I went into the first five episodes of this wondering how exactly they could update He-Man for modern audiences. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by how gutsy and unexpected so many of the story choices were.
It's very much a show for the streaming and binge-watching era with a connected, linear narrative throughout, but it's made with real affection for the source material. The animation looks good and preserves the spirit of the original -- characters are visibly and audibly still the ones we know from the show, but matured -- there is some rather arch humor at the expense of one or two of the old-timey "show that exists to market toys to 8-year-olds" Eighties tropes, and it doesn't hesitate to raise the stakes and bring more heft to certain characters.
I'd give it a solid 8/10. I was never that big a He-Man fan as a kid -- Transformers and Star Wars were my bag -- but then I was never a big She-Ra fan either and that show managed to pull me in. Masters of the Universe has a completely different feel to it, but it performs the same feat of livening up material that I had no idea what they were going to do with.
Kevin Smith has given a pretty informative interview or two about it (WARNING: lots of spoilers). Some of my own more spoiler-heavy thoughts below.
- Season One's story is focused around Teela and takes place in a world previously defined by He-Man, whose characters now have to figure out who they are without him.
- As a corollary of the above, the usual "woke SJW agenda" talking points are already getting trotted out, of course. I expect most of the audience will prefer to ignore the noise and give the show a chance. The overall story is going somewhere and the iconic hero-and-villain dyad does come back into the picture.
- The characters look great in both their classic and latter-day outfits and there's really solid voice acting from everyone, including Henry Rollins doing a turn as Tri Clops (who complains bitterly in one scene about the experience of being a henchman for a toothless Eighties cartoon villain), Sarah Michelle Gellar as Teela and Lena Headey as a surprisingly sympathetic Evil Lyn.
- Even Orko(!) and Cringer get cool stuff to do, which is pretty wild.
- We get to meet some earlier incarnations of the Guardians of Castle Greyskull and the Sorceress, all of which seem pretty fun.
- It's not without its flaws. Teela is shown coming to terms with anger after He-Man goes out, and I'm not really 100% sold on her character motivation, which is all about being outraged that Prince Adam was secretly He-Man and never told her. But it doesn't feel completely wrong or anything... just a bit stretched. Minor gripe in the bigger scheme, though.