I'm going to take an unscheduled break from our normal liveblog, and instead liveblog something I'll actually enjoy:
an episode from the 1983 series of He-Man.
By doing so, I hope not only to entertain my readers by giving them something different, but also give a little insight into what I'm thinking re: declaring the 1983 not only the superior series, but also "one of the greatest American cartoons of all time." One advantage of this is that you can follow along—most of the episodes are available on either Youtube or Veoh. Just search for them!
The episode I've chosen for this, is:
Episode 3 (1983 Series) - Disappearing Act
- When I call this "Episode 3," I'm going by the production order, rather than the order its presented on the DV Ds
(which in this case would actually make it episode 4). Unfortunately said DV Ds
do not conveniently number the episodes for us except by giving us the production #, so that's what I'm going to use any
time I liveblog a 1983 episode.
Since the 1983 series has only the barest attempts at continuity though, its not like it matters.
- Skeletor's latest plot involves making a volcano erupt to clear the area around Grayskull. Fortunately, He-Man happens to be in the area and quickly quashes this plan. Frustrated, Skeletor hatches a plot to deal with He-Man once and for all: He's going to use invisibility helmets to sneak into the royal palace, abduct Prince Adam and use him as ransom in exchange for a confrontation with He-Man (one wonders why Skeletor doesn't just attack some peasants or something, but anyway).
Back at the palace, Man-at-Arms convinces Orko to clean his room, while Teela is telling Adam about Man-at-Arms latest doohickey, a beeper that attracts flying creatures. They hear a scream and rush to Orko's room. Orko had tried to use magic to clean his room, but instead just caused random things to disappear. Unfortunately the spell hits Adam's sword and makes it
disappear too. Teela laughs about the whole thing, but Adam and Orko are gravely concerned. Then Man-at-Arms warns them that one of Skeletor's vehicles was found near the palace. He and Teela go to prep the guards while Adam wonders what he's gonna do. He doesn't wonder long: Skeletor appears, paralyzes Adam and Orko with a beam and abducts Adam.
Once the beam wears off, Orko fesses up the situation to Man-at-Arms, who has him flayed and quartered (just kidding! He actually just admonishes him—thought I'd throw in some wishful thinking for the Orko-haters out there) and then they go see the Sorceress. The Sorceress explains that Orko has sent Adam's sword back in time, and sends Orko and Cringer through the Time Corridor to prehistoric Eternia to retrieve it. They find it in the hands of a neanderthal giant, try to get it peacefully but ultimately have to pull some literal wool over the giant's eyes and dash back to the Time Corridor with the prize in hand and every beast in pre-Eternia chasing them.
Meanwhile, Adam searches for a way out and happens to find the beeper. He activates it, hoping it'll summon Stratos. It summons some wolf-bats (they're exactly what they sound like
) but Stratos does
arrive and scares them off, then goes to tell Man-at-Arms where Adam is being held. Armed with this information, Man-at-Arms constructs a He-Man robot as a decoy for Skeletor, and puts his plan into action when Orko and Cringer return with the sword.
The robot decoys Skeletor while Man-at-Arms and co. rescue Adam, and by the time Skeletor figures out the deception Adam has become He-Man and its time for a showdown. Skeletor tries to cheat by going invisible, but He-Man borrows Orko's robe (don't worry—Orko hides behind a bush. this is a family-friendly series!) and lets Skeletor take a whack at him so he'll know where ol' boneface is. He puts the robe on Skeletor then reaches for where the helmet should be, and destroys it. Skeletor then runs for his havoc staff which he dropped earlier in the battle, but before he can use it a gang of wolf-bats come down for some Skele-meat. He-Man had slipped Man-at-Arms beeper on Skeletor when he grabbed the helmet, you see.
Then the heroes have a conversation, and Orko agrees that he will never again use magic to clean his room.
But then, Orko is a sneaky little devil...
- like always, in format mm:ss (I actually had a bit of difficulty this time, as all my DVD players and programs wanted to display the time wholistically—IE in relation to the total running time of the disk,
as opposed to just the one episode. I found a way around that, though. I won't say what I had to do, but I hope you guys appreciate how much trouble I go through for you)
2:07 - So apparently, you can make volcanoes erupt just by firing lasers at them.
3:44 - I like this scene. Skeletor doesn't have to give a complicated explanation—he just puts on the helmet, says he's invisible, and that's that.
4:17 - I never noticed it before but Orko's room is very effed up.
I don't just mean its dirty—I mean if you actually look at it you notice odd details like, the lamp-post that looks like an eye and the fact that his bed is a giant hand!
5:13 - Orko's doing something! Obviously, this is just
the sort of thing you'd want a sword handy for!
6:10 - I'd like for people who criticize this show's acting to watch Prince Adam's nervousness at this juncture.
Despite being a prisoner, Adam doesn't seem too worried
11:40 - I kinda like how this scene comes off like its almost taking a jab at this series' ever-present sense of morality. Orko suggests asking the giant nicely, but it doesn't work so he's force to basically steal from the guy.
12:40 - Yes, Man-at-Arms, your He-Man robot perfectly
replicates all the most famous stock-footage shots! Skeletor will be fooled completely!
14:07 - Why doesn't Prince Adam ask Stratos to turn off the laser bars while he's there? (Probably because those are the only things keeping him from getting gnawed by wolf-bats)
This is going to be a twist-ending in an M. Night Shyalaman movie one day
20:00 - Now, I gotta complement this battle.
First, its short: it begins at roughly the 17:00 mark and ends at roughly 20:00. Meaning that unlike the ridiculously-padded fights in the 2002 series, this one only lasted like 3-4 minutes.
Secondly, I gotta admire the way both sides fight. Skeletor tries first a straight tackle and then invisibility after being disarmed, and He-Man's counter-strategy of letting himself get hit
so he knows where Skeletor is, is just an act of genius. None of this "let's just throw each other into rock walls for ten minutes" crap that you often see in more modern cartoons. Little things like Orko "puking" on Beast Man and He-Man having conveniently slipped the beeper on Skeletor take an already entertaining skirmish and just make it more fantabulously awesome!
do people hate this show, again?
Moral of the Story
Yes, that's right: at one point, Orko's hat pukes on Beast Man
- Man-at-Arms tells viewers that "like muscle, your brain is something you can exercise to give yourself great power." I know a certain Time Lord who can vouch for that.
- I'm gonna tell you straight: I didn't pick this because its a particularly great, stand-out episode that has some innovative element. Actually, I went in thinking that I would compare it to the 2002 episode The Courage of Adam,
which has almost the exact same plot... except without the Time Corridor... and the wolf-bats... and the Orko puking...
By the end though, I was thinking what I posted at the end of the timestamped comments: Why
do people hate this show? I'm watching what is, for all intents and purposes an average
episode of He-Man,
and its far more fun and enjoyable than anything animated on TV today.
A part of that is because, just, so much
happens in this episode. He-Man stops a volcano, Orko fails to clean his room (with tragic results), Adam gets captured, Orko and Cringer travel back in time,
Man-at-Arms makes a He-Man robot, Stratos appears, wolfbats, invisibility helmets, and on top of this managing to fit in little details and bits of characterization like this being the part Cringer likes and here's the part he doesn't
like, and all the little blink-and-you'll-miss-it background details, and yet even with all this sheer content
crammed into it the story doesn't feel compressed at all—just well-paced.
Again I want to call attention to the exposition scene at the beginning where Skeletor introduces us to his invisibility helmet. This is so efficiently handled—Skeletor just says "I have a helmet that makes me..." he puts it on, and turns "...invisible." I have seen modern cartoons that plod on
trying to get this same basic point across, and here the Filmation guys did it in less than ten seconds! I so wish the guys who had written this
had written Iron Man 2,
the movie that thought it needed a full hour
to get across the basic concept that Tony Stark is depressed.
I want to finish with this observation: the scene where Orko blinds the giant by making said giant's hat grow bigger than his head (thus blinding him) is one of those things that I guess might be considered "cheesy" or "corny" by the modern (to borrow a term from Unca Cheeks) hoi palloi.
And yet, you can't fault it as a tactic: Orko's whole goal is to get the sword back, and that was the best way to do it. That it also happened to be rather amusing is just a nice bonus. I honestly don't understand why anyone would criticize this. Would you rather he get into a drawn-out laser battle with the creature?
That's it for this special installment of the He-Man liveblog! Next time, I'll return to the 2002 series with the episode "The Deep End."