Saturday, October 6, 2012

New Adventures of He-Man: Season 1, Episode 1 Review

A New Beginning - written by Jack Olesker

The story begins in the Tri-Solar System on the planet Primus. Caz and Drissi tend to their animals. Drissi demonstrates her ability to telepathically communicate with animals - an ability also performed by He-Man's twin sister She-Ra.

Nordor - a moon of the Mutant homeworld of Denebria - strangely appears in orbit around Primus, and it seems that the Mutant Fleet, led by the Mutant Mothership, is within the caverns of Nordor. From the main bridge of the Mothership, Flogg commands the fleet to attack Primus. His bridge crew is composed of Slush Head, Crita, Optikk, Hoove, Lizor and Karatti. Flogg is bent on destroying the remnants of the Human race, which populates planet Primus.

Although fighting has been banned for 1000 tilk on Primus, the Primusians have no choice but to find a solution against the Mutant threat. Master Sebrian, leader of the Inner Council, seeks approval from the council members - who are encased in special crystals so they can power the planetary shield that protects Primus. Their mysterious abilities have an interesting parallel to MOTU's original Council of Elders.

NA Skeletor at Snake Mountain
The time vessel that the Scientists (Alcon, Crax, Gabel and Melnock) use to send Flipshot and Hydron through the time vortex arrives on Eternia to be greeted by goat-men. The goat-men, led by Andros, take Flipshot and Hydron to a duplicitously apologetic Skeletor - who masquerades as a "good guy" who is more than happy to help the Primusians in their plight.

He-Man is notified telepathically by the Sorceress to go to the future and save humanity. At Eternos palace, Adam announces to King Randor and Queen Marlena that he must go away on a special mission. He transforms into He-Man in front of them by calling "By the Power of Grayskull...I Have the Power", finally revealing to them that he was the Champion of Eternia all along. Proud mother and father embrace their son, and wish him well on his mission to Primus.

New Adventure's version of Eternos Palace
He-Man tries to stop Skeletor, and the two quarrel. Not sure which one to take with them into the time vortex, Hydron and Flipshot take both to the future. Not too long after coming to Primus, the Mutants attack, and Skeletor reveals his true nature. He-Man shows his prowess and fends off the gang of vicious Mutants. Flogg commands a retreat, but not before Skeletor beats a retreat with them.

He-Man reveals himself as Prince Adam to Master Sebrian, leader of Primus. In order to protect his identity, Sebrian claims Adam as his merchant "nephew" from Lebitat.

On the Mothership, Skeletor shows his true power - revealing how he could easily defeat any of them, including Flogg. In a play to ensure the vast Mutant force caters to his whim, the Lord of Destruction feigns loyalty to Flogg, claiming he's only interested in destroying He-Man. Flogg and Skeletor agree to help each other destroy the human race of Primus and He-Man respectively.

This episode acts as a "bridge" or "passing of the torch" from the original Filmation series to the "New Adventures" (NA). Not only is the animation style different due to a totally different animation studio (Jetlag), designs of original returning characters are a departure as well. Despite having veteran MOTU toy line developers like Mark Taylor involved, there is very little connection stylistically to the original series. This was intentional, as Mattel wanted to make a fresh start with NA. There is no explanation as to why He-Man's, Skeletor's or the Sorceress' attire are different - it can be assumed that they always appeared this way in this continuity. There's also no explanation for why Queen Marlena's hair is blue.

NA's version of Snake Mountain
One of the major crimes of this episode, and the series itself is that Castle Grayskull never appears, despite Adam calling its name (or at least its original ruler's name) during his transformation into He-Man. Also, Eternos Palace looks nothing like its Filmation counterpart - looking more like a military compound, rather than a majestic royal palace. Snake Mountain however does resemble itself.

Ultimately, NA fails in staying true to its roots, but that's more Mattel's fault than it is the creators of the show. It also fails in the way of "passing the torch". A better job should have been done to transition from MOTU to NA - the role of Andros the Goat-Man would have played better if the original Beast-Man was used instead, but Mattel didn't want the "old" characters to take away from the new ones. Also, having Teela and Man-At-Arms send off He-Man would have helped, but the issue of time and "stealing the show" played here as well.  Explaining the costume changes would have been interesting, but again time and animation limitations likely played a role. Mattel played a gamble. They wanted to appeal to a new audience, not expecting old fans to be that interested anymore. Ironically, in trying to cater to new fans, the show did very little to provide a backstory to the lead characters, leaving them dependent on the concepts established in the previous show.

Storywise, this is a good start for the series - the episode sets up the protagonists, the antagonists and the main driving conflict. The story doesn't give satisfactory detail as to why and how the Primusians know of the legend that prompts them to seek out He-Man - it's left rather vague unfortunately. Skeletor's characterization has changed significantly - he is not as megalomanic. The NA Skeletor is more duplicitous and manipulative - he is constantly playing with strategy to achieve his goals, and never overtly takes control of the Mutants. He does however flex his authority, and over time, Flogg becomes more a figurehead than a true leader, leaving that true and silent role to the Lord of Destruction.

Characters to Appear:
The Scientists
Master Sebrian
Prince Adam/He-Man
King Randor
Queen Marlena

Slush Head

1 comment:

  1. I quite liked the NA series but agree that this transitional episode could have been handled better. They could have explained the costume and appearance changes by setting the Eternia scenes several years after the Filmation series, or even shown He-Man choosing a new outfit on Primus, or Skeletor altering himself with cybernetic parts. I'd have loved to have seen them return to Eternia as originally planned, I'm sure it would have been interesting.