecessary flashback to the trick seen in Diamond Ray of Disappearance, in which Man-at-Arms ended up covered in eggs.
Does it have the Power?
When I saw the title, I got very excited. I thought that maybe now we’d get an explanation of what the secret of Grayskull is, and also perhaps a vague clue about why Skeletor is so keen to get into what appears to be merely a big empty castle with dingy rooms. I should have known better. It seems pretty clear that the writers don’t know what the secret of Grayskull is (Orko even says that no one knows), so any kind of sensible explanation for the entire premise of the show is too much to hope for.
Instead, we get a recycling of one of the traditional plotlines: Orko running away. At the end, he claims to have learnt his lesson and that he’ll never again believe his friends don’t love him – and he’d better keep his word this time, or I shall write a strongly worded letter to Filmation about it. Seriously – please, no more episodes about Orko feeling inadequate.
The rest of it was pretty entertaining, being honest. Skeletor’s impersonation of a genie was mental, obviously, but in a good way. Trapjaw and Clawful had some good fun moments; Clawful came across as slyly manipulative in a very mean way, which was funny. It was great to see Skeletor gain entry to Castle Grayskull, and his change of heart when the decorations came alive was hilarious. In short, I’d recommend this one, especially if you fast-forward through the totally unnecessary Orko bits.
In which Man-at-Arms releases an ancient demon and blames everybody else.
This episode begins with an extended sequence in which Man-at-Arms, Teela and Adam all properly lay into Orko for being irresponsible and generally annoying. If their vitriol were directed at anyone else, I’d call it a massive case of going overboard, but when it’s Orko, he deserves anything that anyone chooses to throw at him. Once that’s done with, Orko decides to mess about in Man-at-Arms’ lab to create a potion to make Cringer brave.
Well, I was as shocked as any of you when this doesn’t work. Instead, Orko conjures up a seriously terrifying transparent cat demon, which luckily is pretty stupid and is consequently easily trapped in a bottle. Predictably, Man-at-Arms is livid, and after shouting about it for a while, decides that the best thing to do now is to tell – at length – the story of how Adam first met Cringer. This is a random choice, even for Man-at-Arms’ customary inexplicable behaviour, so I can only conclude that he’s completely lost it.
The story begins with a roughly 12 year old Adam heading off on a camping trip on his own, because nothing bad could ever happen on Eternia. Sure enough, Adam quickly comes under attack from a sabre-cat, but he drives it away using a device that imitates animal noises. Once the sabre-cat leaves, Adam finds Cringer, who is still a kitten and possibly the cutest cartoon cat ever. Cringer is injured, so Adam brings him back to the Palace and asks Man-at-Arms to save him.
Because Filmation couldn’t be bothered to animate a character called the Palace Vet, Man-at-Arms successfully restores Cringer to health. Cringer earns his name when he takes fright at a crowd of the most hideous children I’ve ever seen, for which I can’t say I blame him. He is also terrified when the disembodied head of the Sorceress appears to have a chat with Adam, which again is reasonable.
Years pass, until one day Melaktha and his archaeological team find a temple in the Tikon Jungle which is over 100 centuries old. Marlena suggests that Man-at-Arms goes on the expedition to investigate, because he is the most skilled person on Eternia at deciphering ancient writings. Excuse me? So Man-at-Arms is the Palace inventor, vet, and poly-linguist? Couldn’t they have given this skill to someone else – you know, someone like Stratos, who doesn’t seem to have any abilities?
Anyway, Adam, Teela and Cringer all tag along on the expedition, and quickly get some hints that the temple is super evil. Shortly before nightfall, Adam and Teela find a doorway to the temple, which has been bricked up. They inform Man-at-Arms, but he tells them to wait till morning before investigating. This does not suit Adam and Teela, who return to the door and succeed in opening it very slightly, before giving up and trotting off to bed.
In the morning, despite translating the ancient writings on the temple as meaning “WARNING – EVIL!”, Man-at-Arms decides to blast open the door. This releases a big blue demon thing called a Gedge, and the combined might of Teela, Ram-Man and the Palace Guards fails to slow it down. Adam thus decides that He-Man is needed and, seemingly on a whim, during the transformation he points his sword at Cringer, who becomes the mighty Battle-Cat. Genuinely, this move seems to be prompted by him thinking, “Hmm, I wonder what will happen if I shoot this energy at the cat?”
The Sorceress appears in a vision to explain that to defeat the Gedge, He-Man will have to be clever, which is precisely the sort of useful advice she’s always giving. I seriously doubt He-Man was thinking, “To defeat this monster, I’ll have to be really stupid.” Anyway, He-Man does some stuff which barely qualifies as clever in my book, and successfully reseals the Gedge in the temple. It’s worth pointing out that Man-at-Arms tries his damnedest to seal He-Man and Battle-Cat inside as well, so I’m sure He-Man will be keeping a close eye on him in the future.
Man-at-Arms ends this rambling and irrelevant story by attempting to tie it in with Orko’s actions at the beginning of the episode, claiming that the Gedge wouldn’t have got out if Adam and Teela hadn’t ignored his instructions. This is entirely untrue. Yes, Adam and Teela did open the door a crack, but the Gedge didn’t get out until Man-at-Arms rocked up with his massive charges of dynamite and blew up the door. Still, Orko nods and pretends to have taken in the lesson, but I’m sure next time he’ll be happily meddling again.
In today’s adventure…
Orko and Man-at-Arms talk about poisons this week. They show us a big bottle with a massive skull-and-crossbones on it, and inform us that we mustn’t touch bottles that look like this, of which there were absolutely loads in my house when I was growing up. This lesson might have sunk in more effectively if the animators hadn’t chosen to draw Man-at-Arms with his mouth hanging open in a really gormless smile for this scene.
Anyway, the real lesson of this episode, quite clearly, is that if you are in a position of authority – like Man-at-Arms – and act quickly to shift the blame to someone else, you’ll get away scot free. I can’t believe his blatancy in trying to make out the whole business with the Gedge was Adam and Teela’s fault, when it was definitely him and his explosives obsession that caused the problem.
Oh, you know the drill by now. It would barely qualify as a He-Man episode if it didn’t have Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Orko, Man-at-Arms, Teela and the Sorceress in it. It’s also got King Randor, Queen Marlena, Melaktha, some random woman, a load of horrible children, some Palace guards, some workmen, and a surprise appearance from Ram-Man, who we haven’t seen in a while. The Gedge is in it too, but who the hell gives a monkeys about that?
Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance
No one asks and no one cares.
It’s been a long, long time since we’ve had an episode with no insults in it, but this one qualifies, unless one counts the beastly bullying children shrieking “Cringer! Cringer!” at Cringer.
Does it have the Power?
Apart from the outstandingly cute scenes of Cringer as a kitten, there’s not much going for this one. While I do appreciate the efforts to fill in the background of some of our characters, I don’t really care about the first time Cringer became Battle-Cat, especially not when it’s because of a massively boring monster like the Gedge. It’s almost as if they wanted to do an episode about the first time Adam became He-Man, but chickened out and compromised with Battle-Cat.
In its favour, the episode does start off looking like it’s going to be a dreadful episode about Orko, and it skirts round that pitfall pretty neatly. But Man-at-Arms seems to have only a very flimsy excuse for relating the Battle-Cat story in the first place, and frankly he’d have been better off not telling it, because the behaviour he exhibits in the story is frankly reprehensible.
In short, I suppose I’d better recommend watching it, because at least you’ll know a bit of Adam and Cringer’s history. But it’s only a grudging recommendation, because it’s pretty boring history. If you do skip it, then don’t worry, I won’t blame you. But Man-at-Arms will.