I've been revisiting the old He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon with my son, and writing about it on FB. People have said I should share it elsewhere on the internet, so I'm posting it here-- enjoy!
I've been watching He-Man again with the kid, which I haven't actually watched since I was about 7 years old.
It's interesting to watch it again as an adult and pick up on things that I didn't as a kid, both story elements and production stuff. It's a freakin' weird show.
Eternia is a bizarre post-apocalyptic wasteland, littered with the remnants of destroyed ancient civilizations. It's actually a pretty cool setting for an adventure story.
I'm trying to watch it to see if there's some subtext that I didn't pick up on as a kid, like there is in some old shows like Spider-Friends, but when I watch it that way, the show just gets even stranger. For instance, it's hilarious how easily the good guys and Skeletor can constantly sneak into each others bases to spy without any problems. I wonder how far apart they live? Seems like maybe ten or twenty miles?
And I used to wonder why no one lived with the Sorceress at Castle Greyskull, but now it's obvious-- it's on the crappiest piece of real estate in Eternia! And there are so many other weird magical places that it probably doesn't stand out too much.
Teela makes a lot more sense to me now than she used to. I used to think she was just a nag who didn't have any powers, but actually she's the head of the guard (which I guess I used to think was Man At Arm's job), and Eternia's most impressive warrior other than He-Man. It's not that she's mean to Adam, but she's just frustrated with him.
Also her ass is ridiculous.
It's not, like, the directorial thesis of the show, the way Firestar's was in Spider-Friends, but just as part of her character design, she's got some junk in the trunk.
Adam makes more sense to me too, kind of. I mean, not his clothes, and the secret identity thing is still stupid and the Achilles heel of the show as a concept. Teela, who's an otherwise really sharp character, should totally see through that spray tan and realize what's going on. It's not even funny that she can't, it's just annoying. The flimsy excuses as to where Adam keeps going are kind of funny, though. But one thing I never picked up on before is that Randor is really disappointed in Adam as a son, and Adam uses the bumbling reputation of his identity to wreck his dad's stuff. There's something interesting there that could almost justify the secret identity if they did more with it.
Orko could have been a good character if the show itself had better comedic timing. As it is, just like as a kid, anytime he shows up, I really very badly want him not to be on screen.
I kind of love how inconsistent He-Man and Skeletor's powers are. They just can do whatever they need to for any given scene to work. Too many bad guys to punch? He-Man can just take a deep breath and blow them away. It's kind of great, and keeps an otherwise predictable show interesting.
The plots of the stories are... bonkers. Like, I really wonder what the hell the writers were thinking when they were coming up with this stuff. They're kind of fun in their randomness, but also I feel like with just the amount of time you'd have to spend writing all the dialog for an episode, you'd accidentally come up with ways of having them make just a little more sense.
And someone really thought annoying voices were a lot more fun than they actually are.
I'm fascinated by the animation quality of the show. There are moments of really great animation... but only moments. And they use those moments over and over again, which is sometimes kind of fun, but sometimes just frustrating. Like, you can tell that the directors had to jump through some weird hoops to make the action scenes with the limited animation they had, so you get a lot of random somersaults and stuff to stand in for motions that probably shouldn't be somersaults.
There's one great shot where someone collapses, and Teela kneels down to see if they're okay, but she ends up lounging next to them, with her arm romantically draped over them. Stuff like that is kind of hilarious, and just makes the episodes even weirder than they already are.
Will loves the show. He really likes Skeletor, and he points to the screen and roars any time Battlecat shows up. He thinks Orko's a baby, but loses interest if there's too much talking.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on revisiting He-Man.
Wow, this post is a lot longer than I thought it would be.