Along those lines, the voice cast is equally diverse… and excellent. While all of the voice performances are great, there are two stand-outs.
Shadow Weaver is performed by SAG award winner Lorraine Toussaint, who Netflix watchers may know for playing the despicable Yvonne ‘Vee’ Parker on the second season of ‘Orange is the New Black’. She gets to channel that dark side again here as Hordak’s second-in-command.
Meanwhile, Vella Lovell, who plays wry, sarcastic neighbor Heather Davis on ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’, voices Mermista, who is essentially the same character. It’s funny that they chose to make a mermaid the driest character on the series. She out-deadpans Daria, Raven and April Ludgate combined. Also amusing is that she is saddled with the overly boisterous Seahawk (Jordan Fisher) as her sidekick of sorts.
Fisher’s Seahawk is another highlight. His personality is similar to that of Aquaman on ‘Batman: The Brave and the Bold’, which was in turn inspired by Brian Blessed’s depiction of Prince Vultan in the 1980 movie ‘Flash Gordon’.
Most of the supporting characters get entire episodes to develop their characters, plus make additional appearances later, which is more than many of them got during the Filmation series. As a result, they have personalities more nuanced than “Hey kids, look! I’m another super neat Mattel toy!”
For fans of the original that might think that this version has nothing to do with the old, rest assured that the update is littered with references to the original. There is mention of a past adventure when She-Ra ventured to Beast Island. Angella’s husband– also Glimmer’s father, and Castaspella’s brother– King Micah is mentioned numerous times. The dingbat witch, Madame Razz appears, given a ‘Dark Crystal’-esque makeover. Loo-Kee and Kowl aren’t characters on this show, but they appear… kind of. There are also brief mentions of a few characters from the original that don’t pop up (at least not yet).
One element that is largely omitted is romance. Adora, Bow and Glimmer are the platonic “Best Friends Squad.” There is a bit of jealousy displayed by one character in one episode, but that may be platonic as well. There is one same-sex couple that appears. (Another is mentioned.) It’s nice that the main characters are focused on things other than romance, but it’s sort of strange that there are two same-sex couples, yet no opposite-sex couple, unless you count Angella and her deceased husband.
But perhaps that is something that will be explored in upcoming episodes. It’s evident that Noelle Stevenson and her writers have poured a lot of love and thought into this series, creating a rich mythology that has just barely been explored. It’s easy to imagine this show running for several seasons, without them running out of ideas. Hopefully, they will get the chance.
Are there any cons? To be honest, it could have been longer, but the old show business adage, “Leave them wanting more,” applies. As well-developed as several characters’ emotional journeys are, they could have been even deeper with more time. But the creators only had 13 episodes in which to get from Point A to Point B, so it’s understandable that some difficult decisions and changes of heart happened pretty quickly.
There also needs to be more Horde. It’s clear the Horde is evil, but their atrocities aren’t fully shown. A little more space to develop just how evil they are would increase the stakes of the show.
Finally, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive way to pronounce “She-Ra’ on this show. Some call her “Sheera” or “Sheeruh.” Others pronounce it “ShEE-RAH” with a pause between the two syllables.
Beyond that, this is a solid show with great action and emotional development. The art looks cute, but this is no fluff. Etheria has a rich mythology and it should be fun to see it explored further, should Netflix choose to renew it.