Thursday, 18 December 2008

The He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special

Since the festive season is spluttering into view, it's time for that annual torture-fest... the Christmas Special! Now, most TV shows have, in their time, had these strange beasts, designed to numb the senses and capture that all-too important audience of comatose, bloated families.

In the weird, twisted world of the Christmas Special, there is only one rule - the characters must realise THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS. The only problem with this is that the sugar overload will have you vomiting for months to come; and let's not forget those pioneering television stations who feel obliged to repeat their Christmas Specials in July.

Of course, there is no Christmas Special quite so messed up as The He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special.

Ah, the name says it all, doesn't it, eliminating any doubt - yes, He-Man and She-Ra - working together. What a... treat? In an attempt to pad out this episode to around 45 minutes (yes, 45 minutes... you heard) every trick in the book is pulled out faster than you can say "my brain - noooooo."
 At the forefront of this is the pre-credits sequence! Yes, we open the story with every single character from He-Man and She-Ra that you can think of seemingly vandalising the throne-room on Eternia by painting ghastly purple and pink stars everywhere. Apparently it's all to celebrate Prince Adam's and Princess Adora's birthdays (He-Man and She-Ra to those who aren't in on the secret). Of course, this colour scheme makes perfect sense with regard to Prince Adam... obviously he'd like girly stars everywhere - this fellow has the most effeminate voice ever, wears pink and has furry underwear. Nice. Oh yeah, and they're all decorating the room to dramatic music...

Of course, a pre-credits sequence wouldn't be complete without some semblance of a desperately cobbled together plot - and boy, do we have a desperately cobbled together plot! It seems that Man-At-Arms has invented... a space rocket! Crikey, that man can do anything! He's called it the Sky-Spy, and hopes that it will help them to discover all Skeletor's plans. Riiight. This is despite the fact that Skeletor lives a stones-throw away from the palace, and that he usually formulates his evil plans indoors... Well done Man-At-Arms!
 While He-Man and Man-At-Arms wander off, Orko gets on board the pointless spaceship, and launches it... by breaking the joystick. Well...of course... He shoots into space...and we finally get the title sequence!

Since this is a Special - we get some weird-arse music, a combination of the He-Man and She-Ra theme together with some Christmassy stuff. At least I assume it's that, and not just that my tape got mangled.
Anyway, my favourite villain of all time - Skeletor - comes on the scene in his space ship. It's about 10 times bigger than Man-At-Arms' crappy effort, showing how evil Skeletor is - hey, he has a freaking skull for a face (and he's blue, how much more evil can you get?). For some reason he wants Man-At-Arms' ship - probably so he can laugh at it some more, and tells his minions to grab it with his ship's massive claws. Of course, Skeletor can't help but surround himself with a group of terminally stupid wackos. In this case, he relies on no less than Two-Bad, Spikor, Rattlor and Webstor. Wow - he must have won the lottery or something to pay them all wages!
While Skeletor's friends are busy being useless, He-Man shoots off after Skeletor in yet another impractical vehicle that's obviously some kind of toy or other. While vandalising Skeletor's shiny new ship, something strange happens - Skeletor, in a strange act of competence, actually manages to capture He-Man! Incredible! Of course, since this is a crossover episode, She-Ra soon turns up to rescue him. Embarrassing though - being rescued from your mortal enemy by your sister!

Skeletor's ship is soon pummelled by the two siblings and they escape, leaving Skeletor once again with his four... acquaintances. In an incredible scene, he throws Spikor a parachute:
 Spikor: 'I don't need a parachute'
Skeletor: 'That's what you think! Nya ha ha ha'

...And so he ejects all his comrades. Amazing!

He-Man and She-Ra follow the spaceship into space... of course, being heroes, none of them depressurise in the cold, harsh vacuum. And they can talk to each other, of course... but the ship speeds off - how will they ever find it?

No need to worry, Man-At-Arms has a 'Finder Beam.' Well hip hip hooray.

Orko's incredible piloting skills cause the ship to crash on none other planet but Earth! Now, Orko isn't an experienced pilot, so he had no way of slowing the ship down; the ship had been travelling at an incredibly high velocity towards Earth and directly at it. Now, shoot me down in flames if I'm wrong, but wouldn't this have the same effect as a meteor strike, creating a global holocaust?

Budda budda budda. Aiiiiieeeeeeee
Okay, I was wrong, it seems the ship lands with minimal damage - years later this episode was used as a vital reference tool by the writers of Alien 4. On exiting the ship, Orko finds himself in a snowy landscape - and immediately sees two little children in trouble! It seems that they had previously hacked down a Christmas tree (probably protected by law) and were carting it home... when an avalanche starts up. Well, serves them right, I say, for upsetting the planet's vital eco-structure by callously murdering a tree. Of course, Orko doesn't care about such petty issues as stopping deforestation - he rescues the two little brats. It's at this point that the most horrifying thing is revealed - the little girl has a massive head!

Back on Eternia, Adam and Man-At-Arms are confronted with 'a serious problem - Orko is missing!' Serious problem? Surely this would be cause for some massive celebration? Ah well... soon everyone realises that he was on board the ship (well done Sherlock) and Man-At-Arms finds where the ship has landed with his 'Finder Beam,' subsequently whipping out a 'Transporter Beam.' What? Bloody hell, why not just invent a 'Defeat Skeletor Beam' and be done with it? Of course, being Man-At-Arms, his transporter beam will not work... without a water crystal. Think about it - what is a water crystal? A crystal made from... water?

She-Ra decides to get the crystal herself - but first she must face - the BEAST MONSTER!
Were the writers on strike or something?

It's just occurred to me - why does Adora parade around in bondage gear? It's snowing, for heavens sake! Ah well, She-Ra soon meets the Beast Monster, and as it rears up above her, she mutters 'The Beast Monster...' again and again, just in case no-one heard the first time. After running about a bit, She-Ra distracts this fiend long enough for her mermaid friend to steal the Beast Monster's water crystal. Hey - just because it has a name like 'The Beast Monster' doesn't mean that you can just beat it up and steal all its stuff! Huh.
Of course, this battle is over too soon for the overstretched ambitions of this TV special... so for no logical, sane reason the ground opens up, and up pops three giant robots! What they were doing down there... I daren't guess, but probably they were hiding there so that when someone like She-Ra comes along, they could jump up and shout 'aaaah haaaaa!'
She-Ra, like the craven coward she is, tries to escape, but is shot by a heavy-duty laser beam. However, since this is strictly a kiddies cartoon, the laser beam... traps her in a bubble! Utterly, utterly evil! After seeing that they've won, and there's still around half an hour to go, these 'Monstroids' give She-Ra a chance to escape with the excuse that they've been called back to 'Monstroid Central.' Yeah, right. I wouldn't be surprised if they suddenly remembered that they had an overdue library book or something, or they 'left the garage door open.' Still, in order to get away, they... transform!

As She-Ra's horse says: 'They're changing into other forms - what evil robots!'

Remember kiddies - robots that transform are bad. Buy He-Man and She-Ra toys instead. This stupidity-fest continues as She-Ra tells her horse that the robots are called 'The Monstroids.' Well, it was nice of her to repeat what the Monstroids were just saying...
Anyway, with She-Ra escaped and the water crystal in Man-At-Arms' hands, Orko is ready to be brought back to Eternia! It seems that Orko had taken the children on board the ship so they could tell him about Christmas. Suddenly, a white light springs up - it's the Transport Beam. Luckily, Orko remembers what Man-At-Arms told him - stand in the light. So he and the children stand in the light, and the entire ship is transported back.

Wait a minute! The whole ship disappears, right? So why did Orko need to stand in a poxy bit of light? Perhaps failure to do so would turn him inside out. Mmmm. And anyway, if this water crystal was so goddamn rare that it needed to be guarded by a freaking Beast Monster, how did Orko know what to do? Perhaps Man-At-Arms had a cupboard full of these crystals, and just fancied a laugh at She-Ra's expense?

Oh yeah, Orko takes the children with him for no reason at all. That's right, just kidnap them...
 Is that a plot I hear? No, ah well, let's cut to a massive asteroid in space then, home of... Horde Prime! Feeling threatened by the two children and the spirit of Christmas they bring (of course, any other children would have brought the spirit of "waaaa - I want more presents!") he sends for...

Hordak and Skeletor!
Obviously this is the worst plan in the world, since immediately Hordak and Skeletor begin to have a go at each other. Skeletor mocks Hordak for constantly getting defeated by a girl, while Hordak comes back with the witty retort that Skeletor is a 'bonehead.'

Ah ha ha ha, my aching sides.
In order to chuck those annoying children out of the palace, they get the 'treat' of meeting Bow and Perfuma. Perfuma is a rather threatening lady with the voice of a pre-pubescent teenage boy. Well, I was scared. Of course, Bow had an even worse torture for these poor innocent kids. That's right - he unleashed the compulsory Christmas Song! Aaaaaaaaah, my ears! It's horrendous!
 Evidently Hordak felt the same way, since he rushes in and kidnaps the children and Orko. Why Orko? Well, evidently Hordak fancied a bit of light amusement to pass the time... Oh, and if you notice, Multi-Bot, one of the best characters ever, is in the background! Double-yay!

Since the capture of the children would leave ended the episode prematurely... up pop those monsters generous in their padding skills... the Monstroids! Hordak's helicopter is grabbed by a Monstroid resulting in what sounds like an 'ooooh, shit!' from Catra... The Monstroids kindly take the children and Orko, scaring off the Horde. In fact, Hordak is so scared that he feels the need to do the old cartoon 'running on the spot' jig. I can see why this sort of thing can only work at Christmas time, when everyone's too blitzed out of their minds...
He-Man and She-Ra then learn that... HANG ON - I think by this time you'll have guessed that calling this a 'He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special' might be coming under contempt of the trade descriptions act... it's more like the 'Orko and two kids show.' Or even 'The Skeletor Show,' oh wait, we haven't got that far yet... friends - turn away now, keep your sanity! No, ah well, I warned you... The two 'heroes' learn somehow (I can't remember - my brain has been fried) that the 'little robot people - the Manchines - are going to rescue the children.' I sincerely hope that the very name 'Manchine' has struck fear into your very heart, because...
...Aah - bloody neon wankers! Aaaah! WHY? The pink one is called 'Cutter.' The one handily shaped like a scooter is called 'Zipper.' What would happen if one of them changed their name to 'Tosser'? What is the power of 'Pete' or 'Stuart'? Strangely enough, we never find the answer to this little conundrum - no, the Monstroids are back! Luckily He-Man and She-Ra arrive and start to murder all the Monstroids by ripping off their arms and such like. Christ - I've never seen He-Man rip Skeletor's arms off...he must have something against artificial intelligences...

Anyway, you know how He-Man and She-Ra are two of the most powerful beings in the universe, right? Well, today it seems that they need help... so the Manchines call their cousins!
The dangers of inbreeding...
Let me get this straight - He-Man and She-Ra need help from a pile of piddly little gits? Look - they all transform - remember kiddies, only the He-Man range has the TRUE transforming robots - no matter what other evil companies might try to sell you with THEIR cartoons. With the Monstroids defeated, this rather pointless segment comes to an end, with the two kids taking a little cute Manchine puppy. Huh? Anyway, in an attempt to actually get something done right, Skeletor shoots past in a jet-sled thing and steals the children. There - it's as easy as that with no friends to help him.

So the episode is over - the bad guys have the kids... nothing left, no possible way to spin this out? Well, there is... IF THE BAD GUYS ATTACK EACH OTHER! Yes, Hordak shoots Skeletor down, who crash-lands in the icy mountains!
Skeletor is understandably pissed off with this, he has to trek to meet up with Horde Prime and deliver the children. He tells the children to move - but they're too cold! Well, how selfish. I mean, Skeletor only wears a pair of purple pants, and he's not complaining! Anyway, Skeletor shoots the children with his staff - and warm coats appear on them! Isn't that incredible - a staff that shoots coats. I want one...

It is at this point that the true 'Christmassy aspect of this episode is revealed and it becomes utterly amazing - as Skeletor becomes a good guy!

Steps to becoming Good
1 - Compliments
'Thank you Mr Skeletor, you are very kind,' the children remark. Aaw

2 - Likkle cutie animal
The Manchine Puppy that the children took is shivering in the snow. Skeletor tells the kids to leave it... but it looks so cute that ol' bone-face goes and picks it up himself! And cuddles it!

'Do you want me to hold him?'
'Erm no, we'll go faster if I carry him.'

Yes, Skeletor, Lord Of Darkness, is quite enjoying holding the lovely puppy thing as it licks his face. Yep, it licks his face... mmmmm.
Skeletor smiles.

3 - The TRUE meaning of Christmas
Skeletor, being bad doesn't understand what Christmas is really about... so the kids teach him...

'Christmas is fun.'
'You mean you get in fights? I like fights.'
Here we realise that Skeletor always loses on purpose so that He-Man will beat him up. Kinky.

'And you give people presents.'
'...and when you open them, they explode?'
'That doesn't sound like fun...'

Wow - it must be a right laugh round at Skeletor's house when it's someone's birthday. He's not getting invited round mine!

4 - The CHOICE
By this point, Skeletor and co reach the end of their trek through the snowy mountains... and emerge in a desert! Okay, this planet is messed up.
Well, in order for this never-ending epic to actually end, Horde Prime turns up in this big green well as He-Man, She-Ra and Hordak. Yep, it's that traditional FIGHT TO THE END
 In order for animation costs to be cut down, Skeletor is immediately knocked out after his shot is reflected by Hordak on to himself. This is apparently very funny. But what's this - a giant claw is coming down from Horde Prime's ship, ready to grab the children!
 Yeah, right. For a start, the children are just standing underneath the claw, not trying to get away. Well done! Also, how is the claw meant to actually pick them up? It's a freaking claw for heavens sake. Of course, it's appropriate that Horde Prime, a being of utmost evil, would use one of the most evil devices ever built to aid his cause - namely the claw from one of those fairground 'grab-a-toy' games. I can't see why anyone's actually worrying... after all Horde Prime would most probably be their all night trying to get the fucking claw over the children, and when it picks them up, it would let them go again... But this isn't real, so this is a BIG DEAL.
So as I said - THE CHOICE. He-Man and She-Ra are busy fighting the Horde Troopers... who for once actually seem to be putting up a fight... well, putting up a fight, standing around like bowling pins, what's the difference? Anyway, this means that they can't rescue the children! Only Skeletor can!
Luckily the puppy licking Skeletor's face makes the Evil One recover, and with a cry of 'must save the children!' he shoots Horde Prime's ship! Yay. The kids cuddle Skeletor.
He-Man and She-Ra actually look put out by this - and of course they should. It's their Christmas Special, for heavens sake, and what have they done? Fuck all. Skeletor also looks pissed off.
 'I don't like to feel good - I like to feel EVIL.'

 He-Man, Skeletor's arch enemy, stands beside him and they all have a jolly laugh.

The action now cuts back to He-Man's Christmas party - and he didn't invite Skeletor. Bastard! Poor Skeletor, no wonder he's all bitter and twisted. The kids give the puppy to Adora to give back to the Manchines... and the puppy flies over to her. The little tosser! Of course, he couldn't fly when he was in the mountains, but can oh-so-conveniently fly now.

 Aaaah. Of course, each He-Man episode ends with He-Man giving the audience a moral message. And this time it's the fact that Christmas is much more than just presents...

...So make sure you nag your parents for more He-Man toys for Christmas, kiddies

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