Review: She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Etheria Lives!

Dreamworks and Netflix have done it again! A fan-favorite franchise from the 80’s has been reinvented for a new generation.

 

She-Ra’s first season has all the makings of a great show but to me, as it stands was very middle of the road. This first season has its highs and lows and the nerdy nods to longtime fans, SPOILERS AHEAD.

 

The Good

  • The shows art style is fantastic! I was hoping for something more akin to Dreamworks other series Voltron Legendary Defender with sharper lines and better use of shadows. But She-Ra is like Adventure Time and Steven Universe had an 8-foot blonde baby with a sword!
  • Inclusion: The Team behind the show has done an excellent job taking the original characters and have made them into realistic women, not the standard model Barbie types of the eighties, sorry Mattel.
  • A better backstory, partly: This time around She-Ra and Adora’s story wasn’t used in a cheap backdoor pilot. They really hinted and to a larger universe which entices you to come back for more! Even if it’s just a small piece of a much bigger puzzle.
  • Catra: WOW from such a crappy side character to a strong story driving force! Catra I think should have a full backstory episode, don’t get me wrong episode 11 was probably the best of the whole first season. But we never saw anyone else from Catra’s race. There is story potential right there!
  • The Villains: As opposed to the flat characters of the past, these villains have agendas. Scorpia’s design is so much better than the original and the bonus of having Canadian actor Lauren Ash’s use her comedic timing was brilliant! Entrapta by the end of the first season works with the Horde, even though she is a princess, but I think her allegiance lies with whoever has the best tech. Shadow Weaver is menacing and Hordak…. we will get there below.
  • The First Ones: Taking a character one mentioned twice and seen once in the original He-Man, The First Ones have been expanded into a preexisting race that has connected the entire planet of Etheria with their tech and in fact, it’s their tech that makes Adora transform into She-Ra.
  • The non-excessive use of the transformation: It was great pacing to use the transformation sequence sparingly. Plus it was as “realistic” as it could be versus say Sailor Moon’s pretty and frilly multiple sequences.

The Bad

  • Flat storytelling: This show has obvious flaws in its storytelling, I think they took a page out of Power Rangers handbook. Rudimentary plot devices and childish set’em up and knock’em down episodes. Don’t forget the rainbow-colored power blast at the end of episode 13!
  • Inclusion GOOD! One note characters BAD: Every princess, aside from Adora, is so one note! Perfuma comes from a hippy tree hugging race, I was waiting for a Greg Cipes voice cameo. Mermista is such a nonchalant flippant brat. Frosta has a total inferiority complex cause she’s the youngest. Glimmer has the usual “no one takes me seriously” chip on her shoulder.
  • Bow the token Guy: Just like it says bow is the token dude of the whole show! Just like his OG counterpart, he’s often looked on as foolish and childish
  • This Ain’t Avatar: You can obviously tell this has Avatar-esque characteristics all over the show. Bow is like Sokka, idiot savant that grows a backbone when the need arises. There have been many She-Ra before Adora but there hasn’t been one in 1000 years. I’m glad Aang only slept for 100 or else he would have had wicked frostbite.  Hordak is another Fire Lord Ozai in the first season but watered down, you hear of him being an evil ruler, but when you see him on screen you don’t get a sense that he is trying to take over the world.
  • 6 Hours of Setup and a Quick Wrap Up: 13 episodes, six and a half hours of setup for a fight that lasted maybe 5 minutes. This has serious pacing issues it would have been nice to see maybe 2-parter episodes for each princess to join the Princess Alliance. Maybe we could have ended on a BIGGER cliffhanger. Maybe we didn’t need the big fight now and could have saved it for the middle of season 2?

 

The Nerdy Nods

  • Cowl! Yep your favorite owl thing was perfectly used as a stuffed animal, an easy one off and done. To be honest I’m glad he wasn’t included in the show and I think you older fans would agree.
  • Madame Razz: Not only did they take a moronic nitwit from the original series but they bloomed her into a slightly dissociative crazy lady. But I think she was just out of sync with time. Plus, the nods to Mara! You need to be a real MotU fan to get that reference! Well done there, it leaves a whole open end to tie up if they do it right.
  • Not overdoing it with the Horde: in the background, you can obviously make out Grizzlor and I’m glad they didn’t go overboard with the extra bad guys to even the odds versus the princesses.
  • Eternia! That’s right when Adora finds the Crystal Castle the password from the Ancient One’s text is ETERNIA. Does that mean we might see Prince Adam, who knows?

 

This new show is 13 episodes in and has 7 times that in source material to draw from. Hopefully, the next season will learn from the missteps and draw out there triumphs. It’s safe to assume that this has already been picked up for at least 5 or 6 seasons like Voltron was but they couldn’t confirm.

 

What did you enjoy about the new She-Ra? do you think we can get a new He-Man out of this? Leave your comments below

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