08 February 2006

He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special

Intergalactic twin super heroes, He-Man and She-Ra must save two really annoying earth children from the grinch of their galaxy, Horde Prime. Meanwhile, all the children care about is the fact that they’re missing Christmas.

Though my memories of He-Man & She-Ra are vague, both shows still hold a special place in my heart. I can’t claim to be a die hard fan, but I enjoyed He-Man because of its evil villain, Skeletor, who was like Gargemel, but slightly more menacing. I, however, adored the spin-off series, She-Ra. I liked She-Ra because she was like Barbie, only she did something with her life. Plus, She-Ra also had really cool friends, like the mermaid lady, and the woman who could turn everything into flowers and rainbows. She-Ra also had killer boots and pretty hair. I really appreciated how the show refrained from stereotyping the likes and interests of little girls.

With that said, I’m quite disappointed to report that He-Man & She-Ra are not as cool as I remember. Now, before I launch into my scathing review of the He-Man & She-Ra Christmas Special, I have to give much respect to my M.A. advisor, Prof. Don Roberts, the educational and psychological consultant for the He-Man series. Prof. Roberts helped bring pro-social messaging to Saturday morning cartoons. Thus, as I make fun of the Christmas special, I must note that this great classic was designed for a much younger audience, not snotty little twenty-somethings.

In an effort to refrain from overly religious themes, the Christmas Special emphasizes Christmas as the season of giving – the giving of presents that is. Unfortunately, thanks to the blundering of He-Man’s sidekick, Orko, two Earth children are accidentally transported back to Eternia, causing them to miss the joyous holiday of gift-giving. Let’s just say that the special gets off to a rough start.

One of the reasons I found the opening so disappointing was Orko. I forgot about Orko, not to mention how ANNOYING he is! I hate bumbling sidekicks. Why do superheroes always have to hang out with annoying sidekicks? You’re a superhero! You CAN get cooler friends. Furthermore, Orko had to pick up the craziest kids on Earth, brother & sister pair, Manuel & Alicia. Firstly, Orko found these kids hanging out in the frozen tundra unsupervised. What kind of children go out looking for a Christmas tree in the middle of the Arctic? Crazy kids, that’s what kind. Secondly, these kids were unfazed by Orko (Admit it, if it weren’t for his dorky voice, he’d look pretty scary) or the fact that he transported them across the universe to another planet! To top off their creepiness, the kids were very Earth-centric. When Orko innocently asks the children what “Christmas” is, the children were like, “Duh! You don’t know what Christmas is…” Jerks. Then, when the kids find out they may be stranded on Eternia, they were like, “Does hat mean we’re going to miss Christmas [and not get my new He-Man action figure]? Wah. Wah. Wah Wah.” Jeez, get your priorities in order.

Despite how creepy these kids are, Horde Prime sets his sights on them for reasons I don’t quite understand. According to IMDB, Horde Prime was drawn to their “overflowing goodwill.” Yeah, I guess I missed that part. So, Horde Prime dispenses all his goons, including my boy Skeletor, to hunt down these crazy kids. It’s at this moment that I realize why guys today are so obsessed with working out. It’s the He-Man complex. He-Man is obviously buff, and Skeletor is definitely no slouch. Bad Gator guy? Ripped. Evil guy with two heads? Ripped. Spikey head guy? Ripped. Note to guys: Abandon these unrealistic images of the ideal male form. You will never look like He-Man. Also, why would you even want to look like He-Man? He’s, you know… I mean, just look at him.

Even creepier than the kids, was She-Ra’s horse, Swifty. I didn’t realize Swifty even spoke until the Christmas Special. I definitely never imagined such a gruff, man voice. Swifty’s like a cross between Danny DeVito and a My Little Pony. Second in odd voice casting was Cutter, the Deadly Robot, voiced by Wallace Shawn. Okay, he really wasn’t voiced by Wallace Shawn, but he sure did sound like him.

Overall, the film was quite disappointing. I guess that’s what happens when you watch A Christmas Special in 2006 instead of 1985. I was especially looking forward to all the cameos by the friends of He-Man & She-Ra, but most of the screen time was sucked up by Alicia, Miguel, & Orko. Argh! The story was excruciatingly cheesy and there was little action. Perhaps my expectations were simply too high. Over 15 years of nostalgic affection for He-Man & She-Ra ruined my viewing experience. OR, maybe Alicia & Manuel really were THAT annoying. They are timelessly annoying, if you will.

As much as it pains me, I have to say that this rental was NOT WORTH IT. Preserve the halcyon days of yore. Don’t ruin those golden childhood memories with the cynicism of adulthood. With that said, I can’t wait to see Jem on DVD!


landyrau said...

a thorough and well-balanced review with many highlights:
- recognition of Earth-centricity and sensitivity to multi-galacticalism
- My Dinner with Andre/Princess Bride points for mentioning Wallace Shawn
- nice word selection with "halcyon"
- shout outs to Stanford profs
- Seinfeld-like rant on superhero sidekicks
- taking on male body issues and female empowerment
- instant quotable: "including my boy Skeletor"

thanks for the warning, i will pass on this movie and keep my golden childhood memories intact.

landyrau said...

fyiollow up:

BCI Eclipse DVD Poll - She-Ra: Princess of Power

With the help of He-Man.org, BCI has picked through the best episodes of the She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoon series. But we hit a snag. We just couldn't narrow it down any farther than 25 episodes. Now we need your help to pick the best of the best!

After the poll ends at 11:59pm EST on April 2nd, the results will be announced the following week! From your votes, BCI will choose the top 5 episodes from the series that will appear on the 'Best of" DVD coming this July!