He-Man & She-Ra Christmas Special (1985) — Jesus is the true master of the universe

“I don’t know what’s happening to me, but I must save the children!”

Justin’s rating: I don’t think that picture up there ever stops being amusing

Justin’s review: For my final entry into 2021’s Culty Christmas Countdown, I wanted to dip into a bit of my own childhood. While I’ve never actually seen the He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special before today, He-Man as a franchise had a strong presence in many of my friends’ houses. We’d often play with those delightfully oversized and wonderfully detailed action figures while being confused as to what genre He-Man was supposed to be. Scifi? Fantasy? L.A. Fitness? PETA? Oh whatever, it was like playing with the fever dream of some toy exec.

That said, I never was one for the TV show (the movie is another matter). I found it kind of dorky, to be honest. Was I supposed to look up to this guy who featured the worst haircut known to man, a loincloth, and 1,433 muscle groups in his arms alone? Why didn’t he just stay in He-Man mode all of the time when Prince Adam was such a dweeb? What happened to Skeletor’s face? It didn’t make sense.

In any case, today we arrive at the 1985 TV Christmas special, which features both He-Man and his toy counterpart She-Ra. She-Ra? Why not She-Man? Missed opportunity, that.

So it’s winter-ish on Eternia, the weird planet of the series that hosts a bizarre assortment of one-note characters. Man-at-Arms creates a “Sky Spy” rocket ship, and Orko — the odious comic relief that every kids’ cartoon included — accidentally launches it and sends himself to Earth. There, he meets some kids who tell him all about Christmas, Bible story and Santa and everything.

Meanwhile, siblings He-Man and She-Ra work to transport Orko back, who arrives with a pair of abducted children. Nobody seems too concerned that they just committed a felony, but because it’s going to be a little bit of time before they can return the kids (for some reason), everyone decides to throw a Christmas party on Eternia instead.

The problem is that some ultimate evil cloud-thing called Horde Prime wants the kids and orders She-Ra’s enemy Hordak to kidnap them. You know, kidnap them more. Which he does, but then Skeletor kidnaps them for a third time. I’ll admit, Skeletor was easily the most memorable cartoon villain of the ’80s, because how are you going to top a hugely muscled dude whose head is a floating skull? The only way that he can get better is being overcome by the Christmas spirit, cuddling with a puppy, and temporarily joining the good guys’ side.

If all of the She-Ra and He-Man character crossovers wasn’t bonkers enough, this special also throws in a race of huge transforming machines and a smaller race of good machines as a sort of third faction. When you add endless speeches about how wonderful Christmas is, the constant self-narration that these kinds of cartoons did (“I will shoot my sword at you now!”), and occasional “SHE-RA!” or “HE-MAN!” title interludes, you’ve got a masterpiece of seasonal delight.

Didja notice?

  • The party setup is already the weirdest thing you’ll see all week
  • Peekablue the fairy
  • Man-at-Arms is building a spy drone
  • You can launch a rocketship by breaking a throttle
  • This is peppy opening music
  • I wonder if He-Man drives everyone nuts by transforming with a lightshow whenever he gets worked up
  • He-Man talking about manicures
  • You can breathe in outer space. And fly on a flying horse.
  • Who’s letting their kids play by avalanches, I want to know
  • The kids tell Orko the Bible story of Christmas. This was the ’80s, we were allowed to back then.
  • Everyone gets their happy transforming theme music — and logo
  • Good to get advice from mermaids
  • From beastmonsters to robots
  • And now we have Transformers? Sort of?
  • That bard needs to put a shirt on
  • The worst Christmas carol. Don’t think this one took off.
  • The Fright Zone
  • Skeletor gives them coats and then is overcome by the puppy, aww
  • All of the times He-Man and She-Ra call each other “brother” and “sis”
  • There are no way that those kids are latino, despite their parentage

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