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Case Number 08580

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He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe: Season One, Volume Two

BCI Eclipse // 1983 // 680 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 13th, 2006

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson thinks the Sorceress is hot—at least when she's not molting.

The Charge

I have the power!!!

Opening Statement

He-Man is back for the second portion of his mammoth 65 episode Season One debut. What to expect from the great blond tanned one's adventures this go-round? How about evil plots, mystical warlocks, goofy sidekicks, emotionally abused lackeys, dragons, mutant fish, a totalitarian female regime, trans-dimensional hopping, proof of Orko's heterosexuality, Teela in exile, Man-at-Arms helmet-less, the King and Queen of Eternia skiing in their royal garb, more dragons, and half a loaf of Ram Man?!

Facts of the Case

In 1983 the world changed: He-Man arrived.

Okay, so I didn't note the degree to which the world changed, but in the near-infinite scheme of space-time there must have been a nano-modicum of ripple when Prince Adam first held aloft the Sword of Power and torched his cat, Cringer. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe opened the door to Eternia, a far-off planet ruled by the benevolent King Randor and Queen Marlena, and protected by the powerful perfect Aryan, He-Man, a pumped-up sword-wielder with Boy Scout sensibilities. Aiding He-Man in his duties are Man-at-Arms, inventor extraordinaire and weapons expert; Teela, captain of the Eternian Guard; Orko, the comic relief; Sorceress, the bodacious bird-woman hybrid and occupier of Castle Grayskull; and a host of bizarre heroic warriors.

Their nemeses? Skeletor, the most inept despot in animation history and his battalion of buffoons: Beast-Man, Mer-Man, Evil Lyn, and a bunch of robots that detonate on contact. Skeletor's objective is to rule Eternia, and to do that he must commandeer Castle Grayskull. But with He-Man always a step ahead of him, his schemes always fall apart, leaving Skeletor and his sinister crew retreating to Snake Moutnain to lick their wounds and watch with disgust at the ensuing moral that caps each episode.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: Season One, Volume Two features the final 32 episodes of the 65-strong Season One:

Disc One
• "The Dragon's Gift"
• "The Sleepers Awaken"
• "The Search"
• "It's Not My Fault"
• "Valley of Power"
• "Trouble in Arcadia"
• "House of Shokoti, Part 1"

Disc Two
• "House of Shokoti, Part 2"
• "Double-Edge Sword"
• "The Mystery of Man-e-Faces"
• "The Region of Ice"
• "Orko's Missing Magic"
• "Eternal Darkness"
• "Keeper of the Ancient Ruins"

Disc Three
• "Return of Evil"
• "Return of the Gryphon"
• "Temple of the Sun"
• "City Beneath the Sea"
• "Teela's Trial"
• "Dree Elle's Return"

Disc Four
• "Game Plan"
• "Eye of the Beholder"
• "Quest for the Sword"
• "Castle of Heroes"
• "The Once and Future Duke"
• "The Witch and the Warrior"

Disc Five
• "The Return of Granamyr"
• "Pawns of the Game Master"
• "Golden Disks of Knowledge"
• "The Huntsman"
• "The Remedy"
• "The Heart of a Giant"

The Evidence

Let us cut to the quick: this batch of episodes is every bit as over-the-top, imaginative, cheeseball and fun as the 33 that preceded them. And these sets from BCI Eclipse are just awesome, obviously crafted by people with a deep love for this series. Frankly, whenever I tear into one of these collections, I come away staggered by the level of detail and quality—these releases indicate to me the proper way to put a DVD set together.

As for the stories themselves, we're talking typical He-Man:

1. Show the lurking threat, gathering, as our heroes fraternize.
2. Prince Adam makes a jackass out of himself, much to the dismay of his father and his best friend Teela.
3. The danger is unleashed, brought upon by (INSERT FLAMBOYANT VILLAIN HERE) who is after (INSERT PLOT DEVICE HERE) to take over Eternia.
4. He-Man shows up and lays the smackdown.
5. The villain is defeated and usually retreats or recognizes the wrongness of his evil lifestyle.
6. Prince Adam returns, grousing about how he missed all the action again! (wink wink)
7. Teela remains oblivious to the crushingly obvious physical similarities between Prince Adam and He-Man. (How'd she get her Captain of the Guard job again? Oh, right, that one-piece).
8. Orko dumps water on Man-at-Arms.
9. Everyone laughs it up.
10. The closing moral is handed down.

The writers mix and match these elements, but the general play-by-play is followed pretty routinely. What's different in these episodes than in the first 30-odd, is the reduced role of Skeletor. He is certainly in a good share of shows, but compared to the prior episodes, where he was in almost every one, old Boneface seems to have exceeded his union-mandated workload. And while I love Skeletor in all his bastard glory, I enjoyed the latitude for crazy villains that his time off allowed. You got the sorceress Shokoti, those sweet fascist women warlords, Negator, Rabar the rock creature, Baron Grod, and the Game Master.

By mixing up the villainy, and tossing in a barrage of weird plot devices like The Golden Disks of Knowledge, The Fountain of Life, the Scarab of Power, the Dimension Sphere, and the Stirrups of Eternal Lamentation (I made that last one up), the imagination meter blows way past "psychotropic drug-induced."

Look, these shows are a blast, a welcome shot of animation throwback, crammed silly with outlandish creatures and stories, and rife with the social values that have gone the way of the Dodo for many cartoons.

Dude, He-Man rocks.

You know what else rocks? This set. The 32 episodes are spread over five discs, with a sixth disc devoted to extra features. Each episode comes with a chapter selection and a few paragraphs of show-specific trivia. The full frame transfers look great, with superb colors and clean detailing. The 2.0 stereo tracks (English and Spanish) hold their own.

Disc six sports two lengthy featurettes: "The Stories of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Season 1 Part 2" and "He-Man Invades the Sand Diego Comic-Con." The former features writers going through a selection of the episode found on this volume, laying down insight and making-of trivia. The latter documents the 2005 Comic-Con, where He-Man creators talked to fans, signed autographs, and addressed crowds at a panel discussion. Wow, there are some dedicated fans out there.

As with the last set (and the The He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special), this one comes with two nifty collectible art cards. Rounding out the extras is a gallery of 50 character profiles, DVD commercial spots, five episode scripts via DVD-ROM, and full-length animated storyboard for "The House of Shokoti, Part 1."

A truly awesome production.

Closing Statement

I love reviewing these sets. This is what DVD was made for, and the creators of these offerings embrace the creativity of the technology. The extras, the packaging, the re-mastered episodes, even the menu selection, are dripping with adoration and innovation. Man, even if you don't really like Masters of the Universe, you should try to take a look at one of these. They're that impressive.

The Verdict

Teela has never looked better. Let's go Prince Adam, make your move! Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 100
Audio: 95
Extras: 100
Acting: 90
Story: 95
Judgment: 97

Perp Profile

Studio: BCI Eclipse
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 680 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• All Ages
• Animation
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• "He-Man Invades the San Diego Comic-Con"
• "The Stories of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe"
• Two Collectible Art Cards
• Animated Storyboard Comparison
• 50 Profiles of Characters, Creatures and Artifacts
• Trivia
• DVD-ROM Scripts








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