#REVIEW: Masters of the Universe: Revelation, Pt. 1

First, let us be clear about a couple of of things: I could not be more squarely in the demographic this show was aimed at if I tried. I am a geeky male, born in 1976, who was seven years old when Masters of the Universe premiered in 1983. My brother and I were both hugely into the show, so much so in fact that we refused to share our toys and you therefore need to check the bottoms of their feet to see which ones my mother colored in with a black Sharpie, which indicates that they belonged to me. I still have the vast majority of them; my son played with a bunch of them while he was growing up, too.

The second thing to be clear on is that there is literally nothing you could do to or with the He-Man franchise that would anger me. Yes, these toys were a big part of my childhood; yes, there are still plenty of things that were part of my childhood that I may have Opinions on(*); He-Man is simply not one of them. I will resent the Cubs for the rest of my life for the way their baseball games used to pre-empt my He-Man cartoons but there’s not a damn thing anyone can do with the franchise now that’s going to get me sucking my teeth and muttering at them. It’s just not possible.

(It’s also worth pointing out that Netflix has already surprised me by making me a huge fan of their She-Ra series, so I would have been remiss if I skipped out on this one. The huge success of She-Ra meant that trying out Revelation was practically mandatory.)

That said: this is about as good as I could have expected a Masters of the Universe continuation to be, I think, and having watched the five-episode Part One, I find that I’m still in for Part Two. It’s hard to write in depth about this without spoiling some things, but in general, folks die, and the show in general is a hell of a lot bleaker than I remember the cartoon ever being, but for the most part it’s all still there, right down to Evil-Lyn actually continuing to insist on being called Evil-Lyn for a good chunk of her screen time. There are fanboys yammering about how the female characters, particularly Teela, Lyn and another named Andra who was supposedly in a couple of episodes but who I don’t remember, are in the show too much; those are bad people and their opinions are to be disregarded with swiftness and prejudice. My biggest complaint? Sarah Michelle Gellar voices Teela, and while I was a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and am firmly used to thinking of Sarah as a badass, her voice doesn’t fit her character. Teela’s drawn big, and should have a deeper, brassier voice than Sarah’s. The performance is fine with my eyes closed, but it just didn’t fit the character for me, particularly since I know Sarah’s voice so well and she’s not really trying to mask how she sounds.

Everything else? Good stuff, or at least as much as it can be given that this is Masters of the Universe we’re talking about. Tri-Klops is the main villain, as the leader of a technology … church … thing that … worships? something called Motherboard? And there’s a Holy Sprocket, because … that’s a tech word? I guess?

It’s completely fucking ridiculous, but again: MotU, so … whatever, and I did find it interesting that it set up a bit of a split between the characters who are mostly tech-focused and the magic wielders. This has always been a series where anything goes, basically, so it was kind of cool that when Eternia’s magic starts draining away the tech-focused characters step up and try to take over.

Also, I liked Orko, for the first time … ever? And I can’t believe that I’m actually typing this, but there are some character bits between him and Evil-Lyn that were actually really interesting.

Don’t pay for Netflix for this or anything, but if there was any chance you were going to watch it, follow through on that impulse.

(*) I tossed this question out on Twitter earlier today, tagging my wife: what is the most ridiculous thing that I have strong opinions about? Like, they can do whatever they want to He-Man, and I think the last decade or so has fairly adequately displayed my flexibility regarding comic books and Star Wars. Is it the DC movies? Is the murderverse the thing I get the most fanboy-irrational about? Maybe. Any other possible contenders?

Thursday night dance party

And because you probably need a palate cleanser:

#REVIEW: STRANGER THINGS

1*I_bnDm83n90965m3KxL5wQ.jpegLet’s not bury the lede here: if you haven’t already inhaled the 8 episodes of Stranger Things that Netflix made available a month or so ago, you owe it to yourself to do it right now.  I’ve watched enough Netflix original series to confidently state it’s the  best thing they’ve ever done.  It’s worth paying for Netflix all by itself.  Sign yourself up for a month and consider the $8 or whatever they charge a rental fee for this one show.  It’s well worth it.  This goes double if you are just past or nearing 40 years of age and you associate the 1980s with your childhood in any way.

I don’t even know where to start, guys.  Stranger Things is roughly what would happen if Stephen King and Steven Spielberg had a TV-show baby together and then Wes Craven and Robert Englund raised that baby together, but only after having a custody battle with Gary Gygax and deciding that he could have the kid every third weekend of the month.  I have nearly nothing bad to say about it other than that there is a little romance subplot that might maybe be a tiny bit unnecessary.  Maybe.  I dunno.  And I occasionally felt like the kid on the left in the picture below had some unclear motivations for some of the things he did.  That’s it.

Let’s start with the cast:

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I don’t know who any of these actors are.  In fact, other than Winona Ryder, who plays the mother of the missing boy that kicks off the mystery of the entire series, I can’t name a single actor in the series.  They’re all unknowns, at least to me, and in all honesty it had been enough time since I’d seen Winona Ryder in anything (and she disappears completely enough into her character) that if her name hadn’t been in the opening credits I wouldn’t have recognized her either.

The kids– all four of them, but most particularly the young lady who plays Eleven (on the right) and the tubby kid in the hat in the middle– are magnificent.  The adults are great.  The older teenagers are great.  And Ryder turns in the performance of her career.

I won’t get too far into the plot.  A young boy goes missing, and a young girl with mysterious powers escapes from a Gubmint Facility in a small town in Indiana.  She ends up taking refuge with the friends of the missing kid, and hilarious and/or horrifying hijinks ensue.  The show has mysteries wrapped in mysteries, and they don’t bother to solve all of them by the end of the series (in fact, they introduce two more prominent ones in the show’s last few minutes) but the resolutions they do provide are satisfying as hell.  By the halfway point it was clear that there were a number of ways for this show to End Wrong; I’m happy to say it didn’t.  I don’t know for sure that there’s a second season coming, but I sure as hell hope there is.  And, weirdly, even if they never answer a few of the show’s questions and it’s a one-shot season?  That’s okay.  They earned the right to end the show on a bit of a cliffhanger (sort of) if they wanted to.  Ending with some things for the fanbase to keep talking about after the season is a good thing.

Another thing: at eight episodes, this thing is perfectly paced.  I feel like even a thirteen-episode season would have felt padded out, and at eight they’ve trimmed all the fat they might need to out of their narrative and it feels like every episode contributes meaningfully to the overall arc of the show.  The show’s a masterclass in direction and pacing, folks.

I can’t wait to see what everyone involved in this show does next, honestly.  Do what you need to do to see it.

This is all I’ve got

One more day.

What the shit, 1985?

Okay, I had a post in my head, and there were going to be words and punctuation and maybe a laugh or two and a whole bunch of other shit.  Then, for reasons that are not interesting, I saw this video, and now all I want to know is what the shit was going on in the eighties.  Because what the fuck.

Reagan was in office while this shit was happening.  How does that and this even coexist?

WATCH THE WHOLE VIDEO.