He-Men & Mooninites

There have actually been three cartoon series starring He-Man, the “most powerful man in the universe”, but the one I'm most familiar with is the original He-man and the Masters of the Universe from the ‘80s. I got a lot of life lessons from that show, and was young enough to take the morals at the end of each episode seriously. When it finally came to DVD, I grabbed the first season and found that, unlike other cartoons from my youth, it really didn't stand the test of time. In fact, with no offense meant to my friends of alternate persuasions, it was kind of “gay”. It was the story of Prince Adam, timid royalty who transformed into a masculine barbarian by holding an enchanted sword and shouting, “By the power of Grayskull! I have the power!”. Despite the fact that Adam and He-man looked exactly alike, save for the fact that Adam sported a pink shirt and softer voice while He-man wore a metal strap, furry shorts, and had reverb added to his voice, no one ever connected the two, not even his own parents! The king would often chide him for not being more of a brave warrior like his alter-ego.

Though I have fond memories of the toys and the series, I found I couldn't sit through more than a few episodes at a time. When the second season came out, I bought it, while the first season remained unfinished. When the third set came out, I saved my money. Eventually I forced myself to watch the two sets I owned, and did find some gems in the rough. It was interesting to see names like Bruce Timm and Paul Dini in the credits. I didn't pay attention to writers or artists so much when I was still in single digits, but by the ‘90s those two gentlemen became personal heroes with the advent of Batman: The Animated Series. I realized I still needed to be an innocent child to appreciate a cartoon that was neither as dark nor mature as I remembered it to be. Cartoons have come a long way from the ‘80s as well, and standalone plotlines were replaced with seasonal arcs and continuity similar to hour-long adult dramas.

Apparently, there was a show called The New Adventures of He-Man in the early ‘90s, in which our hero pursued his rival Skeletor to another world, one of far more science fiction than fantasy. I have a fuzzy memory of the opening credits, and I'm certain I never made it past them. I would sooner watch the live-action film with Dolph Lundgren.

In 2002, Cartoon Network aired a new He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. The show received a lot of good buzz and had I cable television, I probably would have watched it. A new line of highly detailed action figures were released to coincide with the show. Recently, I've been catching up with this series online and I have to say, it was a definite improvement over the original. Skeletor had a genuine origin from the start, a tyrant named Keldor who has his face burned off with acid during a fight with Adam's father. In the original series he just kind of sat around in a mountain chuckling and ordering his minions to do bad stuff. Rather than differentiate Adam by making him effeminate, he's portrayed as a teenager, with a completely different build from He-Man. When he finally gets his sword and transforms into a warrior, it's plausible that his closest friends and allies don't make the connection.

The show utilized a lot more of the characters too in each episode. I found it odd that, when shows promoting toy lines were so popular in the ‘80s, the original tended to focus on a very small core cast with sporadic appearances by the other Masters. Man-At-Arms, one of the few to know Adam's secret and a staple of the original show, had a more commanding presence and was a formidable warrior as well as a weapons designer. I'm most familiar with Gary Chalk's voice work as Optimus Primal, a heroic leader in Beast Wars, so his unmistakable tones definitely made Man-At-Arms seem like the guy in charge.

I've only seen nine episodes so far, and I've read the series was prematurely canceled in the second season, which is a shame. It was nice to see a classic concept revisited and improved upon.

Ironically, while kid's shows become more serious and mature, animated series aimed at adults have gone the opposite direction. I had never seen Aqua Teen Hunger Force, nor did a show about talking fast food really appeal to me. The show has gotten a lot of press lately though. It's creators were arrested for a “bomb scare” in Boston when they put up magnetic lighted signs depicting 8-bit video game characters from the show, the Mooninites. Later released on bail, they jokingly avoided questions at a press conference.

These are scary times, but to look at the devices, which resemble Lite Brites, could authorities have overreacted? Should the artists be more sensitive about the issue and lay off the drugs? Is it possible that the following silly cartoon cracked me up?:

At the end of the day, with no real harm done and for the cost of bail and legal expenses, these guys got a lot of free publicity for a nonsensical show that might otherwise have flown under the radar. In an age where controversy fuels publicity and Rosie O'Donnell makes a habit out of insulting and starting “feuds” with other celebrities, one has to question certain coincidences.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force is coming soon to a theater near you. Who has the power?


Blogger TheWriteJerry said...

I've seen the first two seasons of ATHF, and I must admit to laughing my head off nearly non-stop each episode. The show was snarky, clever, funny and filled with personality.

However, this stunt pulled by the advertising firm in charge of the ATHF account goes deeply into the realm of irresponsible.

The fact is, we do live in scary times where there are extremists who fly jets into buildings, crash cars into the residents of predominately Jewish neighborhoods, who go into malls and open fire with automatic weapons, drive bomb-filled vans into occupied buildings, and generally fill the internet and the airwaves with threats of more bloodshed to come.

Thus, every potential bomb threat must be taken seriously. It is not incumbent on law enforcement to say "oh that looks harmless, just some lights and a cartoon character on boxes placed in strategic, terrorist-centric locations like bridges and tunnels." Law enforcement's job is to protect us, and that means taking every threat seriously. If these were bombs and the authorities did not close bridges and tunnels and respond with utmost caution, the media and the public at large would be skewering them for doing a lax job and bashing Bush for everything from terrorist plots to hangnails.

And beyond that, these reckless idiots have given several great advantages to terrorists now:

1) Terrorists looking to sucker in the public will make their devices look innocent, decorating them with obvious fake wires and lights. They will play directly on this incident. I look forward with dread to the SpongeBob Squarepants Bomb that is now on our horizon.

2) Terrorists now got an in-depth look at how cities handle emerging bomb placement threats. They saw how Boston reacts, and how other cities didn't even know they had dozens of the devices scattered around town. It will be easier for terrorists to plan their next attack.

3) People will now take the next threat less seriously, which could lead to much death and disaster.

I believe the ad firm should be seriously fined, it's principle officers fired, and whomever at TBS who sanctioned the campaign should be hung out to dry. And if laws were indeed broken, then the maximum fine and sentence should be meted out to those directly responsible for the crime.

2/02/2007 10:01 AM  
Blogger b13 said...

I hate to agree... but I find a lot of validity to Jerry's rant. These two misfits also feel that they are above the law and can place advertising wherever they wish without paying for space. Last time I checked that was called Graffiti.

Now a semi-stupid comment: People need to start thinking about the things they do before doing it... them things... you know, that they do...without thinking... before they do it...stuff... BALOGNÉ SANG-WITCH

woabbdzb = what I had to type to verify my post

Don't ask...it's late in the work day and the sugar rush has subsided. :(

2/02/2007 5:05 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

I'm with J-No on this one. I'd almost be willing to believe that the whole scandal was part of the plan to begin with. It was just irresponsible. Here's a picture of one of the not-bombs. I don't watch ATHF, so I can really imagine me seeing this thing and thinking "What the heck is THAT?"

2/02/2007 7:22 PM  
Blogger Xtine said...

well said!

2/02/2007 11:04 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home