Episode 55 – Loo-Kee Lends a Hand

In which Loo-Kee takes a trip to Eternia.

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.

Loo-Kee 1
Glimmer: “I thought Sainsbury’s did home delivery these days.”

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.

Loo-Kee 2
Loo-Kee: “No one’s happy about me taking centre-stage this week, least of all me.”

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.

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He-Man: “Thanks for inviting me to Etheria, sis, but you didn’t really have to show me this bit of your weird bondage kit.”

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.

Loo-Kee 4
Orko: “Wow! Someone just as annoying as me!”

 

Character checklist

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.

 

Insults

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”.

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Beast-Man: “Skeletor, could I draw your attention to paragraph 5 of the Bullying in the Workplace pamphlet that Unite passed out last week?”

 

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.

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Episode 18 – Horde Prime Takes a Holiday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

In today’s adventure…

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

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

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

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

 

Character checklist

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

 

Excuse given for Adora and Adam’s disappearances

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

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Bow: “Jesus, I’m stoned again.”

 

Insults

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

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

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Skeletor: “Loving my new wheels.”

 

Oh No, Bow!

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

 

Does it have the Power?

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

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

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

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

Episode 04 – Reunions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

In today’s adventure…

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

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

 

Character checklist

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

 

Excuse given for Adam and Adora’s disappearances

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

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

 

Insults

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

 

Oh No, Bow!

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

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Bow: “Don’t undermine me, Kowl.”

 

Does it have the Power?

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

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

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

Episode 01 – Into Etheria

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.

Into Etheria 1
The Sorceress: “Follow that sword, myself? You must be joking.”

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.

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Prince Adam: “Innkeeper! Bring me the finest wines available to humanity.”

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.

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Prince Adam: “You may have a camper dress sense, Bow, but my posing is still second-to-none.”

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.

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Hordak: “Just to warn you, I am in no way as good as Skeletor.”

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.

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Adora: “Check out this rubbish sword.”

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.

 

Character checklist

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.

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Catra: “Team photo, guys!”

 

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.

 

Insults

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”.

Into Etheria 7
Glimmer: “I’m sure we could come up with an insult for you, Madame Razz.”

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.

Into Etheria 8
Kowl: “Thumbs up for me! Hurrah!”

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.

Episode 111 – Double Trouble

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.

Double 1
Orko: “Even this stupid horse hates me.”

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.

Double 2
Koldar: “Now I see myself, I must admit I look pretty stupid.”

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.

Double 3
He-Man: “See this, Sorceress? This is my ‘despairing-eyes-to-the-heavens’ face.”

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.

Double 4
He-Man: “‘Ello ‘ello ‘ello, what’s all this then?”

 

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.

 

Character checklist

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.

Double 5
Queen Marlena: “I don’t understand the joke, but I’m going to laugh along politely.”

 

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.

 

Insults

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.

Double 6
Beast-Man: “I’ve literally never been this confused.”

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.

Episode 108 – Teela’s Triumph

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.

Triumph 1
The Sorceress: “This pink head thing could just be the result of too much cheese before bedtime.”

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.

Triumph 2
Teela: “No need to question too much as to why I’ve got to be the Sorceress. I’m sure it all makes sense.”

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.

Triumph 3
He-Man: “Hmm. Skeletor’s version of Butlin’s leaves something to be desired.”

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.

Triumph 4
He-Man: “So that’s how many times this week I’ve had to rescue you, Sorceress? I ought to be charging a finder’s fee.”

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.

Triumph 5
Man-at-Arms: “Loving my green body stocking.”

 

Character checklist

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!

 

Insults

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.

Triumph 6
Evil-Lyn: “I’ll grant you, it was fairly foolish of me to let this happen.”

 

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.

Episode 104 – The Secret of Grayskull

In which we don’t learn the secret of Grayskull.

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.

Secret 1
Prince Adam: “Father, are you plagiarising your lines from trashy fantasy novels?”

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.

Secret 2
Skeletor: “Just got these off the Madness official merchandise site.”

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.

Secret 3
Orko: “Definitely shouldn’t have had that last joint.”

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.

Secret 4
Trapjaw: “This is even scarier than Jacob Rees-Mogg’s politics.”

 

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.

 

Character checklist

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.

Secret 5
The Sorceress: “I reckon the only way the pair of us could be more irritating is if I ran away and you had to do the pep talk to bring me back.”

 

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.

 

Insults

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.

Secret 6
Man-at-Arms: “I am Lord Buckethead and will topple Teresa May at the next election.” (NB. This is a political joke that I suspect will only make sense to inhabitants of the UK. It isn’t particularly funny and would have been better timed if it had been posted six months ago, so don’t worry, you’re not missing out.)

 

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.

 

Episode 096 – Battlecat

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.

Battlecat 1
Prince Adam: “Jesus Christ, this is pretty scary for pre-watershed fare.”

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.

Battlecat 2
Cringer: “Adopt me. Please adopt me. I am the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen.”

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?

Battlecat 3
Man-at-Arms: “I reckon if I stand here in this pose, looking at the paper seriously, everyone will think I’m doing some difficult translation work rather than just reading the Daily Star.”

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.

Battlecat 4
The Sorceress: “No, He-Man. No matter how miserable you look, I will not buy you another ice cream.”

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.

Battlecat 5
Man-at-Arms: “Don’t worry about me, I’m completely out of my mind.”

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.

 

Character checklist

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?

Battlecat 6
Gedge: “Sorry for being such a rubbish monster.”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

No one asks and no one cares.

 

Insults

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.

Battlecat 7
He-Man: “Hey, homies, check out my new wheels.”

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.

Episode 083 – Into the Abyss

In which Teela falls down the abyss, in case you didn’t know.

This episode begins with He-Man, Teela and Orko in the Widgets’ fortress, having evidently just foiled one of Beast-Man’s schemes. They return to Castle Grayskull and have a casual conversation concerning the abyss, which surrounds the castle and is passable only by the jawbridge. The abyss is bottomless (until it reaches the centre of the planet, at least), and contains the source of Grayskull’s power. Given the title of the episode, I suspect this may shortly become important information.

Abyss 1
He-Man: “You don’t have to listen to me, Orko. I’m only telling you stuff so the audience will get the info they need.”

Once she gets back to the Palace, Teela prepares to teach Adam in a survival skills class. However, Adam doesn’t turn up, and after two hours, Teela finds him relaxing in the courtyard. Sounding more irritated than usual, Adam tells her that he didn’t feel like attending the class and suggests that Teela loosen up and have some fun once in a while. He then actually pulls rank and dismisses her; once she’s gone, Adam has a heart-to-heart with Cringer concerning the differences between himself and He-Man.

Teela runs whinging to Man-at-Arms, who claims he’s not taking anyone’s side but then immediately tells Teela that she does need to loosen up. He suggests that since Adam wants fun, Teela should find a way of combining work and fun. Teela likes this idea so much that she makes an oddly sexual noise, and runs off to find Adam. They both apologise to each other for the incident in the courtyard, and Teela suggests going to have a picnic.

Abyss 2
Cringer: “Man, this weed is good.”

After the picnic, Teela tells Adam that they are now going to play hide-and-seek; she will hide, and Adam will find her. This is her clever way of teaching Adam tracking skills, and it all goes well until Teela manages to fall down into the abyss surrounding Castle Grayskull. Fortunately, she lands on a ledge rather than falling to the centre of the planet, but it’s still not good news: with a surprising touch of realism, her arm is broken. Luckily, she has a signalling beacon with her, so turns that on to alert her friends to her predicament.

Unable to find Teela, Adam returns to the Palace, where Man-at-Arms picks up Teela’s signal. They track her to the jawbridge, then find her footprints leading over the edge into the abyss. The Sorceress determines that Teela is alive, but warns our heroes that due to very strong updrafts, they will not be able to take a flying vehicle down. Adam thus decides to transform into He-Man and climb down to rescue Teela.

While Adam undergoes the transformation, Teela watches from her ledge as white energy flies up the abyss – evidently Grayskull’s power being channelled into He-Man. Despite a few minor setbacks, in which He-Man demonstrates that he is by no means a skilled mountaineer, Teela is rescued successfully.

Abyss 3
Teela: “Wow, nice of the Sorceress to put on a fireworks display for me.”

 

In today’s adventure…

He-Man and Man-at-Arms tell us that today, Teela learned that it’s just as important to play as it is to work, but it’s also very important to learn the rules for playing safely. The moral is that if you are playing out of sight of your family or friends, you should make sure someone knows where you are. This is very sensible and a perfect conclusion to draw from this episode’s events.

 

Character checklist

This one sticks mostly to the core characters: Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko, the Sorceress, and Beast-Man. The Widgets can also be seen if you really want to see them, but I’m assuming that you’re sane and therefore you don’t.

Abyss 4
Squinch: “How come this is one of the best episodes, even though I’m in it?”

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

Once again, only those already in the know are around when Adam makes his transformation, so he doesn’t need to give an excuse.

 

Insults

At the beginning, with his plan failing, Beast-Man’s rock monsters run away, leaving Beast-Man to call them “cowards” and “miserable traitors”. Teela subsequently refers to Beast-Man as “furface”.

 

Does it have the Power?

This is an episode of really rather surprising sophistication. For one thing (aside from Beast-Man’s cameo appearance at the start), there’s no baddy and no evil plan to foil. The only other episodes to try this tack, as far as I can recall, are The Starchild and The Remedy, and we all know how those worked out. Into the Abyss, on the other hand, is a real gem.

The dialogue is both snappy and realistic, and the characterisation of our heroes is probably the best it’s ever been. Adam’s frustration at being He-Man, but no one knowing it, has been explored before but never better than here; and for once it’s possible to see Teela’s point of view, rather than her coming across as a screeching harridan. Man-at-Arms and the Sorceress both show real parental concern, and it’s really quite touching at the end when Teela says she can feel the love of her mother – even though she doesn’t know who that is.

Abyss 5
The Sorceress: “Not to spoil a touching moment, but remind me again why I can’t tell Teela she’s my daughter?”

In addition, it’s a truly great touch to see the Power of Grayskull flooding up through the abyss, as Teela watches uncomprehendingly. In conclusion, this is a real must-see, certainly in the top 10 of the series.

Episode 075 – To Save Skeletor

In which Skeletor bites off more than he can chew.

In Snake Mountain, Skeletor and Evil-Lyn open a portal to another dimension, with intent to summon forth an evil entity with sufficient power to defeat He-Man and conquer Eternia. In this, they are successful: a gigantic, one-eyed, tentacled demon named Sh’Gora appears. Unfortunately, Sh’Gora is unwilling to accept Skeletor’s leadership, and Skeletor’s attempts to tame it simply make it laugh. Skeletor then orders all his minions to destroy Sh’Gora, but they are defeated with ease.

To Save Skeletor
Skeletor: “This isn’t going to end well, is it?”

Only Whiplash escapes, and – badly injured – he makes his way to the Palace to beg King Randor’s assistance. As Adam and Man-at-Arms debate the issue, the Sorceress pops along to verify that Whiplash is telling the truth, and informs Adam that the powers of good and evil must unite to defeat Sh’Gora.

Adam transforms into He-Man, and gathers a motley crew consisting of Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, Fisto and Battle-Cat to travel to Snake Mountain with Whiplash. Once inside, they discover Skeletor, Evil-Lyn and Trapjaw imprisoned in crystals, from which He-Man releases them. Skeletor notably does not say thank you, but he agrees to form a temporary alliance.

To Save Skeletor 2
Fisto: “Who the hell does that purple-booted leg underneath Skeletor belong to?”

Sh’Gora summons a host of shrieking things that look like flying eels, which distract the heroes and villains while Sh’Gora gets on the next South West Trains service to Castle Grayskull. On arrival, Sh’Gora opens the jawbridge, enters and casts a spell on the Sorceress. Shortly thereafter, He-Man arrives, and leads the assembled multitude inside, where they encounter the Sorceress transformed into an evil bird woman.

Evil-Lyn restores the Sorceress to normal, after which they both combine their powers with those of Skeletor’s to reopen the portal to Sh’Gora’s dimension. While the heroes watch Sh’Gora being sucked back to wherever he came from, Skeletor and his crew skulk off to try to find the secrets of Grayskull. They are, unfortunately, deceived by a cunning double-bluff from He-Man, who warns them not to enter a specific room. Skeletor – not being one for subtlety – enters that very room and finds himself teleported back to Snake Mountain, to his distinct displeasure.

To Save Skeletor 4
He-Man: “No secrets here, Skeletor. No. None at all.”

 

In today’s adventure…

Fisto dispenses the moral that we should never be afraid to ask for help if we need it. He stops short of pointing out that this sound advice was demonstrated in today’s story by Whiplash, of all people. Instead, he adds that if we ever need his help, we should let him know. I’m sure that subsequently, Filmation were flooded with letters from anxious four year olds asking for Fisto’s help.

 

Character checklist

This fairly epic episode has pretty much everybody in it, but being more specific, it’s Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Orko, the Sorceress, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Fisto, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Whiplash, Trapjaw, and Sh’Gora. There’s also a load of nameless extras at the Palace at the beginning, if you’re the sort of person who needs really extensive details.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

While there’s no actual excuse, Teela does comment that she bets Adam’s been having a wonderful time while they have been fighting Sh’Gora. He-Man responds, “Given the choice, Teela, I’m sure he’d much rather have been with you.” He then revives his old irritating habit of winking at the camera.

To Save Skeletor 5
He-Man: “Winking at the camera is a great way to come across like a creepy old uncle.”

 

Insults

Today’s episode is fairly thin on the ground for insults. Man-at-Arms calls Whiplash a “monster”, Sh’Gora calls Skeletor a “foolish creature”, and Skeletor offers “fools” to encompass all of He-Man’s crowd.

 

Does it have the Power?

This is a great episode, which I’d put among the top ten of all the series. The notion of He-Man and Skeletor having to work together is fantastic, allowing for a great deal of entertaining banter between the two. It contains one of the funniest lines in He-Man ever: He-Man tells Skeletor to follow him to Castle Grayskull, and Skeletor simply responds, “I know the way, He-Man; I’ve been there before,” and then collapses in giggles, which He-Man finds not at all amusing.

To Save Skeletor 3
Sh’Gora: “It’s Black Friday on Eternia! Let me in!”

The sequence in which the Sorceress is transformed into an evil version of herself is pretty creepy, and Sh’Gora conveys an air of genuine menace that is rarely seen on He-Man. The animation of his body is admittedly not a 100% success, but his facial expressions are very well done, putting across his evil and unpleasant nature very effectively. In addition, the early references to Skeletor being near death, and Whiplash’s injury, give the episode a rather dark feel that isn’t matched in any other episode so far.

In short, if you’re looking for a fine example of He-Man – perhaps in order to try to hook some poor unsuspecting soul into watching the entire series – you probably couldn’t find a better one than this.