Power of Grayskull: The Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2017) Netflix



Tagline: None. With that title there's no fucking room for one on the poster!

Premise: Do I really need to explain? Netflix habiting documentary chronicling the genesis of He-Man; who began life as a toy, and spawned a billion dollar comic, TV and film franchise. This doc is a hypodermic loaded with 80's nostalgia.

Delivery: “I have the POWER!”

Let's start at the beginning, Mattel miss out on the Star Wars figures deal, and need something to compete. Eventually, He-Man is created and at about the same time my early childhood begins. What this documentary does, rather brilliantly, is both inform, entertain and similarly make you yearn to be young again. I can remember with great excitement holding the He-Man sword and shouting those famous four words. What I hadn't ever realised was quite how groundbreaking He-Man was. Here is a super-hero origins story I can engage with.

Power of Grayskull: The Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, or PoG:TDHoHMatMotU for short, is a wonderfully put together documentary, illuminating not only the creative, practical and business processes put to work in bringing He-Man, Shera et all to fruition (and success) but also examining the cultural impact it had. This is mostly done by interviewing geeks, of course. Or “He-Man Historians”, as they like to be called. While I am being a bit cruel, I felt a lot of love for the show as a child, too, and I suppose they just represent that innocent love. Only they're adults.

There are funny anecdotes, Mer-Man was almost called Sea-Man for example. I mean, come on. The little boys in test plays used to steal the female dolls, and many more amusing pieces of this wonderful puzzle which came together so well for a while. But they kept adding pieces to it. I had forgotten quite how many bat shit spin off toys were added as the series grew. Moss-Man, anyone? Smelt like damp clothes from memory.

In my notes I jotted down a thought about the philosophical argument of authorship, pondering the idea that once you let a creation go into the world, who does it belong to? But this is my first post back and I'm still in hospital so bugger thinking about that: just watch the film. It's on Netflix.

Bedsit it? A fascinating insight into the marriage of creativity, production and necessity. “Design by committee” is usually a rueful lamentation, but PoG:TDHoHMatMotU makes, unwittingly perhaps, quite a strong case for an example of it working. Initially. 8/10

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