Although featuring a vast line-up of characters, the main premise revolves around the heroic characters of He-Man and evil Skeletor on planet Eternia. Since its initial launch late 1981, the franchise has spawned a variety of products, including six lines of action figures, four animated television series, countless comic series and a film. Designer Roger Sweet claims to be the chief creator of He-Man and MOTU, although this is not officially acknowledged by Mattel, and disputed by some other contributors. The earliest storybooks and much of the original backstory were written by Donald F. Glut.
The animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was produced by Filmation and made its television debut in 1983.
Eternia is ruled by King Randor and Queen Marlena. (The latter was born Marlena Glen, a Terran astronaut who married Randor after she was marooned on Eternia by the crash of her spaceship). Their son is Prince Adam, who pretends he is lazy, clumsy, careless, irresponsible and almost as cowardly as his pet tiger Cringer. (Adam’s twin sister, Princess Adora, was kidnapped at birth by the evil warlord Hordak – who raised her as his own daughter to become a captain in his army). However, Prince Adam possesses a magic sword, and when he holds it aloft and says the magic words, “By the power of Grayskull! I have the power!” Prince Adam is transformed into He-Man, “The Most Powerful Man In The Universe”.
Many episodes, particularly the early ones, are about Skeletor’s repeated attempts and failures to enter Castle Grayskull. He-Man invariably defeats these attempts, unless Skeletor defeats himself first via his own stupidity, arrogance and treachery – which is often the case. Though the animated cartoons were similar, in respects, to the version of the story presented by DC Comics, Filmation focused more on the lighter, humorous elements of the story rather than the violent ones, in order to render it more suitable for a children’s audience. A new character was also introduced in the form of Orko, a small alien magician who shares Prince Adam’s secret and provides the comic relief for most episodes.
Despite the limited animation techniques that were used to produce the series, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was notable for breaking the boundaries of censorship that had severely restricted the narrative scope of children’s TV programming in the 1970s. For the first time in years, a cartoon series could feature a muscular superhero who was actually allowed to hit people (although most of the time wrestling-style moves were utlized instead of direct violence), though he still couldn’t use his sword often. The cartoon was controversial in that it was produced in connection with marketing a line of toys; advertising to children was itself controversial during this period. In Britain, advertising regulations forbade commercials for He-Man toys to accompany the program itself (either before or after the episode, as there were no in-show commercials). In similar fashion to other shows at the time (notably G.I. Joe), an attempt to mitigate the negative publicity generated by this controversy was made by including a “life lesson” or “moral of the story” at the end of each episode. This moral was usually directly tied to the action or central theme of the episode. In the United Kingdom, where the episodes were usually edited for timing reasons, these closing “morals” were nearly always edited out of their original broadcasts.
The cartoon series was also remarkable because it was one of the first animated series produced directly for syndication, as opposed to most other syndicated cartoons of the time which were re-runs of old Saturday morning cartoons. The most notable production fact of the series was that it was the very first animated series where a bulk quantity of 65 episodes were produced so that the series could be stripped across 13 weeks.
It is also noted for featuring early script-writing work from Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski, and Paul Dini of Batman: The Animated Series fame One episode, “Battle Cat,” was written by Star Trek’s D.C. Fontana.
Due to the budget-constraints by Filmation, the He-Man cartoon only featured a voice-cast of four to five people, after Erika Scheimer joined the cast. Linda Gary, who through an early mis-crediting was often assumed wrongly to be actress Linda Gray, single-handedly provided voices for nearly all the female characters, but the bulk of the character voices were provided by the show’s executive producer, Lou Scheimer, one of the founding producers of Filmation and at the time still its chief producer, who in the earliest episodes went under the name Erik Gunden.
The character voices of He-Man and Beast Man were provided by John Erwin; that of Skeletor, by Alan Oppenheimer.
A common misconception about the cartoon series is that it was cheap to produce, due to the small number of voice actors and heavy reliance on stock animation. In fact, the series was one of the more expensive 1980s animated series to produce, primarily due to the entire series production being handled in the U.S., rather than having the animation outsourced to another country.
All information from www.wikipedia.org
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