was there only one two-part story in the He-Man
I first wrote "House of Shokoti" it was only one
part. Then they came to me and said, "No way can we
do this show, we love it but it's too expensive. However,"
they said, "If you could make it into a two-part story,
then we could afford it by amortizing the cost over two
episodes." So I went back to the script, added a bunch
of story material (in essence I wrote a "first part"
that led into my script, which was easier than trying to
just expand it) and that is why "House of Shokoti"
is the only two-part story in the He-Man series.
kind of boneheaded ideas did Mattel try to force upon Filmation
at the start of the series?
had bonehead ideas, but they couldn't force them on us.
You see this was one of the first times, a toy company had
financed a cartoon show (now it's almost an essential part
of the industry), and Lou Scheimer (president of Filmation)
made the deal with the express condition that while Mattel
could "suggest" ideas, they had NO approval over
story OR script. So when Mattel came up with such notions,
Lou would smile and say, "Read the contract."
Unhappily, no one has had the brains to make similar deals
with toy companies since. About the only nutty idea I remember
is when Mattel brought us all in to show us new toys which
they wanted put into the show (they did this frequently).
One of the toys was a catapult device or vehicle that shot
large balls. Mattel was calling it "The Ball Buster."
Lou scotched that one two seconds after it came out of the
toy company executive's mouth. Lou would only use toys if
he thought they fit with what the show already had done
and was quite adamant in maintaining the show's integrity.
It was just one of the things I loved about the man.
did the Masters of the Universe series end?
was a toy-driven show, exactly like Transformers
or any of the other multitude of cartoon shows which have
flowed down the pike since. This means the show is created
to sell a toy line and financed by A TOY COMPANY! What a
surprise. Toy-driven shows are never meant to last more
then a season or two, enough to create a demand, satisfy
it, then move on to a new toy (and possibly a new show).
However on occasion, the writers take the toy concept and
despite all the bonehead obstacles in their way (and believe
me there are many) they create solid characters and good
stories to feature them in. The show becomes independent
of the toy and is watched by people of all different ages,
not just youngsters. Good writers, good storytellers make
a good show. They are not always big hits, but He-Man
was. Why did the show end? Because the toy line was being
phased out. Mattel put up the money and when they no longer
desired what they saw as a toy commercial (which is perfectly
reasonable thinking for a toy company) they no longer financed
it. In short, even He-Man couldn't beat businessman.
you invent any of the characters that were seen in the He-Man
yes and no. Since He-Man was what we call "toy-driven,"
every character was usually a toy first. We did give them
personalities, so you might call that "creating"
them. On the other hand, there were plenty of one-shot and
minor characters in the show that we DID create. Granamyr
was my creation, for example. Also, J. Michael Straczynski
wrote He-Man episodes as well. He currently writes
the scripts for Babylon 5. And for the first two
years of Babylon 5, I was story editor and wrote
seven scripts. Isn't that cool?
were your thoughts on Granamyr?
Granamyr. Here's that story. Before breaking into the cartoon
biz at Filmation, I worked for the FBI, that is, Flying
Buffalo Inc., a spiffy little game company that does Play
by Mail games and the Tunnels & Trolls role
playing game. I wrote a game scenario for them called "The
Isle Of Darksmoke" and in it was this grouchy terrible
dragon called Granamyr. I had played the part so many times
in games I knew him as well as I knew myself. So when it
came time to do a story for He-Man I decided to
use a dragon (creatures I am quite fond of and sometimes
have the temper of) and Granamyr became that dragon. Granamyr
indeed is responsible for my whole career, for that story
was what got me on staff at Filmation.
was Skeletor such a dork in the cartoon?
was a dork because that's how Filmation wanted him, a comic
opera villain. This is no surprise to any cartoon writer
who specializes in action genres. Dorky villains are par
for the course. Now on occasion we could actually make Skeletor
a little bit of a schemer, however after the first thirty
or shows were written we realized we had another problem.
Every show was a reaction to a plan by Skeletor. In short,
it was boring. So we started to create NEW villains, new
challenges and kind of let Skeletor be for awhile. This
freshened the show. However, in defense of Skeletor, every
survey we ever did showed he was the second most popular
character on the show. Kids ate up that comic opera cackly-villain
stuff and still do. And Skeletor also let us ham it up as
writers, something we like to do now and then. And cool
is not what you go for when the target audience is five
to twelve. You ham it up. It worked. The New Adventures
of He-Man didn't.
are you currently doing? Are you writing for any TV series
yet. I am actively pursuing work for Xena, Buffy
the Vampire Slayer and Timecop while awaiting
news of a possible second season of Beast Wars.