30 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #5

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #5
Prince Adam explains to Cringer that he has grown tired of his dual identity.
"Into the Abyss"



Having saved the Widgets from Beast Man, at Castle Grayskull He-Man, Teela, and Orko tell the Sorceress of their victory. Teela remarks that she must get back to the Royal Palace, as Prince Adam is behind in his training, prompting a wry smile from He-Man. Back at the Royal Palace, a frustrated Teela attempts to locate Adam, but has no luck. Eventually she finds he and Cringer sleeping under a tree and questions why he failed to meet her for training. Adam is brutally honest and states that he simply didn't feel like it. Teela is shocked at Adam's response, and even more so when he accuses her of being obsessed with work. Having heard enough, uncharacteristically, Prince Adam dismisses Teela as nothing more than a simple servant. As Teela leaves, Cringer confronts Prince Adam over his treatment of her...

Having heard the entire conversation between Adam and Teela, Cringer confronts the Prince, "Well, I hope you're proud of yourself. I've never heard you talk that way to Teela." Defensively Adam begins to make a point, "Well, she's always...", before realizing that there are other reasons he snapped at Teela. The Prince rolls over onto his front and in a somewhat exhausted tone begins to tell the cowardly cat, "I don't know. I guess I'm....just tired, Cringer." Cringer, still stood over Adam, and confused by the statement, replies, "But you're He-Man!" Adam with a little sense of irony in his voice responds, "Yeah, he never gets tired. But Prince Adam does!", before continuing in a strong tone of voice, "It's always study this! Learn that! I'm tired of it!" Cringer, now laying next to Adam, is surprisingly honest with his response, "Well, I'm tired of being Battle Cat, but as much as I hate to say this, I'm sure glad he's around when we need him." Adam understands Cringer's point, agreeing with the cowardly cat, adding, "I'd just like to take a break for a while. Do something relaxing for a change." Cringer wholeheartedly agrees with Adam's statement, before asking, "But what about Teela?" A much calmer Adam responds, "Don't worry. I'll say something to her." With the two now laying down Adam suggests, "Why don't we use this nice shady spot for a nap?", to which Cringer replies, "Now you're talking!" Prince Adam and Cringer close their eyes, and begin their nap.

After the powerful exchange between Prince Adam and Teela, writer Robert Lamb wonderfully utilizes Cringer to be the voice of the audience, and ask the Prince for an explanation. What happens over the next forty or so seconds is a beautifully written scene in which we see a side of Prince Adam that has never truly been showcased in the series; it is truly a moment in which we see the breaking of a character. After Adam's exchange with Teela we are as confused as the cowardly cat is to his reaction. Throughout He-Man and the Masters of the Universe we only ever really see two extremes of the lead character: He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe and champion of Eternia, and Adam, the secret identity and intentionally-bumbling Prince. With this scene, Robert Lamb gives us a third person: the character that has to play both Prince Adam and He-Man back and fourth, never truly allowing time to be himself. This aspect of the scene is even more powerful when Adam discusses himself in the third person, not identifying with either Adam or He-Man, clearly implying that both are roles that he plays. This scene beautifully shows us how conflicted he is inside, and how neither personality is the true Adam. Subliminally, this scene also reminds us that Adam and Cringer have been friends for the longest time. This conversation could've just as easily had Prince Adam conversing with Man-At-Arms. However Cringer is the perfect choice, as not only does he also shares the problem of having a duel identity, but he also Adam's closest friend. It shows how he can be Adam's equal at times, debating and discussing with his longtime friend. Both John Erwin as Prince Adam and Alan Oppenheimer as Cringer deliver the dialogue perfectly. And the scene's simple direction only helps to bolster the fantastic dialogue that takes place. With this scene we see a character reveal his inner frustrations at playing the hero, and a friendship celebrated through deep three-dimensional conversation. And it all wonderfully takes place under the shade of a tree.

29 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #6

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #6
Orko declares his love for Dree Elle.
"Dawn of Dragoon"



At the Royal Palace, Man-At-Arms attempts to fix Orko's broken magic pyramid. Orko accidentally drops some meteorites near the pyramid causing it to disappear. When it reappears, a female Trollan emerges fourth, introducing herself as Dree Elle. Dree Elle tells Orko that his homeworld Trolla is in great danger. Orko gets into the pyramid and travels back to Trolla. Dragoon, the villain that has overthrown Trolla, captures Dree Elle and begins to drain her energy. As He-Man and Battle Cat fight Dragoon, Orko heads inside the fortress where he discovers Dree Elle has been drained of all her energy. A saddened Orko tells He-Man that his magic has failed to revive Dree Elle, but He-Man's faith in the Trollan forces him try one more time. This time Orko is successful in saving Dree Elle, and the pair prepare to say their final farewells to one another...

With all the other Trollans freed, and He-Man and Battle Cat giving them privacy, Orko and Dree Elle converse alone in a large empty room. Dree Elle thanks Orko for saving all the Trollans. Orko, nervously avoiding eye contact with Dree Elle for the first time, informs the female Trollan that he has to leave. Dree Elle's voice is full of confusion and concern as she asks, "Can't you stay here...with us?" Orko replies, "I wish I could. But my friends in Eternia need me. There's still so much evil to fight there." A tear begins to form in the eye of Dree Elle as she sadly replies, "I understand." Forlornly looking at the ground, Orko asks, "Dree Elle...do you think before I leave we could...really see each other...show faces?" Dree Elle responds with excitement in her voice, "Oh, Orko. I was hoping you'd ask!" Orko reaches up and slowly removes his hat. Dree Elle reacts with delight at the sight of the unmasked Trollan. Orko replaces his hat, just as Dree Elle removes hers. Orko's eyes light up as he declares, "You're beautiful!" Orko announces to Dree Elle, "I'll come back some day", with Dree Elle replying, "I'll be waiting." As Orko leaves, Dree Elle swoons, having fallen completely in love with him.

Being one of the earliest staff writers on the series, Robby London knew how to write Orko better than most. Instead of treating the Trollan like a mischievous child, or using him as comic relief, London would often give Orko stories that shaped his personality, and often showed a great maturity. "Dawn of Dragoon" is the quintessential Orko episode. In this story he makes us laugh, makes us cheer for him, and we even get caught up in the emotional roller coaster of his falling for Dree Elle. The character interaction between he and Dree Elle is, at times, beautifully scripted, and we get a sense that these two cartoon characters actually do love one another, which leads us to the most memorable Orko scene in the series! In this scene Linda Gary voices Dree Elle with such emotion, that each line is delivered perfectly. You really do get a sense that she has completely fallen in love with Orko. Lou Scheimer's voice work for Orko steals the show. Even though we hear the usual unique vocal processing on the voice, the dialogue is delivered in such a way that Orko's maturity shines through. The way in which this scene is directed is fantastic, utilizing no stock on the part of Orko, and incredibly smooth and expressive animation on the part of Dree Elle. By far one of the most identifiable images of the series is the shot of the shadow of Orko removing his hat with Dree Elle reacting. Originally the plan was for Orko to reveal his face to the audience. Thankfully, at some point during the storyboard stage, the decision was made to have his unmasking represented with the shadow. This also makes the scene even more special, because it truly is a moment shared by only Orko and Dree Elle. This scene truly is a beautiful moment between two well-rounded characters that have shared a great deal by the end of the episode.

28 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #7

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #7
He-Man and Skeletor fight under omnipotent gaze of Om.
"The Arena"



Man-At-Arms makes contact with an alien being, Om, whom he introduces to King Randor and Prince Adam. Om expresses his desire to visit Eternia, wishing to learn about their way of life. Some time later Om appears to the gathered people of Eternia, just as Skeletor, General Tataran, and the Goblin army approach the Royal Palace. For a brief moment there is a standoff, until General Tataran orders the attack and war breaks out. The battle rages for a time with neither side gaining the upper hand. Om cannot abide the senseless destruction that he witnesses and freezes the forces of both good and evil, deciding that too much life could be lost in the war. Om selects a champion from each side to duel; He-Man and Skeletor are the chosen warriors...

As the pair stand facing one another Skeletor observes, "So, He-Man. It's just you and me." He-Man, looking for a peaceful solution, replies, "It's not too late to call this off, Skeletor." Without warning Skeletor immediately fires a blast from his Havoc Staff, which He-Man deflects, knocking the staff out of Skeletor's hand. A less than impressed Skeletor fires a beam from his hand, which strikes a nearby tree. The tree comes to life and grabs He-Man in its hand-like branches. As the most powerful man in the universe struggles to break free, Skeletor laughs, waving his fists in the air. He-Man frees himself of the tree, and it hastily departs. Skeletor utilizes his magical abilities once more and creates a mystic cage which he claims that He-Man cannot break out of. He-Man retorts, "You haven't invented the trap yet that can hold me, Skeletor." Without giving He-Man a chance to catch his breath, Skeletor creates four red energy balls, that levitate either side of him. The villain warns He-Man, "If they touch you, it's going to be most unpleasant!" Gesturing his hands, Skeletor sends the balls after He-Man, who uses the Sword of Power to destroy them one after the other. Having destroyed the Power Balls He-Man asks, "What's next, Skeletor?" Skeletor then creates a large pink gelatinous mass above He-Man. Shortly after He-Man tosses the blob to one side, it morphs into a living creature. He-Man whirls the Sword of Power creating a powerful gust of wind that topples the humanoid blob and causes it to roll off into the distance. Clearly losing his patience Skeletor declares, "I'm through toying with you, He-Man!", and transforms a nearby log into a vicious python that wraps itself around He-Man. As Skeletor gloats He-Man remarks, "I've fought your snakes before, Skeletor!" He-Man frees himself much to Skeletor's chagrin. In a last desperate move Skeletor transforms a nearby bug into a large overgrown creature and commands it to attack He-Man. The most powerful man in the universe manages to dodge the creature's attacks, prompting Skeletor to make the creature ever bigger. Skeletor, losing his patience, enrages the creature and it chases him into a rock structure within which there is no escape. He-Man saves Skeletor from the creature. Mere seconds later the booming voice of Om states, "Enough!" Om transforms the oversized creature back into a bug, and He-Man sends the little insect on its way. Having observed the events Om questions, "You who are called He-Man, why did you not allow your enemy to be destroyed." He-Man replies, "Even though Skeletor is my enemy, I couldn't allow him to perish. I believe in the sanctity of all life." Om asks, "Even Skeletor's?" He-Man answers, "Even Skeletor's." Om declares He-Man the winner and banishes Skeletor and his Goblin army away from the Royal Palace.

Filmation's strict policy against violence meant that the creative talents that worked on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe had to be very careful when placing He-Man in situations that would requite acts of physical confrontation. The most powerful man in the universe was never allowed to strike out at his enemies, which would on many an occasion result in He-Man having to use something other than violence in order to defeat the villain. Not only that, but lengthy action sequences of physical confrontation were not encouraged by the studio. Thus, what writer Warren Greenwood (and the artists that worked on this episode) achieve with this memorable action sequence is nothing short of a miracle! He-Man and Skeletor engage in battle for just over four minutes! The battle is scripted and directed in such a way that even though He-Man does not engage physically with Skeletor we feel that this is exactly how the pair should battle. It wonderfully showcases the physical dynamic between the pair, with Skeletor demonstrating the vastness of his magical abilities, and He-Man using brute force to solve each and every problem. This truly is a battle of magic versus muscle. The dialogue between both He-Man and Skeletor is impressive. He-Man's comments about Skeletor having not yet invented the trap that can hold him, and that he has fought the villain's snakes before, really does emphasize the fact that these two have been fighting for years! It reminds us that these two characters know each other incredibly well. Throughout the battle and featured memorably at the end is He-Man's belief that all life is precious. It is a logical end to this particular confrontation. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe featured numerous battles between He-Man and Skeletor. However, none are as impressive, as exciting, and as memorable as this one.

27 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #8

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #8
The Sorceress tells Teela that her mother is very proud of her.
"Teela's Triumph"



Missing her daughter, the Sorceress decides to observe Teela at the Royal Palace in the form of Zoar. Skeletor, demonstrating his latest invention, fires it at a falcon, not realizing it is the Sorceress in the form of Zoar. The Sorceress finds herself on a distant, volcanic planet. The Spirit of Grayskull contacts the heroes and asks Teela to take the Sorceress' place as he cannot find her anywhere on Eternia. A confused Teela agrees to help in any way she can, and so heads for Castle Grayskull. As He-Man and Battle Cat attempt to save the Sorceress, Teela slowly forms an understanding of the power of Castle Grayskull in order to stop the villains. When the Sorceress finally returns, Skeletor hastily retreats, and Teela attempts to understand why she was chosen to replace the Sorceress...

The Sorceress discovers Teela by the throne of Castle Grayskull. Teela quickly apologizes for intruding inside of Castle Grayskull, oblivious as to the true nature of why she was chosen. The Sorceress assures Teela, "That's all right, Teela. Without the right person to sit in it, a throne is nothing more than a simple chair." Teela replies, "And I certainly wasn't that person." The Sorceress is quick to respond, "Wrong, Teela. You were exactly the right person." Teela, clearly frustrated with herself, continues to be despondent, "But I failed you! I let Skeletor inside the castle!" The Sorceress states that Teela helped drive him back out again, "You didn't fail anyone -- not He-Man, not me, and not yourself." A still visibly upset Teela responds, "I wish I could believe you. I just don't think I'm special enough to do what you do", before adding, "I don't even know why I was picked to substitute for you." Knowing that she cannot reveal the truth to Teela, the Sorceress tries to provide some comfort to her daughter, "Teela, there are certain things that I cannot tell you now, but someday you will understand everything -- I promise." The Sorceress then assuredly adds, "As for not being special -- oh, Teela -- you're very special", explaining, "You found the courage to overcome your fears and help defeat Skeletor. You will never, never know how special you are to all of us." Briefly connecting to her daughter the Sorceress informs Teela, "I know that your mother would -- is -- very proud of you." Teela, appreciating the words of the Sorceress thanks her, before adding, "You know, I -- I never knew my mother, but I wish she could be just like you." The Sorceress turns away from Teela with tears filling her eyes, as He-Man and Man-At-Arms look on, smiling at the event occurring. The Sorceress turns back to Teela and holds out her arms. Teela walks into them, and the pair embrace.

"Teela's Triumph" accomplishes a great deal by managing to balance a typical Saturday morning cartoon plot with some of the greatest character writing on the part of Teela. For the first time since "Teela's Quest" we see the connection between Teela and the Sorceress addressed. The final scene between the two characters is beautifully written and acted. For this scene is the closest that the Sorceress comes to admitting to Teela that she is her mother outside of the events of "Teela's Quest". Teela's lack of understanding as to why she was chosen to defend Castle Grayskull adds a believable innocence to the often strong-willed character. It is even more appropriate then that it is her mother that reassures Teela of her accomplishments and value to those around her. One of the most important lines in the scene occurs when the Sorceress begins to refer to Teela's mother in the past tense, before quickly correcting herself to reveal that her mother continues to be very proud of her. The Sorceress does her very best in this scene not to reveal too much to Teela, whilst at the same time giving her hope and a belief in herself. The fact that Linda Gary voices both mother and daughter in this scene is phenomenal. When listening to the way in which the dialogue is delivered, you get a real sense that Gary understood both of these characters. Teela's frustration at herself is wonderfully contrasted with the warm, assuring vocal tones of the Sorceress. The final moments of the scene in which we see the Sorceress begin to weep, coupled with the embrace that her and Teela share, really does remind us why we love these characters so much.

26 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #9

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #9
King Randor converses with He-Man about Prince Adam.
"Prince Adam No More"



After He-Man saves the day once again King Randor congratulates him on his constant service to Eternia. The King summons Prince Adam and Man-At-Arms to his throne room to announce his choice as guard on a royal tour of Eternia. Prince Adam expresses disappointment when He-Man is announced as the guard. Later, in the Evergreen Forest, Beast Man sees the royal tour party, consisting of King Randor, Prince Adam, who has managed to convince his father that he should be the guard instead of He-Man, and Man-At-Arms. Beast Man, along with his Shadow Beasts, attacks the Attak Trak and takes the King prisoner. Prince Adam realizes that only He-Man can save his father, and journeys to Snake Mountain. Having battled the endless horde of Hover Robots, King Randor confides in He-Man...

As the wreckage of the Hover Robots lays strewn around them King Randor remarks to He-Man that he hasn't fought in such a fashion since he was a boy. "Nice to know I still have the old left hook!", remarks King Randor, as He-Man approaches. Randor turns to He-Man and in a concerned tone asks, "Beast Man didn't hurt my son, did he?" He-Man assures the King, "No. He's fine." In a loving fatherly tone King Randor reveals, "I love that boy, you know. I'm hard on him sometimes, but I hope he knows how much I care." He-Man listens intently as Randor expresses, "Sometimes it's hard for a father to say I love you to his son." He-Man, trying his best not to reveal his secret identity simply replies, "Sometimes, it's hard for Adam to say that, too."

Throughout He-Man and the Masters of the Universe surprisingly few writers tackled the relationship between King Randor and Prince Adam. And when they did address the relationship between father and son, it often involved the King berating the Prince, expressing his constant disappointment. However, in this one very special scene, Paul Dini shows a side of King Randor that is rarely seen during the remainder of the series. Dini wonderfully uses the character of He-Man as a sounding board for King Randor, allowing the King to inadvertently reveal to his own son just how much he loves him. This brief scene between the two characters is a culmination of the many frustrating scenes between the King and the Prince that come before it, and is truly beautiful piece of character writing.

25 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #10

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #10
Teela Na becomes the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull.
"Origin of the Sorceress"



As Man-At-Arms presents Stridor, his latest invention, a Wheel of Fire appears in the sky over the Royal Palace. The Sorceress summons He-Man to Castle Grayskull where she explains to him that Morgoth, a wizard banished to a prison zone by the Ancients, is returning. He-Man, the Sorceress, and Stridor journey to Dark Mountain to prepare for the coming of Morgoth. Using the Crystal of Allenar to maintain her form, the Sorceress begins to explain her previous encounter with Morgoth, which began when she was simply Teela Na, a villager from Nowella. Morgoth, with an army of alien invaders, imprisoned all those in her village. A fellow prisoner told Teela Na of the legend of Castle Grayskull. That night Teela Na escaped her captors and searched out the castle. Upon locating the castle a voice beckoned her inside...

Upon entering the castle a hesitant Teela Na is greeted by Kuduk Ungol, the original Sorceress of Castle Grayskull. Kuduk Ungol explains that she is the keeper of the secrets of Castle Grayskull, and that she has been watching the young woman for some time. She questions Teela Na, "Now, what has brought you here at last?" Teela Na explains that her village is under attack by invaders, and that if they are not stopped, all of Eternia may fall to them. Kuduk Ungol rises from her throne and states, "I offer you a bargain. I will give you all the power you need to help yourself, and your people." Without hesitation Teela Na replies, "I accept." Kuduk Ungol retorts, "Wait! No so fast. You have not yet heard the rest of the bargain." Kuduk Ungol approaches Teela Na and explains that she has been the keeper of castle Grayskull for a long time, and that her time is nearly through. She continues to elaborate that she cannot leave without first finding someone to take her place. She pauses momentarily before announcing, "I offer that position...to you." Teela Na listens intently as Kuduk Ungol reveals, "It will not be an easy task, Teela Na. You will fight many battles, see great sadness, and great joy." She continues by detailing the role of the Sorceress, "As Keeper of Castle Grayskull, you must fight a constant war against evil, and comfort those in need. And you will never be mortal again." Kuduk Ungol walks over to two swords proudly displayed on a wall, "Finally, you must preserve and protect the Swords of Power until the day comes when they may be claimed." Kuduk Ungol states that she knows that Teela Na is worthy, but that the decision is hers. Teela Na lowers her head and calmly states, "I accept." Kuduk Ungol raises her arms and declares, "Then, by the power of Grayskull, let it be done!" Kuduk Ungol beckons Teela Na to enter the Pool of Power, stating, "Only the purest, and the gentlest, may have the Power of Castle Grayskull. If the Castle accepts you -- you will emerge changed. Enter!" Teela Na emerges, but in the form of a falcon. Upon transforming back into her human form, Kuduk Ungol tells a wide-eyed Teela Na, "From this day on, you shall ever be...the Sorceress!"

Throughout much of the series very little is known about the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull. Her connection to Teela is revealed early on in the series, but aside from that moment the character simply becomes a point of call for the heroes. Thankfully "Origin of the Sorceress" is an episode laced with a plethora of great moments and dialogue for the Sorceress. The flashback itself is great in that not only do we get to see the original Sorceress of Castle Grayskull, but we also see a fantastic reference to She-Ra, with the Sword of Protection displayed alongside the Sword of Power. With regards to the Sorceress herself, the entire flashback sequence beautifully reminds us that beneath the fancy costume is a citizen of Eternia that sacrificed the life she knew in order to protect her world. This fact is wonderfully accentuated by Kuduk Ungol's dialogue, which reveals everything that lay ahead of the Sorceress; from the life she will lead, to the role she must play. Seeing the life that the Sorceress once had really does help to give the character even greater depth; a depth that we all knew she had.

24 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #11

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #11
Queen Marlena hints that she knows her son is He-Man.
"The Rainbow Warrior"



Having been captured by Skeletor, King Randor, Prince Adam, Man-At-Arms, Teela, and Orko are all held captive outside of Snake Mountain. As Skeletor prepares an all-out attack on the Royal Palace, Queen Marlena, piloting the Rainbow Explorer, leads the Royal Guard in a pre-emptive strike against Snake Mountain. Chained, Prince Adam finds himself unable to escape and transform into He-Man. Skeletor is shocked when the Royal Guard unexpectedly attacks, prompting the villain to order his Hover Robots to fight back. The Rainbow Explorer blasts the chains that bind Prince Adam, freeing him. After attempting to free Teela, Adam rushes off to transform into He-Man to aid in the battle. Skeletor's forces are soon overpowered, and King Randor reveals that the talented pilot is, to everyone's surprise, Queen Marlena. Back at the Royal Palace Prince Adam has something on his mind...

As Teela performs the Immelmann turn maneuver high over the skies of the Royal Palace, Prince Adam and Queen Marlena observe the events from their royal pavilion. Having taught Teela the maneuver, Queen Marlena remarks on Teela's proficiency to Prince Adam. However, Adam clearly has other things on his mind and quickly changes the subject, "Uh...mother? I was just wondering..." he awkwardly begins. Marlena turns to him, "Yes, what is it, Adam?" Adam still somewhat floundering with his question tries once again, "Well, I was wondering...When Skeletor had us all chained up--", he then questioningly looks out of the corner of his eye to his mother asking, "--why did you free me instead of one of the others?" Queen Marlena turns away from Adam and looks skyward, "Because you are my son, Adam. I didn't have time to free everyone--" Marlena then looks out of the corner of her eye and knowingly remarks, "--and I had a feeling you would know what to do." Before Prince Adam who is slightly taken aback by this comment can address it, Queen Marlena turns to her son and adds, "Adam -- a mother always knows her own son...and what he is capable of doing." She then turns away from him and looks skyward once more, adding, "I've always been very proud of you, Adam." With nothing else needed to be said, Prince Adam smiles to himself.

Aside from "The Rainbow Warrior" being the standout episode for Queen Marlena, the suggestion and strong implication that she is aware that her son is also He-Man is a groundbreaking moment in the series. After all, we have always been led to believe that only three others share Prince Adam's dual identity. On the other hand, when written correctly, it is obvious that Queen Marlena's awareness is far above those around her. What makes this scene work so wonderfully is that we rarely see Prince Adam praised. In this case, not only is his mother praising him, but she is also implying that she is proud of everything he has accomplished, possibly including his work as the most powerful man in the universe! Filmation's cost cutting techniques also add to this scene. Rather than having a plethora of shots, the dialogue between Queen Marlena and Prince Adam takes place in one single shot, with the only deviation being a camera truck-in towards Adam as he asks the question. By doing this we really get the sense that these are the only two people in this important scene, even though there are other individual nearby, and an entire stadium of people! It also should be mentioned that the voice acting between Linda Gary and John Erwin is perfect. Gary's words are assuring and warm, peppered with the perfect pace, with Erwin's dialogue delivered with the awkwardness that it requires.

23 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #12

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #12
Prince Adam realizes how to transform into He-Man on Trolla!
"Dawn of Dragoon"



When a female Trollan named Dree Elle appears on Eternia warning of danger on Orko's homeworld of Trolla, Orko hurriedly travels with her to confront the menace. At Castle Grayskull the Sorceress creates a portal to Trolla. He-Man and Battle Cat enter, but walk out on Trolla as Prince Adam and Cringer. Attacked by a large serpent Prince Adam finds that he is unable to transform into He-Man, so defeats the creature through trickery. Dragoon manages to capture Dree Elle, but Orko is unable to save her. At his lair Dragoon explains that he is draining all the energy from the inhabitants of Trolla, so that it can be given to his master, Skeletor. Dragoon begins to drain Dree Elle's energy, as Prince Adam and Cringer, still unable to transform into their other selves, stand outside the villain's fortress...

As Prince Adam grows increasingly frustrated with Cringer's reluctance to enter Dragoon's fortress, the cowardly cat is attacked by a lizard-like creature. Cringer narrowly avoids a confrontation, and races over to Prince Adam and Orko. Cringer is clearly angered at recent events and begins a lengthy tirade, "I've had about enough of this world...crazy beasts...upside down trees...Fire Rays that shoot water." Cringer continues his rant by comically emphasizing, "Even Orko's magic works! Everything's backwards here!" Prince Adam's face lights up with delight, "That's it!", as he realizes that Cringer has just solved the mystery of why he has been unable to invoke the power of Castle Grayskull. Adam begins to explain to his comrades, "Things are backwards here...", before continuing, "If I say "By the power of Grayskull" backwards--" Before he can finish his sentence a surprisingly excited Cringer continues, "--maybe then, it will work!" Prince Adam unsheathes the Sword of Power and commands, "Grayskull of power the by!" The power of Grayskull explodes from the sword and the transformation of Prince Adam and Cringer into He-Man and Battle Cat begins!

"Dawn of Dragoon" is often remembered as being the episode that shows Orko at his very best. And rightly so. However, the sub-plot featuring Prince Adam's inability to summon the power of Grayskull is just as entertaining. The idea that everything on Trolla is backwards beautifully reminds us that He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is a Saturday morning cartoon with a degree of innocence to its storytelling. As an audience, if truth be told, not for one second do we suspect that in order to bring fourth He-Man Prince Adam must utter his familiar phrase in reverse! There's something incredibly pure about the moment when Adam solves the mystery as to why he cannot transform. And in that moment we all cheer and rejoice!

22 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #13

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #13
He-Man thanks the Sorceress.
"Origin of the Sorceress"



When a Wheel of Fire appears in the skies over the Royal Palace, the Sorceress summons He-Man to Castle Grayskull. She explains that Morgoth, a wizard banished to a prison zone by the Ancients, is returning. Whilst waiting for his arrival the Sorceress begins to explain her previous encounter with Morgoth, which began when she was simply Teela Na, a villager from Nowella. Morgoth, with an army of alien invaders, imprisoned all those in her village. A fellow prisoner told Teela Na of the legend of Castle Grayskull. That night Teela Na escaped her captors and searched out the castle. Kuduk Ungol, the former Sorceress, offered Teela Na the power to defend her village, but only if she replaced her. With her new powers Teela Na liberated her village from the alien invaders and sent Morgoth back to his dimension. Just as the Sorceress finishes her tale, Morgoth appears. He-Man and the Sorceress, with a courageous act from Stridor, defeat Morgoth. Back at the Royal Palace He-Man, Man-At-Arms, and the Sorceress agree to set Stridor free, as they take account of the day's events...

As the heroes watch Stridor depart the Royal Palace the Sorceress states that she, too, must be going, as the Crystal of Allenar that allows her to maintain her physical form outside Castle Grayskull is beginning to wear off. He-Man approaches the Sorceress and states, "Before you go Sorceress, I want to thank you for all that you've done." Now aware of the events of her origin he continues, "Not just today, but for all those years you've patiently waited, protecting Castle Grayskull." The Sorceress warmly replies, "It has been the highest honor, He-Man, and it has been, and always will be, a joy for me to call you my friend." And with those words the guardian of Castle Grayskull transforms into the falcon form of Zoar, and flies out of the laboratory. Man-At-Arms turns to He-Man stating, "She's a very special person, He-Man." As the pair watch Zoar fly over the skies of Eternia, He-Man agrees, "Yes, Ducan, she is. She's very special indeed."

The final scene of "Origin of the Sorceress" is one of the most touching pieces of writing in the series. It is given a great deal of emotional depth due to us having learnt how Teela Na came to be the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull, and given how much we already know she has sacrificed over the course of the series. The dialogue between He-Man and the Sorceress is a beautiful exchange, and truly feels like two friends finally expressing their mutual love and respect for one another. This scene, along with this episode itself, feels like a long overdue acknowledgement of just how loved, respected, and important a character the Sorceress is.

21 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #14

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #14
He-Man lifts Castle Grayskull!
"The Taking of Grayskull"



He-Man, Battle Cat, Teela, and Ram Man find themselves fighting severe weather disturbances. The Heroic Warriors manage to prevent many disasters from occurring, but strange things begin to happen; one of which being the disappearance of He-Man's Sword of Power. The heroes soon discover that Castle Grayskull has vanished, and that the strange occurrences are a side effect. Man-At-Arms deduces that Skeletor has managed to create a white hole and transported Castle Grayskull into another dimension. Eventually He-Man, Battle Cat, and Teela trek through to the other dimension and locate the castle. Working together He-Man and the Sorceress manage to capture Skeletor. Whilst the Sorceress attempts to hold Skeletor inside the castle, He-Man ventures outside...

The Sorceress warns He-Man that she can only hold Skeletor for a short amount of time. The most powerful man in the universe hastily runs underneath the alien structure upon which Castle Grayskull stands. Using his bare fists the most powerful man in the universe creates an area in which he can gain a position directly underneath the castle. Using all of his strength He-Man begins to lift the castle, but it is a struggle. He-Man pleads, "Help me, Sorceress. Give me the strength of the Castle's secrets!" A vision of the Sorceress answers, "Yes, He-Man. I hear you and I am trying..." As thunder and lighting rage around Castle Grayskull the Sorceress commands, "May you have all of the powers, all the strength, that dwell in the secrets of truth and knowledge." With a final burst of strength He-Man declares with great strain in his voice, "I--I can do it!!" Managing to stand upright He-Man succeeds in lifting the castle above his head. He-Man throws the castle high into the alien skies where it soars through a dimensional gate and returns to Eternia.

While I have personally never been a fan of this episode, I can appreciate why so many people enjoy it. However, this scene in which He-Man performs a phenomenal feat of strength is not only the best part of the episode, but also one of the best remembered scenes from the series! When watching this scene it is impossible not to get caught up in the excitement, as He-Man, the Sorceress, and Castle Grayskull are all involved! This is one of those moments that continues to be remembered by those that vaguely recall the events of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. It is a classic scene that will outlive the show itself.

20 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #15

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #15
Orko saves the lives of Prince Adam and Cringer.
"Creatures From The Tar Swamp"



Lady Edwina, Prince Adam's beautiful, rich, and spoilt cousin arrives at the Royal Palace on a visit. Orko is captivated by her beauty, and decides to impress her with his magical abilities, though he seems completely unaware of her selfishness. Orko fails to impress Lady Edwina with a gift and begins to feel sad, remarking that he has very little importance. In an effort to cheer up Orko Prince Adam decides to inform Lady Edwina just how brave Orko is and begins to recount the time that Orko once saved his life with his magic medallion...

Prince Adam explains that during the Season of Storms he and Cringer had wandered far from the Royal Palace, only to find themselves lost in the Tar Swamps. As Prince Adam attempted to reassure Cringer that they were in no danger, the incredible power of the storm opened a temporary rift between dimensions, and Orko appeared on Eternia for the first time. Although stranded on Eternia Orko immediately rushed to aid Prince Adam and Cringer who were now beginning to sink into the tar! Orko produced his magic medallion and uttered an incantation, "Oh magic medallion hear my command, and give these two a helping hand!" At that moment a nearby tree's branches reached over and plucked the stranded pair out of the tar, transporting them to safety. A victorious Orko, acknowledging that he had saved the day, casually floated backwards spinning his medallion, only to crash into a protruding rock structure, and subsequently drop the medallion into the tar. Adam continues to reveal that after this event, the Royal Family adopted Orko, and made him a member of the royal court.

No list would be complete without this scene. While it may not feature incredible writing, or an amazing action sequence, it is by far one of the single most important events in the rich history of Eternia. For it is the day that Orko saved the individual that would grow up to wield the power of Castle Grayskull! Numerous writers on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe would write Orko as the comedic relief, when in truth the character could be portrayed as one of the most important individuals in the series, without needing to sacrifice his dignity for laughs.

19 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #16

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #16
Prince Adam lovingly embraces Cringer.
"Battlecat"



After Orko nearly destroys the laboratory whilst disobediently working with chemicals, Man-At-Arms decides to recount a cautionary tale, beginning with how a young Prince Adam first found Cringer. Man-At-Arms explains that many years ago on a nature expedition, Adam discovered Cringer, hurt and abandoned by his mother, being threatened by a sabrecat. Prince Adam took the terrified young kitten back to the Royal Palace where he was nursed back to health. During this time the Sorceress appeared to the young Prince Adam and told him that Cringer would be very important to him someday. Many years later when Adam and Teela accidentally awoke an ancient beast known as the Gedge, the cowardly cat was transformed into Battle Cat by the Sword of Power. Working together He-Man and Battle Cat managed to save the day...

Back in the present day Man-At-Arms summarizes his cautionary tale by saying to Orko that if Adam and Teela had listened to his warning the Gedge would never have been freed. Cringer, who has been silent throughout the story, responds, "And I would never have become that awful Battle Cat." Prince Adam looks down to his cowardly cat. "I'm glad you did, old buddy", Adam says, before affectionately adding, "Without Battle Cat, He-Man would be a lonely fella." Cringer realizing the affection and truth behind the comment replies, "Oh, gosh. I guess I'm stuck with it." Prince Adam then kneels next to his cat and the pair hug, affectionately glancing at one another.

Throughout this episode it is clear how much Prince Adam and Cringer care for one another, and that their friendship is probably one of the most endearing of the series. The end scene is not only the culmination of a story in which we see how a young boy and his cat grow up together, but it also feels incredibly natural, with the wonderfully-written dialogue between the two characters cementing their companionship. When the two embrace we are reminded just how important a character Cringer is, with Adam ensuring that his cowardly cat knows just how much his love and friendship are valued.

18 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #17

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #17
Queen Marlena is revealed as the mysterious pilot.
"The Rainbow Warrior"



At the Royal Palace the citizens of Eternia enjoy a joust tournament. During the competition, in which the warriors pilot Sky Sleds, Teela is outmaneuvered by another combatant. When Queen Marlena offers her a possible counter-maneuver, a headstrong Teela simply brushes her comment aside. Sometime later, inside the royal museum, Queen Marlena reflectively studies the Rainbow Explorer, the ship that brought her to Eternia. King Randor, Prince Adam, Teela, Man-At-Arms, and Orko are captured by Skeletor whilst enjoying a beach picnic. When Queen Marlena hears of this news she informs the Lieutenant of the Royal Guard to ready the entire fleet. A mysterious pilot in the Rainbow Explorer and the entire Royal Guard launch an attack on Snake Mountain, much to Skeletor's surprise! The pilot of the Rainbow Explorer outmaneuvers and skillfully destroys much of Skeletor's fleet. With Skeletor defeated the Rainbow Explorer lands, and the mysterious pilot emerges from the ship...

As the pilot of the Rainbow Explorer walks towards the gathered heroes, Teela is the first to congratulate the masked individual, "You're the best pilot I've ever seen!" Teela has a big smile on her face, clearly in awe of the mysterious pilot that has entered (and saved) their lives. King Randor steps forward and stands beside the suited figure, knowingly stating, "My friends -- it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to the best pilot that a planet called Earth ever produced --" As the gloved hands remove the helmet, King Randor clearly knows the identity of the pilot. "Marlena -- my Queen!" announces King Randor, as Queen Marlena is revealed. The gathered heroes all react in utter shock, with a wide-eyed Teela gasping, "Your Majesty!" He-Man is so taken aback by the revelation that he nearly calls out "mother", before correcting himself, "Uh...Your Majesty!" Teela eagerly asks, "Will you teach me to fly like that?" Queen Marlena calmly replies, "Yes, Teela. Tomorrow." And with that the fleet of the Royal Guard in formation fly overhead.

Queen Marlena was an incredibly underused character in the series, and at times would simply be a background cast member with very little dialogue. Although she has a few moments in certain episodes in which her personality shines, this episode, and specifically this scene, is one of her finest. The way in which the others react to the moment her identity is revealed is a true victory for those that support the character. She proves to the others that she is more than simply the Queen of Eternia that sits upon the throne. For in this moment, on this day, we see the character recognized and respected as the savior of Eternia, its citizens, and all of her closest family and friends.

17 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #18

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #18
He-Man reveals that he is blind, thus ending the first act.
"Not so Blind"



Having spoken to a group of children about He-Man, Prince Adam meets Loos, a young blind boy. Loos reveals that he has always wanted to meet He-Man, having heard many stories about the most powerful man in the universe from the storyteller. With this in mind Prince Adam decides to have Loos accompany He-Man on an adventure. A short while later in the hangar of the Royal Palace, Loos meets Ram Man, who takes great delight in hearing from Loos that he is often talked about. He-Man introduces himself to the excited Loos, and proceeds to tell him that they are going on a journey to find the Singing Crystals; and that Loos will be the only boy in Eternia to have touched them. Along the way Loos' heightened other senses are showcased, revealing how he can effortlessly walk to and from any location despite being blind. He-Man, Ram Man, and Loos soon arrive at the Crystal Caves and locate the Singing Crystals. Loos delights in their music, touching the beautiful stalagmites. However, Loos can hear something that the other two cannot...

As the Singing Crystals continue to output a cacophony of beautifully harmonic sounds, Loos' heightened senses pick up on a specific noise. "Do you hear a cracking sound?", asks Loos. Ram Man answers that he doesn't, with He-Man musing that it may have been an echo. Loos hears the sound again, commenting on it once more. This time He-Man looks up and sees a stalactite precariously positioned above all three of them beginning to crack. He-Man grabs Loos and pulls him away, as Ram Man also leaps for safety. The stalactite breaks off and strikes the ground creating an intensely bright flash. Recovering from the experience Ram Man opens his eyes revealing that his pupils have been burned away. A clearly confused Ram Man asks "Hey! Who turned out the lights?" Ram Man begins to panic when he realizes the awful truth, "That flash! It blinded me! I can't see a thing!" He then announces with great terror, "I'm - I'm blind!" Loos, upset by Ram Man's loss of sight, turns to He-Man. Even though the child is blind he senses that something is wrong with the most powerful man in the universe, who is oddly silent. "He-Man, you're all right, aren't you?" When He-Man doesn't answer, a frightened Loos presses his hand against He-Man's chest, pleading for an answer, "He-Man, what's wrong?" He-Man opens his eyes, and much like Ram Man, his pupils have also been burned away. He-Man quietly answers, "Loos, I'm afraid I'm blind, too." And with that chilling revelation, act one comes to an end.

There are many fantastic pieces of writing in this season two episode. However, this dramatic end to the first act of the episode is by far one of the episode's most memorable moments. Cliffhangers are supposed to prevent the audience from changing channel. This cliffhanger not only succeeds in keeping the audience glued to their screens, but also has our minds racing with many questions. Here we have a situation in which the lead character is now blind, along with his allies, in a location they are all unfamiliar with. How will they get home? Will He-Man and Ram Man ever get their sight back? The voice acting from John Erwin as both He-Man and Ram Man, and Erika Scheimer as Loos, is near-perfect. The animation direction also wonderfully gives us expressions appropriate for each piece of dialogue. When the characters look frightened, they really do look frightened! There is a real sense of overwhelming dread when, after a dramatic pause, He-Man reveals that he too is blind. The eerily strange music must be taken into consideration, as it too creates a disheartening atmosphere and a sense of loneliness. As endings to the first act of an episode go, this is one of the best.

16 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #19

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #19
He-Man's moral lesson is laced with reality.
"Double Edged Sword"



At the Royal Palace, Man-At-Arms explains to King Randor and Prince Adam that their only piece of Eternium, which has powered the palace for centuries, is almost used up. In the Sands of Time, a young boy named Chad, his energetic pet Burbie, and his paralyzed grandfather Elden, locate a piece of Eternium. At Snake Mountain, Mer-Man and Trap Jaw witness the Eternium moving across the Sands of Time towards the Royal Palace. When Trap Jaw eats some Eternium he becomes super-powered, and battles He-Man to a standstill. However, when his power wears off Burbie grabs the Eternium, accidentally swallows it, and slowly begins to die. At Castle Grayskull He-Man steps into the Chamber of Life with Burbie. Outside the castle Elden decides it is time to tell Chad the story of how he became paralyzed. He reveals that during the Orc War, when he was a young soldier, he spotted a group of Orcs and with his fancy shooting skills was able to drive them away. Unwittingly, his fancy shooting loosened a nearby cliff; the resulting avalanche killing many of his men and paralyzing him. Chad learns the true dangers of war, as He-Man emerges from the castle with Burbie, back to full health. The moral of the episode begins...

He-Man turns to the audience announcing, "Sometimes movies and television adventure series like this one make it seem as though shooting a gun, fighting, and taking chances are fun and exciting things to do." The most powerful man continues, "And what's more, the good guys never get hurt." As we see the events of Elden's tragic flashback take place He-Man reveals, "But in real life, people do get hurt, even killed, when they fight or use guns." He-Man assures the audience, "Make-believe can be fun, and there's nothing wrong with imagining great adventures." He finishes the lesson with an incredibly stern warning, "But never forget, that when it's the real thing, someone can get hurt. Even the good guys! Even you."

This moral segment is quite possibly one of the best of the series. Firstly, the lesson it explicitly preaches has already been naturally woven into the episode through Chad and Elden, without any of it feeling forced. Because of this the moral is as good as the entire episode that precedes it! Not only is it an incredibly informative moral, but it also addresses the critics of the show that believed He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was nothing more than a toy-driven exercise in violence! The fact that He-Man brutally admits to the audience that his world is complete fantasy is startling, given that we have invested so much into these fantasy adventures. Rarely has a character ever broken the fourth wall in such a dramatic fashion.

15 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #20

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #20
Granamyr reveals a twist in the tale.
"The Dragon's Gift"



Skeletor, having snuck into the Royal Palace disguised as a nobleman, attempts to use the mysterious power of the Weird of Crystal on King Randor. However, Man-At-Arms intervenes, and the crystal turns him into a stone statue. He-Man, Battle Cat, and Teela journey to Castle Grayskull hoping that the Sorceress can reverse the cruel spell. She claims that Granamyr, the oldest and wisest of the dragons of Darksmoke may know, but that she cannot reveal the location of Darksmoke. After a great deal of research the heroes head for the Ice Mountains. Finally reaching Darksmoke He-Man, Battle Cat, and Teela enter the huge treasure-filled dome. Granamyr informs the heroes of his less-than-pleasant past experiences with humans. He states that he will restore Man-At-Arms in exchange for a gift. He commands He-Man to cut down Skytree so he can watch it burn in his firepit. Upon locating Skytree in the Forgotten Forest the heroes are shocked to learn that the large towering tree is a living being. Having been saved by an ancestor of Man-At-Arms Skytree agrees to be chopped down in exchange for the life of Man-At-Arms. He-Man cannot bring himself to do it, and with the agreement of a heartbroken Teela, they travel back to Granamry empty-handed...

He-Man, Battle Cat, and Teela appear once more within Granamyr's lair. The great dragon immediately asks, "Where is my gift?" He-Man simply informs Granamyr that they don't have it in their possession. Granamyr reminds He-Man, "But you agreed!" He-Man takes this opportunity to explain himself and his moral standards to the dragon, "Skytree, in fact any tree, has as much right to life as you or me or Man-At-Arms." The most powerful man in the universe simply adds a hard-hitting statement, "We will not take a life to save a life." As an angry Granamyr looks on, He-Man doesn't hide from their original agreement, "Pick another gift or send us to the Realm of Demons now." An inquiring Granamyr asks, "It would be my right to do so, wouldn't it?" He-Man wholeheartedly agrees. The great dragon then leans towards the heroes stating, "Wisdom, compassion and the honoring of a bargain. Who would have thought humankind could have improved so much in a thousand years?" Granamyr returns to his upright position announcing, "I accept this gift, He-Man." And with that the dragon gestures his mighty hand, and a book appears to Teela, in which the spell that will cure Man-At-Arms is contained. Teela thanks Granamyr, but he leans down and replies, "You can thank me best by letting me sleep. And never bothering me again!" And with that, Granamyr returns to sleep in his firepit.

This scene features not only a beautiful exchange of dialogue between Granamyr and He-Man, but more importantly features one of the all-time great plot twists. When He-Man, Battle Cat, and Teela return without Skytree, we are aware that (because of the nature of this animated series) this isn't the end of our heroes. But the turn on Granamyr's part is completely unexpected. Larry DiTillio writes Granamyr as such a powerfully determined character that none of us dare suspect that the gift the great dragon has in mind is in fact a test of He-Man's moral standards. The lesson about the value of life is written perfectly, as is the moment when Granamyr accepts the gift. The scene also once more justifies He-Man as the most appropriate individual to wield the power of Castle Grayskull.

14 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #21

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #21
Skeletor reluctantly aids He-Man in order to save Eternia.
"Evilseed"



When large vines begin overrunning the planet, both the heroes and villains of Eternia find themselves in a dangerous situation. From their bases of operation He-Man and Skeletor are mystified by the events, and watch as their respective allies are captured by the vines. After being rescued by the Sorceress, He-Man decides to contact Skeletor, presuming that it is he that is in control of the vines. Just as Skeletor denies all knowledge of the attacks their communication is interrupted by a being known as Evilseed. He claims that the vines are his doing, and reveals the captured allies of He-Man and Skeletor bound to an oversized vine. He-Man, the Sorceress, and Orko realize that the only way to stop Evilseed is to make it snow. After much resistance Skeletor agrees to aid the heroes, as He-Man journeys to the Ice Mountains in an effort to procure a large chunk of ice. With an impressive show of strength He-Man manages to throw the ice into the skies of Eternia and in the direction of Castle Grayskull...

He-Man returns to Castle Grayskull and is immediately called into action; saving Skeletor from a vine that has him bound. Sat on the floor, a slightly humiliated and frustrated Skeletor asks He-Man, "Don't you get awfully tired of being a hero all the time?" As He-Man smiles back at his foe, Orko alerts everyone gathered that the large block of ice is closing in towards Castle Grayskull. He-Man, Skeletor, the Sorceress, and Orko head to one of the two towers. As they ascend the tower Skeletor comically asks the most powerful man in the universe, "Don't you ever feel like doing something evil?" He-Man, now atop the turret, responds, "Don't you ever feel like doing something good?" The large block of ice comes into view and all concerned realize that they must act fast. He-Man draws his Sword of Power, and alongside the Sorceress, and Orko, they fire at the ice. However, the ice fails to explode, and Skeletor merely observes the events taking place. Looking out of the corner of her eye the Sorceress pleads, "We need more power." He-Man with the sword still raised turns to Skeletor commanding him to raise his Havoc Staff. Skeletor's voice is incredibly unsure as he replies, "I don't know..." He-Man moves closer to his foe, reminding him, "If you don't, everything will be destroyed!" Skeletor is clearly torn over the decision to help the heroes, and looks down helplessly towards his Havoc Staff. At the very last second Skeletor raises his Havoc Staff. All four individuals fire at the large block of ice, and it explodes, beginning a heavy flurry of snow, and the end of Evilseed's threat!

Firstly, it has to be said that with this episode Barney Cohen wrote one of the best characterizations of Skeletor that the series ever saw. He is both comedic and evil, without being over the top. Throughout the episode we see the way in which Skeletor operates, opportunistically waiting for his moment to strike! This scene in which Skeletor really struggles to aid the heroes is the culmination of the Skeletor-related character events that have taken place during the episode. The dialogue between He-Man and Skeletor is perfect. Surprisingly, the way in which this final scene is written almost makes us feel sorry for Skeletor, because we see that for him, aiding the heroes is a truly harrowing experience! The image of He-Man, Skeletor, the Sorceress, and Orko all firing their blasts into the sky is one of the most iconic images of the series. The story of good and evil having to team up is nothing new in storytelling. But this scene showcases that this episode does it better than most!

13 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #22

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #22
Castle Grayskull is overthrown by the Evil Lord of Destruction!
"The Dragon Invasion"



In the area known as Dragonmount, Skeletor and Beast Man succeed in stealing the Mother Dragon's eggs. The villains subsequently relocate the individual eggs, fused with Skeletor's growth serum, across the planet of Eternia. Those at the Royal Palace are surprised to see an oversized dragon egg show up in the palace grounds. The gathered few are shocked when the baby dragon emerges and quickly grows into a furiously angry adult dragon! He-Man and his friends manage to stop the dragon from destroying the palace and soon discover that many locations across Eternia have also fallen victim to dragon attacks. The group of heroes decide to split up in an attempt to help those in need throughout the various locations. With the heroes distracted, Skeletor and his Evil Warriors step through a magical gateway inside the confines of Snake Mountain, and emerge outside of Castle Grayskull...

As the magical gateway fades away Skeletor and his Evil Warriors find themselves on the bone bridge that leads up to Castle Grayskull. Skeletor declares, "Our new home...Castle Grayskull!" Evil-Lyn is quick to point out that they won't be able to enter, given that each time they have tried both He-Man and the Sorceress have thwarted their attempts. As he gazes towards the mystical sphere, Skeletor rebukes that not even the Sorceress can resist the power of the Dragonpearl. He then turns to Castle Grayskull, raises his Havoc Staff to the heavens, and screams, "Sorceress! I will control Castle Grayskull!" before issuing a challenge, "Stop me, if you dare!!" The Sorceress appears within one of the castle's turret windows almost confused by Skeletor's actions. Skeletor orders Evil-Lyn to focus her magic on the Dragonpearl, as it will dramatically increase her abilities. Evil-Lyn unleashes a continuous blast of energy that shoots into the mystical sphere, and emerges from the other side greatly increased. The Sorceress attempts to stop the blast, but is overcome by the magic, and pulled into the Dragonpearl itself! Skeletor proceeds to enter Castle Grayskull, shortly after He-Man receives a telepathic distress call from the Sorceress. Inside the castle Skeletor gleefully observes his conquest, "At last...Castle Grayskull and all its secrets are mine." Utilizing the Dragonpearl once more Skeletor creates a force field around it. He-Man and his friends race to the castle only to realize that they are too late. A fallen He-Man questions, "What in Eternia is going on?" The grim visage of Skeletor appears over the face of Castle Grayskull as he proudly informs his ever-present enemy, "Grayskull has fallen, He-Man - To me!" The villain continues, "The Sorceress is my prisoner - and with her power added to the Dragonpearl, all of Eternia will be mine!" He-Man and his friends are helpless, as Skeletor laughs maniacally.

"The Dragon Invasion" is one of the all-time best action/adventure episodes of the series. There is no deep character-driven writing, as the episode has absolutely no need for it. In one of Skeletor's best laid plans we see him steal the Mother Dragon's eggs, distract He-Man and his allies, defeat the Sorceress with the aid of the Dragonpearl, and succeed in conquering Castle Grayskull. Very few of his future plans would ever be as perfect as this one! The way in which this specific scene ends is incredibly memorable, with a fallen He-Man looking upwards towards the eerie image of Skeletor's laughing skull over Castle Grayskull!

12 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #23

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #23
He-Man is tempted by the Starseed to do evil.
"The Search"



Having received a worrying visit from Zodac, the Sorceress reveals to He-Man that Skeletor is currently in pursuit of the Starseed; the most powerful artifact on the planet of Eternia, comprised from the energy of the explosion that created the universe! She explains that the Starseed can do anything that its possessor wishes. He-Man, Battle Cat, and Orko leave Castle Grayskull and race after Skeletor. The heroes fail to stop Skeletor the first time and wind up trapped the other side of a cave-in. The second confrontation ends with Orko being taken hostage by Skeletor, prompting He-Man to work alongside his enemy in order to progress towards the Crystal Cave in which the Starseed is located. Reaching their destination the forces of good and evil find their path blocked by large crystal demons. Working together He-Man and Skeletor manage to defeat them, but as He-Man battles with Beast Man and Mer-Man Skeletor makes a dash for the Starseed. Believing he has obtained the Starseed Skeletor attempts to use it on He-Man, not realizing that Orko has replaced it with a fake. He-Man stands before Skeletor with the Starseed in hand...

He-Man's tone of voice has already changed as he informs his erstwhile foe, "You know better than to oppose me now, Skeletor. I hold the power of the Starseed." His expression begins to alter as he brings the Starseed closer to his face, "The universe could be rid of your evil!" He-Man's eyes widen as he realizes the true power he wields, "I could rid the entire universe of evil. Nothing could stop me!" He-Man's drastic character transformation continues, "No one would dare oppose my will. Whatever I want, I could have." Skeletor begins to suspect a change in the personality of the most powerful man in the universe exclaiming, "We're not so far apart, are we He-Man?" He-Man admits to Skeletor that he can understand why the villain wanted to possess the Starseed, with his voice now straining, "The feeling of power is very strong." Orko is shocked at the shift in personality of his ally. Skeletor delights in the situation informing He-Man, "You're becoming evil, He-Man - I can sense it!" The villain then makes a bold proposal, "Join forces with me! Together we will rule!" Just as He-Man questions the idea in his mind, the Sorceress appears to him, as he recalls their earlier conversation, "The Starseed will tempt you to do evil! You must fight it!" He-Man begins to come to his senses, realizing that his mind is becoming warped by the Starseed's power. He-Man then turns to Skeletor and threatens, "I could use this to stop you, Skeletor!" The villain cowers, before He-Man announces "But if I use this power against you - then I'm no better then you are!" He-Man, Battle Cat, and Orko watch as Skeletor hastily retreats.

"The Search" spends much of the episode focusing on the heroes chasing the villains towards the Starseed. However, this scene in which He-Man is tempted to do evil really does come out of nowhere! It makes for a refreshing change to see the most powerful man in the universe challenged (and nearly defeated) in an incredibly unique way. It is not He-Man's physical strength that is tested in this episode, rather it is his strength of character and heart. The scene is given even greater depth when we learn that the Starseed was Zodac's test of He-Man's virtue, revealing that this story truly was about the man that wields the power of Castle Grayskull.

11 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #24

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #24
A group of children question Prince Adam about He-Man and Skeletor.
""Not so Blind""



In a bustling street market Prince Adam searches for a gift for his mother, Queen Marlena. A silk merchant, honored by the presence of royalty, inquires as to why the gift is being purchased for the Queen, questioning if today is in fact Queen Marlena's birthday. A somewhat embarrassed Adam explains that he would simply like to buy her a gift because he loves her. As the silk merchant presents a hand-embroidered scarf to his royal customer the sound of children excitedly all talking at once distracts them. Prince Adam turns to see a storyteller entertaining children with tales of He-Man's mighty feats of strength. As the Prince approaches, the storyteller immediately introduces him to the children, whom are all awestruck by his presence, informing them that Prince Adam is the individual that regales him with stories of He-Man's adventures...

As Prince Adam sits next to the storyteller the children all begin to chatter at once, with one little girl walking up. She asks with wide-eyed excitement if Adam lives in the Royal Palace. He states that he does, but is not quite ready for her next question. "Does He-Man live there, too?" asks the little girl. The Prince stumbles over his words, "Uh, well, sometimes. Actually, he just seems to turn up when he's needed." A determined young boy asks the question, "I wanna know something. How come He-Man doesn't just go to Snake Mountain and smash Skeletor into little bones?" The children all begin wondering the same thing. Prince Adam, though somewhat taken aback, is quick to point out that He-man never tries to hurt any living thing, evil or not. The boy hits back with another question, "But I don't understand. When I do something bad, I get punished. Why doesn't Skeletor?", with another child asking, "Yeah, how come he gets away with everything?" Adam assures that Skeletor will be punished for his evil deeds by explaining, "Skeletor is not an ordinary criminal. You see, when someone commits a crime, he is tried and, if found guilty, well, he is punished." The child rebukes, "Skeletor hasn't been punished." One child comically says to the other, "I told you. If you were powerful enough, you could get away with anything." Hearing this Prince Adam attempts to explain that Skeletor's punishment is continually delayed, and that the more evil Skeletor does, the worse his punishment will be. The Prince ends his unexpected question and answer session with the line, "And each day we come closer to taking care of Skeletor once and for all." The determined young boy makes his humorous feelings clear, "I still think He-Man should beat him up." The children are called in for dinner, and the determined young boy turns to his sister, saying that he'll race her home, before screaming at the top of his lungs, "I have the power!" as he runs off into the distance.

To some this may be a straightforward humorous scene, but in truth it is an incredibly well-written detailed examination of the cartoon's basic premise! The true cleverness of this scene is that writer Robert Lamb (through Prince Adam) is answering questions posed by both children in the real world and the critics of the show at the time. The children ask the questions we have all heard before, and even thought to ask ourselves on occasion. Prince Adam not only addresses He-Man's morality and belief in life itself, but beautifully details at length the simple issue of He-Man putting an end to the ever-constant threat of Skeletor once and for all.

10 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #25

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #25
The Spirit of Evil realizes that it can never defeat He-Man.
"Wizard of Stone Mountain"



Mallek, the wizard of Stone Mountain, pines over Teela, who rejected his romantic advances many years before when they were studying in the City of Wisdom. A creature named Lokus appears to Mallek, claiming that for a price his master can help the young wizard win the heart of Teela. Mallek happily agrees to the bargain. However, it soon becomes apparent that all is not as it seems. In disguise Lokus arrives at the Royal Palace and informs Teela that Mallek destroyed the Stone Mountain dam out of love for her. Teela quickly enlists the aid of He-Man, Battle Cat, and Ram Man, and together they head for Stone Mountain. Upon arriving Mallek captures Teela and warns He-Man and the others to leave. As Mallek sits down with an understandably disgruntled Teela, Lokus reappears and informs Mallek that the young wizard now has to pay him honoring his half of the bargain. A confused Mallek inquires as to what Lokus desires. Lokus reveals that the price is Mallek's soul! As Mallek and Teela try to comprehend the situation, Lokus hurriedly summons his master. The Spirit of Evil, a large fiery demon, appears, moments before He-Man and his allies come crashing through the wall...

The Spirit of Evil greets the most powerful man in the universe having learned of his identity "He-Man! So we face each other at last!" A somewhat perplexed He-Man tries to make sense of the fiery being stood in front of him. The Spirit of Evil gives a chilling speech laced with an underlying threat, "I am the master of fear, and the destroyer of hope! The enemy of mankind throughout the universe! Mortal, I am evil itself!" And with that the heroes immediately leap into action! With both Battle Cat and Ram Man failing to stop the Spirit of Evil, the creature raises its fiery fist and attempts to crush He-Man. The Spirit of Evil is visibly shocked when it realizes just how strong He-Man is. "No! It cannot be! He is as powerful as I!" reveals the creature, as He-Man continues to prevent the large fiery fist from crushing him. with a great effort of strength He-Man pushes the hand away, prompting the Spirit of Evil to announce, "Incredible! Your goodness is equal to my own dark power!" It becomes clear that the Spirit of Evil has never fought a foe such as He-Man, and is almost impressed with the most powerful man in the universe's strength of will. Revealing the true extent of how evenly matched they are the Spirit of Evil declares, "I could fight you for years and never win!" He-Man answers, "I'm ready if you are!" And with that the fiery creature turns its attention away from He-Man, and back to Mallek.

This scene wonderfully demonstrates He-Man's physical strength and his strength of will. The Spirit of Evil is not simply the name of a fiery creature written into the script. This being is the personification of pure evil. Its appearance in this episode is both dramatic and brave on the part of Filmation to follow through with such a dark concept. Another great thing about this confrontation is that the Spirit of Evil doesn't enter into a lengthy fight with He-Man. As soon as the creature realizes just how powerful He-Man is, it retreats! To think that in this episode He-Man overcame the embodiment of pure evil is nothing short of astounding.

09 September 2013

30 YEARS - Top 30 GREATEST MOMENTS #26

On the 5th of September 1983 the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe received its WORLD premiere in the UK! To celebrate 30 YEARS since this historic day I am counting down (on a daily basis) what I believe to be the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS of the Filmation series.

GREATEST MOMENT #26
Evil-Lyn and Teela converse around a campfire.
"The Witch and The Warrior"



Mallek, the wizard of Stone Mountain, is serving as the magical guardian of the Fountain of Life, which is located within the desert city of Aridan. At the same time the evil wizard Kothos has sworn to steal the fountain's magic water, which will cause the city to die. When the magic attacks of Kothos become too much for him, Mallek contacts the Royal Palace for assistance. Soon, He-Man and Teela race to his side in order to stop the evil wizard from succeeding in his theft. Skeletor, having heard that Kothos desires the fountain, sends both Evil-Lyn and Clawful to steal it first! Within moments of their arrival He-Man and Teela find themselves called into action. He-Man battles Kothos and his magical sand demon, while Teela comes face to face with Evil-Lyn. When He-Man is momentarily distracted by Clawful's attack, Kothos makes his way to the temple. The evil wizard uses his power to levitate the entire temple into the air, and shortly after strips Evil-Lyn of her magical abilities. Having no need for either, Kothos transports both Evil-Lyn and Teela back to the ground, thus stranding them in the middle of the desert. The pair find they must work together against the many terrors that lurk in the desert...

With the sun now set, and the pair having walked many miles across the desert, a now-powerless Evil-Lyn creates a campfire, so that she and Teela can settle down for the night. Feeling the need to prove to her adversary that she is more than capable without her powers Evil-Lyn remarks, "You see? Even without magic I'm not totally helpless." Teela quickly answers, "I never said you were", before complimenting, "Actually, you're pretty resourceful." Teela then decides to take the conversation in another direction by asking Evil-Lyn why she wastes her time fighting for Skeletor. Evil-Lyn happily answers, revealing a great deal about her character motivation, "I have no loyalty to Skeletor. It's his power I want. Someday I'll seize it from him, and then all Eternia will feel my might!" Teela reminds Evil-Lyn, "You know I'll have to stop you." Evil-Lyn turns away from Teela wrapping her cape around herself answering reflectively, "I know you'll try." Not making any eye contact with Teela Evil-Lyn continues, "Too bad, really. We make a nice team, you and I." Teela looks out into the distance and thoughtfully answers, "In a strange way, we do."

Some may question why this incredibly brief scene features in my list of the top thirty greatest moments from the series. The simple fact is that in the space of thirty-four seconds we're treated to beautiful direction, fantastic character writing, and the most natural voice acting by Linda Gary. "The Witch and The Warrior" is probably the least celebrated Paul Dini episode. The truth is this is not one of his strongest episodes. But with one short scene he is able to give the entire episode a great deal of credence.

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