HE-MAN & SHE-RA: A CHRISTMAS SPECIAL (1985)
What better way to rekindle the Holiday spirit than with an hour-long toy commercial? He-Man and his twin sister She-Ra join forces for one the most enjoyable and unintentionally hilarious Christmas specials I’ve ever seen.
He-Man, AKA Prince Adam, and She-Ra, AKA Princess Adora, have the most unconvincing secret identities in all of secret identitydom. No masks. No removal of eyeglasses. No change in hairstyle. Just ridiculous costumes. Even Miley Cyrus knows enough to throw on a blonde wig when she dresses as Hannah Montana. I don’t know why they even bother with secret identities when they don’t even bother to keep them secret.
Through a series of conveniently contrived plot twists (every plot twist in a Christmas special seems to be conveniently contrived) two Earth children are accidentally teleported to He-Man’s planet of Eternia. When the two kids, Alicia and Miguel, bitch about not being able to get home in time to celebrate Christmas, King Randor and Queen Marlena decide to include a Christmas celebration with the birthday festivities of Adam and Adora, which just so happens to occur on the exact same day. The fact that they would equate He-Man and She-Ra with Jesus Christ is offensive beyond belief.
Apparently this “new spirit of goodness” is an insult to the evil galactic overlord Horde Prime, who believes that Christmas will challenge his evil grip on the galaxy. This Wizard of Oz-esque baddie orders his underlings, Skeletor and She-Ra’s foe Hordak, to crush the Christmas spirit by delivering the Earth children to him. Probably for some sort of black mass blood sacrifice.
So basically Skeletor’s mission is to steal Christmas. This is starting to sound a lot like my childhood fan fiction!
Hordak strikes first, using a tractor beam to suck the kids into his suggestively shaped helicopter.
What were the toymakers thinking? Maybe I don’t want to know.
The copter flies to Etheria, where it’s shot down by the “Monstroids,” a band of giant transforming robots in unconvincing disguise. Alicia and Miguel are taken to a Monstroid prison cell to await execution. Why is it that every Holiday special portrays the worst possible things that could ever happen on Christmas?
That’s the most unconvincing disguise I’ve seen since He-Man and She-Ra.
The kids aren’t locked up for long. A couple of the Monstroids’ archenemies, the so-called “Manchines,” arrive to bust ‘em out. Who names these things? It sounds like the Mansiere, Frank Costanza’s name for a male bra.
A Manchine named Cutter cuts through the prison bars (“They don’t call me Cutter for nothin’!) while a talking go-cart named Zipper (“They don’t call him Zipper for nothin’) speeds them off to safety. I swear Zipper must be voiced by terrible comedian / “Tim & Eric” regular, James Quall! “Zzzzzzzop on! There’zzzzzzzz aaaaaaaaa Monstroid just aaaaaaround zzzzzz-corner!”
All that’s missing is for him to repeat the phrase “Spaghetti and meatballs” over and over again.
Pretty soon the kids and the Manchines are surrounded by Monstroids. But as luck, and bad screenwriting, would have it, that’s the exact moment that He-Man, She-Ra, and a whole army of Manchines decide to show up and save the day. The “Manchines” certainly don’t live up to their name. They don’t look anything like men. More like characters from the rejected “Mega Man Babies” cartoon.
Skeletor takes advantage of all this hubbub to swoop in on his flying jet ski and capture the Earth kids and their newly-adopted “Manchine puppy.” The jealous Hordak shoots lasers at the jet ski, sending it careening into the deadly snow-capped Etherian Mountains.
Now begins the best part of this—or any—Christmas special ever produced in the history of history. Skeletor forces the kids into a grim death march through the frozen wastes. The kids are freezing to death. But Skeletor doesn’t give a shit: “I said MOVE IT!” “But it’s Christmas time,” they whine. “What’s Christmas time?” Halfway through her explanation, Alicia passes out in the snow. But Skeletor shows zero concern: “There’s no Christmas spirit here! So get moving, you two!” Skeletor is my kinda cartoon villain!
Skeletor: Guilty of child abuse and extreme awesomeness.
Alicia won’t wake up no matter how hard Skeletor yells at her or shakes his fists in the air. So the bone-faced badass uses his evil magical staff to give the kids warm parkas.
Mistaking his pragmatism for generosity, Alicia says, “Thank you Mister Skeletor, you are very kind.” Insulted by this compliment, Skeletor forces them to leave their puppy behind to die a cold and painful death. Hannibal Lecter’s got nothin’ on this guy!
That’s what you get for calling Skeletor kind: He kills your puppy!
But Skeletor has a change of heart and picks the pup up out of the snow. Disgusted by his own compassion and decency, he whines, “I don’t know what’s coming over me. But whatever it is, I DON’T LIKE IT!” I know what’s coming over him; it’s the Christmas spirit! Just don’t tell Skeletor that; he’d probably murder your family and make you watch.
Then the dog starts licking Skeletor’s face! Skeletor protests, but it’s pretty obvious he secretly enjoys it.
Alicia offers to carry the dog. But Skeletor doesn’t believe in charity: “Er… We’ll go much FASTER if I carry him. Tell me more about this Christmas.”
This exchange of dialogue gives a rare glimpse into Skeletor’s damaged psyche:
MIGUEL: It’s a wonderful time of year. Everyone has lots of fun.
SKELETOR: You mean they get in fights?
MIGUEL: No! Nooo! They have fun.
SKELETOR: Fights ARE fun! I LIKE fights!
How can this scene possibly get any better? How ‘bout if they get attacked by a Snow Beast!
Skeletor makes quick work of the monster. “So much for the Snow Beast,” he cackles. The kids mistake Skeletor’s love of killing endangered animals for kindess: “Oh thank you, Mister Skeletor, you SAVED us! You really are wonderful!” And just look how Skeletor reacts to their love and support:
Skeletor’s heart grew three sizes that day
Because this scene couldn’t possibly get more awesome, Hordak and shows up and recaptures the children. Then Horde Prime shows up. Then He-Man and She-Ra show up once again to save the day. But they save nothing. Skeletor single-handedly defeats Horde Prime, the most powerful evil force in the universe, with one simple blast of his evil magical staff. Now that’s what I call badass!
He-Man, She-Ra, and Skeletor are equally dumbfounded as the kids embrace their bone-faced hero. He-Man suggests that maybe Skeletor is suffering from a serious case of the Christmas spirit: “It makes you feel… GOOD.” “I don’t like to feel good,” whines Skeletor, “I like to feel EVIL! Awwww!”
And that’s how Skeletor Stole Saved Christmas!
And finally, the cherry on top of this insanity sundae: He-Man as Santa Claus!
The most convincing disguise He-Man has ever worn
He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special feels less like an episode of Masters of the Universe than a work of fan fiction. A work of AWESOME fan fiction! Skeletor’s defection to the good side must’ve P.O.’d legions of hardcore He-Man fans. There are so many baffling moments in this cartoon that I wasn’t sure if the writers were in on the joke or if they were totally out of their minds. If they were in on the joke, then this is one of the most brilliant self-reflexive parodies of Christmas specials ever produced.