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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Season 2, Vol. 1
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Season 2, Vol. 1
BCI Eclipse // Unrated // June 6, 2006
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Crichton | posted July 25, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
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I am very glad I grew up in the 80's. As far as I was concerned, it was the last golden age of animation on broadcast television. Or at least, the most productive. I mean, between the three broadcast networks, there was close to 12 hours of animation on television every Saturday. Twelve! And that's not even taking into account shows like G.I. Joe, the Transformers, Voltron and He-Man And the Masters Of the Universe shown during the week. While I was a regular viewer of various shows on the Saturday lineups, and i'd watch G.I. Joe, the Transformers and Voltron, the way my weekday viewing was scheduled, everything began with He-Man. In fact, I have fond memories of rushing home from my bus stop so I wouldn't miss Prince Adam's first "By the power of Greyskull...!". Thankfully, BCI Eclipse continues their outstanding contribution to 80's animation with the latest volume of He-Man And the Masters Of the Universe.

After He-Man's first season had aired in syndication, Filmation was surprised that the show was a hit and its ratings were astounding (for a syndicated show). Since some of season one's creators were now hard at work at Fat Albert And the Cosby Kids, they had to re-adjust from the urban stories of Fat Albert, to the magical world of Eternia and its inhabitants. While future Batman: the Animated Series producer/writer Paul Dini didn't return for the next round of episodes, Sci-Fi creators J. Michael Straczynski and D.C. Fontana joined past He-Man writers J. Brynne Stephens, Larry DiTillo and David Wise to hammer out 65 more episodes that would turn out to be the final episodes of He-Man And the Masters Of the Universe.

Thanks to the success of the first season, the writers found they had the freedom to write more complex stories and to explore the background of established characters, while continuing to expand He-Man's mythology and introduce a random new toy Mattel added to the line. Errr...I mean, a random new character. The season got off to a good start with Larry DiTillio's "the Cat And the Spider", a story of tolerance that also saw Cringer getting a girlfriend named Katrina. David Wise's first episode of the season, "Day Of the Machines", was about various machines across Eternia coming to life. A story which, Wise admits during The Stories Of He-Man And the Masters Of the Universe - Season 2, Part 1 documentary, he later repeated during his writing stint on the Transformers!

One of my favorite episodes, Straczyski's "the Origin Of the Sorceress", features one of the most painstakingly obvious "Hey, we have a new toy in stores!" product placements (that would be Stridor). However, i'm a sucker for well written origin stories and the Sorceress was one of my favorite characters. Though, I confess the way she was drawn and the late Linda Gary voiced the character had a lot to do with it. My second favorite episode on this set was D.C. & Richard Fontana's "Battlecat". After causing havoc in Man-At-Arms' laboratory, Orko is told the tale of how He-Man found Cringer and how Cringer became Battle Cat. While there were one or two episodes I was less than impressed with (I couldn't stop laughing at Sh'Gora from "To Save Skeletor"), the "hits" more than outweigh the "misses" and there's something here for most everyone:

  • the Cat In the Spider
  • the Energy Beast
  • Day Of the Machines
  • the Gamesman
  • Fisto's Forest
  • the Rarest Gift Of All
  • the Great Books Mystery
  • Origin Of the Sorceress
  • Island Of Fear
  • To Save Skeletor
  • the Ice Age Cometh
  • Trouble In Trolla
  • Betrayal Of Stratos
  • Disappearing Dragons
  • the Shadow Of Skeletor
  • the Arena
  • Attack From Below
  • Into the Abyss
  • Fraidy Cat
  • the Rainbow Warrior
  • A Trip To Morainia
  • Things That Go Bump In the Night
  • Three On A Dare
  • Just A Little Lie
  • One For All
  • Jacob And the Widgets
  • the Littlest Giant
  • Trouble's Middle Name
  • Journey To Stone City
  • A Bird In the Hand
  • Battlecat
  • the Time Wheel
  • Search For the Past

Video: Since BCI Eclipse chose to spread the 33 episodes of He-Man And the Masters Of the Universe Season 2, Part 1 over so many discs, it gives the picture's bitrate some room to breathe and results in a clear, colorful picture - for the most part. There's some slight dirt and grain in some episodes and slight pixelation during the transformation scene, but this is the best that i've seen or remember the picture.

Audio: Viewers have two audio options - Dolby Digital 2.0 English or Spanish. They're nothing to write home about, but I had no issues with either track. In my perfect world, every DVD would always have a 5.1 mix (Dolby and dts), but I realize that the limitations of the original broadcast would make that close to impossible.

Supplements: While there are audio commentaries by Lou & Erika Scheimer, Larry DiTillio, Tom Sito, Tom Tataranowicz and David Teague spread over the first three discs, the sixth disc is reserved for the bulk of the special features.

We start with the third chapter of The Stories Of He-Man And the Masters Of the Universe - Season 2, Part 1. This chapter deals with the second season of He-Man and the creation of the episodes on this disc. Featuring interviews with Robert Lamb, Tom Tataranowicz, Larry DiTillio, David Wise and J. Michael Straczynski, David C. Teague and Donald F. Roberts, I enjoyed the documentary and even chuckled when Wise mentioned that his second season episode experience, "Day Of the Machines", was so memorable, that he ended up doing the almost exact same story on later when he wrote for "the Transformers". He also admits that it worked much better in the latter show - and after watching them both back-to-back, i'm inclined to agree. 31 minutes.

the Magic Of Filmation -- Co-founders Hal Sutherland, the Scheimer clan (Erika, Jay & Lou) and a host of creators talk about Filmation's history and their role in it. 32 minutes.

In addition to the two documentaries, there's also a full length animated storyboard with interactive episode comparison for the episode "Trouble's Middle Name", 50 detailed profiles for various characters, creatures and artifacts and there are also 5 complete episodes in .pdf format (the Cat And the Spider, To Save Skeletor, Into the Abyss, the Rainbow Warrior and Battlecat).

Lastly, there are two collectable 4"x6" Art Cards drawn by Masters Of the Universe artist Emiliano Santalucia and (my favorite) Frank Cho. Emiliano draws a fantastic cast shot featuring a ton of characters, while Cho draws Teela flung over Beast-Man's shoulder as he's in pursuit of Orko.

Conclusion: BCI Eclipse continue to treat He-Man And the Masters Of the Universe with the respect which fans grew accustomed to after the first two volumes. Respect for the product they were selling and respect for the fans of the show. From the highly attractive, if space-consuming packaging, to the single-sided DVDs showcasing an individual character on each disc. Hell, now that I think about it, they should be in charge of every DVD release. Though Mattel had intended this show to be little more than extended promotion for their "Masters Of the Universe" toy line, I don't think they counted on Filmation on making this show so much more. While there might be some who disagree on the quality of the content, there's no way you can deny the amount of care that went into this set and in the end, my children and I thoroughly enjoyed this trip to Eternia and we eagerly await Season 2, Part 2. Highly Recommended.

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