Welcome back to another rewatch edition of the Daily Cartoon. Yesterday, we introduced ourselves to the 2002 Mike Young Productions version of He-Man and The Masters of the Universe and today we pick up with Episode 2.
Like I said yesterday, the first three episodes were all dropped together as basically a TV movie to introduce the new series and I ate that shit up with a spoon. VHS was still in vogue at this point and I was recording every episode on to one of those blank cassettes that I bought in bulk from the dollar store.
While still a very macro introduction, we do have the basis for what this series will be: Prince Adam is a 16 year-old slacker who has only known peace in his lifetime and thus has a hard time taking his responsibilities as prince seriously because – let’s be honest – it’s not like Skeletor is going to fucking attack Eternia anytime soon, right?
Stupid, stupid boy.
Well, Skeletor is fuckin’ coming and Adam doesn’t want to believe it so he doesn’t buy into the Sorceress’s prophecy that he is to become the guardian of Eternia. When we left off, Adam has blown off both her and Man-At-Arms only to find that the kingdom is under attack. And now we begin….
S01E02: The Beginning Part 2
Original Air Date: August 16, 2002
As usual, I’ve provide the episode if you haven’t watched in a while:
I am definitely a fan of the opening. It’s short, sweet, establishes the good guys and the bad guys and gets you right into the episode. Let’s roll.
Adam returns home to find the castle smoldering and his mother, Queen Marlena, tending to a falled warrior. She informs him that it was the work of Keldor and that King Randor and the defenders are trying to force the evil warriors back.
Man-At-Arms looks at Adam and is like, “my man, are you fucking getting this now?” Adam is still not getting this and just thinks it’s a one-off and it going to be over as soon as it started. Adam and MAA take off to join the battle and find Teela, Mekaneck and the others doing battle with Whiplash, Clawful and Trap-Jaw while Randor and who he thinks is still Keldor pair off.
Skeletor is in search of the power of the Elders which is in-line with the original series, but with the wrinkle that he doesn’t yet know that power is contained and protected within Castle Grayskull. OK, I can fucks with this. I like it.
Randor gets knocked the F out and Man-At-Arms again grills Adam like, “Motherfucker, do you see? DO YOU SEE?” Finally, Adam gets it and takes off running to Grayskull. Teela thinks he’s a coward to run from the fight, but Orko and Cringer are with it and take off following him to stay out of harm’s way.
This fight scene is doing a lot to get a lot of people over in the meantime. Teela as a well-equipped warrior, Evil-Lyn as a powerful sorceress, Whiplash, Clawful and Trap-Jaw as strong goons as well as seeing the individual powers of people like Man-E-Faces, Stratos, Beastman and Tri-Klops.
This scene is a really good display of the freedom the writers have with the characters. Whereas you couldn’t have direct violence in the original series because of the marketing of the show, you get direct fighting here. A lot of the impactful stuff of the original kind of took place off screen. You’d never see He-Man directly punch people – that was reserved for things like boulders and meteors – but you would see the aftermath of them being tossed by the tail or whatever. So our first current-day battle scene gives us a very different type of action that we’re accustomed to in this universe and it works very well.
Adam finally arrives at Castle Grayskull and the Sorceress is waiting for him. He follows her light through the catacombs of Grayskull until they’re finally deep underground where Adam is shown the crystal orb which holds the powers of the Elders. A trunk with the new-age “H” logo which replaced the old Iron Cross He-Man wore on his chest appears and, once opened, displays the new Power Sword.
Adam the boy struggles to lift the heavy sword, but he finally swings it and instinctively knows to yell, “By the power of Grayskull…”. We get our first transformation of the new series and He-Man now appears to us: the muscled, loin-clothed warrior we know and a big departure from the young boy he was moments ago; yet another drastic change from the original, but one that I think is easily accepted if not fully embraced. It definitely helps with the whole, “How can these morons not recognize that Adam and He-Man look EXACTLY alike?!” from the original.
The Sorceress says He-Man’s going to need a trusty companion and it just so happens Orko and Cringer have been eavesdropping on this whole thing since they followed Adam as he ran from the battle. He-Man ponders his options for a quick moment and then points the Power Sword and Cringer and – whazammo! – Battle Cat is born!
Cut back to the battle and our heroes are pretty fucked. Skeletor’s crew has the high ground and, to make matters worse, there’s an intense magmatite (flaming rocks hailing from the sky) shower keeping the good guys pinned for cover. One of Tri-Klops’s drones uses a tractor beam to pull Teela into the impact lane for a giant magmatite, but at the last minute, the drone is crushed and He-Man steps into view to shield Teela. That is our cliffhanger for this episode.
A lot of setup still and a lot of good setup. If you’re going to do a reboot, this is a great example of updating and expanding on things while still staying true to the original. Even though this is still just in the introductory stages, the writers are doing a great job of developing the characters, circumstances and world. Still have one episode remaining of “The Beginning” to get through before jumping into what the series becomes, but so far, I’m all about this.
It’s funny to think that it’s been almost as long since this series debuted to now as it was from when the original aired to this debut. The leaps and bounds in animation between the two are incredible. I know Filmation had to re-use a ton of backgrounds and action sequences to cut costs and keep the show viable financially, but even in episode two, the improvements in backgrounds and settings is very noticeable. Very much looking forward to getting really into this season to see even more expansion once past this introduction.
Very solid second episode. Kind of hard to judge independently as these first three episodes were made to be watched together and used to either welcome back old fans or say hello to new ones, but, once again, I found myself completely into it and ready for more.
It’s been quite some time since I’ve watched this series and – while it’s not like I’m watching for the first time – I am being reminded of a lot of things that I had forgotten about. That’s actually a nice feeling that I’ll continue to enjoy as we get further into this. Tomorrow, we get the end of The Beginning and I’m excited to see how He-Man ingratiates himself to his new comrades and enemies.