The Best of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (10 Episode Collector's Edition) (1983)

Director: Marsh Lamore, Ed Friedman
Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Animated, Color, Closed-captioned
Number of discs:


Popular lore has it that toy giant Mattel had a crapload of unsold Conan the Barbarian action figures on their hand when the eventual movie turned out to be too violent and dark for small kids.

So instead of junking the lot, they came with the brilliant solution of making a few small modifications to the plastic dolls by retrofitting them with new accessories and bits. Thus was born the more kid-friendly He-Man, and to flog the new toy range they did what all toy manufacturers do to this very day: they created their own kiddies animated show.

Parents today should be glad that their kids have shows such as The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter's Lab, Johnny Bravo and so forth. Not only can these shows be watched by parents as well, it sometimes feels as if they were specifically created for adults! (How else for instance to explain a clever and tongue-in-cheek Powerpuff Girls episode titled "The Beat-alls", filled with obscure Beatles trivia and references that only ageing Baby Boomers would catch and goes straight over the heads of its intended audiences?)

Parents in the 1980s didn't have it this good: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is intended for small children (well, boys in particular) and absolutely no-one else. Usually I would say twentysomethinger nostalgiaists would want to check out this DVD box set, but not in this case. I don't think that any adult in their right mind, no matter how wistful they are about their childhoods, would stomach more than one episode of He-Man today.

The show is simply too awful for this: stock animated sequences are re-used endlessly (like those shots of Cylon ships being blown up in the original 1970s Battlestar Galactica), the voice talent is annoying (Skeletor in particular is annoyingly shrill and camp) and the ?Eighties synth score even more so. The stories are simplistic and repetitive (He-Man never seems to face anyone else except his arch-nemesis Skeletor). Therefore it is rather funny to see this DVD caters the sort of interviews and trivia facts that would appeal more to adult nostalgiaists than kids.

Very small kids will love He-Man and parents need not worry too much about their sprogs watching it: the show is quite innocuous and even has a little (albeit forced) moral lecture tagged on at the end of each episode.

THE DISCS: You get the best ten He-Man episodes as voted by fans on a website on two discs.

The episodes are:

Disc 1 (Best of Season 1):
#5: "Evilseed"
#4: "Quest for He-Man"
#3: "Prince Adam No More"
#2: "Diamond Ray of Disappearance"
#1: "Teela's Quest"

Disc 2 (Best of Season 2):
#5: "Into the Abyss"
#4: "Teela's Triumph"
#3: "To Save Skeletor"
#2: "The Problem with Power"
#1: "Origin of the Sorceress"

The packaging, a carton box, is rather fancy. Image and sound quality is quite good for a cheesy TV show that is more than 20 years old.

WORTH IT? If you have small boys, yeah. And the TV show is still loads better than the live action movie Masters of the Universe movie starring Dolph Lundgren.

RECOMMENDATION: Buy it for your kids, but you'll only undergo permanent brain damage if you watch it with them. That's what Invader Zim is there for . . .



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