In 2012 DreamWorks animation purchased Classic Media, a small-time entertainment company primarily focused on re-releasing nostalgiac cartoons and semi-obscure television series to DVD. While at the time it seemed to many an unusual purchase for a theatrical animation studio, it soon became clear that DreamWorks was less interested in the older content than in the vast library of intellectual properties the company (now renamed DreamWorks Classics) had acrued in order to release them — especially once-famous brands like Voltron, Masters of the Universe, Felix the Cat, Underdog, Noddy, and others.
While DreamWorks has already leveraged Voltron into a new series venture for Netflix, other properties have been used for comedy purposes on DreamWorks’ YouTube channel — which now includes a bizarre reality TV spoof based on Master of the Universe.
Titled The Real Masters of Eternia, the 8-minute short is comprised of re-edited and re-edubbed animation footage from the 1980s Filmmation animated series He-Man & The Masters of the Universe, originally created to promote Mattel’s Masters of the Universe action figure line of the same era. Beloved by a generation of fans for its colorful characters and fast-paced adventure stories, the series is today often a source of ironic humor based around the sheer absurdity of its scenarios, unintentionally funny dialogue and the low-budget animation Filmmation was employing at the time.
While previous videos built from He-Man footage to DreamWorks’ channel have focused on arranging full clips, Real Masters uses new voice-acting and judicious editing to create a parody of Big Brother-style reality TV. He-Man, Skeletor, Teela, Man At Arms, Orko, Mer-Man, and Beast Man are depicted as moving into Castle Grayskull to live together and compete in challenges hosted by The Sorceress (though, amusingly, eagle-eyed fans will note that many of the interior scenes are set in The Palace of Eternia, Snake Mountain, and other locations.)
The clip is funny (though quite a stretch longer than similar comedy bits are often expected to be) and reminiscent of similar parodies familiar to fans of programs like Robot Chicken — though here clearly aimed more at the family audience the original series mainly played to. It’s unclear, at this point, whether DreamWorks intends this to be another stand-alone sketch or a recurring series on the channel.
Despite enduring popularity (ironic or not), the prevalence of such parodies only highlights the difficulty Mattel has had in re-launching the Masters of the Universe brand itself. Multiple attempts have been made at creating both a new animated series and a revamped toyline, both to mixed results. A new live-action feature film based on the property has been kicked around various Hollywood studios for over a decade, most recently set-up at Sony with McG tapped to direct — though no word on the project has emerged for several months.
Screen Rant will have more updates on Masters of the Universe (parodies and otherwise) as they are made available.