A gentle reminder: there IS a donate button. ‘Tis the season, you know…
Okay, anyway, so I had originally planned to review the entire original He-Man series and then do the two specials (He-Man & She-Ra: Secret of the Sword and the Christmas Special), then complete the project with the 1987 live action movie. The specials aired in 1985, so it was logical to do them at the end. But then I got to thinking about it, and I decided, “You know what? Fuck it”. None of the episodes (at least according to IMDB) originally aired chronologically anyway, and this post is due on Christmas Eve, so I’m going to do the Christmas Special now. It’s 44 minutes, and I’m going to tell you right now, the minute and a half intro is missing, so this is going to be a long haul. I’ll be splitting it up into two parts; the conclusion will officially post on December 31st, and that seems like a nice way to finish out the calendar year. So, with that, Merry Christmas!
I have some vague childhood memories of this episode, but I’ll point them out when we get to them. We open on a snow-covered Royal Palace. I could be wrong because there are still 89 episodes of the series to get through, but I’d be willing to bet that this is probably the only time we will see it snow at the Royal Palace. Whatever serves the plot, I guess? Inside the palace, there are tons of characters milling about that haven’t been introduced in the series yet, which makes me second guess my decision to do the Christmas Special now. Too late. I remember most of these guys from the toys, but I have no idea what their names are, nor do I recall any other significant details about them.
King Randor and Queen Marlena are being all sentimental about it being the first time “the twins” have been together to celebrate their birthday. So, I presume they don’t celebrate the birth of Christ in Eternia (heathens), but rather the birth of “the twins”, which refers to Prince Adam and Princess Adora. Obviously, we have missed the introduction of Princess Adora/She-Ra in the series, but I have to say; 41 episodes into the series, and there has never ONCE been a mention of a twin sister? Who apparently was sent away somewhere, since they’ve never even celebrated their birthday together? I wonder if that’s territory that gets covered in the series, or if I’ll have to wait for the “Secret of the Sword” special to find out why they were separated at birth. Anyway, apparently all the decorations for the birthday celebration have been going on for days, which reminds Queen Marlena of decorating for Christmas, and King Randor is like, “Christmas? What’s that, an Earth holiday”? Really? Queen Marlena’s never once told him about her family traditions in all the years they’ve been married? That’s… weird. Oh, and I have to point out this guy with a skeevy mustache and a heart on his chest. He’s got to be Prince Adam’s friend. Got to be.
Elsewhere, Man-At-Arms is tinkering with a “sky spy” while Prince Adam whines about wanting to help decorate for his own birthday. Orko hides behind a pillar, spying, while Man-At-Arms explains that this rocket will allow them to spy on Skeletor’s every move. Man-At-Arms finishes up and walks off with Prince Adam. Naturally with the two of them gone, Orko decides he’s going to fuck with it. He finds a hatch that will provide access and throws his book down on the ground to open it. I’m sure that’s important, because someone will inevitably find the book and realize that something happened to Orko. Orko fucks around with the rocket controls in the vertically oriented cockpit. He snaps a lever off which totally causes the rocket to launch as Prince Adam and Man-At-Arms watch helplessly on a monitor. Right, because the rocket wouldn’t have a complex launch sequence or anything. You just snap a lever off and it goes.
Prince Adam tries to turn the rocket off, but none of the ground controls work either, on account of the one, snapped-off lever in the cockpit. That’s a great design you got there, Man-At-Arms. Orko remarks about what big trouble he’s going to be in as he hurls off into space. After his ship rockets by, this snazzy song starts playing as a glittery “He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special” logo fades on the screen. The credits are mercifully short, and then we cut right to Skeletor, who is watching the rocket on his monitor, freaking out, wanting to know what it is. I need to point out that he is now observing the rocket within Eternia’s atmosphere, whereas we just saw it hurtle out into deep space, only moments ago as it circled the credits. Continuity, be damned!
The two heads, one blue, one purple, of a two-headed monster argue over what exactly the rocket is. I remember this guy from the toys too, but that’s it. Skeletor loses his shit and threatens grave consequences if these guys (or this guy?) can’t pull it together and get after the rocket. So, they continue to disagree, this time about which direction they need to go. Back at the palace, Prince Adam and Man-At-Arms continue to stare impotently at the rocket on the monitor when Princess Adora approaches them wanting to know what’s going on. They discover Skeletor going after the rocket, so Prince Adam turns into He-Man, right there, complete with his recycled animation and everything. Princess Adora watches him run off and then remarks that he’s probably going to need help. I wonder if Princess Adora gets her own recycled animation sequence when she turns into She-Ra? I guess we will find out!
He-Man quickly catches up to Skeletor’s ship on some cool sky bike I’ve never seen before (it looks like a snake) and jumps onto Skeletor’s ride. Inside are a bunch more villains that are familiar to me from the toys, but that I also can’t remember otherwise. There’s a blue guy with red eyes, a reddish-purple snake guy, and that purple guy with all the spikes on his head, plus Skeletor and that two-headed guy. They activate the ship’s claws to grab the rocket, but before it can, He-Man bends them all up and makes a stupid quip about the claws needing a manicure. Inside the ship, Skeletor’s jaw drops, and I’m not sure if it’s because of He-Man’s stupid joke or that he suddenly appeared on the outside of their ship, miles above the ground.
Sick of wrestling with the claw arms, He-Man takes out his power sword and just lobs the fuckers off. Suddenly, all these “force belts” come out of the ship and tether He-Man. At first, it’s just one at a time and he’s able to snap them off, but then they get like ten of them on him at once and he’s stuck. Thankfully, She-Ra comes flying in on her rainbow-winged unicorn to save “brother”. He-Man returns her salutations and greets her as “sister”, and I can’t help but think about how much more obvious their secret identities are given the circumstances of their togetherness. She-Ra frees He-Man, then they combine the forces of their punches to knock a hole in the hull.
Orko tries to use some magic to make the rocket land, but instead it spirals off into space. Instead of stopping Skeletor, now He-Man and She-Ra have to save the rocket, so they jump off of Skeletor’s ship and onto their flying implements and go after the rocket. Inside his ship, Skeletor orders his henchmen to give chase, but apparently the hole the power twins knocked in the ship has also wrecked the controls, so the autopilot is taking them back to Snake Mountain. Skeletor has had it with their incompetence and tosses one parachute at his goons and then ejects them all from the ship. Lucky for them, they are able to cling together and make due with the one parachute to save them.
The rocket has breached the atmosphere and is hurling through space. Apparently, He-Man and She-Ra can breath in space, because they are right out there in the vacuum of space with the rocket. Somehow, the “sky spy” hits warp speed, or slip space, or something, and disappears. He-Man is like, “Whelp, that sucks. Good thing nobody’s in it, and also that I can breath in the vacuum of space. Otherwise, we’d be really screwed”! Conversely, Orko begins to panic as he realizes that nobody even knows he’s in the rocket. Back in Man-At-Arms’ lab, he and Prince Adam try to use the “finder beam” to locate the wayward rocket. Out in the rocket, Orko is headed straight for a crash landing on a planet that he recognizes is not Eternia. It looks like Jupiter to me, but it turns out to be Earth.
Orko has landed in a winter forest and as he complains about how cold it is (wasn’t it just snowing in Eternia?), he hears cries for help and goes to see what the matter is. He discovers a couple of kids dragging a pine tree on a sled, and as far as I can tell, the only reason the boy is calling for help is to trigger the avalanche that Orko is about to save them from. Orko yells out a spell, “Little children up and away, play in the snow another day”, and so they levitate up and out of harm’s way. The spell works, until the kids distract Orko and he drops them. Orko immediately questions them as to what they are doing out here alone, and they tell him that they came to get a Christmas tree, but got lost. Orko assures them that, rather, he’s the one that’s lost, and suggests he show them his ship and then maybe they can find their parents. Not once do they seem to think twice about, or otherwise acknowledge, that Orko is a floating amputee elf, whose face is shrouded in darkness, and that he is asking them to come to his spaceship. That should be the moral of this story: stranger danger!
Man-At-Arms and Prince Adam are working to try and track the “sky spy” when Queen Marlena comes in with the book Orko dropped (I told you!). They quickly figure out that Orko must have stowed away on the rocket. Back on Earth, Orko has the two kids inside his spacecraft, exposing them to who-knows-what-kind of alien bacteria and other microorganisms, while they explain what Christmas is. Orko does not understand their convoluted explanation of presents and pagan tree rituals and good will toward men. So, to clarify, the boy says, “It’s simple. If you really want to know the whole story, I’ll start from the beginning. A long, long time ago…”, and then the audio drops out rather abruptly as we jump cut back to Prince Adam and Man-At-Arms, and I laughed. It’s funny how “Jesus” seems to be a four letter word in television “Christmas” specials.
Back in Eternia, Man-At-Arms gets a location on the rocket and determines it’s on Earth. Man-At-Arms just so happens to have this transporter beam that could probably beam Okro back from Earth. Unfortunately, it needs a special kind of crystal that only exists on, wouldn’t you know it, Princess Adora’s planet, Etheria. Prince Adam asks his sister if “She-Ra” can look into it, to which Princess Adora responds by smirking and saying “I think that can be arranged”, right in front of a lot of people that aren’t supposed to know their secret identities. It just doesn’t make any sense! Would they figure it out if Cringer were fucking Princess Adora’s white horse right now?
Back on Earth, the boy is finishing his story: “So then, the three wise men follow the star until they reach Bethlehem”. And that’s it, that’s all we get of the “Christmas” story. Orko panders to them saying, “Oh, that’s a nice story”, then hastily asks about the presents that were mentioned earlier. The little girl starts telling him about Santa, but we cut back to Eternia again before any details are divulged. I have to say, that was a balanced approach to completely avoiding any mention of religion or fanciful tradition. Other Christmas Special’s plots typically don’t require Christmas to be described to someone that is literally alien to the planet so it’s much easier for them to be bland and secular about it. The writers of this show really rose to the challenge and just lobbed off anything of substance while explaining in “detail” what Christmas is, Jesus and Santa alike.
In the snow covered Eternia, Prince Adam hugs his sister rather awkwardly as she prepares to leave for her planet. Then Princess Adora pulls her sword out and says, “For the honor of Grayskull”, and then I am treated to her very own recycled animation sequence. I noticed that her power phrase is much shorter than He-Man’s. Damn, this show is sexist sometimes. I mean, it’s bad enough that women get paid less than a man for the same job, but they don’t get as many lines either? I really wanted to make a gif of her transformation, but it’s actually pretty long. 30 seconds, to be exact, complete with turning her white horse into a rainbow-winged flying unicorn. Unlike Cringer, her horse does not seem to be terrified of the transformation process, so that’s nice, I guess. Here, see for your self, that part’s short enough, I guess. Okay, so it’s already ridiculous that anybody falls for their secret identities, but if Princess Adora is leaving as She-Ra to fly on her unicorn to go back to her planet, how does everyone think Princess Amora got there? This is so stupid.
Oops, I spoke too soon. We cut back to the children, and the girl is explaining about Santa and his magical reindeer flying all over the world, delivering presents. So Santa did get a direct explanation, after all. Santa: 1, Jesus: 0. Orko decides he wants to meet this guy, Santa, and score some presents, but the little girl explains that Santa only brings presents when you’re asleep. Orko is cool with that, as long as he still brings the goods. On Etheria, She-Ra converses with a hot, blue haired mermaid. Hot mermaids are weird and conflicting. It’s like, they’re sexy, but how do they… I mean, where is the… and I bet it’s cold too. Ew. Anyway, the element that She-Ra needs is underwater, in a cave, and it’s guarded by “the beast monster”. Oh, lord, not the beast monster! Mermista, the mermaid agrees to help She-Ra. All She-Ra has to do is distract the beast monster while Mermista goes to find the water crystal.
We cut to some dark, nasty, muddy, decrepit industrial landscape where She-Ra lands with her unicorn. She-Ra runs to a nearby cesspool from which the beast monster emerges. She flies circles around it’s head while Mermista dives down into the murk. How the fuck she got there, I have no idea, since I assume she can’t really get out of the water for too long. She-Ra leads the beast monster away, and it, unwittingly, falls into a pit. She leaves it there to go find Mermista, who has conveniently already found the water crystal. She-Ra takes it and mounts up on her unicorn. Before they can leave, there is a rumbling and the unicorn asks, “what’s that?”, in a surprisingly manly voice. So the rainbow-winged unicorn is a boy. Okay.
Suddenly, a bunch of giant robots spring up out of the ground, and She-Ra says, “It’s a robot”, then ominously tells Swifty, which is apparently her male unicorn’s name, that they are just going to have to fuck up these here robots in order to get back to Eternia with the crystal. They tussle a little, then one of the robots traps She-Ra and Swifty in a bubble. Then, abruptly, one of the robots announces that they need to go back to Monstroid Central, and they take off. She-Ra explains to Swifty that they are a nasty race called the Monstroids. She knows because her friend, Manchine told her. Manchine, uh-huh-huh, uh-huh-huh-huh. She commands her sword to flame on, then cuts her way out of the bubble. Hey, that’s a pretty cool trick! He-Man can’t do that!
Man-At-Arms takes the crystal and plugs it into the transport beam. He says, “We need help from Orko, too. I hope he remembers to stand in the light”. Back on Earth, a nebulous glow appears in the hull of the rocket. The kids are a little freaked, and Orko is puzzled as well until he remembers and says, “Oh, that’s right, Man-At-Arms has a transport beam. I better go stand in the light”. He tells the kids not to be afraid and to hold his hands and come with him into the light. Oh, that’s creepy. Then the whole rocket, the sled outside with the Christmas tree on it, and Orko and the kids, teleport to Eternia. Well, so much for finding those kid’s parents. I knew they shouldn’t have trusted Orko.
The “sky spy” materializes in Man-At-Arms’ lab and the door falls open. Orko and the two children stumble out. Prince Adam wants to know who the kids are. As Orko is explains his story, things get really weird. We fade out of his story to a glowing meteor floating in space. Inside it, this fog glows with evil yellow eyes as a voice proclaims that there is a great disturbance; a new spirit of goodness has arrived on Eternia. This spirit of goodness threatens the power of Horde Prime, which I assume is the fog monster, or possibly Satan. Horde Prime summons Skeletor, because he has such a good track record of success, to put a stop to all the goodness going on. As a safety net, he also summons Hordak, a villan that hasn’t been introduced into the series yet.
Back in the Royal Palace, Orko has mercifully concluded his story. Queen Marlena is floored that Orko wound up on Earth. If you don’t recall, Queen Marlena herself is from Earth. The kids just want to know if they’ll be home in time for Christmas. Man-At-Arms informs them that it takes a few days for the crystal to recharge, so the kids are probably going to miss Christmas. It’s okay though, Queen Marlena leans over to reveal some cleavage to the little girl, and tells her that they will treat the twin’s (the siblings, not the breasts) birthday like Christmas, because, here on Eternia, the twin’s birthday is just as important as the birth of Christ. Never mind baby Jesus, the girl wants to know if Santa will still find them, because presents are all that matter. Queen Marlena assures her that Santa will find them, but Jesus has no idea where they are. Prince Adam wants to know who Santa is, and Orko makes him feel like an asshole because he doesn’t know. Man, I hate Orko. What fucking prick.
On the asteroid, Skeletor and Hordak stand on the end of a plank, talking to the Horde Prime. Through the mist, I can see what looks like a sort of Mayan statue, which reminds me about the end of the world in a few hours. Well, a few hours from when I’m writing this, anyway. If you’re reading it, it’s either because the world didn’t end, or you were left behind to experience Hell on Earth. Eh, I’m sure we won’t be able to tell the difference anyway. Horde Prime is pissed because the introduction of Christmas is a threat to his rule. He is charging Skeletor and Hordak with stopping this threat, which means he doesn’t have too much longer to rule, I’m sure. I can tell by the look of incompetence and fear on Skeletor’s face. Hordak assures Horde Prime that he can handle it. Then he and Skeletor get into an argument, each of them citing their many failures at the hands of He-Man and She-ra, respectively.
Will Santa find the children on Eternia? Will baby Jesus? Will Skeletor and Hordak be successful in protecting Horde Prime’s evil interests? Find out next week in the thrilling conclusion to “He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas special”! Obviously, because I am cutting this 44 minute special into two parts, there is no moral this week. So, I’m just going to go ahead and make my own; if you are a couple of Christian children, and a pointy-eared, floating amputee elf shows up using magic and asks you to come in his spaceship with him to his far away, magical heathen land where they don’t have Christmas, certainly don’t know who Jesus is, much less Santa, he’s probably a demon trying to drag your soul away to Hell forever, and/or is the harbinger of the apocalypse, which is scheduled to coincide with an ancient Mayan calendar. And, also, Santa is an anagram of Satan. Don’t worry, kids. Horde Prime (Santa/Satan) will find you, whether or not you are good or bad, no matter what. Never forget that.
He-Man murder count: 13 and 1 attempted murder
Episodes missing Skeletor: 12 (at least they didn’t leave him out of the Christmas special!)
IMDB Cast List:
John Erwin: He-Man, Prince Adam, Cutter, Webstor
Alan Oppenheimer: Skeletor, Man-At-Arms, Zipper
Linda Gary: Teela, Queen Marlena
Lana Beeson: Alicia
Melendy Britt: She-Ra, Princess Adora, Mermista, Catra
George DiCenzo: Hordak, Bow
Erika Scheimer: Peekablue, Perfuma, Mother
R.D. Robb: Miguel
Oh, a few things:
1) Damn did they really add to the cast for this special. Three extra female voice actors? Okay, so one of them (Erika Sheimer) is (I presume) the wife of the producer, Lou Scheimer. Two extra male voice actors? Two voice actors that are only doing one character each? They must have been hemorrhaging money by 1985!
2) I’m not sure which characters some of these names go to – feel free to let me know in the comments section – and;
3) The little boy’s name is Miguel? If they were going to try and be ethnically diverse and name him Miguel, maybe they shouldn’t have made him a little white kid.