DVD Review: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe - Season Two, Volume Two
by R.J. Carter
Published: October 11, 2006
He-Man and Battlecat are back to continue the battle for justice in this DVD disc-stravaganza that wraps up the last of the 130 episode series. Whether it was Skeletor, Modulok, Angast, or any of the other host of vile villains, He-Man and his band of heroes always stood up in the defense of justice.
The episodes continued to the end with having a moral to each episode, which was one of the great things about the show for younger viewers; and with the last half of the second (and final) season, the writers really began exploring new avenues of creativity. They had to. As script writer Larry DiTillio states in one of the featurettes, "We just couldn't beat up Skeletor anymore." This shift in focus brought out some of the best of the He-Man adventures. In "Not So Blind", He-Man befriends a young blind boy -- but when he and Ram-Man become blinded themselves, they find themselves relying on the young boy's experience to escape the trap they've fallen into. Amazing Spider-Man writer J. M. Straczewski tackled the issue of He-Man having a secret identity in "Mistaken Identity" -- only it's not Prince Adam who's suspected of secretly being He-Man, surprisingly (that would be a bit too obvious), but just a guy trying to impress his girlfriend. It works until Modulok believes him and goes after him. "Search for a Son" explores the loyalty of Mekaneck to King Randor and Queen Marlena when he's asked to betray them in exchange for the son he had believed dead, while "Teela's Triumph" examines her role as daughter of the Sorceress when she is asked to assume her mother's role in her unexpected absence.
Putting the capstone on the series is "The Problem With Power". When He-Man believes he's accidentally killed a man while in battle with Skeletor, he relinquishes his power and tosses his sword into a bottomless abyss. But Orko learns that the whole thing was a trick by Skeletor, using a goblin stand-in, General Tataran, disguised as a human. (Goblins have no hearts, and thus no heartbeats.) The end of the episode also strongly hints again at the promise of a romantic relationship between He-Man and Teela.
He-Man gives up his power when he
believes he killed an innocent bystander
during a battle with Skeletor.
The series had it's silliness as well, of course. We find out in "Time Doesn't Fly" that the seasons on Eternia can't change without an appeal to the Keeper of Time by the Emperor of Simbar -- something that must happen every year, apparently. All comets are kept in the care of a smallish wizard named Zagraz. And Eternia gets visited by two Earth astronauts who fall through the vortex while on a mission to launch a missle at a magnetic meteor on a collision course with the planet.
The presentation of this set is consistent with the other volumes of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Each episode contains a sub-menu of chapters that also includes Orko's Fun Facts -- trivia about the episode currently selected. A handful of the episodes have commentary, all hosted by Andy Mangels who produced the documentary featurettes. The first of those two featurettes, "The Stories of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Season 2, Part 2", is a look-back with Lou Scheimer, J. Michael Straczynski, Larry DiTillio, Tom Sito, Tom Tataranowicz, and others, who comment on the demise of the series as well as provide some of the behind-the-scenes thinking on creating some of their favorite episodes.
The second featurette, "Animating He-Man and the Masters of the Universe", is a true behind-the-scenes look at the animation process, from scripting through storyboarding to animating the finished product. Both of the featurettes are over a half-hour long, and replete with insider commentary.
On the special features disc you will also find Character Profiles for the characters introduced in this set, like Bowena with her trick arrows. You'll also get a description of the artifacts and creatures. Most of the entries also include a clip from the set that shows the person or thing in context. You can view two episodes in storyboard format, and if you access the discs in a DVD-ROM drive you'll be able to pull up a number of episode scripts in Adobe PDF format.
The episode numbering found inside the case may look a bit wonky -- but that's because the episodes are presented in chronological story order, not air date order, so things are fine in that regard. Inside you will also find two postcards with He-Man artwork, one drawn by Dan Brereton, and the other by Mike McKone. As with the prior sets, each disc features character artwork, and the case features spine art that will add to the growing mural started with the first volume.
All in all, this is a well-designed set for a beloved classic of American-made animation.
Audio for each episode is available in English Dolby Digital or Spanish Dolby Digital.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
Season Two, Volume Two
MU099 - Hunt for He-Man
MU100 - The Greatest Show on Eternia
-- optional commentary with Andy Mangels, Dave Teague, Tom Tataranowicz, and Tom Sito
MU101 - Not So Blind
MU102 - Revenge is Never Sweet
MU103 - The Good Shall Survive
MU104 - The Secret of Grayskull
MU105 - No Job Too Small
MU106 - The Bitter Rose
MU107 - The Gambler
MU108 - Teela's Triumph
MU109 - Orko's New Friend
MU111 - Double Trouble
MU112 - The Eternia Flower
MU123 - Mistaken Identity
MU114 - Battle of the Dragons
MU115 - Time Doesn't Fly
MU116 - Here, There, Skeletors Everywhere
MU117 - Beauty and the Beast
MU118 - Orko's Return
MU119 - Visitors From Earth
MU120 - Monster on the Mountain
MU121 - The Magic Falls
MU122 - Search for a Son
MU113 - Happy Birthday Roboto
MU124 - The Toy Maker
MU125 - Bargain With Evil
-- optional commentary with Andy Mangels, Erika Scheimer, Lou Scheimer, and Larry DiTillio
MU126 - Capture the Comet Keeper
MU127 - The Ancient Mirror of Avathar
MU128 - The Games
MU129 - To Save the Creatures
MU130 - The Cold Zone
MU110 - The Problem With Power
-- optional commentary with Andy Mangels, Tom Tataranowicz, and Dave Teague.
- The Stories of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Season 2, Part 2 (34:16)
- Animating He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (36:28)
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Scripts
- MU102 - Revenge is Never Sweet
- MU110 - The Problem With Power
The New Adventures of He-Man Preview
- MU099 - Hunt for He-Man
- MU101 - Not So Blind
- MU104 - The Secret of Grayskull
- MU108 - Teela's Triumph
- MU110 - The Problem With Power
- Background Artwork
- Character Design Sheets