He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, the children’s fantasy series based on the Mattel toy line which broadcast new episodes from 1983 to 1985 and aired in syndication well into the 1990s, is famously unfinished. The show is only two seasons long, but at 130 episodes had enough juice to keep airing and airing for years after the studio turned its attention to the spinoff focused around He-Man’s sister, She-Ra, doing away with plans for a third season.
The storyline of He-Man, told mostly in episodes meant to be one-offs disconnected from one another (so that they could be aired in any order), never got any sort of conclusion, and the eventual revival and live-action movie both flopped. Along comes Netflix’s new animated series Masters of the Universe: Revelation, developed by Kevin Smith and animated by Powerhouse Animation Studios (Castlevania, Blood of Zeus), to pick up the pieces, and it’s nothing less than a delight.
Masters of the Universe: Revelation, the first five episodes of which are available now on Netflix, is meant to pick up pretty much where the original series left off, with the magical world of Eternia and Castle Grayskull temporarily safe from the evil Skeletor’s (Mark Hamill) dastardly plans—but not for long. Unlike the original show, as Revelation is geared toward a slightly older crowd, there’s a narrative arc to this show that takes the characters and worlds familiar to fans and totally upends them. There’s a huge paradigm shift in the very first episode, characters level up their powers and personalities throughout the course of the season, and the fifth episode ends on a shockingly massive cliffhanger.
And it’s good. It’s difficult to discuss what happens without completely spoiling everything that happens, so for now we’ll stick to the basics: The main protagonist for most of the episodes is He-Man’s friend Teela (Sarah Michelle Gellar), the former castle guard turned mercenary, who gets a hair and outfit makeover and begins to discover the source of her own mysterious power; the main quest is driven by the best trope in the world, heroes and villains teaming up to achieve a common goal; and some of the relationships formed—the tentative friendship between sorceress Evil-Lyn (Lena Headey) and little floating Trollan Orko (Griffin Newman) is a highlight—are genuinely affecting, an impressive feat given that the the show only consists of five half-hour episodes so far.
And though it’s meant to be a continuation of the original series, you can absolutely jump into Revelation with only a rudimentary understanding of who everyone is, or none at all. There is plenty of material for the die-hard fans—classic characters like Battle Cat, Mer-Man, He-Ro (his first appearance in an animated show), and Moss-Man (voiced by original voice cast member Alan Oppenheimer), all put in appearances—while also feeling refreshed enough that it’s not just more of the same. You don’t have to be a die-hard fan to get a rush of endorphins from hearing He-Man (Chris Wood) shout “I HAVE THE POWER!!!” for the first time.
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