01 September 2012

A brief review #030 - "The Taking of Grayskull"

As many of you will know, in 2010 I published The unofficial cartoon guide to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. At 300+ pages the book features 700+ pieces of trivia, 460+ deleted scenes, 360+ examples of animation reuse, 380+ quotes, 50+ abandoned episodes, and a LOT more! It is the book that NO fan of the Filmation series can live without! BUY IT NOW!

As an incentive, here is my brief review and rating (as they appear in the book) for "The Taking of Grayskull"...

This episode has one of the greatest script premises of the series, but due to average writing and poor animation, it fails to deliver. The script spends far too long focusing on the parts of the story that we would rather not care about; all we want to see is He-Man in the other dimension confronting Skeletor. And that is where the episode fails again; instead of fighting Skeletor to win back Castle Grayskull, the heroes spend what seems like an eternity in the beautifully illustrated other dimension overcoming obstacles. He-Man's feat of lifting Castle Grayskull does make this episode memorable, but even with that fantastic scene, this episode is still a huge disappointment. 5/10

Now, may I ask; what is YOUR rating?


Kevin Martinell said...

Any episode to feature "thunder" and "lightning" effects comes across as "exciting" to me, and this episode has a lot of those ... Ex.: One of the thrilling moments in the episode, for me, was when a panning shot was seen of the other dimension, with the characters in shadows, and a series of lightning bolts were shooting up from below ... Teela then reacted by asking, "We've gotta go through THAT?" :) Since childhood, when my parents rented the VHS tape of this episode, paired with "Prince Adam No More," both episodes were instantly my favorites, and this episode was exciting for me! I am going to have to go the opposite way on this review and give it a perfect or near perfect rating because of how entertaining it was to see the beauty, excitement, and danger of the heroes finding their way through the other dimension ... Teela slipping and almost falling down what looked like an endless hole, as well as the heroes struggling to get free from the clutches of ferocious cave-like reptiles with tentacles made for some chilling scenes! On top of it all, I thought that the other dimension was one of the most impressive looking backgrounds in the series and I sort of wanted to see the heroes spend more time making their way through there just to enjoy the scenery a little more. :) I do agree about He-Man lifting Castle Grayskull as one of the series greatest moments, plus I liked the Sorceress' creative solution on how to trap Skeletor. :) Finally, Orko's "birthday gag" was a pretty good moment to bookmark both the beginning and end of the episode. :) Thanks for reading and God Bless! ~"KevyGuy" :)

Mosquitor said...

When I first saw this episode as a kid it totally blew me away. It seemed like the ultimate epic episode- Skeletor actually managed to steal Castle Grayskull and claim it for himself. The surreal and trippy feel of the evil dimension added to this epic feel, along with the climactic scene of He-Man being able to lift the castle itself. It seemed like the episode we'd all been waiting for, with Skeletor coming that close to victory, and it's clear from the dialogue near the end that it was intended this way ("Skeletor won't be able to try anything THIS big for a long while...")

It was when I saw it again as an adult that I saw just how much poor writing there is in the episode that stops it from being the classic it should be. As you say, the script does waste far too much time on things that are irrelevant to the general plot, and the subplot with Orko's birthday at the beginning and end is COMPLETELY pointless- I mean, the episode starts out setting itself up as an Orko-centric episode, then once the plot of Grayskull's theft is underway it forgets about Orko entirely, until the final scene where the episode ends as if the Orko subplot has been the main plot, even going as far as to have the moral focus on the last few seconds of the episode- "Don't eat too much sweets", come on, what the hell were they thinking? It's this shoddy writing and lack of a clear focus that flaws the episode, perhaps giving away that it was a very early episode and the scripts were possibly being rushed a bit without as much regard for quality.

I also really dislike the scene where Orko is trying to explain the situation to all the characters one-by-one and they're not listening to him. It seems out of character for all of them that they would just ignore Orko like that.

Regardless of all this, I still sort of enjoy the episode and love most of the scenes in the evil dimension (possibly Skeletor's homeworld of Infinita from the series bible, though it isn't explicitly stated). It had the potential to have been a true classic, but messes up with embarrassingly poor writing.

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