She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Tagged: TV

US animated tv series (2018-current). DreamWorks Animation. Developed by/Executive Producer Noelle Stevenson. Writers include Josie Campbell, Noelle Stevenson and Sonja Warfield. Directed by Jen Bennett, Adam Henry, Lianne Hughes and Stephanie Stine. Voice cast include Aimee Carrero, Karen Fukuhara, Keston John, AJ Michalka, Adam Ray, Marcus Scribner, Lorraine Toussaint and Christine Woods. Thirteen 24-minute episodes to date. Colour.

A reboot of the Filmation animation series She-Ra: Princess of Power (1985-1986), created by Larry DiTillio and J Michael Straczynski. This was a spin-off from the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983-1985) (see also Masters of the Universe [1986]), but targeting girls rather than boys. Both series were linked to a Mattel toy line.

Captain Adora (Carrero) and her friend Catra (Michalka) are cadets in the army of Emperor Hordak (Keston), which seeks to liberate the planet Etheria by defeating a rebel insurgency of evil princesses. But after Adora finds the Sword of Protection she is captured by Princess Glimmer (Fukuhara) and her friend, Master Archer Bow (Scribner): Adora learns that the insurgency (people living in rural communities and beautiful castles, using Magic and at one with nature) are good and her side (living in ugly constructions, using War Machines, destroying nature and called – even by themselves – "the Horde") are evil. She then discovers that the sword can transform her into eight-foot She-Ra, Princess of Power; it also changes a normal horse into her talking steed Swift Wind (Ray) (self-named, overruling Adora's choice of "Horsie"). Once she vows to defeat the Horde the remainder of the first season focuses on introducing the Princesses and other allies that Adora gathers around her. Conflict mainly arises from the attempts to capture Adora by the sorceress Shadow Weaver (Toussaint), Hordak's second-in-command, and the newly promoted Catra; the resulting clashes between Adora and Catra provide the show's lead emotional arc.

Though the insurgency uses Magic, it is largely the science of Etheria's original colonists, the "First Ones" (see the third of Clarke's Laws). Princess Entrapta (Woods), an eccentric Scientist easily distracted by Robots, studies their Technology; following a misunderstanding she leaves the rebels for the Horde. Continuing her research she discovers Etheria is deeply embedded with the First One's technology: encouraged by Catra she proceeds to hack the planet (see Computers).

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is weaning itself from the Clichés of its source: many Horde members are portrayed as normal, likeable people; it is also shown to be, to some extent, a meritocracy. As in the original show, the debt to the Star Wars franchise is clear; other influences include the television animation series Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008). Though the response has largely been favourable, dissenting cries were heard from some middle-aged males, complaining that the female characters in this children's show are not as sexy as they were in the original, whilst also fretting over the show's strong LGBT ambience. Viewers able to abide such wickedness will find this a fun show with engaging characters. [SP]

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