Friday, April 17, 2009

He-Man: 1980's cartoon craze...

I was one of the millions of boys who watched He-Man, formally known as He-Man And the Masters of the Universe. Everyday at 4pm after Guiding Light I would patiently await the start of He-Man. I once pretended I was the character...I used a sweeper nozzle for a sword one time. Sometimes I'd use the cardboard tube that was left over after the paper towel's had been all used up...a toilet paper tube was too had to be a paper towel tube. I had the opening theme memorized within days...and knew the movements of each character in the opening sequence. I could mute the opening and speak the narration myself if I wanted to but I didn't.

I HAVE THE POWER!!! Who didn't run around saying that phrase at some point after watching the cartoon? It was part of Adam's narrative in his transformation into He-Man. I don't profess to be a hardcore fan of the cartoon so I do not know all of the in's and out's and character bio's but I do enjoy the cartoon even to this day. I have one of the DVD collections and others are on the way. I hadn't seen episodes of the show since the early 1990's when they were being re-ran on the USA Network...but the overall plot of the show and several of the characters never left my memory.

The series centered around Adam, the Prince of Eternia. He had in his possession a power sword. He'd use this sword and recite a kind of magic incantation and transform into He-Man...while Adam's pet tiger, Cringer, would transform into the mighty Battle-Cat. Adam's parent's were King Randor and Queen Marlena. The top officer in the royal guard was a man named Duncan, who also went by the title of Man At Arms. He was also part scientist, part mechanic and inventor, in addition to his security skills. His step-daughter, Teela, provided a feminine viewpoint on the cartoon as she was a very serious character in sharp contrast to the easy-going Prince Adam whom she was hoping to turn into a fierce warrior someday. She'd consistently be on his case over something...not knowing that Adam's secret role as He-Man.

Rounding out the main cast of good guys was the alien, Orko, from the planet, Trolla. Orko was the comic relief...usually causing more harm than help. Adam's secret of being He-Man, excluding Cringer, was shared with Orko, Man At Arms, and the Sorceress. A series of supporting players appeared off and on, aiding He-Man and company. The help often included the likes of Ram-Man, Man-E-Faces, Stratos, Buzz Off, Fisto, Moss Man, and several others.

In his transformation to He-Man, Adam would shout out a phrase...calling upon the power from Grayskull. Upon each transformation, no matter where Adam happened to be, the transformation scenes would always feature a back-drop of Castle Grayskull and we'd see the energy and power rising up from the Abyss, underneath the castle, and charging itself into Adam...causing him to change into He-Man.

This "power" that He-Man possessed came from what was known as the Abyss, which lies beneath Castle Grayskull. The mysterious castle was home to a virtual unlimited supply of power and portal gates into other dimensions. It was protected from evil and taken care of by a character known as The Sorceress. This character, a female, could turn herself into a falcon if she chose. She spoke telepathically to He-Man in almost every episode...warning him of some upcoming event or disaster he must prepare himself for.

The villains of the series were many, just like the heroes...but the core group of villains on Eternia were Beast Man, Mer-Man, Kobra Khan, Evil Lynn, Tri-Klops, Whiplash, Webstor, Trap Jaw, and the leader of the pack, Skeletor.

As the intro to the show informs the viewer, He-Man and his associates protect Castle Grayskull from Skeletor and his army of villains. Skeletor wants to conquer Eternia...he resides inside Snake Mountain and concocts all of his schemes usually gazing through a crystal ball on his desk. His main underlings are Trap Jaw and Beast Man. Evil Lynn is the third primary villain...followed by Mer-Man.

The series ran two seasons, 1983-1984 and 1984-1985. There were 130 episodes produced. One of the unique things about the program was it's soap-opera feel. There were several episodes where events from the past were that took place in earlier episodes. Then there was the truth about Teela's origin. She was really the daughter of the Sorceress but Duncan adopted her. There are several scenes where Teela comes close to finding out who her biological mother one episode she learns it's the Sorceress but later on in the episode the Sorceress uses her magic powers to erase the revelation from Teela. There are other episodes where Teela openly talks about her wishes to find her mother one of these days...only to have an emotional Sorceress appear as a hologram listening in on the proceedings from above.

He-Man had a companion series that was almost as was called She-Ra, which followed the adventures of He-Man's twin sister. The story went that when Prince Adam was a baby, the palace was attacked by the Horde, a group of sinister villains attempting to take over Eternia. Their ground leader, Hordak, stole Adam's sister, Adora, from the royal family. Skeletor was preparing to steal Adam but Man At Arm's and other guards captured him. Hordak escaped using a dimension gate and Skeletor never forgave his "teacher" for deserting him. Hordak soon settled on Etheria and he was able to take over the planet. Skeletor in the meantime was not able to take control of Eternia. On Etheria, Hordak and his crew ruled the planet and the goal of She-Ra and her friends was to over-throw Hordak so that the people could be free from the Horde's dictatorship. The good guys were under the umbrella of "The Great Rebellion". The situation was reversed on we had Skeletor trying to conquer Eternia but never succeeding. She-Ra was never really able to defeat Hordak although in each episode he was defeated but remained in power because he'd use his various escape plans.

The series of both He-Man and She-Ra are available on DVD.


Anonymous said...

My sons watched He man as well. Your recap brings back memories. Love the bit about the paper towel tube. LOL Great job on your blogs!


ACcountryFan said...

thanks for the comment! i was upset when "He-Man" was taken off the air and replaced by "Thundercats" but then I became a fan of "Thundercats" as well...then after a few years they replaced that show with "Silver Hawks", which my brother liked more than I did, but I watched it, too. I was happy when they started running "He-Man" on USA Network even though they were re-runs.