The He-Man franchise has been a prominent force among fans and collectors even to this day. Whether it's Masters of the Universe, New Adventures of He-Man, or even She-Ra: Princess of Power, generations have flocked towards the "power of Grayskull". As is the case with most iconic shows from the 1980's each of these series have been released on DVD. In She-Ra's case the second season has finally hit store shelves.
She-Ra tells the story of a girl named Adora who actually turns out to be He-Man's twin sister. She lives in a place called Etheria and fights with a band of rebels against the evil and mighty Hordak. With the Sword of Protection Adora can turn into She-Ra at a moment's notice and become nigh-invincible. She's not quite the one woman army that you'd think she would be though since she's accompanied by a group of fellow freedom fighters.
For all intents and purposes She-Ra: Princess of Power was a glorified commercial from start to finish. Just about every episode would see the introduction of a new hero or villain that kids could go buy an action figure for at their local department store. It's nothing new; this was the 80's after all, so watching this show again is like stepping through time. It's a throwback to the glory days of television when kids would make their bleary-eyed way to the television with a bowl of Fruit Loops to see what Saturday morning had in store for them. Shoddy animation, goofy dialogue, and silly plots plagued shows like She-Ra. Now that we're all adults though, does it still entertain as well?
The first season of She-Ra as a whole was a very entertaining and proved to be a worthwhile look back at the now classic franchise. With a formula that was very similar to He-Man's the show was able to blend in a lot of action, funny characters, and some softer moments. The last time we saw She-Ra on DVD there were a few enjoyable episodes. For instance when Horde Prime took his holiday Hordak used it as an opportunity to destroy She-Ra and her friends but Skeletor appeared to muck things up. She-Ra and Hordak were also sent to a dark dimension, the Sea Hawk came back, and Loo-Kee got some screen time as well. All in all the episodic adventures were iconic of Saturday mornings in the 80's and the atmosphere was kept light and goofy enough that it was still entertaining some twenty years later.
The second season of She-Ra brings about the final leg of Princess Adora's journey with episodes 66 through 93. For the most part this collection features much of the same with episodic content, Hordak silliness, and triumphant heroes. I have to admit that I wasn't surprised at all while watching this set and in my opinion these are the weakest She-Ra episodes by and large. There were a few golden nuggets in between but these diamonds in the rough made the rest of the season paltry by comparison.
"Out of the Cocoon" was one of the decent episodes and offered up the old "beauty comes from within" cliche. Essentially this episode introduces a new character and inducts her into the ranks of the Rebellion. Flutterina has some interesting abilities and makes a fine addition to the cast as she returns in the following episode "A Lesson in Love". Both of these episodes as examples of She-Ra were entertaining even though they didn't have much to do with each other. Fortunately there are still a few more episodes that are worth mentioning.
I thought "The Time Transformer" was a cool episode because it gave Hordak and the villainous folks in the Fright Zone the ability to alter history. When Professor Tempest brings Hordak a piece of technology and changes the outcome of a battle with She-Ra, well, it's only natural that Hordak sees the possibilities. Fortunately for Brightmoon, Adora and Bo realize what's going on and travel to the Fright Zone to stop the Horde's latest threat.
There are a few other noteworthy episodes in between but they still pale in comparison when lined up next to what we saw in the first season. "Something Old, Something New", "Day of the Flowers", and "Sweet Bee's Home" for instance are some of the highlights from this season. However, taking into consideration that the show went kaput during this particular run I suppose it's not surprising that there aren't many outstanding episodes. Heck, the show ends with She-Ra's horse, Wind, giving birth to a unicorn. I'm sorry, but that was just not the way to end She-Ra and in the grand scheme of things it was a disastrously lackluster send-off in my opinion.
While the previous DVD collections featured some of the better episodes of She-Ra it's safe to say that the second season just doesn't hold a candle to the first. I don't know what changed within the dynamic of the series but some part of the chemistry obviously wasn't the same. Perhaps it was the shuffling of writers or simply the fact that the show had run its course but by this point in the franchise things began to feel long in tooth. There were still plenty of decent episodes to be had; they just weren't as good as what we came to expect. Fans will want to pick this release up to complete the collection and to watch the good episodes though just keep in mind that you'll be skipping around discs to get to them.
BCI has been doing a marvelous job with the He-Man franchise as far as restoring the image is concerned. The "Best Of" and first volume of She-Ra both offered a significantly cleaned up picture. Sure there were still signs of dirt, degradation, and grain but you have to take into consideration just how old this program is. This third volume follows suit with an equally fine presentation that will satisfy those of you that have been stuck with VHS for quite a few years.
It's also worth noting that I encountered some flaws within these discs that made sections blocky and unplayable. "Day of the Flowers", "Sweet Bee's Home", and "Assault on the Hive" all displayed areas where the disc chugged along in my play. I tested things a bit and encountered the same flaw in two different DVD players, my Xbox 360, and PC. These blemishes have more to do with the authoring of the DVDs themselves and not necessarily the transfer though I figured I'd group it in with the presentation section.
It should be no surprise that She-Ra is presented on DVD with Dolby Digital Stereo. The sound is pretty decent considering the age of the material though there are times where it sounds almost like a mono track instead of stereo. There were a couple of times where the sound became muffled and the volume pitched but again it probably had more to do with the original material rather than a byproduct for the DVD. This is a decent sounding release for what it is but it's nothing compared to the 5.1 surround that our home theaters have become accustomed to.
Like the other collections for She-Ra, BCI went through and included some fan-worthy bonus material. I've called this project a labor of love for the people behind it and once again they don't disappoint in this regard.
Two episodes receive commentaries this time around and both are hosted by Andy Mangels. Tom Sito and Dori Littell-Herrick sit down to talk about "She-Ra Makes a Promise" which was one of the better episodes from this season. Likewise "Sweet Bee's Home" receives a commentary with Lou Scheimer, Erika Scheimer, Tom Tataranowicz, and Dori Littell-Herrick. I found both commentaries to be informative and entertaining thanks to the manner with which people discuss the program. They seem to get along well and develop a good amount of banter as the tracks progress.
Once again there is also a documentary about She-Ra that discusses most of the show's inner workings. There are plenty of interviews and personal views about the project from the people that had their hands in its production. Some of the content is fluffy but for the most part there is enough information here to make this feature worthwhile to watch. Two more collectible cards are packed into the set which have been a nice addition with these MOTU franchise releases. Some lighter flare with regards to supplemental material such as image galleries, trailers, games for the kiddies, and DVD-Rom material like scripts and storyboards. Worth noting from the DVD-Rom section is a storyboard for "The Silaxian Wars" which was an episode that never aired.
It's a simple fact that She-Ra was never as successful as the original He-Man series was. Despite that I found this show to be nearly as enjoyable and do have to admit that I still have some She-Ra figures tucked away somewhere with my childhood memorabilia. Revisiting the series later in life was a joy and I truly appreciate BCI's efforts with restoring this classic and getting it into the hands of fans. With that being said I do have to say that I enjoyed the second season significantly less than the first.
These episodes just didn't feel as refined and only a few really stood out as being worthwhile. Don't get me wrong, I had a good time watching the show, but just didn't find these episodes as entertaining as what was presented in the first season. Fans will definitely want to pick it up to complete their sets though avid viewers may just want to rent it and see what they think.
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