I was born in December 1979. Therefore, the eighties were my complete early childhood from when I was first born to when I turned ten. I bring all this up because I was recently assigned to review the "Masters of the Universe" television show from 2002. This is a more modern version, though, and to truly understand the "Masters of the Universe" concept one has to flashback to that wacky decade that was the eighties. The "Masters of the Universe" were first introduced in the early eighties around 1983. They first appeared as toys or action figures geared toward young kids such as yours truly. Along with G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Voltron these were the toys of young boys in this decade. I was into all of these characters and toys as a kid. Hands down, though, the "Masters of the Universe" were my favorite.
I had almost every figure, every accessory, every vehicle, and every play set. Forget G.I. Joe and the whole army thing, forget Transformers and their machine gimmick, I fell deep into the fantasy world that "Masters of the Universe" created. From the villainous monsters in Skeletors army to the transformation that Prince Adam underwent to become He-Man, I was hooked. I would set up Snake Mountain (the evil Skeletor's lair) and Castle Greyskull (He-Man's castle) and I would have hour long wars between the two forces.
Also, just as popular as the action figures at this point, was the syndicated television series that would run from 1983 to 1985. The show followed the story behind the toy line and was a huge hit with us kids. The basic story follows Prince Adam who is the heir to Eternia. Prince Adam has a secret, though. He is the all powerful hero He-Man. With the power of his sword Prince Adam recites the classic line, "By the power of Greyskull! I have the power!" and tranforms into He-Man. Along with his friends Teela, her father Man-At-Arms, the lovable creature Orco, the Sorceress of Greyskull and his trusty friend Battlecat, they fight the forces of the evil Skeletor. Skeletor is the ruler of Snake Mountain and he and his minions are out to capture Castle Greyskull and discover its mysteries. Castle Greyskull is where He-Man discovered the Sword of Greyskull and received his powers. The show ran for only two years but I still remember it vividly. Although I shouldn't admit this I still even have most of my "MOTU" action figures in a box in my basement. I honestly don't play with them anymore, though, I swear!
All this brings us to 2002 and a modernized version of "Masters of the Universe" which aired on Cartoon Network. The DVD set I just watched is of season one of this "remake" of the classic series. Being 22 years old when this show first aired on Cartoon Network I must admit that I didn't catch a second of it. I didn't even know it was on at the time because if I did I would have definitely checked it out from a nostalgia standpoint. Reviewing this DVD got me caught up, though, and I will be the first to admit that even though this was a modern version it still brought back a flood of memories.
The first episode, entitled "The Beginning" is just that as it introduces the characters of "Masters of the Universe" all over again. In this opening episode, the threat of the evil Keldor and his army are approaching "The Great Palace" where the Elders reside. Randor is the leader of "The Defenders" and they fight to protect "The Great Palace" and the Elders from the evil invaders. After the battle between Randor's men and Keldor's army, Randor is victorious and Keldor and his army retreat. Keldor had acid thrown in his face and after this disfigurement he will soon refer to himself as Skeletor in the second episode. After the battle scene, Prince Adam and Teela are introduced along with her father Man-At-Arms. Meanwhile, Keldor/Skeletor is regrouping and developing a new plan to attempt to conquer the now king Randor's kingdom. Man-At-Arms receives a telepathic message from the Sorceress. He tells Prince Adam that he must accompany him to the mysterious Castle Greyskull. Once there Prince Adam meets the Sorceress and he is given the power of Greyskull and the ability to transform into He-Man, the most powerful warrior in the universe! This episode introduces the world and characters nicely and I'm sure a whole new generation was able to become entertained by the fascinating world of "Masters of the Universe".
The remaining season was very solid and was still able to entertain a now 28 year old man. Maybe it's that kid in me but I thoroughly enjoyed He-Man's updated animated adventures. The rest of the season follows classic kids show fare as He-Man and his friends battle the evil forces of Skeletor and many more characters and story lines are introduced. Season One has 26 episodes which all exhibit classic He-Man and "Masters of the Universe" stories, characters, and lessons geared to its young audience.
In the end, it was a great experience to revisit Eternia and the realm of "Masters of the Universe". As I previously stated, He-Man was a huge part of my childhood and it is sometimes refreshing to reflect back on more innocent times of my life. As far as the updated 2002 television version, I have to say that the whole spirit and fun of what makes the world of He-Man so popular with young kids remains. Also, this version has better animation, cooler effects, and more intricate stories that come along with the technology. It's a great animated show and a very entertaining show for most kids. I suggest those of you reading this do what I do. Pass it down to your kids or nieces and nephews and enjoy watching this great world right along with them.
Rating - ***