We're about 3/4ths of the way through season one. At this point they've built up a respectable enough library of animation that they can put together a pretty decent show, and the stories are a lot more cohesive than they were earlier on. Sometimes they're a bit formulaic, but they're still freewheeling enough to keep them weird.
In quality, I'd liken it to a good 60's comic book.
It's interesting to watch the creators learn what works and doesn't work for the show. Early on, they clearly thought Orko would be their hit character, but he was painfully annoying, so they sidelined him for a while-- actually, they sidelined the whole Eternian court, and had a few episodes where He-Man spent little or no time there, which gave the show kind of a cool, adventurous, Conan vibe.
Then they started to bring the others characters back more effectively. Fewer Man-At-Arms lectures, more interaction between Teela and He-Man, and now we get just enough Orko, and he's actually funny (usually... sometimes).
I should point out that the DVDs that I'm watching and the current Netlix stream order the episodes differently, which is strange. It doesn't really matter, but I think the DVD is probably more accurate, because there's a natural and clear progress to their animation stockpile, and the first episode of the DVD is much more clearly the pilot episode. The Netflix stream starts with the second episode of the DVD, which involves this insanely annoying wizard, and it's legit one of the worst episodes of anything I've ever seen. Seriously. If it was a choice between that episode and Daniel Tiger, I'd watch Daniel Tiger.
The strength of the series is still the concept design-- the crazy locations the characters travel to, and all the awesome monsters they fight. Seriously, those monsters are fucking great, and range from cool classic designs to just weird, weird, crazy shit with bizarre powers. I'm realizing just how much watching this show as a young kid influenced what I expect out of an adventure show, or maybe I liked this show so much because it really catered to my natural tastes. I don't know, either way, this show definitely gets your imagination pumping.
People have mentioned that they thought it seemed influenced by Jack Kirby comics, and honestly I don't see much of that, but I do see A LOT of Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon influencing this-- actually, He-Man's mother, Marlena, pretty much is a female Flash Gordon (who doesn't play for the Jets ;) ).
The lore of the world of He-Man continues to take shape, and is pretty interesting to try to make sense out of. Eternia (which I guess is the name of both the city Randor rules and the planet itself, although he doesn't rule the whole planet) seems to be a feudal city-state with a few allies that it trades with both on and off planet, and a few cities it's enemies with, and a bunch of cities that it has no contact with whatsoever, and are mutually ignorant of each other. These cities are all either ruled by a sorcerer king/queen of some kind, or by a ruler who has a sorcerer as prime adviser.
So far, Eternia is the one exception to this, where instead of a sorcerer, they have Man-At-Arms, who is an inventor, although his inventions are so sci-fi that they're effectively sorcery.
There are also a bunch of sorcerers who just live on their own out in the wilderness. So there are a lot of magic people out there, and there's actually a sorcery college that Teela attended, although she didn't stick around long enough to learn magic (just long enough to break hearts).
The world is also completely littered with ancient ruins of advanced civilizations that had incredible magic or technological power. Some of them are secret, or forgotten legends, others aren't, and literally anybody can and will just wander into these things and snatch up some crazy death ray. That's largely Skeletor's MO, and after stopping him, He-Man will frequently just put the magic thing back where it was... which doesn't seem like the most secure protocol, but then again, like I said, there's so much of this stuff lying around that maybe it doesn't matter.
All this paints an interesting picture of a world that had collapsed, and is now emerging out of a long dark age, with different regions reconnecting with each other.
One interesting thing is that He-Man himself is treated as some kind of ancient legend that even people in far-off cities that have never heard of Eternia (the city) have heard tales of, but didn't think he was real. So it seems like Adam wasn't the first person to have this power, which is kind of cool, and adds to the mystery of Grayskull's past.
At this point they're starting to get a bit better at finding places for Adam to turn into He-Man that aren't COMPLETELY obvious, but it's still annoying that Teela at least hasn't figured this out. I mean, if some people think he's this mysterious force that wanders the wilderness fighting evil wherever it appears that's one thing, but how often can he just show up IN YOUR OWN HOUSE before you start asking questions?
"Good thing the naked barbarian man was wandering around our halls uninvited, or we really would have been screwed," is a really weird thing to find yourself saying so often.
Also, it occurs to me that this whole He-Man thing is a pretty sweet gig for Adam. Besides the "most powerful man in the universe" thing, his "cover" is that he has to spend most of his time acting like a spoiled rich kid who's too useless to trust with any real responsibility so that he can keep his heroing schedule open. So he does things like run around the castle having blindfolded tickle fights with the girls of the court. For real!
When I was a kid I thought Teela was a real nag, but I was totally wrong, Adam is the worst! (although she does nag...) (also I'm just jealous)
Of all the sorcerers I mentioned, Skeletor is recognized as uniquely powerful and evil. There are sorcerers more powerful (usually the hermit-style ones, like the Sorceress of Grayskull), but even they tread carefully around him. I think we learn some of his back story later, but at the point I'm at he's still a mystery. His powers are completely all over the place, casting some truly interesting spells every now and then, but the main ability he shows consistently is the very practical power to teleport himself and his henchmen wherever he wants them to be, and more importantly, back to base. This makes his henchmen practically un-aprehendable. So if you see them get caught, as happens occasionally, know that he COULD bring them back whenever he wanted, but he's just a dick. He's really the worst boss ever, which seems to be part of his philosophy of just being as evil as possible at all times.
And he's good at being evil too! In one of the best super-villain plots I've ever heard of, he defeated He-Man, erased his memory, and then dropped him into a portal to another dimension. That's fucking evil done right!
One of the things about this show is that it's usually said to be just a commercial to sell action figures... but if that's the case they sure don't show many of them! Other than the principle characters, you barely see any other of the action figures, which is kind of weird because there are SO MANY characters in the show that could easily have been turned into toys. I remember as a kid I just assumed half of them were, and that I just never saw them at the store.
I wonder if this changes at all in the second season.
Last time I posted about He-Man, Phil Jimenez mentioned the gay subtext in it, and, uh, yeah, that's definitely a thing, especially in the earlier episodes. Seriously, early on, Adam and Man-At-Arms are pretty much dating. I mean, they're two grown men going on picnics and stuff together, and I don't know what else to call that. I think they realized that would give a certain impression, so they started having more "professional" reasons for them to be hanging out when trouble strikes, so there's not as much of that as the season gets on, but one of He-Man's signature moves is still to throw boulders at people that look suspiciously like testicles...
Also, probably the most blatant gay subtext (if you can even call this subtext) was, after that thing I mentioned about Skeletor sending He-Man to another dimension, the dimension he ends up in is ruled by a GIANT PINK BUNNY who speaks with gay inflections in his voice, who wants to rule the world with He-Man at his side. Somebody was not being subtle there.
As a final note, I mentioned this last time, but I really like those little moral messages at the end. I remember at the time thinking that they were so annoying and played out, but they seem surprisingly fresh and relevant for today. Like, A LOT of people online could really learn something from He-Man and the crew.
Anyway, that's it. Damn, I had a lot to say about He-Man.