BCI Eclipse // 1985 // 45 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 8th, 2006
"What -- what is this strange feeling coming over me?"
-- Skeletor, besieged by the Christmas sprit
Nothing says yuletide greetings and caring for your neighbor more than muscle-bound men in fur underpants.
I didn't even know there was a He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special. But I'm glad there is! This 45-minute jumbo episode details the adventures of our titular heroes as they battle Skeletor, Hordak, and the sinister Horde Prime, while also learning some valuable lessons about thankfulness and compassion from a pair of ethnically diverse Earth children.
Here's the insane story: Orko, up to his usual antics, steals aboard one of Man-at-Arms' latest inventions, some rocket/satellite thing. Thanks to some interference from Hordak (She-Ra's bone-clad nemesis), the rocket goes haywire, and ends up on Earth. At first dazed, Orko sobers up when he spots two young children, Miguel and Alicia, in danger. An avalanche is heading straight for them! Orko thinks fast and uses his magic to move the kids out of the way.
Meanwhile, back on Eternia, everyone in the royal palace is planning the mega-birthday celebration for the twins, Prince Adam (a.k.a. He-Man) and Princess Adora (a.k.a. She-Ra). But these plans are dramatically changed when Man-at-Arms brings Orko back -- with his newfound friends!
Not taken aback at all by their bizarre surroundings and the crazy-ass fairies, floating legless wizards, and midgets with steel-encased heads, Miguel and Alicia launch into their cute shtick, telling the Eternians about the magic of Christmas.
So enchanted by this new holiday, the King and Queen decide to combine Christmas with the twins' birthday and do one super-terrific celebration, where gifts will be given, boughs of holly will be hung, and Stratos will get @#$%-faced and try to grope Teela in the utility closet.
Evil, though, refuses to take a break, even for Christmas, and Horde Prime instructs Skeletor and Hordak to kidnap the Earth kids for use in some kind of half-assed diabolical scheme. He-Man and She-Ra have their work cut out for them as they attempt to stymie these malevolent advances. But in the end it won't be He-Man's giant sword or She-Ra's full bosom that will be the undoing of the villains. No, Skeletor will fall prey to a weapon he has never met before: the Christmas spirit!
He-Man. She-Ra. Skeletor. Santa Claus. All come together in a confluence of season's ass-kickings. Who would have thought that Eternians dig Christmas? Well, thanks to some well-meaning kids who never seem fazed by the horrific man-beasts that populate a strange planet, the holidays have come to the land of the Masters of the Universe, and everyone's better off for it.
A Christmas Special is a righteous blast from the past, astoundingly nonsensical, packed with super-cheesy dialogue, busy visuals, and ham-fisted morals. As such, it's a must-own for fans of '80s animation, and especially devotees of He-Man.
First, let me just say how amazed I was at the blatant disregard for political correctness exhibited by the producers. For one thing, the word "Christmas" is referred to all over the place. And even more shocking, the kids tell Orko about the wise men and their trip to the Nativity. Yikes! Skeletor needs to deploy ACLU-Man immediately and stamp out such vile rhetoric. Lest anyone get offended, one of the characters at the end says how not everyone celebrates Christmas, but that swell feeling that accompanies the holiday is potent enough to deliver cheer and happiness to all, heathen or not.
But enough of this! Where's the lasers and swordplay and punching?!? Oh, it's here, friend. Like any He-Man or She-Ra cartoon, the Christmas Special is loaded to the loincloth with weird villains (Spikor, Two-Bad, Modulok) and weirder heroes (a fairy named Peek-a-Blue, some dude who plays the guitar and looks like an out-of-work porn star from the '70s, a grotesque half man/half robot elephant head). All of the imagination and insane characters are more than present in this special -- think of it like a Funimation all-star lineup -- but there is one thing that separates A Christmas Special from all other episodes: Skeletor getting licked by a puppy.
For the first time, probably ever, Skeletor actually finds himself on the cusp of success for one of his sinister, but usually badly orchestrated, evil schemes. He's got the kids to deliver to Horde Prime and is ready to best his chief rival Hordak, but wouldn't you know it, the Christmas cheer gets to him. Thanks to the good will of the kids, plus the undeniable charm of a puppy dog thing, old Boneface softens up and even takes a timeout from his relentless bitching to do some good. He saves the kids, smiles (can a skeletal face smile?) when the puppy laps at him, and finds himself aligned with the forces of good for a change. It's all moving in a strange, "why is this moving?" kind of way, and, like all of these He-Man shows, is an example of the producers' commitment to hammering home positive social lessons for kids. The lesson from this special? Don't go in spaceships with gender ambiguous hovering wizards from distant planets.
As to be expected, BCI Eclipse has knocked this one out of the park. For such an old-school little animated program, the studio has gone ape-dirt in issuing a top-notch presentation. From the great packaging to the wealth of extras to the great-looking transfer, this disc is a winner.
Two robust documentaries -- "The Holidays and Morals of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" and "The Heroes and Villains of the Masters of the Universe" -- are pregnant with interviews with producers, writers, artists and fans of the series. These are the touchstones of the set and transmit the serious effort that went into their production; I can't imagine more substantial docs on the series.
Other extras: two cool collectible cards, a montage of He-Man morals, a 10-minute video featurette, in-depth character profiles, some text-based trivia, and the full, downloadable script for A Christmas Special.
Another standard-setter for lovingly crafted presentations of animated nostalgia. Yes, the content is dated and often ludicrous, but for fans of the series this disc is a no-brainer.
God bless you Skeletor! And God bless us, every one!
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: BCI Eclipse
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 45 Minutes
Release Year: 1985
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "The Holidays and Morals of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe"
* "The Heroes and Villains of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe"
* Collectible Art Cards
* Music Video
* Morals Montage
* Character Profiles
* Downloadable Script