He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

.....Nowadays, syndication is an extremely fertile market. Shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation, Baywatch, and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys have been huge successes off-network, in some cases because of the freedom to explore taboo subjects (and, in the case of Baywatch, the half-naked figures of the extras the show hired), or explore these subjects in a way that no network would approve. However, this wasn't always true. Syndication was a wasteland of cancelled shows (typically edited for time) and old feature films that had run their course on the major networks.
.....That was before September of 1983. Before He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Produced by Filmation Associates, which was at the time the top American television animation studio (and the only one producing all of its series completely in the United States), a studio that had just started its unfortunate decline (in large part because CBS was quickly becoming adverse to purchasing Filmation's series), and a studio that had a cadre of highly talented writers, directors, voice actors, and animators. He-Man single-handedly revitalized the studio, reminding the world that Filmation was still a force in the world of animation.
.....Based upon Mattel's rising toyline, Masters of the Universe, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe quickly turned the entire concept on its head. Thanks to Filmation's adaptation of Michael Halperin's writer's bible (and the inspiration of the unfortunately short-lived Filmation cartoon Blackstar), the words "By the power of Grayskull!" became a reality, as did the characters of Prince Adam, Cringer, King Randor, Queen Marlena, Granamyr (oldest and wisest of the dragons of Darksmoke), General Tataran (leader of the dreaded Goblin Army, named after storyboard artist and animator Tom Tataranowicz), Malektha (Eternia's top scientist and historian), the enigmatic aliens from the land of Trolla, Dree Elle and Uncle Montork, and the most lovable Trollan of all, Orko. Also undergoing major changes were He-Man and Battle Cat, in addition to what would become the heart and soul of the show: Teela, her mother, the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull, and Teela's adopted father, the wise and beloved Man-At-Arms.
.....Based on the initial episode, "Diamond Ray of Disappearance", one would predict a run of enjoyable but average episodes. However, the second episode aired, "Teela's Quest", changed everything. For perhaps the first time in an original (or, in this case, virtually original) action cartoon, characters were presented with real-life problems in an intelligent manner as the headstrong Teela searched for the answer that many orphans have asked: Who are my real parents? The answer, which Teela was eventually unable to retain, set the bar for character development that was challenged many times, and surpassed once: the series finale, "The Problem With Power".
.....Spawning a sister series (pun only partially intended), an animated feature film, and turning a modestly popular toyline into one of the most successful in history are among the many accomplishments that the 130 episodes of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe can claim. Then, it should be no wonder that Mattel re-released some of the most popular toys from the old run in 2001, or that they launched a new Masters of the Universe toyline in 2002 (with a new animated series and comic book). Lou Scheimer (co-founder of Filmation, and voice of many familiar characters on the show) sought the license for his new studio, the aptly named Lou Scheimer Productions, but was denied in favor of Mike Young Productions (which is right across the street from Lou's now-closed studio). The new series and toyline were stunning failures, for all save those who saw the re-make as a soulless copy of Filmation's landmark series. (We saw it coming.)
.....One positive, though, of the failed 2002 Masters of the Universe toyline was the release of certain episodes of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: "Diamond Ray of Disappearance", "The Dragon Invasion", "To Save Skeletor", Into the Abyss", and the all-time classic, "The Problem With Power", were bundled with certain figures. However, the release hinted at a terrible tragedy in store for not only He-Man's immense fan base, but those of all of Filmation's cartoons, as "Diamond Ray of Disappearance" (making its home video debut in its original form) was edited and time-compressed. ("Into the Abyss" and "The Problem With Power", thankfully, were not, though all episodes released were in fact restored versions with a Hallmark logo tagged on after the final Filmation logo.) This tragedy came to fruition days before the first DVD release of the series (a best-of): the new owners of the core Filmation library, Entertainment Rights, announced that the prior rights holders, Hallmark, had made restored, PAL-format transfers from the 35mm masters, and destroyed everything else. In other words, ER was declaring to the world that the episodes were going to be time-compressed, and, as far as they were concerned, forever. Ignoring the inherent contradiction in this paragraph (which I'm sure you've found), it means that the discerning viewer has no choice but to rely upon the '80s video releases (which are not without their flaws) and the bootlegs (which include PAL-compressed sources, as well as those damnable YTV re-edited eps) if one wants to view the series as it was intended. Or if one likes Shuki Levy's classic score. And especially if one prefers Teela not to sound like a chipmunk. (I remember when I could trust every DVD box set to be done right. *sigh*)
.....
Episodes are presented in speculated airing order, by season.

Seasons (listed chronologically)

1983-1984: First Season
1984-1985: Second Season
1985:          The Secret of the Sword
1985-1986: Third Season
1985:          The He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special

Multimedia

Series Opening (*.mp3 format): hemanopen
Series Closing (*.mp3 format): hemanend
Scene Transition (Blur-*.mp3 format): blurtransition
Scene Transition (Name-*.mp3 format): nametransition
Scene Transition (Spin-*.mp3 format ): spintransition

 

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