It's undeniable that BCI has given He-Man fans something to be happy about and thankful for. The treatment that the franchise has received has been second to none and frankly, more than I ever expected or hoped for. Each series from Masters of the Universe and She-Ra to The New Adventures of He-Man has been handled with an element of enthusiasm. Granted these shows aren't for everyone but for the dedicated fan looking for a complete collection it simply doesn't get any better.
While She-Ra and Masters of the Universe may be the most popular in the He-Man franchise the second coming of Prince Adam provided some more stuff to love. The New Adventures of He-Man was still a glorified commercial and it still had its share of problems (it was considered by many to be the black sheep of the He-Family). Viewers who stuck with the program found some better animation and more continuity between episodes which was a definite plus. Unfortunately the overall quality of the show was spotty and frankly it didn't hold a candle to the original series in the end.
Originally released in 1990 The New Adventures of He-Man took place 10,000 years in the future on a planet called Primus. Humanity has been living behind a protective barrier but repeated attacks from mutants threaten their very existence. Luckily Master Sebrian sends Flipshot and Hydron back in time to bring He-Man to the future just in the nick of time. With a run of bad luck they accidentally bring Skeletor back to the future as well. As if the mutants weren't bad enough, now they have to deal with the skull faced idiot as well.
After watching the first collection it became evident that the concept for this show was tired from the very beginning. It lacked the presence that Masters of the Universe had and ultimately left a somewhat bad taste in my mouth. I was expecting little more than an animated commercial but at least the original series and others in the franchise presented some interesting storylines. There were a few amusing episodes in the first set but in the end the good and bad were roughly equal. I still found it entertaining enough to recommend but that recommendation came with the fine print that you have to LOVE He-Man in order to appreciate it. With that in mind does the second collection of episodes fair any better? The short answer for that question would be "Not really."
Featuring episodes 34 through 65, volume two of The New Adventures of He-Man did little to alter my opinion of the show. I get that this is a children's program and as such the stories are inherently going to be less involved than a series aimed at an older audience but some of these episodes were downright insulting to intelligence. "Rock to the Future", "He-Fan", and "Brain Drain" stood out as my least favorite episodes thus far. Even so it is worth mentioning that not every episode in this collection is terrible.
There's not a lot the producers could do with The New Adventures of He-Man once they crafted the silly concept. Still, the second volume does offer a few promising episodes that are worth checking out if you are a He-Man fan. "Once Upon a Time" for instance brings Teela, daughter of the Sorceress, back into the fold and presents He-Man with the tough decision of returning to his time or remaining in the future. "A Plague on Primus", "Dreadator", "Balance of Power", and "The Taking of Levitan" were other moderately entertaining episodes from this collection.
Ultimately it's going to be your exposure to the He-Man franchise that determines whether or not you'll appreciate The New Adventures of He-Man. The first volume offered a better supply of episodes than the second so if you're curious about the series definitely start at the beginning and see what you think. I kept my mind open and tried to appreciate the show for what it was but found too many stinkers in this batch of episodes to warrant a recommendation. Chances are very good that you have already made up your mind whether or not you're going to buy The New Adventures of He-Man so I doubt my opinion will sway you one way or the other. This is a release that is strictly for the He-Man fan who wants to have a complete collection.
Zone of Darkness
Once Upon a Time
A Plague on Primus
The Test of Time
Four Ways to Sundown
The Sheriff of Gorn City
The New Wizard in Town
The Nemesis Within
The Dream Zone
You're in the Army Now
No Easy Way
The Guns of Nordor
The Bride of Slushhead
Mutiny on the Mothership
Rock to the Future
The Running of the Herd
Balance of Power
The Tornadoes of Zil
The Taking of Levitan
Save Our City
The Power of the Good and the Way of the Magic
There's Gems in Them Hills
The Call to the Games
The Blacksmith of Crelus
A Time to Leave
The Final Invasion
The New Adventures of He-Man was originally broadcast in 1990 so it's not shocking to see that the DVD gets a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The video quality is equal to what we saw in the original release with some grain and aliasing being spotted here and there. Overall though the transfer for this show is fine looking despite its age and is about as good as the series has ever looked. There's nothing entirely remarkable to be found here but it's acceptable the entire way through.
English and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo is all that you're going to get out of the audio for this release. It's not surprising considering this is how the show aired and that other BCI DVD's have retained the original presentation. The quality was decent for what it was and though the release lacked immersion the presence on the soundstage was enough for the material. Volume pitch was something that cropped up though it wasn't anything that wasn't easily manageable with the controller.
The second volume of The New Adventures of He-Man features a few noteworthy bonus features that stay in line with what we've come to expect from prior He-Man releases. The sixth disc in this collection is where you'll find some trailers and character profiles for the lighter features.
As far as the meatier stuff is concerned there is a documentary with some of the fans. They discuss the impact of He-Man on their lives and what the show meant to them. They share pieces of their collection and memories so there is a definite personal touch to this feature. Ironically though it has everything to do with Master of the Universe and nothing to do with The New Adventures of He-Man.
Another feature is available here as well with the usual suspects that we have seen from other He-Man bonus content. Producers, writers, fans, artists, and voice actors chime in to give their two cents about the franchise. At the end there is a montage of transformation clips with Adam turning into He-Man from New Adventures. While both of the weightier features clock in at just less than thirty minutes the content wasn't as strong as content that was included in earlier releases.
After watching The New Adventures of He-Man's second volume I can say without a doubt that this is my least favorite series in the franchise. There are a few decent stories to be found in this batch of 32 episodes but for the most part the content here is forgettable. Only diehard He-Man fans will be interested in this release so I'm sure you already know if you fall into that category. Otherwise this one is passable but worth renting if you have interest or used to enjoy He-Man when you were younger.
Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!