Sunday, April 19, 2009

She-Ra: 1980's cartoon craze.

In a previous blog entry I wrote some about the TV series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. The series was a major success, both commercially and in the ratings. He-Man/Masters of the Universe action figures, plus a big replica of Castle Grayskull, were among the top selling items around Christmas time in the early to mid 1980's. The companion series, She-Ra, also used action figures, comic books, and other gimmicks to tie in with the series. The She-Ra program ran fewer programs than He-Man and a lot of that had to do with less than expected commercial success with the action figures. The cartoon series itself was basically He-Man with a different focus and more exotic and strange looking villains. Some of the villains in Hordak's inner circle are Mantenna, Shadow Weaver, Leech, Grizzlor, Scorpia, and Catra. Mantenna's eyes popped out of his head and he could shoot stun rays out of them. He spoke in a nervous jittery voice...usually falling through a trap door that Hordak often sent his underlings falling into if they displeased him. Mantenna;s voice is close to Orko, from the He-Man series. Shadow Weaver was Hordak's top underling...she could cast spells and transform herself into anything by casting spells. Leech was a big green weird looking villain with big suction cup hands...he would drain the life out of his victim's. Catra was the purring feline, almost Catwoman like...Catra kept a red mask on top of her head and she could turn into a panther if she slid the mask down in front of her face. Scorpia had claws and pinchers and a long tail. She had a husky voice, too. Grizzlor, part man/part bear, was a buffoonish villain of sorts...often attempting to joke around with Hordak, who had little sense of humor.

It was a tale of two cartoons. As I pointed out in the earlier blog, He-Man and his friends helped protect Eternia and Castle Grayskull from Skeletor and his crew of villains. Eternia was ruled by King Randor and Queen Marlena. She-Ra, however, dealt with the problem of dictators. Hordak was appointed, I assume, acting ruler of Etheria with a crew of villains...those who opposed the Horde's influence were all banded together in Whispering Woods, part of the kingdom of Bright Moon, that Hordak hadn't yet conquered...and this became the premise of the series. The defector's proudly called themselves The Great Rebellion. The episodes of She-Ra centered around the Rebels stopping whatever scheme Hordak was planning. Since Etheria was ruled by Horde Prime, the seldom scene "boss" of Hordak, there were no higher power to over-rule the tyrannical ways of the Horde. So, members of the Great Rebellion fought Hordak constantly to keep Bright Moon from falling into slavery.

The leader of the Rebellion was Princess Adora, the twin sister of Prince Adam {He-Man}. Adora was raised by Hordak and grew up in a world of crime, although she didn't realize it. She was brainwashed by both Hordak and Shadow Weaver and raised in the Horde...raised to believe the Horde was protecting their planet from "vandals, crooks, and rebels" out to do harm to the Horde when in fact it was the Horde spreading it's terror all over the planet.

The movie, The Secret of the Sword, served as the pilot for the She-Ra program. In it, He-Man travels to Etheria to find the person the Sorceress sent him to find. He has a second sword with him...this one has a jewel in the center...he must give it to this mystery person in Etheria...soon he finds himself meeting up with Bow and Kowl, members of the Rebellion.

They tell He-Man they're engaged in an on-going battle with the Horde who has a vicious captain named Adora. When He-Man draws the sword the Sorceress gave him, it reacts in a bizarre way...leading He-Man to feel the sword is meant for Adora. A series of misunderstandings and mix-up's follow...Adora, through the telepathy of the Sorceress, learns that He-Man/Prince Adam is her brother and she learns the truth of her hidden origins. Adora uses the power sword to change into She-Ra for the first time. I won't give an entire review but that's a small sampling. As the series goes on, several people learn of Adora's secret of being She-Ra. As on the He-Man series, Prince Adam's secret identity was shared with Man-At-Arms, Orko, and the Sorceress. On She-Ra, Princess Adora's secret was shared with Light Hope, Madam Razz, and Kowl. Light Hope was the mystical spectrum residing inside the Crystal Castle, the equivalent to Castle Grayskull. Madam Razz was the scatterbrained witch and Kowl was a strange creature that was part owl and part koala...he had the face and body of an owl and had a furry appearance to match a koala. He used his big multicolored ears to fly.

The movie is on DVD #1 in that collection I'm holding up in the picture. On DVD #2 there's five episodes picked as favorites from the fan's of the show. The collection I'm holding up is The Best of She-Ra and so it isn't an episode-by-episode collection.

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