There’s pretty much no way this episode can actually be about the greatest show on Eternia, because that would involve Teela doing something very sexual, very dirty, and very public, like Winona Rider in South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. We open on Eternia while some silly, circus-like music plays. In fact, as it would happen, Orko is leading Prince Adam excitedly to see, not the actual circus, but a Carny plastering up a giant circus poster with a clown on it.
Orko flies up there, gets right in the guy’s face and nearly knocks him the fuck off the platform, surely to what would have been his death. Orko grabs on to the Carny’s paste mop to keep the poor man from falling. Orko counter balances too much, then falls backward into the poster, tearing down a whole strip as he falls in to the paste bucket below. When Orko tries to get out of the bucket, he gets stuck to it and winds up flinging it onto the head of – you guessed it – Man-At-Arms, who just happens to be passing by. Man-At-Arms angrily shoves his finger in Orko’s chest and reminds Orko he can only go to the circus if he cleans up his room first. Oh, tough stakes there, Duncan.
Just as Orko is about to go clean his room, Orko spots the circus rocket-train, which is literally a rocket ship with cage cars linked together carrying the circus animals; thus it’s a rocket-train. Proving why carnival rides are terrifying, the circus train starts to sputter out and goes in for a crash landing. “It’s going to crash into Mount Eternia!” Prince Adam shouts. “Cringer, it’s time for He-Man and Battle Cat!” Right, the thing is literally moving at rocket speeds and about to crash when he says that, there’s no way he can transform – even if he cuts the recycled animation sequence – and get there in time. Also, I’m pretty sure he just said all that with the Carny still standing there.
Perhaps trying to ensure the doom of the circus’ rocket-train, before Prince Adam pulls his sword out, Cringer starts complaining that they have to turn into He-Man and Battle Cat every day and save the day. I’m pretty sure that’s not true, but anyway. Then Prince Adam draws his sword and doesn’t even bother to trim the recycled animation one bit. It’s the full-length deal, complete with Cringer’s animation. What’s worse, is that once it’s over, it’s immediately followed by the recycled animation bit of He-Man mounting Battle Cat. Battle Cat even takes the time to look into the camera, breaking the fourth wall, and roar.
When it’s finally over, He-Man races Battle Cat to the edge of the castle wall on the plateau and says, “Come on, leap, you mighty beast!” and then they hurl themselves over the edge. Apparently, Battle Cat can jump far and fast enough to catch up with a speeding rocket train, because he lands on top of it. He-Man uses his super breath to blow the fire out of the thruster, declaring that, because he put the fire out, the thrusters are working again. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t happen. It doesn’t really matter, because it wasn’t in time to completely avoid crashing into the mountain, so extra measures are required. He-Man jumps down and grabs the literal nose of the rocket and pulls up, redirecting its path just in time to avoid crashing into the mountain.
At Snake Mountain, Skeletor is bitching because he has to mix some potions all by himself. As he complains about how absent and useless Beast Man and Evil Lyn are, Evil-Lyn shows up. “Did you receive word from the circus?” Skeletor wants to know, excitedly. “You mean about your request to perform at Snake Mountain?” Evil-Lyn asks back. “Well, yeah, about that. They said fuck-off” she says flatly, kind of enjoying pissing Skeletor off. In response, Skeletor smashes his potion vials on the ground in anger. I’m kind of surprised, but at the same time not at all, that Skeletor has been soliciting for the circus to come perform at Snake Mountain. Imagining Skeletor watching the circus in delight is kind of like that moment in Space Balls when we catch Dark Helmet playing with his dolls.
Beast Man enters and reveals that, not only will the Circus NOT be performing at Snake Mountain, they are doing a whole week of free shows at the Royal Palace, all for the enjoyment of the people of their kingdom. Skeletor flips the fuck out for a minute and declares that if he can’t see the circus, no one will! He calms down for a minute, then suggests, with his teeth gritted, that Evil-Lyn and Beast Man take the day off and go to the circus. Evil-Lyn is all like, “Whoa, that’s really nice of you, man.” Skeletor assures her that he’s not being nice, he’s sending them there to make sure the circus never even opens in the first place. So… they don’t really get the day off, I guess. Or get to see the circus.
Back at the Royal Palace, Orko is lurking about, obsessing over the circus while the carnies unload the train cars. I’m sure Orko hasn’t cleaned his room yet. An elephant tries to eat his brain, mistaking it for a peanut, until this creepy, pot bellied clown calls the elephant off. Orko is star struck because it’s the clown from the poster, Crackers. I thought he sounded a bit annoyed when Crackers tells Orko he’s early for the circus, but when Orko explains how he’s so excited that he even wanted to see the tents being set up, Crackers invites Orko to come witness other mundane preparations. Idiotically, not knowing is audience, Crackers specifically points out a box of firecrackers intended for the grand finale. I’m sure that’s not going to come back to bite him in the ass.
Orko is deep, deep into fantasyland and says repeatedly that he wishes he could work for the circus. Softy hinting at the lonely, hard life of a circus clown – the Tears of a Clown, if you will – Crackers asks, puzzled, “Don’t you have a family?” Just as Orko is complaining about how his “family” makes him do chores, Prince Adam walks up and, sounding extra nasal, says, “Boy, you must have cleaned your room quickly!” Orko is clearly uncomfortable with that topic and quickly changes the subject and introduces Prince Adam to Crackers. Crackers pulls the same unfunny bit with the sparrow springing from his shirt, which then repeats things they’ve said in a cuckoo clock voice. Prince Adam laughs wildly before the elephant tries to eat his peanut brain as well. Crackers announces that he has to take the elephant to go do his chores, and Orko completely misses the point that every one has to do chores. Except for homeless people, they have it pretty great, what with the no commitments or obligations thing and all.
Orko starts babbling about how cool it would be to be in the circus. Prince Adam pisses all over his fiery passion by reminding him that last week, Orko wanted to be a fire fighter, and the week before, that, a musician. You see, there’s a pattern here; Orko wants to be all these cool things that he isn’t, and that’s because when he finds out you have to try even a little bit (and have some talent) he gives up. Completely in denial, Orko insists that there is nothing difficult about being in the circus – it’s just fun on top of fun – then he rushes off excitedly to watch a tent get erected. When I put it that way, I’m not surprised when Prince Adam joins him to watch the erection. Ominously, Evil-Lyn and Beast Man’s shadows over take the now vacant space that Orko and Prince Adam were occupying and they vocally imply their impending sabotage of the circus.
Just when I thought the scene would change and I wouldn’t be at 1,200 words already and starting another paragraph involving the mere set up of this circus, we watch as the elephant, which has three trunks, by the way, is hauling ropes through a pulley which begins to erect the big top circus tent. As this is going on, Beast Man uses his mental ability to control animals to command the elephant, Myrtle, to do what ever he wants her to. Apparently, at the moment, that means to roar exactly like Battle Cat (only a little softer) and shake the ropes so that the tent falls down.
As Prince Adam and Crackers freak out, Orko spots Evil-Lyn and Beast Man, who haven’t bothered to conceal themselves very well. Prince Adam steps off to the side, and I guess to imply privacy, or maybe just to change things up for once, we only see Prince Adam’s silohette against a block wall as he draws his power sword to recycle animation and become He-Man, for the second time, in service of seeing this whole circus thing go on successfully. This time, however, when a speedy execution is clearly not as much of an issue as it was with the runaway rocket-train, the whole recycled animation bit is cut. All of it, even the sparks flying from the sword.
He-Man just walks up on Evil-Lyn and Beast Man casually, with his hands disapprovingly on his hips. Evil-Lyn conjures a cage to trap He-Man, even though she should know by now that this will not work. Not only does He-Man easily snap the bars and escape, but he takes the section of cage he broke off and wraps it around Evil-Lyn and Beast Man, trapping them. He bends a spring into the contraption and throws them, sending them bouncing along their way. It almost seems like the episode should be over, but, you guys, we’re only at the halfway mark. I can’t believe I’ve had so much to say about so little. I’m sorry, so, so sorry. More so because I have to sit through this crap than that you do, but, well, I’ve committed, so let’s get on with it.
With Beast Man gone, Myrtle goes back to normal. He-Man graciously tells her to rest while he uses his beefy muscles to erect the tent. He-Man loves pitching tents. He proceeds to erect not one, but every single tent. I can’t even count them all, there must be at least ten. And the main one is huge! He-Man pitches huge tents. Orko is still over the moon about wanting to work for the circus because of how fun it looks, so he asks Crackers if he can work for them. He-Man at first balks at a comment Orko made about how his palace chores suck ass and warns Orko that the circus is hard work, but then He-Man comes around and supports the idea of Orko working for the circus so Crackers agrees. Orko takes off, maybe to finally clean his room, I’m not sure, and Crackers says to He-Man, “What the fuck does he want to join the circus for? This shit’s hard work”. He-Man is like, “I know.” Then he gives a little mini-moral and says sometimes people can’t be told and have to learn shit for themselves. The problem with this plan is that Orko never learns.
At Snake Mountain, Skeletor his ripping into Beast Man and Evil-Lyn. The second they open their mouths, Skeletor shouts, “No excuses!” and starts shooting at them. “If I want anything done right around here, I have to do it myself!” He says. I’m not sure I can agree with that, since Skeletor has never successfully executed a plan. Not once. You have to admire his resolve and dedication, though. Skeletor sits down on his throne and vows to make the circus wish it never showed up in Etenria in the first place, then he cackles like a maniac.
Back at the Royal Palace, Man-At-Arms stands with Prince Adam admiring the tents. They remark that the circus will be opening in just a few hours. Prince Adam goes to check on Orko and hopefully makes sure he’s cleaned his fucking room already. How hard is it?! When Man-At-Arms and Prince Adam part ways, they reveal a conspicuously tiny and skull topped tent. With Prince Adam and Man-At-Arms gone, Skeletor starts cackling inside, making his little tent even more conspicuous. Good plan, bone head.
No, Orko is not, in fact, cleaning his room. He’s still lurking about, this time sitting in the empty stands in the big top, watching the trapeze artists practice. Crackers comes up to Orko and Orko starts rambling about how much fun and how easy it looks to be a trapeze artist. Crackers fills Orko in that they have only gotten that good after years of practice. Orko’s all like, “Years?! But I want it now!” Later, Orko helps clean Myrtle, which is very messy for him and he gets soaked. Crackers takes over and Orko doesn’t get why Crackers has to wash Myrtle when he’s the owner of the circus. Crackers explains that everyone pitches in, and then Orko starts to spot all the performers doing various chores, including the trapeze artist doing laundry. At Orko and Crackers’ request, the trapeze artist agrees to show Orko what he knows about the art of the trapeze, but warns it’s going to take a long time. “Sure, I’ve got all day!” Orko says, which gives every one a belly laugh.
Is nobody concerned that he hasn’t cleaned his room? Seriously. I hope when the circus officially opens in a little while, because he didn’t clean his room, that they bar Orko’s entry and make him go shovel Myrtles shit, right into his own mouth. Crackers is loping along through all the tents and spots Skeletor’s super conspicuous tent. He stops and stares at it, because it’s conspicuous, and when he leans closer, it sucks him inside. Skeletor comes out from around behind it. Then uses his magic to send it flying off into the air, spinning like a top. Myrtle comes running to the others, roaring like Battle Cat again alerting them to the attack. They all notice the spinning top that is Crackers flying off toward the vanishing point, and dimly ask what that was.
Skeletor doesn’t keep the suspense for very long, as he steps right out into the open and announces that he’s flung Crackers off to Echo Valley, and that he’s taking over the circus for his own amusement. The trapeze guy is like, “This can’t be your circus, its for children, and families!” Fuck that noise, this is Skeletor’s circus now! Prince Adam tells Orko that Echo Valley is a very dangerous place, and that this is a job for He-Man. We cut to Crackers, sprawled out on a rock platform within a chasm in the dangerous Echo Valley. He utters a statement – not all that loudly – but because of his shrill clown voice, it echoes and causes a rock shower from the vibrations. Some how Crackers manages not to get smashed.
He-Man shows up, perhaps faster than when the rocket train was about to crash, and that stupid little mechanical sparrow in Crackers’ shirt pops out and says “He-Man, He-Man”, which causes an echo, which in turn causes the platform Crackers is standing on to crumble. Crackers managers to catch a ledge, but he won’t be able to hold on for long. He-Man takes a rope and throws it to him just as he falls, fortunately catching him around the waste with the loop, rather than the neck. Once Crackers has been hauled up, another avalanche occurs, so they all run for a cave. Of course, the entrance gets blocked by the avalanche. He-Man figures because the cave they’re in runs North East, they can probably just walk all the way back to the circus through the cave.
Meanwhile, in Eternia, the giant circus poster has a big CANCELLED stamp on it, and all the families and children look very disappointed, even Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood in the back right there. Skeletor’s face appears as an apparition superimposed over the poster and tells every one to go the fuck home because Skeletor, and Skeletor alone, is going to enjoy this circus. “Yay! Casa Bonita! Yay!” Inside the circus, Skeletor is demanding that all the performers get started with their acts before he has to slit all of their throats, but they just stand there and defiantly demand to know what Skeletor has done with Crackers.
Suddenly, the floor starts to quake and He-Man breaks up through it, followed by Crackers, and tells Skeletor that his private circus is cancelled. I can’t believe what happens next. For some reason, Skeletor chases He-Man up the trapeze towers and they start trapeze-battling each other. Really, why they fuck would they do that? Maybe because they still have two minutes of episode to kill? As it turns out, being a trapeze artist is about as easy as Orko thought it was. At least for He-Man, because Skeletor finally loses his grip, but He-Man swings by and grabs Skeletor to save him, even though there’s a safety net. Skeletor demands to be let go, so He-Man drops him to the safety net anyway.
However, Skeletor lands on the tightrope on the way down. Skeletor struggles to find his balance and He-Man warns him to be careful. Skeletor scoffs and fires at He-man, which causes him to fall harmlessly into the safety net. He bounces out of the net and onto the ground where the people of Eternia totally laugh at him. Skeletor concedes his loss “this time” and limps off to fight another day. It seems like it would be really easy to arrest a limping Skeletor right there in the middle of Eternia and fucking put him in jail for once. And, how come the circus isn’t surrounded by the Royal Guard by now? Huh? Skeletor has trouble finding a comfortable exit on account of them all being blocked by angry mobs of Eternians, so Skeletor tries to run out the back.
He finds the crate of fireworks and asks what it is. He-Man actually tells him, but warns him not to mess with it. Though he was just defeated, and was leaving the premises with his tail between his legs, Skeletor snaps at He-Man not to tell him what to do. He messes with the fireworks and winds up getting blasted up through the top of the tent. Of course, being a firework he’s riding on, when he reaches it’s apex, it explodes, which I hope killed him once and for all. The Eternians all looks up, watching the fire works with stupid grins plastered on their faces. Unfortunately, Skeletor is not dead, and he falls to Eternia, where he still doesn’t die. Skeletor does bounce around though, and then gets flung headfirst into a wood wall, where his face pops out of a poster on the other side.
Later, the circus performance is well underway and Orko is sitting in the stands with Prince Adam and Man-At-Arms, enjoying the show. Prince Adam says to Orko, “I thought you’d be out there performing with them.” Orko admits that although he hates his chores at the palace, washing Myrtle sucks more so he quit the circus. Probably deeply offended, Myrtle grabs the sides of Orko’s face with two of her trunks and pulls his face wide, hopefully trying to rip it off. It reminds me of what Frank’s face looks like at the end of Hellraiser, when he’s got the hook chains stuck all over in it. Myrtle leaves lipstick prints on him, but I’m still convinced she was either trying to rip his face off, or suck his brain out through his ears.
Time for this week’s moral! I think it should be about how NOBODY held Orko accountable for cleaning his room in order to see the circus. Seriously, after its first mention by Man-At-Arms, it was only once brought up again, and Orko clearly had not done it at that time. He didn’t have time to do it at any other point because he was running around pestering the shit out of everyone at the circus for the whole episode. I could maybe give him a pass if he had done even a single thing to help stop Skeletor, but he didn’t do that either. So kids, if your parents tell you to clean your room, don’t bother, because there won’t be any consequences if you don’t. Instead, Orko comes on screen is trying to juggle, but he sucks at it. He’s even using a third arm from out of the top of his head to cheat. He talks about how he thought juggling would be easy, but it’s not. Prince Adam tells him that if you want to be good at something, you have to practice a lot. Except for Prince Adam, he doesn’t have to lift weights or anything to get all those muscles, because he has a magical sword instead. Or He-Man who was an instant pro at trapeze work.
He-Man murder count:
Season 1: 19
Season 2: 2
Episodes missing Skeletor:
Season 1: 28
Season 2: 15
IMDB Cast List
John Erwin: He-Man, Prince Adam, Beast Man, Crackers the Clown
Alan Oppenheimer: Skeletor, Man-At-Arms, Cringer
Linda Gary: Teela, Evil-Lyn, Mechanical Bird
Lou Scheimer: Orko, The Great Orlando