Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Cartoon Historian Lesson Redo: He-Man: And The Masters of The Universe (80's)

Welcome to the 2nd in a long line of Lesson Redo's. Today's focus will be on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. I'm Stefan

Mina: And I'm Mina. It's been awhile since we did one of these huh?


*Inside The CH Classroom*

He-Man is one of America's most iconic cartoon heroes. In fact,some people say that he's even More iconic than the legendary Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He-Man and the Masters of the the Universe spawned 3 Cartoon series,3 toylines,a collectors toyline,2 comic book series,and even a live action movie.

Mina: Now We Could go into detail about the Franchises Origins,but I'm not. Instead I'm gonna focus on the 80's Cattoon series.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was produced by Filmation based on Mattel's successful toy line Masters of the Universe.

Mina: Like Most 80's Cartoons.

The show, often referred to as simply "He-Man",was one of the most popular animated shows of the 1980s and has retained a heavy following to this day.

Mina: Seriously? Personally,I never found that show to be all that great. It was kinda campy.

The Show made its television debut in 1983 and ran until 1985, consisting of two seasons of 65 episodes each. Reruns continued to air in syndication until 1988,at which point USA Network bought the rights to the series. USA aired He-Man until September 1990.

The show takes place on Eternia,a planet of magic,science,technology,and fantasy.

The show's lead character is Prince Adam,the young son of Eternia's rulers,King Randor and Queen Marlena. Whenever Prince Adam uses the Power Sword,holds it aloft and says "By the Power of Grayskull...I have the Power!" he is transformed into He-Man, The Most Powerful Man In The Universe. And Cringer,his cowardly Tiger companion,becomes Battle Cat.

Mina: Of course,that was an exaggeration.

He-Man,with the help of Battle Cat,Teela,Man-At-Arms and Orko,defends Eternia from the evil forces of Skeletor.

Skeletor's main goal is to conquer the Castle Grayskull and if he succeeds,Skeletor would be able to conquer not only Eternia,but the whole galaxy.

Mina: Skelletor in this series is a bafoon,like most Cartoon Baddies at the Time.

He-Man was notable for breaking the boundaries of censorship for Cartoons in the 1970s. For the first time in years,a cartoon series could feature a muscular superhero who was actually allowed to hit people.He rarely used his sword and often picked up his opponents and threw them.

Mina: Though in retrospect,the Show was still censored.

The cartoon was openly critisized for the fact that it was based on a Toy-line.Y'see during this period it was not very cool or common to have a TV show that was based on a toy-line. Some didn't like the fact that the show was being used to sell toys.

Mina: Though that later changed in the mid-80's.

Like many Cartoons of the 80's,He-Man and the Masters of the Universe would include a "life lesson" or "moral of the story" at the end of each episode. This moral was usually directly tied to the action or central theme of that episode.

Mina: PSA's in Cartoons are annoying as hell.

The show was so successful that it spawned a spin-off series,She-Ra: Princess of Power,which was also based on a Toy-Line. I covered that in my She-Ra Lesson.

Mina: The one where Sailor Moon Co-hosted,right?


Anyway,He-Man had some notable writers such as J. Michael Straczynski,Paul Dini,and David Wise. One episode was written by Star Trek's D.C. Fontana.

Mina: Cool.

Though the animated cartoons were similar to the DC Comics,Filmation focused more on the lighter, humorous elements of the story rather than the violent ones. This was to make things more suitable for a younger audience.

A new character was also introduced in the form of Orko,a small alien magician who shares Prince Adam's secret and provides the comic relief for most episodes.

Mina: Interesting tidbits. So DC comics Actually made a He-Man comic?

The cartoon series was also remarkable because it was one of the first animated series produced directly for syndication,as opposed to most other syndicated cartoons of the time which were re-runs of old Saturday morning shows.

It was also the very first American Action Cartoon where the quantity of 65 episodes were produced so that the series could be expanded across 13 weeks.
Due to the budget-constraints by Filmation,the He-Man cartoon only featured a voice-cast of four to five people,after Erika Scheimer joined the cast.

Mina: Like With The Thundercats. Their Voice Cast was about 6-8 People.

Linda Gary single-handedly provided voices for nearly all the female characters,

Mina: Hey,as long as none of the dudes were providing female voices,it's perfectly ok.

But the bulk of the character voices were provided by the show's executive producer, Lou Scheimer,one of Filmation's Founding Fathers. The character voices of He-Man and Beast Man were provided by John Erwin. Skeletor was done by Alan Oppenheimer.

A common misconception about the cartoon series is that it was cheap to produce,due to the small number of voice actors and heavy reliance on stock animation.

However,the series was quite expensive to produce at that time,as the Show was created here in the U.S.,rather than having the animation done overseas.

Mina: That was a mistake on their part. I'm sure The show would've been better if it was animated in Korea or Japan.

Ok,now for something Interesting.

There is an urban legend about the so-called "Conan toy line.". The story is that the Mattel Toy Company originally intended to base an action figure line on Conan the Barbarian,which at the time was the lead in several popular series produced by Marvel Comics and due to be the subject of a major movie.

However, after viewing the film,the Mattel executives desided that it would be a huge mistake to create a Toy-Line that's based on a graphicly violent film. A common attitude shared by all major toy companies at the time. Thus they gave their figure blonde hair and re-dubbed him "He-Man".

Mina: As we all know that attitude faded out in the 90's,as there were many toylines based on PG-13 and R-rated Movies.

The legend is unverified but persistent,and most likely false since the first He-Man action figures were produced in 1981,a year before the first Conan film. Roger Sweet,the originator of He-Man,asserts that the He-Man/Masters Of The Universe concept definitely was not an outgrowth of Conan.

Since this has nothing to do with the cartoon,I'm not going any farther.

Mina: In 2009, IGN ranked the series as the 58th greatest animated show of all time in their Top 100 list. Amazing,huh?

In conclusion,He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is a Classic Cartoon that's proved it's worth. With it's popularity still going,I wouldn't be surprised if we saw yet another rendition of the series in the future.

Well that's gonna do it for now.

Mina: So,which lesson are you gonna redo next?

I think I'm leaning towards The Simpsons.

Mina: Sweet.

This is The Cartoon Historian saying Stay Gold.

Mina: Laters.

*fade to black. credits roll as the He-Man closing theme plays*


KingsSideCastle said...

Great post Stefan. ^_^ Nice relaunch of a great episode! He-man rocks.

Stefan said...

Thanks. :D