He-Man and the Masters of the Universe are back!
Okay, He-Man’s not really back, but the Masters of the Universe are back!
Okay, so the Masters of the Universe aren’t back either, but that doesn’t matter because the first new episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe in 30 years is a Skeletor solo adventure and it is so wonderfully nostalgic that it made me bleed New Coke.
Skeletor is mixing together a paralyzing potion to use on his archenemy, He-Man, when he realizes that he’s missing a crucial ingredient that only grows at the foot of a volcano in the Canyon of Spiders so, along with his minions, Beast Man and Mer Man, makes the journey to retrieve it. While there, the bony one discovers a mysterious cave and ventures inside to plunder its dark magic secrets, but the Snake Mountain gang encounter something that they didn’t prepare for… the three terrors!
What is the three terrors?
But that’s not the point.
The point is, this is wonderful. Sure, it’s not well written and the animation looks like something from the 1980’s, but that’s kind of the whole point. If it was actually a little less polished, it might have even fit in with the original Masters of the Universe cartoon run.
I grew up watching He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, so watching this was a joy. Sure, Alan Oppenheimer’s voice has noticeably aged, making Skeletor sound less like Skeletor and more like a kind old man, but the very fact that they used the original voice actor despite his aged voice only goes to show how much love was put into this. Remember when the Transformers movie didn’t use Frank Welker, the original voice actor, for Megatron because Michael Bay thought he sounded too old? That’s called a lack of love. This… “The Curse of the Three Terrors” is a tender love letter to the Golden Age of cheap after-school animation.
While the emulation of the old Filmation animation style is on par for most of the episode, there are some strange running and walking cycles that made me cock my head in confusion. Beast Man, for example, looks like he skipped out on leg day, but for the most part, it’s perfect. Almost, as I said, a little too polished, but that’s forgivable in many respects.
I will say, though, that “The Curse of the Three Terrors” wisely decides against using any self-referential meta humor or pop culture references. It’s not interested in poking fun of itself or pointing out the series’ flaws, it’s just telling a story in the framework that was set for it and I appreciate that, almost refreshing, approach so much.
While I have heavy doubts that anyone who didn’t grow up in the 80’s will see any value to “The Curse of the Three Terrors,” for me, it was a portal back to my childhood. It didn’t give me the feeling of watching a new episode of a beloved series from long ago, it gave me the experience of watching a new episode of a beloved series from long ago. That, my friends, is a gift and it’s a gift I am most grateful for.
Now… why do I suddenly have the urge to buy a bunch of toys?